Showing posts from 2010

Cream Cheese Cookies

I haven't made these cookies in years. I got this recipe from my Mother and remember her making these cookies when I was a little girl! This year my daughter and I decided to make these cookies that are very flaky and tender. I will tell you that the pastry style dough is a little hard to work with but the result is a wonderful cookie that melts in your mouth. I am going to work on this recipe and make some changes to see if I can keep the essence of this cookie but make it more easier to make.  For now I will to share with you the original recipe.

1 lb shortening
12 oz cream cheese
2 egg yolks
4 cups flour
milk to seal

Nut Filling or Jam
1/2 stick of butter
1 lb ground walnuts
1 cup sugar

Cream shortening, cream cheese, egg yolks in a large bowl. Blend in flour.  Refrigerate dough over night. Divide dough in fourths, keeping dough that you are not working with refrigerated until you are ready to use. Roll out dough in 10x sugar to 1/8 inch thick on pastry sheet or wax paper.(use…

Traditional Pecan Pie

My family just loves a traditional Pecan Pie. For years I've wanted them to try different flavors like, chocolate and more but no, no, no, they tell me. So I am going to share how I make my traditional Pecan Pie. It's easy and delicious!

Traditional Pecan Pie
Pie Crust
1-1/4  cups  all-purpose flour
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/3  cup  shortening
4  - 5 tablespoons  cold water
1. Stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea-size.
2. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl. Repeat moistening dough, using 1 tablespoon of the water at a time, until all the dough is moistened. Form dough into a ball.
3. On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten …

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

I love these bars cookies, not only are they a hit with family and friends but they are quick and easy to make. Who doesn't love the combination of chocolate chips and peanut butter. If you are not a baker these beauties are a good first cookie to try and I know that you will make them over and over again. Don't wait until Christmas make them for any occasion. I was so happy to have my daughter Mandi to bake these with me!

2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
1 beaten egg
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven 350F

Combine oats, brown sugar, four, baking powder, soda in a very large mining bowl. Cut in butter til crumbly. Stir in chopped peanuts
Combine 1 3/4 cups of crumb mixture with chocolate pieces and set aside. Stir egg into remain mixture: press int a 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan. Bake for…

Oatmeal Cherry Rounds

These Oatmeal Cherry Rounds are easy to make,simply delicious, and add a festive look to any cookie collection. If you are a cookie virgin I would suggest these Oatmeal cookies as a great first cookie to bake.  I used red cherries, you can use red and green cherries or a pecan in the center is also nice.

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup oatmeal (quick cook)
1/4 cup sugar
1 package(4 oz) red cherries

Pre-heat oven to 375 F. Cream butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla until well mixed. Combine dry ingredients and add to cream mixture, stir in oats.  Shape dough into small balls and roll in sugar, place on ungreased cookie sheet. Cut cherries in half and press half in center of ball pressing down to flatten cookie. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

I do love to bake cookies and yes they do take time to make but so worth all your effort. My fondest memories of Christmas are helping my mother bak…

Fudgy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday after a day of marathon baking, I thought I give it a try to create a really sinfully fudgy chocolate chip cookie. I wanted the cookie crisp on the outside and chewy inside. I am so pleased with the result and I am happy to share it with you. It was fun to experiment with this cookie and if it didn't work out I was ready to try again! I think the next time I make these cookies I will melt some white chocolate, drizzle over the cookies to make a more festive presentation.

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
4(1 oz) squares of unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans(optional)  I didn't add the nuts.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Stir flour with baking soda and salt: set aside. Beat butter with sugars at medium speed until creamy,  add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing on low…

Mandi's Spinach Triangles

As I've said I come from a long line of cooks and bakers so it is no surprise that I have shared my love of cooking with my children. My motto is if you like to eat you should be able to cook!  I am sharing with you this recipe from my daughter Mandi. She made this easier version of Greek Spanakopita with puff pastry instead of phyllo dough.  Phyllo dough isn't hard to work with but it just takes a little more time and you have to get use to using the phyllo leaves. I have some really good recipes that use phyllo that I will share in another blog. Cooking is like anything else the more you do it the better you get and once you try  phyllo dough or puff pastry and see how easy it is you will have the confidence to cook and bake well. It's like my piano teacher use to say, practice, practice, practice! Mandi said that the triangles took a little time but were delicious. She brought them to a holiday party and they disappeared in no time!

Mandi's Spinach Triangles
1 pack…

Two Christmas Cookies to get started!

My love of baking started when I helped my Mother bake cookies at Christmas time. Since then  I've never stopped  baking cookies for Christmas. Baking isn't very hard and I am always amazed when I hear people say I don't like to bake. What's not to like, sugar, butter, chocolate, all those wonderful ingredients in one place. Baking is very precise, you need to measure the correct amount of ingredients and follow the recipe especially if you're a beginner. Once you get some experience with baking you can add your personality. Christmas cookies make wonderful personal gifts to share with family and friends. And so many beautiful boxes, bags, tins can be used as containers for your cookies gifts.

A few tips that will help novice bakers. Read all the recipe through before you start and assemble everything that you need. Do any preparation before you start, if the recipe calls for chopped nuts, chop and set aside, eggs separated, same thing.  This will make the flow o…

Cioppino - A Wonderful Italian fish stew!

After my husband order Cioppino many years ago in a restaurant, I've started making this wonderful Italian fish stew for my family. I make mine with a thicker sauce to serve over pasta because who doesn't love pasta, or you can just serve it with fresh crusty bread and a salad.  I love one pot meals that are easy to make and taste delicious. Many other nationalities have similar fish stews and I love to make the different ethic dishes.

3  tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 bay leaf crushed
1 can(28 oz) tomatoes with juice, chopped or two cans (14 oz) chopped tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
2 pounds clams, scrubbed
1 pound shrimp, peeled 
1 pound sea scallops
1 pound scrod or other white fish.

Heat oil in large double boiler. Add  o…

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Coffee Cake

I love this cake because it combines the wonderful taste of chocolate and pumpkin. What makes it even more delicious is the wonderful spices added to the batter. This cake not only taste great but smells like spiced hot chocolate.I love a pretty presentation for my cooking and baking and by adding the mini chocolate chips and powered sugar not only does that enhance the taste but also adds a nice visual presentation. You can do more to this cake to dress it up.  I sometimes decorate the cake with chocolate dipped strawberries or dried apricots, both are very easy to do. I just place the fruit around the base of the cake on the cake dish. This is very nice for a buffet table. As I like to say just use your imagination and try different ideas. Remember no fear, just enjoy. I've included the recipe for chocolate dipped fruit.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Coffee Cake
3 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 can (29 oz) solid pumpkin
3 squares (1 oz) unsweetened chocolate melt…

Delicious black or green Olive tapenade

Olive tapenade is so easy to make and a wonderful delicious spread for crackers or bread or to use in other recipes. Most traditional tapenades are made with black olives but I like to make tapenade out of black or green olives.

Black Olive Tapenade
2 cups pitted Kalamata olives
2 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon capers rinsed and dried
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Puree until the olives are a fine spread. I like my black olive tapenade like a fine spread but you can try different constituencies from chopped to pureed.

Green olive Tapenade
2 cups pitted green olives
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon capers, rinsed and dried
1 bay leaf crumbed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blend. Blend to a desired consistency. I like to make the green tapenade more like chopped olives but…

Leek, Garlic and Cauliflower Soup

This is a soup that is rich on flavor but low on fat and calories. It taste like a creamy soup without any dairy product. A healthy choice for a light meal.

Leek, Garlic and Cauliflower Soup
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 large leeks, sliced
1 head cauliflower, remove leaves and thick core and coarsely chop
1 head of garlic, roasted
2 tablespoon dry white wine
3 14-ounce cans chicken broth, use light
1 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
Cracked black pepper
sniped fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

1. In a Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium heat.  Add leaks; cook about 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
2. Slowly add wine.  Cook and stir about 2 minutes or until wine is almost all evaporated.  Carefully add broth and cauliflower.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 30 minutes or until vegetables are very tender.  Cool slightly.
3. Transfer mixture , in batches to blender or food processor along…

Good Dinner Mrs. Mellen: Apple Crumb Cake

Good Dinner Mrs. Mellen: Apple Crumb Cake: "Fall and apples what a wonderful combination. This is a great recipe to use the apples from an apple picking excursion. I remember apple p..."

Apple Crumb Cake

Fall and apples what a wonderful combination.  This is a great recipe to use the apples from an apple picking excursion.  I remember apple picking not only with my children but with the brownies and how much fun we all had.  After picking we went back to the troupe leader's house and baked with all the wonderful apples we just picked. Save some delicious fresh picked apples for this cake, you won't be disappointed.

Apple Crumb Cake
4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup oil
1 cup orange juice
3 large eggs (4 if small)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Apple Filling

4 Apples peeled and slice
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon

Crumb Topping
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease tube pan and set aside. Sift together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Place in a large mixing bowel and make a well.
2. Combine oil, orange juice, eggs a…

Quick and Easy Pasta Fagioli

Traditional Pasta Fagioli is made with a pork product such as pancetta, ham or pigs feet(old time Italian) but growing up my mother always made meatless Pasta Fagioli on Fridays. I have fond memories of eating Pasta Fagioli on crisp fall nights before rushing off to a Friday night football game. Over the years I have added my own touches to my mother's Pasta Fagioli to make it an easy totally vegetarian meal.

Pasta Fagioli

1 cup chopped shallots
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 (16 oz) cans vegetarian baked beans
1 can (8 oz) no salt Tomato Sauce
1 can (15.5 oz) Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 oz) vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup dried ditali pasta
1/4 cup snipped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano

1. In large pot cook shallots, garlic and olive over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Sir in wine, baked beans, garba…

Fantastic Fall Apple Pie

I have made this apple pie for over 30 years with some changes along the way. A disclaimer this pie is very rich but sometimes you just have to let go and indulge.  You can't each low fat cottage cheese and fruit every day. I just tell myself an extra hot yoga class and this piece of pie has my name on it.

French Custard Apple Pie
1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 lb of butter
2/3 teaspoon salt
6-7 tablespoon apple cider or water

6 large Granny Smith or Macintosh apples pared and diced (you can use a combination or just one kind of apple. I like the Granny Smith because they are tart and this is a sweet pie)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 2/3 cup sour cream
1 egg(2 if small)

1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla or 1 Tablespoon Brandy
1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 stick butter

Crust: Combine all the ingredients expcept the apple cider in a food procussor,…

Tortellini and Escarole Soup, a Good Dinner Mrs Mellen favorite

Now that the leaves are changing and the air is crisp my thoughts and taste turn to wonderful, warming soup. After working outside, getting my garden ready for a long winter nap, I just love to come inside and warm up with this Tortellini and Escarole soup. It's delicious and easy to make. And naturally good.

Tortellini and Escarole Soup
3 Tablespoon olive oil
3 clovers garlic crushed
2 shallots, chopped
1 head of escarole, thoroughly washed and cut into bit size pieces
1 box organic low salt chicken broth
1 package cheese tortellini(9 oz) fresh or frozen
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook garlic and shallots in olive oil on low for 5 just until shallots  are translucent. Don't brown garlic (it taste bitter if you do). Add escarole, stir, coating escarole with olive and cook for another 5 minutes just until the escarole is wilted. Add chicken broth, tortellini, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over individual servings i…

Shout out to Better Homes and Gardens Ultimate Italian Special Publication

I am a sucker for cookbooks and cooking magazines. I know why these magazines are just staring right up at me why I am waiting to pay for my order at the grocery story. I just can't resist the promise of wonderful new recipes, culinary delights just a few pages away. Racing home I can't wait to open the magazine to gaze on totally new and delicious delights.  Anticipation is high as I start to read through the magazine or cookbook and then more times than not, disappointment, same old retooled recipe or worst, like most long time cooks I can eye ball a looser recipe.  Well two weeks ago I brought home Better Homes and Garden Ultimate Italian Special Publication, yes, yes, yes, I was so excited to find wonderful delicious dishes, I could tell just by looking. Most of the  recipes are easy and quick to make with simple and ready available ingredients. I've made two of the pasta dishes this week and we really enjoyed both. And I'm not just talking good pasta recipes, but …

Easy Mushroom and Rice Soup

Now that the weather is changing and for the past three days the weather has been rainy and damp my thoughts turn to nice hot soup. I like to make this easy recipe for a tasty Mushroom and Rice Soup. And the soup is very filling and healthy.

Mushroom and Rice Soup
2 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic. crushed
2 Tbs olive oil
8 oz of sliced mushrooms, either white or baby portobello, you choose your favorite
1 cup Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley
2 32 oz boxes Organic low sodium chicken broth
Saute shallots and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add slice mushrooms, continue sauteing for an additional 10 minutes. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil. Add rice and lower heat, cover simmering for about 45 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
If you want you can add cooked chicken to make a hearty soup or leave it vegetarian.

That's it done. I freeze this soup and have wonderful homemade soup always ready for those days when you just need a nice hot bowel of soup.(Really nice after…

Easy Marinara Sauce

You know sometimes you just want to get a tasty dinner in a hurry.  I sometimes feel that those of us who enjoy cooking sometimes become cooking snobs.  It's all about using just the right ingredients, technique, making everything from scratch and bragging about it.  That is not always "real world".   And for novice cooks this can be intimidating.  When I have the time and am in the mood, I enjoy tackling very intricate recipes.  I find preparing that type of meal fun and an accomplishment.  When time is lacking I look for short cuts that are not short on flavor.  I always use natural ingredients and fresh ingredients when available.  Yes I love to get the freshest plum tomatoes and make a big patch of marinara sauce freezing extra sauce for future use.  For a quick meal I make what I think is pretty good marinara sauce that I can get together in 30 minutes.  Then I change what I add to make different recipes.  My mother calls this doctoring up the recipe!

Easy Marinara …

Finally my mothers sauce and meatball!

I've said it before, my mother and my grandmother  were my inspiration for cooking. My fondest memories growing up are watching both these wonderful cooks in the kitchen, as well a savoring the delicious meals they prepared. So when I asked my 88 year old mother for her spaghetti sauce and meatball recipe, I thought I could just share it with you all. Not so, I needed to fill in the blanks because my mother just cooks from memory. I worked with her to get the full recipes down on paper. I still think that only my mother can make her recipes sing with the most harmonies flavors. I gave this my best. I cooked all kinds of variations of her recipe and now my freezer is filled with enough sauce and meatballs for months. I must admit I did have fun cooking like my mother and grandmother, making large pots of sauce simmering on the stove. And the funny thing is that I don't make that much traditional sauce because I have never felt that I can duplicate the flavor of my mother and g…

Beautiful Old Fashion English Roses

I've always loved Old Fashion English Roses. Not only the fresh blooms but the beautiful images of these roses in photos, on fabric patterns, plates and more. For some reason it took me a long time to plant the roses in my garden. Finally three years ago I ordered David Austin Old Fashion English Roses in five varieties and my only regret is that I waited so long to make this spectacular addition to my garden.
I was a little disappointed when I opened the box and saw what the roses looked like shipped bare rooted. I didn't expect much the first year. Following the directions I soaked the roots over night. Just by chance I was speaking with a knowledgeable gardener and she mentioned that I should cut the roses back to a foot high after planting . I was very skeptical but she assured me that the roses would do better the first year if I followed her instruction. I did and she was right. I had lovely blooms the first year and for the past two seasons. Each summer season I am dazz…

I can't help myself I have to blog about shopping!!

Alright I said that I wasn't going to blog about shopping on Good Dinner Mrs Mellen, I lied.  I can't help myself!  If you know me, you know that I love to shop and shop and shop and shop.  I just love clothes, home furnishing, cosmetic, you name it I'm there.  Well I just had to share my most recent shopping finds.  I believe in when the President says that we need to stimulate the economy so I spread my purchased around to all types of retailers.  High end, discount, I do not discriminate.  If I like it I buy it.
I get such a rush when I find a bargain or exceptional deal, I just get so warm and fuzzy.  Last week I was up in the White Mountain region of New Hampshire. A beautiful natural resource that just takes my breath away.  So in between the beautiful mountains, forest, lakes etc what should appear a few years ago but a T.J. Maxx in, of all places, Littleton New Hampshire.  Now Littleton is a lovely small town that has actually made money magazines list of best sma…

Good Dinner Mrs. Mellen: I can't help myself I have to blog about shopping!...

Good Dinner Mrs. Mellen: I can't help myself I have to blog about shopping!...: "Alright I said that I wasn't going to blog about shopping in Good Dinner Mrs Mellen, I lied. I can't help myself! If you know me, you know..."

An Outrageous Peach Pie

I have a little problem. I was going to make this pie, take a picture and post it to show how delicious this peach pie is but I have only one person share the pie with, my husband! I do enjoy cooking but I love to bake. I could bake all day, cakes, pies, pastries, you name it, I'm there. My problem is unless I have company etc, I don't have enough people at my house to eat all these backed goods! So I just will share the recipe today but next time I will bake and take a picture! Maybe I can through a baking party and have everyone come and eat up all that I baked!
This is a sinful pie so rich and delicious. I love peaches, fresh or cooked in pastry. Growing up my grandparents had peach trees and the fruit was wonderful. When we moved into the house that I grew up in we had a peach tree and I loved picking and eating the fruit that this tree produced.

Outrageous Peach Pie

1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter
2-3 Tbsp apple cider or wa…

Mussels so good, so easy!

I am always amazed when I go into a restaurant and see how much they charge for mussels. Right now mussels are so fresh and reasonable at the grocery store or fish market. And they are so easy to make, serve as an appetizer or over pasta as a meal. A wonderful summer meal that is ready in no time. I make mussels a few different ways depending on what I feel like. I do either mussels marinara or mussels in a white wine sauce both are delicious.

Mussels Marinara
3 lbs of mussels
3 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots chopped
1 cup white wine
1 can(14.5 oz) petite cut tomatoes
1 Tbs fresh oregano
1 TBS fresh parsley
1 Tbs fresh basil
pinch of crushed red Italian peppers(optional)
1/2 tsp pepper

Rinse and clean mussels thoroughly. Cut the "beard" off, that dark string that is attached to some of the mussels. If the mussels are very dirty scrub with a brush.
(You can also soak in a bowel with water just covering the mussels. Add 1/2 cup of flour and soak for 30 minut…

Back into the garden!!

Ah August,  time to start getting the garden ready for the coming fall season. I've been away from my garden for a few weeks, first it's been too hot to work outside and second I was busy with my son's wedding. Now it's the time to get rid of spent blooms and dead plants etc. I worked all morning cutting back my Shasta daisies and yarrow. I like the large yellow yarrow plants because they can be dried for fall arrangements and also they don't over take the garden like some yarrow. I also cut back my lavender plants to promote stronger plants next year. I love growing lavender not only does the plant make a wonderful garden edge but you can cut the lavender and use it in cooking or dry to scent your linens. All that I did today will make the plants stronger and help my plants get through the winter and reward me with wonderful blooms next year. If you want a beautiful garden you have to dead head, prune, fertilize all season long. It's not enough to just plant a…

Busy with the pefect wedding!

I haven't posted in two weeks and I have a wonderful explanation, I was so busy with my son's wedding and I didn't really have that much to do. I don't know how the bride keep everything all together but she did a wonderful job. The wedding was picture perfect!! We just sailed through everything and the weather the day of the wedding was the best day of the year. We were able to go over to the public gardens and take beautiful pictures.
I did have company at my house and I did a little entertaining. A wonderful causal dinner on our deck that everyone enjoyed on the Thursday night before the wedding.
Now I am back on track and I have many wonderful ideas to share with you about cooking, gardening and just enjoying life. I did get some recipes from my Mother but I will have to cook them myself, working with my mother to get all the correct measurements and steps but I will be able to duplicate her dishes.
As sad as I am that the summer is slowly coming to an end, I am h…

Let them eat Chocolate cake!!

Not much I can do in the garden with this heat and humidity. I just came in from about an hour of pruning and I was dripping so my thoughts turned to baking. I do love to cook but I am passionate about baking. Once I start I can't stop. At Christmas time I am a cookie making machine, I just can't make enough. And I always think that I haven't made many cookies until I start pulling out all my storage tubs filled with cookies, but that is a later blog.
Right now I want to talk about chocolate cake. I do love to bake a good chocolate cake and the choices are endless. I do have a few favorite recipes that I make over and over.  My favorite birthday cake growing up that my mother always made for me was a Chocolate Coconut Cake. I could never get enough of this cake.That stared my love affair with chocolate cake!  I haven't make this cake in years and I don't remember why I stopped. If you like coconut this is the cake for you.

Birthday Chocolate Coconut Cake
1 egg white…

Cocktails at Joann's

I had the pleasure of visiting my friend Joann at her gorgeous summer home located in a beautiful Massachusetts beach community. Joann's home is beautiful and reflects her wonderful decorating style that is causal and chic at the same time. Her attention to every detail in decorating her home is inspiring. After a wonderful lunch at the club house and dip in the pool and then the beach, Joann served us delectable cocktails on her terrace overlooking her lushly landscaped back yard. Along with the cocktails she served an assortment of finger foods that captured the essence of summer eating.  Joann's delicious feats included an assortment of cheese with crackers, grilled clams with Tomato Bruschetta and slice fresh fruit. Who could ask for more after a relaxing day by the water. Joann was happy to share her recipe with us.

Grilled Clams with Tomato Bruschetta:

Combine: 3/4 cup dry while wine, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup fresh parsley, 2 tomatoes finely cho…

Alfresco Birthday Dinner

Finally I can finish this post that I started a few weeks ago. I have been away from my blog and I've missed writing. I think by now you know that I love to cook and entertain. I just enjoy all aspects of entertaining, planning the menu, choosing the theme, decorating, everything. I recently threw a birthday dinner for my twins. You are never too old to celebrate your birthday in our family. Over the years I've collected outdoor entertaining pieces. I personally like to use real plates, glasses, table cloths and silverware outside and I use as little plastic or paper as possible. You can get these items on sale and in the long run save money and the environment.
I planned a family barbecue for the birthday dinner. About a month before the dinner I started planning the menu, I like to try new recipes and mix them with old favorites, Some say that you should try the recipes before you make them for company but I just try out a recipe on company, remember no fear. Just have fun a…

Happily ever after...

My oldest son is getting married and I was fortunate to be involved in planning the bridal shower. I had so much fun letting my creatively run wild and I do mean wild. I sometimes go over board well maybe all the time. It's just that I loved everything that when into planning the shower the invitation, favors, centerpieces, cake, just everything!
First I decided what I wanted to do for the shower and six months in advance I booked a restaurant for a lovely champagne brunch. From that start everything just fell into place. The feel of the shower was important to me so I chose everything to compliment the wedding theme and color. I wanted the look and feel of the shower to be simply elegant and most of all special for the bride.
First I started to look for invitations. I knew that I was going to do something more than just basic invitations and I was so lucky to find the most wonderful blank invitation with beautiful art work depicting three different style bridal shoes. Now did I…

More Recipes on the way

I tried to explain to my mother that I was making her and her recipes a star in my blog but I don't think she understood what I meant by a blog. So I just told her it was like writing an article but on the computer. She was so excited to share her favorite recipes that she is writing some down for me. When I called her the other day to get her recipe for tomato sauce(I want the exact amounts that can be measured, not just a little bit or to taste, some of her favorite measurements) she was busy making what else her sauce and meatballs. And a blueberry pie. If she had time she was going to make a chocolate cake too. Her granddaughter-in-law and three great-grandchildren were coming for lunch. In my family we eat just meatballs in sauce with just some bread to soak up the wonderful sauce for lunch. Skip the spaghetti, the bread is the only carbs you need.
Over the phone my mother was sharing her secrets about making a great sauce. Remember simmer your sauce for a long time, she tel…

Mangia, Mangia!

I know that I call this Good Dinner Mrs. Mellen and as I’ve been reminded I haven’t shared much dinner. I have been spending most of my time in my gardens, that has been my focus this spring.
As much a I love to garden,I do love to cook and entertain. I learned to cook and appreciate good food from my Mother and Grandmother. I have fond memories of growing up sharing wonderful meals with my extended family. My Grandmother made everything from scratch including growing the herbs, garlic and plum tomatoes for her sauce. Yes in my Italian family we call it sauce not gravy.(Gravy is what you made from turkey and beef). My Grandmother made the most wonderful meals without recipes, fancy tools or gadgets, just the best ingredients and some simple kitchen tools. She didn’t even measure her ingredients she just knew how much by sight. Everything that she made was just delicious, even a simple cheese sandwich was heaven to taste. My Mother carried on this tradition of being an exceptional coo…