Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Southern Tea Cakes

Southern Tea Cakes are like a big, fluffy, white cookie that goes perfectly with your afternoon tea. If you're not a tea drinking (like me), then they're a wonderful treat for any occasion. Offer them to guests when they walk through your door, when the family are over for a visit or hide them and enjoy them as a "secret" midnight snack.

Tip - the dough is VERY sticky... so make sure you have plenty of flour handy.



4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 pounds butter (2 sticks), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. Whisk.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well.

4. Dough should be soft and sticky. Roll it out onto a flowered surface until approximately 1/4 inch thick.

5. Cut the dough into desired shapes and place on a slightly greased baking sheet.

6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cooking Tip #5

If you don't have any self-rising flour... make your own!

For every 1 cup of all-purpose flour add 1 teaspoon of baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Mix and... VOILA!... there's your self-rising flour!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Broccoli, Cauliflower & Cheese Casserole

This is the perfect recipe to whip up if your "none-meat eating" friends are coming over for dinner or if you're wanting to lay off the beef or poultry for awhile. It makes for a great main course and has a wonderful creamy texture that is loaded with flavor. Feel free to use different type of cheeses... or maybe just use one type of cheese. I personally like this combination of cheddar and Monterey jack. Yum! This is also one of those dishes that tastes just as good as leftovers as it does coming right out of the oven... after you reheat it, of course!

Broccoli, Cauliflower & Cheese Casserole


1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 stick of butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound broccoli
1/2 head of cauliflower
1 yellow onion, diced
1 3/4 cups of rice (white or brown)
5 cups vegetable stock
1 1/4 cups light cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, grated


1. In a bowl, blend together breadcrumbs, minced garlic, Parmesan cheese and 1/2 a stick of melt butter. Texture should be coarse.

2. Cut broccoli and cauliflower into small florets. Place in a pan or stemming pot and cook for a short time - until the broccoli turns bright green.

3. Melt the other half of the stick of butter in a large pot of Dutch oven and saute the diced onion until soft. Add rice and saute for 1 minute - stirring constantly.

4. Add vegetable stock, cream and salt to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 25 minutes, stirring frequently.

5. Remove from heat and add grated cheeses. Stir.

6. Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Cover with breadcrumb mixture.

7. Bake at 400 degrees F. for about 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Slow-Roasted Turkey

Here's another method on how to prepare a really juicy, moist, slow-roasted turkey. I picked up this recipe a few years ago and have used it ever since. It takes awhile to roast, but delivers a really deliciously moist bird. Good things come to those that wait, right!?


1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. (Yes. I know that's really hot, but trust me.)

2. Take your turkey and slightly separate skin from the meat. Put fresh rosemary and thyme in between.

3. Cover with melted butter on both the outside and the inside. Salt & pepper all over.

4. Bake at 475 for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to only 250 degrees. Cook at this temperature for 20 minutes fore every pound the turkey is.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Cincinnati" Chili

I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for three years. It wasn't easy. It was a tough transition coming from Long Beach, California - where the beaches were beautiful and the weather was always perfect. Snow was something you only saw in movies... and it looked fun! It's totally not. However, one of the few things I did enjoy about living in the Queen City was the food. Chili is a "big deal" in Cincinnati. They pour it on a heap of spaghetti, throw some onions and cheese on top and call it a "three-way." Weird? Yes. Good. Yes.

I found this recipe at I figured I'd put it to the test and see how close it came to the Cincinnati favorite I remember. It was very similar and, whether it tasted like Cincinnati chili or not, it's a very good chili recipe and worthy of trying.

My Tip: I added 1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder. It works great!!

Cincinnati Chili


2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon unsweetened coca powder
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can kidney beans
2 cups water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


1. In a bowl, mix together all the spices (chili powder, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, coca powder, salt, pepper).

2. In a pot, heat vegetable oil on medium-high. Add ground beef and onion. Cook until meat is no longer pink.

3. Drain excess oil and fat from pot. Place back on stove.

4. Add spices to the beef and onion. Stir.

5. Add 2 cups of water. Stir.

6. Add beans. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, uncovered.

6. Serve hot, topped with LOTS of cheddar cheese! ;-)

How to make the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

I think Chef Jason Hill is fantastic. I've learned a great deal from him by watching his videos and reading his online recipes. Here's a great video on how to prepare your turkey this Thanksgiving.

Click on the link here: Turkey Recipe

Check out other great recipes by Chef Jason at

Saturday, November 19, 2011

German Potato Salad

There's a little overpriced grocery store/deli next door to my apartment complex in Philadelphia. Though expensive, they do make fantastic sandwiches, pasta salads and German potato salad fresh, daily. I usually tend to go in there once a week (whenever I'm home), order a hoagie sandwich (honey-smoked turkey on white), and a side order of German potato salad. Now, I've made plenty of potato salad in my lifetime, but never a German Potato Salad. Being inspired by the little deli where I buy it from, I search online for a worthy recipe. Lo and behold, I found an awesome recipe that my partner and I thoroughly enjoyed.

My Tip: I added celery seeds to give it a slightly different texture. I also would recommend chopping up a few spring onions and adding them as a garnish. Make sure you serve this salad warm!

German Potato Salad
by SCHOLLBEE123 from


3 cups diced peeled potatoes
4 slices bacon
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon celery seeds


  1. Place the potatoes into a pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, and set aside to cool.
  2. Place the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Fry until browned and crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add onion to the bacon grease, and cook over medium heat until browned. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan. Bring to a boil, then add the potatoes and parsley. Crumble in half of the bacon. Heat through, then transfer to a serving dish. Crumble the remaining bacon over the top, and serve warm.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cooking Tip #4

Time it takes to thaw a turkey in the refrigerator.

8-12 pounds... 2 to 3 days
13-16 pounds... 3 to 4 days
17-20 pounds... 4 to 5 days
21-24 pounds... 5 to 6 days

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Easy Chicken Salad

This developed from my Grandma Letha's recipe for tuna salad. Our family would often joke that Grandma could always find a way to feed any army with just one can of tuna. Though I loved her recipe, I'm still not a huge fan of tuna - hence this recipe for chicken salad. I've added parsley, chopped almonds and red grapes. I find that keeping in the refrigerator for a few minutes makes a difference.

Easy Chicken Salad


2/3 cup Mayo
1/3 cup Ranch Dressing
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 can (9.75 oz) white chicken (or 1 1/2 cups of cooked chicken meat, chopped)
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
8-10 seedless red grapes, halved
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon parsley
1/4 cup of almonds, chopped.
Salt & Pepper


1. Add all the ingredients in a bowl and mix. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

2. Remove from refrigerator and stir. Add to sandwich bread. Serve with sweet potato chips!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Bacon Bits

Macaroni & Cheese is good... but BAKED macaroni & cheese is better!

For some reason I thought making baked macaroni & cheese was much harder than is actually is. It's a wonderful dish you can serve up for several guests and you can always be quite creative on what goes in it. I think adding a bag of real bacon bites (you can find these in the salad dressing aisle at your local grocery store) adds great flavor. How can you ever go wrong with cheese and bacon, right!? I've used different types of cheese... but, thanks to a tip by the ever-reliable, Paula Deen, I was introduced to hoop cheese. It's a type of farmers cheese that can be found in the deli area of your grocery store... next to the other "fancy" cheeses. Some stores may not carry it... usually Whole Foods or Harris Titter will have it... but remember, if you can't find it, you can use any other type of cheese you want.

Tip - Watch how much salt you put in this. Between the bacon bits and cheese, it already has quite a bit of salt. I've learned this lesson the hard way. :-/

Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Bacon Bits


4 cups of cooked elbow pasta - (boil 2 cups of uncooked pasta.)
1 cup of hoop cheese, chopped up in small cubes
2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese - (I just buy the already grated bags of cheese at the store.)
2 cups of grated mozzarella cheese or any other white cheese of your liking.
1/2 stick of butter or 4 tablespoons of butter.
2/3 cup of sour cream.
3 eggs, beaten.
1 cup milk.
1 teaspoon of salt
1 small bag of real bacon bits to garnish
Breadcrumbs for topping.


* Preheat over to 350.

* Prepare the pasta as directed. Boil pasta in water in a pot until soft. Drain.

* After draining water, return pot with the pasta to the stove. Reduce heat to low.

* Add 1/2 stick of butter and stir until butter has melted.

* Add the hoop cheese cubes. Stir until almost all of it is melted.

* Add 1 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.

* Add sour cream, milk and eggs. Stir until it's thick and creamy. Add a little salt or half-bag of bacon bits. Stir again.

* Pours contents of the pot into a greased casserole dish. Top with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and a few breadcrumbs.

* Bake for 45 minutes.

* After 45 minutes, rotate the dish in the oven and add the remaining cheese (1/2 cup cheddar & 1/2 cup mozzarella) a few more breadcrumbs and bacon bits.

* Bake for 10 more minutes.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and parsley to garnish

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Carrot Cake

I think a piece of carrot cake and a cup of coffee is a perfect way to end an evening of good eating. This recipe, which both Paula Deen and Betty Crocker brand name use in their cookbooks, is certainly one of the most popular online. It's a moist cake, perfectly sweetened with a great, cream cheese frosting to die for!!!

Carrot Cake


4 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  4. To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost the cooled cake.

Cooking Tip #3

Fresh vs. Dry Seasonings

When to use fresh. Usually fresh seasonings are best, not always convenient or inexpensive, but certainly the best tasting. There will be certain recipes that require fresh seasonings. One would be pesto. Another might be an Italian salad where you are suppose to actually see the basil leaves ... the "flakes" just won't cut it. Again, fresh herbs almost always enhance your recipe and taste better. Could still get similar results using a dried version, well sometimes depending upon the recipe.

When to use dried. A good example of this would be in the preparation of a salad dressing where the dried herbs become saturated via the oils is a good example. Another good example of the use of dried seasonings is in the preparation of dry rubs that are applied to the meat. Meat has natural moisture and that allows the dried spices to become moist and saturated. Besides, it would be hard to store fresh seasonings in a dried rub.

When you can choose between the two. If you really want to choose one over the other, what is the ratio? Well it sort of depends. We use a ratio of 3-4 parts fresh equals 1 part dried. Sometimes you may want more or less. Another convenient conversion would be 1 Tablespoon equals 1 teaspoon.

The above information is from Barbecue'n On The Internet. Read more @ this link:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Roasted Vegetables

I found this recipe by Chef Giada De Laurentiis online on the a few weeks ago and had to try it. I had to make a few changes to suit my palate, but it turned out to be an excellent side dish with roasted chicken (or turkey)... or, for my vegetarians friends, a main course. It would be a great dish for Thanksgiving. Give it a try!

My Tip - I've added a little more salt to this recipe. Giada asks for 1/4 teaspoon, but I felt it was a little bland... so I added a touch more - 1/2 teaspoon to 1 full teaspoon is what I like (I tend to enjoy foods on the salty sides.) She also calls for 3 medium parsnips cut into 1 1/2 inch thick slices - I don't care for parsnips much, so I didn't add them. I added slices of red onion - because I love the taste of Brussels sprouts and red potatoes mixed with red onion. They not only taste fantastic, but they smell great too!

Roasted Vegetables


- 1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch squares (or you can purchase a bag of small snack carrots already peeled in a bag in the produce section at your local grocery store.)
- 2 cups Brussels Sprouts, halved
- 4 cups of small red potatoes, cut into 1 1/2 inch slices
- 1 cup sweet potato, cut into 1 1/2 inch slices
- 2/3 cup of red onion, sliced (you can use shallots too.)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon black ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Grease an 11 by 17-inch baking sheet pan with extra-virgin olive oil. Place vegetables in baking sheet and add the dried herbs, salt and pepper. Toss well, evenly coating all the vegetables with the seasonings and oil. Add more oil if the vegetables seem dry

Spread the vegetables evenly on a large baking sheet. Place on middle rack in oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, turning the pan about half way through to ensure even cooking.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Slow-Cooked Rosemary & Garlic Pork Loin

I think the crock-pot was a brilliant invention... right up there with the invention of the wheel!! Ok, I'm kidding... but no, seriously, it's a wonderful tool to have in your kitchen...especially if you're somebody who just wants to fix it in the morning, put in it the pot, go to work, come home and it's ready to eat the moment you walk in the door. You can make a decent meal by just throwing a couple of chicken breasts in, a cup of BBQ sauce, some salt & pepper, and BAM! - Dinner is served! :-)

This recipe takes a little preparation time, but well worth it. The combination of white wine, lemon and rosemary... *sigh*... yum!! I know the searing can be a pain in the butt, but it traps in the flavors of the spices on the meat before you let it sit in the crock-pot for hours. If you don't do this, you'll wash all your spices off when you pour the wine and stock on top of the loin.

A while back, I found the base of this recipe on an iphone application called, "Crock-Pot." I tried it. It was good, but I felt it was missing something. I made a few changes - adding the oregano, pork seasoning, potatoes, and shallots. Now it's perfect... in my biased opinion.

Slow-Cooked Rosemary & Garlic Pork Loin


2-2 1/2 pound pork loin (with the twine), patted dry
3 tablespoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon pork seasoning
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 medium-sided red potatoes
1/2 lemon, sliced thinly
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine


1. In a casserole dish, coat the pork loin in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Salt & Pepper the loin first, then rub rosemary, garlic, pork seasoning and oregano all over.

2. Add thin lemon wedges between the twine. (you can also add chunks of garlic too!)

3. Transfer to a skillet or pan and sear the loin in 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high heat, on all sides, until slightly brown - about 2-3 minutes each side.

4. Line the bottom of your crock-pot with the chopped shallots.

5. Transfer pork loin to the crock-pot.

6. Place chopped red potatoes around the pork loin.

7. Add 1/2 cup of white wine and 1/2 cup of chicken broth to the skillet you used for your pork loin. Stir for a minute, then pour on top of the loin and potatoes.

8. Let cook for 10-12 hours on Low or 5-6 hours on High.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cooking Tip #2

" The “mise en place” is the first cooking lesson that my mother taught me. I still do it today. If you prepare all the ingredients – meaning cutting, slicing, measuring – before starting to cook your meal, you simplify the tasks ahead. You will be able to adjust to unforeseen events and be free to experiment with the recipe as you cook it. " - Martha Stewart

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crustless Cauliflower & Ham Quiche

I found this wonderful quiche recipe on I used to work at a cafe in Turlock, California when I was just out of high school and, aside from serving coffee drinks to our guests and patrons, we had to make freshly baked quiche everyday... from scratch. I remember my co-workers not being excited about making quiche (I'm sure they probably still have nightmares about preparing it.), so I would volunteer to make it whenever I had the time. It can be a little tricky, but it's totally worth it if you make it correctly. I was thrilled to see the use of cauliflower in this recipe, which adds a great texture and absorbs much of the delicious flavor the ham gives off. I had never used Gruyere cheese in a quiche before... but now, after making this, I'm not sure I'd use any other cheese other than Gruyere. This is a PERFECT dish for a Sunday brunch or an afternoon snack. Serve with a dollop of sour cream!

My Tip - 3 things. 1. Make sure you don't over boil your cauliflower. No longer than 8 to 10 minutes. Tops! 2. Make sure you dry the cauliflower as much as possible after boiling it. Try patting it down well with a paper towel... if you don't, the cauliflower will make the quiche soggy. 3. Make sure you allow 20 minutes to cool before serving. This gives the quiche some time to firm up a bit and makes slicing it easier.

Crustless Cauliflower & Ham Quiche


1/2 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
2 tablespoons extra-virg in olive oil
1 cup chopped white onion, about 1 medium
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 ounces deli boiled ham, cut in 1/4-inch cubes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups half-and-half
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese, about 1 cup


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook until very crisp tender, about 1 minute. Drain in colander and rinse with cold water. Shake off excess liquid.

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the ham and the onions and cook until lightly brown, about 6 minutes. Add cauliflower and parsley and set aside to cool slightly.

4. Brush a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie pan with the soft butter and evenly sprinkle the bottom of the pan with the grated Parmesan cheese. Place pan on a baking sheet. Whisk the half-and-half, eggs, egg yolks and flour in large glass measuring cup. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread half the cauliflower mixture evenly in the pan, top with about half the cheese; repeat with remaining filling and cheese. Pour the custard over the fillings.

5. Bake until the quiche is just set in the center, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool on a rack before serving.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Butternut Squash & Potato Soup

Late Fall & Winter bring some of my favorite types of vegetables every year... including Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and butternut squash. As it gets colder outside, a good hearty soup can make for a perfect meal. It's only been in the last few years that I've discovered the joys of the butternut squash. It's a great baking squash with a subtle sweetness and texture that go well with other vegetables... or even just by itself.

I love the combined tastes of butternut squash and sweet potato. This soup recipe has been a big hit with my friends recently. It's relatively healthy, easy to make and goes well with salad, baked bread, or as an appetizer.

Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup
by Nathan Stark

1 butternut squash, peeled, gutted & chopped into cubes
1 large (or 2 medium) sweet potato(es), peeled & chopped into cubes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled & finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1/2 cup of half & half or light cream
5 cups of chicken broth
2 1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
pinch of nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
Parsley to garnish


* In a large pot, heat oil. Add the chopped onion until soft.

* Add squash, potatoes, carrot, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes or until all the vegetable are soft.

* Process the soup through a blender until smooth. - For those that don't have a blender, you can use a potato masher instead. The soup will be slightly chunkier, but will taste just as good.

* Add cream or half & half and pinch of nutmeg. Stir with a spoon.

* Add salt & pepper to taste and parsley to garnish.

* Serve warm with bread or a salad.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cooking Tip #1

"No Buttermilk? Add 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar to 1 cup of fresh milk; let sour for 5 minutes." - Paula Deen