Sunday, December 21, 2008


Surprisingly, I have not received a lot of cookies this year. Maybe I am unpopular or maybe we all just need some fresh cookie recipes to try. Either way, I am not tired of cookies yet and am excited to get baking this week. Here are three of my favorites. Blog your favorites- I love trying new recipes!

Cream Cheese Kolacky

Chocolate Crinkles
Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Crinkles

These beautiful cookies are known as Chocolate Crinkles or Black and Whites which are perfect names for this deliciously soft, fudge-like chocolate cookie that is encased in a coating of confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar. The batter for these cookies is chock full of chocolate and because the flavor of the chocolate takes center stage make sure to use a high quality, semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate that you enjoy eating out-of-hand. Once the batter for the cookies is made it does need to be well chilled several hourse so it can be easily rolled into small balls.

What makes these cookies so amazing is what we do after the batter is chilled, and that is to roll them in confectioners (icing or powdered) sugar. It is important that no chocolate shows through. The surprise is that as these white balls of dough bake, they spread, making cracks in the white sugar which reveals the soft chocolate cookie underneath. Do not to over bake these cookies or they will be dry and that is not how we want them to taste. We want them to be nice and soft. I love these cookies warm from the oven so, if possible, make them shortly before serving although they can be stored for a day or two - if they last that long.

In a stainless steel bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Remove from heat and set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs and sugar until thick, pale, and fluffy. (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.) At this point beat in the vanilla extract and then stir in the melted chocolate mixture.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to shape into balls (3-4 hours or overnight).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.

Place the confectioners sugar in a shallow bowl. With lightly greased hands, roll a small amount of chilled dough to form a 1 inch (2.54 cm) diameter ball. Place the ball of dough into the confectioners sugar and roll the ball in the sugar until it is completely coated and no chocolate shows through. Gently lift the sugar-covered ball, tapping off excess sugar, and place on prepared baking sheet. Continue forming cookies, spacing about 2 inches (5 cm) apart on baking sheets. (If you find the dough getting too soft for rolling into balls, return to the refrigerator and let chill until firm.)

Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes or just until the edges are slightly firm but the centers are still soft. (For moist chewy cookies do not over bake. Over baking these cookies will cause them to be dry.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

These cookies are best eaten the day they are baked.

Chocolate Crinkles:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder


1 cup confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Thanks Stephanie!

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Another of my all time favorites. I don't mean sugar cookies are my favorite- usually they are cripsy, flat and down right dull. But THESE sugar cookies are one of my favorite cookies. The sour cream makes them so soft and the almond extract with cream cheese frosting makes them taste delicate and mouth watering! I take them out of the oven before they start to get brown when they are still "dough colored" to ensure optimum softness.

After making Cream Cheese Kolacky who wants to roll out and cut more cookies? Not me. So, instead, I lay out a large sheet of plastic wrap (large enough to wrap around a "dough log"). I then pile the dough in big spoonfuls lengthwise along the center forming a rough shaped log. Then I wrap the plastic wrap over the log and roll it like a rolling pin to make the log even and round. The idea is that you can take a knife and slice the dough from the end and have round, circular cookies to place on the cookie sheet.

I know cookie cutter shapes are fun. But for most seasons I can think of a circular object to decorate the cookies as. Easter Eggs, Summer Beach Balls, Fall Pumpkins and Christmas tree ornaments.

Hope you like them!

1 cup butter softened
1 cup sour cream
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla (I use almond instead)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
4 tsp. baking powder
5 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add sour cream and mix, Add eggs and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together and add gradually. Mix well. Either shape into a roll if you plan to slice into circles or form into a disk if you plan to roll and cut the dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour. To cut the dough with cookie cutters, roll dough out 1/2 inch thick on well floured surface (may be a bit sticky so flour well). To cut into circles slice 1/2 inch slices starting at the end of the roll. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Frost when cool. Makes 4 dozen.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 tsp. vanilla (or almond)
4 cups icing sugar
8 oz cup cream cheese, softened
A few drops of milk (may need more depending on consistency)

Photo and recipe from Lindsay Miller

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cream Cheese Kolacky

These cookies are my favorite Christmas cookie. Hands down. They are not too sweet and feel so light in your mouth. Beware, though, they are not light. The dough is basically cream cheese and butter held together with some flour. Just remember that when you are eating your 10th. (Or do like I do and try NOT to think about that fact). The only sugar used is in the fruit filling and a dusting of powdered sugar over the top.

They are made by rolling out the dough, cutting it into 2 inch squares, putting a dallop of Solo pastry filling (my favorites are Apricot, Raspberry and Almond) and folding over two corners so that they overlap and stick. The trick to getting the corners to stay together while baking is a method I learned in art class when we would work with clay: Dip your finger in a glass of water and wet the corners where they should stick together- no scoring necessary :)

My mom calls them "little Jesus bundles" since they remind you of a babe wrapped in swaddling. Oh so, appropriate for Christmas cookie plates.

4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (or half can) pastry filling
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Mix the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the flour slowly, mixing until blended. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough to 1/8 inch and cut into 2x2 squares. Place a dallop of filling in the middle of each square. For each square, take two opposite corners and bring them together. Wet the bottom corner and stick the opposite corner on top of it.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15 min. Do not let the cookies brown. Cool on a cooling rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Party Food

Whenever we are invited to a party I am never quite sure what to bring. I have a file box full of dinner, cookie and baked good recipes but party food is a whole nother ball game.

Maybe you are thinking about how you don't go to Holiday parties. To be honest, we don't go to that many either. Mainly, we just have our own little family party. Our family tradition is to have an Hors D'Oeuvres night on Christmas Eve. Rather than make a big dinner two nights in a row we take a break on Christmas Eve with sparkling grape juice, shrimp cocktail, summer sausage with assorted cheese and crackers, cut vegetables and hot artichoke dip. I love how it makes Christmas Eve feel like New Years Eve (New Years Eve with the Nativity Story, fireplace roasted marshmallows and new pajamas that is).

Here are two recipes that get the thumbs up every time. What are some of your winning party recipes?

Swiss Mushroom Bread

Kindra's Cream Cheese Ball

photo from

Kindra’s Cream Cheese Ball

1 8 oz cream cheese bar
2 Tbsp soy sauce add to taste
½ cup green onion (mainly white parts with some green) finely chopped
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 ½ cups chopped walnuts finely chopped

Set out the cream cheese to soften while preparing the onions, cheese and walnuts. Mix together the cream cheese, and soy sauce then add and mix in the green onions and cheddar cheese. Pile the mixture on a plate or plastic wrap and form a ball or log. Sprinkle with the chopped walnuts, pressing down lightly on the nuts to help them stick, until the cheese ball is completely covered.

Serve with veggie sticks and or assorted crackers.

I could eat the whole thing if I have a box of Wheat Thins on hand!

Swiss Mushroom Bread

1 large loaf of French Bread (a wide loaf not skinny one)
1 stick of butter
1 small onion (about ¾ cup chopped) chopped
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 package of mushrooms (simple white or button mushrooms), washed and sliced
1 lb of swiss cheese, sliced (slices should be shorter than the bread is tall)

Slice the loaf of bread leaving just a bit of the crust at the bottom attached. You want to leave the loaf intact yet sliced enough that one can pull a slice off. Place the bread on a sheet of tin foil, placed on a cookie sheet. You need enough tin foil to completely wrap the bread.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and sauté the onions on medium. Before the onions are soft, add the poppy seeds and mushrooms and continue to cook on med heat until the mushrooms are wilted.

Turn off the heat and with a spoon, ladle the butter mixture between the slices of bread. I try to make sure an even number of mushrooms are in each ladleful and really try to pour the mixture so that it soaks onto each slice rather than just dump it down into the middle. After you have done this to each slice, place a slice of cheese between each slice of bread. The cheese should not stick too far over the slices of bread (otherwise it will melt on the top of the bread and make the slices hard to pull apart.)

Wrap the tin foil around the bread and place in the oven at 250 degrees for 10-15 minutes OR take the wrapped loaf to the party and then pop it in the host’s oven before serving.

To serve just open the tin foil to allow access to the bread and have a knife near by if a slice doesn’t tear off like it should 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Homemade Hot Chocolate and Marshmallows

Every Christmas I spend so much time debating what to give the neighbors and co-workers besides cookies that I end up doing nothing. When I found this recipe for homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows my light bulb went on. I have bought cellophane bags and gift tags and we'll be passing out the dry hot chocolate mix and some fresh homemade marshmallows.

Try it out on a cold night and test out different types of chocolate and different add ins to get it just the way you like it. My favorite variation is adding some crushed peppermint candy. What are your ideas for add-ins?

Don't forget to write the simple prep directions (add 1 cup water for 1/2 cup mix and heat 6-7 minutes) for your friends!

I have also included a White Hot Chocolate recipe from Martha Stewart. It won't pack well as a gift but thought you may enjoy it yourself this winter.

Homemade Hot Chocolate
A modified Tyler Florence recipe
Makes 4- 1/2 cup hot chocolate mix and 4- 1 cup liquid hot chocolate servings

3/4 cup powdered milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used unsweetened Ghirardelli cocoa)
3 ounces semi- sweet chocolate

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Take the semi-sweet chocolate and roughly chop it up to give a chunky but consistent size. Mix well with a wooden spoon and then store in a dry airtight container. To make the hot chocolate, simply add 1 cup of water per 1/2 cup of hot cocoa mix. Heat in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring with a whisk. Heat until hot, but do not boil, about 6 to 7 minutes. Serve with marshmallows.

Instead of cinnamon try crushed peppermint candy
Add a small pinch of ginger and nutmeg with the cinnamon for a spicy, Jacques Torres Style hot chocolate

Homemade Marshmallows

3 tablespoons (3 packets) powdered gelatin
2 cups cold water
2 cups sugar
2 egg whites
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting pan and marshmallows
Butter, for greasing pan

In a medium sized saucepan soak the gelatin in the cold water. After the gelatin has softened, approximately 10 minutes, add the regular sugar and then gently dissolve over low heat, approximately 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
In a mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks and then fold in the sifted confectioners' sugar. While the mixer is on low, slowly pour in the cooled gelatin mixture. Increase the speed and beat until white and thick. The volume should double in size and should form between soft and firm peaks.
Line an 8 by 8-inch baking dish with high sides with foil, grease slightly with butter, and coat with confectioners' sugar. Alternatively, you can use a baking sheet, but the marshmallows will not be as tall. Pour marshmallow mixture in and top with more sifted confectioners' sugar. Leave out overnight or for at least 3 hours to set. The marshmallow should be light and spongy when set.
Loosen marshmallow from edges of tray and invert onto a large cutting board. Peel off foil and use a large knife to cut the marshmallows into cubes. Dredge each piece in confectioners' sugar.

Martha Stewart's White Hot Chocolate
Serves 8

* 2 cups heavy cream
* 6 cups whole milk
* 12 ounces white chocolate , finely chopped
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 block dark chocolate

Using a vegetable peeler, shave chocolate into curls; set aside.

Place white chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl; set aside. Place milk and cream in a medium saucepan set over medium heat until bubbles begin to form around edges of pan (about 4 minutes). Do not boil.

Remove mixture from the flame. Immediately pour over white chocolate. When chocolate begins to melt, gently stir to combine.

Whisk in vanilla. Continue whisking until light foam forms.

photo from

Sunday, November 30, 2008


By Sunday I don't even want to look at those Thanksgiving Dinner leftovers- let alone eat them. But I cannot bring myself to throw away food. I just can't do it unless its expired. The stuffing and mashed potatoes seem to disappear pretty easily. But, its all that sweet potato pie, turkey and cranberry sauce that haunts the fridge. Here are three recipes I found that will give new life to those leftovers.

Sweet Potato and Cranberry Sauce Shortcake
Cranberry Sauce Muffins
Turkey Tortilla Soup

Sweet Potato-Cranberry Shortcakes

by Katie Lee Joel

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1/3 whole milk

Leftover cranberry sauce
Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 450 F. Grease a baking sheet.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and butter. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon. Stir in sweet potatoes until just combined. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated and the dough begins to shape into a ball.

Sprinkle a work surface with flour, coat your palm, and rub some on a rolling pin. Turn out the dough onto the work surface. Knead the dough for 1 to 2 minutes, folding it over onto itself each time. Rol the dough to about ½-inch thick. Flour a 3-inch biscuit cutter (or the rim of a glass) and cut out the biscuits. Reshape the leftover dough into a ball, roll it out again and cut out more biscuits until there is no dough remaining.

Place the biscuits on the baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. While the biscuits are still hot, spread softened butter on top of each one and let it melt.

Split each biscuit in half and fill with a few tablespoons of leftover cranberry sauce and a whipped cream.

Cranberry Sauce Muffins

- makes about 12 muffins -
by Michael Harr

1 cup flour
1/2 cup whole-grain wheat flour
1 cup oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups of leftover cranberry sauce
1/2 cup skim milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line muffin tin with paper baking cups.
2. In a large bowl, combine regular flour, whole-grain flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; mix well. In medium bowl, combine milk, oil, cranberry sauce and egg; blend well. Fold into dry ingredients all at once; stir until dry ingredients are moistened.
3. Fill muffin cups about three-quarters full.
4. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.

Turkey Tortilla Soup

3 6-inch corn tortillas, cut in strips
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cup purchased red or green salsa
2 14-ounces cans reduced sodium chicken broth
2 cups cubed cooked turkey (12 ounces)
1 large zucchini, coarsely chopped
Lime wedges (optional)
Sour cream and cilantro (optional)

1. In a large skillet cook tortilla strips in hot oil until crisp; the tortilla strips will not bubble after they are done. Remove the strips and drain on paper toweling.

2. In a large saucepan combine salsa and chicken broth; bring to boiling over medium-high heat. Add turkey and zucchini; heat through. Serve in bowls topped with tortilla strips, lime wedges, and cilantro. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What we all save room for

I don't know about you but I consciously decide before hand what dessert I will eat from the wide array that is usually available and save room for it during the Thanksgiving Feast. My favorite is apple pie. I love it when the apples are tart and still have a slight, teeny bit of crunch to them. And it must, must, must be Dutch Apple Pie with the streusel topping. My next favorite it pumpkin pie- but I have to be in the right mood for it maybe sometimes its just too runny for me. But, Pumpkin Cheesecake, I am always in the mood for. As if the kids have not had enough treats the Aut-yum Leaves are cute and "little-fist" sized just for them- but not too sugary and gooey for the adults to enjoy too.

Happy Thanksgiving Citrus readers!!!!!

Aut- yum Leaves

Photo and recipe from Family Fun

Here's a treat no kid will leaf behind. Made with store-bought piecrust dough, these leaves are filled with cream cheese and jam--but try chocolate and peanut butter chips, or chocolate chips, walnuts, and mini marshmallows, if you prefer.


1 egg
1 teaspoon of water
Prepared pie crust
Raspberry jam
Cream cheese
Raw sugar
Flour for work surface

1. Heat the oven to 375°. Whisk one egg with a teaspoon of water and set it aside.

2. On a floured surface, roll out a prepared pie crust so it's about 1/8-inch thick. Use a large leaf-shaped cookie cutter (ours is 4 1/2-inches wide) to make as many dough leaf pairs as possible.

3. For each pocket, spread about 2 tsp of jam and 2 tsp cream cheese on a leaf, leaving a 1/2-inch margin at the edge. Brush egg wash onto the edge, place a second leaf on top, and press the edges to seal.

4. Brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle it generously with raw sugar. Bake the leaves on a parchment-covered cookie sheet until their edges are just beginning to brown, about 12 minutes. Let them rest on the sheet a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.

Dutch Apple Pie with Oatmeal Streusel

This tasty recipe has you bke the apple fillimg first so you don't burn the streusel on top. Serve with some caramel sauce for an extra indulgence. Use Golden Delicious, Jonagold, or Granny Smith apples. Check out this tutorial for an easy way to slice the perfect apple slices.

by Ginny


1 (9 inch) pie shell
5 cups apples - peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup butter


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Fit pastry shell into pie pan and place in freezer.
To Make Apple Filling: Place apples in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine 2 tablespoons flour, white sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Mix well, then add to apples. Toss until apples are evenly coated.
Remove pie shell from freezer. Place apple mixture in pie shell and dot with 2 tablespoons butter or margarine. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil lightly on top of filling, but do not seal.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
While filling is baking, make Streusel Topping: In a medium bowl combine 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, brown sugar, oats, and lemon peel. Mix thoroughly, then cut in 1/2 cup butter or margarine until mixture is crumbly. Remove filling from oven and sprinkle streusel on top.
Reduce heat to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bake an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until streusel is browned and apples are tender. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning.

The Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the crust by combining the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and 1 tbsp sugar in a medium bowl. Stir well enough to coat all of the crumbs with the butter, but not so much as to turn the mixture into paste.

Put foil partway up the outside part of an 8-inch springform pan. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the springform pan. You don't want the crust to form all of the way up the back of each slice of cheesecake. Bake the crust for 5 minutes, then set aside until you are ready to fill it.

In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla. Mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice and continue beating until smooth and creamy. Pour the filling into the pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes. The top will turn a bit darker at this point. Remove from the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool.

When the cheesecake has come to room temperature, put it into the refrigerator.

Caramel Sauce
from Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats who got it from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody who got it from Baking: From My Home to Yours

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1-1/2 tbsp light corn syrup
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, stir just to combine the ingredients and then put the pan over medium-high heat. Heat, without stirring , until the caramel turns deep amber., 5-10 minutes. Lower the heat a bit and, standing back from the saucepan add the cream and butter. When the spatters are less vehement, stir to calm down the caramel and dissolve any lumps.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner- Sides

By the time I have tackled the turkey and the pie I am usually out of steam. Here are some very simple recipes for side dishes to serve at your Thanksgiving dinner. Next week: The sweet stuff!

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms with Spinach

Oven Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

Orange Scented Green Beans

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Pecan and Marshmallow Streusel

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms with Spinach

Robin Wilson

• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• 1/4 cup minced shallots
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 4 cups mixed wild mushrooms (any combination of shiitake, porcini, chanterelle, oyster, portobello, and cremini)
• 3 tablespoons dry sherry wine
• 1 1/2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
• 2 (10-ounce) bags fresh spinach

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until mushrooms are tender. Add sherry and soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Add spinach (add spinach in batches if necessary), and simmer 1 to 2 minutes, until spinach wilts, turning frequently.

Oven Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic

Paula Deen

• 1 1/2 pounds small new red potatoes (about 15), scrubbed and dried
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pare a narrow strip of peel from the middle of each potato. In a large bowl mix the oil, garlic, and rosemary; add the potatoes and toss well. Transfer the potatoes to a shallow baking pan and roast until potatoes are tender when tested with the tip of a knife. Serve hot. These can also be chilled and served with fried chicken or ham.

Orange Scented Green Beans

Rachel Ray

• Peel of 1 orange
• 2 pounds trimmed green beans, available in produce department
• 2 tablespoons butter
• Salt
• 3 tablespoons fresh chives, snipped

Fill a pan with 2 inches water and bring to a boil. Add orange peel and beans. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, beans should remain bright green with a snap to them. Drain beans and return to pan. Remove peel. Toss with butter, salt and chives then transfer to a serving dish.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Pecan and Marshmallow Streusel

Tyler Florence

• 12 large sweet potatoes
• 3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 3/4 cup light brown sugar
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup toasted pecan pieces
• 1 cup miniature marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash the sweet potatoes, scrubbing them well to remove any dirt. With a fork, prick the sweet potatoes in a couple of spots and place them on a sheet pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center goes in easily.

In a large bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, and flour together until it's crumbly-looking. Add the cinnamon, salt, pecans, and marshmallows; fold together to combine for a streusel topping .

Slice the sweet potatoes lengthwise down the center and push the ends towards the middle so it opens up. Stuff the sweet potatoes generously with the streusel topping and return to the oven. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and brown.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Turkey Tips

Making the Thanksgiving Turkey is an intimidating feat. It takes some patient learning and usually a mom type to show you how its done. Thanks to The Food Network you have some tips and How To's to help you along and some great turkey recipes.

Brined, Herb Roasted Turkey if you are expecting a crowd
Roast Turkey with Apple-Sourdough Bread Stuffing if its a small party- or this just isn't your year to cook the whole bird.

1. Thawing a frozen turkey requires patience. The safest method is to thaw turkey in the refrigerator. Be sure to plan ahead — it takes approximately 3 days for a 20 pound turkey to fully defrost.

2. For crisper skin, unwrap the turkey the day before roasting and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.

3. Cooking times will differ depending on whether your bird was purchased fresh or frozen. Plan on 20 minutes per pound in a 350 degree F oven for a defrosted turkey and 10 to 15 minutes per pound for fresh.

4. A turkey will cook more evenly if it is not densely stuffed. Consider adding flavor by loosely filling the cavity with aromatic vegetables — carrots, celery, onion or garlic work nicely — or by carefully tucking fresh herbs underneath the breast skin. For the stuffing lovers, cook the dressing in a casserole dish on the side.

5. For even roasting, truss your turkey.

6. Before roasting, coat the outside of the turkey with vegetable or olive oil, season with salt and pepper and tightly cover the breast with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning (it will be removed in step 7).

7. Don't be a peeping tom (no pun intended)! Once you get the turkey in the oven, resist the temptation to open the oven door and admire your handiwork. When the oven temperature fluctuates, you're only increasing the likelihood of a dry bird. About 45 minutes before you think the turkey is done, remove the foil from the breast to allow it to brown.

8. Remove the turkey from the oven when the deepest spot between the leg and the breast reads 180 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Check the internal temperature of the stuffing as well; it should be at least 165 degrees.

9. Tent the bird with foil and let rest for about 15 minutes before carving. If you need more time to make gravy, heat up side dishes, etc., you can let the turkey set for up to an hour without losing too much heat.

10. Remember to carve your turkey with a very sharp or electric knife.

Some more helpful How To's with pics from The Food Network:

Brining - Considered optional by some, brining helps prep the turkey to make it more moist and flavorful.

Trussing - How to tie your turkey so it cooks evenly

Carving - How to cut up those beautiful slices

photo from The Food Network

Brined, Herb Roasted Turkey

Emeril Lagasse


1 cup salt

1 cup brown sugar

2 oranges, quartered

2 lemons, quartered

6 sprigs thyme

4 sprigs rosemary

1 (10 to 12-pound) turkey

1 large orange, cut into 1/8ths

4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

Salt and pepper

1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/8ths

1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 bay leaves

2 sprigs thyme

2 sprigs rosemary

1/2 bunch sage

3 or 4 sprigs parsley

1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or turkey stock, for basting

Turkey Broth:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Reserved turkey neck and giblets

1 large carrot, coarsely chopped

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 large celery stalk, coarsely chopped

1 small bay leaf

3 cups turkey stock, chicken stock, or canned low-salt chicken broth

3 cups water


4 cups turkey broth

1 cup dry white wine

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Brine:


To make the brining solution, dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of cold water in a nonreactive container (such as a clean bucket or large stockpot, or a clean, heavy-duty, food grade plastic storage bag). Add the oranges, lemons, thyme, and rosemary. Note: if you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar for every gallon of water.

Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity of the turkey and reserve for the gravy. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water.

Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels both inside and out. Place turkey, breast side up, in a large, heavy roasting pan. Rub breast side with orange segments and rub on all sides with the butter, stuffing some underneath the skin. Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the turkey with the onion, remaining orange, celery, carrot, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley. Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string. Roast the turkey, uncovered, breast side down for 1 hour.

Remove from the oven, turn, and baste with 1/2 cup stock. Continue roasting with the breast side up until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the largest section of thigh (avoiding the bone), about 2 3/4 to 3 hours total cooking time. Baste the turkey once every hour with 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock.

Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

For the turkey broth:

Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the turkey neck, heart, and gizzard to the pan and saute until just beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add the chopped vegetables and bay leaf to the pan and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Pour the stock and 3 cups of water into the pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the stock is reduced to 4 cups, about 1 hour, adding the chopped liver to the pan during the last 15 minutes of cooking. Strain the stock into a clean pot or large measuring cup. Pull the meat off the neck, chop the neck meat and giblets, and set aside.

For the pan gravy:

Pour the reserved turkey pan juices into a glass-measuring cup and skim off the fat.

Place the roasting pan on 2 stovetop burners over medium heat add the pan juice and 1 cup turkey broth and the white wine to the pan, and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining 3 cup of broth and bring to a simmer, then transfer to a measuring cup. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, to make a light roux. Add the hot stock, whisking constantly, then simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add the reserved neck meat and giblets to the pan and adjust seasoning, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Pour into a gravy boat and serve.

Slice and serve guests with desired sides.

photo from The Food Network

Roast Turkey with Apple-Sourdough Bread Stuffing

This is a great recipe if you are nervous about cooking a whole bird- whether its cooking the whole bird evenly or having all those leftovers that come from cooking the whole bird. While this recipe calls for a whole bird and you cook it in parts. If its the leftovers that you don't want, you can half the ingredients and order just a breast from the butcher.

by Robin Wilson


1 (8 to 10-pound) turkey, cut into 5 parts (breast, legs, wings), giblets removed and discarded **

Salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

3 teaspoons dried oregano, divided

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 apples, peeled, cored and diced (preferably Macintosh)

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 tablespoon dried sage

2 teaspoons dried thyme

4 cups sourdough bread cubes

2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

**You can ask the butcher to do this for you


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Season turkey pieces all over with salt and black pepper. Rub fresh thyme and 1 teaspoon of the oregano all over outside of the turkey pieces and place turkey in a large roasting pan.

Place turkey in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the thigh reads 180 to 185 degrees F, about 1 1/2 hours. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, apples and celery and saute 5 minutes, until soft. Add parsley, sage, dried thyme, and remaining 2 teaspoons of oregano. Stir to coat apples and vegetables with herbs and spices. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add cubed bread and chicken broth. Toss to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Transfer the stuffing mixture to a baking dish and bake in oven at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Comfort Food- Macaroni and Cheese

There is a reason why so few of us have had homemade macaroni and cheese and why the instant stuff is such a household staple- its hard work to make the real thing!

I have to admit, that while I was making this, sweating from cheese grating and juggling a pot of boiling macaroni while trying to make the perfect roux for the cheese sauce I thought "This better be worth it." And it is worth it! Boxed, frozen and restaurant Macaroni and Cheese don't hold a candle to this recipe.

It is so yummy for dinner, lunch the next day and dinner again if its just you and hubby :) A big crunchy salad is the perfect mac and cheese partner, so I have included recipes from Joy of Cooking: All About Salads (my salad bible) for variations on the basic vinaigrette.

Martha's Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
Basic Vinaigrette

photo from

Basic Vinaigrette

Serve any one of these variations over a bed of crisp lettuce, shredded carrots, sliced tomatoes and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and voila! I like to fill a large bowl with ice water and soak my washed greens for a good hour or so before drying and breaking them into the salad bowl- your salad will be extra crispy.

makes 1 1/2 cups

1 small garlic clove, peeled and mashed
2 to 3 pinches of salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup red wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 shallot minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
ground pepper to taste

Add these things to a jar, or tupperware with a tight fitting lid and mix well.

Add 1 cup extra virgin olive oil and shake vigorously until smooth.

Lemon Caper
Make the above dressing with lemon juice and add
1 Tbsp drained, minced capers
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp lemon zest

Black Pepper
Make the above dressing and add
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp cracked black peppercorns

Basil Chive
Make the above dressing and add
1/3 cup fresh basil, minced
1/3 cup fresh chives, minced

Fresh Herb
Make the above dressing and add
1/3 cup any fresh herb like thyme, parsley or dill

Make the above dressing and rather than red wine vinegar use
cider vinegar
1 Tbsp horseradish

Martha Stewart’s Creamy Mac-and-Cheese

from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics

I used regular cheddar since I could not find “white cheddar” and romano cheese. You must grate the Romano since it will not melt down like the cheddar which I simply cubed.

Serves 12- more like 6 at our house…

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.

5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyère (or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano), and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes (though we needed a bit more time to get it brown, but your oven may vary). Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Junk Food

As promised- Halloween Junk Food! The following recipes are mainly sweets with one exception- Mummy wraps that I think are just as irresistible as the sweets. Happy Halloween!

Mummy Wraps
Spooky Brownies
Frankenstein Faces
Homemade Oreos
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Homemade Oreo Cookies

I have no idea where this recipe came from. I got it from my friend Megan Porter after I attended a party in her home and ate almost all of the cookies myself. But I have also found the same recipe in various places online. They are so yummy you may be tempted to take credit for the recipe yourself!

Try orange coloring in your frosting for Halloween!


1 devil's food cake mix
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs


Mix the above ingredients together. Roll the dough into balls just a bit bigger than a marble and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Cool cookies.


8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 square butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 to 4 c. powdered sugar

Mix all of frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost BACKS of cookies and place together to make sandwich cookie.

Mummy Wraps

I admit I have a sweet tooth- sweets are my downfall to healthy eating. Greasy, salty, fried? Nah I can take it or leave it. But every Halloween my mother would make these simple, tasty Mummy Wraps and I couldn't resist. Whenever I make them for a party they are gone in a flash and I make a mental note to bring double the amount next year.


2 cans (8 oz ) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
16 oz package of cocktail-sized smoked link sausages


1. Heat oven to 375°F. Unroll both cans of the dough; separate into 16 triangles. Cut each triangle lengthwise into 3 triangles. (Imagine you are making pennant shaped triangles.)
2. Place sausage on wide side of each triangle. Roll up each, starting at widest side of triangle and rolling to opposite point; place point side down on 2 ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown, switching position of cookie sheets halfway through baking. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm.

photo from Pillsbury

Frankenstien Faces

Mine on the left and Better Homes and Garden's on the right. I have to say that I don't think either of these versions are perfect. But the idea is really simple, fun for the kids to do. Take some time to look at candy in the store and get creative.


Canned vanilla icing
Green food coloring
Graham cracker
Chocolate sprinkles HAIR
1 Sathers Cherry Sour Candy or M and M's for EYES
Small mint patty or black licorice EYEBROWS
1 candy-coated chocolate candy or sour worm for NOSE
1 Twizzlers Chocolate Twist candy strip or red sour straws for MOUTH
Black decorating gel for SCARS
Twizzlers Nibs licorice bits for BOLTS (not pictured)

1. Use green food coloring to tint the icing green. Frost the graham cracker with the green icing. Add chocolate sprinkles to the top of the cracker to resemble hair.
2. Use a sharp knife to cut the Cherry Sour candy in half for eyes. Place on the cracker as shown. OR use to M&M's.
3. Cut the mint patty in half for eyebrows and place each half over eyes as shown. Or cut a section of licorice for eyebrows.
4. Use the candy-coated chocolate candy or a sour worm for the nose.
5. Use scissors to cut a 1-1/2-inch piece from the Chocolate Twist candy strip. Cut the strip in half lengthwise and use one of the pieces for the mouth. Press the candy in place. OR cut sections of red sour straws to make lips with some sutures.
6. Use the black gel to add pupils, and sutures. Use icing to add licorice bits as neck bolts.

Spooky Brownies

From Betty Crocker

1 box Betty Crocker Supreme brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for in brownie mix directions
1 container Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy creamy white frosting
Neon green, pink and blue food colors
24 large marshmallows
Miniature candy-coated chocolate baking bits
Black decorating gel
1 roll Betty Crocker® Fruit Roll-Ups® chewy fruit snack (any red variety)
Gummy worms candies OR sour straws

Heat oven to 350°F. Bake and cool brownies as directed. Cut into 24 brownies, 6 rows by 4 rows.

Remove lid and foil cover from container of frosting. Microwave frosting uncovered on High about 20 seconds or until frosting can be stirred smooth. Divide warm frosting among 3 small bowls, 1 for each color. Decorate as directed below, using 8 brownies for each.

Franken-Brownies- Add 5 drops green food color to frosting in 1 bowl; mix well. Top each of 8 brownies with 1 large marshmallow. Spoon 1 tablespoon green frosting over each marshmallow to coat. Decorate with green baking bits for eyes and ears. Use black gel for mouths and centers of eyes. Cut fruit snack to use for hair.

Boo-Brownies- Top each of 8 brownies with 1 large marshmallow. Spoon 1 tablespoon white frosting over each marshmallow to coat. Use black gel for eyes and mouths.

Spider Brownies-Add 5 drops pink food color and 3 drops blue food color to frosting in 1 bowl; mix well. Top each of 8 brownies with 1 large marshmallow. Tuck gummy worms candies under each marshmallow for legs. Spoon 1 tablespoon purple frosting over each marshmallow to coat. Use orange baking bits for eyes. Use black gel for mouths, centers of eyes and eyebrows.

I made just the spider brownies and found the gummy worms to be too thick- I felt like mine looked like octopi rather than spiders. So I used some sour straws I already had on hand.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

From Kelli Granum

5 Eggs - beat
Add:1 1/3 cups oil
1 16 oz can pure pumpkin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp soda
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 - 3 oz. pkg. instant vanilla pudding
chocolate chips (as you desire)

Mix until creamy Add chocolate chips. Bake at 350 until done... About 30-35 minutes for regular size muffins and 20-25 for mini muffins. You just kind of have to watch them and see if they are golden brown on top!

I split the recipe in half (using 3 eggs) and it made 12 muffins and 12 mini muffins. I meant to include a picture but they went so fast I didn't get around to taking a pic!

Halloween Dinner

Every year I make a trip to Target and buy a few bags of Halloween candy well ahead of time so there is still some selection and I can cross it off my to do list. But, every year I break into the bags and start snacking on it until I have to go buy more candy at the last minute anyway.

The Chocolate Crostatas with Marmalade are the perfect dessert for Halloween when you are all sugared out. It is like many European desserts since it has just a small amount of sugar. The brown chocolate crust and orange marmalade are great when you are in the mood for a Halloween theme.

In keeping with the orange and black color theme, try serving the Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili in a hollowed pumpkin or cast iron "cauldron" if you have one. Sprinkle some Chili Crusted Pumpkin Seeds over the chili as a garnish and save the rest for some healthy snacking.

For those of you with some more self control, the sugary recipes and fun stuff for the kiddies will come next week: Mummy Wraps, Spider Brownies, Frankenstien Faces, Homemade Oreos and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.

photo from

Pumpkin and Black Bean Chili


2 pounds Pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and seeded- bake in the oven at 375 for 40 min or until tender, peel off skin and run through the food processor

1 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil

1 Large onion, chopped

1 Garlic clove, minced

1 Jalapeno chile, minced

1 14.5-ounce Can diced tomatoes, drained

1 14.5-ounce Can crushed tomatoes

1 cup Water

1 cup Apple juice

3 tablespoons Chili powder

1 tablespoon Salt

1 Tbsp cocoa powder

2 packed tablespoons brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

3 cups Cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained if canned


1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the pureed pumpkin, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, water, apple juice, chili powder, salt, and cayenne, cocoa, sugar and stir well. Add beans. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer about 15-20 minutes to blend flavors.

photo from

Chili Crusted Pumpkin Seeds

from Soup for Everybody

1 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons hot or mild chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the seeds with the oil, chili powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne. Spread them on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove and let cool. Store an airtight container. They will keep for at least a month

Chocolate Crostatas with Marmalade

by Giada De Laurentiis

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4sticks) cold unsalted butter
Ice water
1 1/2 cups marmalade or apricot preserves

Mix the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add the butter. Blend until clumps form. Add 2 tablespoons of ice water and blend. Add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead briefly to form a smooth dough. Gather the dough into a ball then divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a disk.
Press 1 dough piece on the prepared baking sheet into a 4 1/2-inch round. Spoon 1 generous tablespoon of the marmalade into the center of the round. Fold the dough border in to form a 3-inch round and allow the center of the crostata to remain uncovered. Pleat loosely and pinch the dough to seal any cracks. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces and marmalade, spacing the crostatas evenly apart. Cover and refrigerate the crostatas until they are cold, at least 45 minutes and up to 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake the crostatas until the crusts are set, about 18 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Slide a metal spatula under the crusts to free the crostatas from the baking sheet. Garnish with the candied orange peel and serve warm.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pie, Pie, Me Oh My!

Pie Crust. Before I knew anything about cooking I did understand that pie crust was something my mom and her mom and all my friends moms spent a lot of time talking about. What kind of shortening do you use? How do you get yours so flaky? etc... I guess I took all this discussion to mean that pie crust was something way above me, that I should never try.

But I love pie crust. So, I followed a simple butter crust recipe one day and found it to be both easy and delicious. Now, I don't claim to be a pie crust connoisseur- but if you are then you probably have your own tried and true recipe. Meanwhile, I will be sticking with my butter crust prepared in the food processor and you can too if you don't already have your tried and true pie crust recipe.

Try your hand on a couple of crusts and whip up a Chicken Pot Pie and a Free Form Tart- choose from Strawberry Rhubarb or Apple Berry to warm your heart and your home.

Free Form Tarts

I am not good at making things look pretty. These tarts don't need a perfect edge and actually look like you meant for them to be a little messy. Here are two varieties. Strawberry Rhubarb for spring and summer, Apple Berry for fall and winter.

Strawberry Rhubarb

2 cups 1/4-inch-thick slices trimmed rhubarb (1 pound untrimmed)
2 cups strawberries, hulled, halved
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

Heavy cream, whipped, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all filling ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well; set aside.


Apple Berry Blossoms

3-4 tart apples, skinned and sliced

2 cups fresh or frozen berries

2 Tbsp butter

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup sugar

3 Tbsp cornstarch

Sautee the apples in butter, sugar and cinnamon. Meanwhile rinse the berries if they are frozen and drain the liquid. Add the berries to softened apples and sautee until the berries are the same temperature as the apples. The idea is not to cook the fruit but soften it a little and give it a head start before going in the oven. Drain a bit of the liquid off the mixture, add cornstarch stirring to fully mix in and then turn off the heat.


On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a rough circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Chill dough until just cold and easy to work with, about 30 minutes.

Transfer tart to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon fruit mixture in the center of each unbaked shell covering it to about 1 inch from edge. Fold edges of shells over filling, leaving the tarts open in the center; gently brush between the folds with water and press gently on folds so that the dough adheres together.

Place in oven to bake until crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F, and continue to bake until the juices are bubbly and just starting to run out from center, 10 to 12 minute more. Transfer immediately to a wire rack, and let cool before serving. Top with a dollop of whipping cream.