There's still time to do something "WOW"!
If you've got the ingredients and containers, you can still make one, or two... or ALL of these! I paid attention, and got some awesome gifts for the (almost adult) kids, but we “grown ups” decided to keep it simple this year. Surprise, surprise... I made a few things wink I like to have a theme, and since I've seen so many different recipes almost everywhere this season, I am fudging it. Yes, I've made a collection of what could arbitrarily be called “gourmet” fudge. A variety of fudges? It's not just your Grandma's chocolate fudge anymore... Remember that Pecan Pie Cheesecake version? Yep, some of that is going into the packages. And a couple years ago I shared that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough delight – that was a joy to create again! Honestly, this is the only one that requires any serious effort or any skill at all. All the others use sweetened condensed milk (Dulce de leche {ahem}) or marshmallows, marshmallow creme and/or white chocolate, which isn't chocolate at all... I HAD to make a peanut butter version, cause, well, that's my favorite classic!
Now here's where it got interesting! How about Mint Chocolate Chip?
If 'cookie dough' was great, why not Cake Batterquestion? Looks fun, doesn't it?
To create an even more indulgent indulgence (tee hee), I even stumbled upon a recipe for Jack Daniel's fudge... Let me tell you – smooth southern whiskey and dark chocolate, well... It's kind of a divine pairing.
I was SO tempted to add some pecans to that one, but it was so indescribably creamy, that I couldn't risk it. There's one more underway, so I can't share my results yet, but here's a copy of their pic
I'll have each type sealed, with a few varieties per box, but here is my imagining of the ultimate serving platter – that is, IF you find yourself able to share cheesey
Actually, this platter is for my workplace's buffet tomorrow - I've opted to omit the boozy variety, tho I'm bringing a sample for a buddy to take home wink

Posted by Linda :
Friday 19 December 2014 - 21:35:23
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I couldn't decide if I wanted sweet or savory...
So I did BOTH! My day started substantially earlier than usual, and since even after a full shift it was STILL REALLY EARLY according to my body clock, I had the munchies. Nothing too complicated, nothing that would use the ingredients for the “good stuff” planned for my day off...

Instinct took over as I eyed my pantry. Into a small measuring cup went a heaping teaspoon of granulated sugar, a big dash of cinnamon (maybe a half teaspoon), and – wait for it – cayenne pepper!

I'll leave it up to you just how much red pepper to add wink I admit that this might sound odd at first, but have you ever had those spicy little candy hearts? Or better yet, those “atomic fireballs”? Maybe I'm showing my age with those examples, but cinnamon and “heat” go really well together. Popped some corn in the microwave, a light squirt of butter flavored non-stick spray to keep all that flavor from sinking to the bottom of the bowl, a gentle toss, just a hint more salt....

Sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy – yeah, I've got a new go-to snack. Give it a try!

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 09 December 2014 - 02:38:56
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Baby it's COLD outside!
It's not even Thanksgiving, and the snow is piling up in western New York. Here in my little burg, right on the PA border, it's 21F with 18mph winds, creating a chill factor of 3F. On top of that, my heat wasn't working! Home on a rare day off and fighting off a cold, I was gratefully snuggled under the covers for a good part of the morning. But when the reality hit that it would be a couple hours before the landlord would be here to fix it, I knew just what to do. Braise some shortribs! I'd picked up some of those under-used delectable treats on my last shopping trip... No, I didn't know what I was going to make with them until I saw this recipe, and I was sold. Shortribs are very rich in flavor, and are best when cooked slowly – in this case a couple hours in the oven. Braising these in beef broth with a ton of finely diced onion and garlic (which practically melt away) releases the marrow as well, providing a silky texture to every spoonful. Yes, spoon. The above is the foundation for a basic, yet unique vegetable beef soup.
Carrots (as suggested), and petite peas (my addition), along with an interesting combination of spices (nutmeg in beef soup – yep), additional broth, and some barley... A veritable feast in a bowl! AND, it kept the house and my insides toasty as well wink

Posted by Linda :
Tuesday 18 November 2014 - 22:25:25
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I just made... WAIT FOR IT...
Pecan Pie, Cheesecake, OMG, give me just a moment... FUDGE!!!!! Yes my friends, those are all in one single treat and I made it, and it is AWESOME!!! Here's the scary part...

IT'S EASY!!!! Now, normally I don't get involved with things that are SO super sweet – but this just had a whole bunch of the things that I really like involved? Like – it's sweet, salty, crisp, creamy, AND crunchy?!? Heck, the crust is made with butter, brown sugar, and saltines.

It's the base layer that gives this the pecan PIE flavor. I HAVE to give a touch of advice – the recipe says to line the baking dish with foil. Yes, you want to be able to lift your cooled fudge out of the dish to cut it into cubes. Foil provides strength, but I found it just would NOT let GO! Use foil, but I really recommend that you use parchment as well on the bottom of the pan– between the crust and the foil? You really don't want to serve bits of metal. Next...

That's the marshmallow joining the rest of the fudge ingredients...

And now the TA DA!!!
While the recipe doesn't say this, after tasting my first piece I've got to insist that you do what I did – add a light sprinkling of sea salt. Sweet is ALWAYS better with a touch of salt.

Trust me.

“You could look it up” ~ Casey Stengel and/or Yogi Berra wink

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 09 November 2014 - 08:31:41
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If at first you don't find it...
The second, I repeat, second article I posted on this site (almost seven years ago?!?) was about persistence in finding the recipe you want. I'm glad to say that my writing style has evolved to sound more like ME, but as my grandfather would have put it, “in-stick-to-it-iveness” is still a good thing!
(bacon, shrooms, onions, garlic)
I came across a delicious sounding pasta dish, copied the link then and there and bought the ingredients a couple days later. But when I tried to find the recipe again, well... the link was no longer valid? I searched several recipes of the same name, but none of them was a total match to the method and ingredients I had read...
(grape tomatoes and black olives)
Facebook has its faults, but with a positive attitude it can do wondrous things! The original link and site belonged to Salvatore Cuomo, and lo and behold, he had a Facebook page! I messaged him, he messaged back the outline of the recipe, explaining that the site was “under construction”, and then sent me the new link once it was up again. What a nice guy cheesey
I made it and it was delicious! But as I rambled so much today, all I'll tell you about my experience is that once you assemble your ingredients, it's quite simple.

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 18 October 2014 - 20:02:21
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So, I have this friend who loves Lemon Meringue Pie...
The computer where I have carefully stored some of my favorite recipes, some that I have yet to share with you, well, it died a few months ago. The recovery is underway, but in the meantime, I did some searching for a perfect Lemon Meringue Pie, based on what I remembered. For example, I know I'd read America's Test Kitchen's comments: “We wanted to develop a lemon meringue pie recipe that gave us a meringue that didn’t break down and puddle on the bottom or “tear” on top. We realized that the puddling underneath the meringue was from undercooking. The beading on top of the pie was from overcooking. We discovered that if the filling was piping hot when the meringue was applied, the underside of the meringue would not undercook; if the oven temperature was relatively low, the top of the meringue wouldn’t overcook. Baking the pie in a relatively cool oven also produced the best-looking, most evenly baked meringue.” ATK also used “animal cracker” crumbs to strengthen the crust, as well as add a touch of flavor... Which led me to THIS recipe from No animal crackers in the house, but graham cracker crumbs were an acceptable sub. So I made the crust using this recipe – three, count 'em, THREE TIMES!! The first was absolutely beautiful – yellow and white from the butter and shortening showed through – but I didn't let it cool long enough before I tried to roll? And I SHOULD have known better, but after not waiting long enough the first time, somehow I rushed through the second attempt... Trust me, you don't want to know. Yet when I ACTUALLY FOLLOWED THE INSTRUCTIONS, the crust became nothing less than magnificent! A little thicker than many might like, but SO delicately 'melt in your mouth' good!
Now, for the filling and meringue I used William and Sonoma's recipe, but heeding ATK's advice, I whipped the whites BEFORE I started cooking the lemon curd. That way the lemon was piping hot, and the meringue would fully cook on the bottom. Let your lemon zest soak in the lemon juice until you are ready to use it (strain before you cook with the eggs, if you like) – while the tiny bit of 'chew' is not a bad thing, letting it soften might be better.
Five minutes in a hot oven, then another twenty sitting there as the oven cooled (with the door open just slightly) THIS time... I think I'll explore the cooler/longer method next time. I promise a beautiful picture of a slice soon – but I kinda owe that first peek to my friend wink

Posted by Linda :
Monday 13 October 2014 - 23:58:36
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Beef on What?
I haven't traveled much in the last decade and it's been many a year since I've been in Buffalo, New York – but my high school classmate Greg recently reminded me of this treat. What's better than a roast beef sandwich? Beef on Weck! It's a regional favorite, with the reigning champion being known as Charlie the Butcher. You know that roast I cooked on the grill? THIS is what it was for wink The “secret” to this delightful sandwich is the perfectly flavored roll, and lots of beef stock/broth to go along with your beautifully cooked roast beef. The rolls, or Weck (short for kummelweck) couldn't be simpler: purchase good quality hard/Kaiser rolls, nd lafter making somewhat of a 'glue' using corn starch, sprinkle with a combination of coarse salt and caraway seeds. You'll recognize the scent of the seeds almost immediately – they are the primary flavoring in rye bread... Simply bake for a short while to make the union complete.
Thinly slice your roast, dip the meat in warm au jus, add a generous dollop of horse radish – the REAL stuff, not that mayo spread... Dip your roll top into the jus – if it ain't messy, it ain't right wink Grab some napkins and enjoy!
Buffalo on a bun – and mighty enjoyable at that.

Posted by Linda :
Saturday 13 September 2014 - 23:10:47
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Roasting? Yes it is, and no, I won't
Saw a beautiful piece of top round beef last time I went grocery shopping. Knew I couldn't get to it in a timely manner, so I wrapped it well and froze it.

It's just barely September, still officially Summer, but we've had some cool weather – perfectly “Fall-like”. So I thawed the roast. You guessed it – now it's hot out there! But I must proceed wink

Bring the beef to room temp! Guess what – if your meat isn't all the same temp when you start, it won't cook evenly. Even for my relatively small roast, this can take up to two hours - so I used the time to my advantage. I gave it a nice coating of coarse kosher salt (maybe a Tablespoon for my three pound piece), and let it sit on a rack over a pan for the first hour.

Lit the grill and seasoned. That's right – I'm using the grill instead of the oven. Why should I tax my A/C any more? I've got two controls for my gas grill, so I turned one side up to medium and left the other side off. While that was heating (shooting for 300F with the cover down), I mixed about a teaspoon each of black pepper and garlic powder and did a second coating on the roast. By now most of the salt had absorbed into the meat and the surface was slightly moist, which allowed my simple blend to cling and do 'its thing'.

About 30 minutes later, this is what it looked like when I placed it on the hot side of the grill, going for a good sear.


Well, yeah, that wasn't a good idea – the flames got a little too big, and the first side charred a bit, lol. Smelled luscious, but... Using tongs so I didn't pierce the surface, we moved to the “cool” side of the grill for about 45 minutes. With a meat thermometer, I checked the internal temp every 15 minutes or so – my goal was rare, so 125F (medium= 135F, medium well= 140F... with this cut of meat do NOT go higher!!).

After a 20 minute rest...

The flavors you love in a steak with the ease of a roast!

Now just wait until you see the sandwiches I'll be making with this wink

Posted by Linda :
Friday 05 September 2014 - 00:22:21
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I'm not so sure about this one...
When I first saw the recipe it sounded delightful – spicy, tender chicken in a tomato and cream sauce – but this one left me flat. As I've never had it served to me in proper Indian style, maybe you should be the judges? Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani seems to be classic dish. To be fair, this is NOT the recipe I first found that enticed me, but was the best match to the ingredients I had purchased for that one (my computer saw a “blue screen of death”, and I am now writing on a laptop purchased for me by the most wonderful man... <3) and the instructions I remembered. The only part that seemed different was a lack of fresh ginger, so I added some. The marinating compound packed a serious punch by itself – and yes, it made the chicken super tender – but flavor was ultimately lacking. It LOOKED and SMELLED good with the onions,
but after simmering with the tomato blend, and the addition of cream...
It looked beautiful, but didn't taste much different than cream of tomato soup?! Definitely needed a lot more salt, and with the addition of some dried jalapeno was somewhat closer to what I'd imagined. So folks – especially those who have enjoyed Murgh Makhani - were my expectations wrong, or was this just not the best recipe?

Posted by Linda :
Friday 22 August 2014 - 21:08:34
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Got 20-30 minutes? Try this!
Crazy, hectic work hours, the usual social and household obligations – this has been one heck of a week! I'm too embarrassed to tell you what I've been eating – so tonight I'll do something awesome. And easy. Emphasis on “easy” (I'm beat). Cut bell peppers in half and clean them, slice an onion, light the grill – that's it for my effort tonight. I'm making Philly Cheese Steak STUFFED PEPPERS! You heard me... So you saute the onions with a packaged steak seasoning – uh, no, not me. I used some Worcestershire, a big dash each of garlic powder, salt - and a healthy dose of black pepper. This is the only seasoning you'll add, so go a bit overboard? They look (and are) mighty tasty.
I keep a ton of cheese in the house, so I knew provolone was available. I picked up some deli roast beef on my way home. I “shredded” the beef slices by hand, just to make sure they'd distribute within the onions. Here they are, stuffed and ready to go on the grill:
That picture was before the final layer of cheese went on – I'm gonna make a point about that in a bit. But now, these CAN be ready to eat – just 5 or 6 minutes later.
DELICIOUS! And lo-carb, gluten-free, if you're into that... Personally, I would have preferred the bell pepper a little more cooked, but if I had continued, the entire top layer of cheese might have oozed away, and we COULDN'T have that, lol. So my advice would be to take another 5 minutes or so, and grill the stuffed pepper UNADORNED (sans the cheese topper) - then continue as directed, which means add the top layer and cook until it's beautifully ooey and gooey. My only other comment? Add some mushrooms when you're sauteing the onions (even a small can of those “bits”?) - I think that would accentuate the beefy flavor, and maximize the pleasure.

Posted by Linda :
Sunday 20 July 2014 - 01:48:32
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