Saturday, December 31, 2011


Everything that one should learn about Italian cooking should come from Jungle Jim's Carol Tabone! Call the Jungle and schedule a class~ Here's Carol's Calzones:

1 1/2 c. warm water 105-110 degrees 1 lb. red onion, sliced thin
1 envelope dry yeast 4 sweet Italian sausages, castings removed
2 T. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt 3 c. mozzarella cheese, grated
4 c. flour, divided 12 oz. ricotta cheese, drained 1 hour
1 large red bell pepper 3 tsp. dried oregano
2 T. olive oil
Pour warm water into a large bowl and stir in yeast. Let stand about 5 minutes until
yeast dissolves. Mix in salt and oil. Add 3 3/4 cups flour (do 1/2 cup at a time),
stirring until blended. Transfer to a floured surface and knead dough (you may not
need all of the 1/2 cup reserved flour for this). You want it smooth and elastic, but not
sticky. Rub inside a large bowl with oil and place dough in the bowl. Flip the dough
over (oily side up) and cover with saran wrap in a draft free place for 1 hour, 15 min.
The dose has risen when 2 fingers indentations remain. Filling: Place a red pepper on
a baking sheet and set the oven to broil. Roast the pepper until all of the sides are
black. Transfer to a bowl and cover with saran wrap for 10 minutes. The steam will
help shed the skin. Peel, seed and slice into thin strips. Set aside. In a large skillet,
heat olive oil, over medium high heat. Cook red onions until brown (25 minutes.)
Remove onions to a bowl and cook sausage, breaking it into small bits, until done. Set
aside. In a bowl, mix together the mozzarella, ricotta and oregano. Season to taste
with salt and pepper. Place oven racks in the top 1/3 and bottom 1/3 of the oven.
Preheat to 400 degrees. Brush 2 cookie sheets with olive oil and dust with cornmeal.
Punch down the dough. Knead on a floured surface for 1 minute. Divide dough into 4
equal portions,shaping each into a ball. Roll each into a 9 inch round. I transfer it to the bake sheet before assembly.) Spread 1/3 cup of the cheese mixture over half of each round, leaving a 3/4 inch border. Place 1/4 of the onions, another 1/3 cup cheese mixture, 1/4 of the sausage, 1/3 cup of the cheese mixture, and 1/4 of the peppers.
Fold dough over forming a half circle and seal edges firmly, so nothing leaks out.
Pierce top of calzone a few times with a sharp knife so steam can escape while
baking. Repeat with 3 other calzones, 2 per bake sheet. Bake 15 minutes, reverse
sheets and bake 15 more minutes, until golden brown. Makes 4 HUGE calzones.
Note: You can be creative with the fillings. I recommend making sure everything is
cooked going into the calzones. 4 calzones can easily feed 8 people. I'd also consider adding garlic flavored melted butter to brush on as it comes out of the oven.
Do Ahead: Freeze the dough just after you mix it- Thaw it in a warm greased, covered bowl.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


This recipe appeared in the local paper back in the 1970s and my Grandma Ada made it and loved it. We have been making it at Christmas since then. A delicious 3 layer cake. You can slice and freeze this by the slice,too!

(Use with Nutty Butter Cream Cheese Cake or Carrot
Muffins Recipe)

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature DIVIDED
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 1/2 c. pecans, chopped
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1-2 T. evaporated milk

In a medium saucepan, melt 3 T. butter and add pecans. Brown the pecans. Allow the
pecans to cool. (I spread out on a cookie sheet. Cream together 5 T. butter, cream
cheese, and powdered sugar. Add milk to bring frosting to desired creaminess. Ice the
cakes as you normally would. Be generous between the layers, as you usually have
leftover icing. Layer the cakes (it's a 3 layer cake).
Take the cooled pecans and lay
them on the outside, pushing into the frosting, but not the top of the icing, so that it's coated all around with buttered pecans. Keep in a cool area.
Note: I make this at Christmas or any "special occasion".

Monday, December 19, 2011

Busken's Snowball/Wedding Cookies

Busken's Snowball Cookies
Busken’s Wedding cookies

These go by many names: snowball, wedding, or Russian tea cookies. Naturally, Rita Heikenfeld nails this recipe. Is there anything she can’t do?! This recipe was in the Community Journal 8/1/07. I cut the recipe in half and made half pecan and half black walnut. Naturally, I am partial to the walnut!

Everything at room temperature-
1 cup unsalted butter, 1 cup Crisco, 1 cup sugar –Cream together until fluffy.
Add 1 Cup black walnuts in tiny pieces (Or whatever nut you like)
Add 4 cups flour
Add ¾ tsp. salt Mix until smooth.
Slowly add 1 beaten egg and mix until smooth. Don’t over mix!
Roll into tiny balls (the smaller the better!) and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 325 for 20 min. until edges begin to brown. Remove and allow to cool.
THEN roll in 1 cup powdered sugar. Makes about 4 dozen.

Chicken Lickin' Pork Chops (Page 38)

Chicken Lickin' Pork Chops

6-8 lean chops about 1 inch thick (any thickness works)
Mix in a lg. zip lock bag or bowl:
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in frying pan

Dredge chops in dry mix and brown in hot pan. Lay in crock pot.

Pour 2 cans of Campbell's Chicken and Wild Rice Soup over it and cook high 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours.

Scalloped Potatoes (Page 27)

Scalloped Potato Recipe

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
5-8 potatoes peeled and thinly sliced -a food processor or mandolin is helpful
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter,melted
1/2 cup half & half (I use 1 cup if doing 8 or more potatoes)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I use more)
Mix sliced potatoes with butter and salt. Place in casserole dish. Pour cream over potatoes and sprinkle with cheese. Cover and bake 20 min (I do 30 if using 8), then uncover for 15 or more until fork tender.
*If you add 1 cup cooked ham- it is now a main dish!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Grandma Ada's Fudge (Page 86)

Ada Gumbert
2 1/2 c. sugar
2 T. butter
1/4 c. cocoa

1 T. corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. evaporated milk 1/2 c. black walnuts

Grease an 8 x 8 pan with butter. Set aside. Take a small amount of butter on wax
paper and line about 1-2 inches of the top of the pan. (This keeps the mixture from
boiling over. I used to think it was magic! It was science, but just for today, as the
mixture rises, tell yourself it's magical!) Mix sugar and cocoa until well blended in a
pan. Add syrup and milk. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. "Stir no
more", as Grandma wrote. Cook until soft ball stage. Remove from heat. Add butter
and vanilla (but don't stir it in). Cool. Then beat until "thick", with a WOODEN
spoon. (Now Mom and I tried this after Grandma died and couldn't figure out what
that meant. Mom looks at me and asks " Are you thick? I'm not thick yet." And then
we giggled.) So by all means beat until thick. The better description is to beat until the
fudge begins to dull and and becomes harder to mix. Add in the walnuts and pour into
prepared pan. Chill.
Note: If you don't like black walnuts, you can substitute English walnuts. This is
known in our family as THE fudge. You can buy black walnuts, at Christmas, and
freeze them in a freezer bag, for up to 2 years! Do it!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Do Ahead Gravy & Rita's Herbed Butter Recipe (Page 44)

I made Diane Phillips Make Ahead Gravy, but used a few Tbsp. of Rita Heikenfeld's herbed butter. Very nice to have this double batch of gravy done-just need to add the drippings!
Rita's Herbed Butter is on page 44 of my cookbook-
6 T. unsalted room temp. butter, 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt, 1 Tbsp. each chopped fresh parsley,thyme and rosemary,1/4 tsp. fennel seed- ground....I used a coffee grinder. Just mix it up and take out a tablespoon or two for the gravy. I rub the turkey/chicken under the skin, then over the skin with the rest of the butter. Freezes great!
Diane's Gravy Recipe is pretty basic:
6 T. unsalted butter, 6 T. flour- whisk continually x2-3 min, then slowly add in 4 cups turkey/chicken broth. Cook, stirring continuously, until it boils/becomes thick. Salt & Pepper to taste. Freezes for 6 weeks. On the big day reheat & add pan drippings. I doubled it & it's done!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Baked Penne a la Carbonara- Diane Phillips

I've been enjoying Diane Phillips books lately. This is 1 I've made twice in 2 weeks (per family request!)

Serves 10 as a side dish or 6 as a main dish
(Or 4 if you have teen boys!)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup flour
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken broth (Keep some extra handy in case you need to thin out the sauce)
1-1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan (okay do 2 cups- you're welcome)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Salt (optional) to taste....since when was salt an option?
1 pound penne pasta, cooked according to package directions until al dente and drained
12 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, coked until crisp, and drained on paper towels (app. 3/4 pound)
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Step 1
In a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, add the shallots and thyme, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour is cooked, but hasn't turned color, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the cream and broth and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Stir in 1 cup of the Parmesan and season with pepper and with salt if desired.

Step 2
Coat a 13x9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle 1/4 cup of the remaining Parmesan over the bottom. In a large bowl, toss the hot penne with the olive oil. (This parmesan makes a nice crust on the bottom.)

Step 3
Stir the sauce into the penne, then stir in the bacon and mozzarella. Transfer to the prepared pan and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 - 1/2 cup of Parmesan.

Diva Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate overnight OR freeze freeze for up to 6 weeks. Bring to room temperature before continuing.(Thaw 1 day in fridge)

Step 4
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the penne until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Now I was lazy and copied the recipe from here. It looks like a nice blog. Her recipe had olive oil, mine doesn't (I went to Diane's class,where this recipe came from her book) I think the olive oil is why the sauce separated.
Diane's book is called "Perfect Party Food" by Diane Phillips.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

This is from Diane Phillips' book "Happy Holidays from the Do-Ahead Diva"
I had the pleasure of attending 2 of her classes last week & she was just a delight to meet & learn from. This is a great book!

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
8-10 med. russet baking potatoes peeled & cut into 1 inch chunks,
6 Tablespoons ((3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup fresh chives, chopped (optional)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes in salted water to cover until tender. Drain.
Butter the dish (I use foil pans for freezing) w/ 2 Tbsp. of butter. Sprinkle a 1/4 cup Parmesan evenly over the bottom.
Place the hot cooked potatoes in a large bowl.Add the sour cream and softened cream cheese & 2Tbsp. butter,1/4 cup cheese & chives. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper.
Place in prepared dish. Dot w/ final 2 Tbsp. butter and sprinkle with final 1/4 cup cheese.
*Wrap tightly & freeze for up to 1 month. Bring to room temp before baking.*
Bake the potatoes x 25 min, until golden brown.
Follow up These held up very well and tasted very good after 2 weeks of freezing.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Fingers (Page 37)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved 1 1/4 lb
(Or a pack of chicken tenderloins)
1/2 c. finely shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 c. cheese-flavored crackers, crushed to 1 cup
Dipping sauce - BBQ, ketchup or ranch
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Cut chicken
lengthwise into 1/2 inch strips. Mix crushed crackers and cheese in a plastic bag. Beat
egg in a bowl. Place chicken strip in the egg mixture, then the cracker - cheese mix.
Seal the bag and shake, coating evenly. Place in a single layer on the pan. Bake 10-12
minutes, until done. Serve with desired sauce.
Note: Sometimes I cheat and use chicken tenderloins for an even quicker, more moist
chicken. Great,easy meal.

Impressed by so far!

Emealz - Easy Meals for Busy People!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cuban Black Bean Soup (Page 12)

1 lb. black beans (Can use canned beans
to bypass soaking process)
1 red pepper, seeded, large diced
1 green pepper, seeded, large diced
1 white onion, large diced
1 bay leaf
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. cumin
1 T. sugar
1 T. oregano
1/8 c. white vinegar
1 banana pepper or Italian frying pepper
salt to taste
Olive oil, for sauteing, plus 1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. sour cream

In a large stock pot, cover the beans in water, covering them by 2 inches. Add bay
leaf, cumin, oregano, and Italian pepper. Simmer until the beans are tender, about 45
minutes. Remove the pepper in a pan, saute the onion, red and green peppers until
translucent. Puree in a blender. (This is called “sofrito”). In the same pan saute the
garlic. Add to the beans, along with the sofrito, 1/4 cup olive oil, sugar, and vinegar.
Season with salt. Continue to cook until very thick, about 45 minutes. Garnish with
red onion and sour cream.
Freezes well.
Variation:I omitted vinegar, sugar and banana pepper. I added browned hot sausage 1 lb., 1cup of chopped ham and 1/2 cup of rice and cooked for 20 minutes longer. Gives it more of a gumbo feel.


4 slices of thick bacon, diced
2 c. water
2 onions, diced
6 sprigs of parsley
2 potatoes, cubed
1 Bay leaf, tied together with parsley with string
2 carrots, diced
1 turnip, diced
1 head of cabbage, green , shredded
salt and pepper to taste
4 c. chicken stock
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
In a 6 qt. pot, lightly brown the bacon and onion to soft over low heat. Combine all
ingredients in pot, except salt, pepper and cheese. Simmer 2 hours. Discard parsley
bundle. Season to taste. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with Parmesan.

We would have a get together with my brother's family and do a 5 course meal from a different country. This was from our German exploration. My kids have since renamed this (forgive me) poop soup....hey, it's a house full of boys! It really is a great root soup recipe. It freezes great. The Parmesan is the key to the great taste.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Nancy Valmassoi is one of my favorite people and she made this for me and I loved it. And I love her and my life is better for knowing both!

Step 1:
1 bag of wagon wheel pasta, cooked
2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 ripe tomatoes, cubed
1 lb. bacon, fried and crumbled (You could use less here, but why?)
2 cups fresh spinach (counteracts the bacon, really....)
1 (4-oz.) crumbled blue cheese
1 c. pitted black olives
Step 2:
1 tsp. honey or sugar
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1 c. olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced fine
Mix the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller separate bowl, whisk the mustard, vinegar, olive oil,black pepper, honey and garlic. Pour over the salad and toss. I would love to put how many this serves, but it's so good that, when I make serves very few! I love this dish!
Note: Just go ahead and double it. You will not be able to stop eating it.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Blue Cheese Coleslaw (Page 24)

Pulled pork sandwich and blue cheese coleslaw- yum. Must be 4th of July weekend! Even people who say "I don't like blue cheese" come back and say "I was wrong. I guess I do like blue cheese" It's just that good!

2 lbs. Napa cabbage, shredded
(8-oz.) blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 c. green onions, chopped
In a separate bowl whisk:
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. cider vinegar
2 T. sugar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. celery seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. white pepper -black is just fine, really!

In a large salad bowl mix cabbage, blue cheese, and scallions. Set aside or keep
refrigerated up to 24 hours before serving. Just before serving whisk together the oil,vinegar, sugar, celery seed, garlic, salt, pepper, and mustard. Pour over slaw and mix.
(Slaw wilts right away so make sure you are ready to serve.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


2 T. olive oil
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
2 large onions, diced
1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. garlic, minced
4 c. chicken broth
1 1/2 lb. good stew meat (or hamburger)
1 (15-oz.) can of black beans,drained and rinsed
1/4 c. chili powder
1 T. cumin
1 (15-oz.) can of kidney beans,drained and rinsed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. chipotle adobo chili, minced

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook,
stirring occasionally, until softened and light brown. Add the bell pepper and cook 5
minutes longer. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Increase the heat to medium high;
add the beef and cook until browned. Drain off excess fat. Stir in the chili powder and cumin.Cook 1 minute. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour so flavors meld and the
liquid reduces and thickens. Serve warm.
Note: I only use 1 tsp of chopped chili. I buy a can of chilies in Adobo sauce (Mexican aisle).I freeze them in individual bags, in a larger freezer bag. They thaw a tad soggy, but who cares,it's chili.
I will freeze half of this for another dinner (I usually will use up within 3 months)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Half-pint Jar Pies | Amy Tobin

Half-pint Jar Pies | Amy Tobin
Going berry picking and am going to do this! Thanks Amy!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tropical Cake

Yesterday I made this:
and I didn't like it. I think maybe with a plain yellow cake. The topping was very good, cake was almost "perfume-like" with pineapple smell. I also thought the box was deceiving as I thought it was a complete pineapple upside down cake in a box...(yeah I know for $1!? I was stupid) Learn from my ways!

Ingredients Baking Instructions

* 1 pkg. Duncan Hines Pineapple Supreme cake mix
* 2 ripe bananas
* 1/3 cup soft butter or margarine
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 1 cup flaked coconut
* 2 tbsp. milk

1. Mix and bake cake according to package directions in a 13x9-inch pan.
2. Cool cake in pan.
3. Slice each banana lengthwise to 4 thin slices. Arrange slices on cake.
4. In small bowl combine butter, brown sugar, coconut and milk Spread on cake and cover bananas completely.
5. Place cake under broiler and broil 2 to 3 minutes till bubbly.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Interesting fact

The Chinese used black pepper to cure cholera, Europeans used it as currency, and Attila the Hun demanded 3,000 pounds of the stuff in exchange for discontinuing his sacking of Rome.