Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sleepover treats....for mom and dad and the teenage invasion!

This weekend our 13 year old son asked to have a couple of friends from school sleepover.    We said yes, that was OK, but two was the max.  We decided Saturday would be a better night so that we could get to the grocery store and stock up on snacks and treats.  Our little man had a list of his own for the store: Sprite, 2 flavors dip, chips and pizza rolls.  

As we were having breakfast Saturday morning, hubby started to make his grocery list for what he wanted to make this weekend (I had decreed earlier in the week that it was his turn to cook).  One of his items was the Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Cookies for the boys.  The grocery list was divided into 3 separate stores, one strictly for the items featured on sale, one for the meat and cheese selection, and one for everything else.  After a morning full of running around, we were finally home to start some serious weekend cooking.  

First up was the cookies for the sleepover.  They take a little extra time because the dough has to chill but are they worth it.  A glass of milk is a necessity!

Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies

24 cookies
6 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 cup sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup chopped walnuts

In double boiler over hot water, melt bittersweet chocolate chips and butter. In large bowl with electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs and sugar until thick; stir into chocolate mixture. In small bowl, stir together flour and baking powder; stir into chocolate mixture. Gently mix in semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts. 

Using a sheet of plastic wrap, form dough into two logs, each 2 inches in diameter and about 12 inches long. As dough will be quite soft, use plastic wrap to hold dough in log shape. 

Wrap tightly; refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm. Heat oven to 375°F. Unwrap dough; with sharp knife, cut into 3/4 inch slices. Place slices 1 1/2 inches apart on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until shiny crust forms on top but interior is still soft. Cool on baking sheet; store in airtight tin up to 1 week.

- See more at:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Betty does it best!

Sometimes you have to go back to the basics.  A beautiful fall afternoon, leaves are beginning to turn and you have a craving for Apple Crisp.  There are so many recipes out there.  Apple and blackberry crisp, apple and cranberry crisp or apple orange pound cake.  Too many choices... So let's go back to the original...the one and only Betty Crocker!

Betty is my fall back baker, chef and recipe source.  Who doesn't have a Betty Crocker cookbook in their cupboards. OK  I just checked..... I really don't have one, just  Better Homes and Garden and a bunch of Food Network Star's cookbooks ( I am sure you guessed that already from my other post), but I have the internet and my Betty Crocker App! 

Apple Crisp


medium tart cooking apples, sliced (4 cups)
cup packed brown sugar
cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
cup butter or margarine, softened
teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon ground nutmeg
Cream or Ice cream, if desired


  • Heat oven to 375ºF. Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with shortening.

  • Spread apples in pan. In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients except cream until well mixed; sprinkle over apples.

  • Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm with cream.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Melina's Fresh Pasta

My neighbor, Giada from across the street, has a younger sister who has a fresh pasta company in Raleigh Durham,  North Carolina.  She posts weekly on Facebook about her visits to farm markets giving area residents the menu of items she will be selling that week. Her products are now being sold in area restaurants and grocery stores.   Her company, Melina's Fresh Pasta, has grown from working out of her home to now her own production facility and several employees from what I hear.  Melina uses fresh ingredients and family recipes handed down from her mom and the numerous relatives in Italy.  When she decide to start her company she spent some time over in Italy perfecting her art.  I love to hear the stories of her pasta making, especially when her parents go down to visit.  I know Nonna, as my kids call her, steps right up to help and probably has a few new recipes for her to try or maybe a few tips.

For a few years now I would either read or hear from her sister about all of the new favors of pasta she was making.  My mouth would water hearing of the pumpkin stuffed ravioli or mushroom flavored.  I even requested that she come up to one of our dinner clubs to have a pasta making party, just to get a taste of Melina's ravioli or gnocchi.  We did get some homemade gnocchi one Christmas that the family had made while she was here that was delicious.  But I wanted more......

Well, right before we went on vacation Melina was in town for a visit.  On the Friday night of her visit "Giada" told me that Melina brought me some pasta, but I could only have it if I promised to blog about it.  Well, duh.....I was no fool.  YES! SHOW ME THE PASTA!!!!!

So today was the day to try my first flavor, Mushroom Stuffed Ravioli.  It was planned as a side dish to the grilled pork chops and steamed broccoli.  I search the web for a sauce to accompany the ravioli and decided upon the real Giada's sauce she used on wild mushroom ravioli, Butter and Parmesan Sauce.  I checked out the ingredients and realized that I didn't have any fresh basil, so thank you "back yard peep", she came to the rescue!   And the ravioli and sauce were a big hit!  Thanks Melina. I will post again when we try the gnocchi and the Lemon Ravioli.

So, if you are ever in the Raleigh area, look out for Melina's Fresh Pasta and check out her story.  I am hoping some day she has mail order pasta!  

My specially packed Mushroom Ravioli

Cooking the fresh pasta

Mushroom Ravioli with Butter and Parmesan Sauce

Butter and Parmesan Sauce

2 packages (11-ounce) fresh wild mushroom ravioli
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
6 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 whole nutmeg or 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2/3 cup grated Parmesan

Cook the ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain and put on a platter.

Meanwhile, cook the butter in a heavy medium frying pan over medium-high heat until pale golden, about 4 minutes. Add the basil leaves and cook until lightly fried, about 2 minutes. Add the pine nuts. Pour over the cooked ravioli. Grate 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg directly over ravioli. Sprinkle Parmesan over dish and serve.

Read more at:


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Birthday Wishes times 4

It has been awhile since I posted  but we have been very busy.  Hubby and I had a vacation planned with our foodie friends to celebrate a couple of milestone birthdays. (Not mine or Mrs. Foodie, we celebrated that back in March).  Yeah, Hubby and Mr. Foodie celebrated their birthdays in California Wine Country.  Hubby and I spent 6 great and busy days roaming Sonoma and Napa Valley. We tasted some great wine, ate way to much good food, rode bikes through the Valley and ventured out  on Segway's to a couple of wineries and a cheese factory. That was one of the highlights of our trip!

Prior to us going away Hubby was very, very busy in the kitchen baking - 2 Carrot and Pineapple birthday cakes.  One was for a co-worker of mine for her birthday.  She loves it when hubby is in the kitchen.  The other cake was for my niece's boyfriend and his birthday.  My niece was our kid sitter and house watcher while we were away.  Her boyfriend was our son's video game playmate and helped keep an eye on the kids as well.  Thanks to the both for helping us so that we could get away.  His birthday was the same day as hubby's so we left him a cake, which we had heard that he really liked as well.

Hubby and and our foodie friend didn't get cakes on their birthday's.  We had such delicious dinner each night that there was no room for dessert.  But I did buy them little individual ones at the Sunshine Market in St. Helena. A great little gourmet market in the middle of Napa Valley. Hubby got coconut cream and our friend got a red velvet cake.  We enjoyed them on our last night in Sonoma at the inn we were staying at. 

This cake is one of the most requested cakes that he is asked for.  

   Carrot and Pineapple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


For the cake:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 pound carrots, grated
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

For the frosting:
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
For the decoration:
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  
Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

For the cake:
Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Add to the batter and mix well.

Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.

For the frosting:
Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

Place 1 layer, flat-side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with diced pineapple.

Now, I have to admit....I messed up by not getting a picture once it had baked and frosted.  Hubby was prompting me to get my pictures, but in all of the rush to head out on vacation, I messed up.  But trust me, this is delicious!

Read more at:

Sunday, September 8, 2013

All from the garden! Roasted tomatoes with fresh herbs.

Hubby went out to our garden this afternoon to harvest the peppers and tomatoes.  He came in with two grocery bags full.  What to do with the harvest was the question of the evening.  I decided to take about 5 of the tomatoes and roast them, using not only the tomatoes, but the parsley, oregano, thyme and rosemary form our garden that we had.  

I went out and gathered the fresh herbs and chopped them all up, mixed them with 2 tablespoons of chopped shallots and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.

I sliced the tomatoes horizontally, cored and seeded them, sprinkled salt on them and let them rest cut side down on a paper towel for about 15 minutes.

Place the tomatoes in a pan coated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle them again with salt.

Top the tomatoes with the herb mixture and then drizzles 2 teaspoons of olive oil over the top.  Bake in a 350degree oven for 1 hour.  Remove and enjoy!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Worth reposting!

It is Saturday night and I wanted to make a dinner we haven't had is some time.  Our daughter is off at work and it is just hubby and our little man.  So I decided to make our "Picky eaters favorite dinner"!  This was one of my original post so, there weren't any good pictures and I posted the link to the recipe from Fine Cooking.  So, retread and give it a try...


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.

Pork Scaloppine with Prosciutto, Sage & Caramelized Lemon


  • 2 to 3 lemons
  • 1 small pork tenderloin (about 3/4 pound)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 18 medium or 12 large fresh sage leaves
  • 6 slices prosciutto, preferably imported
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup sweet vermouth; more to taste
  • 1/2 cup homemade or low-salt chicken broth
Trim a thick slice off each end of one of the lemons, and then cut 1/8-inch-thick slices from the
 lemon center—you need 12 slices, so you may need a second lemon. Juice the ends and enough
 of the remaining lemons to obtain 1/4 cup juice. Set the slices and juice aside.
Heat the oven to 200°F. Set a heatproof serving platter and a baking sheet lined with a paper
 towel in the oven.

Trim and cut the pork tenderloin into 6 thick medallions of roughly equal weight. Place a 
piece of plastic wrap on the counter top. Put one pork piece on top of the plastic with one 
cut side up and cover with a second piece of plastic wrap. With a meat mallet (or heavy skillet), 
pound the meat into 1/4-inch thick scaloppine. Repeat with the other pieces. Sprinkle both
 sides lightly with salt and pepper. Top each scaloppine with two to three sage leaves and
 then a prosciutto slice, folding any of the overlap underneath the pork scaloppine.

Put the flour in a shallow bowl. Dredge the scaloppine in flour, shaking off the excess.

In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat. Cook three of the
 scaloppine, prosciutto side down first, until lightly browned and just cooked through,
 1-1/2 to 2 min. per side. Transfer the scaloppine to the baking sheet in the oven. 
Add the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. oil and repeat with the three remaining scaloppine. 
Transfer them to the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Remove the pan from the heat 
and pour off any remaining oil.

Add 1 Tbs. of the butter and let it melt. Add the lemon slices to the pan in a single layer. 
Return to medium heat and cook the lemon slices until lightly browned on one side, 2 to 4 min.
 Turn the lemon slices and add 2 tablespoons of the vermouth to the pan. Continue to cook 
until the vermouth cooks down to a glaze, 2 to 3 min. (The lemon slices will resemble 
bicycle wheels, with much of the flesh going into the sauce.) Transfer the lemon slices 
to the scaloppine in the oven, placing two slices on each one.

Pour the remaining (approximately 3 Tbs. ) vermouth into the pan, bring to a boil over 
medium-high heat, and deglaze the pan by scraping up the browned bits from the bottom.
 Add the chicken broth and lemon juice and boil until reduced to 1/4 cup, 3 to 5 min. 
Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 Tbs. butter.

Taste the sauce for seasoning; if it’s too acidic, add a touch more vermouth to the pan.

Transfer the scaloppine to the serving platter, spoon the sauce over, and serve immediately.

Date Pinwheels for Christmas

I am reposting this recipe from September 2013 - originally entitled "Treasure from the freezer" because I just made a fresh batch for Christmas.   Mom handed over the chopped dates a couple of weeks ago which was her way to say - it's all you this year.  I agreed with the caveat that she still needed to make the Meringue Kisses.  The posting below is the original with some added pictures of the process. 

Treasures from the Freezer

Last December I took the afternoon off from work to run some pre Christmas errands and I also went out to my Mom's to help her make the Christmas Date Pinwheels.  She needed help rolling out the dough and adding the date filling.  The recipe has been around for years, passed down by my Grandmother to her daughters and now down to me.  I have been making them myself the past couple of years, but it is heart warming to have my Mom make them.  Plus we had a deal....I help her and the I get two of the rolls to bring home and bake them here.  

Mom had the dough already made and chilled, and when she knew  I was on my way she started to get the filling ready.  Her cookies are always loaded with dates and quite thick.  Her sister makes them as well but her cookies are paper thin.  Mom always says " I know you all like Barb's cookies better then mine" but that is not true.  With Mom's you can taste the dates.

So when all was said and done, we made 4 rolls of cookies, 2 for her and 2 for me.  And now 9 months later I have a special treat.  Looking forward to this years Christmas cookies!  

Date Pinwheels

1 cup of butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 lb of pitted dates cut small
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Mix the first four ingredients together.  Add the flour, salt and baking soda.  Mix well and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
When you are ready to roll out the dough mix together the filling ingredients in a small saucepan and boil till thick.

Divide dough in 4 parts.  Roll out each part, one at a time into a rectangle on waxed paper.  With thickened filling, spread over the rolled out dough  till about a 1/2" from edges.  

Start on the long edge of dough and roll by using the waxed paper to guide you.  You should have about a 12 to 14 "cookie roll.  Wrap with wax paper, transfer to a cookie sheet and freeze at least one hour. 

When you are ready to bake, slice cookies about 1/2" thick and place on lightly greased baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees, 12 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to cool.

Enjoy with a nice cold glass of milk!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dinner Club - A Southern Shrimp Boil , my Lemon Ice Box Pie and eveningof fun!

This past Saturday evening was our gourmet dinner club night at our friends "The Artist and Farm Boy"'s house.  I wanted to share the menu and the recipes that others prepared  As well as the dessert we made. The items are highlighted in blue with links to the various website our host found the recipes on.

I was a beautiful evening for the last day of August.  When we arrived at their home we quickly made our way our to their back deck.  The view is beautiful, open farm lands and the hills and the valleys that make up our local terrain.  Appetizers were laid out on the deck made by the host and our foodie friends.  A variety of drinks were offered and served. There was Muffaletta Won Ton Cups with Mustard Sauce  and Cucumber bites with garlic dressing, Corona with lime and Coors beer was in the cooler and then a little evening entertainment. Skeet shooting!  Something I have not tried before.

Our foodie friend hit the first one !

Hubby gives it a try. 

Not much luck, but had fun trying.

As we are trying out the skeet shooting our dinner was cooking in the pot just off the deck.  Our host had prepared the ingredients for the Shrimp Boil and Roast Beef Po Boys with Debris Gravy and we watched as the ingredients for the boil were added over a period of time. Once it was all done the contents of the pot was dumped out on a paper lined table and we lined up with our plates to fill up.  The Po Boys with available for the non seafood eaters as a second entree.  I filled up with potatoes, corn, shrimp sausage and tried out the Po Boys too. 

Nanas Southern Cole Slaw was a side dish to cool us down from the spice infused boil. We all agreed that the sweet corn absorbed most of the spices and was burning on the lips, but we keep feasting.

Our contribution to dinner was a Lemon Icebox Pie.  A very easy and refreshing end to a great meal.  This is definitely a recipe I would make again and I know one that I will have to get my mom to try.


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
2- 14 ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream
5 thin slices of lemon, cut in half (for garnish)
Fresh mint leaves

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix graham crackers, 4 tablespoons of powdered sugar, and melted butter in a bowl. Press firmly into pie pan.  Bake for 15 minutes or until crust starts browning. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Whisk together sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, and egg yolks. Pour mixture into cooled pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes.  Cool on wire rack and then refrigerate for 2 hours. 

Whip together the sour cream, whipping cream, and 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar with an electric mixer to the consistency of whipped cream. Spread or pipe (with a pastry bag and decrotive tip) cream mixture on cooled pie. Garnish with lemon slices and mint leaves and served chilled.

So as you either prepare for these dinners or sit around a comfy kitchen or dining room table with your dinner companions you realize how food can bring people together.  You also get a chance to experience something new that you might not of made for yourself.  At the end of the evening you have a new set of recipes to use again, you have shared new experinces and a lot a good conversation and laughs.  So Thank You M & J for a wonderful and truly fun evening!  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Inside out s'mores bars and end of summer peeps party!

It has been a very busy weekend.  Wrapping things up before school starts on Wednesday and enjoying the final days of summer was on our agenda.  On Friday the kids had their back to school physicals and our little man was excited to hear that he is now official taller than his big sister.  Hubby and I enjoyed a peaceful night together at our fire pit with a little wine and some music, until the rain started.  Saturday we had lunch out with the kids before a little shopping trip.  Love a great shoe sale!  That evening was our dinner club and I have a special blog planned in the next day or two to show the dessert we made (delicious) and the fun we had.  

Sundays plans were at the request of our little man, "let's have a party with our neighbors"!  So that is what we did.  We invited our peeps across the street and our peeps in our backyard for a "simple" cookout.  "Giada" across the street and husband started the party off with appetizers and swimming.  We then all moved to our backyard for dinner and movie night.  Hubby and I supplied the hamburgers and hot dogs, "Grandma's " cole slaw, Ina Garten's carrot salad and homemade Macaroni and Cheese at the request of the our little second grader to before the back yard.  "Mrs. T makes the best Mac and cheese!".  The others filled in with pasta salad, tomato basil salad, brownies, cookies and a cake.

Our evening ended with movies in the back yard shown on a sheet screen tacked to the window frame overlooking the patio.  We tested out the videos with a little reminiscing by watching home movies from about 10 years ago where we had all three families featured.  Then we watched "Here Comes The Boom" with Kevin James, Henry Winkler (kids had no idea who he was) and Selma Hyack.  Great movie for the  entire family.  We then started "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" but fast moving storms stopped our movie.  That was ok, it wasn't very good.    It was a great evening with our peeps!

So for dessert I prepared these Inside Out S'mores bars.  Easy and delicious and less of a mess than the traditional  s'mores we make  at our pit.  Found this recipe a few years back in Better Homes and Gardens magazine.


Inside Out S'mores Bars

  • 1/2cup butter
  • 2ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1cup sugar
  • 2eggs
  • 1teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4cup all-purpose flour
  • 9honey graham cracker squares
  • 1cup tiny marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 11x7x1 1/2-inch baking pan with parchment paper or lightly grease the pan. Set pan aside. 

In a medium saucepan melt the butter and chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Stir in flour.

Spread half the batter in the prepared pan. Top with graham crackers (divide as needed to evenly top the batter). Sprinkle marshmallows on the graham crackers, but do not let them touch the sides of the pan. Carefully spread the remaining batter on the marshmallows and graham crackers, covering them completely.Bake brownies for 25 minutes or until set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into bars.