Saturday, December 8, 2012

Easy Chocolate Brownies With Peppermint Bark

I have so many of these to make this year I decided to take a shortcut...Ghirardelli's Triple Brownie Mix which, by the way, you can find at Costco.   Because it already includes three types of chocolate chips I decided to omit the peppermint bark squares in the middle and add a teaspoon of peppermint extract to the batter.  They are finished with Peppermint Bark AND crushed peppermint candy.  I think that's enough peppermint, don't you?!  Below, the original recipe and my shortcut.

Chocolate Brownies with Peppermint Bark
Original Recipe

1 1/2 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 tablespoons)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
8 Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark SQUARES™ chocolates, chopped into large chunks (for the brownies)
18 Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark SQUARES™ chocolates, broken in to large chunks (about 8 pieces per square) (for the finishing)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with foil and grease with pan spray. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 inches of water to a gentle simmer. Put the 60% chips and butter in a heatproof bowl and set it over (but not touching) the simmering water. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until the better is melted and both ingredients are completely combined. Turn off the heat and leave the bowl over the warm water. Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, salt, sugar and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk together gently. With a spatula, fold in the flour. Immediately pour ½ the mixture into the prepared baking pan and spread it evenly. Next, sprinkle the chopped peppermint bark over the batter and then pour the remaining batter over this. Spread evenly.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. The center should be fudgy but not dry. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
Place Peppermint Bark chunks on top of warm brownies and allow them to soften for 1 minute. Using a spatula, gently swirl the melting Peppermint Bark to create swirls of melted chocolate. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Trim the 4 edges of the brownies by 1/4 inch. And cut into 18 squares.

My Easy version:

1 Box Ghirardelli's Triple Chocolate Brownies
1 tsp. Peppermint Extract
16 Perppermint Bark Squares
Crushed Peppermint Candy

I used a 9x9 square pan (glass)

Follow the directions on the box .  Add a teaspoon of the peppermint extract to the batter.  Cook as directed.

With the brownies still hot from the oven lay the peppermint squares side by side and touching on top so the will melt.  Place back in the oven for a minute or two until almost melted.  Take out and swirl with spatula or tooth pick.  Sprinkle the crushed peppermint candy on top. Wait until cooled to cut.  Cut into 16 squares.

Notes: If you lay the squares whole instead of broken up, they take about 4 minutes to melt in the oven.  If you go that route, take brownies out about 5 minutes before they are done so they won't over cook. 

Original Recipe from Ghirardelli

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lime Meltaways

This post was originally published in Lindaraxa last August.

We make these cookies every Christmas and give them away to our friends and neighbors.  Today I am making them for Madame Mere who arrives tomorrow.  She loves to have a cookie with her espresso after lunch and the Sous Chef gets another just because.  Of course my Wheat Belly regime will go out the window as well!

If you can find key limes, and they are around these days, they are a great substitute.

I'm so ready for this visit!

For the recipe click below

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Easy Monkey Bread

Gooey incredible stuff. Perfect for the holidays, specially Christmas morning with the grandchildren!

For 12


1/2   cup granulated sugar                                  
1     teaspoon cinnamon                                   
2     cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury® Grands!® Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2  cup chopped walnuts, if desired
1/2  cup raisins, if desired
1     cup firmly packed brown sugar   
3/4  cup butter or margarine, melted

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray.
  3. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan adding walnuts and raisins among the biscuit pieces.
  5. In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
  6. Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Quesadillas With Chutney And Brie

To make the tortillas more pliable, heat them over a direct flame until just warmed through (or heat them a few seconds in the microwave).
Everyday Food, November 2005
  • Prep Time 15 minutes
  • Total Time 30 minutes
  • Yield Serves 4


  • 4 flour tortillas, (10-inch or burrito-size)
  • 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 pound sliced leftover turkey
  • 1/2 cup leftover Cranberry Chutney, plus more, for serving (optional)
  • 8 slices thick Brie cheese (8 ounces)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread one side of each tortilla with 1 tablespoon mustard. Divide the turkey over one half of each mustard-coated side; dress with cranberry chutney (about 2 tablespoons per quesadilla). Layer each with 2 Brie slices, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold and press to seal edges. Brush on all sides with olive oil; transfer to two rimmed baking sheets.
  2. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until cheese has melted and tortillas are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing into wedges. Serve topped with more chutney, if desired.

Cook's Note

Because Brie melts so quickly, it's important to use thick slices, and to place them toward the center of the tortillas. This way, the cheese won't ooze out of the quesadillas during baking.

 Everyday Food, November 2005

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Three-Pepper-and-Sausage Corn-Bread Dressing



When I saw this recipe in the New York Times this morning I immediately thought of my daughter in law.  She is fast becoming a good cook but more importantly, she is developing her own style.  I can see from her choice of recipes a love for the hot and spicy and what we call in this country Tex Mex style.

Last night we went to an early Thanksgiving dinner at her parents house and one of her contributions was a green bean casserole with cheese and jalapenos.  It was not only delicious but also a standout in what has become perhaps the most traditional menu of the whole year.  Amidst  the turkey and gravy, the mashed and sweet potatoes, the collard greens and the cranberry sauce here was a new twist on an old recipe that made the meal rather unique and special.  It was what really stood out in my mind apart from the collard greens which I had never had in my life!

So if you are just starting to venture into the kitchen,  cook what you like, don't be a slave to tradition and develop your own style.  You'll be a great cook in no time.


Three-Pepper-and-Sausage Corn Bread Dressing


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds andouille sausage, or substitute fresh chorizo or hot Italian sausage
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 ribs celery, cleaned and diced
  • 2 red or orange bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 poblano or Anaheim peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 serrano or jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • 1 to 2 cups turkey or chicken stock (recipe here; if using store-bought broth, use low-sodium variety)
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1 pan corn bread (recipe here), cut into chunks and allowed to dry overnight (alternatively, toast fresh corn bread in warming oven for approximately 10 minutes)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste



Preheat oven to 375. Heat olive oil in large flat-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté until browned, approximately 10 minutes. Remove to a large bowl and set aside.

Add onions and reduce heat to medium, then sauté until they begin to turn clear and soften, approximately 5 minutes. Add celery and peppers and continue cooking until peppers begin to soften, approximately 10 minutes.

Pour vegetable mixture into bowl with sausage, add cilantro and toss to mix.

Return pan to heat and deglaze with a splash of chicken stock, then scrape contents into bowl with sausage and vegetable mixture.

Pour mixture into a large roasting pan and add beaten eggs and cubed corn bread, mixing by hand. Add turkey or chicken stock to moisten, cover with aluminum foil and place in oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it is soft and the flavors well incorporated. For a crunchy top, remove foil for final 10 minutes of cooking. Dressing can be made ahead of time and reheated later. Add additional stock if needed, and salt and pepper to taste.
8 to 10 servings
  • Originally published with Three-Pepper-and-Sausage Corn-Bread Dressing
  • By SAM SIFTON, November 11, 2012
  •   Schierlitz for The New York Times; Food stylist: Brian Preston-Campbell. Prop stylist: Bettina Budewig.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mandarin Salad With Caramelized Almonds

This was the salad I served at the ladies lunch, although I increased the caramelized almonds to 3/4 cup and the sugar accordingly to 1/2 cup.  I also omitted the celery.  


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsps parsley (dried)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper (ground)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce (- rinsed dried and torn)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (optional)
  • 1 red onion (chopped)
  • 22 ozs mandarin orange segments (drained) 


  1. In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the oil, vinegar, sugar, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cover and shake well. Refrigerate until use.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, cook and stir the almonds and sugar until the sugar is melted and the almonds are coated. Remove from heat, cool, and break apart. Store at room temperature until ready to serve salad.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, celery, oranges, almonds and dressing until evenly coated.
Serves 5

 Photo Allrecipes

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tartelettes Aux Fruit Panaches

I came across this recipe looking for a tart dough for my lemon curd.  Although not appropriate for my purposes, as it needs to be rolled out fairly thin,  it was the best and easiest that I have ever made.   When it comes to pastry, simple and delicious pastry, there is no one in the world better than Jacques Pepin!

Serves 4


2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 3 equal pieces
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ice-cold water if needed
4 small ripe apricots (8–10 ounces), pitted and cut into 8–10 thin wedges
4 small ripe dark plums (8–10 ounces), pitted and cut into 8–10 thin wedges
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

 Put the flour, butter, oil, sugar, and salt in a food processor and process for about 10 seconds. Feel the dough; if it is soft enough to gather together into a ball, remove it from the bowl and form it into a ball. If it is still dry to the touch, add the tablespoon of ice water and process for another 5 or 6 seconds, then remove from the bowl and form into a ball. (The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated.)

 Lightly flour a work surface and roll the ball of dough into a very thin square, no more than 1/8 inch thick. Using a round cutter with a 5-inch diameter, cut our 4 disks; or use a lid as a guide and cut out with a knife (gather up and reroll the trimmings if required). Carefully transfer the disks to a large cookie sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat, leaving a few inches of space between the disks.

Arrange the apricots and plums, alternating them in a spiral on top of each dough disk. Sprinkle the fruit with the sugar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the fruit is soft and the dough nicely browned.
Some of the juice from the fruit will have leaked out onto the cookie sheet. Before it hardens and makes the disks stick to the sheet, lift the tarts with a broad spatula and transfer them to a cooling rack or platter. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature.

Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Outing At The Pumpkin Patch

Every year around this time, we pack the dogs in the car and head out to our favorite place to pick out our pumpkins.  This year was especial as I will be hosting a ladies lunch next Friday and was looking for some unique pumpkins and gourds to decorate my dining room table.  This is our third year coming here and the dogs already know the drill.  They stay in the car, but get to look at the cows, goats, donkeys and anything else that moves.

Are we there yet?!!!

The selection is always top notch

My loot.  Love those Jarsdale pumpkins!

It was a cloudy and cool day, perfect for picking out pumpkins

Somewhere out there is our future Christmas tree!

You guys called that an outing?!!!.  I didn't get to chase a single goat!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Southern Tea Cakes



Southern Tea Cakes

Slightly adapted from Country Weekends by Lee Bailey
Makes about 30 cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons white distilled vinegar
2 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Coarse grind sugar for topping (optional)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together on high until light and creamy. Add the egg and mix well. Dissolve the baking soda in the vinegar and add to the batter, mixing well. Combine the flour and salt and gradually add to the mixer on low speed until the ingredients form a stiff batter.

Remove the dough onto a sheet of plastic, shape into a disk, wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Roll the dough out on a floured board to 1/4 inch thick. Cut 30 (2 1/2”) rounds using a plain or fluted cutter. Sprinkle the tops with coarse grind natural sugar, if desired.

Place the cookies on lightly buttered or Silpat lined sheet pans, leaving about 1” between cookies allowing room for them to spread slightly. Bake at 350° for about 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack. Store cookies in container with a tight fitting lid. The favor of the cookies improves if they are made a day or two ahead of serving.

Photo from Bijoux

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thai Chicken Salad

A great salad to bring along on a picnic or enjoy on early Fall boat outings. 

Serves 4


2 chicken breast halves, each 1/2 lb.

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 small head green cabbage

1/2 small head iceberg lettuce

1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

3 Tbs. fish sauce

1/3 tsp. Asian sesame oil

2 tsp. sugar

2 Tbs. seeded and minced serrano chili

1 small avocado, pitted, peeled and finely diced

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Place the chicken breast halves, skin side up, on a rack in a small roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until the juices no longer run pink when the chicken is pierced to the bone with a knife, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove and discard the skin. Remove the chicken from the bone and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Place the cabbage half on a cutting board and, using a large knife, slice across the cut side into the thinnest possible shreds. Measure out 2 cups; reserve any left over for another use. Cut and measure the lettuce in the same way. Set aside.

In a bowl, stir together the vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Add the chicken and stir to coat with the dressing. Add the cabbage, lettuce and chili and toss to combine. Add the diced avocado and gently turn the salad to distribute evenly.

Divide the salad among 4 individual bowls or plates. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.

Serves 4.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Art Of Entertaining

I will be speaking this Friday, September 14th at 1:00 p, m, at the Dawson County Arts Council on the Art Of Entertaining. I will be sharing my tips on how to tailor the perfect event.   For more information and directions click  HERE

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tomatoes Provencal

Just five minutes into the cooking and these babies had my Georgia home smelling like a French country the middle of a lavender field in Provence, in summer, right before lunch!
The following recipe is from one of my favorite blogs, French Essence by Vicky Archer.  I couldn't resist posting it even though I said I wouldn't be back 'til next week.  If you have never baked tomatoes this way you owe it to yourself to do so before the current crop is gone. Bye!

Tomatoes Provencal
For 10 people I would cook 15 tomatoes
Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees F or 150 C
Choose tomatoes that are as ripe and as red as possible without being over… I always buy them 4 days before I need them and leave them on the table in the kitchen to ripen
Wash them and cut the tops off… about one third into the tomato
Place the tomatoes face up on a flat non stick baking tray
Add 5 or 6 generous cloves of garlic to the tray
Splash olive oil over the tomatoes… a generous pour but don’t drown the tomatoes…
Sprinkle liberally with sea salt … this salt makes all the difference… and Le Saunier de Camargue is my favourite…
Bake in the oven for at least 4 hours… and then turn the oven off and leave them in there for another hour or so… they can even be cooked overnight but remember to drop the temperature right down..
Serve on a platter and scatter fresh basil on top…
These tomatoes are delicious served warm or cold… their caramelised texture is perfect with barbecues… or as an accompaniment to salads… Try them… I think you will love them… x

Recipe and foto V. Archer French Essence

Sunday, August 5, 2012

On Vacation....

Mom and I will be on vacation until after Labor Day.  See you soon!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Basmati Rice Salad With Summer Vegetables

If you have a vegetable garden, this could be your best friend.  Nothing like a cold rice salad in this heat!

  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked basmati rice, cooled
  • 2 cups bite-size pieces assorted vegetables (such as radishes, tomatoes, peas, summer squash) or carrot ribbons
  • 3/4 cup torn mixed leafy greens, sprouts, and herbs
  • 1/3 cup chopped red, yellow, or white onion or scallions
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (optional)


Pulse first 4 ingredients in a blender until combined; season with salt and pepper. With blender running, slowly drizzle in oil. Process dressing until well blended.
Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl; drizzle with 3 tablespoons dressing and toss to coat. Pass remaining dressing alongside for drizzling over.

Recipe Epicurious

Friday, July 20, 2012

Easy Summertime Coleslaw

I have been making this recipe ever since I can remember.  I had no idea it was from McCormicks, the spice company.  Easy, fast, the real deal!

Makes 8 (1/2-cup) servings.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Refrigerate: 2 hours


1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 package (16 ounces) shredded coleslaw mix


1. Mix mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, celery seed, ground mustard and seasoned salt in large bowl. Add coleslaw mix; toss to coat well. Cover.

2. Refrigerate 2 hours or until ready to serve. Stir before serving.

Recipe from McCormick

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Neiman Marcus Popovers!

You will dazzle them at a ladies luncheon if you come up with these!  Keep in mind a resting period of 1 hour.


3 1/2 cups milk
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 large eggs, at room temperature


Preheat oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit

Pour milk into a saucepan and set over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until lukewarm (but not hot), about 110 degrees fahrenheit.

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder into a large bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, beat the eggs on low speed for about 3 minutes, until foamy and pale in color. Stir in the warm milk and continue to mix at low speed. Gradually add the flour mixture to the beaten eggs at low speed then increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes longer.

Let the batter rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

Spray a 12-cup nonstick popover tin generously with nonstick spray and set on a baking sheet.

Fill the cups of the tin almost to the top with batter.  Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the over temperature to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Bake the popovers  for 30 to 35 minutes longer, or until they are deep golden brown and crispy on the outside and airy on the inside.

Serve hot with strawberry butter.

Strawberry Butter:

1 pound unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 strawberry preserves

Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the preserves and beat until well combined. To serve, spoon or pipe into one-ounce ramekins or bread and butter plates.

These and more recipes are found in the “Neiman Marcus Cookbook” available at NM restaurants
or here

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spicy Prawns With Zesty Avocado Spread

The creamy avocado in these bite sized appetizers is a cool complement to the spicy prawns and the crunchy texture of the rice cracker. This delightful and gluten-free appetizer will whet your guests’ appetites during all spring and summer entertainment occasions. Ensure you make plenty of extras as they will quickly disappear!

1 tbsp olive oil
20 large prawns, shelled
1 tbsp chilli garlic paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 avocados, finely diced
1 green onion, sliced
1 lemon, juice and zest
20 sesame rice crackers
20 cilantro leaves


In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil and shrimp.  Cook shrimp for 2 to 4 minutes per side until they turn orange/red in colour and opaque. Add chili garlic paste and stir to coat, continuing to cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside for later use.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine cilantro, avocados, green onion, lemon juice and zest. Top each cracker with 1 tsp (5mL) avocado spread and 1 prawn. Garnish with a cilantro leaf.
Serve immediately.

Yield: 20 pieces

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Look Who Just Landed!

The hawk in this case is one of a pair of hawks that live in the woods behind our garden.  They rule the entire area along the creek and nothing, and I mean nothing, gets past them.  The other day we heard a ruckus in the backyard and rushed to the window to see a poor owl being chased out of the woods by the hawks and every bird in the neighborhood, including the blue jays.  Apparently the owl landed unexpectedly in someone else's territory.

This one appeared early this morning as we were having coffee and sat there for a good 5 minutes surveying the yard.  He or she must have been stalking something, I hope not a snake.  Right below her is the wild flower garden which has turned into a zoo attracting all kinds of bees, birds and heavens knows what.

I don't know if hawks are a good or bad omen...but this one landed on the Fourth of July!

I just missed her!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Last Minute Red,White And Blue Trifle

My daughter has been asked, at the last minute, to bring a dessert for a Fourth of July cookout. It seems the hostess underestimated the popularity of a lake house for tomorrow's fireworks display.   Seeing that she is working normal hours today, we thought this would be a cinch to make and great theater for the occasion.

This dessert is assembled in a spring form pan. Alternatively, you can layer everything in a trifle mold and use store bought pound cake instead of ladyfingers.  Sara Lee makes a good one.

Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 pounds raspberries (5 cups)
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 large orange)
  • 10 ounces mascarpone cheese (1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Fine salt
  • 20 to 24 ladyfingers (from a 7-ounce package), broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 pound blueberries (2 1/2 cups)
  1. In a medium bowl, combine raspberries with 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and orange juice. With the back of a fork, lightly mash berries to release their juices and let sit 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together mascarpone and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar until smooth. Whisk in cream, vanilla, and pinch of salt and whisk until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes.

  2. Cut one or two pieces parchment 1 inch taller than side of an 8-inch springform pan and line inside of pan. Place half the ladyfingers in pan and top with half the raspberry mixture. With a small offset or rubber spatula, spread half the whipped cream over berries. Tap pan gently on counter to remove air bubbles. Repeat with remaining ladyfingers, raspberry mixture, and whipped cream. Top with blueberries and refrigerate until whipped cream is stiff and cookies have softened, about
    3 hours (or, tightly covered with plastic, up to 3 days). To serve, unmold trifle and peel away parchment.

You can use cake sparklers on this trifle. They should only be used outdoors, according to package instructions; alternatively, look for sparkle candles, which will give you a similar look. Both are available from many online baking-supply stores.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How To Care For Plants In Hot Weather

I am like a new mother these days checking on my plants every five minutes to see how they are dealing with 106 degree heat.  Most of them are coping, except for my beautiful parsley, both curly and Italian, both  much in need of intensive care.

The care of plants and flowers in hot weather is pretty much the same with exception to container plants, or those that have been newly planted. Of course, additional watering is a given, with new and potted plants requiring even more irrigation. In addition to watering more often, mulching plants can help conserve moisture and keep plants cooler. The use of shade covers, especially on vegetable crops, may be helpful as well.

Container plants will require daily watering, even twice a day in high temperatures. These plants should be given a thorough soaking until water can be seen coming out from the drainage holes. Placing water granules in pots also helps. As these will gradually soak up excess water, in times of dryness, the granules will slowly release some of this water back into the soil. Moving potted plants to a shadier location during the heat of the day is also recommended.

If some of your plants look like they have died and gone to heaven, don't give up on them.  Cut them back 50%, move them to a larger pot, water and fertilize them.  They may surprise you and come back sooner than you expected.

Reprinted from Gardening Know-How by Nikki Phipps

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cheese Drop Biscuits

Cheese Drop Biscuits 

My mother always told me to trust recipes that came with a brand.  After all, they showcase the product so they have to be good.  This recipe is from the website of White Lily products.

Cheese biscuits are great for a ladies lunch, coming soon on Lindaraxa.

Prep Time: 10 min Cooking Time: 10 min Makes: 12 biscuits


Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
2 1/2 cups White Lily® Enriched Bleached Self-Rising Flour
1/4 cup Crisco® All-Vegetable Shortening
OR 1/4 stick Crisco® Baking Sticks All-Vegetable Shortening
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter


1.HEAT oven to 450°F. Coat baking sheet with no-stick cooking spray.
2.PLACE flour in large bowl. Divide shortening into several pieces; scatter on top of flour. Cut in shortening using pastry blender or 2 knives until crumbs are the size of peas.
3.STIR in cheese and milk gradually, stirring just enough to moisten flour and hold dough together. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet.
4.BAKE 8 to 10 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Brush tops with melted butter.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Jacques Pepin Corn Parfait

A parfait is a smooth cream dessert, and this savory recipe is creamy and smooth as well, hence the name. Corn dishes are always best in full corn season, with the ears picked fresh from the garden. Yet, supermarkets generally have pretty good corn most of the year, and this recipe is a great addition to roast meat or grilled fish, as well as being a good first course for dinner or main course for lunch. This parfait is always better when slightly wet and undercooked in the center.

Yield: 4 servings


1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups half and half
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 ears corn, husked
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


Coat a 4 or 5 cup gratin dish with the butter. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the kernels off the ears of corn, and put them in the bowl of a food processor with the flour, eggs, salt, and pepper. Process until well pureed. Add the half and half, and process for another 5 to 10 seconds. Pour into the buttered dish, and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake for about 25 minutes (mine took about 40 minutes) or until just set, puffy, and nicely browned. Serve. (The parfait is best served immediately, but you can make it 1 to 2 hours ahead and reheat it in the oven or microwave.)

Recipe: Jacques Pepin
 photo credit

Thursday, June 14, 2012

String Beans With Ginger And Garlic

French style green beans, or  haricots verts as they are called in France, are now in the markets  You can also find them at Costco and at Whole Foods.  Don't miss the opportunity to serve and enjoy them while you can.

For a dinner party where you want to serve a vegetable with a little zing, this works! 

Yield:  10 servings

  • Salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds string beans (French-style slim haricots verts work especially well), trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh ginger (about 6 inches ginger root, peeled)
  • 4 medium-size garlic cloves, minced


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and fill a large bowl with ice water. Working in two batches, boil beans until just tender but still crisp and bright green. Start testing after 4 minutes or so, being careful not to overcook. When done, plunge beans into ice water to stop cooking, lift out immediately when cool and drain on towels. (Recipe can be made to this point up to a day in advance and kept refrigerated, wrapped in towels.)
When ready to cook, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wide skillet over high heat. Add half the beans, half the ginger and half the garlic, and cook, stirring and tossing constantly, until beans are heated through and ginger and garlic are softened and aromatic. Sprinkle with salt, and remove to a serving dish. Repeat with remaining oil, beans, ginger and garlic. Serve

Recipe and photo from The New York Times.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Snow Peas And Chicken Green Curry

This is a perfect recipe for those of us who are trying to cut back and get in shape for the summer!

Made throughout Southeast Asia, curry paste usually includes fresh ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal, garlic, onions, green or red chilies, and cilantro. Green curry paste, called for in this recipe, is available at Asian markets and well-stocked grocery stores.

Serves 4


1 1/2 Tbs. canola oil

1 tsp. Thai green curry paste

3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast,

thickly sliced crosswise

1/2 tsp. Asian fish sauce

1 cup light coconut milk

3 Tbs. low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 long green chili, seeded and minced

1/2 lb. snow peas, trimmed

1/2 lb. button mushrooms, thinly sliced

Steamed rice for serving


In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the curry paste and stir-fry for about 45 seconds. Add the chicken and stir-fry until opaque, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the fish sauce and a little coconut milk and stir to scrape up the browned bits. Add the remaining coconut milk, the broth and chili and cook, stirring, until the liquid is reduced to 2/3 cup, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the snow peas and mushrooms and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.

Serve the curry hot over steamed rice.

Adapted from New Healthy Kitchen Series, Main Dishes, by Georgeanne Brennan (Simon & Schuster, 2006).
© 2012 Williams-Sonoma Inc. All Rights Reserved

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cherry Tomato And Caramelized Onion Bites

This recipe comes from one of my favorite food blogs Passionate About Baking.  and is a great way to use the beautiful cherry tomatoes over ripening in my kitchen counter!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


■ puff pastry

■2 red onions, sliced very fine {approx 150gm}

■1 tbsp butter

■1 tbsp olive oil

■150-200gm cherry tomatoes, halved

■ Few leaves of fresh basil chiffonade

■1 clove garlic, minced

■1 tsp white vinegar

■1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

■Sea salt

■Freshly ground pepper


1.Roll out the pastry into a 10.5″ X 10.5″ square. With a pizza cutter/pastry wheel, trim the edges and cut into 2.5″ squares {8 small}

2.Score a tiny border about 1/4 cm along the inside edge, taking care not to cut right through. Place on parchment lined baking tray and chill for about 30 minutes, until the topping is ready.

3.Gently sauté the finely sliced onions in 1tsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil until golden brown and caramelised. Reserve in a bowl.

4.Toss the halved cherry tomatoes with the basil, garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper. Taste and adjust flavours. Set aside for a little while for the flavours to mature, about 10-15 minutes.

5.Preheat oven to 200C.

6.Take pastry out of fridge. Divide the caramelised onions between the bases, ensuring they stay within the scored edges.

7.Give the tomatoes a good stir, and top the onions with about 5-6 halves each, cut side up. Sprinkle with a little sea salt.

8.Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and puffy.

9.Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Old Fashioned Blueberry Bars

One of my favorite summer treats from one of my favorite blogs, A Perfect Bite.  Perfect for barbecues and picnics.

Blueberry Crumb Bars


3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup + 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided use

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup cold butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

Zest and juice of one lemon

4 cups blueberries

4 teaspoons cornstarch

Optional: Confectioners' sugar for dusting


1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 baking pan.

2) In a medium bowl whisk together 3 cups of flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Use a pastry cutter or fork to cut in butter until mixture is in pieces no larger than a pea. Mix in egg and vanilla extract. Dough will be crumbly but stick together when squeezed. Pat half of the dough into the pan.

3) In another bowl, mix reserved 1/4 cup granulated sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice. Add blueberries and gently toss them to coat. Pour blueberry mixture on top of the dough in pan. Then crumble remainder of dough evenly over surface of berries.

4) Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned. Cool completely, then cut into squares. Dust with powdered sugar if using. Can be refrigerated for several days. Yield: 15 bars.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On The Grill...Soy Marinated Flank Steak

This weekend marks the official start of summer and barbecue season. Ladies and gentlemen rev up your engines and fire that grill!

 Prep Time 25 minutes

Total Time 25 minutes, plus marinating

Yield Serves 6


1 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1 flank steak (about 2 pounds)

Vegetable oil, for grates


1. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, whisk together soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, red-pepper flakes, and pepper. Place steak in dish and cover dish tightly with plastic wrap. Swirl dish so that marinade coats the top of steak. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours, turning steak occasionally.

2. Heat grill to high. Remove steak from marinade, letting excess drip off. Pour marinade into a saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

3. Clean and lightly oil hot grates. Grill steak, covered, 6 minutes; turn, brush with glaze, and grill until medium-rare, 6 minutes more. Let rest 8 to 10 minutes before slicing.

Everyday Food, July/August 2009

Monday, May 21, 2012


If I hadn't overslept this morning I wouldn't have caught this little devil, the culprit of the bare patches in my front lawn.  I have been wondering for days now why these patches keep getting bigger in spite of all the money I'm spending on getting the lawn weed free.  Well, it turns out that Mr. Bunny has set camp inside the bushes that surround the cherry trees, just a couple of hops from the grass.  And he doesn't just pick here and there, he grabs huge chunks!

Look at that chunk!

In the meantime, the squirrels were continuing their feast under my neighbors's oak trees!

....and I am standing in the front door, in my nightgown, taking pictures and shoooing a rabbit.

Of course, none of this would happen if I were allowed to patrol the front yard....


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