Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Simple and Delicious 4th of July dessert

For the Fourth of July, it is usual to have at least one dessert that has a red, white and blue patriotic look. Berries are perfect for accomplishing the red and blue and this recipe uses blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Here is a recipe for a mixed-berry shortcake with an alcoholic kick if you prefer. It is quite possibly the perfect 4th of July dessert.

Shopping list:

  • 3 quarts of berries to make 12 desserts (raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries)
  • 1 store bought angel food cake or pound cake
  • 1 pint of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 quart orange juice
  • 1 half pint of Grand Marnier

Have on hand at home:

  • 4 teaspoons dried orange peel
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 12 clear plastic cups
Preparation time is less than half hour. Start by washing the fruit. Remove the hulls on the strawberries and cut them into quarters. Place them in a large bowl with the blueberries and raspberries. Reserve 12 pieces of each fruit on a separate plate. If there are going to be children or people who will want a non-alcoholic version, separate the fruit into two bowls. 

Bowl 1- Alcoholic

Sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar in each bowl, add two shots of Grand Marnier and 1/4 cup of orange juice and mix. Let it sit for 15 minutes.

Bowl 2-Non-alcoholic

Pour a half cup of orange juice, one tablespoon sugar and two tsp. of dried orange peel onto the fruit and mix. This needs to sit for fifteen minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.

Chill a bowl and the beaters for the whipped cream. Add the pint of heavy cream and beat until it forms soft peaks. Add 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar and 2 teaspoons of orange zest to the cream. You may also add a tsp. of Grand Marnier to the whipped creamed that will go on the adult desserts.

Slice the cake and place a piece in each of the clear plastic cups. Spoon a generous amount of the fruit and juice over the cake. Top with the whipped cream and 3 of the reserved berries. Serve and be prepared for the rave reviews that you will receive.

This may also be made in a glass bowl or dish with the cake being placed in the pan then topped by the fruit and whipped cream. You can place the reserved fruit on top and if you have red, white and blue jimmies this will add a great festive touch. You can then serve this in individual bowls.

What you have created is a lighter version of fruit shortcake.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Haven Cafe and Bakery Lennox, MA.

On the way to visit The Mount we drove down the main drag in historic Lennox, Ma. We hadn't had any breakfast and I spied Haven Cafe and Bakery. It was quite active even though it was between breakfast and lunch, about 11 a.m.

You order at the counter and are given a number to take with you to your seat. If you want water, there is an iced water station set up for your convenience. 

I ordered off the menu, I asked for an egg sandwich with cheese and bacon on a croissant. Al ordered a cheese omelet. I also ordered a large cappuccino. We then went to find our seats. Prices are what you would expect in the rather upscale town.  

It didn't take too long for our food to be delivered. I will say, the scrambled eggs in my sandwich were very tasty, they obviously add something to them they have a rich taste. The potatoes are really good as well. I personally don't need a salad on my breakfast plate but I ate it all!! lol It was lightly dressed. 

Al's omelet was perfect, no brown and it was served with the potatoes, salad and two slices of French bread. My cappuccino took a little longer to be delivered but was worth the wait. 

When we left we picked up a couple items from the bakery to enjoy later, a piece of apple cake for Al and a peanut butter cookie for me. It was a very good peanut butter cookie and Al really enjoyed the cake, it was dense and moist. 

This was a great little find and shares its parking lot with a bagel coffee shop if that is more to your taste. Next time we will try the bagel shop. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Crazy Cucumber Ocala, Fl.

Voted one of Ocala's Best of the Best, The Crazy Cucumber lived up to its reputation. No matter what sort of diet you embrace, vegetarian, Paleo, gluten-free or just plain carnivore, you will find plenty of delicious options here. 

Located on Route 200, you may need to look a little to find the Crazy Cucumber but believe me, it is worth it. Actually, if you know where Kirkland's is, they are right across the parking lot in the Marketplace at Heath Brook. 

I came here the first time to have a girls lunch with my niece Christine. Neither of us had ever eaten here before so we were a little overwhelmed by all the delicious sounding choices. I ended up trying the Crazy Spinach Salad and Christine tried one of the flatbreads. 

Oh my goodness, my salad had bacon, green onions, mushrooms, almonds, parmesan cheese and emerald poppy seed dressing. It was one of the best salads I have ever had, so good in fact that I had it again when I returned. The first time I added shrimp and the second time I had it with wings. 

I love their sweet tea, I have to admit, it is addictive. Christine told me here flatbread was great and that she would be coming back here soon. 

On my second visit, I brought Al with me and he took advantage of their prime rib special. Can you imagine a great prime rib dinner for $11.99? Well,  it is available here on Tuesdays and if you buy two, the price goes down to $11. 

They have other daily specials so be sure to check their website

I fell in love with this restaurant and I can't wait to get back to Ocala next winter, I will be eating there often. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Delicious ham salad

Ham salad is my favorite sandwich stuffing salads. Being the type who never likes to waste anything, this began as a way to use leftover ham after Easter or any other time I make a large baked ham. My mom used to make ham salad when I was a child so this has a sentimental aspect for me as well. The recipe is pretty basic with only four ingredients.

• 4 cups of chopped ham
• 2/3 cups mayonnaise (I like Hellmanns)
• 1/4 cup Dijon mustard (Grey Poupon is what I use)
• 2 large dill pickles cut

My mom always used a meat grinder that attaches to the table to chop the meat and the pickles. I don’t have a hand grinder so I use my food processor. Place the pickles on some paper towel and drain as much of the liquid off of them as possible before you run them through. Chop the ham into smallish pieces, it results in a more consistent spread.

Add the mayonnaise and mustard to the ground ham and pickles. Now I have to tell you, my mom never used Dijon mustard, she used dry mustard and that has a very good taste as well. If Dijon is a not a favorite of yours, you can use yellow mustard or a spicy brown mustard.  

Rye bread or a hard roll makes a good base for your sandwich. Add some lettuce and tomato and you have a fantastic ham salad sandwich.

This recipe for ham salad can be altered several ways. Instead of the dill pickles, you can add sweet pickles or green pickle relish (both sweet and dill work). If you are in a hurry, they sell ham in a can that can be used in place of the baked ham and honestly, over the years we have used this quite often with great success, just use a little less mayo and mustard.

If you are looking for a unique and interesting combination try using half ham and half chicken.

• 2 cups ham chopped
• 2 cup chopped chicken
• 1 cup mayonnaise
• 1 cup seedless grapes chopped in half cup
• 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Grind the ham and the chicken and add the rest of the ingredients. Serve on French bread or a bed of arugula. The salt of the ham complements the chicken very well.

The next time you bake a ham, you will be looking forward to using the leftovers to make some delicious ham salad.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Crockpot beef stroganoff

I love to use my crockpot and Al loves beef stroganoff so it is a no-brainer.  I found some sirloin tips on sale Monday at Tri-Town Market and right away I thought beef stroganoff. They also had mushrooms on sale so I bought a package. 

My package of beef was not quite a pound. I cut it into small pieces. 

What you need:

Good quality beef stew meat  about a pound 
1 can cream of celery soup
I container sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup sour cream
1 envelope Lipton beefy onion soup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pot Knorr beef stock 

1/2 bag of egg noodles

Place everything except the egg noodles into the crock pot, mix well and cook on high for 5-6 hours. Add the noodles and cook for 15 or 20 minutes longer.  I used my small crockpot for this. It made enough for us to have dinner and enough for leftover tomorrow. 

Eat and enjoy. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Making a perfect Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon is a very traditional French meal and one that every cook should have in her repertoire. It is a piece of beef pot roast cooked slowly to develop the flavors. A bottle of good Burgundy wine will supply both the wine for the recipe and the wine to accompany your meal.

What you will need:

1 boneless 3 lb. sirloin roast
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 slices of bacon diced
2 medium carrots, sliced
8 small new potatoes cut into four pieces
10 mushrooms sliced
24 pearl onions
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 bay leave
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups Burgundy wine

Place the flour on a plate and coat the roast on all sides.

In a skillet cook the bacon slowly until it is almost fully cooked. Remove bacon from the pan and place the beef roast into the skillet and brown. Turn it as many times as necessary. Get a beef pot roast cooking bag. Add the carrots, potatoes, mushroom, onions, garlic and spices, beef and bacon to the bottom of the bag. Slowly add the wine and seal the bag. Make a few air holes in the bag. Cook in a 350-degree oven for two hours. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before cutting the bag open and plating the roast.

Serve with French bread and butter. Add a round of brie and fruit for dessert and you have a wonderfully impressive and delicious French wine beef pot roast meal.

Boeuf Bourguignon has its roots in the region of France known as Burgundy. Since Burgundy is a wine growing area, it is not surprising that one of their most popular dishes includes the local wine. It also uses a very specific type of beef which is raised in southern Burgundy, the Charolais cattle, known for their tenderness. It was the renowned French chef Escoffier who first turned this peasant dish into haute cuisine. Later, it became a classic dish in the repertoire of Julia Child and through her into many an American kitchen.

When the air is starting to develop a chill and the days are growing shorter, sitting down to this traditional meal will warm the body and the soul. Just the smell wafting through your home will bring the family running to see what tempting delight you have on the stove. You can feel free to act as if the whole process has exhausted you; they never have to know the truth.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What exactly is a smorgasbord

A smorgasbord is a Scandinavian buffet-style dinner. It translates as a sandwich board and was the way that Swedes served guests who had visited from far away. The dishes that were on the buffet could usually be kept fresh for several days. The word, however, has been used to describe just about any type of buffet style dinner. It is commonly used in the Pennsylvania Dutch area of Pennsylvania.

In Sweden, the smorgasbord has been popular since the early 18th century. The foods are not all loaded onto one plate as we do in the United States. Each dish should be eaten on a clean plate. The traditional meal will begin with a plate of cheese and perhaps some smoked meat and crackers. These can be served on a table with alcoholic beverages such as vodka.

A traditional smorgasbord will have a wide variety of fish dishes. These can include salmon, herring, shrimp, and eel. These are usually cold and served in the first course.

Dishes such as smoked, salted or pickled herring as well as smoked salmon or gravlax are common. Matjesill Herring, which is a sugar cured canned variety of herring is a choice that most Swede’s would automatically recognize. These can be served with boiled potatoes. All of the fish dishes will be served with appropriate sauces which can include sour cream and chives among others. Crisp dark bread and cheeses may also be part of this course. Platters f cold sliced meats such as ham, pate, and sausages round out the offering of this course.

The next course can be warm fish and meat dishes. One option is meatballs served with lingonberry jelly. The meats can include such things as ham and roast beef and perhaps a warm salmon dish. There will also be cold salads and hot vegetables. Potato salad and beetroot salad are traditional choices. The traditional sauces for the meat and salmon will also be included. During the holidays, lutefisk is commonly served on the smorgasbord.

Finally, it is time for the final course which is the dessert course. This will also include coffee served with cream and sugar. Dessert may include fresh fruit, chocolates and a variety of cakes.

To recreate a traditional smorgasbord at home, it may be necessary to adjust the recipes a bit. Smoked salmon is a common dish and will be enjoyed by just about everyone but some of the other fish dishes may seem quite foreign which of course they are. Cold cuts like sliced ham, bologna and salami will fit in nicely with some mustard sauce. Potato salad is a good choice as well as a Waldorf salad. This will be an Americanized version that will give you a traditional feel without all the unusual dishes.