Monday, December 21, 2009

English Toffee Pudding

Once upon a time there was a little cafe in Winnetka, Il. called "The Pretty Good Cafe". This was a comfy, cozy neighborhood cafe with the most wonderful homemade food and desserts. The owner, Gail, ran it with the help of her son and a few friendly staff. It was a frequent meeting place for breakfast or lunch for me and my friends. I can't tell you how many times I went in there for the English Toffee Pudding alone. Each time I would beg Gail for the recipe, and if she was in the mood she'd give me a hint, but never the recipe. Eventually, due to unfortunate circumstances, Gail closed the doors on the Pretty Good Cafe. But...not before she did the most wonderful thing! She printed a cookbook containing all of the recipes she served in the cafe for all of her loyal customers to enjoy! O.M.G.!!! I now had the recipe for the E.T.P. I adored. But wait...was that a good thing?? I could now whip up a batch whenever I felt like it. This, of course, led to a diet once the novelty wore off. But I am forever thankful to her for this warm, homey, amazing recipe. I have tried several others, but trust me, this one is the best.

English Toffee Pudding

3 1/2 cups boiling water
1 Tbls. baking soda
12 oz. pitted dates, chopped
3 Tbls. flour
1 1/2 sticks of butter
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour, sifted
1 Tbl. baking powder

Bring water to boil in a saucepan. Chop the dates with the 3 Tbls. flour in the food processor. They need to be chopped fine or they will show up as pieces in the final product.
When the water is boiling, turn off the heat, add the baking soda and the date mixture. Stir to combine and set aside to cool to room temperature (you can refrigerate to speed the process).

In a large mixing bowl or mixer, cream butter, sugar and eggs, beating well. In a separate bowl sift flour with baking powder.

When date mixture is at room temperature (not before or you will ruin the pudding) add to egg mixture, alternating with the flour mixture until both have been incorporated.

Pour into a 9x13 greased pan and bake at 375* until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean - about 1 hour.

Toffee Topping

6 Tbls. butter
2/3 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup + 1 Tbls. whipping cream

Put all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until combined and bubbling. Remove from heat.
Poke holes in the top of the warm cake with a the handle of a wooden spoon. Spread toffee mixture over the cake as evenly as possible, making sure it gets into all the holes. Place the pan under the broiler for about 1 minute until the top is bubbly - keeping watch so it doesn't burn. Remove and cool or serve immediately. This also freezes well. If you freeze it, defrost and then reheat in the oven until warm. You can then slice it or scoop it out into bowls and serve with vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche. Thank you Gail!

Note: If you have never had English Toffee Pudding, it is really a cake, not what we think of as a pudding. It is rich, dense and caramelly. And, oh, so delicious!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Baked Onions Au Gratin

This is recipe from my friend Judy that has always been a favorite side dish of ours. If you are making a filet of beef for the holidays, consider trying this. It couldn't be easier and is quite tasty.

Baked Onions Au Gratin

8 medium onions; peeled, halved and sliced into 1/4 inch slices (about 6 cups)
2 Tbls. butter or more as needed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dry cocktail sherry
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375*

In a large frying pan, over low heat, saute half the onions in 2 Tbls. butter, stirring occasionally. Saute until limp - 5-10 minutes. Do not discolor or carmelize. With a slotted spoon, remove to 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Saute remaining onions, using more butter if necessary. Add to onions in baking dish, along with cream, sherry, and pepper. Stir to mix. Top with swiss cheese and then the parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbly and the top is lightly browned - 15 - 20 minutes. 6 -8 servings

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Engish Muffin Appetizer

This is another favorite at Christmas time in our family. Much less involved than previous posts, but equally delicious. For lack of imagination, we just refer to it as the "english muffin appetizer".

English Muffin Appetizer

1 package of english muffins
1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese - shredded
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 small can black olives - sliced
3 scallions, some of the green tops included - thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. curry powder - or to taste

Preheat oven to 350*

Combine all ingredients excluding english muffins

Cut english muffins into quarters and spread each quarter liberally with cheese mixture. Place on foil lined cookie sheet and bake until melted, bubbly and golden. Serve. Easy and yummy!

p.s. you can make the filling days in advance and refrigerate until ready to use.


Well, all I can say is "be careful what traditions you begin". In our household, Christmas would not be Christmas without spanakopetes. No, we're not Greek. Here's how it began... for many years, on Christmas Eve, I would have a appetizer/dessert fest. One of the appetizers was the spanakopetes. My kids adored them, and that was that. I have made them every year since whether I had the time or not, because, like I just wouldn't be Christmas without them. And, really, who wants to disappoint their kids? Not me. So my strategy is to set aside a day after Thanksgiving to make the little buggers. Luckily, they freeze beautifully, and you can make them in advance. Which is always a good thing for any recipe, especially around the holidays.


2 10 ounce packages frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
1 - 1 1/2 cups butter, melted
3/4 cup onion, finely minced
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup farmers cheese
1/2 lb. feta cheese, crumbled
1 package phyllo pastry sheets, defrosted

Defrost spinach and with your hands, squeeze out all the excess moisture. In a large skillet melt 2 Tbls. of the butter and saute the minced onion until translucent. Add the spinach, and saute for a few minutes until most of the moisture has evaporated. Remove mixture to a large mixing bowl and let cool. When cool, add beaten eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, both cheeses, and bread crumbs. Mix together until completely combined.

Setting up: (Dawn style)

Cover table with plastic tablecloth. Unwrap phyllo and unfold. Using a pizza wheel or kitchen shears cut the phyllo sheets lengthwise into 1 1/2 -2 inch strips. Stack the strips together into one stack and place on a sheet of wax paper. Cover with another sheet of wax paper, and then lay a damp (not wet) kitchen towel over that. This keeps the phyllo strips moist. If left uncovered, they will dry up and crumble - so remember to keep them covered in between using them. Line several rimmed cookie sheets (that will fit in your freezer) with wax paper and bring them to the table. On a hot pad, place your pan of warm, melted butter next to you, along with your bowl of spinach mixture. Now you are ready to roll!


Place one phyllo strip on the work surface and with a pastry brush, brush the entire strip lightly with the melted butter. Place a second strip over the first strip and again brush lightly with the melted butter. Now place a generous tablespoon of spinach mixture on the right hand corner of the strip. From right edge fold over filling and then bring up on an angle to begin folding back and forth into a triangle shape for the entire length of the strip (like folding a flag). Fold them as tightly as you can - otherwise the filling will leak out when you bake them. Place triangle on cookie sheet and brush the top with the melted butter. Continue on for each triangle until you have used all the spinach mixture, placing each sheet in the freezer as it is filled. During this process, you will have to reheat your butter to warm it up a few times, possibly having to add more butter if you run low. When the triangles are frozen, remove them and store in one layer in freezer zip lock bags or layer them between sheets of wax paper in a plastic storage container and place back in the freezer. all of your triangles are comfortably nestled in your freezer, patiently waiting until you are ready to bake and serve them. Phew!

To serve:

Preheat your oven to 375*

Line rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil. Place your triangles about 1-2 inches apart and bake until golden. Now you are ready to serve these flaky, savory little bundles of deliciousness. Mmmm. So gooood! The effort of preparing them has become a distant memory, while eating them is heavenly and becoming addictive. Now, if they become a tradition in your family, don't say I didn't warn you!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Apple Chutney

Years ago a good friend of mine gave me her favorite chutney recipe, and it soon became mine. It's so versatile. As an appetizer, you can spoon it over a brick of cream cheese or goat cheese, or brie, and serve with crackers. Or you can serve it alongside a roast pork, or poultry. It combines all the wonderful fall / winter flavors; apples, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. So delicious!

Apple Chutney

1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 lbs. granny smith apples - peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 incch pieces
3 Tbls. lemon juice
3 garlic cloves - minced
1 2oz. piece fresh ginger - peeled and minced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups golden raisins
2 Tbls. yellow mustard seeds
2 Tbls. cinnamon

Bring vinegar and sugar to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, toss apples and lemon juice together.

Combine: garlic, ginger, salt, and red pepper in food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

Add apple and garlic mixtures, raisins, and mustard seeds to vinegar/sugar mixture, and simmer over low heat until apples are tender, stirring occasionally - for about 45 minutes. Cool completely, cover, and refrigerate. Now you're good to go. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Coconut Pound Cake

I have a friend (you know who you are) who has no confidence in her cooking / baking skills. And yet.. anytime I have eaten anything she has cooked or baked it has been truly good. Better than good. Really yummy...really. Hmmm...false modesty perhaps? Nope. Not with this chick. She just hides behind her abilities and never takes a bow. So, to honor and shine a light on her, I am sharing one of her recipes that I love. A perfect, dense, moist, buttery, coconut pound cake.

Coconut Pound Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unsweetened Thai coconut milk, shaken
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup dry, unsweetened coconut (if not in your supermarket, try a health food store)

Place rack in bottom third of oven - preheat to 350*

Grease a bundt pan and dust with flour.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in bowl. Heat butter and coconut milk in a pan, over low heat, until butter is melted and mixture is warm. Do not let come to a boil. Place eggs and sugar in bowl of mixer and beat on medium speed until thick and pale (about 2 minutes). Add vanilla and blend. Reduce to low speed and gradually add flour mixture until completely combined. Scrape sides of bowl and add coconut. Mix until incorporated. Add warm milk and butter mixture gradually, mixing on low speed until incorporated. Give a final stir with rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan - thump on counter to settle batter. Bake for 60 - 65 minutes testing with a wooden skewer. Don't over bake. Skewer should come out with a few crumbs attached. Cool on rack for 15 minutes before unmolding. Leave cake on rack until completely cooled. Store on platter under a cake dome or wrap completely in Saran. Serve plain or dust with confectioners' sugar or serve with a berry compote. Any way you choose to serve it, it's delish!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pecan Squares

Imagine your favorite pecan pie...ooey, gooey, sweet and chewy, loaded with toasted pecans. Mmmm. Well, these are like miniature pecan pies only in cookie bar form. Serve them on a sweet tray or make up a tin to take as a hostess gift. So easy and delicious!

Pecan Squares


2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks salted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350*

Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Sift sugar and flour together. Cut in butter using your fingertips or a pastry blender until fine crumbs form. Press dough into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven.


11 Tbls. salted butter, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup (the good kind...not Aunt Jemima!)
3 Tbls. heavy cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, toasted (spread out on baking sheet and toast at 350* for 10 minutes - cool)

Mix melted butter, maple syrup, cream and brown sugar together. Stir in pecans, coating them completely. Spread over crust. Return to oven and bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bars or squares.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Jingle Bells! Christmas is on the way and I want to share some of my favorite holiday recipes with all of you. I'm going to start with the cookie for the season...pumpkin spice cookies like no other. It's really hard not to gobble them all up before you serve them to guests or send them out as gifts. They are little pillows of spicy goodness encompassing all the lovely, warm, wintery spices we associate with Christmas. Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger..oh my! Full of plump raisins, dates and pecans. So satisfying. You might want to leave a few out for Santa. I'm sure he'll leave a thank you note.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin, no spices added
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 tsp. mapolene flavoring

Cream butter and sugar on medium high in mixer until light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, egg, and mapolene and mix until completely blended.

2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and with mixer on low speed, gradually add to the creamed butter mixture. Mix on low speed until completely combined, scraping down the bowl of the mixer several times.


1 cup golden raisins
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
1 cup pecans, toasted (spread on cookie sheet and toast in a 350* oven for 10 minutes - let cool)

Preheat oven to 375*

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Use a large cookie scoop (or 1/4 cup measuring cup) and drop dough 3-4" apart on sheets. Gently pat dough down to a 3" disc. Bake one sheet at a time in the lower middle of the oven for 10-12 minutes.The bottom of the cookies should be golden, not brown. Repeat with rest of dough. Cool cookies on a wire rack.


1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
6 Tbls. butter
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. mapolene flavoring
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar

In a heavy pot, over a medium low flame, combine butter, brown sugar and milk. Bring to a boil, lower flame to gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Take off flame, add vanilla, mapolene, and confectioners sugar. Whisk until smooth. Scrape frosting into large measuring cup and pour over cookies on racks, reheating frosting in micro wave if mixture gets too thick. Let frosted cookies dry on racks and then store in air tight containers using waxed paper between layers. Try not to eat too many :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Au Gratin Potatoes

While we're talking about yummy potatoes, I have to include my all time favorite, although I have never met a potato I didn't like! But, these are special - tender, cheesy, crusty brown top...sigh. Complete comfort food. The friend who gave me this recipe was as crazy about potatoes as I am. We used to joke and say we were going to have a seven course potato dinner party and we would be the only two guests. Fun!! Now don't faint when I tell you the ingredients. You won't be making them every week (I hope) just when you want something special and completely nuturing. Again, this is a recipe I will have to walk you through - it's simple (only 3 ingredients) but the procedure needs to be precise. So here goes...

Au Gratin Potatoes

3-4 large Idaho baking potatoes; thinly sliced
1 large carton of whipping cream (!!) don't worry - you're not going to use it all
3-4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
s & p

Preheat oven to 325*

Layer thinly sliced potatoes in a shallow (rather than deep - you want lots of crusty brown me) baking dish alternating with shredded cheese. So in other words... a layer of overlapping potatoe slices, lightly salt and pepper them, cover liberally with shredded cheddar cheese and repeat until you have used all the potato slices. You should have 3 layers maybe more. Then slowly pour the whipping cream over the potatoes. Give the cream time to settle. Ideally the cream should settle in at 3/4 of the way up the baking dish. You don't want the potatoes submerged.

Put the casserole in the preheated oven on the middle rack. This is the important part...check to see how they are doing after 15 minutes. The cream should just be slowly plopping, not rapidly bubbling - if it is, turn the oven down to 300* and check again in 15 minutes. The reason for this is simple...the cheese and cream will end up curdling, which you don't want. Now, it will take 1 1/2 - 2 hours for the potatoes to absorb the cream and become browned and crusty, so plan accordingly. I know it seems like a long time to wait, but you will be well rewarded for your patience. Wait til you see them..gorgeous! Wait til you taste them..delicious! I feel like running into the kitchen and whipping up a batch right now!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Roasted Potatoes and Onions

You can serve these potatoes with almost any main course. They are so flavorful! I think they go especially well with the Parmesan chicken breasts in the previous post. They couldn't be easier to prepare, but remember...allow them about an hour and 45 minutes to roast. So start them an hour before you put the chicken breasts in.

Roasted Potatoes and Onions

6 large Idaho baking potatoes; washed, dried, cut into small chunks
2 large onions, quartered and sliced
good quality olive oil
s & p to taste
**note: the potatoes and onions cook down - so you don't end up with as much as it looks before roasting

Preheat oven to 400*

In a large bowl, combine potatoes and onions. Drizzle liberally with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and toss to coat.
Spread evenly across a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 1 hr. 45 minutes or until tender and browned. Both the potatoes and onions are crispy and carmelized. Heaven!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chicken Breasts - Not the Usual Yawn

These chicken breasts are so yum and easy. I used to make them often when my kids were growing up, and they were a fave. Since this is all about the chicken, I recommend going to Harrison's Poultry in Glenview. They have the freshest most wonderful poultry around. If you are not inclined to seek out Harrison's due to distance proximity, at least go to your local butcher and buy good quality - they may even carry Harrison's as they supply many shops and restaurants in the Chicago area. Quality is important. I don't care what you put on it or in it, if you have tough, stringy chicken...well, what's the point of wasting your other ingredients?

Chicken Breasts - Breaded and Baked

4 -5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved - rinsed and dried
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 cup Durkee fried onions - crumbled
1 stick of butter (or oil if you don't want to use butter - but, ya know? butter's better!)

Melt butter and place in a shallow bowl. In a plastic zip lock bag, add the parmesan, bread crumbs, and crumbled onions. Shake up to distribute evenly. Take each breast, roll in melted butter, and shake in crumb mixture. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet, sprayed with cooking spray, or in a shallow casserole dish large enough to hold all of them. Drizzle any remaining butter over all. Sprinkle with paprika for color. Bake at 400* for 40 minutes, or until cooked through and browned. Carefully turn once during baking time. I serve them with roasted potatoes and onions or au gratin potatoes (recipe in future post).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sweet and Sour Beef and Cabbage Soup

Now that Fall is rapidly approaching Winter, my thoughts are turning to comfort foods. Dishes warm and nuturing to satisfy our souls on cold, dreary days. This recipe for beef and cabbage soup meets that criteria. It's a meal in a pot - very hearty and satisfying. All you need to add is some warm, crusty bread, and you're good to go.

Sweet and Sour Beef and Cabbage Soup

2 Tbls. butter or vegetable oil
2 lbs. lean beef stew meat, well trimmed
1 small head of green cabbage
2 cups coarsly grated carrots
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp. caraway seeds
salt and pepper, to taste
1 large can tomato sauce or puree
1 Tbls. tomato paste
3 Tbls. dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. sour salt (citric acid)
7 cups of water

Melt butter or oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add meat and brown. Add onions, saute briefly until soft. Add water, bring to a boil, skim any foam off top. Add tomato sauce and paste, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add rest of vegetables, caraway seeds, s & p, brown sugar, and sour salt, cover and simmer 1 hour. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Potato and Dill Crusted Salmon

If you want to impress your guests, look no further...this is your recipe. It sounds and looks diabolically hard to do, but I promise you it is easy. The question I am most often asked is "how do the potatoes stay on the fish? Don't they stick to the pan and make a mess?"
The answer to that question is no they do not! They stay right where they are supposed to stay...on the fish. And, it is a beautiful presentation. You have the golden brown of the potatoes, and through that you see the leafy green sprigs of dill, and then the pink of the salmon. Beautiful! Delicious!

This is another recipe I will have to talk you through, as it is more procedure than anything else. So, here goes...

Potato and Dill Crusted Salmon

Center cut salmon filets however many you need. Remove the skin from the back of the filets and then butterfly them (cut through horizontally) but don't slice all the way through.

Idaho potatoes - 1-2 should be more than enough. Slice long, thin slices from the potatoes with a vegetable peeler. Soak the slices in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Fresh dill sprigs


Take each butterflied filet (leave open) and pat with a little vegetable oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place a few dill sprigs across each filet. Then overlap thinly sliced potatoes across the entire filet. Add enough of the vegetable oil to a large fry pan to coat the bottom and heat on a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the filets potato side down. Then pat a little oil on the top side, add the dill sprigs, and the overlapping potato slices. Continue sauteing the filets on the first side until the potatoes are crisp and golden brown. Gently, with a spatula, flip the filets (no, the potatoes won't fall off) to the other side. Continue sauteing the second side until the potatoes on that side are golden brown. And viola! The fish is cooked through, the potatoes are crisp and golden, the dill sprigs are peeking through and you are a genius! Really, it is such a pretty dish to serve and truly delicious. I hope you will try it and report back.

P.S. Depending on the size of your pan, don't saute more than 2-3 filets at a time - you don't want to crowd them.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Faux Fried Chicken Wings

Since I am making these as we speak, for part of my son's birthday dinner tomorrow, I decided to post about them. First, let me say, the dilemma in our house is always "are they better hot from the oven, or are they better cold the next day"? The answer is...we can't decide. We love them hot and we love them cold. Maybe we lean a teensy bit toward cold which is good news for any of you who decide to make them - you can do them the day before and clean up the mess in advance.

These little babies are addictive. Crispy, flavorful, just plain yummy. You can serve them as the main meal or as an appetizer. If serving as a main meal, we like to add twice baked potatoes with cheddar cheese and corn on the cob to complete the menu. Mmmm.. you are going to love these!

Now, the hard part...telling you how to make them, because it's not one of those measure the ingredients kind of recipe.
I will do my goes...I'm just going to talk it out:

Our Favorite Chicken Wings

8-10 lbs. of chicken wings, disjointed, tips discarded (or freeze and use to make chicken stock)
Rinse chicken off and let drain in a colander.

Mazola oil

Flour - fill a quart size zip lock bag about 1/3 full of flour or Wondra - season the flour liberally with Lawry's Seasoned Salt, garlic powder, and pepper. You want to put enough seasoning in so you can smell it.


Preheat oven to 375*

Line cookie sheets, with sides, with heavy duty aluminum foil

Pour oil in a shallow bowl. Shake 5-6 wings in the bag of seasoned flour, then roll in the oil (yes, I know the opposite of what you would normally do) let some of the oil drain off the wing and place on the foil lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the wings, adding more oil to the bowl as needed - taking care not to crowd the wings too tightly together on the cookie sheets. Depending on how many wings you make, you will need 2-3 large cookie sheets.

Bake in oven for 1 1/2 hours, turning once, or until both sides of the wing are deep golden brown. (when you turn be careful to go underneath the wing and loosen it from the foil without leaving the skin stuck to the foil - that's where all your flavor is).

When they are done, remove to a platter or bowl lined with paper towels and drain. Then dig in! Hee hee hee...I can almost hear the moaning going on :) Please let me know your verdict...better hot or cold??

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Summer? What Summer??

Ok, this is's the end of August here in Chicago, and for the next few days, the highs will be in the 60's and the lows in the 40's!!! We have had the worst summer on record for a long time. This should be October weather, not August weather. It's so unfair...winter is on it's way. Way too soon. So, please forgive me if my thoughts have turned to...chili! Yes, it's that miserable here. I want a big, steeping, spicy bowl of chili to warm me up in...August. Oh, did I forget to mention it's been raining practically every day? It's damp, windy, dreary...I could go on and on, but why? Just cut to the chase and make the damn chili! This is one of my favorites:

Chili (in August, in Chicago)

6 Tbls. oil
4 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 small bulb of garlic. minced
3 lbs. ground chuck
3 lbs. sirloin, cubed
2 1 lb.12 oz. cans whole, peeled, tomatoes (or tomatoe puree if you prefer)
1 small can tomatoe paste
1 tsp. cumin seed
3 Tbls. hot chili powder
3 Tbls. mild chili powder
1 Tbls. salt
1/2 Tbls. oregano
garlic powder to taste
onion powder to taste
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbls. pequin quebraba (some grocery stores, or Mexican market)
1 Tbls. chili caribe (some grocery stores, or Mexican market)
1 tsp. sugar
2 cans pinto or kidney beans, drained
16 0z. tomatoe juice

In a large pot brown meat, in oil, in batches. Remove to large bowl. Brown onions and garlic. Place meat back in pot. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 2 hours. Adjust seasonings as desired. If you live in Chicago, serve. If you live in a warmer climate, well...I'm jealous!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sesame Noodles # 3, 2, & 1

I love Sesame noodles. Therefore, I couldn't decide which recipe to post for you all. So...I am going to give you my top 3 faves in order of deliciousness, starting with # 3. They are all different, they are all yummy. You be the judge. You can eat these as is, or turn them into more of a main dish by adding cooked chicken. As a side dish, they will add a nice hearty zing to almost any meal you are serving. Here goes:

Sesame Noodles # 3

12 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked, drained, cooled
1 diced green pepper
1 diced red pepper
1 diced orange pepper
1 diced yellow pepper
3 thinly sliced green onions


1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 small clove garlic (or more, if you like), minced
1 tsp. hot chili oil, or to taste

Whisk dressing ingredients together and toss with pasta and diced vegetables. Chill and serve.

Sesame Noodles # 2

12 oz. linguine noodles, cooked, drained, cooled


1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
6 Tbls. cold water
1 Tbls. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic (or more), minced
6 Tbls. creamy peanut butter
3 Tbls. Asian sesame oil
1 tsp. hot chili oil, or to taste

Place soy sauce, vinegar, water, sugar, salt, ginger, and garlic, in a food processor. Process on high speed until ginger and garlic are smooth. Add the peanut butter, process 1 minute longer. Combine the oils and with the processor running on low speed, drizzle them through the feed tube, and process until completely combined.

Place the cooked linguine in a large bowl and toss with 1 1/2 cups of the dressing. Chill and serve.

Sesame Noodles # 1

1 12 oz. package linguine, cooked, drained, cooled
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, cut into matchsticks


1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbls. oriental sesame oil
2 Tbls. red wine vinegar
1 Tbls. vegetable oil
1 1/2 Tbls. sugar
1 Tbls. prepared chili sauce with garlic

Place noodles, peppers, and green onions in a large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Chill, serve.

I hope some of you try one or all of these and let me know what you think and which is your favorite. Enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Puff Pastry Pizza Appetizer # 2

I love puff pastry. I could probably write a blog just using all my recipes for various ways in which to use these tender, flaky little gems. So versatile. So impressive when served. So satisfying when your friends think you're a genius. So easy! This is another good pizza type appetizer (refer back to # 1) to serve with cocktails or as an accompaniment to a main dish salad for lunch or dinner. Any way you serve it, it will be delicious, and most important...your friends will be impressed :)

Puff Pastry Pizza # 2

1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry - defrost according to pkg. directions
3 cups (or more - you decide) swiss cheese, shredded; divided
2 lbs. plum tomatoes, thinly sliced and blotted dry
1 cup (or more) green olives, sliced or chopped
good quality olive oil

Lightly roll out puff pastry sheets. Cut each into 1/4's and crimp edges. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and sprinkle each square with shredded swiss cheese, sliced tomatoes and green olives. Drizzle with a little olive oil and top with remaining shredded swiss cheese. Bake at 375* for 20 - 30 minutes, or until lightly browned and cheese is bubbling.
Serve. When your guests applaud, feel free to take a bow :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


If you are looking for a great summer side dish look no further. This corn salad is easy, flavorful, and really attractive displayed in a pretty glass bowl. Did I mention easy? Everything is pretty much in season now, so go to your Farmer's Market and get your vegetables as fresh as possible. You can serve this salad with almost anything - steaks, chops, chicken, you name it. It's crunchy, colorful, and a little spicy depending on how much heat you decide to add. Feel free to increase or decrease the amount of chilies and cumin to satisfy your personal taste buds.

Summer Corn Salad

4 12 oz. cans of Green Giant corn, drained
1 large tomato, diced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 large red pepper, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
4 green chilies (or 1 small can) diced
1 small can artichoke hearts hearts, quarted


1/2 Tbls. cumin
1 tsp. each salt and pepper
3 Tbls. minced parsley
2 Tbls. lemon juice
2 Tbls. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Mix all dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.

Blend all vegetables together in a large glass bowl and toss with the dressing. Let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
Didn't I tell you...easy!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

When Life Hands You Lemons...

If given a choice between a chocolate dessert or a lemon dessert, I always go for the lemon. I love the tart, refreshing, citrusy bite of lemons, especially in the summer. This dessert combines 2 of my favorite things...lemons and good vanilla ice cream. Since it's frozen, it's a great dessert to have on hand in your freezer for when guests stop by. I love the contrast between the tart lemon filling and the sweet vanilla ice cream. I usually make two at a to share and one to have just because! This recipe calls for a 9 inch frozen pie shell, baked according to package instructions - but I usually make a graham cracker or ginger snap crust - up to you.

Frozen Lemon Pie


2 cups graham cracker or ginger snap crumbs
6 Tbls. butter, melted
1 Tbls. sugar
Combine ingredients and press into a 9 inch pie plate. Bake at 350* for 10 minutes - cool on wire rack


1/2 cup of butter
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 Tbls. grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 quart of vanilla ice cream, softened

Melt butter in top of a double boiler. Add lemon juice, lemon rind, salt, and sugar. Beat the eggs and egg yolks thoroughly. Gradually stir into butter mixture. Cook over hot (not boiling) water, stirring constantly, until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and chill. Press softened ice cream into pie shell and freeze. Spread lemon filling over the frozen ice cream and freeze. When frozen cover with Saran. When ready to serve, top with a dollop of whipped cream.
A great summer dessert!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Peachy Keen

Peaches can either be really good or really disappointing. When they are bad they are mealy, woody, tasteless. But when they are good, oh man, they are gooood! I find myself eating them over the sink or over a napkin to catch all the juices...sigh.
This summer has been a positive peach experience for me. Whether I buy them at the grocery or the farmer's market, I have been in peach heaven.

This is a peach pie recipe I got from an old Cooking Light magazine and have made many times over the years. It's really easy and fool proof. The recipe calls for refrigerated pie dough, but if you are a purist, please feel free to substitute your own favorite dough recipe. I have done both depending on how much time I have wanted to spend - and really, it's all about the peaches, so get yourself some good ones.

Brown Sugar - Peach Pie With Coconut Streusel

1/2 (15 oz.) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar, divided
3 Tbls. all-purpose flour - ( if your peaches are very ripe and juicy, you might want use an additional 1-2 Tbls. flour to thicken the filling)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
8 cups peeled, sliced, ripe peaches (about 3 1/2 lbs. or 12 peaches)
1/3 cup regular oats
1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1 1/2 Tbls. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425*

Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Fold edges under, flute. Line dough with a piece of foil, and arrange pie weights or dried beans on foil. Bake at 425* foe 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350*. Remove pie weights and foil. Bake at 350* for 5 minutes. Cool crust on a wire rack.

Combine 1/3 cup brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a bowl with the sliced peaches - gently toss and arrange into prepared crust. Bake at 350* for 30 minutes. Combine 1/3 cup brown sugar, oats, coconut, and butter and sprinkle over peach mixture. Shield edges of crust with foil. Bake an additional 30 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or not. I love it just the way it is - no embellishments necessary. I hope you try this and if you do, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Caribbean Chicken Salad

If you are planning a shower or luncheon this summer, I have the perfect salad recipe for you. It is beautiful displayed on a pretty platter, or in a glass bowl, and is light and refreshing. A perfect summer dish served with fresh croissants and / or assorted mini muffins. I also have a frozen daiquiri recipe that would be perfect for the occasion.

Caribbean Chicken Salad

1 lb. orzo, cooked according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cool water, drain again
15 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
1 lb. red, seedless grapes
8 green onions, sliced thinly, including green tops
4 cups cooked chicken breasts, sliced or cubed


1/3 cup Mango Vinaigrette
1/2 cup best quality extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground all spice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup fresh mint, minced


2 cups fresh pineapple, cut into chunks
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Place cooked, drained orzo in large mixing bowl. Add mandarin oranges, grapes, onions, and chicken.
Whisk dressing ingredients together, pour over salad and gently toss. Cover and chill. Serve on platter or in glass bowl and arrange pineapple chunks and toasted almonds decoratively. Serves 6-8

Frozen Daiquiries

1 large can of Minute Maid Limeade
1 large can of water
1 1/2 large cans of white rum
2 pints ginger ale
2 drops green food coloring - optional

Combine everything but the ginger ale - then add the ginger ale slowly and combine completely.
Pour into airtight containers and freeze. When ready to serve, scoop into martini glasses and garnish with a lime slice.

Let the party begin!

Blueberry Rx

As we have just learned in the previous post: a blueberry dessert a day keeps the doctor away...right? So, in the spirit of good health, I would like to share with you another yummy blueberry recipe given to me by my friend Peggy. After taking my first bite, I could only say THANK YOU PEGGY for sharing! The crust on this divine tart is so buttery and delicious, and the combination of the cooked blueberries topped with the uncooked blueberries at the end is just... well, perfect!


Pre-heat oven to 400*

1 cup plus 2 Tbls. flour, divided
1/8 tsp. salt
2 Tbls. plus 2/3 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1 Tbls. white vinegar
5 cups blueberries, divided
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Mix 1 cup flour, salt, and 2 Tbls. sugar in Cuisinart. Add the butter in pieces and pulse until crumbly. Sprinkle in the vinegar (dough will come together) Press onto the bottom and 1/4" up the sides of a 9" springform pan. Place 3 cups
of the blueberries on top of the crust. Mix together 2 Tbls. flour, 2/3 cup sugar, and the cinnamon. Sprinkle over the blueberries. Bake for 50 - 60 minutes until crust is golden brown, and the blueberries are bubbling. Remove from oven and spread the remaining 2 cups of blueberries over the top. Cool.. serve with ice cream.. take your first bite.. and altogether now, say "THANK YOU PEGGY"!

The Best Little Anti-Oxidant Around

We all know the beneficial health qualities of blueberries, and let's face it...aren't they cuter and more fun than broccoli? To prove it, I am going to share a fabulous blueberry pound cake recipe with you. It is everything you want a pound cake to be - rich, dense and buttery, with the added bonus of now it's good for you too!

Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake

For the cake:

Pre-heat oven to 350*

1/3 cup of whole milk
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 Tbls, pure vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup freshly grated lemon zest (about 5 lemons)
2 - 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, tossed with 1 1/2 tbls. flour

For the syrup

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar

In a small bowl whisk together the milk, the eggs, and the vanilla. In another bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In the mixer cream the butter with the granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and the zest until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture alternately with the egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating the batter after each addition until it is just combined. Fold in 1 1/2 cups of the blueberries. Spoon 1/3 of the batter into a greased and floured 10 inch bundt pan, spreading it evenly, and sprinkle 1/2 cup of the remaining blueberries over it. Spoon half the remaining batter into the pan, spreading it evenly, and sprinkle 1/2 of the remaining blueberries over it. Spoon the remaining batter into the pan, spreading it evenly, sprinkle the remaining bluberries over it. Bake in the middle of a 350* oven for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until golden and a tester comes out clean...don't over bake.

Make the syrup while the cake is baking: In a small saucepan combine the lemon juice and the sugar, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissloved, and remove the pan from the heat. When the cake comes out of the oven, poke the top immediately all over with a wooden skewer, and brush it with half the syrup. Let the cake cool in the pan, on a rack, for 15 minutes, invert it onto the rack, and poke it all over with the skewer. Brush the cake with the remaining syrup and let it cool completely.

This cake stands on its own, but you could gild the lily and serve it with a dollop of creme fraiche or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Puff Pastry Pizza Appetizer #1

This is a great summer appetizer, again using fresh basil and tomatoes. You can also use it to accompany a large salad for a light dinner.

Puff Pastry Pizza #1

1 large bunch of basil - save some small pretty ones for garnish
2 large sweet onions - sliced, and caramelized - season with s & p
4-6 plum tomatoes, sliced
1 wedge good quality Parmesan cheese, shaved
3 tbls. good quality olive oil
1 beaten egg white
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry

Preheat oven to 375*

Chop, chop, chop basil - saving some for garnish

In a bowl combine 3 tbls. olive oil, and chopped basil
Lightly roll out puff pastry sheets - cut each sheet into 1/4's and crimp edges. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and brush with beaten egg white.
Blot tomato slices with paper towels. Place 4 slices on each square of puff pastry.
Brush liberally with the basil / olive oil mixture
Top with some of the carmelized onions and shaved Parmesan

Bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until puffed and golden. Garnish decoratively with saved basil leaves

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Perfect Pesto

Now that summer is finally here, I am enjoying all the fresh flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs that are available at the Farmer's Markets in the area. For the last few weeks I have gotten the most amazing peonies from a vendor at the Northfield Farmer's Market where I am also a vendor selling my baked goods. These peonies are so lush and voluptuous and out of control gorgeous, they make me smile each time I look at them. They are my favorite "feel good" flower.

I have also been purchasing lovely aromatic basil and thought I would post a recipe for my favorite pesto sauce along with a simple pasta sauce recipe using fresh, roasted tomatoes.

Perfect Pesto

3 cups fresh basil
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
3/4 cup freshly grated, good quality Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Simple!

Roasted Tomato and Pesto Pasta

6 - 8 medium plum tomatoes
1 Tbls. good quality olive oil
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 16 oz. box penne or rigatoni
7 0z. pesto

Preheat oven to 400*

Cut tomatoes into 1/4's and remove seeds. Toss tomatoes with olive oil, pepper and salt. Roast for 20 minutes turning once.
Bring large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tbls. of Kosher salt - add penne and boil until al dente - drain - put back in pot and toss with pesto sauce and roasted tomatoes. Serve hot or room temperature. Fresh, easy and delicious!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fletcher's Favorite Cookies

O.K. one more Fletcher story...only because he had such good taste.

It was a few days before Christmas. I had spent the entire day baking. One of the things I had made were 6 dozen triple chocolate kids faves...and soon to be Fletcher's. After they had cooled, I put them in a large Rubbermaid container on my dresser, in my bedroom (don't ask...I was running out of room) uncovered, until I was sure they were completely cooled. Later that night I was folding laundry on my bed, day dreaming, and my eyes zeroed in on the container.
The EMPTY container. It took a second for this to sink in - I was tired and my brain was refusing to process this news. I ran over to the container for a better look thinking "did I put those cookies somewhere else?" Sadly, the answer was NO. Again, there wasn't a crumb in sight - not in the container, not on the dresser, not on the rug. 6 DOZEN TRIPLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES...GONE! Now, I'm sure you know, chocolate is toxic to dogs. I called my vet and he advised confining him in a room, leaving him water, and unless he started convulsing, wait and see what happens. So...we put him in the laundry room, with a bowl of water and when we woke up the next morning to check on him, nothing seemed amiss. Until I refreshed his water bowl and he started drinking. Well, I don't want to get too graphic here but let's say we had a lot of clean up to do for the next 2 days. Yes, he survived (maybe because he was 90 lbs. and I didn't kill him) and these cookies became known as Fletcher's Favorite... as my son said, trying to console me, "Mom, he really liked them, he ate them all."

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES (single recipe - makes 3 dozen)

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
3 oz. bitter sweet chocolate
6 Tbls. butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs, room temp.
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (or you can substitute same amount quartered Rollo candies...yum!)
1 cup walnuts (I don't use them - my kids hate nuts)

Preheat oven to 350* line cookie sheets with parchment paper

Melt semi-sweet and bitter- sweet chocolates with butter over low heat until smooth. Cool. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla together until fluffy (takes about 5 minutes). Add chocolate mixture, then flour mixture. Beat until blended. Stir in chips (or Rollos) and nuts (if using). Drop by tablespoonfuls on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes - the centers should still look soft. Don't over bake. Let pans cool on racks before removing cookies to racks to cool completely.

If you have a dog... guard them with your life!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It Started With A Noodle Kugel

My favorite dog of all time was a Flat Coated Retriever we named Fletcher. I always said "he is the best little boy that ever drew breath." Until he wasn't. Up until he was around 4 years old, I could literally leave a steak within his reach, and he would not touch it. That all changed one day when I made a noodle kugel for a friend of mine who asked me to make one for her. I left it on the counter to cool, and went to pick my son up from school. When we got back to the house, I found my baking dish sitting there empty. There was not one trace of the noodle kugel. Not a noodle, not a raisin, nada. It had been licked as clean as if I had taken it out of the dishwasher. Well, I'm not stupid, I knew who the culprit was, and he didn't look the least bit guilty. I guess he just couldn't one home...kugel cooling...easy access...go for it! This noodle kugel started a rampage of stealth attacks on food by "my best little boy".


1 16oz. pkg. wide, flat, noodles, cooked and drained
6 eggs, beaten
1 8oz. pkg.cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 lbs. cottage cheese
1 16oz. jar applesauce
1 cup white raisins
1/2 cup sugar
cinnamon to taste
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350*

In large bowl, mix drained noodles with all ingredients except butter. Melt butter in a 9x13 baking dish, add noodle mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 30 minutes longer. Let rest 5 minutes, slice and serve.

You can serve this hot or at room temperature. I also like it cold the next day. Fletcher didn't care - he just liked it!

P.S. My friend was really pissed!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rainy Days At The Farmer's Market

I haven't posted in awhile due to preparing to be in the Farmer's Market in Northfield. It truly has been all consuming. It is my first season and there were a lot of details to take care of, not to mention all the baking I've been doing. Yes, I know, I haven't posted any dessert recipes yet, but I will. Surprise! I am a baker! Thus, the name of my blog and my business...Sweet Considerations.

Week 1...The weather was cold, damp, windy, dreary...yes, it's June here. I hired the sweetest high school boy to help me set up, sell and tear down. So...this was a first experience for both of us in setting up a tent with canopy. I have to say we did a pretty good job of it, but 2 workers were watching us struggle, and came over to lend a hand. We were grateful. We then put up the banner, set up the tables, plated the products I was selling, and put out samples for tasting. Several of our friends and family came to visit and be supportive. We were happy to see them. The day wore on, we met other vendors who were friendly and nice, we sold out my products, and it was time to tear down and go home. We were glad. It was ugly out, but the rain held off until later in the afternoon. We were home.

Week 2...When I woke up at 5am I looked at the weather radar on line. Gee, it's now June 14th...cold, rain and thunderstorms expected. wasn't raining at 6:30 when my helper arrived at my house. So we decided to go anyway, because the rain could hold off until after the market like last week. So we stopped at Starbucks to warm ourselves up with hot chocolate and coffee. We arrive at the Market, unload everything, get it all set up, sit in our chairs to wait for customers, and it starts POURING rain. Ok...we're committed, we just set everything up, we decided to make the best of it. Until we couldn't take it anymore. We were freezing, we were wet, my packaging was ruined, my products were ruined, the canopy on the tent was filled with water, it was a mess. So, I backed my car up to the tent and we started to take everything down in the POURING rain...laughing like soaking wet crazy people. It was an experience I don't plan to duplicate. When the radar says RAIN, I'm staying home.

The best part of the day was having my instincts confirmed. I interviewed several boys for this job. When I met Alex, I knew he was the one. My decision to hire him was based on the fact I thought he was sweet, and I liked the way he talked about his Mom. Good qualifications in my book. Well, this boy rose to the occasion. No attitude, no complaining (I did enough for both of us). He was such a good sport, so good natured and funny about it all. A miserable day became fun because of him. God, I hope he shows up next week!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Years ago, my next door neighbors at the time, were from New York. Pat and her husband Skip used to make these savory little goodies on the grill, and I can't tell you how good they smelled. I followed my nose one day, and asked "what in the world is that divine smell? what are you cooking? can I have some?" They informed me they were making Spiedies...I had never heard of Spiedies, but I knew I wanted to be introduced. They let me know they were an "East Coast Thing" and because of them, they became a "Chicago Thing" - at least in our neighborhood. Get ready for some tasty little treats, and invite your friends over. They'll love you.

1 1/2 lbs. very lean beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 lbs. very lean veal, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 lbs. very lean pork, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 lbs. very lean lamb, cut into 1 inch cubes

Marinate the meat for 2 days in the following:

8 oz. red wine - Burgundy or Lambrusco
6 oz. Good Seasons Italian Dressing
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbls. kosher salt
1/4 cup oregano
1 tsp. onion salt or 1 samll onion, finely diced

Fire up the grill.

Take the meat out of the marinade, thread onto skewers and grill to desired doneness. Prepare to swoon. Eat.

P.S. If you're not having a crowd, feel free to cut the recipe in half.

The Best Baked Beans

This is the all time best baked bean recipe. Men especially love these beans, although the women do too. I have been making these beans for years, and whenever I'm invited to a barbecue, I am asked to bring them. Again, this is something you can prepare the day before. Just heat them in a 350* oven for 45 - 55 minutes before you are ready to serve.

1 large can B&M beans
1 large can butter beans, drained
1 large can kidney (or pinto) beans, drained

2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 lb. ground chuck
s & p to taste
1 can real bacon

3/4 cup catsup
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbls. white vinegar
1 Tbls. yellow mustard

Brown ground chuck in a little oil until nice and crumbly. Drain off grease, and remove from pan.Add a little oil to the pan and saute onion until golden brown. Add ground chuck back to pan and mix in all the beans and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well, put into casserole dish and refrigerate if not serving. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 350* and bake the beans for 45 - 55 minutes, or until heated through. Yum! Really, really good.

Blue Cheese Coleslaw

This is a great side dish to serve with almost anything, and it's different - not the same old coleslaw that you have at every other barbeque. I think you'll like it.


1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. celery seed
2 Tbls. sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, minced
3/4 cup Mazola oil


1 head of cabbage, shredded
1/2 lb. blue cheese, crumbled

Mix the shredded cabbage with the crumbled blue cheese.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together, pour over cabbage and blue cheese, cover and refrigerate. You can make it the day before you need to use it.

Judy's Corn Dip

I first had this dip at my friend Judy's house on Memorial Day many years ago, and it has remained a favorite. It is sort of a mystery dip in that people can't figure out what's in it, but everyone agrees it's great and asks for the recipe. So here it is folks...enjoy!

Judy's Corn Dip

2 cups lite sour cream
1/2 cup lite mayonnaise
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
3 oz. parmesan cheese
4 or more green onions, thinly sliced
1 10 0z. can of white corn, drained

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, cover, refrigerate overnight. Serve with corn chips, tortilla chips, or crackers...your choice.

You may as well print out several copies of this recipe in advance, because you will be asked for it!

Spicy Gorgonzola and Roasted Red Pepper Spread

This is a really good spread to use on a crusty french bread or a whole grain baguette for an appetizer. It couldn't be easier or more delicious.


1 lb. crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1 2/3 cup roasted red peppers, diced
2 scallions, minced
2 Tbls. sour cream
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. tabasco sauce

Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree. Refrigerate overnight and serve on toasted bread slices.


Slice bread into 1/2 inch wide slices, and place on baking sheet. Brush with good quality olive oil and toast in 350* oven until lightly golden, 10 - 15 minutes. Cover each slice generously with the spread, arrange on platter and serve.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Grilled Lamb Chops

This is a really good basting sauce to use when grilling lamb chops. You can then use the remaining sauce (after re-heating) to dress the cooked chops. I originally had this at the home of a friend, swooned, got the recipe, and have been making it ever since. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Chili Plum Sauce

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
6 Tbls. butter
1 - 10 oz. jar of plum jam
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 Tbls. lemon juice
1 Tbls. ground allspice

Saute onion in butter until tender and golden. Stir in jam, chili sauce, wine, lemon juice, and allspice. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Baste the lamb chops, with the sauce, during grilling time.
Before serving, re-heat the sauce and serve alongside the lambchops.

Flank Steak

Memorial Day is on the way, and I thought I would post a few recipes for my favorite marinades and side dishes. The first one is an unusual recipe for flank steak. You use freshly grated horseradish root which I had never used before. The recipe sounded like it could clear your sinuses for life, but in reality, it lent the flank steak a subtle, lovely flavor.

1 large flank steak - sprinkle with kosher salt to taste

Make a paste with:
1 cup Grey Poupon mustard
2 heaping Tbls. light, brown sugar
1 cup freshly grated horseradish root (use large side of box grater)

Score the top of the flank steak and spread the paste all over the top. Place into a baking dish or zip lock bag large enough to hold it comfortably, and refrigerate it overnight.

Take the flank steak out of the refrigerator, bring to room temperature, and scrape the excess paste off the top.

Fire up the grill. Place steak on grill and cook to medium rare or your preferred doneness. Place on cutting board, let rest for several minutes, then slice on the diagonal (against the grain of the meat).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just Pretend It's a Meatball

Over the years I have tried, I don't know, a dozen or so meatloaf recipes. It just seems like such a warm, fuzzy, homey thing to make. I have desperately wanted to like it, but somehow it always falls short of my expectations. But, I love meatballs...mine. So, I decided to adapt my meatball recipe into a meatloaf, and pretend it's a gigantic meatball! Maybe it's psychological, but I have to say, after some experimenting, that I have finally created a recipe for meatloaf that doesn't make me gag... in fact, it's really, really good.


2 lbs. ground chuck
1 lb. ground pork
1 egg, plus 2 yolks, beaten
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
salt & pepper to taste
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 Tbls. dried Thyme
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup good quality Parmesan cheese
1 Tbls. light brown sugar


1/2 cup catsup
1/2 cup barbeque sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard

Preheat oven to 350*

Combine all meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl. Shape into a loaf and place into a large baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Combine all sauce ingredients. Uncover meatloaf, cover it with the sauce, and bake for an additional 45 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest for a few minutes, then slice and serve. Easy!

I like to serve it with smashed potatoes and green beans. A perfect dinner for a rainy day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

...and then she sang to me!

Periodically, to promote my baked goods, I do tastings at various places that sell my products. I always meet interesting and sometimes odd people.

Today I was at a store I have done tastings for several times, and it's always an experience. People come by to chat me up while sampling my offerings. Today it was several types of brownies and tea breads.

The last time I was at this particular store, I was visited, on and off, by a very hip looking Priest. He was maybe 65 years old, shaved head, wearing all black, many silver chains, bracelets, rings, and a pierced ear. He would come by my table, stand there and he was having lunch! Then he would wander around the store, come back to my table and EAT! He would repeat this 3 or 4 times over an hour, without saying a word. I didn't know what to do. He was eating all my samples. He was a PRIEST for God's sake! So, I just stood there and let him...but I wanted to say, "Father, have you forgotten? Gluttony is a SIN".

Today, I was approached by a woman who sampled nothing. She started chatting with me, and when she discovered my name was Dawn, she started singing to me in jingles...loudly. She started with my name, moved on to my business name, Sweet Considerations, and ended up with a Groucho Marx impersonation, while doing a soft shoe. I swear people, you can't make these things up. We ended the performance with a hug, and I have to say, she really made my day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Favorite Salmon Recipe

If you like salmon, you are going to love this recipe. The flavor is spicy - sweet due to the blend of spices used. And it's gorgeous when it comes out of the oven, all carmelized and golden brown, tender and flaky. Yum! I like to serve it with asparagus and boiled or roasted new potatoes.

Roasted Salmon
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tbls. lemon juice
4 center cut salmon fillets (6-8 ozs. ea.)
2 tbls. brown sugar
3 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
lemon slices for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Combine the first three ingredients in a zip lock plastic bag. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour turning occasionally.
Remove fish from bag and discard marinade. Combine sugar and next 5 ingredients in a bowl. Spray a baking dish large enough to hold the fillets with cooking spray. Place fillets in baking dish and coat with the dry spice rub. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mother's Day

The sight and smell of lilacs will always remind me of Mother's Day.

When my children were small, they would go into our yard, early in the morning, to pick lilacs for me. They would bring them in, put them in a glass with water, and "prepare" breakfast for me. This could be anything from toast, to cereal, to frozen waffles. And, yes, sometimes the waffles were still frozen. They would also include a small glass of orange juice and a cup of cold coffee I had left in the pot the night before for just this reason, as they were still too young to make it themselves.

My role was to pretend I was still sleeping as they quietly came up the stairs to surprise me. I would "wake up" to two very proud little boys, the wonderful smell of lilacs, and a breakfast made with love. A perfect Mother's Day.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spring...not quite here

Here in Chicago, Spring is on it's way...finally. But not before Mother Nature dumps a ton of rain on us. Some of us try to be cheerful and go around saying things like "April showers bring May flowers" while we pray for sunny days and warm weather. Others, like myself, go out and buy the biggest, fattest, roasting chicken we can find, cozy in, and start the business of comforting ourselves with food. There is nothing in the world like the aroma of a chicken roasting to pull you out of the doldrums. Once you get your roaster in the oven, kick back and relax. Read a good book, listen to your favorite tunes, whatever makes you feel good all the while anticipating the goodness to come.

Here is one of my favorite recipes:

Spring Roasting Chicken
1 (5-7 pound) roasting chicken - the bigger the better
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 large bunch of thyme or rosemary - whichever you prefer
1 lemon, halved
1 whole head of garlic, halved crosswise
1/4 stick of melted butter
1 large onion, thickly sliced
6 or more carrots cut into chunks
1-2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes cut into chunks
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with half of the thyme, both halves of the lemon, and half of the head of garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the melted butter and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika (for color). Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Place the onions, carrots, potatoes, other half head of garlic, and the rest of the thyme or rosemary in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 2 hours or until juices run clear. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter, slice chicken, and dig in!