Browsed by
Tag: Winter





2 Granny Smith apples

12 to 15 whole cloves

8 C. apple cider

2 C. fresh orange juice

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

4 cinnamon sticks

1/4 tsp. each ginger and nutmeg

1 T. honey or maple syrup

Brandy, whiskey, or dark rum (optional)

Garnishes: fresh cranberries, orange slices, apple slices


Poke cloves into the apples on all sides. Place in a large pot with all other ingredients except the alcohol and garnishes. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 35 to 45 minutes. Add a shot of alcohol to a mug (if desired) and ladle the wassail over the top. Garnish and enjoy!

Holiday Eggnog Cake with Apricot Filling

Holiday Eggnog Cake with Apricot Filling

holiHoliday Eggnog Cake with Apricot Filling


1 package (18.25) yellow or vanilla cake mix, plain or with pudding

1 1/4 cups eggnog

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

4 large eggs

3 T. bourbon (optional), for brushing the tops of the cake layers


1 jar (10 ounces) apricot all-fruit spread

1 T. bourbon or water

Spiced cream cheese frosting:

4 T. (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature

4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Heaping 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon


Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist three 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable oil spray, then dust them with flour. Shake out the excess flour; set pans aside. Place the cake mix, eggnog, oil, vanilla, nutmeg and the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for two minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again, if needed. The batter should look well blended. Divide the cake batter evenly among the three prepared cake pans, about 11/2 cups of batter per pan, smoothing the tops with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven. If your oven is not large enough to hold three pans on the center rack, place two pans on that rack and one in the center of the rack above. Bake the cake layers until they are golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a finger, 18 to 20 minutes. The cake layer on the higher rack may bake faster, so it for doneness first. Transfer to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of each cake layer and give the pans a good shake to loosen the cakes. Invert each layer onto a wire rack, then invert it again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. If desired, brush the cakes with the 3 T. of bourbon, using 1 T. for each; set aside to cool, 15 minutes longer. Meanwhile, make the filling: Place the fruit spread and 1 T. of bourbon or water in a small bowl and stir until well combined.  Make the spiced cream frosting: Place the butter and cream cheese in a medium-size bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the confectioners’ sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon and beat with the mixer on low speed until the ingredients are well incorporated and the frosting has a spreading consistency, 1 to 2 minutes. To assemble cake, transfer one layer, right side up, to a cake plate. Spread half of the filling to the edge of the first layer, about 1/2 heaping cup. Place a second cake layer, right side up, on top of the first and spread the remaining filling over it. Place the third layer on top, right side up, and frost the top and side of cake, working with smooth, clean strokes. To make slicing easier, place the uncovered cake in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes. Store in a cake saver or loosely covered with waxed paper in the refrigerator for up to one week. Freeze the cake, wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to six months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese Cream and Creamy Pistachio Vinaigrette

Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese Cream and Creamy Pistachio Vinaigrette

Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese Cream and Creamy Pistachio Vinaigrette


6 golden beets, about 1½ pounds

6 Chioggia beets, about 1½ pounds

¾ cup olive oil

1 cup dry white wine, plus more if needed

2 tsp. sea salt, preferably gray salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper


4 ounces mascarpone at room temperature

4 ounces blue cheese at room temperature

¼ cup heavy cream

Pinch of sea salt, preferably gray salt

Light grind of black pepper


¼ cup Champagne vinegar

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

½ shallot, minced

2 tsp. minced fresh thyme

2 egg yolks, plus 1 more if needed

1 cup pistachio oil

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 T. ice water, if needed

½ tsp. sea salt, preferably gray salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup pistachios, toasted


Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley forg arnish

1 T. minced fresh tarragon for garnish

Microgreens such as micro arugula for garnish (optional)

1 T. Champagne vinegar for drizzling

3 T. extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash the beets, cut off their tops and tails, and put them in a roasting pan. Pour the olive oil over the beets and then pour in enough white wine so at least half of each beet is under wine. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a knife blade slips into a beet easily. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool to the touch. Slip the peels from the beets. When ready to serve, slice the beets into 11/2-inch chunks. (The chunks don’t have to be uniform for this salad.) In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cheeses and beat on low speed until blended. Add the cream, salt, and pepper and beat on medium speed until smooth. Continue adding whipping cream gradually until a desired creamy texture is developed (Note: if you like your blue cheese cream a little thinner, feel free to add additional cream, 1 Tbs at a time until you reach your desired texture). Set aside until ready to assemble salad. In a blender, whir together the vinegar, mustard, shallot, thyme, and egg yolks until smooth. With the machine running, add the pistachio oil and then the olive oil, 1 T. at a time. If the mixture gets too thick, add the 1 T. ice water. You may want to stop if your blender gets warm, because you don’t want your emulsion heated. (If the emulsion breaks, it’s easy to fix: Scrape the vinaigrette out of the blender and set it aside. Cool the blender container in cold water, add another egg yolk and a couple of ice cubes, and then gradually add the broken vinaigrette back to the blender with the machine running.) Season with the salt and pepper. Chill 6 salad plates, and spoon the vinaigrette into a squeeze bottle or a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip. Spoon about 2 T. of the blue cheese cream onto a chilled plate. Mound the beet chunks on top of the cream in an even mix of golden and Chioggia. Squeeze a circle of the vinaigrette around the periphery of the salad. Toss about a dozen toasted pistachios over the salad, very lightly sprinkle on the parsley and tarragon, and finish with a small mound of micro greens on the top if you like. Drizzle with vinegar and olive oil. Repeat for the other 5 salads.

Winter Slaw with Maple Vinaigrette

Winter Slaw with Maple Vinaigrette

Winter Slaw with Maple Vinaigrette


1 small butternut squash, about 1 lb., seeded and cubed

4 medium carrots, peeled

2 medium turnips, peeled

3 parsnips, peeled

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut in wedges

4 T. olive oil, divided

1 T. maple syrup

3 T. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

6 scallions, thinly sliced


In a large bowl, whisk  2 T. of the olive oil, maple syrup, apple cider, salt, pepper and scallions.  Set aside.  Shred butternut squash, carrots, turnips, parsnips, and apples in a food processor using the medium shredding blade.  Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add 2 T. of the olive oil.  Add the vegetables and fruit and sauté, stirring occasionally for 6 – 10 minutes, or until they are tender crisp.  Place in bowl with the vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly.

Cinnamon Cardinal Cookies

Cinnamon Cardinal Cookies

Cinnamon Cardinal Cookies

½ C. butter, softened

½ C. packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 C.  all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon or cardamom

1/3 C. whipping cream

48 miniature chocolate chips

Red, black and yellow decorator sugar crystals


In large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy; stir in vanilla. In small bowl, stir together flour, soda and cinnamon. On low speed, beat flour mixture into butter mixture alternately with cream. Divide dough in half. Wrap halves in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray or grease 2 large cookie sheets. On lightly floured surface, roll half of dough at a time about 1/8 inch thick. Using 3-inch lightly floured cardinal-shaped cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on cookie sheets. Place miniature chocolate chip on each for eye. Sprinkle top of back, crown, tail and wing of each bird with red sugar crystals, neck and eye with black sugar crystals, and beak with yellow sugar crystals. Leave bottom breast of bird without sugar. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until light brown and set.

Baby Polar Bear Shortbread Cookies

Baby Polar Bear Shortbread Cookies

Baby Polar Bear Shortbread Cookies

1 C. butter, softened

¾ C. granulated sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

2 ¼ C. Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour


1 C. powdered sugar

3 to 5 teaspoons milk

¼ teaspoon vanilla


¾ C. grated white chocolate baking bar (about 1 oz from 4-oz package)

76 white vanilla baking chips, tips cut off (about 1/4 cup)

76 mini semisweet chocolate chips (about 2 teaspoons)

19 small round chocolate-covered creamy mints, cut in half

1 pouch (7 oz) Betty Crocker™ Cookie Icing chocolate icing


Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt; beat until blended. Beat in flour gradually on low speed until soft dough forms. Shape dough into ball. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 38 circles, gently pressing together and rerolling scraps as necessary. Onto ungreased cookie sheets, place circles 2 inches apart. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until edges are just beginning to brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely before decorating. In small bowl, stir together powdered sugar, 3 teaspoons milk and the vanilla until blended. If necessary, stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth and desired consistency. To Decorate Cookies: Using knife, spread icing over cookies in thin layer. For each cookie, immediately sprinkle about 3/4 teaspoon white chocolate evenly over icing. Press into icing 2 vanilla baking chips, cut side down, for ears, 2 chocolate chips for eyes and 1 mint, cut side down, for nose. Using chocolate icing, pipe mouth.

Dutch Oven Beef Stew with Noodles

Dutch Oven Beef Stew with Noodles

Dutch Oven Beef Stew with Noodles

2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, sliced lengthwise

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

5 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

3 cups water

1/2 pound carrots, cut into l-inch pieces

2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into l-inch pieces

2 cups egg noodles

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar


Season beef with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over high. Working in batches, add beef and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until onion begins to soften (reducing heat if necessary), about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add broth and the water, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil; then reduce to a simmer and cook until beef is tender, about 25 minutes. Add carrots and potatoes; cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add noodles and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley and vinegar just before serving.


Winter Salad with Goat Cheese

Winter Salad with Goat Cheese

Winter Salad


1 small roll goat cheese

1/2 C. bread crumbs

1 C. coarsely chopped walnuts

Brown sugar

1/4 C. orange juice

2 T. champagne or white wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

1/4 C. Canola

1/4 C. olive oil

1 to 3 tsp. brown sugar

Baby romaine lettuce

Red onion rings


Cut 1/2 to 3/4 of the roll of goat cheese into 1/4’ to 1/3” slices. Wrap remaining cheese in plastic wrap and refrigerate for use later in the week. Press slices into breadcrumbs, turning to coat. Place on nonstick baking sheet, leaving enough room at one end for the walnuts. Place walnuts on opposite end of baking sheet and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in a preheated 350° oven, just until cheese is golden brown. While cheese is baking, combine orange juice, vinegar, salt and pepper, Canola and Olive oil in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk in the brown sugar. To make salad: Place lettuce on a salad plate, arrange onion rings on top, arrange 2 or 3 slices of toasted cheese on the salad, sprinkle with toasted walnuts, and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Velvety Hot Chocolate

Velvety Hot Chocolate

Velvety Hot Chocolate

2 C. whole milk

Very small pinch salt

12-ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 T. Kahlua or Crème de cacao, optional

2 tsp. instant coffee granules

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whipped cream

Shaved white chocolate for garnish

Heat milk and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, until steam begins to rise. Whisk in chocolates, Kahlua, coffee and vanilla. Continue to whisk until mixture is smooth and hot.  Ladle into mugs and top with whipped cream and crushed peppermint. Sprinkle white chocolate shavings over top. Garnish with candy canes

Snowman Cookies

Snowman Cookies

Snowman Cookies

Nutter Butter cookies
Vanilla Almond Bark (half a package made 13 cookies for me)
Orange Tic Tacs
Black Decorator Icing

After melting the Almond Bark for 90 seconds, I used a spoon to help cover the cookies when I dipped them. The spoon helped to get them on the foil too, since I didn’t want fingerprints. I didn’t put the Tic Tacs or the M&Ms on until I finished dipping all of them – I wanted the Almond Bark to set a little bit. As for the icing, I just squirted some in a ziploc bag and cut the tip just a tiny, tiny bit.

Cranberry Fritters

Cranberry Fritters

Cranberry Fritters

1 C. cranberries

1/4 C. sugar

1/2 C. water

2 C. all-purpose flour

3/4 C. sugar

1 tsp. baking powder


2 eggs

1/4 C. ice water

1 apple, peeled and diced

Confectioner’s sugar

Raspberry jam

Oil for frying


In a saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar and water. Over high heat, cook until berries begin to burst. Remove from heat and chill. Sift together flour, sugar and baking powder. Separate eggs. Beat egg yolks with ice water. Add the sifted dry ingredients, apple, cranberries and any liquid in the pan used to cook them. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into cranberry mixture. In a deep skillet or deep fat fryer, heat 1 or 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees. For each fritter, drip 2 T. of batter into the oil. Cook 1 minute, flip the fritters over, and continue frying until golden. This may have to be done in batches; be sure oil returns to 350 degrees between batches. Drain fritters on paper towels and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with raspberry jam.

Lemon-Cranberry Pound Cake

Lemon-Cranberry Pound Cake

Lemon-Cranberry Pound Cake


1/3 C. (80 ml) lemon juice

2 T. brandy

1 T. granulated white sugar

4 oz. (115 grams) dried cranberries or dried cherries


Pound Cake:

1 3/4 C. (245 grams) all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 C. (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 C. (200 grams) granulated white sugar

4 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Zest of one lemon


For Cranberries: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring the lemon juice, brandy, sugar, and dried cranberries just to a boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let cool completely and then drain, reserving cranberries. For Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Butter (or spray with a non-stick pan spray) a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 7 cm) loaf pan and then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.  In a medium sized bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream the butter until soft and creamy.  Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy (about 3 – 5 minutes).  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Then add the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With mixer on low, add the flour mixture beating just until batter is smooth.  Stir in the lemon zest and drained cranberries, making sure you do not over mix.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for approximately 50 – 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove it from the pan to cool completely.  This cake can be stored for a few days at room temperature, one week in the refrigerator, or about one month frozen.

Cranberry Quick Bread

Cranberry Quick Bread

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup whole milk

1 bag (12 ounces) cranberries

1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, for topping (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan (8-cup capacity), and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine butter, egg, and milk. Add wet mixture to dry mixture, and whisk to combine; fold in cranberries.     Pour batter into prepared pan; sprinkle top with turbinado sugar, if desired. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let bread cool 30 minutes. Invert onto rack, then immediately turn right side up to cool completely.

Peppermint Holiday Soft Sugar Cookies

Peppermint Holiday Soft Sugar Cookies

Peppermint Holiday Soft Sugar Cookies

6 C. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 C. butter, at room temperature

2 C. granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 tsp. peppermint extract

1 1/2 C. sour cream


1 C. butter, at room temperature

1 tsp. peppermint extract

4 C. powdered sugar

Pinch of salt

6 tsp. heavy cream

crushed candy canes, for decoration


Combine the flour, baking powder, baking sod and salt in a medium bowl and mix to combine. Set aside. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) beat the butter and sugar until it is fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the sour cream and the peppermint extract, mix well.  Gradually start adding the dry ingredients, beating just until combined. Divide the mixture in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours, or overnight. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Lightly flour a workspace, then turn out one half of the dough onto the counter. Roll the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Dough will be a little bit sticky, so use flour as needed to avoid sticking. Use a 3-inch round cookie cutter to cut out circles and transfer to prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies just until set, and still pale, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack or to a piece of waxed paper on the counter to cool completely. To make the frosting, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft and fluffy. Add the peppermint extract. Start adding in the powdered sugar, 1/2 C. at a time, and beat until completely combined. Add the salt and the cream and beat until light and fluffy. Frost each cookie and top with crushed candy canes.


Winter Citrus Salad with Honey Dressing

Winter Citrus Salad with Honey Dressing

Winter Citrus Salad with Honey Dressing2 blood oranges or tangerines
1 pink grapefruit or pomelo
1 navel orange
½ small red onion or 1 shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon honey
Lime or lemon juice to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly chopped tarragon or a pinch dried

Peel citrus, removing as much pith as possible, and slice into wheels. Remove any pits, layer fruit on a serving dish, sprinkle with salt and garnish with chopped onion. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey, lime juice and tarragon until well combined; taste, adjust seasoning as needed and drizzle over salad.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Prosciutto Chips

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Prosciutto Chips

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Prosciutto Chips

Non-stick cooking spray

2 ounces prosciutto, trimmed of excess fat

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 slices bacon, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon thyme leaves or rosemary leaves

1 small head of cauliflower, about 1 pound, cut into florets

2 cups reduced sodium, fat free chicken broth

1 cup skim milk


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Spread the prosciutto out on the baking sheet and bake about 10 minute until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel and set aside.

Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onions, garlic, bacon, and thyme or rosemary. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often until the onions soften and the bacon becomes fragrant.

Add the cauliflower, chicken broth, and milk. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and turn the heat to low. Cook 10 to 12 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Puree until smooth. Crumble the prosciutto over top of the soup and serve immediately.

Herb-Roasted Rabbit with Pomegranates

Herb-Roasted Rabbit with Pomegranates

2 2-pound rabbits, each cut into 6 pieces
1 T. olive oil
3 ounces Canadian bacon, minced
3 large shallots, minced
2 T. crushed dried rosemary
1 C. fat-free no-salt-added canned chicken broth
1/4 C. dry white wine
seeds of 1 pomegranate
rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C), Gas Mark 6. Rinse rabbit pieces and pat dry. Heat oil over medium-high heat; add Canadian bacon and saut until browned, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add shallots and continue to saut for 4 minutes, until shallots are limp. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon mixture; drain on paper towels. Add the rabbit pieces to the skillet and saut for 5 minutes per sides until nicely browned, turning once. Transfer rabbit pieces to a roasting pan. Top with bacon mixture and rosemary. Add chicken broth to the pan. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 50 to 60 minutes until rabbit is tender. Arrange rabbit on a heated serving platter; keep warm.
Place roasting pan on top of the stove and stir in dry white wine. Cook over medium-high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until reduced by 1/3. Add pomegranate seeds and heat through. Spoon sauce and seeds over the rabbit pieces and garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired.

Yield: 12 servings
Calories: 209
Fat: 9g
Fiber: 0g

Braised Beef Stew with Mixed Mushrooms

Braised Beef Stew with Mixed Mushrooms

Braised Beef Stew with Mixed Mushrooms


2 pounds beef chuck roast

Salt and pepper to taste


3 T. vegetable oil

1 yellow onion, chopped (or use 1 C. small pearl onions, peeled)

3 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 C. mushrooms, left whole or cut into large chunks (I like a mixture of crimini, button, portobello and shiitake)

2 bay leaves

1 C. dry red wine

2 C. beef broth


Trim the chuck of any excess fat, keeping in mind there will be lovely fat marbling throughout (that’s just part of the juicy flavor), and cut into 1-inch cubes. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess. Preheat oven to 325° F.In a large ovenproof pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef cubes and brown well on all sides. Remove from the pan. Stir in the onions, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the bay leaves, wine and beef broth. Bring back to a simmer, stir in the beef, and cover. Place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is fork tender. The flour that you used to coat the meat should give the sauce a nice consistency.


Notes: This is a basic structure upon which you may build. Try adding root veggies such as carrots, potatoes, parsnips, etc., and adjust the flavors with hearty herbs such as rosemary or oregano. Add spices like cumin or clove and play around with fruit-based flavors such as orange zest or pomegranate juice.

Parmesan-Butternut Squash Gratin

Parmesan-Butternut Squash Gratin

1 butternut squash (2 1/2 lb)
1/4 C. butter
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 C. panko bread crumbs
1/3 C. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 C. chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Peel, halve lengthwise and seed squash; cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange with slices overlapping slightly in bottom of baking dish. In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Add garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft and butter is infused with garlic flavor. Do not let butter brown. In small bowl, mix bread crumbs, cheese and 1 T. the butter-garlic mixture. Brush squash slices with remaining butter-garlic mixture. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and bread crumb mixture. Bake uncovered 30 to 40 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with fork. Increase oven temperature to 425°F; bake 5 to 10 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Before serving, sprinkle parsley over top.

Meringue Snowmen & Trees

Meringue Snowmen & Trees

Meringue Snowmen & Trees3 egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
Assorted soft food gel colors
1/2 tsp. each peppermint and lemon or orange extract

Royal Icing:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 T. powdered egg whites
6 T. water

Small red, orange and blue candies, gumdrops, assorted fruit roll-ups

Position racks in second and third levels in oven. Heat oven to 200 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with nonstick foil. Beat egg whites, 2 T. of the sugar, cream of tartar and salt at medium speed in a small bowl until frothy. Increase speed to high; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining sugar until stiff and glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. Divide in half. Color half with 2 to 3 drops green food color and beat in peppermint extract. Beat lemon or orange extract into other half. Transfer green meringue to a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe meringue into 15 2-1/2-inch stars, spacing about 1-inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Using slightly less pressure on pastry bag, pipe 15 1-inch stars. Using even less pressure, pipe 15 3/4-inch stars. Bake green meringue at 200 degrees F for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, place white meringue in a second large pastry bag fitted with a coupler. Pipe 12 1-1/2-inch balls on prepared baking sheet, using a slightly wet fingertip to coax meringue into shape if necessary. Affix a #12 large round tip to coupler; pipe 12 1-inch rounds. Remove tip and replace with a #10 medium round tip. Pipe 12 small rounds. After green meringue has baked for 45 minutes, add white meringue and bake another 1 hour and 15 minutes until firm and dry. Turn and reverse sheets halfway through. Turn oven off; let meringues sit in oven 1 hour. Remove baking sheets to wire racks to cool 10 minutes. Carefully lift meringues directly to rack.

Royal Icing: In a bowl, mix sugar, powdered egg whites and water; beat on high for 7 minutes until thick and fluffy.

Assemble snowmen, using icing as glue: Beginning with a large ball as a base, attach a medium and a small ball as body and head with dabs of icing. Repeat with remaining meringues. Decorate as desired, using icing to attach candies. Color some of the Royal Icing black and some of it orange to fashion eyes, mouths and carrot noses. Create hats out of gumdrops and mufflers from fruit roll-ups.

Assemble trees, using icing as glue: Stack 2 or 3 graduated stars on top of each other or leave unstacked for shrubs