January 31, 2012

The Big Game Day....A Matter of Taste!


I am NOT a fan of football! This is where Darling and I part ways. I know this is what he misses most about all of his boys,  watching sports together. Soon, Darling....soon!

I follow three professional teams......The New Orleans Saints, (I am in love with Drew Brees), The Pittsburg Steelers (because of Mr. Jay, baby Luke and Terry Bradshaw), and The Dallas Cowboys (need you ask)! Other than that, I have little interest! So, since none of my teams are headed to the Superbowl for 2012 this year... Estelle's will provide game day snacks for the big boy and I will be watching another PBS episode of MASTERPIECE CLASSIC “Downton Abbey! It's just a matter of taste you know!

Estelle's Favorite Football Dip
1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 can pitted ripe olives
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, chopped
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Fresh Avocado, diced
Tortilla chips

Spread the refried beans in a square stone baker (or a 9-inch square baking dish).
In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, taco seasoning, and garlic.
Mix well with electric mixer. Spread cream cheese mixture on top of refried beans.
Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle olives, tomatoes, onions and cilantro on top. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Spread fresh diced avocado on top before serving! Serve hot with Tortilla Chips.

Mississippi Sin Dip
1 (8 ounce) block of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1-1/2 cups of sour cream
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup of chopped ham
1/3 cup of sliced green onion
1 (4 ounce)can of green chilies, undrained
2 tablespoons of chopped pickled jalapenos
Couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients in a baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes until hot and bubbly. We serve this with pita chips and fresh veggies.

35 Nabisco Vanilla Wafers, finely crushed (about 1-1/3 cups)
1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup flaked Coconut

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Mix wafer crumbs, 1/4 cup of the sugar, the butter and lemon peel until well blended. Press firmly into 8-inch square baking pan. Bake 8 min.
BEAT eggs and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in small bowl with wire whisk until thickened and well blended. Add lemon juice, flour, baking powder and salt; mix well. Pour over crust; sprinkle with coconut.
BAKE 25 to 30 min. or until center is set and top is lightly browned. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate several hours or until chilled before cutting to serve. Store in tightly covered container in refrigerator!

January 30, 2012

Foggy Morn

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
They're Frozen!

There is a wintry mix outside my window this morning dear ones! Time to ease out of a comfy warm bed, donn the flannel robes, pull on the cashmere socks and paddle downstairs to make the coffee. Did I say "paddle?" Oh dear, I am afraid we all paddle as we grow older? Well, somedays we's darn cold up here in the village today! Old bones require warmer weather I am afraid! Perhaps we won't "paddle" in Texas!

It does appear quiet and peaceful in the early morning hours, though, doesn't it?

Weekday mornings are often so busy, with hubby going off to work and children preparing for the school day! Estelle's always has great ideas to make your life somewhat easier and get your days off to a great start! Put together this make-ahead breakfast casserole. Simply pop it in the oven for a hot and hearty breakfast with no fuss at all! Your family is gonna love you for it!

1/4 loaf of sourdough bread, cubed
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
16-oz. package of ground pork sausage, browned and drained
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups milk
10 3/4 oz. can Cream of Mushroom Soup
4 oz. can diced green chiles
3/4 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. chili powder

Place bread in a greased 13" x 9" baking dish. Top with shredded cheese and sausage. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight. Let stand for 30 minutes before baking. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F. for one hour. Ready to serve!!


January 29, 2012

Nonna's Sunday Gravy

"Growing up in a big Italian family, every Sunday was pasta day. Early Sunday morning Nonna would get up and make the sauce, which we referred to as gravy. The smells throughout the house would be amazing! It still isn't Sunday without this big pot of gravy simmering on the store. We always enjoyed Nonna's pasta served with crusty Italian bread and a crisp tossed salad! "~Pasquale Mori

Nonna Mori's Sunday Gravy
1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped 
3 carrots
3 celery stalks
1 clove chopped garlic
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 pound sweet Italian pork sausage 
2 (14 1/2 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
28 oz. can tomato puree'
6 oz. can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 t. onion powder
1 1/2 t. garlic powder
1 1/2 t. dried basil 
1/2 t. crushed Red Pepper Flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Saute' onion, garlic, carrots and celery until all are tender. Add tomatoes, tomato puree', tomato paste and water. Stir in seasonings and red pepper flakes.  In a separate skillet, brown both meats until cooked through. Drain the grease, then add to the tomato sauce mixture. Reduce heat to simmer and cover the stock pot. Simmer for 4 hours! Serve with your favorite pasta. Oh, the most fantastic aroma fills the house all day! You will think you have created your own Italian Trattoria!

For an instant appetizer, set out a warm loaf of Italian bread and little dishes of olive oil, sprinkled with Italian seasonings for dipping. Don't forget a good bottle of Vino!

January 28, 2012

The Reading Corner....Growing Up Italian

Growing Up Italian;
Grandfather’s Fig Tree and Other Stories.”

The Maine House is hosting Book Club on Sunday and I cannot wait for this review. This is a most enjoyable book read. Secretly I have always wished to be Italian....not that I don't want to be German-Irish, but I so admire Italian families. Our darling Jay is from Italian descent and we have the best time looking at the old family photographs of his family.

This book is full of little vignettes about life in a middle class Italian neighborhood in the Northeast during the '40's and '50's. It is written from the perspective of a young boy from childhood through high school. The author is Ed Iannuccilli, M.D. ,who indeed "grew up Italian," and is a prominent physician, educator and innovator in Rhode Island, and is past Chairman of the Board at Rhode Island Hospital." This book is a true nostalgic gem!

Excerpt from the book, “Growing Up Italian; Grandfather’s Fig Tree and Other Stories.” 

I awoke to the aroma of a simmering sauce that filled the kitchen and crept into my room and onto my pillow. My ears were tuned to the sound of…plop blurp, plop, blurp. The aroma and the sounds were coming from the tomato sauce…gravy…cooking on the kitchen stove, and it meant it was Sunday.

The gravy was bubbling and popping, releasing with each burst a pocket of vapor with its smell into the atmosphere. Partly exposed meatballs floated along the surface like hot icebergs. A piece of bone, probably pork, was peeking through.

I shuffled like a hockey player to the pantry and the bag of Italian rolls fresh from Crugnale’s Bakery. Dad was reliable. The rolls were warm and soft. I removed one, ripped off a corner, held it between my thumb and two fingers, returned to the pan, swiped it through the gravy and held it up straight, gravy at the top.

Steam rose from the roll as the gravy cooled. To protect my fingers, I twirled the bread just ahead of the dripping lava, allowing the gravy to move to another side of the bread, cooling as it did so…a skill learned in the early years of the Italian family. Though irresistible, it was still too hot for my sensitive, eager tongue. Test it. Touch it lightly with the tip of my tongue. OK. Ready. Cool enough.

The mass was formless, soft in my mouth, wet, moist, full bodied, and rich with the rage of tomato and the hint of garlic and basil… breaded gravy heaven. Time for another dunk, and another and another, piece after piece of bread ripped off, dunk after dunk made with the same caution, taste after taste completed for the thrill of Sunday’s gravy. “You’ll ruin your dinner”.

Now for the meatballs. I needed another corner of bread. There they were, floating; a deep brown color laced with red meant they were done. They had been fried before they were put into the gravy, and sometimes good to eat just after the frying, the simple flavors of garlic and olive oil enveloping the meatball and spilling into the bread. But today, I planned to rescue them from the gravy.

They were ripe. It seemed as if the meatball fit better into a split rather than cut bun. A spoon was sitting in the ladle next to the simmering pot. I lifted out a meatball, dropped it into the bun, and then ladled more of the deep red, shimmering, hot sauce. Blowing the steam away, I resisted the tendency to gulp it down. The meatball was firm, the bread soft and chewy, the gravy almost hot. Some of the gravy spilled out of the bun onto my pajama top. No matter.I chewed slowly, rolled my tongue around and enjoyed the flavors of the heated, slightly crunchy meatball that married perfectly with the soggy bun and the gravy. “You’ll ruin your dinner.” I smiled. 

Tomorrow's featured recipe will be Estelle's favorite
Sunday Red Sauce ,which will be served for our
dinner party gathering on Sunday evening!

January 26, 2012

Just a Good Old-Fashioned Cake

I thought I would make a little sweet surprise for Darling when he returns from Boston this week. This is a delicious little cake and so easy to mix together for an impromptu dinner gathering. It is a recipe made often by Grandmother who I have lovingly talked about in previous postings! You can frost this cake, as she mostly did, with a seven- minute fluffy white frosting, in which she would combine maraschino cherries and little marshmallows or just serve it plain with a dessert sauce or ice cream. We would have this served in the formal dining room on pretty little dessert plates with a glass of iced tea. Somehow, it always tasted better in her dining room, which had the aroma of freshly baked warm cake!  I am taking a little sneaky taste with cherry vanilla ice cream topped with warm nutella! Oh Heavens to Betsy! 

2 1/4 c. sifted cake flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. shortening
3/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
3 eggs, unbeaten

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl. Drop in shortening. Add 1/2 cup milk, flavoring and 1 egg and beat 2 minutes with mixer at low speed. Scrape bowl and beater. Add remaining milk and 2 eggs and beat well with electric mixer. 
Bake in 2 deep 9" greased layer pans in moderately hot oven, 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Spread frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Swirl the frosting into graceful peaks on top of cake and place halves of maraschino cherries around rim of cake about 2" apart.

 2 egg whites, unbeaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt

 Place ingredients in top of double boiler and mix thoroughly. Place over rapidly boiling water and beat constantly with beater until mixture will hold a peak (about 7 minutes). Remove from hot water, add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract and beat until cool. Just before spreading, carefully fold in 18 maraschino cherries, cut in pieces and 12 marshmallows, cut in pieces into frosting.

Boston....Beautiful Works of Art

"Years ago I decided that the greatest need in our Country was Art…
We were a very young country and had very few opportunities of seeing
 beautiful things, works of art…
So, I determined to make it my life's work if I could."
~ Isabella Stewart Gardner, on the creation of her museum, 1917

Isabella Stewart Gardner

Isabella Stewart Gardner was born in New York City on April 14, 1840. She was the child of David Stewart, of Scottish descent, who made his fortune in the Irish linen trade and later in mining investments. Her mother was Adelia Smith, descendant of Richard Smith, an Englishman who had settled in Boston in 1650. She was named for her beloved paternal grandmother, Isabella Tod Stewart.

Isabella Stewart was educated at private schools in New York and Paris. Her first connection with Boston came through her schooling, between 1856 and 1858 in Paris, where a friendship with schoolmate Julia Gardner led to her eventual marriage to Julia's older brother John ("Jack") Lowell Gardner Jr. (1837-1898) on April 10, 1860. The couple was married in New York City and moved to Boston, Jack's hometown, where they settled into a house, a wedding gift from her father, at 152 Beacon Street in the Back Bay section of the city.

Isabella  gave birth to a son, John L. Gardner III, known as "Jackie." At just two years of age, Jackie died of pneumonia in March 1865, and during the two years that followed his death, Isabella Stewart Gardner endured depression and illness. At a doctor's suggestion, John Gardner took his wife to Europe to travel throughout Scandinavia, Russia, Vienna, and Paris and, upon returning home, Isabella Gardner was in good health and spirits. Although the Gardners had no more children, they raised their three nephews following the death of Jack's widowed brother.

Back in Boston, Isabella Gardner was an avid entertainer and frequent patron of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Gardners hosted dinner parties with well-known guests, including author Henry James, writer Sarah Orne Jewett, philosopher George Santayana, and writer of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, Julia Ward Howe, as well as friends and artists like John Singer Sargent. The archives hold more than 7,000 letters from 1,000 correspondents as testaments to Isabella Gardner's social nature. These include glowing letters of thanks for dinner parties, concerts, and celebrations in her magnificent palazzo ("Has the music room dissolved, this morning, in the sunshine? I felt last night as though I were in a Hans Anderson Fairy Tale, ready to go on a flying carpet at any moment," T.R. Sullivan, Jan. 10, 1902). Isabella Stewart Gardner was also interested in sports. She attended Red Sox games, boxing matches, and hockey and football games at Harvard College. She relished in horse races, particularly if her horse won. Her motto was "Win as though you were used to it, and lose as if you like it."

In 1919, Isabella Stewart Gardner suffered the first of a series of strokes and died five years later, on July 17, 1924. Her will created an endowment of $1 million and outlined stipulations for the support of the museum, including that the permanent collection not be significantly altered. In keeping with her philanthropic nature, her will also left sizable bequests to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Industrial School for Crippled and Deformed Children, Animal Rescue League and Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Isabella Stewart Gardner is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, between her husband and her son.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
280 The Fenway

Isabella Stewart Gardner traveled the world and worked with important art patrons and advisors Bernard Berenson and Okakura Kakuzo to amass a remarkable collection of master and decorative arts. In 1903, she completed the construction of Fenway Court in Boston to house her collection.
The museum which bears her name also stands as a testament to her vision. Isabella Stewart Gardner, known also as "Mrs. Jack" in reference to her husband, John L. ("Jack") Gardner, was one of the foremost female patrons of the arts.

January 25, 2012

Maine Winter Days...Let's Go Exploring!

Winter days in Maine can be somewhat mild with temperatures around 35 to 40 degrees. Never in my life would I refer to these temps as being mild! Yet, after a few years of living in New England, we have grown accustomed to grabbing our coats and gloves and heading out to new adventures on the weekends. I can tell you that there are so many places to explore and experience, that you never let the weather stop you! This was a glorious winter day we spent exploring Cape Elizabeth! However, the temperature on this day was about 13 degrees! BRRRR!

It is absolutely magical to stand and look out over the ocean when snow is covering those massive rocks on the shoreline and see the sun rays glisten over the ocean. It feels as if you are looking at the most beautiful place on earth. There will be shake shingled coastal homes scattered throughout the hills which seem the perfect image of a postcard. We sometimes turn to each other and say, "Can you believe we live here?"

These are Wild Turkeys hunting for food in our little village!
I just love it when we come across these.
We have three that visit our birdfeeders in the backwoods on some days!

Standing high on a hill overlooking Fort Williams are the ruins of what was once a magnificent oceanfront residence, the Goddard Mansion. This was the home of Colonel John Goddard and his family who lived here during the mid to late 1800s.

The Goddard Mansion, completed in 1858, was one of the first grand houses to be built along the Cape Elizabeth shore. Goddard had made his fortune in the lumber business. The mansion was acquired by the U.S. Army in 1898 and used for housing married enlisted men and their families who were stationed at Fort Williams. The basement of the house was used for the fort's Non-Commissioned Officer's Club.

Now, Darling requested a little snack when we returned to The Maine House after our day of exploring! We warmed up with a cup of hot New England Coffee and a generous slice of my homemade Tangerine Cake. Ya'll this cake is so delish, that I just had to share it! I hope you try it! I found this recipe in an old issue of the Pensacola News Journal a few years ago! You can either frost this with a buttercream and bake the cake in two round 8" cake pans or use a bundt pan and  simply make a glaze!

For the cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
2 tablespoons finely grated tangerine zest, plus 1/2 cup tangerine juice from 5 or 6 tangerines
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur, Grand Marnier
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Glaze
1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons tangerine juice (from 2 or so tangerines)

Preheat oven to 350. Make cake: Butter and flour a 12 cup Bundt cake pan. (I used Baker's Joy). In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 5 mins. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in tangerine zest and juice and liqueur. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with yogurt or sour cream and beat to combine. Beat in vanilla. Transfer batter to Bundt pan or divide between two cake pans, smooth top and firmly tap pan on a flat surface to remove air bubbles.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in a pan on a wire rack for about 30 mins. Invert cake onto a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and let cool completely. Transfer to cake keeper.

Make Glaze: Whisk confectioners' sugar and 3 T tangerine juice until smooth. Spoon evenly over cake. Ya'll ENJOY!

Tangerine Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 2-pound package powdered sugar
 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons tangerine juice

Place all ingredients in a mixer bowl and mix until powdered sugar is incorporated, then beat a few minutes. The recipe calls for tangerine zest, but I prefer a frosting without freckles. If the frosting is a little stiff, use a tablespoon or so of whipping cream to lighten it up a bit!

January 24, 2012

New Home.....Comforting Aroma's!

How do you make a new "house".......a "home?" There is always a turning point, when you move into a new home, that you suddenly feel......We're home! It takes a while. Ordinarily, you are so busy unpacking, unloading, unwrapping, moving things from place to place, hanging pictures, cleaning and scrubbing, and making a little pathway through the new kitchen, that you feel somewhat displaced and unbalanced. At least that is how I feel, until.........there is some order to the rooms, especially the kitchen. Then, the  moment comes when you can invite the family over and welcome them to your new home with some of the best southern comfort food! Do you know what is one of the first things I make in a new kitchen? Pot roast and biscuits!

A Maine House Mosaic

I think because it reminds me so much of Mother. I am fortunate enough to even have grandmother's old biscuit cutter, which I simply treasure! Mother made the best pot roast and somehow all my problems would seem less because there was the comfort of home that eased my mind. Everything was going to be alright. Funny how smells can take you back to special moments in life....I guess that's why they call it "comfort food!" I hope my children will feel the same.........

Estelle's Best Southern Biscuits
2 cups flour (Estelle's uses White Lily)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs.  Make a well in the center and pour in the cold buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes. I brush a little heavy cream on top before baking!

Estelle's Italian Pot Roast
1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 large sweet onion, cut in half and sliced
1 (3- to 4-lb.) boneless chuck roast
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (1-oz.) envelope dry onion soup mix
1 (14-oz.) can beef broth
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons cornstarch

 Place mushrooms and onion in a lightly greased 5-to 6-qt. slow cooker. Sprinkle roast with pepper. Cook roast in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until browned.
Place roast on top of mushrooms and onion in slow cooker. Sprinkle onion soup mix over roast; pour beef broth and tomato sauce over roast. Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 10 hours or until meat shreds easily with a fork. Transfer roast to a cutting board; cut into large chunks, removing any large pieces of fat. Keep roast warm. Skim fat from juices in slow cooker; stir in tomato paste and Italian seasoning. Stir together cornstarch and 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl until smooth; add to juices in slow cooker, stirring until blended. Increase slow cooker heat to HIGH. Cover and cook 40 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Stir in roast.

January 23, 2012

Freezing Drizzle

Yet, another Blue Monday! The skies are gray over the village today with a wintry mix of snow, freezing rain, to be followed by cold rain! Ah...January days dwindle!

Early Morning

Just Blue

Trimming the Tree

Winters Evening Sunset

Estelle's...The Heart of Our Home

Another week of travel while Estelle's keeps the home fires burning! Miss Judy and I had a wonderful conversation on Sunday and talked the afternoon away. I love those conversations of "remember when" as we reminisce about Mother and Daddy, our summers in Ohio and growing up in Jackson. I had recently read an article in a Mississippi magazine which was written by a old friend of hers. She is soon to be a published author so we will watch for that new book! She and her husband still live in the same house near Belhaven Lake. Our darling Mary Jo has not been well so she wanted to take a little treat down to Hunter and to her...something sweet as Hunter just loves dessert! Hey...I know just the divine little brownie which should put a smile on their face! These brownies are moist and delicious....always a hit and what a sweet way to say "feel better and I'm thinking of you!"

1 (4-oz.) bittersweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 (1-oz.) bottle red liquid food coloring
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
 Cream Cheese Frosting
Garnish: white chocolate curls

 Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil. Microwave chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Whisk in sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition. Gently stir in flour and next 4 ingredients. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 44 to 48 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 2 hours).
 Lift brownies from pan, using foil sides as handles; gently remove foil. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting on top of brownies, and cut into 16 squares. Garnish with white chocolate curls for a beautiful presentation.

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar and salt, beating until blended. Stir in vanilla.

January 22, 2012

A Girl Can Dream Can't She?

Then followed that beautiful season...
Filled was the air with a
dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the
freshness of childhood.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The beach is calling our names! An August wedding for Greg and Jenn will take place on Santa Rosa Island this summer. As we are currently knee deep in icy snow here in New England, my thoughts cannot help but turn toward sunny, warm days and summer fun. Yes, we have had many wonderful beach days, but this one will be very special and dear to our hearts. It takes planning and organization to prepare for this type of family vacation, and the first order of business is the menu for the week. I love it when the children meander up from the beach and can just easily prepare their snack and some cool quiet time, before the evening festivities begin. These simply spreads will be ready for them and should be a delicious, healthy alternative than reaching for a bag of chips! We are serving these with everything bagels, whole wheat crackers and fresh baked rye bread, and don't forget the deli olives, and cold, crunchy veggies of celery, radishes, cucumbers, carrots and peppers!  


4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup ground ham

Mix together and spread on toasted cocktail rye bread slices
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup Stonewall Kitchen Lemon Dill or Tequila Lime Cocktail Sauce
3 ounces fresh crabmeat
2 tablespoons green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Spread the cream cheese over the bottom of a serving dish. Spread cocktail sauce over cream cheese. Sprinkle crab over cocktail sauce. Garnish with green onion and parsley.

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 packages (2-1/2 ounces each) deli ham, chopped
2 to 3 green onions, thinly sliced
Miniature bagels, split

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and garlic powder until smooth. Stir in ham and onions. Serve with bagels.

Beach Babies

January 21, 2012

Warm Me Up!

There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself. ~Ruth Stout

A Maine House Mosaic

This has long been one of my own favorite comfort foods, and they're delicious with mashed potatoes!

1 large head of cabbage
1 to 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1/2 cup instant rice or cooked rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) tomato soup, undiluted
1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes

Tear the leaves off the cabbage and cook in boiling water or steam until wilted enough to be flexible. Cool. Mix ground beef, rice, egg, onion, and salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon together. Form a few tablespoons of the mixture into a cylinder, then roll up in a cabbage leaf. Secure rolls with toothpicks. Combine the soup and tomatoes in a Dutch oven. Place cabbage rolls in the Dutch oven. Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
3 teaspoons salt, divided
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup half-and-half, warmed
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

 Peel potatoes, and cut into pieces. Bring potatoes, 2 tsp. salt, and cold water to cover to a boil in a medium-size dutch oven over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 16 to 20 minutes or until fork-tender, then drain. Return potatoes to dutch oven. Always add butter as your first ingredient and blend with the hot potatoes, add  next 3 ingredients, and remaining 1 tsp. salt. Blend with hand mixer until smooth and creamy!