My Favorite Appetizers!

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Who doesn’t love an extremely delicious appetizer?  It’s so great to taste something that you want to keep eating, but so much fun to move on to the next tasty tid bit.  I enjoy my guests anticipating what might be coming out next!  When entertaining guests at an appetizer party, I recommend that you focus on hot appetizers.  In my experience they’re  the most popular.    Pictured above is my caramelized onion and brie flat bread.  It’s a flat bread topped with gooey melted brie cheese, sweet caramelized onions, crunchy toasted walnuts and a light drizzle of honey.  It’s an amazing combination and so so simple to make.  Pine nuts could easily be switched out with the walnuts.  YUM!

bufffalo wings 002Spicy Buffalo chicken wings are an absolute crowd favorite!   I totally love this recipe as the wings are oven fried until they’re nice and crispy then tossed with a very authentic buffalo sauce.  No guilt and no crazy oil mess to clean up!  Serve with my light blue cheese dip.

orng chx slm patDSCN2201_2057_50This is one cold appetizer I enjoy serving.  They are prosciutto wrapped bread sticks with boursin cheese and arugula.  They’re pretty, easy to serve and delicious!
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Who doesn’t love a good baked potato skin with sour cream, cheddar cheese and bacon?  I seldom deep fry anything if I don’t have to.    These are DELISH!

I hope you have a safe and Happy New Year!!


Christmas Cookie Baking At Home…..

Hello everyone-

I’ve been completely MIA!  What a fantastic month so far, I couldn’t be happier.  I catered several parties and now I’m in total baking mode.

Tonight, I bake for my family.  In my kitchen with snow on the way!   I’ll be making people cookies, aka gingerbread.  It’s just not the same to bring them home from my kitchen already done.  It’s been a family tradition since the beginning with Jack and Chris, Ryan too.  While the house smells of fresh baked cookies, they help me with the decorating.  The biggest challenge was keeping them from licking their fingers.  Seems like yesterday.

I’ll be making plenty of kringle and many different kinds of cookies for Christmas Eve, and pies for Christmas day.  My favorite kringle flavor?  Blueberry.  I am making a fresh filling with the blueberries we picked in Michigan last August.  YUM!

My favorite pie?  Toasted coconut cream.  Hello!  Here’s what Esther and I discussed while waiting for our boys to come out of school today….for the crust,  mini chocolate chips, coconut and graham crackers?  I do not believe I’ve ever seen or heard of such a crust for pie.  Of course, I will use fresh REAL whipped cream and I’ll make homemade pastry cream.  It’ll be topped with toasted coconut. Yowza!

I hope you enjoy your time in the kitchen making your treasured family recipes!

Enjoy these few days before Christmas, I know I will!


Thanksgiving Pie Pictures…..

Traditional Pumpkin Pie.  Butter crust.  Pie crust pumpkin cut out.

Chocolate Silk Pie. Made with real stabilized whipped cream.  Topped with chocolate shavings.

Lemon Cream Pie.  Made with fresh lemon juice and zest.  Topped with stabilized whipped cream.

Pecan Pie.  Made with 1/2 pound pecans.  Great with real whipped cream.

Apple Crumb Pie.  The most popular pie, made with 2 lbs. cinnamon apples per pie.  Topped with butter crumb topping.

Beautiful pie boxes I found on-line.  They were perfect!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Bring On Thanksgiving!

Hello everyone-

I miss blogging.    I am truly enjoying all of the new things I’m doing with my business, however it leaves little time for posting.  I very much enjoy sharing cooking tips and recipes with you and love your feedback.

It is exciting to be able to say yes to jobs that in the past I could only dream of.  I think the most exciting part is that I can now bake for Ryan’s class!  Unless you have a licenced kitchen, this is a no-no.    Of course, I made iced pumpkin cut outs.  This year I got around to making chocolate mice cookies…so cute! I put them all over the tray as though they were getting into the pumpkin cookies.   The kids were holding them up by the tail and eating them head first!  They’re a bit time consuming, but so fun to share.

This photo was taken before baking.  Right out of the oven you stick a black licorice tail into the back.  Adorable!

I am looking forward to growing the baking portion of my business.  I can’t wait to make all of my special Christmas cookies and different novelty cookies.  Basically there is a cookie for everything you can possibly imagine.  Will have my oven on for all those Thanksgiving pies!  I’ll be making 30-40 or so.

Be sure to check out my recipes for Traditional Pumpkin Pie,  Apple Crumb Pie, Sausage & Sage Stuffing, Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Homemade Turkey Gravy and tips for a stress free Thanksgiving day.

Have a wonderful evening!


Beautiful Easter Egg Cookies…..

I just love to decorate cookies.  These are pretty and equally yummy.   My cut out cookie recipe is very basic.  I mix the dough the day before I plan to bake.  This gives the dough plenty of time to chill in the refrigerator.  Remember that the first batch you roll out is a little tough, after that, when you add the dough scraps to a fresh piece of dough, it gets easier to manage and roll out.

Check out my cookie baking tips.

When working with chocolate here’s what I do.  I use semi-chocolate chips and melt in the microwave for 30 second intervals.  Mix between each interval.  Microwave the chocolate until the chocolate is smooth when you stir.  Do not over heat, it will burn.  Do not allow any moisture/water to get into the chocolate.

Instead of dipping cookies into chocolate, I spread it with a spatula, like icing.  The best thing about this is that it sets up beautifully and make them very easy to transport.

Step 1:  mix dough, chill over night.
Step 2:  bake and cool cookies
Step 3:  melt chocolate chips and spread over cookie.  Add any decorations into the melted chocolate.  It will set up and keep decorations in place.
Step4:  once the chocolate is completely set, make simple icing and spread over cookie.  Allow the cookies to sit out at room temperature for several hours or overnight.  The icing will set and the cookies will package beautifully or go onto a tray without getting messed up.

Best Roll Cut Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

2 cups sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, one pound at room temperature
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
7 ½ cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Icing (recipe below)

1) In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy and add one half of the sugar, beat, then add the rest. Add two eggs and beat. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Add the remaining three eggs and vanilla, beat until nicely incorporated.
2) Lightly measure out flour into a separate mixing bowl. Add baking powder and salt, whisk until blended.
3) Add half of the flour mixture to the egg/butter mixture and beat well. Add remaining flour and blend until all ingredients are incorporated.
4) Shape into a large ball and wrap in plastic wrap, then put into a large zip bag. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.
5) When ready to bake, allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375’ and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Have cooling racks ready to receive hot cookies.
6) Cut off a chunk and begin working with your hands to make it pliable enough to roll out on a floured surface. Roll to 1/8” thickness. Cut out with your favorite shapes and place on prepared sheets, leaving at least 1” of space between cookies. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Cool for five minutes before removing from cookie sheet onto a rack. Cool completely before icing.

For the icing:

3 cups powdered sugar
milk or water
1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla
gel food coloring, available at craft stores such as Michael’s

Put the powdered sugar into a medium size bowl.  Add liquid small amounts at a time and stir.  You will want the consistency to be thick enough that it will not run off the cookie but loose enough to easily spread.  Don’t worry, if it isn’t perfect on the first cookie you can either add more liquid or more sugar to get the right consistency.

When making different colors, use small bowls for different colors.

For the tie dye affect ice the cookie with white icing.  With a toothpick, dip into another colored icing and simply swirl through the freshly iced white cookie.  Very pretty.

Have a blessed Easter weekend with your family and friends!


Traditional Croatian Easter Bread (Sirnica)…..

I absolutely love learning about food traditions of other ethnicitys.    I think it’s my favorite part about being a cook.    Every week I try to make something I’ve never made before, sort of a dinner passport to different places all around the world.  This holy week, I’ll be making Croatian Easter Bread.   Check out another interesting version of this bread made with boiled, colored eggs, so interesting and beautiful!

Heather with her darling daughters Sadie,Clara, and Fiona.

I first had the pleasure of tasting this delicious bread when my friend Heather surprised me with a loaf right before Easter last year.  I was honored that she would share a loaf of her treasured family recipe.    It had a gentle yet distinctive citrus taste and was very pleasantly sweet without being too sweet.  Tender, moist, and delicious.   Of course, after the first bite I wanted to make this bread for all Easter Dinners going forward.  Heather kindly shared her recipe.

Try this Croatian Easter Bread.  It may become the next family tradition in your family:-)

Traditional Croatian Easter Bread


2 cups milk
1 package active dry yeast or 2 ¼ teaspoon

½ cup softened butter (1 stick)
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
Zest of half of a lemon and half of an orange
6 cups all purpose flour
Crushed sugar cubes or sugar for dusting

1) Slightly heat the milk in a microwave. Add the yeast and set aside. (about 10-15 minutes or until yeast is dissolved and a little bubbly)

2) Meanwhile, in a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter, and sugar, then add the eggs and salt, and zest, beat until well blended. Add the yeast-milk mixture and half of the flour, beat well. Add remaining flour gradually, until a smooth, soft dough forms. (you may not use all the flour or may require more)

3) Place the dough in a large greased bowl, burning to coat both sides, and let rise, covered, until doubled. Punch down and turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.

4) Preheat oven to 375′.  Divide dough into 4 to 6 equal pieces, shape into a nice round ball. Cover and allow to rest 5 minutes.

5) Place dough on cookie parchment lined cookie sheet. Egg wash the dough with 1 large beaten egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Sprinkle with crushed sugar cubes. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

*one way to check if a yeast bread for doneness is to thump it with your fingers, if it sounds hollow, it’s done. Be sure that you have a nice brown color was well.

Corned Beef Brisket…..

Everyone will be making corned beef tomorrow.  I made it this week for my clients.  I made it the traditional way and the way the package suggests which is to cover with water, add the enclosed seasoning packet and simmering for 2 1/2-3 hours.

Tomorrow we’re having Joe’s family over and I’m making traditional St. Patty’s Day fare.  I’m going to try something a little different with the corned beef.  I usually trim off as much fat as possible before cooking.  This time I’m going to save the trimming until after the beef is cooked tender.  I’m going to put it into a large roasting pan (that has a lid) with the seasoning packet and just cover it with water.  In other words, a lesser amount of water.  Instead of simmering on the stove top I’m going to oven braise at 325′ for 3 1/2 hours.  I think the combination of the very heavy roasting pan and consistent moist heat will make an amazing corned beef…we’ll see.

Once the meat is tender, I’ll remove it and add the halved red potatoes and back into the oven for 30 minutes or so.  I do not boil the cabbage as I think it has little flavor.  I much prefer sauteed cabbage.  It has much more flavor and is quite delicious.  I make it often throughout the year.

I will also make Margie’s Irish Soda Bread and homemade horseradish (scroll down to the next post).  Be sure to use lots of raisins in the soda bread as the recipe suggests.  The bread is so, so delicious!

Of course, I’ll make some sort of sweet ending.  I’m thinking assorted cookies as the corned beef dinner is so heavy.  Have you seen the strawberries??  They’re in season and so beautiful at this time.  If I can find some on sale tomorrow it may change what I’ll be doing for dessert…maybe strawberry shortcake?  I always change my mind, even at the very last minute!

Have a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day!



Homemade Horseradish And Yummy Things You Can Do With It….

If you like horseradish,  you’ve got to try making your own homemade horseradish!  You can find horseradish root in most grocery stores in the produce department.

The perfect accompaniment to your traditional corned beef St. Patrick’s dinner.  Consider yourself warned, this stuff is hot hot hot!

It will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks and will lose potency over time.  For creamy horseradish sauce, mix a tablespoon of horseradish with 1/2 cup each sour cream and plain Greek yogurt.   Delicious with roast beef or lamb.   Make your own cocktail sauce as well.  It’s much less expensive than the bottled kind and has an awesome kick!

Homemade Horseradish

1 large horseradish root, peeled, cut into ½” pieces or smaller  (about 2 cups)
1 cup white vinegar
¼ cup sugar

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until all chunks are well blended.
Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.



Sauteed Cabbage….

This is actually my favorite part of  St. Patty’s Day dinner.  When this vegetable is caramelized, it becomes sweet and so flavorful.  You must try this!  It takes a little time to cook as it takes about 40 minutes, but it will be well worth it.  You also must stir often as the sugars in the cabbage can burn.  It can be made ahead if you like.

If you have any leftovers, try tossing the caramelized cabbage with hot linguine and some fresh grated parmesan cheese for a fantastic vegetarian meal!

Sauteed Cabbage

Slice the cabbage into quarters and remove the core.  Thinly slice the entire head.    In a heavy large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the cabbage.  Season with kosher salt and pepper.  Cook for 40-50 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring often,  until the cabbage is caramelized.


Have a great day!


Happy New Year!

Hello Everyone-

I am very much looking forward to my small New Years Eve get together this evening.    I’ve been puttering around my house, cleaning, organizing, vacuuming…I think I’m finally ready.

Here’s my final menu:

Crab cakes with roasted red pepper aioli-I bought a 1 lb. can of crab claw meat from Whole Foods..OMG, so good!
Fried calamari with marinara dipping sauce-This is pretty quick, only about a minute in the oil.  Serving with fresh lemon wedges.
Assorted olives and baguette-Straight foward, salty and delicious!
Parmesan and garlic stuffed mushrooms-These bake in a little beef broth for about 20 minutes.
Ham and gruyere swiss cheese in puff pastry.  Already baked, just needs a little warming and cut into squares.  Sort of an updated grilled cheese!

And for dessert….

Berries and mascarpone cream
Cinnamon streusel cheesecake squares
Chocolate chip cookies

I look forward to another year of cooking and experimenting with you!

Have a Happy New Year!