Showing posts from 2014

Dark Chocolate Salty Carmel Candy Bark

Candy Bark has always been one of my favorites candies to make. This year I decided to do a Dark Chocolate Salty Carmel Candy Bark for wonderful combination of sweet and salty. The result is a very rich and chewy Carmel bark!

Dark Chocolate Salty Carmel Candy Bark

6 oz. chocolate-flavored candy coating, chopped
6 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp. shortening
1 pkg.(8 oz) Heath English Toffee Bits, Hershey
1 cup salted peanuts, chopped
1 pkg.(11 oz) Caramels, Krafts
2 Tbsp. heavy cream or water

Line a large baking sheet with heavy foil; grease foil. Set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl combine candy coating, chocolate, and shortening. Microwave, uncovered, on 100 percent power (high) for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until chocolate melts, stirring every 30 seconds.
Stir 1 cup of the English Toffee Bits and 1/2 cup peanuts into melted chocolate mixture. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Spread mixture into an even layer about 1/4 inch thick. 
Place caramels in medium saucepan. Add c…

Croissant Breakfast Casserole with Mushrooms and Asparagus

This sinfully rich Croissant Breakfast Casserole is a family favorite. A wonderful brunch star especially perfect for Christmas morning as it is assembled the night before. 

8 plain croissants
2 tablespoon butter
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������…

Deliciously Fresh Cranberry Sauce with Pineapples and Pecans

Living in New England with cranberry bogs covering large areas means we have the fresh cranberries in the market just in time for Thanksgiving. Fresh cooked Cranberry Sauce is the best. I've embellished the cooked cranberries with crushed pineapple to bring out the sweetness of the berries. The pecans in this recipe give the fresh sauce a crunch that I love. Save the left over cranberry sauce as nothing taste better the next day on a Turkey sandwich than fresh cranberry sauce and stuffing.

Deliciously Fresh Cranberry Sauce with Pineapples and Pecans
1 (20 ounce) cans crushed pineapple in juice
2 (12 ounce) packages cranberrie…

Hot Spicy Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

If you like 5 alarm hot chili this is the recipe for you. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy when you eat this chili!

3 (15.5-oz.) cans black beans, I used Goya beans
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 (14.5-oz.) cans petite diced tomatoes, I used Del Monte
1 can (7.75 oz) can sliced green jalapeños, I used Chi Chi's Fiesta wheels
1 (12-oz.) package meatless burger crumbles, I used Morning Star Farms
1  vegetable bouillon cube
1 -2 teaspoon hot sauce, I used Franks Hot Sauce
Toppings: sour cream, shredded Cheddar cheese, guacamole

 Drain and rinse 2 cans black beans. (Do not drain third can.) Sauté onion and garlic in hot oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in chili powder and next 3 ingredients; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in diced tomatoes, next 2 ingredients, drained and undrained beans, and 2 cup…

Celebrate Fall with Sweet Potato Cranberry Pound Cake

Fall is a wonderful baking season filling with all the fruits and veggies that give your bake goods that fall crisp flavor and aroma. I just love this new take on pound cake adding cooked sweet potatoes and cranberries.  Cream cheese make the cake very moist while the pumpkin spice adds the fall flavor.

Sweet Potato Cranberry Pound Cake
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened 1/2 cup butter, softened  2 cups sugar  4 large eggs  2 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (I baked, peeled then mashed) 3 cups all-purpose flour  2 teaspoons baking powder  1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt  2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 1 teaspoon vanilla extract  2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and picked over  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears. Add sweet potatoes, and beat well.
2. Stir together flour…

Spicy Chicken Sausage Stew with White Beans.

Cool morning temps always put me in the mood for soups and stews. I love to create a filling, healthy, low calorie soup or stew to fill my craving for cool weather food. I love this Sausage Stew since it is so filling but healthy at the same time. Red pepper flakes and white wine added make this a spicy flavorful stew!

4 Italian chicken sausages
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, chopped
1 can(14.5 oz) Del Monte diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 can(15.5 oz) Goya Cannellini beans, premium
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low fat, low sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a grill pan and cook sausage on stove medium heat for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Set aside to cool.
In a dutch oven place oil, garlic, and shallots sauteing until tender about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans, wine, chicken broth, salt and pepper flakes. Continue to saute on medium he…

Colorful Fall Salad with Beets and Apples

A perfect colorfully tasteful fall salad that will not only taste wonderful but look gorgeous. Beets are just such a good healthy addition to any meal. I make a lot of beet dishes cause they are just so good especially freshly roasted as I prepared them for this fall salad. 

1 lb red or yellow beets peeled and cut into quarters. You can use half red and half yellow.
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 Gala apple, thinly sliced
3 cups baby arugula
3 cups baby kale
1/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. spicy brown mustard

In a medium size roasting pan sprayed with cooking oil place beet and roast at 400F for 30 minutes turning once. Remove from over and sprinkle with vinegar. Cool and refrigerate for 4 hours or over night. Place sliced red onions in bowl and cover with 1 tablespoon vinegar for 30 minutes then drain.

Simply the Best Perfect Popovers Everytime!

I first tasted Popovers a long time ago at the famous Boston restaurant, Pier 4. The waitresses would come to your table offering you mouth watering, freshly baked Popovers. It was wonderful. I became a lover of Popovers right after my first bite. Think crusty on the outside, with a hot soft doughy center. And so delicious, with just a little butter that melts immediately on the hot Popover. Over the years I have seen the Popover taken to new culinary delights by stuffing them with seasoned scrambled eggs, or using them in entrée recipes. But I am a purest when it comes to Popovers; I just love them plain, with butter. I've made this recipe forever and it has never failed me. It is easily doubled and is perfect every time. One thing about baking Popovers; you need to use a special Popover Pan. Originally all the pans were heavy cast iron, but now there are wonderfully light, easy to clean pans that make perfect popovers ever time! I like the William-Sonoma non stic…

Juicy Oven Baked Fried Chicken

Every once in a while I get a craving for fried chicken.  Just want to bite into a crispy piece of mouth watering delicious good chicken. But I don't want all that fat from frying so I love to make oven baked fried chicken to cut down on the fat and calories. I leave the skin on my chicken cause I don't eat fried chicken with skin that often but if you want to cut down further on the calories use skinless chicken or just pull off the skin. For me if I am going to indulge I'm going all the way!
First I always soak my chicken in water and sea salt for thirty minutes to clean the chicken. Drain chicken and pat dry with paper towels. I also soak my chicken over night in buttermilk which makes it extra juicy. You can serve this chicken hot or cold, I just love it either way!

Chicken pieces, 2 breast, 4 legs, four thighs and 6 wings.
2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce or other hot sauce
1 1/2 cup four
1/2 cup corn meal
1teaspoon seal salt
1 teaspoon fresh black peppe…

Easy Garlicky Shrimp Scampi

Want a easy, delicious, quick tasty dinner without much time or effort? Then my garlicky Shrimp Scampi is for you. You can make this fancy dinner to serve for a week night dinner it's so quick and easy.

1 lb. uncooked large shrimp, cleaned.
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter

In a medium baking dish add Shrimp, olive oil, garlic,and wine. Top with butter, red pepper, basil, black pepper. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve over pasta or rice with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.


Summertime Moscow Mules!

The drink Moscow Mule a 1950 throw back is gaining again in popularity. First introduced in the US as a way to sell vodka: this drink is a refreshing cocktail especially for a summer evening. Served in the traditional chilled cooper mug(you need the mugs in my opinion for a true Moscow Mule!) Easy to make by even the most inexperienced mixologist.

1 ounce vodka1 tsp. sugar syrup1Tbs, fresh lime juice1/2 cup ginger beer1 sprig fresh mint1 slice of lime Directions Chill cooper mug in freezer until cold to the touch. In the chilled copper mug, pour vodka over ice. Add sugar syrup and lime juice. Top with ginger beer and stir. Garnish with mint sprig and lime slice.


Sinfully Rich Sour Cream Peach Pie

Summer fruit pies are so tasty and delicious for a family reunion or a simple summer dinner. Pies are really so easy to make always turning out so good-how could you not make a great pie with fruit fresh from the market! Just toss a few ingredients then fill a store bought or home made pie crust, bake and you are finished with a to die for mouth watering pie served warm or at room temperature with or with out ice cream.
Peaches which are so fresh in the market right now make wonderful pies. The pie I made today is a very richly sinful different version of a classic peach pie.  This peach pie is made with sour cream and topped with a crumb topping!

1 3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
2-3 tablespoons apple cider or water
1 egg beaten

1 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or 1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups peaches, peeled and sliced

1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup fl…

Southern Living's Sinful Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Cake

I love Southern Living's magazine recipes not only delicious but very easy to follow for all levels of cooks.  One of my favorite cake's of all time is Southern Livings Chocolate Peanut Butter Mouse Cake which I have perfected over the years.  I am going to share some tips with you to make this cake turn out perfect every time since that was not my first experience making this cake. Actually the first time I made this cake it tasted great but looked like a child put the cake together.  The mousse filling oozed out from the center as soon as I put the layers together.  I was so disappointed!  I've been baking for a long time so I realized the the mousse filling needed to be chilled over night before assembling the cake.  And I'll give you a little tip about frosting the cake the recipe says pour the glaze over the cake.  That just doesn't cut it.  You need to slowly spread the glaze working from the top of the cake down the sides to cover the sides.  I cut strips o…

Dried Apricot, Prune, Cranberry, Almond, Farro Salad

I love summer time salad of any style.  I combine different flavors to create deliciously tasty salads to eat along or with a summer barbeque.  Farro is a nutty Italian whole grain that is now widely available in all types of grocery stores.  I bought a large bag of organic Farro at Costco.  Farro is a great base for this salad which I added dried fruits, almonds and chick peas, tossed with an orange base dressing loaded with great spices. For a main dish I serve over spring greens.

Dried Fruit, Almond and Farro Salad
4 cups vegetable broth 2 cups Farro 1 can(15.5 oz) chick peas, drained and rinsed 1/2 cup orange juice 2 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/2 paprika 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon tumeric 1 cup slice almonds 1/2 cup chopped dried Apricots 1/2 cup chopped dried prunes 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Put 4 cups vegetable broth in large sauce pan bring to a boil. Add Farro lower heat to medium simmering for 30-35 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Place i…

Sauteed Soft Shell Crabs

Soft shell crab season is here! I love soft shell crabs which are so easy to make at home, just as tasting as you find out in restaurants.  The shells of the crabs are so soft that you can eat shell and meat.  This recipe is easy, fun and tasty.

4 soft shell crabs, cleaned and patty dry

2  teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning or similar crab seasoning
1 cup flour
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoon capers
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

 Season crabs with Old Bay Seasonings and dredge in flour.  Shake off excess.  Set aside.

Heat oil in large skilled.  Add crabs sauteing for about 2 minutes on each side.  Remove to serving plate.  Add garlic to pan cooking for 1 minute, then add capers, wine cooking until sauce is reduced to 1/2.  Add butter and parsley stirring until combined. Pour over crabs serve immediately.  Makes two servings.

Healthy Homemade Granola

I love Granola for breakfast combined with blueberries and Greek yogurt.  Lately I've become concerned with how much sugar store bought granola contains.  So I decided to make my own version with less sugar tasting just as flavorful.

Homemade Granola
2 cup regular Oats, not quick 1 cup sliced almonds 1/2 cup dried cranberries 2 tablespoon honey 2 tablespoon healthy oil, I use olive 1 teaspoon of vanilla pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven 300 F.  Combine all ingredients in large bowl, tossing until thoroughly combined.  Place in sallow baking pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Cool before pointing in a air tight container.  I like to store in refrigerator to keep fresh.
You can change up this recipe by adding an assortment of nuts and seeds or use other dried fruits.  If you like cinnamon add a tablespoon for additional flavor

Easy sauteed fresh vegetables

Eat your vegetables your Mom always said and she was right!  Veggies are so good tasting as well as good for you.  Low in calories, fat, no salt, cholesterol or sugar. I love to just saute fresh seasonal veggies for a dinner.  I just serve over greens, polenta, farro or any whole grain.  I wonderful healthy satisfying meal.

Sauteed Fresh Vegetables over Greens
2 tablespoons olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 large shallot, chopped Two Red peppers, chopped 8 oz fresh sliced mushrooms,  I like baby portabella 1 cup sliced grape tomatoes 1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed 2 teaspoon capers 1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives 1/4 teaspoon pepper 2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped  Fresh greens, I used a combination of kale and baby spinach
Heat olive oil in medium saute pan over medium heat.  Add garlic cooking for about 2 minutes. Don't brown garlic as it will become bitter.  Add shallots continuing to cook for another 1 minutes. Next add the red peppers and mushrooms cooking for ab…

I don't get the Bacon thing!

I'm just going to put it out there, I don't like bacon! I don't understand the mania over bacon, putting bacon in all kinds of dishes that just don't need bacon.  Restaurants like BarBacon in NYC are all the rage. Again I don't get it!  Why ruin salads, veggie dishes, pasta and more by adding bacon. Bacon overwhelms all that it is paired with so you just miss all the wonderful subtle flavors as bacon bullies it way into the dish, leaving it just tasting like bacon not much else.  When did bacon leave the breakfast table to become such a star?

Now that I shared that I have no palette for bacon, what about the health aspect of eating all that bacon.  Bacon is full of fat, cholesterol and salt, not to mention that it is a process meat which has been linked to several cancers. Adding bacon to everything is just unhealthy!  I recently read that Americans eat about 18 pounds of bacon a year.  Unbelievable, 18 pounds is 73, 248 calories, 8,160 grams fat, 7,872 grams chol…

More than Seven Layer Mexican Dip

Everyone has a favorite Mexican Dip that they just love to bring to Family Reunions or large parties.  I made this one for a recent family reunion just starting out layer a few ingredients then I just couldn't stop.  That's how I came up with my More than Seven Layered Mexican Dip.

Two cans (16 oz.) Old El Paso Refried beans vegetarian
1/4 cup hot sauce
2 jars Salsa (16 oz.)  Tostitos Chunky Salsa Hot
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch scallions, sliced

2 can(15.5 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tub(24 oz.) sour cream
2 tablespoons lime juice plus zest
1 can(7.75 oz) Chi-Chi's Fiesta Wheels Green Jalapenos, divided in half
2 cups guacamole
1 package(2 cups)  Kraft Mexican Four cheese
1 cup sliced black olives

In a non stick pan cook over medium heat cook refried beans, add hot sauce. Put in large casserole dish, covering bottom.  Place salsa on top.  Put olive oil in pan adding sliced scallions.  Cook on medium for a few minutes then add bl…

Golden Baklava


4 cups chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pistachios are best, or use a combination of them)
1 lb of phyllo dough
1 cup of butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon ground cloves

For syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup of sugar
2/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
 Lightly grease a 9x13 pan and set the oven to 350°F. Thaw the phyllo dough in refrigerator over night. Take phyllo dough out of package. Place on wax paper then place another piece of wax paper on top. Cover with a damp towel to keep it from drying out.   Process the nuts until in small, even sized pieces. Combine with sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. In a separate bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
Place a sheet of phyllo dough into the pan. Using a pastry brush, brush the phyllo sheet with melted butter. Repeat 7 more times until it is 8 sheets thick, each sheet being "painted" with the butter.
Spoon on a thin layer of the nut mixture. Cover with two more sh…

Mini Lemon Thyme Pound Cakes with Lemon Glaze

Spring is always synonymous to me with cooking and baking with lemon.  I love little pound cake for  a tea or coffee.  Actually this recipe I normally make with poppy seed, not having any, I substituted fresh thyme which I think make these little cakes even better.

Mini Lemon Thyme Pound Cakes
3/4 cup flour 3/4 cup cake flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup whole butter milk 2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup unsalted butter, softened  I always use Cabot butter 1 cup sugar 2 large eggs 2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme Lemon Glaze Garnish: fresh thyme springs
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour an 8-well mini loaf pan.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, cake flour baking powder and salt; sift 3 times.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla.  Set aside. In a large mixing bowl and using mixer at high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add su…

Delicious, quick, easy, perfect, Scallops

I am always looking for easy, delicious, and quick meals to make for two.  Scallops are so delicious and easy to make especially for two.  This is a recipe is quick, simple, spotlighting the sweet taste of fresh scallops.  Oh did I mention low in calories!

Marinated Scallops for two

1/2 lb. Sea Scallops*
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Rinse Scallops in water and pat dry.  In a medium bowl combine lemon, garlic and pepper.  Add Scallops, gently toss to coat.  Refrigerate for four hours.

I use a grill pan which I love but you can make the scallops in a frying pan.  Heat pan to high, add scallops and sear quickly on both sides.  Don't over cook or scallops will be tough. The scallops will be golden

* Sea scallops are large while bay scallops are small.


Sunday Dinner Cioppino with Alexander

Sunday dinners a Good Dinners Mrs Mellen Tradition in our family.  Today I made a Cioppino with the freshest fish on the market.  Living in New England we are fortunate to have fresh fish in every grocery store not to mention wonderful fish markets or my favorite in the nice weather buying right from the boats as they come into dock with their fresh catch. Sunday dinner is even more special with the addition of our grandson Alexander.  Only six months old, he can't eat my dinner yet but we exposed him to our family tradition early.

In his honor I've renamed this dish.

Alexander's Cioppino

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped  2 large shallots, chopped
 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 can(14.5 oz) petite cup diced tomatoes (I used Del Monte, no salt added)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
 2  cups fish stock or clam juice 1 lemon, juiced 1 teasp…

Bring on Hot Pink clothes to warm up spring fashion!

Oh I do love to cook, garden and decorate outfitted in the latest fashion.  I just love fashion, always have and always will!  Fashion is a creative expression just like my other hobbies.  I was out shopping and scouting new spring trends discovering that hot pink is all over for spring.  I love pink, especially hot pink which really looks good on woman over thirty.  Save the pale pink for the under thirty crowd. Deep hot pink warms up the skin like no other color.  That's why I am so hot on this wonderfully vibrant color. 

Designers that are also wild about hot pink; Kate Spade, Diane Von Furstenberg, Alice & Olivia and so many more. 

How do you add some of this fabulous hot pink to your late winter/early spring wardrobe?  Well this is what I did.  I found the perfect item to add hot pink without buying all new clothes, the beautifully cut Kate Spade Gemma in  Bougainvillea. A fluid silk short shelve top that can be worn over jeans or dressed up with a tight black skirt.  Be…

Golden Roasted Turkey Breast perfect for our traditional family Sunday dinner!

Luscious family dinners are a Sunday stable at my house.  The tradition dates back to my grandparents who gathered the whole clan for a big feast on Sunday.  I have so many fond memories of Sundays when we would all sit around the large dinning room table for a meal that my grandmother started to prepare before she left for church on Sunday morning.  My Mother continued the tradition having a beautifully prepared dinner on Sunday that we could all enjoy together. I knew that when I had a family I would continue family Sunday dinners and I have.  I just love having the time to prepare a delicious meal for my family to enjoy.  Roasted turkey breast is an easy favorite that my family enjoys.

1 6 lb turkey breast
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons sage
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon pepper
4 thin slices lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups turkey or chicken b…

Sumptuous Sausage Stew alla Puttanesca for a cold snowy winter's day!

I don't know about you but when the temperature drops I need delicious stick to your ribs food. Warm filling spicy food to raise the my body temperature.  I make filling stews that are high on taste but low on fats and calories!  No need to pack on the extra pounds during the cold winter months.  I used chicken sausage and Del Monte petite diced tomatoes with no salt added to cut down on fat and salt.

2 tablespoon olive oil
5 chicken sausage about 1 pound
4 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 can(14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes, I like Del Monte with no salt
1/2 cup red wine
2 teaspoons Tuscan Sunset blend from Penzys
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup cut up Parmesan rind
sea salt
black pepper
Italian bread
grated Parmesan cheese

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat cook sausage until browned about 5 minutes on each side.  Remove sausage and set aside to use later. You can either slice the sausage int…

A Mandarin Orange Pecan Wild Rice and Farro Salad that taste and looks fantastic!

Who says healthy can't taste and look fantastic!  I knew that I had a winner with my Mandarin, Orange Pecan Wild Rice and Farro Salad the first time I served this for a birthday dinner for my son.  Everyone just raved about the salad and asked for the recipe.  This salad is easy and great to do ahead.  Love the sweetness of the mandarin oranges and crunch of the pecans.

4 sprigs thyme, divided
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
Kosher salt
1 cup wild rice, or wild rice blend like Whole Foods
1 cup farro
1 can(15 oz.) Mandarin Oranges in Light Syrup, drained, reserve syrup, I used Dole
¼ cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped pecans

Bring 2 thyme sprigs, 2 cups broth, and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add a pinch of salt, then rice; reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 40–45 minutes. Remove thyme and let cool. Drain, if neede…

Red Velvet Heart cookies just in time for Valentine's Day!

Red Velvet all over lately, even Dunkin Donuts had  Red Velvet lattes and  Red Velvet Drizzle Donuts during the holidays.  I'm  still not tired of this delicious flavor.  What could be more appropriate for Valentine's Day than Red Velvet Heart cookies. These little gems are fun and easy to make just screaming Be Mine!

Red Velvet Heart Cookies
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup sugar 1/2 cup butter 1 tablespoon red food coloring 3 ounces white baking chocolate with cocoa butter, coarsely chopped 1 1/2 teaspoon shortening

1. Preheat oven to 325F.  In medium bowl sift flour, cocoa and salt.  Set aside
2. Cream butter and sugar in electric mixer until fluffy.  Stir in flour mixture until combined.  Add red food coloring gently hand mixing until dough is red without any chocolate streaks.
3. Form mixture into a ball and knead until smooth.  On lightly floured surface,  roll dough until 1/2 inch thick.  Using a 1inch scall…

French Macarons a special Valentine's Day treat for your Sweetheart!

I've never met a holiday that I didn't love to celebrate.  Valentine's day happens to be one of my favorites.  I love decorating; pulling out all my dishes, plates, teacups pots and more.  China, silver,  and crystal which I collect and use all the time but especially lend a nice touch to Valentine's Day.

Today I baked up some treats to share with my family.  I made French Macaron cookies and Red Velvet Heart cookies.  Perfect to say Be My Valentine!

These delectable little treats are worth the all the work.  I also like to fill with other flavored filling to change it up!

French Macarons with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Makes 24-30 shells or 12-15 macarons

3 large egg whites, at room temperature for three hours
1 cup silvered almonds, toasted
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Red food coloring

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a pencil draw 1 inch or 1 1/2 inch circl…

Brined Cornish Hens

Cornish hens like any whole poultry benefit if you brine before cooking.  The overnight brining makes them tender and juicy.  Just look at these golden, browned succulent little birds!

 Roasted Lemon Game Hens

1/4 cup kosher salt 1/4 cup sugar 1 lemon, thinly sliced 1/2 tsp. freshly ground peppercorns 1 bay leaf 2 teaspoon rosemary 2 teaspoon thyme 2 teaspoon fennel 1 qt. ice water 4 (1 1/2-ib) Cornish hens 2 Tbs. olive oil 2 teaspoon rubbed sage 2 teaspoon freshly ground peppercorns

Bring 1 cup of water and next eight ingredients to a boil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Stir in 1 qt. ice water.  Rinse hens; pat dry and add to brine.  Cover and chill for 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425F.  Remove hens from brine; pat dry.  Tuck wing tips under. Tie legs together with string.  Brush hens with olive oil.  Mix sage and peppercorns together and rub on all sides of the hens.  Arrange hens on rack in roasting pan.  Bake for 50 m…

French Bistro Chicken Pot Pie

I love bistro French cooking.  I'm reminded of aged french farmhouses with the wind gently ruffling fields of lavender on a warm summer day.  The draw of french cooking to me has always been the style of Provence or elegantly simple bistro cooking.  That's the taste that I wanted to capture with my French Bistro chicken Pot Pie.  Elegant but with simple ingredients that speak to my love of casual french cooking.  Serve with a salad of interesting fresh greens dressed, petite tomatoes and blue cheese dressed with a french vinaigrette and a glass of crisp Chablis, simply delicious!  A meal that transports me to the french country side.

French Bistro Chicken Pot Pie pour deux
2 whole boneless chicken breast 1 tablespoon olive oil sea salt freshly ground pepper 1/4 cup butter 1 cup chopped leeks, white only 1/2 cup chopped shallots 1/4 cup flour 1 1/2 cup chicken stock 1/2 cup white wine 2 tablespoon heavy cream
2 teaspoon herbs de provence
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly g…