Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lovely Lemon Cookies

Pinterest strikes again!  This weekend I was perusing my Pinterest post looking for a new Christmas Cookie to try and found this lovely refreshing lemon cookie that looked pretty easy.  A bonus was that I had all the ingredients on hand.  While my wonderful husband was making his famous pecan bars and a new oatmeal and chocolate chunk cookie recipe from Food Network, I whipped up this little delight.  This came from  via LDS Living Blog post.

Link to Pinterest Pin!
Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Makes 2-3 dozen

½ cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoons baking soda
1-½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light colored baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and juice. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir in all dry ingredients slowly until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte {not melty or shiny}. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

*If using a non-stick darker baking tray, reduce baking time by about 2 minutes.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Long Time Coming...

It has been quite awhile since my last post.  We have gone on vacation, attended board meetings, staff meetings and numerous school basketball games. In between all of these activities there have been a few new recipes that I have tried and a few oldies that were dusted off. 

With the holidays fast approaching I thought I would post an updated green bean casserole from Williams and Sonoma that we tried the day before we left for vacation.  This was a part of our mini Thanksgiving we held at our house.  No roast turkey, just a wonderful roast chicken.   The dish was delicious, but takes a bit of time.  Enjoy!

 The Final Product

Slicing the Shallots
My "Deep Fryer"  Careful grease is hot!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Did someone say Pumpkin Pie?


In my recipe box I have a collection of recipe cards from famous brands that I have had for quite a long time.  These were probably one of the first recipe cards that I started collecting when I moved out of Mom and Dad's house back in 1988 and into my own apartment. 

Today we had a mini Thanksgiving since we will not be home this year.  I made a roast chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and a new green bean casserole that was wonderful!  To top it off we had Pumpkin Pie.  And when it says "Libby's, Libby's, Libby's on the label, label, label, you will like it, like it, like it on your table, table, table.....".  (That's for my sister!)  I used a frozen pie crust.  If I had time I would of made a crust out of the Better Homes and Garden cookbook. 

 Libby's Favorite Pumpkin Pie




MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

POUR into pie shell.

BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Birthday Request

    Yesterday I celebrated a birthday. Not a milestone one, but a birthday nonetheless.  When my darling husband asked what I would like to do and what kind of cake I had some ideas ready to go.  Being it a Sunday I wanted to spend the day with my family and not one that included working around the house, doing multiple loads of laundry.

    I had been wanting to visit a winery nearby that had been open a few years, but we had never made it there. Then after that I wanted to go to one of my favorite places to relax and have a good meal, the Tavern at the Sherwood Inn.  If we could walk around town after our late lunch, that would be great, but if not, oh well. 

    Now for my cake request I had initially asked for a chocolate cream pie.  My husband came back with what about a chocolate cake?  Not really.  I love chocolate cake, but sometimes find it too heavy.  So, taking into consideration his desire to change the request, (He really didn't have a chocolate cream pie recipe.) I decided on Paula Deen's Sour Cream Pound Cake - a favorite of mine. 

    So, while I was out of the house on Saturday, my husband and daughter made the cake for me.  When we had the cake last night, they took some raspberry jam and heated it in a pan on the stove and then spooned it over the cake slices.  Just delicious!

    Paula Deen's Sour Cream Pound Cake


    1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
    3 cups sugar
    1 cup sour cream
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    6 large eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla


    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Sift the baking soda and flour together. Add to the creamed mixture alternating with eggs, beating each egg 1 at a time. Add the vanilla and pour the mixture into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.   (Don't forget the tube pan tip! Cover the hole over with a cup when pouring the batter in the pan.)

    Sunday, November 4, 2012

    He is back in the kitchen!

    My darling husband took a big interest a few years ago with cooking and baking.  He would watch the cooking shows on Food Network, find an interesting recipe and then go to our computer and print it off.  Currently we have two binders,a 3 inch binder with all sorts of foods and a 1 inch binder of dessert recipes he has taken off the Internet and tried, along with a cupboard full of cookbooks .  He will make comments on them such as "good for guests, or foodie friend worthy".  Some of the recipes we go back to again and again and some we have had once, loved it, but haven't found the opportunity to make it again.  But we will someday. 

    This past Saturday when I was making the Apple Cake and the butternut squash, my Valley Boy was making a wonderful chicken recipe for dinner.  We have had this recipe for quite some time and it was even featured at a dinner club dinner hosted by our foodie friends (wine friends and best friends!) a couple of years ago.  It is something very simple, easy and elegant!

    Rachael Ray's Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Blue Cheese and Pecans


    4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 cup blue cheese crumbles
    1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
    2 scallions, sliced on bias
    4 slices good-quality center cut bacon
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 cup chicken stock
    1/2 cup half-and-half or cream
    2 tablespoons grainy mustard
    Special equipment: toothpicks


    Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

    Butterfly the chicken breast pieces by cutting across the breast but not all the way through. Open the breasts up and pound lightly between parchment paper. Peel paper away and season the meat with salt and pepper.

    Cover the seasoned chicken cutlets with blue cheese crumbles, pecans and scallions in equal amounts. Roll the chicken, wrap each roll with bacon and secure with toothpicks. Season the outside of the rolls with salt and pepper.

    Heat the olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken evenly all over, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a small baking sheet, place in the oven and cook 10 minutes more.

    Melt the butter in the same skillet pan the chicken was seared in over medium heat. Whisk in flour, cook 1 minute then whisk in stock. Let thicken a minute then whisk in the half-and-half and grain mustard, season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to warm.

    Halve the chicken and stack to show off the center. Set chicken in gravy or pour over top. Serve with rice and greens, if desired.

    Pictures do not do this justice!  Wonderful mix of flavors and the sauce is great on the rice! 

    Tuesday, October 30, 2012

    Roasted Butternut is almost that time!

    Reprinted from Fall of 2012.... Because it is almost that time!

    I must admit, I am a picky eater.  But in the 21 years I have been married, I have gotten much better.  So I really don't care for cold sandwiches with all different condiments or deviled eggs (OK, the list goes on...).   I now can say  have a true appreciation of all different kinds of squash.  First it was acorn squash with butter and brown sugar, then it was spaghetti squash with maybe a little marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese. Well now it is roasted butternut squash. 

    A few weeks back we invited our foodie friends over for dinner and some great wine (Stags Leap).  I had picked up a roasting chicken at our local grocery store and decided to try Ina Garten's - Jeffrey's Roast Chicken. Now what to go along with the chicken that our foodie friends would like... 

    Roasted Butternut Squash

    1 large (4 lbs) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and 1-inch-diced
    3 tbsp olive oil
    1 tbsp chopped thyme
    2 tsp kosher salt
    1 tsp ground black pepper
    Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the squash on a rimmed foil lined baking sheet, add the olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper and toss with your hands. Roast until tender, tossing once during cooking with a metal spatula so the cubes brown evenly, 30 to 40 minutes. Season to taste and serve hot. Serves 4 to 6.

    1 (4-5 lb) roasting chicken
    salt and freshly ground pepper
    2 lemons, quartered
    1 whole head of garlic, cut in half cross-wise olive oil
     Small amount of fresh thyme (My addition to the recipe)
    2 Spanish onions, peeling and thickly sliced
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1/2 cup chicken stock
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

    Preheat the oven to 425°.

    Remove and discard the giblets. Rinse and pat the chicken dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Place two lemon quarters inside the cavity along with the garlic.  (I added some fresh thyme form my herb garden.)

    Brush the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

    Place the chicken in a small (11x14-inch) roasting pan. (If the pan is too big the onions will burn.) Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour the mixture around the chicken.

    Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh. Remove the chicken to a platter, leaving the lemons and onions in the pan. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce.

    Place the pan on top of the stove over medium-high heat. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Add the stocks a and sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly for a minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collect on the platter under the chicken and taste for seasoning. Carve the chicken onto the platter and spoon the onions and sauce over it. If the lemons are tender enough to eat, serve them, too. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot or warm.

    Chicken ready for the oven. 

    Sunday, October 28, 2012

    Heavenly Dessert

    I called this one  Heavenly Dessert because it seems the only time we have made this lately is when someone we know has passed away and we want to bring something for the family to have on hand.  To be honest, my darling husband is the one who makes this cake the most.  People even ask for it because it taste so good!

    Well today I wanted a piece of Paula Deen's Grandgirl Apple Cake - the most heavenly cake on earth at this time of year.  So I made it.  You heard that right, I made it.  OK, well hubby peeled the apples for me, but that was all!

    I have included some photos of the process and a helpful hint when using a tube Pan.



    Butter, for greasing pan
    2 cups sugar
    3 eggs
    1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
    1/4 cup orange juice
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    3 cups peeled and finely chopped apples
    1 cup shredded coconut
    1 cup chopped pecans

    Here is the mix before the apples, nuts and coconut are added












    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup buttermilk
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda


    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease a tube pan.

    For the cake: in a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, oil, orange juice, flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and vanilla extract; and mix well. Fold apples, coconut, and pecans into batter.

    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Hint:  We place a cup over the whole in the tube pan before adding the batter.  This way you don't drop any down the hole.

    Shortly before the cake is done, make the sauce: Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the sugar, buttermilk, and baking soda, and bring to a good rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Pour the sauce over the hot cake in the pan as soon as you remove it from the oven. Let stand 1 hour, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

    Pure Heaven!
    Serve with whipped cream for extra sweetness! 

    Saturday, October 27, 2012

    Simple and Delicious!

    I had to bring this one back!  Great homemade hummus!  This is from 2012 and one of my most requested appetizers.

    Rosemary White Bean Dip

    I found this recipe over a year ago and keep coming back to make it again and again.  I even made sure I had a pot of fresh Rosemary outside my kitchen door.

    I wanted something simple and light for Bunco Appetizers last August and I came across two recipes for "hummus".  One was a roasted red pepper and the other was the rosemary white bean dip.  This one came from  

    When I tell people it is hummus, so many say "I really don't like the taste of chick peas".  Then I explain that it's not chick peas, but Cannellini Beans and give it a try.  And...they love it.  The smell of the roasted rosemary and the oil drizzeled over the top make it extra special.  Try it with cut up vegetables, bagel bites or pita chips.  You won't stop eating this. 




    1/4 cup olive oil, divided
    2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
    2 cans (15 oz. each) white beans (I used cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    2 teaspoons kosher salt
    3 sprigs fresh rosemary, rinsed


    1.  In a 10-inch frying pan over medium heat, stir half the olive oil and the 2 cloves garlic until fragrant, being careful not to brown garlic, about 1 minute. Pour the oil and garlic into a food processor. Wipe out the pan and set aside.
    2. Add white beans, lemon juice, and salt to the food processor and whirl until smooth. Pour into a serving bowl.
    3. Return the frying pan to medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the rosemary sprigs. Warm the rosemary in the olive oil until fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally so the rosemary doesn't burn. Remove from heat and let cool 10 minutes.
    4. Set the rosemary aside and drizzle the olive oil over the bean dip. Mince one teaspoon of the rosemary leaves and sprinkle over the dip.
    5. Do-ahead tips: Make dip up to 2 days ahead. Store dip in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring dip to room temperature before serving. Prepare the rosemary oil right before serving.

    Saturday, October 6, 2012

    This is what it is all about!

    About 10 years ago, hubby and I formed a dinner club with 3 other couples.  The group meets every other month and the host couple  comes up with the menus and send out cooking assignments to the other couples.  Some time there are comfort foods, sometimes they are themed dinners.  It is whatever the host couple decides.

    We have talked as a group about sending our ideas to Food Network, seen articles pop up in Cooking Light about dinner clubs and how to join one in your area, but no one ever really acted on sharing our story.  Well, that was one of the reason I wanted to blog. 

    Last Saturday we had another dinner that was Italian inspired and our assignment was dessert.  We made Cappacino Panna Cotta.  Simple, easy and delicious.  Topped with whipped cream and cinnamon, it was wonderful.

    Brian Boitano's Cappuccino Panna Cotta
    Prep Time: 12 min
    Inactive Prep Time: 5 hr 30 min
    Cook Time: 6 min
    Serves: 8 servings

    1 (1/4-ounce) package or 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
    3 tablespoons cold water
    1 cup milk
    3 cups heavy cream, divided
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 pinch salt
    2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
    1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
    2 tablespoons powdered sugar
    Ground cinnamon, for garnish

    In a small bowl mix together the gelatin and 3 tablespoons of cold water and set aside to soften.
    In a medium pot combine the milk, 2 1/4 cups heavy cream, sugar and salt. Put over medium heat and heat until just before it reaches a simmer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the softened gelatin, instant espresso powder, vanilla bean pod and seeds. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.

    Arrange 10 espresso cups or 10 (4-ounce) ramekins on a baking sheet. Stir the cream mixture to reincorporate all the flavors. Remove vanilla bean pod from the cream and evenly divide the mixture between the espresso cups. Cover the cups with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.

    In a large cold bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup of heavy cream and the powdered sugar. Whip with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Remove the panna cotta from the refrigerator and top each cup with a heaping tablespoon of the whipped cream. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and serve.

    Monday, October 1, 2012

    Better late than never!

    Cranberry-Almond Shortbread Tart - Fine Cooking Recipes, Techniques and Tips

    My handsome hubby recently had a birthday and I had told him that I was going to make this for him.  Well the day came and time had gotten away from me, so I stopped at the grocery store on my way home and bought him a fresh pie for his birthday.  Well, a rainy Sunday came along and I had all of the ingredients, so we celebrated hubby's birthday the right way!

    Cranberry Almond Shortbread Tart from Fine Cooking

    For the cranberry filling
    1 cup granulated sugar
    2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
    12 oz. fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (about 3 cups)
    3 Tbs. apricot jam
    For the shortbread
    3-1/2 oz. (1 cup) sliced almonds
    9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
    1-3/4 oz. (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs.) fine yellow cornmeal
    3/4 tsp. kosher salt
    8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 Tbs. packed finely grated lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
    3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
    1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
    1 large egg yolk
    Cooking spray
    Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish (optional)

    Make the filling Combine the sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup water in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, about 2 minutes. Add the cranberries and lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the cranberries have popped and the liquid is syrupy, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the apricot jam and simmer until the jam melts, about 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
    Make the shortbread Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until warm and fragrant but not yet brown, about 5 minutes; let cool completely.
    In a food processor (with at least a 10-cup capacity), combine the nuts with 2 Tbs. of the flour. Pulse until very fine but not powdery, 20 to 25 short pulses. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the remaining flour, the cornmeal, and salt.
    In the food processor, combine the butter, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, and almond extract.
    Pulse until creamy, 10 to 20 short pulses. Add the egg yolk and pulse a few times to combine. Add the dry ingredients and pulse, scraping down the sides as necessary, just until a soft dough forms, 30 to 40 short pulses. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic and divide.
    Lightly coat a round 91/2 x1-inch fluted metal tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray. Press half of the dough evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Form the remaining dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the dough and the tart shell until very firm, at least 30 minutes.
    Prick the bottom of the tart shell all over with a fork and bake on a heavy-duty baking sheet until firm, dry, and just starting to turn golden brown around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. The shortbread will have puffed up during baking, so use the back of a spoon to gently press down the bottom of the crust to create enough space for the cranberry filling. Spoon the filling into the tart and spread evenly.
    Crumble the remaining shortbread dough over the cranberries in pebble-like pieces, covering the filling. Bake until the topping is firm and golden-brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
    Carefully remove the tart rim. Slide a long, flat spatula between the pastry and the pan bottom and transfer the tart to a serving platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if using, just before serving.

    Sunday, September 30, 2012

    Asian Coleslaw - A Summer Classic

    A Lighter Version of the Asian Coleslaw

    Years ago, when I had a subscription to Shape magazine I found a recipe makeover for Oriental Salad.  It has become a favorite in my house and is quick and easy to make.  Even though the weather is turning colder, it still tastes good.  

    Oriental Cabbage Salad

    Adapted from Shape Magazine - July 1999

    2- 3oz. pkgs. low fat beef ramen noodle soup (leave dry)
    1- 16oz. pkg. cabbage slaw or shredded cabbage
    1/4 cup salted sunflower seeds
    1/3  cup slivered almonds, toasted
    1 1/2 cups chopped chives
    2 tablespoons hot water
    1/2 cup pineapple juice (buy the little cans and have enough for the summer salad season)
    5 teaspoons dark sesame oil
    1/2 cup white wine vinegar
    3 tablespoons sugar

    To make salad, crumble ramen noodles. (Be sure to save one of the flavor packets for the dressing.) In a large bowl, toss together the noodles, cabbage, sunflower seeds, almonds, and chives.

    To make the dressing, dissolve one beef flavor packet in the 2 tablespoons hot water. Whisk together the pineapple juice, sesame oil, vinegar, sugar and dissolved beef flavored mixture. Pour over salad. Cover and chill at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.


    Thursday, August 30, 2012

    Pinterest strikes again!

    I really like checking out the Pinterest boards to find new recipes and ideas for decorating the house for the upcoming holidays. One day I stumbled up a recipe featuring orzo and feta. Looking closer I saw that it also had shrimp, one of my kids favorite treats. My little picky eater won't eat grilled cheese or make a regular sandwich or bring his lucnh to school(kinda like his mother), but he loves to go get a sub at Subway, loves calamari and other seafoods that you might not think kids would try. My daughter on the other hand will try anything, like her father.

    Well, I pinned this recipe to my "looks yummy have to try" board to test out one day. Then last week I was showing some of these pins to my husband and he says "well, get the stuff and make it". And that is just what I did last night. Now I have a new board "Tried it, loved it" where the pin now resides.

     Athenian Orzo (Slightly Adapted from: Eating Well)
     Serves 4

    1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 small onion, chopped
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    1/4 cup dry white wine
    2 large tomatoes, chopped (canned diced tomatoes would work here as well, but fresh tastes so much better!)
    3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1/2 teaspoon dried basil
    1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
    Freshly ground pepper, to taste
    Pinch of crushed red pepper
    1 pound medium shrimp, (30-40 per pound), peeled and deveined
    1 cup orzo
    3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

    Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch (or other 3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray. Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil. Heat oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper; cook for 5 minutes. Drop in shrimp and cook, stirring, until barely pink, about 2 1/2 minutes. Cook orzo in the boiling water until tender but still firm, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Toss with the tomato-shrimp sauce. Sprinkle with feta and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley. Bake, uncovered, until the feta is bubbly, about 10 minutes.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Who Knew?

    Who knew the wineries in Canada would be so beautiful and have some really nice wines?  Call me a wine snob, but I only thought NYS and California could produce such good wines in North America. 
    Picture taken at Jackson Triggs Winery during our private tour

    We went up to Niagara on the Lake for the weekend with our very close friends (High School Sweethearts on Left, Me and my Valley Boy on right).  This is something we have done for the last 21 years- take a wine trip together every fall.  It was a bit earlier this year because of the kids schedules and trying to find someone to keep an eye on them for the weekend.  Plus, our High School Sweethearts are heading to Italy in September for their 25th Wedding Anniversary Trip.  (We get to babysit their dog, Brady!)

    We arrived in Niagara and heading straight to Jackson Triggs for our tasting appointment.  Had a wonderful tour with Sheba and tasted several wines throught the time there.  After the visit we heading to our Inn, The Harbour House Hotel.  Great location off the main street and very quiet.  Your room includes breakfast and a wine and cheese reception each afternoon.

    Late that afternoon we explored this quaint little village and had a wonderful meal at Epicurean.  I had a lovely Caesar Salad and veal bolognese.  I followed the menu suggestion and had a merlot 2007 from Pillitteri Estate.  This was a shock to our friends because I always have a white wine.  Valley Boy and I ended our meal with a piece of pecan pie.

    Our Saturday adventure started at 9:30 following breakfast at the Inn.  We rented bicycles to ride along the wine trail.  This is something new for hubby and me, but we were game.  We headed first to the local farmers market and picked up a loaf of olive bread and fresh cheese curds while our friends picked up pickled asparagus, asparagus chips and other assorted goodies.  Then off on our bikes again to stop at a few wineries.  We each picked up a bottle of wine at Inniskillan for our lunch and around 1 p.m. we stopped along the trail for a picnic. 

    One of the highlights was a Steakhouse Onion cheese from Yancey's Fancy!  Delicious!  We have to get more of this!  Bread, Cheese, Asparagus, wine and great friends! Music played from the ipod I brought along and the sunny was shining and nice a warm. It was a wonderful picnic lunch.

    We estimated that we rode for about 20 miles, but later found out that it was more like 12 once our friends mapped out the rpute we took.  I like the 20 mile estimate myself.  What a great trip.

    What's for Dinner Tonight?

    What to make for dinner?  Seems to be the nightly question.  Well I was wandering around Pinterest one day and found this delightful recipe that look like it had ingredients in it that I have on hand.

    Rachael Ray's Southwestern Chili Con Queso Pasta Bake1 pound penne rigate
    1 1/2 pounds ground beef
    1 tablespoon ground cumin
    1 tablespoonground coriander

    2 tablespoons chili powder
    Coarse black pepper
    1 large yellow onion, chopped
    3 garlic cloves, chopped
    1 jalepeño
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    2 cups milk
    3/4 pound cheddar cheese, mexican blend preferred(about 2 1/2 cups)
    1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves , chopped
    1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (optional)  (I am not a big fan of parsley
    1 14-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
    Preheat the broiler to high and position the rack 8 inches from the heat.

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta until slightly undercooked--a little chewy at the center.

    While the water is coming to a boil, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the hamburger.  When the hamburger is almost finished, but still a little pink, throw in the garlic, jalepeño, and onions and finish cooking until the burger is browned and the onion is translucent.  Drain the grease from the skillet and mix in the cumin, coriander and chili powder.  Take off the heat or turn heat down low.

    In a medium sauce pot (and you can do this while you're browning the hamburger), melt the butter and add the flour to it to make a rue.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes over moderate heat and then whisk in the milk. When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese, cilantro and parsley with a wooden spoon.  When the cheese has melted, stir in the tomatoes.

    Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back into the large pot.  Add the contents of the hamburger and all of the Cheddar sauce, and stir to combine.  Transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle with a bit more cheese if you wish, and place under the broiler to brown slightly.

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Blueberries, Blueberries, Blueberries

    What do you do when a holiday falls in the middle of the week and you are not taking any extra time off?  No big road trips or big barbecue parties were planned. Darling Daughter suggest Blueberry picking!  Blueberry picking when it is a 95 degree, hot and humid day?  OK, let's get this done early in the morning when it is not so hot and then come home and make ice cream.  Off we go with a cooler packed with cold water, two empty buckets and sneakers packed for the berry patch. 

    We head on out to a rural area west of us to a local farm stand and drive down the bumpiest dirt road there could be in our area.  It reminded my husband and me of driving along the shoreline in Aruba looking for the Natural Pool.  At the bottom of the road you find a wagon that is set up as a weigh station.  the checkout guys tells you what area you can pick in and to avoid the areas marked with yellow flags (gopher holes) or red flags (poison ivy).  So we set off with our two buckets and begin to pick.  The bushes are full and the picking is easy!  We are even interviewed by a local news channel on what brought us out on a holiday to pick blue berries.

    Well thirteen pounds later, and two buckets filled to the brim, we head home.   We freeze six quarts, much on a bowl full of berries and try to find a recipe for Blueberry ice cream.  My Williams and Sonoma Ice Cream Cook Book comes through with a great recipe for Blueberries and Cream!   Very easy and delicious.

     Blueberry Ice Cream: (From Williams and Sonoma Ice Cream cook book)

    • 2 cups fresh blueberries
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
    In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the fresh blueberries, water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes to steep.

    Transfer the blueberry mixture to a food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

    Add the cream and lemon juice to the blueberry puree and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.

    Tuesday, May 22, 2012

    Hubby to the rescue!

    Tired of eating from Quick Service Restaurants...  Hubby to the rescue!  Our last Lacrosse game of the season was last week and off I went after work to retrieve our darling daughter.  On my way I picked up my  84 year old mother, her cane and a lawn chair in case the field they were playing on was close to my car.  And it was, so Grandma got to see her granddaughter stand on the side lines.  (That is really all she does.  Coach does not play the second string.) And following the game Grandma proudly told darling granddaughter that she should be honored that Grandma made two of her games this year.  Too bad she sat the bench both time, but hey she got to see her. 

    While all of this was taking place, hubby was mowing the lawn and putting a new recipe in the oven for a late family dinner.  There was a recipe booklet attached to our Better Homes and Gardens subscription renewal and he found this little treasure - Chicken Enchilada Pasta.

    It was quite tasty and filling.  I guess when he saw the recipe he thought that it would take no time to prepare.  What he didn't realize that it was really stuffed shells Mexican Style, so prep time was a bit longer than planned.

    Everyone enjoyed it, except our little guy who picked out all of the peppers. The only bad part about it was not as tasty reheated.  So if you plan on making this...feed a crowd and eat it all!

    So, one sport done for the season and one still in full swing.  Maybe a little more time for homemade dinners?

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

    Remind me what normal is?

    Lacrosse, Baseball, full time job, Mom's taxi service... Practices, away games, 3 games in one week.....and now a Garage Sale on Friday!  Are you kidding me?  No wonder I am not posting any good recipes or culinary delights.  When will we return to normal life, normal diet? 

    Well the good news is school is almost over.  Lacrosse is almost over! and our next gourmet dinner club is scheduled.  In the mean time, here is a couple of recipes I used from Food Network and Fine Cooking  for our Valentine's Day Dinner in 2011. 
    Sauteed Asparagus and Snap Peas on the Food Network
    Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary and Chocolate - Fine Cooking Recipes, Techniques and Tips

    So easy and delicious. 

    Off to pick up my darling daughter from larosse and then to a baseball game for our handsome little guy!  Subway anyone?

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    How was your Mothers Day?

    Pancakes following a sleepover was the only thing I cooked yesterday.  3 hungry boys, and one Bisquick Pancake shaker.  Breakfast was served.  But why is it that my first 2 pancakes never come out right?  Those are the ones that take so long to cook and still don't look right.  (They are the ones I always end up eating!) Oh well....

    Mother's day was a beautiful day!  The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the hummingbirds came back to our feeders.  What a glorious day.  We visited my Mother early in the morning, came home and worked around the house, then took my Mother-in-law out for dinner. 

    I count my blessing each day for my 2 beautiful children, my wonderful husband, my large family (I am the last of five) , my nieces, nephews, great niece and nephews and my wonderful friends!  They are all very special to me!  I am glad that they are in my life.  Happy Mothers Day and Happy Monday!.

    Wednesday, May 9, 2012

    Picky eaters favorite dinner!

    Do you every look at your children and say " hmm, this one is just like me or that one is so totally my husband'?  Well, when it comes to eating I can definitely say that about my children.  My oldest is just like my husband.  Will try anything, great eater and adventurous.  My youngest is just like me - picky!  My mother would blame herself for my eating habits when I was little, because she said she kept me on baby food too long.  Go figure that out growing up in a Diner.  I am not a cold sandwich lover.  I wanted a hot lunch, soup preferred.  But I did like the good stuff.  Steak, Prime Rib, shrimp, scallops, you know the expensive stuff.  When I was little and we went out to a restaurant, no hot dog hamburg for me.  It was a steak or prime rib, baked potato. 

    Well my youngest is the same way.  We can not get him to eat a grilled cheese for anything.  He won't eat a sandwich unless it is a sub from Subway.  But give him a plate of calamari and he thinks he is eating exotic!  Well today is his birthday and I owe him one of his favorite dinners. I found this recipe in Fine Cooking and thought, "He will never eat it!"  Was I wrong.  He loves it and asks for it.  I think that is what I will have to make for him this weekend.

    Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Sage & Caramelized Lemon

    Happy Birthday my little man!

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    Welcome - This is new to me!

    Let's start something new!  I have spent a bit of time browsing blogs and websites for what is new and interesting.  Saving recipes, printing out numerous copies and just trying things out. 

    Ever since I was little I have been around food.  My parents owned a diner is a small town from before I was born until I was about 12 years old. When I was little, my brothers and sisters and I lived upstairs over the diner.  Dinner was always made downstairs and then brought to the table to share.  My dad was the main cook and my mom was the waitress, donut maker, salad preparer, and everything else.  Meat and potatoes was always what was served for dinner.  After the diner was gone, there was still a lot of cooking going on.  The family grew with in laws and grandchildren adding to the mix.  Traditional foods always kept popping up at dinners and holidays, and recipes were either passed around or passed down for the next generation to start making. Food was comfort in my family.  Dad's homemade soups, Mom's chocolate cake, Christmas cookies and casseroles.  There was always something to nibble on.

    I lot of time has past since then.  I have been happily married to my wonderful husband, let's call him  'Valley Boy" for 20 years.  Cooking has changed for us from our first days of wedded bliss.  Back then, newly married and on a budget, chicken legs were $.29 a pound and could be cooked a variety of ways. Our friendships changed as we moved from apartment to first house to our current neighborhood.

    We now have two wonderful children who keep us busy. My husband took an increasing interest in cooking and trying new recipes.  And our love of good food and entertaining grew.  Watching cooking shows and then running to the computer to print off the recipe, gathering our closet friends together for a gourmet dinner club and creating our own "cookbook" of favorites is what our culinary explorations have become.

    Culinary adventures from the Dinergirl's kitchen. Not just my cooking, but my husbands as well. This is what I hope this blog will bring to all interested parties. 

    First Simple Recipe from our Hawaii Inspired Menu, a way to Jazz Up White Rice

    Saffron Rice

    2 cups basmati or jasmine rice
    4 cups chicken stock
    2 tablespoons butter
    2 tablespoonsdiced onion1 teaspoon salt
    2 pinches saffron, crumbled  (American saffron will be fine)


    1.       In a medium size saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the diced onion.  Cook to translucent.
    2.     Add the chicken stock, rice and saffron.
    3.       Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat.
    4.       Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until stock is absorbed and rice is tender.
    5.       Fluff with fork and serve.