What's Cooking - 2012

Each Thanksgiving we have at least twenty people for a sit-down dinner. I cook the meal and the guests supply the appetizers, deserts, and wine. The only difference to the dinner listed below is the sweet potatoes. My niece makes a dynamite dish and I hope she will allow me to share her recipe here in the next few weeks.

So turn on the football game and let’s start cooking!

November’s Choice

• Roast Turkey
• Stuffing
• Mashed Potatoes
• Candied Sweet Potatoes
• Sautéed Broccoli
• Corn
• Cranberry Sauce
• Gravy
• White Wine – Riesling

Roast Turkey

2 leeks including some green – chopped
2 large onion – chopped
15 baby carrots – chopped
4 tomatoes – chopped
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. dried marjoram
1 large bay leaf
Bacon strips to cover breast
Chicken stock

Disposable pan
Cooking rack
Cookie sheet – for stability

Place unopened turkey on a cloth lined cookie sheet and thaw in refrigerator 7 hours per pound or one day for every four pounds of frozen turkey.

Thanksgiving Morning:
If turkey’s not completely thawed, set in a large pot of cold water to complete. Dispose of packet inserted in cavity. Rinse well, then pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Cooking times:
10 – 18 lbs. 2 – 2½ hrs.
18 – 22 lbs. 2½ – 3 hrs.
22 – 24 lbs. 3 – 3½ hrs.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a large frying pan. When the foam subsides, lay the turkey on its side breast down. Brown the breast until golden, first one side then the other. Be careful moving the turkey around, it’s heavy and awkward.

Set disposable pan on cookie sheet. Insert cooking rack. Add chopped vegetables. Place turkey on rack breast up. Lay bacon slices over breast to cover well. Pour in enough chicken broth to cover the pan bottom by 1 inch. Cover the turkey and pan edges with aluminum foil, crimping the sides well.

Remove from oven at the predetermined time. To test if the bird is done, use a paper towel or pot holder and shake hands with its leg. The leg should move freely. If you use a meat thermometer it should read 185° when inserted in the thigh. For an accurate reading, be sure not to touch bone. Tent with foil and allow to rest 30 – 45 minutes before carving.


1 package bread stuffing cubes plain or seasoned
½ pound Jimmy Dean Original Sausage in the tube
1 rib celery chopped
½ medium onion chopped
1 stick butter
Chicken stock about 2 cups maybe a little more
1 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 egg

The stuffing may be prepared a day or two in advance up to the baking point.

Fry sausage, breaking into small chunks until lightly brown.

Melt butter in a medium size skillet. When the foam subsides add the celery and onion. Sauté 3-4 minutes, be careful not to let it brown.

Empty bread cubes into a large bowl. Add sausage and vegetables with all their juices. Mix well.

Beat egg in a small bowl. Pour onto stuffing. Sprinkle sage and thyme across the top. Mix well.

Stir in chicken stock until mixture is very moist, but not soupy.

Spoon into baking dish, do not pack in, and cover tightly with foil. (This is your stopping point if you make this before Thanksgiving. Refrigerate the stuffing until you are ready to bake it.)

Thanksgiving Day:
Remove stuffing from the refrigerator early in the day to allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the stuffing for a half hour. Remove foil and continue to bake until the top has browned.

Mashed Potatoes

1 small russet potato per person
Chicken stock
Sour cream

The Day Before:
Pour one inch chicken stock into saucepan. Peel and quarter the potatoes, then place in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by one inch. Put a lid on the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 25 minutes. Test for doneness by poking a fork into a potato. It should insert easily.

Drain potatoes. Mash well without adding other ingredients. Cool completely in a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

Thanksgiving Day:
Remove potatoes from the refrigerator early in the day to allow them to come to room temperature. When you are ready to serve, microwave potatoes until hot. Stir in butter, sour cream, milk, and pepper to the consistency you prefer.

Candied Sweet Potatoes

32oz. can of sweet potatoes – my favorite is Royal Prince Candied Sweet Potatoes
½ cup brown sugar firmly packed
1 stick of butter
1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Drain the potatoes in a colander. Cut large pieces in half. Lay potatoes into a 13×9 inch glass baking dish.

Sprinkle brown sugar across the top, then dot with butter.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Scatter marshmallows over the yams and bake for 15 minutes or until the marshmallows are brown.

Services 8.

Broccoli Stir-fry

4 mini carrots sliced on an angle
½ cup olive oil – possibly more
½ medium onion sliced
1 inch piece gingerroot peeled and cut into strips
1 head broccoli trimmed and cut into florets
½ small sweet red pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips
½ small yellow pepper cored, seeded and cut into strips
2 large garlic cloves pressed
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 green onions sliced on an angle
5 mini Bello mushrooms cleaned and sliced into thirds
1 tbsp. lime or lemon juice

Have all the ingredients prepped and on the counter before you begin cooking.

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add onion, carrot and gingerroot. Sauté until carrot is almost soft. Test by inserting a toothpick into the carrot. Remove as many gingerroot pieces as you can find. Don’t worry if some are left in the pan.

Add broccoli, red and yellow peppers, and garlic. Sprinkle on red pepper flakes. Stir constantly to insure broccoli is well coated with the oil. Add more oil if necessary. Squeeze on the lime or lemon juice. Sauté 2 – 4 minutes, but be sure the broccoli and peppers still have crunch to them.

Blend in green onions and mushrooms. Sauté until mushrooms are heated through. Serve quickly.

Serves 4 – 6 so adjust accordingly.

From the corn through the gravy it shows you just how lazy I can be on holidays. 🙂


1 can of corn per 4 people – my favorite is Green Giant Niblets

Canned corn:
Drain corn, then pour into micro wave safe bowl. Lay 2 or 3 pats of butter across the top. Micro wave for 3 minutes, stir and serve.

Frozen corn:
Follow package instructions

Cranberry Sauce

1 can of sauce per 6 people – my favorite is Ocean Spray Jellied

Lay the sauce into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator until ready to serve.


1 jar of gravy for 4 people – my favorite is Heinz Home Style Gravy Roasted Turkey

Pour the gravy into a saucepan. Stir in a few tablespoons of the juice from the roasted turkey pan. Heat through and serve.

This month, let’s go Italian with a fast and easy menu perfect for busy weekends. This is fun to make and sure to please every member of your family.

June’s Choice

• Pizza Casserole
• Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing
• Orange Granite – Flavored Ice
• Dry White Wine – Pinot Grigio
• Cold Peroni Beer

Pizza Casserole

1 lb. Italian sausage
1 tube Pillsbury pizza dough
1 6oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. water
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. oregano divided
1 tbsp. basil
1 tsp. sugar
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 oz. mozzarella cheese grated
Olive oil to drizzle

Preheat oven to 425°.

Discard casing. Break sausage into chunks. Sauté over medium high heat until the meat is no longer pink, about 15 minutes.

Spray a 9×13 pan with Pam. Spread the pizza dough into the pan.

Combine tomato paste, water, garlic powder, oregano, basil, and sugar in a small bowl. Stir well. Pour onto the dough and spread to the edges.

Place sausage on sauce. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 12 minutes.

Remove pan from oven. Scatter mozzarella cheese over casserole, then sprinkle with oregano. Bake 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Cut in squares and serve.

Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

Red leaf lettuce
Romaine lettuce
Head lettuce
Tomato chunks

Plan two leaves of each type lettuce and half a tomato per person. Combine in a bowl. Cover with a damp paper and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Creamy Garlic Dressing

1 ½ cups mayonnaise – it must be real mayo, not Miracle Whip
½ cup vegetable oil
Scant ¼ cup white vinegar
3 tbsp. chopped onion
¾ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
4 big gloves garlic pressed

Combine all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Mix on high until smooth.

Keeps two weeks in refrigerator. Store on bottom shelf.

To serve either toss with your salad or arrange the salad on individual chilled plates and ladle a dollop on top.

p.s. This dressing is terrific for a fresh veggie dip.

Orange Granite – Flavored Ice

2 cups water
¾ cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
3 tbsp. lemon juice

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium heat. Stir only until the sugar dissolves. Timing from the moment the sugar water begins to boil, cook the mixture for exactly 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, stir the orange and lemon juices into the syrup. Pour mixture into a shallow metal pan.

Freeze the granite for 3 to 4 hours. Every 30 minutes, stir and scrape in the ice particles that form on the sides of the pan. The granite should be a fine, snowy texture. For a coarser texture, which I prefer, freeze the flavored syrup in ice cube trays until solid, then drop cubes into a plastic bag and smash with a heavy wooden spoon or mallet.

Eye of round is a lesser priced beef roast that can be tasty and tender if prepared the right way. The beautiful aroma from this meal will draw your family to the table ready to feast.
Give these recipes a try and, please, let me know what you think.

May’s Choice

• Eye of Round Roast with Sauce
• Mashed Potatoes
• Sautéed Broccoli
• Red Wine – Bolla Valpolicella


2 ¼ – 3 pound eye of round roast
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup beef stock

Remove meat from refrigerator 2-3 hours before cooking. Meat needs to be almost room temperature for this dish to work.

Preheat over to 325F

Heat olive oil over medium high heat until it shimmers. Using tongs or wooden spoons, brown the roast on all sides. Set a cooking rack in a roasting pan. (If you don’t have a rack, line the roaster with aluminum foil being sure to have it hang a little over pan sides.) Lay beef on rack or foil. Pour beef stock into bottom of the pan, not over the meat.


4 tbsp. mustard either yellow or Country Dijon
2 large garlic cloves pressed
¼ cup parsley chopped fresh or dry
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix above ingredients in a small bowl. Spread over the top and a little on the sides of the beef.

Roast in oven for 1 hour or until 140F on the meat thermometer. Don’t overcook or the meat will be tough. Check the liquid level and add more stock if it runs dry or the pan will burn. When meat is cooked, remove from oven, set on a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm.


¼ cup dry red wine
1 cup beef stock
1 tbsp. red current or seedless raspberry jelly
1 tbsp. butter

Time to deglaze the roasting pan. It’s very easy and requires little effort.

If you used the aluminum foil, carefully remove it from the pan and discard.

Place the pan over a burner set on medium. Add the red wine and scrape in all the browned bits clinging to the pan.

Turn the heat to medium high. Pour in the stock. Boil until sauce has reduced to about half while scraping in anything that clings to the side of the pan.

Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in butter. Keep sauce warm on very low heat while you carve the roast.

Carve into thin slice. Dribble sauce over meat to moisten. Serve extra sauce on the side.

If you have leftovers, freeze the meat and sauce separately. Next week, I’ll have a dynamite recipe to use them, so be sure to stop back.

Makes 4 servings or two with great leftovers.

Mashed Potatoes

1 russet potato per person
Sour cream – a very large dollop
¼ cup milk set out to reach room temperature
3 tbsp. butter
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Peel and quarter potatoes. Fill a saucepan with enough water to cover the potatoes by an inch or so. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender. Drain pan.

Add sour cream, some of the milk, all of the butter, and the pepper to the pan. Mash the potatoes. Add small amounts of additional milk until you achieve the consistency you prefer.

Keep warm in the turned off oven while you assemble to meal.

Sautéed Broccoli

1 bunch broccoli
5 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut the flowerets off the broccoli. Save or freeze the remainder to make cream of broccoli soup.

In a heated medium frying pan, add the olive oil and butter. Heat until the oil shimmers. Add flowerets and stir them through the oil until they are coated on all sides. You may need a little more oil, but be careful not to drown the broccoli. Sauté until crisp tender, about 7 minutes.

Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

Our family celebrates Easter with a mountain of appetizers, a great meal, and lots of laughter. We usually have twenty-one for a sit-down dinner and each family brings a contribution to enhance the event. Below is what Studs and I prepare. Hope you enjoy it.

April’s Choice

• Ham Baked in Bread
• My Mom’s Potato Salad
• Fresh Green Beans
• Black Olives in Oil
• Fresh Fruit Salad
• White Wine – Riesling

Ham Baked in Bread

7# smoked ham – I use Kentucky Legend. It’s excellent
3 packages prepared pizza dough found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store
½ cup water for sealing seams

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll the dough into a rectangle. Lay ham curved side down onto dough. Gently lift the dough to wrap the ham securely. Be careful not to rip the dough.

Dip your fingertips in the water, then rub them along the seams to seal. This may take several water dips to achieve. Place the ham seam side down, so it doesn’t burst during baking, on a non-stick cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan. Bake 20 minutes per pound or until bread is toasty brown.

Remove the ham from the oven and let cool until you can touch the bread without burning your hands. With a sharp, thin knife, cut off just the top portion to create a lid. Carve the ham and remaining bread into slices. Don’t worry if the bread falls apart as you slice it. This can happen. Discard any scrapes. Lay the ham and bread on a serving platter. The bread will be a little soggy, and that’s good, because it has soaked up the ham juices. Cover with the lid you cut off earlier.

Right before you serve, cut the lid into neat slices, lay them around and over the ham. Your guests will love it.

My Mom’s Potato Salad

1 red potato per person
1 hard boiled egg for every 2-3 potatoes
one stalk celery for every 7 potatoes chopped fine
½ med onion for every 7 potatoes chopped fine
Mayonnaise – NO substitutes

Boil the potatoes in their jackets until just fork tender. Remove from pot as they are done and allow to cool. Scrape the skins off. Slice in half widthwise then lengthwise. Slice into the bite size pieces.

While the potatoes are cooking, lay the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water, and place a lid on the pan. Bring to a boil, then shut off the heat and allow to sit on the burner for 7 minutes. Cut into quarters, then slice. Set aside covered with plastic wrap or a paper towel to eliminate drying out.

Combine celery and onion in a large bowl. Grind in a healthy amount of fresh pepper. Stir in several large spoonfuls of mayonnaise. You have to gauge by the number of potatoes you use. Mix well.

Add the potatoes, two at a time and mix well. Continue until all the potatoes are added. Check the salad for dryness. It should be moist but not swimming in mayo. Add the sliced eggs and stir again. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Fresh Green Beans

1 lb. fresh green beans trimmed
2 – TBL. Butter
Fresh ground black pepper

Bring large pot of water to a hard boil. A high heat setting is best.

Drop the beans in by the handful. Boil 10 to 15 minutes or until the beans are just tender. If you plan to reheat the beans, boil for less time as the reheating will cook them further.

Drain beans in a colander. Add butter to the hot pot and swirl to melt. Return beans to the pot. Toss with butter and coat well. Season with pepper to taste and stir again.

They may be made earlier and reheated on low heat. Be careful not to scorch them or burn the butter.

Black Olives in Oil

1 can medium pitted black olives
3 garlic cloves
Olive oil
Glass jar with a secure lid

Drain the black olives and pour them into the jar. Crush the garlic into the jar. Pour in the olive oil to cover. Refrigerate at least 1 week. The mix will become thick and cloudy. It’s okay, that’s the oil solidifying.

To serve, set the jar on the counter until the oil becomes clear and returns to its normal consistency, which may take several hours. Spoon out the quantity of olives you wish to serve into a pretty dish. Be sure to have toothpicks. Put the jar back in the fridge for future use. You can refill with more olives. The mixture will stay good up to two months.

Fresh Fruit Salad

Banana sliced
Cantaloupe sliced
Pineapple sliced
Kiwis sliced
Red grapes seedless halved

Combine all the fruit into a mixing bowl. Add a few drops lime or lemon juice to stop the bananas from turning brown. Gently stir to blend the fruit.

Pour into a glass bowl, cover and chill until time to serve.

Our friends’, Bonnie and Tom, host the best Super Bowl parties. Each year I meet interesting people who add to the fun. This year, Phil Renda, a young man with the greatest eyes and thick black hair sat next to me while we munched lip-smacking appetizers. Of course, the conversation turned to food.

Phil loves to cook and has shared three great entrée recipes I’ll post them over the next months. They are all excellent!

March’s Choice

• Penne ala Vodka
• Caesar Salad for Two
• Fresh Italian Bread
• White Wine – Pinot Grigio

Penne ala Vodka

1 ½ lbs rigatoni
1 small onion chopped
5 cloves garlic pressed
2 TBS olive oil
½ cup vodka
2- 28 oz cans whole tomatoes in puree (Redpack is preferable or go to Win Dixie and get the ones in the container. Your favorite brand will do as well.)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 thick slices pancetta (if you want to use prosciutto you add it in at the end instead)

Heat a medium saucepan then add the olive oil and butter. Once the oil begins to shimmer, stir in the onions and garlic. Sauté about 5 minutes. Be careful not to let them brown. Add chopped pancetta and warm through.

Chop and drain the tomatoes, but save the puree. Add tomatoes to sautéed onions and garlic. Cook for 20 min with no liquid.

Stir in the Vodka, then the cream and puree.

Cook until the mixture boils. Immediately, lower the heat and simmer until it thickens (about 2 hrs).

Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni following the package directions.

Serve over rigatoni with a sprinkling of fresh grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Mangiar Bene!

Ceasar Salad for Two

1 egg coddled
1 large glove garlic
½ teas. Anchovy paste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
½ TBL Dijon mustard
½ TBL lemon juice, preferably fresh
1 drop white vinegar
¼ cup olive oil

Romaine lettuce, 3 leaves per person, washed and dried

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Remove egg from the refrigerator while assembling all the ingredients.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Coddle the egg by cooking it for 2 minutes. Rinse under cold water, crack shell and scoop the runny egg into a small bowl. Break up the solid white pieces and lightly mix. Later, you will add some of this to the salad dressing.

In a large glass or wooden bowl, mash the garlic with a spoon and fork into coarse pieces. Rub the sides of the bowl with the oil that has been released.

Add the anchovy, pepper, and mustard. Mix well. Pour in the lemon juice and vinegar. Mix well. Add in ½ – ¾ of the coddled egg. Mix well. Blend in the olive oil until the dressing is frothy.

Tear the lettuce into bit-size pieces over the salad bowl. Toss, then add ¼ cup or so of Parmesan. Toss again. Serve in individual bowls and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

Valentine’s Day isn’t about elaborate gifts or expensive bouquets of flowers. It’s a day to celebrate the one or ones you love. Do it from the heart, not a meaningless gesture from your wallet. Dig out your best linen and dishes, add a few candles, and let your love shine with a romantic meal that won’t break your budget.

A few friends have dropped in to share their favorite recipes. Dawn Robert of Love Romances Café gives us a scrumptious and easy main course you’ll want to serve more than once. The crab salad is by Chris Grover who writes as Christiane France. Check out her website for some delicious reads. Dessert is provided by Studs’ daughter Theresa who is a whiz with a mix master!

February’s Choice

• Asian Noodles with Chicken
• Crab Salad
• Coconut Cupcakes
• White Wine – Chardonnay or Riesling

Asian Noodles with Chicken

1 pkg. Stir fry veggies (frozen)
2 pkg. (3 oz each) oriental-flavored ramen noodles
½ cup Orange Juice
2 TBL ketchup
1 TBL low sodium soy sauce
1 TBL veggie or olive oil
1 ½ pounds of chicken (I use either chicken tenders cut up or already done up grilled chicken from Perdue in refrigerated section)
3 Scallions sliced
Orange slices (Optional)
1 can of water chestnuts (optional)

Cook vegetables according to package directions; cook noodles according to package-RESERVE the flavor packet and drain when done.

Whisk together- OJ, ketchup, soy sauce and flavoring packets.

In a non-stick pan, heat oil over med-high heat then add chicken (if it is raw). Stir fry until no longer pink about 15 minutes. Stir in noodles, veggies & sauce (Water chestnuts as well can be added at this stage), cook 1 minute. Stir in scallions if desired. Garnish with orange slices.

Bon Appetite!

Love Romances Café


This is 100% my own invention and was originally created to be an appetizer. It also makes fabulous toasted sandwiches.

Crab Salad

1 pkg. of chopped frozen imitation crab–rinse in cold water and squeeze to remove all that salt
1 celery rib finely chopped
2 green onions finely chopped
Approx. one third of a green pepper finely chopped
3 or 4 pieces of roasted red pepper finely chopped
2 TBL French Onion sour cream dip (I use the one sold by Costco called Heluva Good and it’s made in New York.)
1 TBL plain sour cream

Mix everything together and lay a healthy dollop on a plate of mixed greens, chill and serve.



These are incredibly easy to make and taste great.

Coconut Cupcakes

1 box Duncan Hines Butter Yellow Cake
½ tsp. coconut extract

Mix cake according to directions. Add the coconut extract. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full and bake as package recommends.

Cool on a wire rack.


2 pkgs. Dream Whip
1 box Jello Instant Coconut Pudding Cream

Mix Dream Whip according to directions. Add Jello. Mix until fluffy. Add slightly more milk if it appears to stiff.

Frost the cupcakes with a knife or spatula.

Happy Valentine’s Day!