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Recipe: White Chocolate Almond Fondue


One more teaser recipe from the book “Fondue” by Lou Siebert Pappas… another fabulous recipe…. serve it with fruits…strawberries, pineapple chunks, kiwi slices, banana chunks, Russian Tea Cakes....

See my previous recipe for Russian Tea Cakes… delicious buttery-sugary balls made with nuts.

The recipe calls for either amaretto or Cognac…I am partial to the amaretto.

Yummmmmmmmm…

White Chocolate Almaond Fondue Recipe

All you need:

½ cup whole almonds
8 ounces white chocolate
4 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1-2 tablespoons amaretto or Cognac
½ teaspoon vanilla

All you need to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the almonds in a baking pan and bake in the oven until toasted, 8 to 10 minutes.

Let the almonds cool a few minutes.

Finely chop the almonds ( I use my processor).

In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, cream and corn syrup.

Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Stir in the amaretto, vanilla and almonds.

Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm over low heat.

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Recipe: Cold Zabaglione with Strawberries


This is a great dessert that can be prepared ahead… serve with or without fruit …it’s divine… I’ve made it for years… the recipe is from an old book I have called “The Desserts Cookbook” by Elizabeth Pomeroy, published by Hennerwood Publications Limited…. I regularly use numerous recipes from that book…it’s a very good dessert cookbook.

Enjoy!

Cold Zabaglione with Strawberries Recipe

All you need:

6 egg yolks
Scant ½ cup sugar
Finely grated rind of 1 orange
2/3 cup of Marsala or white wine (I use Marsala)
¼ cup heavy cream
Strawberries, sliced

All you need to do:

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and orange rind until white, then beat in wine.

Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and continue beating until the mixture thickens and falls in ribbons from the beater.

Remove from the heat and place in a bowl of iced water and continue beating until cold.

Very lightly whisk the cream with a fork and fold into the mixture.

Fill a 1/3 of a goblet, then top with fresh sliced strawberries…fill another 1/3 with the Zabaglione…top with fresh strawberries…fill goblet with the Zabaglione.

Chill in the refrigerator until needed… Garnish with strawberries.

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Recipe: White Chocolate Mousse


I came across this recipe from Betty Crocker and really liked it… it’s quick and easy and I happen to love white chocolate…

I would substitute better white chocolate… but if you want to use the white baking chips.. it will turn out very good.

Suggestion: if making this for a dessert buffet… use small glasses (glass or plastic)… so guests can sample the dessert….

I garnish with either white or dark chocolate curls and/or a few raspberries…. A terrific presentation.

Enjoy!

White Chocolate Mousse Recipe

All you need:

4 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup white baking chips
1 ½ cup heavy cream
Chocolate Curls for garnish

All you need to do:

Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl with the electric mixer on high for about 3 minutes or until thick and lemon colored.

Gradually beat in sugar.

Heat 1 cup heavy cream in a 2 qt. saucepan over medium heat just until hot.
Gradually stir at least half the cream into the egg yolk mixture, then stir it back into the hot cream in the saucepan.

Cook over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (do not boil).

Stir in baking chips until melted. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, just until chilled.

Beat 1 ½ cups heavy cream in chilled medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff.

Fold whipped cream into refrigerated mixture.

Spoon mixture into parfait or wine glasses.

Garnish with chocolate (white or dark) curls.

Store in the refrigerator.

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Recipe: Raspberry Fondue

This is an absolutely amazing recipe from the book “Fondue” by Lou Seibert Pappas…. Perfect with small coconut macaroons, pound cake cubes and amaretto or shortbread cookies.

See my previous post for a recipe for coconut macaroons.

Enjoy!

Raspberry Fondue Recipe

All you need:

2 ½ cups fresh or frozen raspberries at room temperature
1/3 cup red currant jelly
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch blended with 1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons framboise or Grand Marnier

All you need to do:

Puree the raspberries in a blender and press through a fine mesh sieve (to remove the seeds) into a medium bowl.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the puree and the jelly and bring to a boil.

Stir in the sugar and reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 minute.

Slowly add the cornstarch mixture to the raspberry mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Stir in the framboise and transfer to the fondue pot.

Keep warm over low heat.

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Last Minute Dessert Ideas

Tip of the Day:

Need a last minute dessert idea? Why not a fondue?.... There are all sorts of dessert fondue recipes… best of all… most are virtually fool proof and are put together in minutes…. Not to mention fondues are loads of fun.

This works great for a party too…. perfect for a buffet….

Another great last minute dessert that looks like you worked much harder than you did…. Strawberries and Zabaglione….

Another great dessert that is sure to be a hit…White Chocolate Mousse….

These are just to name a few wonderful last minute desserts that can be a terrific ending to a dinner or party.

Read more...

Recipe: Classic Chocolate Fondue


This is a true classic. The recipe calls for bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate… I prefer semi-sweet…. but that is a personal preference.

I recommend you use a good quality chocolate… since it really is the main event… it really needs to be a good one…. this is not the place to economize.

The recipe calls for Kahlua or Cognac… I actually prefer to use Tia Maria… and Kahlua as a second choice…. Kirsch or rum give it a great flavor too… I’m not wild about Cognac.

This sauce is really thick… thin it with a little cream… add a tablespoon at a time until you get the desired thickness.

Again, in my “Fondue” book… this recipe appears… it is a classic and can be found many other places, as well…. however… the author…. makes a wonderful suggestion for a dipper… tiny frozen cream puffs filled with vanilla ice cream frozen hard… I had never thought of using ice cream…

Other dipper suggestions are: strawberries, banana chunks, mandarin orange segments, pineapple chunks, pound cake cubes, marshmallows… use your imagination!

Make sure you have your fondue pot over low heat so the chocolate doesn’t burn.

Classic Chocolate Fondue Recipe

All you need:

10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Kirsch, rum, Kahlua, Tia Maria or Cognac

All you need to do:

Cut the chocolate into ½ inch pieces.

Combine all ingredients in a fondue pot set over low heat.

Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Keep warm over low heat.

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Recipe: Cappuccino Fondue

I like to try things that are slightly off the beaten path… so to speak… this is a twist on a chocolate fondue you may want to try…

This is one is from the book I mentioned in a previous post… “Fondue” by Lou Seibert Pappas… again, I can only say it is well worth the purchase… I’ve used many of the recipes in the book over the years…. while the recipes are simple.. they have inspired me to change up the ingredients to make new variations… just a wonderful book.

This is so easy… it barely needs a recipe… be creative with your dippers… cinnamon swirl coffee cake cubed, fruitcake, doughnuts cut into chunks, marshmallows, pound cake, shortbread cookies… I’m sure you can think of other dippers for this.

Cappuccino Fondue Recipe

All you need:

6 ounces milk chocolate
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons half and half
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

All you need to do:

Cut the chocolate into ½ inch pieces.

In a fondue pot over low heat, combine the ingredients and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Keep warm over low heat….. voila!

Arrange your dippers and start dipping!

Read more...

Champagne Tips

Tip of the Day:

These tips are from the Korbel website…. I thought it would be a good idea to include some information on champagne with New Year’s just around the corner. I hope you find the information helpful.

Store your champagne in a cool, dark area and keep the bottle on its side. Champagne remains good for up to three years.

How much to buy?

Allow six very generous glasses per standard 750 ml. bottle. For a toast or dessert, allow one glass per person. For cocktails or as an aperitif, you may need two per person. For an entire evening, plan on ½ bottle per person.

How to chill champagne

For a large party, you may want to chill your champagne in a bucket of ice cubes instead of a refrigerator. The champagne will chill faster in a bucket or container that is half filled with ice and water and it is considered the best cooling method. It will chill in 30 minutes as opposed to an hour in a refrigerator.

Champagne that has been chilled does not need to remain chilled. As long as the bottle is stored on its side, it can be placed back in the wine rack until ready to be chilled again.

How to open a bottle of champagne

“The popping of a cork may sound festive and exciting, but it does waste champagne. The pop may also be dangerous if it causes the cork to fly. The recommended Korbel way to properly open a bottle is to ease the cork out slowly, with the sound of a gentle sigh.

For the best results in opening, follow these steps:

1. Avoid shaking the bottle. Remove the foil and wire muzzle, keeping your thumb on the cork to prevent it from shooting out of the bottle. Or, wrap a towel around the neck of the bottle, covering the cork.

2. Tilt the bottle at a 45 degree angle while holding the cork firmly with one hand and the base of the bottle with the other. Be sure to point the bottle away from your guests.

3. Do not twist the cork. Rather, twist the bottle slowly while letting the cork glide out gently, emitting a gentle sigh.

4. Never use a corkscrew. A champagne cork is highly compressed. If a corkscrew is inserted at an angle, you may have an exploding bottle in your hand. Exercise caution!”

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Cheese Platters


Cheese and Fruit platters are great for entertaining. They’re easy… look pretty… and provide a lot of food for a lot of people…since cubes are small… a great menu stretcher.

They can be prepped ahead and then set out just before the party starts. I cube my cheeses and sausage ahead of time…usually the day before… and store them in zip loc bags in the fridge … I make my spreads the day before too ….spreads go in airtight containers in the fridge… I also label them … just so I know what I have ..

While cheese can be expensive… believe it or not… it actually works out cheaper…. Cubed cheese goes a long way and makes a great presentation.

1. Not all cheese is expensive.. . so if you include an expensive cheese then add others that are not expensive.

2. Think about the flavors of your cheeses… make sure you mix it up a bit to keep it interesting….I like to include an herb or garlic cheese, a spicy cheese such Pepper Jack and at least one or two relatively plain or common cheeses… Monterey Jack, Swiss, Cheddar, and Provolone are all good candidates…. keep in mind colors also… it will make for a great presentation.

3. Include fruit… fruit goes so well with cheese...grapes are perfect….apple and pear slices are great too… slice them thin and brush with a little citrus juice to keep them from discoloring.

4. Try to include a spread… you can make a cream cheese spread inexpensively and quickly… see my recipes under the label “Dips and Spreads”.

5. I like to add a meat… summer sausage cut up into little cubes… slices of pepperoni…very quick and easy.

And finally, I like to include a soft cheese… such as Brie… I usually make it what I call my “Presentation Cheese”… something to WOW my guests because it can look so pretty…. You can bake Brie with a pastry shell or top with melted topping such as a fruit ….Raspberry is always a good choice… just use an “all fruit” like Polaner.

Don’t forget the crackers… I put out a basket usually with a couple of different types… again… I include plain and flavored… Triscuit has come out with terrific flavors that you may want to consider…and make sure you put out sturdy crackers if your cheeses are thick… otherwise the crackers can break while your guests are spreading the cheese.

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Recipe: Cheese Puffs

This cheese puff recipe is from the Twin Palms Restaurant in Pasadena California. They’re scrumptious!

Cheese Puffs Recipe

All you need:

1 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
1 cup flour
4 eggs
¾ cup shredded Swiss or sharp Cheddar cheese (I use Cheddar)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/8 of a teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dry basil

All you need to do:

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a 2-quart pan, combine 1 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 cup butter.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to melt butter.

Add 1 cup flour, all at once; remove pan from heat and beat vigorously with a wire whisk until smooth.

Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating each until mixture is smooth and glossy.

Beat in 3/4 cup shredded Swiss or sharp Cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 2 teaspoons dry mustard, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, and 1 teaspoon dry basil (or you can use oregano leaves, or thyme leaves).

Drop by spoonfuls (making balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until puffed and brown.

Turn off oven. Prick each puff in 5 places and leave in closed oven for 10 minutes to dry.

Serve warm, or cool completely, then freeze.

If made ahead, re crisp puffs (no need to thaw) uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until warmed.

Makes about 36 puffs

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Recipe: Parmesan Crisps


This is so easy it almost doesn’t need a recipe. I discovered these years ago. They are crispy little cheese rounds made of shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that are baked until crispy. You can actually use different kinds of cheeses.

They are great sides to soups, salads (especially Caesar Salad) and pasta. I like to put them out on an appetizer buffet…. they’re great to eat by themselves… my guests eat them like potato chips. I thought of including them in my recipes here … they will go perfectly with Champagne for New Years.

Another delicious cheese to use is shredded Asiago cheese…. they also make great crisps. The color will be slightly different with different cheeses.

As cheese is the only ingredient…quality matters…I use a good grade of cheese… the cheaper cheeses just don’t make as tasty crisps. Look for Parmigiano-Reggiano.
This is very versatile… make them any size you want… I make smaller crisps to put out with appetizers… about cracker size.

How much of the cheese is dependent on how big you make them and how many you want. About 1 cup of shredded cheese makes about a dozen 3 ½ inch ovals… I like to make them a little smaller when putting them on an appetizer buffet… I usually get between 16-18 crisps.

I use Reynolds Wrap non-stick aluminum foil… I always have it on hand for things like this… it is absolutely the best… nothing sticks to it…

They can be made ahead and stored between layers of waxed paper in an airtight container for up to 2 days at room temperature.

Parmesan Crisps Recipe

All you need:

1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a baking sheet or use non-stick aluminum foil on a baking sheet.

Using a small spoon, place cheese mounds on a greased baking sheet.

Flatten out mounds using the back of the spoon.

Make sure your mounds are at least 2 inches apart.

Bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until golden.

Cool on baking sheet. Do not remove until cooled completely.

Use a spatula or knife to remove from the baking sheet.

Read more...

Featured Cheese: Parmigiano-Reggiano


Parmegiano-Reggiano is a hard, sharp dry Italian cheese made from cow’s skim milk. It is straw colored and has a rich fruity/nutty taste with a slightly gritty texture. It’s named after the Italian producing areas of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna in Emilia-Romagna, and Mantova, in Lombardy, Italy.

In Europe, the names, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Parmesan, are legally protected, it refers exclusively to the Parmegiano-Reggiano DOP cheese manufactured in a limited area in northern Italy.

Outside of Europe, the name Parmesan can be used to refer to similar cheeses produced elsewhere and is loosely used as a common term for cheeses imitating true Parmesan cheese.

The cheese making process is very interesting and can be found in a number of sources. I suggest reading about the process in Wikipedia.

According to Wikipedia, after the cheese is made it is put into a stainless steel round form that is pulled tight with a spring powered buckle so the cheese retains its wheel shape. After a day or two, the buckle is released and a plastic belt imprinted numerous times with the Parmigiano-Reggiano name, the plant's number, and month and year of production is put around the cheese and the metal form is buckled tight again. The imprints take hold on the rind of the cheese in about a day.

The average Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel is about 7-9 inches high and 16-18 inches in diameter, and weighs approximately 80 pounds. It is aged for a minimum of 12 months and up to 48 months. On average it is aged 2 years.

It is available year round and its uses include being grated over pasta dishes, soups and risotto. It can also be eaten in chunks with balsamic vinegar. It is a key ingredient in many sauces.

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Recipe: Beef Stroganoff


This recipe is a combination of two recipes… one that uses beef consomme but was far too runny and one that uses cream of mushroom soup but that didn’t have enough beefy flavor… so I made some adjustments and settled on this version.

It’s important to use the consommé….for both consistency and flavor. If you must substitute Beef Broth ( I have done that in a pinch).. reduce the broth amount to 1 cup.... the taste is still really good...

This is a perfect supper or an addition to any buffet.

You can make this ahead and reheat it…

Beef Stroganoff Recipe

All you need:

1 ½ lbs. beef tenderloin fillet
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour, seasoned with garlic powder, salt and pepper
2 cups Campbell's Condensed Beef Consommé
¼ cup Burgundy wine
2 teaspoons prepared Dijon style mustard
1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
3 tablespoons garlic powder
1 small (8 oz.) pkg. fresh white mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

All you need to do:

Slice meat into thin strips 2 inches long. Set in the freezer for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, remove the meat from the freezer and toss with seasoned flour to coat evenly.

Heat a large heavy skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over high heat.

Add the meat and onion and cook until meat is browned…no more than 3 to 4 minutes. (You do not want to overcook the beef otherwise it will be tough).

Then add the mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are soft. (2-3 minutes)

Add the consommé and the wine…. Scrape any bits on the bottom of the pan.

Add the garlic powder.

Add the cream of mushroom soup, stirring to completely incorporate.

In a small bowl combine the mustard and sour cream and mix thoroughly.

Add the mixture to the skillet…stirring to completely incorporate. Add a bit of water if needed.

Serve over noodles and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

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Recipe: Pepper Steak Meatballs


This recipe is one from my Mother. She has made this recipe for as long as I can remember. It’s a little different twist on Pepper Steak…

It’s very easy and quick… it also can be made ahead and reheated…. serve this with white rice.

TIPS

You can use red, green and yellow peppers for color... it makes a terrific presentation.... also red and yellow peppers have a milder flavor that guests may prefer.

It makes a great buffet item…. It’s very tasty and different… goes well with other foods and is pretty inexpensive to make.

This recipe serves 6… so if you are serving this on a buffet… I would double the recipe…. but I would suggest you make it in two batches so everything fits easily in the skillet.







Recipe: Pepper Steak Meatballs

All you need:

1 ½ lbs. lean ground beef
½ cup milk
¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
¼ cup butter or margarine
3 green peppers, seeded and sliced
2 medium onions, sliced
1 package (8 oz.) fresh mushrooms, sliced
3 small plum (Roma) tomatoes, quartered
1 can (10 oz.) condensed beef broth
1/3 cup water
¼ cup Burgundy wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup cold water

All you need to do:

In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, milk, bread crumbs, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Shape the meat into small balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter.

Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet on medium high heat.

Brown the meatballs in the butter. (Just brown them, they will continue to cook throughout the recipe)

Add the green peppers, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes; sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the condensed beef broth, 1/3 cup water, wine and soy sauce.

Simmer covered for 5 to 8 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

Remove the meatballs to a serving dish.

Add the cornstarch to a small measuring cup of ¼ cup cold water. Blend into a smooth paste.

Slowly add the cornstarch mixture into the skillet… stirring constantly until the sauce thickens and becomes clear.



Pour the sauce over the meatballs and serve with white rice.

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Recipe: Broiled Scallops in Garlic Butter


This is a meal my husband always made…. I loved it so much… we used to have it at least once a month. It’s a variation of a scampi recipe. We served it with rice pilaf and a salad and a crusty bread…. A glass of wine… I was a happy woman.

This recipe calls for bay scallops (small), you can also use sea scallops (large)…just adjust the cooking time.

This is also an easy buffet item... you can prepare this very quickly.

This recipe should serve 4.

Broiled Scallops in Garlic Butter Recipe

All you need:

2 lbs. raw bay scallops, rinsed and drained
¼ cup olive oil
1 stick of butter
3 tablespoons garlic powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Grated parmesan cheese

All you need to do:

Preheat the oven to broil.

Place the scallops in a single layer in an oven proof baking dish.



In a large glass measuring cup melt the butter in the microwave.

Add the olive oil and garlic powder and stir.





Pour over butter-oil mixture over the scallops.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.




Place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the scallops are cooked and slightly browned.

Remove from oven.

Sprinkle with paprika.

Sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with rice.

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Recipe: Creamed Chicken with Mushrooms

If you’re looking for another dish for your food buffet or just looking for another way to make a delicious meal for your family… this may fit the bill. Serve this with rice or noodles and a side salad… this is absolutely wonderful.

This recipe makes 4 entire servings… it can easily be adjusted for less or more servings. Halving the recipe makes a terrific meal for two.

Making it for a crowd?…or adding this to a buffet of other items….just double it… remember if adding it to a buffet that has an assortment of other entrees, you can safely assume each serving will serve two people…

What is nice about this recipe is that it can be made ahead and reheated and since you are serving this with rice or noodles you can choose another dish that also goes well with rice or noodles…. Swedish meatballs, Beef Stroganoff, Scallops or Shrimp Scampi, and Pepper Steak Meatballs… to name a few.

Bon Appetit!

Creamed Chicken with Mushrooms Recipe

All you need:

2 cups cold cooked boneless chicken breasts, diced
12 large mushroom caps, quartered
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup Sherry
¼ cup heavy cream
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

All you need to do:

In a medium sauce pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat.

Stir in the 2 tablespoons flour until completely incorporated.

Add the chicken stock slowly, using a wire whisk, continually whisking the mixture to prevent lumps.

Whisk until the mixture is thick and smooth.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt and pepper.

Add the mushrooms.

Add ¼ cup of Sherry and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the diced chicken.

When the chicken is heated through, stir in the ¼ cup of heavy cream.

Pour into a serving dish and serve with rice or noodles.

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Recipe: Classic Swiss Fondue


This recipe can be found in many books… it is the true classic Swiss Cheese Fondue… the recipe calls for two types of cheese… Emmentaler and Gruyere cheese. Emmentaler cheese is a cheese from Switzerland. It is sometimes known as Swiss cheese in North America, Australia and New Zealand.

Lou Seibert Pappas in her book “Fondue” suggests a Rhine Riesling for the dry white wine… I couldn’t agree more.

Kirsch, for those of you that don’t know much about it, is Kirschwasser, a colorless fruit brandy traditionally made from sour cherries. It is not sweet like other cherry brandies. It is believed to have originated in southern Germany. Schwarzwalder Kirshwasser is produced in Germany and you can find it in most liquor stores.

Serve this with crusty bread cut into cubes…. It makes a terrific appetizer on a party buffet or serve as a meal… with a salad… either way it is delicious.

Classic Swiss Fondue Recipe

All you need:

8 ounces Emmentaler cheese, shredded or finely diced
8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded or finely diced
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 clove of garlic, halved
2 cups dry white wine
3 tablespoons kirsch
Dash of nutmeg
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

All you need to do:

In a medium bowl, combine both cheeses and toss with the cornstarch.

Rub the insides of the fondue pot with garlic and discard the garlic.

Pour the wine into the pot and set over low heat until it starts to bubble.

Add the cheese, a handful at a time, stirring constantly until all cheese has been added and the mixture is smooth. DO NOT ALLOW THE MIXTURE TO BOIL.

Stir in the kirsch.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle the nutmeg on top.

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Recipe: Swiss Crab Fondue

This is a slight variation on the Classic Swiss Fondue. The only change is no garlic is rubbed on the insides of the fondue pot… and instead of kirsch, you use dry sherry…

As with the Classic Swiss fondue… I would use the Rhine Riesling for the dry white wine.

The cheeses and the crab go together so well… this is a great supper … serve with a big salad and a glass of wine…. Just delicious!

Swiss Crab Fondue Recipe

All you need:

8 ounces Emmentaler cheese, shredded or finely diced
8 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded or finely diced
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups dry white wine
3 tablespoons sherry
1 ½ cups fresh crabmeat, shredded
Dash nutmeg
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

All you need to do:

Combine both cheeses in a medium bowl and toss with the cornstarch.

Pour the wine in a small pot over low heat. Heat until wine begins to bubble.

Add the cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly until melted and sauce is smooth.

DO NOT LET MIXTURE BOIL.

Stir in the sherry and crabmeat.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the mixture into a fondue pot.

Sprinkle with nutmeg.

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Recipe: Green Chile Cheese Fondue

This Mexican version of a fondue is yet a different spin. This is a basic Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese sauce using typical Mexican spices with green chiles.

Vegetables, apple slices, tortilla chips, cooked shrimp and chicken …all make great dippers for this fondue.

Green Chili Cheese Fondue Recipe

All you need:

1 ½ cups whole milk
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles, drained
Dash of hot sauce

All you need to do:

In a medium bowl combine the cheeses and toss with the cornstarch until evenly coated.

Pour the milk into a small pot over medium heat. Heat until the milk starts to bubble.

Add the cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly.

Stir constantly until all the cheese is melted and smooth.

Stir in the coriander, cumin, chiles and hot sauce.

Pour the mixture into a fondue pot.

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Recipe: Bavarian Beer Fondue


This is a great party fondue… makes for a great appetizer… serve this with sliced chunks of bratwurst….mini hot dogs… cocktail sausages… chunks of soft pretzels…apples… and of course bread cubes (rye, pumpernickel and sourdough all work well)…

A suggestion for a good German lager beer for this would be Grolsch.... you should be able to find it in a supermarket.

This will be a hit at your party.

Bavarian Beer Fondue Recipe

All you need:

1 cup German lager beer
1 (10 oz.) pkg. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
¼ lb. (4-5 oz.) Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
A few drops hot sauce
A few drops Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard

All you need to do:

Combine cheeses in a medium bowl and toss with the cornstarch.

Pour beer into a small pot over medium heat until bubbles appear.

Add handfuls of the cheese, stirring constantly, until the cheese is fully melted and smooth.

Add the mustard, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, stirring constantly.

Pour the mixture into a fondue pot.

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Recipe: Cheese and Apple Fondue

This is another great cheese fondue…. this one is made with apple cider and Calvados. Calvados is an apple brandy from the French region of Basse-Normandie or Lower Normandy. You should be able to find it at most liquor stores.

This recipe is from the book, “Fondue” by Lou Seibert Pappas… it is delicious!

This is served with apple and pear slices… and, of course, bread cubes…. It’s a nice change from the other cheese fondues with its cheese and apple flavor….

And it also makes a party food.

Cheese and Apple Recipe

All you need:

1 ¼ cups apple cider
1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
12 ounces shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons cornstarch
12 tablespoons Calvados
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

All you need to do:

In a medium bowl, toss the cheese with the cornstarch until evenly coated.

Pour the apple cider into a small pot over medium heat.

Add the lemon juice.

Heat the cider and lemon juice until it bubbles.

Add the cheese by handfuls, stirring constantly.

Stir until the cheese is melted and is smooth.

Add the Calvados, mustard, salt and pepper.

Stir the mixture completely.

Pour the mixture into a fondue pot.

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Experimenting

Tip of the Day:

Even the most inexperienced cooks can experiment. It’s through experimentation you can develop the most wonderful foods…after all, that’s how family recipes get started… a cook substitutes an ingredient out of need (usually desperation) or imagination…. and voila! A new recipe is born…so start creating your own recipes.

Start with something simple … make the traditional recipe, maybe a few variations… as you get used to the flavors and textures… start experimenting with flavors you like. Fondue recipes are good candidates for you to go out on your own and see what you can create.

Fondue can be very versatile…you have so many options…. there are so many types of cheeses, spices, seafoods, meats,wines…even beers and apple cider to choose from…that make the most delicious fondues.

What I find the most appealing about fondues… is that they’re so easy and make such a great impression on your family or guests. Fondues do not have to be only for guests. In fact, it gets a family to interact more when they sit and talk as they dip…. Just as it encourages dinner party guests to mingle… it does with a family as well… it can be lots of fun.

I have this fabulous book called…”Fondue” by Lou Seibert Pappas…. If you can find it… I would highly recommend you consider purchasing it…. definitely try the recipes… you will be pleasantly surprised…. Some of the recipes are ones I’ve seen from other sources… but this book seems to have the best selection of recipes overall.

I have a few recipes from my family and some I’ve acquired over the years that I am going to post … once you see how easy it is… I know you will want to make variations of your own…. the number of variations is limited only by your imagination.

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Recipe: Potato Latkes


Potato latkes are another traditionally Jewish food that is absolutely delicious. These little potato pancakes are terrific served with applesauce or sour cream. You can make them small for appetizers or a little bigger for a side dish of a meal… either way… they are yummy!

The recipe calls for shredded potatoes… either par boil the potatoes or use partially thawed frozen shredded hash brown potatoes. If using frozen, be sure they are thawed enough to NOT have frozen clumps. I recommend using fresh potatoes and gently par boiling them first in their skins until partially cooked, potatoes should be very firm, not soft. For large Russet potatoes, boil them approximately 5 minutes after they start to gently boil. DO NOT BOIL THEM LONGER… otherwise they will get mushy.

Another shortcut is to purchase already shredded and partially cooked potatoes in the bag in the dairy section of the supermarket.

You can make them ahead and reheat them in the oven until heated through... however, they won't be crispy as they are when they are first made.... still delicious..just not crispy.

These are easy…

Potato Latke Recipe

All you need:

2 cups peeled and shredded potatoes
1 small onion, grated
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup oil

All you need to do:

In a medium bowl toss the shredded potatoes with the flour until coated evenly.

Add the onion, eggs, and salt. Stir to completely combine.

In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat until hot.

Drop large spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil.

Press down on them to flatten into ¼ to ½ inch patties.

Brown on one side, then turn and brown the other side.

Remove and place on paper towels to drain.

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Recipe: Chopped Chicken Liver Pate

Today marks the end of Hanukkah and with the thought of Jewish celebrations comes the thought of various typically Jewish foods. I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood in a suburb of New York surrounded by Jewish delis. This was always on their menu.

Chopped chicken livers are also a German specialty and my family has made it for major holidays for as long as I can remember. Many foods are claimed by a number of backgrounds and this is one of them. No matter who lays claim to this delicious delicacy … it’s still a winner.

This recipe is my own…. my Mother taught me to make this originally and I admit that I may have adjusted the recipe through the years… I honestly don’t know.

Traditionally, the livers are fried in chicken fat… in an effort to limit the fat in this dish… I have always used butter or margarine.. I think the end result is just as good… you can substitute chicken fat for the butter or margarine.

I use my mini chopper to finely chop one of the hard boiled eggs and the parsley and the small onion. (I clean the chopper in between these)…. I set these aside… and I reserve about 2-3 tablespoons of the egg, 1 tablespoon of the parsley and 1 tablespoon of the onion for garnish.

It’s easy to make… and a very good appetizer.

Chopped Chicken Liver Pate Recipe

All you need:

1 lb. chicken livers
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
¼ cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
2 large onions, sliced
1 can chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise, optional
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled
1 small onion, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

All you need to do:

In a large heavy skillet, melt the butter or margarine.

Add the sliced onions and cook over medium heat until soft.

Place the chicken livers in a colander and rinse, then pat dry with paper towel.

Add the chicken livers to the skillet, cook until the livers are brown, turning frequently. You do not want hard pieces on the liver... if you find the liver getting hard...turn down the heat a bit.

When the livers are brown in color, add the coarsely chopped parsley, salt and chicken broth.

Cover and simmer until livers are cooked (approximately 20 minutes).

When livers are cooked, remove from heat and cool.

When the livers have cooled enough to handle… put 1 of the hard boiled eggs in a food processor and pulse a few times to finely chop. (Reserve the broth for later).

Using a slotted spoon, draining as much liquid as possible, I add the cooked livers and onions into the processor bowl (the mixture will also have parsley).

Pulse the processor until the mixture is finely chopped into a thick paste with no large lumps.

Remove the mixture and put into a medium bowl.

Add the finely chopped parsley (reserving 1 tablespoon for garnish). Stir to completely incorporate it into the mixture.

Add the finely chopped onion (reserving 1 tablespoon for garnish). Stir to completely incorporate it into the mixture.

Add some of the reserved broth a little at a time…stirring after each addition until the consistency is wet and mud-like. CAUTION DO NOT ADD MUCH BROTH or it will be too soupy.... start with a tablespoon at a time.

Add the mayonnaise to make a smoother texture. Add more mayo if the pate is still not smooth enough.

Add salt to taste.

Mound the chicken liver pate on a lettuce lined serving dish.

Sprinkle with the onion, egg and parsley reserved for garnish.

Serve with crackers.

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Quick Last Minute Additions to a Menu

Tip of the Day:

You’ve planned and shopped…and cooked… and baked… and you still find yourself having to improvise quickly to add to your menu because you think you may not have enough….

Before I continue… let me just say this… more often than not you do have enough… this is my number one downfall… I add more at the very last minute… only to have leftovers after because I made too much. If you’ve thought out your menu well and you don’t have unexpected guests… you’re probably okay without adding to it.

However, if you feel you still want to add to it and you don’t have much time… I would suggest you consider fondue…. Cheese fondue makes a great appetizer… and looks great… you can throw it together in minutes and is relatively cheap to make. Chocolate fondue makes a spectacular addition to a dessert buffet…. And it too, is easy and relatively inexpensive to make.

If you are considering adding to you main meal buffet or sit down dinner…. you can consider numerous options. Consider adding a salad if you don’t already have one…. Breads and rolls….

Or perhaps add a pasta dish…. traditional Italian meals have a pasta course….. ravioli is one often used… they are also relatively inexpensive… can be easily purchased (fresh or frozen) and a sauce can be quickly made or purchased.

A pasta course can be inserted in virtually any meal… I went to a Thanksgiving dinner one year and was surprised to be served a few raviolis before the main meal… the plate had 3 or 4 fresh raviolis on it and a little sauce… small and delicious…. It really was the perfect amount.

Adding another side dish is very easy… another vegetable is always a good solution…. And the vegetable doesn’t have to be elaborate… if you already have vegetables with sauces or glazes… add a plain one… why complicate the meal further.

I think most of all… if you are adding to a menu at the last minute… the best advice I can give you is keep it simple… you really don’t need to throw a monkey wrench into your timetable or budget at the last minute.

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Recipe: White Trash Munch

I got this recipe from my Mother’s friend, Sandy…. Sandy made it for a group of friends… and my Mother couldn’t quit eating it and had to have the recipe…. this is a hit with anyone who tries it… kids and adults alike.

Her recipe called for broken pretzels… small pretzels work also. She didn’t have salted mixed nuts in her recipe… but I did a little research and found similar recipes that include the salted nuts… both ways …with or without nuts, work well.

White chocolate morsels work, Ghiradelli brand works best… you can also use white chocolate rounds used in candy making also.

This is truly addicting…. Enjoy!

White Trash Munch Recipe

All you need:

3 cups Cheerios toasted oat cereal
3 cups Corn Chex
3 cups Rice Chex
16 oz. mini M & Ms
2 cups small pretzels
2 ½ cups salted mixed nuts
1 ½ lbs. white chocolate chips

All you need to do:

Combine all the cereals, M & Ms, nuts and pretzels in a large bowl.

Melt the chocolate pieces in the microwave or in a double boiler.

Pour the melted chocolate over the cereal mixture and fold over until coated. You will have chunks.

Pour out the entire mixture on waxed paper and let set.

Break into pieces and store in an air tight container.

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Adding Kid-Friendly Foods to a Party Menu

Tip of the Day:

Holiday celebrations often include children of all ages. Children are known for being picky eaters and that can be a challenge when preparing a menu your guests will enjoy.

Depending on the type of holiday party you are giving, will depend on what foods you could include that children will enjoy. If your gathering is just for coffee, tea and baked goodies… I would suggest you include a fruit platter or salad with a yogurt sauce (see my yogurt sauce recipe under the label “Sauces”.

Another idea is to make little Jello or pudding “shooters”… I think the best thing to hit restaurant menus is the addition of shot glass size desserts. They’re small and satisfy a sweet tooth without over-stuffing a guest. They’re perfect for children. Purchase small plastic or paper cups and fill them with your favorite combinations of dessert. The dessert doesn’t necessarily have to be plain either… many flavors of mousse are delicious and something a child would like. You can be especially creative with these… adults like them too!

If you are serving mainly cocktail foods… then I would make sure I include Pigs in the Blanket… they are absolutely perfect for children…. Tiny hot dogs with a little puff pastry around them… what could be better? Veggie and fruit trays are usually a hit with kids.

I try to make-up a tray of little snacks made especially for younger guests…. Peanut butter and a small dollop of jelly on a Ritz… cream cheese and jelly works well too… egg salad and tuna salad are good too.

Little pizzas you can make using pizza dough from the dairy section of the supermarket… you can make them personal pan size… and cut them into small wedges…little mini tacos…. chicken fingers…

If you are serving more substantial food on a buffet… a Mac n’ Cheese… elbow macaroni mixed with a meaty tomato sauce… mini sloppy joes….. buttery mashed potatoes (I wouldn’t season them…not all kids like seasonings) ….I make sure there is applesauce on the buffet..

These are just a few ideas to get you started.

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Recipe: Lemony Fruit Dip

Here is another great fruit dip to try. This is also good in an orange flavor… just substitute orange rind and juice for the lemon rind and juice.

Lemony Fruit Dip Recipe

All you need:

1 (8 oz.) pkg. Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 cup non-fat French Vanilla yogurt (Columbo or Stonyfield Farm)
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup sugar

All you need to do:

Beat on low speed cream cheese and yogurt to blend.

Stir in remaining ingredients

Refrigerate 2 hours.

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Recipe: Kahlua Cream Cheese Dip for Fruit

This is a delicious cream cheese dip for grown-ups to enjoy. It’s perfect for dipping fruit in it.

Kahlua Cream Cheese Dip Recipe

All you need:

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
¾ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup coffee ligueur (Kahlua or Tia Maria)
1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip

All you need to do:

Lightly beat together the cream cheese, brown sugar and liqueur.

Fold in the cool whip and serve with fruit.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Garlicy-Onion Cottage Cheese Dip for Veggies

If you are looking for a nice alternative recipe to a classic onion dip, this should fit the bill.

Garlicy-Onion Cottage Cheese Dip Recipe

All you need:

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese (small curd)
1 cup low-fat sour cream or yogurt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 green onions, finely chopped

All you need to do:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours.

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Recipe: Ranch Spinach Dip

This recipe has been passed around many times at work… it’s so good, every time someone brings it in… everybody asks for the recipe…it originated with Hidden Valley …. You can find it on their website…. While there are other dry ranch dressing or dip mixes on the market… I, personally, think theirs is the best. It goes really well with a veggie tray and crackers or bread pieces.

This recipe is very easy. You can use light sour cream if you want to lower the fat… I use the regular variety…

Ranch Spinach Dip Recipe

All you need:

1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 (16 oz.) container sour cream
1 (8 oz.) can water chestnuts, rinsed, drained and chopped
1 packet Hidden Valley-The Original Ranch Dips Mix

All you need to do:

Thaw spinach and put into a strainer atop a medium bowl. Press firmly to squeeze out all possible liquid.

Combine in a bowl all ingredients and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

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Recipe: Spinach Dip for Veggies II

This dip is not only healthy … it’s very tasty too.

I use my mini chopper to chop the fresh parsley... I think it chops it finer than I can by hand. I chop the green onions by hand, though, I like the little bit of crunch they add to the dip.

Be sure to use chopped spinach... the dip will have a better consistency.

Spinach Dip Recipe

All you need:

1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and pressed dry
1 cup low fat cottage cheese
½ cup low fat or non-fat yogurt
½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
½ cup finely chopped green onions
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper

All you need to do:

Thaw the spinach and put in a strainer atop a medium bowl. Firmly press the spinach to squeeze out all possible liquid.

In a bowl, mix all ingredients well. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.

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Healthy Snack Alternatives

Tip of the Day:


Before you roll your eyes… I just want to remind you… that offering a couple of healthy alternative food items in your menu is not only smart and usually cost effective, but guests also appreciate it.

If children are included in your gathering…. Kids love fruit and, surprisingly enough, they tend to like vegetables, especially carrots… giving them a healthy option helps develop better eating habits early on.

I always include a veggie and/or fruit platter with a few dip offerings. While I do serve sour cream based dips, I always include a couple of dips made with non-fat yogurt which are just as delicious. See my previous post with a terrific yogurt sauce recipe for fruit. Including salsa is another good idea…

There are many reduced fat crackers that are very good… reduced fat Triscuit comes to mind… I have tried reduced fat Ritz crackers and I didn’t care for them… I found them to be more brittle than the original… but I encourage you to try different ones to see what you like.

Cheeses, while not the healthiest alternative, are available in lower fat varieties that are quite good in most supermarkets. I’ve tried them and liked them. My family and guests didn’t even realize they were lower in fat until I told them. I always include grapes, sliced apples and pears with my cheeses.

Give it some thought and see what you can add to your menu that will give guests a healthy alternative to munch on.

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Commentary: Holidays Are Still in Full Swing

With the holidays in full swing… Christmas fell on a Thursday this year… so many people are having their parties this weekend for friends and extended family… and Hanukkah runs from December 22- 29th …. AND there are always the New Year’s celebrations coming up… so the holidays are far from over….

I’ve decided to post, in the coming week, a few more tasty appetizers, menu items and treats that may help round out your selection…. I hope you enjoy them.

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Relax and Enjoy!

Tip of the Day:


Relax and enjoy your family and friends…. I’m sure everything you have planned will be wonderful!

Actually I do have one tip for today and tomorrow…. This one is from my Mother again….keep a list of what you serve and make note of what was a winner and what you might have less of next time or maybe want to change or eliminate.

Include in your notes any timing issues you ran into... anything that will help you plan a little better the next time.... experience is the best teacher.

You will be surprised at how handy that information will be.

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Recipe: Bananas Foster Waffles


Believe it or not, I thought of this recipe after finding the picture and seeing the title and thought… wow… I have to make this…. The picture was deep in a photo album on a site I was looking at… so there wasn’t a recipe… so I just combined a classic Bananas Foster recipe with waffles and voila!

Just make your favorite waffles and use the sauce recipe…oh… and by the way… there is absolutely nothing wrong with ice cream for breakfast… is it not dairy??!

This recipe ignites the pan….and uses quite a bit of alcohol ….banana liqueur and dark rum… but remember the alcohol is burned off…. but…. I will publish another version that uses only a little alcohol and doesn’t ignite for those of you that prefer not to handle a flambé.

All I can say… this is sinfully good!

Bananas Foster Waflle Recipe

All you need:

Waffles
Vanilla ice cream
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup banana liqueur
4 bananas, sliced
¼ cup dark rum
Cinnamon
Powdered sugar
Whipped cream

All you need to do:

Combine the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a skillet. Place the pan over low heat.
Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves.

Stir in banana liqueur.

Add bananas to the pan.

When the bananas soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum.

Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot.

Then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum.

When the flames subside, take the bananas out of the pan and place on the waffles.

Place 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream on each waffle.

Spoon the warm sauce on top of the ice cream and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Sprinkle with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

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Recipe: Bananas Foster Waffles II

Okay folks… here it is … a non flambe version of the recipe…. And with only a few tablespoons of rum… you can also substitute the rum with about 1 ½ teaspoons rum extract.

Bananas Foster Waffle II Recipe

All you need:

Waffles
Vanilla ice cream
¼ cup butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
3 ½ tablespoons rum
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 bananas, sliced
¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

All you need to do:

In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, melt butter.

Stir in sugar, rum, vanilla, and cinnamon.

When mixture begins to bubble, place bananas and walnuts in pan.

Cook until bananas are hot, 1 to 2 minutes.

Take bananas out and put on waffles.

Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on bananas.

Pour sauce on vanilla ice cream.

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Recipe: Mocha Pots de Crème


This is a little twist on the classic pots de crème. I originally got this recipe from a book called “Desserts” published by Hermes House in 2003. This baked custard is delicious. It’s easy and is made ahead… perfect for a party.

The recipe calls for coffee liqueur, you can use either Kahlua or Tia Maria… I’m partial to Tia Maria.








Mocha Pots de Creme Recipe

All you need:

1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
2 cups milk
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
8 oz. semi sweet chocolate morsels
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
7 egg yolks
Whipped cream

All you need to do:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Place 8 (1/2 cup) ramekins in a roasting pan.

Put the instant coffee into a saucepan and stir in milk, then add the sugar and set the pan over medium high heat.

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the coffee and sugar have dissolved.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate.

Stir until the chocolate has melted and the sauce is smooth.

Stir in the vanilla extract and coffee liqueur.

In a bowl, whisk the yolks until lightly blended.

Slowly whisk in the chocolate mixture.

Set a strainer atop a pitcher or large measuring cup and pour the mixture through the strainer.

Pour the strained mixture into the ramekins that are set in the roasting pan, dividing equally.

Pour boiling water into the roasting pan, enough that the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Cover the pan with foil.

Bake in 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes until custard is just set, and a knife inserted into a custard comes out clean.

Remove the cups from the roasting pan and cool.

Place on a baking sheet, cover and chill completely.

Decorate with whipped cream.

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Recipe: Pears Poached in Champagne with Chocolate Raspberry Sauce

This recipe for pears poached in champagne with chocolate raspberry sauce is a combination of two recipes that I came across…. I love the pears and champagne.. and I love raspberry and chocolate…. This is really very easy and looks spectacular.

You only need about a teaspoon of Grand Marnier drizzled on each pear.

I hope you like it.

Pears Poached in Champagne with Chocolate Raspberry Sauce Recipe

All you need:

½ (750 ml) bottle champagne
1 cup orange juice
1 cup white sugar
4 slices orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 pears, (Bosc) peeled with stems intact
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Polaner Seedless Raspberry All Fruit (spreadable fruit) or seedless raspberry dessert sauce
Grand Marnier

All you need to do:

In a large saucepan, combine champagne, orange juice and sugar over medium heat.

Add orange slices and vanilla.

Bring to a boil, and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Place pears in the saucepan and reduce heat.

Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove the cover and simmer an additional 30 minutes.

Remove the pears from the liquid and let cool.

Heat the chocolate in the microwave until melted.

If using the raspberry spreadable fruit, heat it in the microwave until melted.

Stand the pears up in a plate (if the pear doesn’t stand up evenly, cut a small flat piece off the bottom).

Drizzle the chocolate over the pear so it drips down the sides of the pear.

Drizzle a little melted raspberry over the pear so it drips down the sides of the pear.

Drizzle a little Grand Marnier over the pear.

Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream flavored with vanilla and Grand Marnier next to it on the plate.

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Recipe: Whipped Cream with Grand Marnier

This is delicious!

For the best results make sure your bowl and beaters are ice cold.

Whipped Cream with Grand Marnier Recipe

All you need:

I cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
1-2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar (to taste)

All you need to do:

In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in the vanilla, sugar and Grand Marnier until peaks form. DO NOT over beat, the cream will become lumpy and buttery.

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Recipe: Pineapple Sweet Potatoes

I’ve had this recipe for years… it’s a really different alternative to candied yams… very easy and tasty!

Pineapple Sweet Potatoes Recipe

All you need:

6 medium sized sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds)
½ cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoon margarine or butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 can (8 ¼ oz.) crushed pineapple in syrup, undrained

All you need to do:

Place sweet potatoes in a 3 quart saucepan and cover with water.

Remove the potatoes and set aside… cover the pot and heat water until boiling.

Add the potatoes and cover.

Heat the potatoes until boiling.

Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until potatoes are tender.

Drain and cool slightly.

Slip off the potato skins.

Cut the sweet potatoes into ½ inch slices.

Heat the remaining ingredients in a 9 inch skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth and bubbly.

And the potato slices. Toss the slices gently until coated with glaze.

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Recipe: Apricot-Glazed Carrots


This recipe for Apricot-Glazed Carrots is just a quick little tid-bit… a nice touch to carrots… a good addition to any meal. I think it's important to make side dishes a bit special especially when the main dish is a bit bland.... well... even if it's not... this tastes great!

Hope you try this quick and easy way to spruce up a vegetable.

TIPS

I know 5 cups is a lot of carrots... you can cut this recipe back... if cutting in half...I would reduce the amount of water to ½ cup... reduce the salt to a pinch or taste... and reduce the apricot preserves to 3 tablespoons.






PRINT RECIPE

Apricot-Glazed Carrots Recipe


All you need:

5 cups julienne-cut carrots or Belgian carrots
¾ cup of water
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup apricot preserves

All you need to do:

In a medium saucepan cook the carrots in the water, bringing them to a boil.
Reduce the heat.

Cover and simmer until carrots are tender.

Drain.

Stir in the salt and the apricot preserves.

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Recipe: Pecan-Brown Sugar Acorn Squash

This is sooooooo yummy! I love butter, brown sugar and pecans…. This is so easy….and sooo good… your guests will love this! This makes roughly 4 servings… but keep in mind if you make this for a holiday dinner or buffet, you will have plenty of other foods… so this will probably feed more than 4… guests will probably take one slice instead of two.

Enjoy!



Pecan-Brown Sugar Acorn Squash Recipe

All you need:

1 large acorn squash (about 2 pounds)
¼ cup pecan pieces
½ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon margarine or butter (I use butter)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

All you need to do:

Cut the squash lengthwise and clean out the seeds and fibers.

Cut each half crosswise into ½ inch slices. (You will probably get 4 slices per side for a total of 8)

Heat pecans in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until they are light brown.

Remove the pecans from the skillet.

Mix the orange juice, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon in the skillet.

Put the acorn squash into the skillet.

Heat to boiling, then reduce heat.

Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, then turn the squash over.

Cook and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes or until squash is tender.

Arrange squash on a serving platter slightly overlapping one another.

Pour the glaze over the squash slices.

Sprinkle with the pecan pieces and serve.

Makes approximately 4 servings.

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Recipe: Corn Casserole


This recipe is so easy and versatile... perfect for any holiday... Thanksgiving included...

I was helping a friend think of menu possibilities to go with Baked Ham and mentioned this recipe… it is dynamite…. absolutely delicious… The recipe is from Paula Deen of the Food Network… just a terrific recipe…

Corn Casserole Recipe

All you need:

1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 ¾ oz) can cream-style corn
1 (8oz) package corn muffin mix (I use Jiffy)
1 cup sour cream
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream and melted butter.

Pour the mixture into the baking dish.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and top with the Cheddar cheese.

Return the dish to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Knowing When to Buy and When to Make it Yourself

Tip of the Day:

The holidays are fast approaching… and as I’ve said before… you simply cannot do everything… well … you can if you have a housekeeper, chauffeur, laundress, holiday decorator, gift buyer, gift wrapper and a staff of 5 in the kitchen… oh and did I mention someone to go to work for you?... so the tip today is make a list (big surprise) and check it twice. See what you can do… and what you can buy or get a guest to bring.

It will not be the end of the world if you buy a pound or two of bakery cookies to mix in with the stuff you’ve made… and even if you didn’t make any cookies… trust me… the cookies from the bakery will get eaten. If one of your guests wants to bring something… check your list and see what will help you out.

Another thing I do is go to Sam’s Club or BJ’s … or any supermarket that has larger quanty packages of hors’dourves and buy an assortment. I divide it between the holiday and New Year’s… and if, which happens rarely, I have any left still… we use them on Super Bowl Sunday in January.

Keep it real….in focus… this is a holiday season for you too!

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Recipe: Cheddar-Stuffed Mushrooms

This is a really simple stuffed mushroom recipe. It uses Stove Top stuffing and Cheddar cheese and takes only a few minutes to prepare. The really nice part is you can prepare this a day ahead and store them in the fridge.

You can substitute other kinds of cheese for the Cheddar. Swiss, Monterey Jack and crumbled blue cheese all work well also.

This is a really great last minute addition to your holiday appetizer buffet.

Cheddar-Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

All you need:

1 large package (16 oz.) fresh whole mushrooms, cleaned
¾ cup Stove Top stuffing mix, herb flavor
½ cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
¼ cup melted butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

All you need to do:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and discard half. Finely chop the half you keep.

In a medium bowl, combine chopped mushroom stems, stuffing mix, cheese, butter and onion, mix well.

Spoon about a teaspoon of the mushroom mixture into each mushroom cap.

Place stuffed mushrooms on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese has melted.

Serve warm.

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Recipe: Zesty Deviled Eggs

I have been making these for over ten years… I like deviled eggs and this recipe, with a little horseradish and Cheddar cheese in it, has a little twist to make it different. If I’m making a buffet I usually try to include deviled eggs… they go with virtually everything and they’re easy and cheap to make.

When you chop the fresh parsley…I use my mini chopper… it seems to get the parsley finer than I can hand chopping with a knife…. and I think the parsley needs to be finely chopped for this recipe.

For mayonnaise, I always use Hellmans… any brand will work… I just like Hellmans the best.

Try these…you’ll like them.

Zesty Deviled Eggs Recipe

All you need:

12 eggs, hard boiled
1 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
4 tablespoons mayonnaise, salad dressing or half-and-half
2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Paprika
Tiny cooked shrimp, sliced olives or sliced pimentos for garnish

All you need to:

Peel eggs and cut them in half lengthwise.

Pop out the yolks and put in a medium bowl.

Mash the yolks with a fork.

Add the Cheddar cheese, parsley, mayonnaise, horseradish, dry mustard, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

Using heaping teaspoons, fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture.

Sprinkle with paprika.

Garnish with shrimp, sliced olives or sliced pimentos if desired.

Makes 24 servings.

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Recipe: Raspberry Brie Tarts

Now that I gave you some ideas about making a signature Martini to WOW your guests…. I will give you a great little hors’dourve recipe that’s really easy and so festive looking… and even better…is scrumptious!

I’ve had this recipe for a number of years…I originally got it from a Pillsbury book … one that you buy at the checkout in the grocery store…… it really is so good… the raspberry flavor just goes so well with the Brie.

You can use other fruit spreads. I use Polaner All-Fruit spreadables. They come in Strawberry, Seedless Strawberry, Red Raspberry, Seedless Red Raspberry & Apricot…. I always use the seedless variety.

What’s really terrific about these little tarts… you won’t even have to thaw the frozen fillo pastry shells before you make this… just place them on a cookie sheet, fill and bake…. What could be easier than that?!

Raspberry Brie Tarts Recipe

All you need:

2 (2.1 oz.) pkg. frozen mini fillo pastry shells (30 shells)
1 (8 oz.) round Brie cheese
3 tablespoons seedless raspberry spreadable fruit

All you need to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place pastry shells on a large ungreased cookie sheet.

Cut the cheese into ½ inch cubes.

Place 3 cheese cubes in each pastry shell.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove the pastry shells from the oven and spoon ¼ teaspoon spreadable fruit over the sheese in each shell.

Return them to the oven and bake an additional 2-3 minutes or until the fruit is melted.

Serve warm.

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Recipe: Chocolate Martini


All you need to do:


In a pitcher, combine ¾ cup half and half or light cream and 1 cup dark, white or clear chocolate liqueur and ¼ cup vodka.


Place ice cubes in a Martini shaker.


Add the liqueur mixture and shake.


Stain mixture into chilled Martini glasses. Makes 4-6 drinks.

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Recipe: The Classic Martini (Gin or Vodka)


All you need to do:


Place ice cubes in a Martini shaker.


Add 1 cup gin or vodka and two tablespoons vermouth.


Shake and strain into 4 chilled Martini glasses.


Skewer a pimento-stuffed green olive and place in drinks.

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Recipe: Continental Martini


All you need to do:

Place ice cubes in a Martini Shaker.

Add 1 ½ cups citrus-flavored Vodka

And ½ cup raspberry liqueur

Shake and strain into 4 chilled Martini glasses.

Drop a fresh raspberry in the glass.

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Commentary: Tis the Season to Eat Drink and be Merry!


I decided to give you a few ideas if you want to have a signature WOW drink for your party… I have a few suggestions… today I will give you some Martini recipes. The Martini was very trendy in the 60’s (so I’m told….that’s my story and I’m sticking to it)…. And it has made a comeback in recent years. Now Martini’s are made in a variety of flavors… here are a few.


You will need a shaker…. the classic cocktail shaker that is normally made of three pieces: a metal tumbler, a snug fitting lid, and a small cap that fits over the lid and covers the strainer that is built into the lid. This is the type of shakers that most people will have at home because it is so simple to use.

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Brands of Ingredients

Tip of the Day:

Be careful of brands when choosing ingredients. While substitutions may not totally alter the resulting food… it often does change the taste or consistency. Also types of ingredients matter too.

One particular example jumps to mind… many recipes now use “margarine” as an ingredient. This can mean either stick margarine or soft… each will have a different resulting consistency. Brand differences will produce different flavors also.

Store brands, I have found, to be hit and miss with quality. I recently tried my local store brand's whipped cream cheese (I happen to still have a heart of a 8 year old… I love cream cheese and jelly sandwiches)… this cream cheese just doesn’t have the same flavor as Philadelphia.

If a recipe calls for a bouillon cube… substituting broth will give it a different flavor….and the list goes on and on.
These are just a few examples… but I’m sure you could think of more…

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Delicious Meals for Two

Tip of the Day:

Just because your family is small or there are only the two of you doesn’t mean you can’t make great meals… in fact… you actually might be better off…. you can have ready-made meals.

I know many recipes are difficult to size down…but you can make the entire recipe and freeze it in portions you can use… this way all you have to do is defrost your sauce and boil your pasta.

When I worked for a large department store in the buying office, I would have to take trips to New York and when I did, I used to meet a close friend of mine. He would always cook for me… he would go to his freezer and rattle off all the sauces he had in little containers and we would choose the sauce for the dinner. His Mother was a terrific cook and made all these sauces for him and froze them in little containers so all he had to do was microwave it and add pasta.

So a great meal is only a small container away!

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Recipe: Pasta Bolognese


This recipe is a fairly old one from Grace Parisi from Food and Wine… it is absolutely wonderful. Serve it with crusty bread and a salad… some good wine… and you have yourself a terrific dinner that your guests will be talking about the next day….
The best part is… the sauce can be made ahead… you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to a month. How can you possibly beat that?!

I listed the recipe exactly as it was written in Food & Wine… the recipe is so good… I don’t think you could possibly improve on it.

This recipe serves 8 to 10 people. If you’re not making this for a crowd… make less pasta and freeze the excess sauce to use at another time… it would be excellent for a weeknight supper for your family when you don’t have time to make this great sauce.

Bon Appetit!

Recipe:  Pasta Bolognese

All you need:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 medium carrot, finely diced
1 medium celery rib, finely diced
2 oz. thickly sliced pancetta, finely diced
½ pound ground beef
½ pound ground veal
¼ pound ground pork
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
¾ cup dry white wine
One 28 oz. can peeled Italian tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped, juices reserved
1 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ heavy cream
2 pounds penne rigate
½ cup chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

All you need to do:

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan until simmering.

Add the onion, carrot celery and pancetta and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, about 8 minutes.

Scrape the vegetable mixture into a large bowl.

Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the saucepan and heat until just simmering.

Add the beef, veal and pork and cook over moderately high heat until just barely pink, about 5 minutes.

Return the vegetable mixture to the saucepan.

Add the garlic and cook over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost evaporated, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, and their juices, the chicken stock, thyme and bay leaf.

Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat.

Cover partially and cook over moderately low heat for 1 hour.

Discard the bay leaf.

Stir in the heavy cream and cook the sauce just until heated through.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well.

Return the pasta to the pot and toss with the sauce.

Serve the pasta in deep bowls and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Pass the Parmesan at the table.

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Serve Non-Alcoholic Beverage Alternatives

Tip of the Day:


My tip today is a follow-up to yesterday’s tip….

You can add pizzazz to you Brunch or Party without alcohol. It is always a good idea to have non-alcoholic alternatives when serving alcohol. By non-alcoholic alternatives I don’t just mean soft drinks and juices… you can make fancy “cocktails” without the alcohol.

A “Virgin Mary” recipe is the same as the Bloody Mary recipe, just leave out the vodka.

Your guests will appreciate a non-alcoholic alternative that is just as festive as the ones containing alcohol.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Non-Alcoholic Mimosa

All you need:

2 cups of orange juice
32 ounces of gingerale

All you need to do:

Fill champagne flutes ¼ full with orange juice. Top off each glass with gingerale.

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Recipe: Great Grape Punch

All you need:

5 cups pineapple juice
5 cups orange juice
5 cups white grape juice
4 tablespoons lemon juice
32 ounces gingerale

All you need to do:

Combine fruit juices in a punch bowl. Gently pour gingerale down the sides of the bowl to limit the fizz.

Float orange slices in the bowl for garnish.

Makes 20 servings. (If you need less, this recipe easily divides in half).

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Recipe: Fuzzy-less Navel Punch

All you need:

3 cups peach nectar
9 cups orange juice
24 ounces gingerale

All you need to do:

Combine the peach nectar and the orange juice in a punch bowl. Carefully pour the the gingerale down the sides of the bowl to limit the amount of fizz.

Float orange slices for garnish.

Serve over crushed ice or ice cubes.

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Recipe: Non-Alcoholic Holiday Mimosa

All you need:

7 ½ cups cranberry juice
3 ¾ cups orange juice
22 ½ ounces 7-UP

All you need to do:

Combine the cranberry juice nad orange juice in a punch bowl. Pour the 7-UP down the sides of the bowl to limit the fizz…

Float orange slices and whole cranberries in the punch bowl for a festive look.

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Measuring When Preparing Mixed Drinks

Tip of the Day:

As promised, I will publish numerous recipes for drinks that might add a little pizzazz to your Brunch or Party. So my tip today will have to do with drink making and measuring.

Most drink recipes indicate ingredients by ounces. It is recommended that you purchase a jigger… a metal two sided measure. It has a 1 ounce side. So if your recipe calls for 1.5 ounces… simply fill it once to the 1 oz line and halfway to the line the second time.

Many people ask just how much is in a shot…1 shot equals 1.5 ounces.

Hope this helps!

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Recipe: Fuzzy Navel Punch


This is a yummy punch… perfect for Brunch... I’ve used it many, many times….guests always love it. This makes 1 gallon. I like to add frozen sliced peaches to the punch bowl… it looks pretty and helps keep it cold… although the punch doesn’t usually last long enough to get warm.


Fuzzy Navel Punch Recipe:

All you need:


3 cups Peach Schnapps
9 cups orange juice
1 Bottle (750 ml) Brut Champagne, chilled


All you need to do:


Pour into a punch bowl and Voila!
Serve over crushed ice or ice cubes.

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