Monday, December 30, 2013

Apple Pie: Our Tradition

Growing up, apples were my favorite food.  Instead of a birthday cake, I wanted apple pie.  Not just any apple pie.  I wanted the apple pie my mother would make from a Betty Crocker recipe she saw in the New York Times before I was born.  After I got married, my mom passed her recipe on to me.  Deirdre and I have a tradition that for New Year's Eve/New Year's Day (and for the record, New Year's Day is our wedding anniversary) we make this simple yet delicious apple pie recipe.  This is a "before" image of the pie, just before I put it in the oven

Apple Pie before going into the oven


3-4 lbs Braeburn or MacIntosh apples, peeled and cut into small pieces
Betty Crocker Pie Crust Mix or Jiffy Pie Crust Mix

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 of remaining pie crust mix
Teaspoon Cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Peeled and cut apples

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 of the remaining pie crust mix
1/2  teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of cinnamon

Pre-heat your oven to 425F.  The Betty Crocker or the Jiffy mix work well with this  recipe.Follow the directions to make the crust for a single pie crust and reserve the remaining crust mix.  The remaining pie crust mix is an important part of the filling and the topping, so split in half the remaining pie crust mix for the topping and the filling. 

In a large bowl, mix well the filling ingredients.  Pour the filling into the waiting pie crust.  Mix the topping ingredients into the same bowl and sprinkle the topping over the pie filling and place into the pre-heated oven, and bake the pie on the lower rack of your oven.  Check the pie at approximately 35 minutes (normal cooking time is 40-45 minutes).  Cook the pie until you see the apples bubbling.

I prefer to use Braeburn or MacIntosh apples as they bake well.  Avoid using Red Delicious or Granny Smith apples as they tend to be too bitter for a good pie.  I used MacIntosh apples for today's pie.

This is an "after" image of the pie.  I baked it it at 425F for 35 minutes.  Now I just have to let to cool for a while.

Apple Pie after baking for 35 minutes.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

chicken wings recap

Last night, for Christmas Eve dinner, we made chicken wings.  It was a rocking success and if you read the post below, you can make your own too.  Seriously, the secret is flour, and it lets the sauces adhere nicely to the wings.

First, we steamed the frozen wings for about 20 minutes.  When done steaming, we patted them dry on paper towels.

When cool, put them in a bag with flour, gave them a good shake.

Then back in the bowl for some sauce covering.

Crazy delicious.  And a wonderful tradition of making very untraditional things.   Merry Christmas from our kitchen to yours!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Baked Buffalo Style Chicken Wings

There are a lot of recipes out there for making chicken wings.  Most involve deep frying the wings, which can be rather messy.  We stumbled upon this approach to baking the wings and we were very pleased with the end result.  It takes a little time to make this recipe, but it is well worth the effort.


- 20 chicken wings
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1/2 cup hot pepper sauce (Tabasco, Frank's Red Hot, etc.)

Place a 6 quart sauce pan with a steamer basket and 1-2 inches of water on the bottom and over high heat, bring to a boil.  Place the wings in the steamer basket, reduce the heat to medium and steam the wings for 10 minutes.  Remove the wings from the steamer basket and pat dry with a paper towel.

Place the flour, garlic powder and cayenne pepper into a resealable plastic bag and mix.  Place the wings into the bag and toss the wings until they are well coated with the flour mixture.  Place the wings on a plate and refrigerate at least one hour.

Preheat an oven to 425F.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.

While the oven is heating, whisk the melted butter and hot sauce in a bowl.  Take the wings out of the refrigerator and dip them into the butter sauce and then place the wings on the cookie sheet.

Cook the wings for 40 minutes, and turn the wings after they have cooked for 20 minutes so they cook evenly.

Cook's Notes:

The wings were crispy and delicious.  We think that refrigerating the wings once they have been coated with the flour mixture really helped the wings adhere the butter-hot sauce mix.

We adapted the original recipe a little.  In addition to the butter-hot sauce coating, and we bought a bottle of teriyaki sauce.  We poured a 4 ounces of the teriyaki sauce into a bowl and tossed 10 wings with the flour mixture on them into the sauce to coat the wings.  I think that you could take virtually any wing sauce you like to coat the wings.  

Update 12/24/2013 
We are making these for Christmas Eve dinner and using our favorite Buffalo Wild Wings sauces.  The flour is key! 

Merry Christmas! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tenderloin Deluxe

It's been a while since we have posted ... life is busy and we just haven't gotten around to posting the good things.

Ever Christmas, Paul will make Tenderloin Deluxe.  It's one of my favorite recipes.  So we decided to practice last night, just so, you know, we would be prepared for the holiday.

3 lb beef tenderloin roast
2 tablespoons softened butter
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Dash of ground black pepper
1 cup cooking sherry

The meat should be left out, covered, at room temperature for 2-3 hours before roasting.

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spread the tenderloin with the softened butter. Place the roast in a cast iron skillet and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
3. While the roast is cooking, saute the scallions in the remaining butter until tender. Add the soy sauce, mustard and pepper. Stir in the sherry and heat until just boiling.
4. After the roast has cooked for 20 minutes, pour the sauce over the roast and cook to desired doneness (125F for rare). Baste frequently.
5. Remove the roast at desired doneness and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Carve the roast into 1 inch slices and serve.




Is it good?  Oh yeah.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

shrimp on the barbie

This recipe was adapted from several including our own, All Recipes, and a host of others.  Our shrimp comes wrapped in newspaper.



- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

1.  In a 1 gallon plastic food storage bag, add the olive oil and the shrimp.  Toss the shrimp to coat in olive oil.
2.  Combine the paprika, garlic powder, pressed garlic, black pepper and Italian seasoning in a bowl and mix well.  It will look like this.


3.  Pour the seasoning mixture into the bag containing the shrimp and the olive oil.  Mix the shrimp and the seasoning well.


4.  Place the shrimp into your refrigerator and allow to marinate for 3-4 hours.
5.  Skewer the shrimp and when the grill is ready, place the shrimp on the grill. Cook the shrimp for 6-7 minutes, turning once.

Remove the shrimp from the grill and serve immediately.  I never have pictures of the done product.  It's too good to sit around taking pictures.  


Sunday, July 14, 2013

scallops and beans and corn, oh my!

I was flying solo this weekend and was on the fence about dinner.  I had scallops in the freezer, along with green beans and corn.  I didn't quite know what to do with them.  But they looked delicious.  So I let them defrost and started planning.



I decided to do very little with the scallops other than a sear; I found the recipe on the Food Network website AND I followed the directions.  Some of the comments mentioned the pepper and they were right - the pepper gave the scallops a really amazing taste.  Highly recommended. 

The green beans and corn, I did something completely different.  I dried the beans and put a little olive oil in a pan.  I cooked the beans until the started to cook through, then I added the corn.  Everything had a nice hue, having cooked through (probably 8 minutes on the beans, 3-4 with the corn).  I topped with a little feta cheese and covered.  The cheese melted and when served, I sprinkled the concoction with toasted pine nuts. 

Exquisite.  I would totally make this again.  Served with a vintage Lion's Lair.  Excellent Saturday night!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

on the grill

We have been grilling all week at the cottage.  We tried a new way to cook potatoes - on the grill in aluminum foil. Many of my foodie friends may disown us but let me just say, it was fantastic.


Red skin potatoes, scrubbed and dried.  Then quartered.
Mickey and T's All American
Olive Oil
Chopped onions 
Any herb - we had oregano on hand and threw it on. You could use anything - dill, rosemary, basil, etc.


Cook's notes - spray the aluminum foil with a non-stick cooking spray - we have an olive oil brand that we used.   Wrap up tightly, leaving a little room for the steam.  I didn't have heavy duty aluminum foil, so I wrapped them three times. 

About 25 - 30 minutes, depending on how hot your grill runs.  We used this method with our asparagus as well.  It was fantastic.


Served with a porter house steak and this wine, the meal was a home run!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Peppery Flank Steak

Much to my surprise, we have never posted our Peppery Flank Steak recipe in the Cafe.  We are making this tonight as the turf part of our Surf & Turf meal. Here is the recipe:

Peppery Flank Steak

- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- grated zest of one lime
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon chili oil or Tabasco Sauce
- 1/2 cup (4 oz.) dry red wine
- 1/4 cup (2 oz.) olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1.5 lb flank steak

  In a small bowl stir together the lime juice, lime zest, garlic, red pepper flakes, chili oil, wine, sugar and soy sauce.  Place the meat in a shallow glass bowl (or a zip-lok bag) and pour the mixture over steak.  Marinate for at least 2 hours (all day is better), turning occasionally and basting with the marinade.
  Prepare a fire in your grill.  Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry with absorbent paper towels, reserving the marinade.  Place the steak on the grill.  Cook for 10-12 minutes, turning once and brushing two or three times with the reserved marinade.  The meat should be on the rare side.
  Remove from the grill when done and loosely cover the steak with foil for 10 minutes to allow the meat to rest.  To serve, carve on the diagonal into thin slices.

Cook's notes:  We tend to put more lime juice and pepper flakes into this recipe when we make it.  We also try to marinate the flank steak for 6-8 hours.  Serve with a hearty red wine.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

slow cooker ham and stuffs

The recipe below was supposed to be cooked in the oven.  I don't like using the oven when I can use the crockpot.  So I have improvised.  I can improvise because Paul is returning from a trip and isn't here to boss me around. ;)

It is a little scary for me to be in the kitchen.  I don't like to follow directions and I don't like to measure.  Don't ask.  I like to "see" how much stuff the recipe calls for.  And then I decide in the moment. This is not a recipe for a career as an executive chef.

This sometimes works to my advantage.  Sometimes we go out for dinner.  

    Cooked ham with bones: 10-12 pounds (uncooked and way less in size)
    Garlic cloves: 8, peeled and cut into thin strips - I used 8 cloves.  Keeps the vampires away. 
    Rosemary sprigs: 8  - I used way more.  I love rosemary
    Dark brown sugar: 1/2 cup - I used Splenda brown sugar and did measure. 
    Dijon mustard 1/2 cup
    Apple juice or other liquid: 2 cups  - I used water.  

The recipe says this:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Peel the skin from the ham and trim the fat, leaving a 1/4-inch layer.
3. Using the tip of a sharp knife, score the fat in a diamond pattern.
4. Insert the sliced garlic and rosemary sprigs into the scores on the ham.
5. Mix the sugar and mustard together and brush on the ham.
6. Place in a shallow roasting pan, add the liquid to the pan, and bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 140 to 150°F.

I did this:
1. Mixed/chopped the garlic and rosemary in our chopper.
2. Scored the ham and inserted the garlic rosemary blend.


3. Mixed the brown sugar and mustard.
4. Put the ham in the crock-pot. 
5. Poured the sugar mustard blend over the ham. 
6. Added 1/2 cup of water (in the measuring cup with the mustard - why waste good mustard?)


Cooking in the crockpot for 9 hours - 1 hour on high, 8 on low.  I will add liquid if needed.  It normally isn't needed.

At the very least, I have good pictures.  Crossed fingers.  :)

Adapted from Katie Brown Entertains.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Slow-Cooker Curried Lentils With Chicken and Potatoes

Paul found this wonderful recipe in Real Simple and we knew that we had to try it!


    1 1/2  cups  red lentils (I would use two cans)
    1 1/2  pounds  russet potatoes (about 2), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces - I would use more
    1  medium onion, chopped
    2  cloves garlic, chopped
    2  teaspoons  curry powder
    1  teaspoon  chopped fresh ginger
    kosher salt and black pepper
    4  cups  low-sodium chicken broth  - I would use less (2 cups to start) and add for personal preference
    6  boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds total) - I use only chicken breasts
    2  tablespoons  fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving (we couldn't taste it)
    3/4  cup  plain yogurt  - taste better than it sounds
    naan bread, toasted, for serving

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the lentils, potatoes, onion, garlic, curry powder, ginger, 1¼ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the broth and chicken and turn to coat.
Cover and cook until the lentils and vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).

Fifteen minutes before serving, transfer the chicken to a medium bowl and, using 2 forks, shred the meat; return it to the slow cooker. Add the lime juice and stir to combine, adding more water if necessary to reach the desired consistency. Serve topped with the yogurt and cilantro, with the naan and lime wedges on the side.

We served it with a wonderful white!


By Charlyne Mattox , March, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Home Made Greek Dressing

Last week we posted a recipe for a Greek Tomato, Olive and Feta salad, but we did not post the Greek salad dressing that was called for in the recipe.  If you like Greek dressing, you gotta try this recipe.

- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1-1/2 teaspoons pepper
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt (optional)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 1 cup red wine vinegar

In a very large container, mix together the olive oil, garlic powder, 
oregano, basil, pepper, salt, onion powder, and Dijon-style mustard. 
Pour in the vinegar, and mix vigorously until well blended. Store 
tightly covered at room temperature.

Cook's Notes:  I did not add any salt to the dressing.  I felt that the garlic and onion powder have enough salt for the dressing.  I stored the dressing in a Mason jar at room temperature.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Greek Tomato, Olive, and Feta Salad

- Greek salad dressing (homemade in our home!)
- 1/2 cup feta cheese (broken into small pieces, do not crumble finely)
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- 2-3 roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 small cucumber (peeled, seeds removed and chopped)
- 1 small can (2.25 oz.) sliced black olives
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
- fresh ground black pepper and salt (to taste)


In a bowl, combine the feta cheese, parsely, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and red onion.  Pour the Greek dressing over the mixture, and season with salt an pepper to taste.


Cook's Notes
This was a incredibly easy to make and it was nothing short of delicious.  This salad will be a staple in the Cafe this summer.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Meat Balls Nirvana

- 1 pound extra lean ground beef
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried mint
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 dash hot pepper sauce (I used Tabasco Sauce)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup skim milk
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 roma tomato, sliced & diced
- 1 small cucumber, peeled, sliced & diced

- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- pepper to taste (I used a dash of ground pepper)
- 1/2 teaspoon Splenda or sugar

- Orzo, noodles or cous cous

The meat balls...

1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Place the beef into a mixing bowl, and season with salt, onion, garlic salt, mint, oregano, red pepper flakes, hot pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; mix well. Add the milk, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. Mix until evenly blended, then form into 1 1/2-inch meatballs, and place onto a baking sheet.
3. Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.
4.  While the meat balls are in the oven, slice the roma tomato, peel and slice the cucumber and place into a bowl.  Also, make the drizzle and set aside.
5.  When the meat balls are done, remove them from the oven.  Place the meatballs on top of orzo, noodles or cous cous.
6.  Spoon the sliced tomatoes and cucumbers over the meat balls.  Drizzle the drizzle over the meat balls, tomatoes and cucumbers and enjoy.

The drizzle...

Gen 5.  Awesome everyday sipping red wine.

Cook's Notes:

Deirdre found this recipe.  We tweaked it a little and we gave it a try.  We were very happy with the results.  The meat balls had a little kick to them.  While the meat balls were cooking, we made some orzo, and served the meatballs on top of it.  Gen 5 wine was a perfect compliment to the meat balls.

Whenever a recipe calls for "salt and pepper" we substitute a seasoning called "All American Season" from our friends at Mickey & T's.  We started using Mickey's rubs and spices in 2010 and we have never looked back.  For my fellow foodies out there, I urge you to click on the link above and look at Mickey's rubs and spices.  Order any of his products and I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chicken Tetrazzini

Adapted from

    6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
    2 tablespoons melted butter
    1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
    2 tablespoons butter
    1 small onion, sliced and separated into rings
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
    1/2 cup chicken broth
    1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened


 Place chicken in the slow cooker crock. Top with 2 tablespoons melted butter; sprinkle with Italian dressing mix.   Cover, and cook on High for 3 hours.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic; cook and stir until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. (I didn't add garlic or onions)

Mix in the cream of chicken soup, chicken broth, and cream cheese. Pour mixture over the cooked chicken in the slow cooker.
Cover, and continue to cook on Low until chicken in fork tender and the sauce has thickened, about 1 additional hour.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Touchdown Chili

For Super Bowl Sunday, we decided to kick back and make something easy to eat before the Niners and the Ravens take the field.  Below is the recipe we made and it is a keeper.


- 2lbs ground beef
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 28oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 4oz. can diced green chilies
- 1 15oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 bottle or can of beer (12oz.)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pepper hot sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 or 4 carrots, peeled and sliced (optional)


1.  Place the ground beef, onion and garlic in a large sauce pan and gently saute over medium heat.  Stir to crumble the beef and cook until the  beef is no longer pink and the onions are tender.  Drain off the fat and water, and return the beef mixture to the pan.  Combine the chili powder, basil and cumin, then sprinkle over the beef.  Cook and stir to coat the beef and toast the spices a little.

2.  Pour in the tomatoes, green chilies, tomato sauce, beer and vinegar.  Bring to a boil.  Mix in the brown sugar, hot pepper sauce, black pepper and carrots.  Transfer the chili into a crock pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Cook's Notes:

We have made a lot of different chili recipes and this one rates up there with the best.  It was easy to make and absolutely delicious.  We used Tabasco sauce for the "hot pepper sauce," and we added carrots to the original recipe.  We served the chili with grated cheese and sour cream.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pot Roast Sunday

We originally made this in October, 2011.  It's a keeper and it's cooking right now.

    1 (4 -5 lb) beef roast, any kind
    1 (1 1/4 ounce) package brown gravy mix, dry
    1 (1 1/4 ounce) package dried Italian salad dressing mix
    1 (1 1/4 ounce) package ranch dressing mix, dry
    1/2 cup water  (we used beef broth)

    1   Place beef roast in crock pot.
    2.  Mix the dried mixes together in a bowl and sprinkle over the roast.
    3.  Pour the water around the roast.
    4.  Cook on low for 7-9 hours.

From 2013-01-20 Sunday Pot Roast

From 2013-01-20 Sunday Pot Roast

From 2013-01-20 Sunday Pot Roast

From 2013-01-20 Sunday Pot Roast

From 2013-01-20 Sunday Pot Roast

Cooks notes.

I am a tweaker.  Instead of water, used beef broth.  We added vegetables - potatoes, celery, and carrots and add them in after the the beef has cooked for about two hours.   About 4 hours into the cooking, we add some beef broth. 

It was delicious.  Meat was delectable and the veggies, just right.  Hmmmm....  help yourself. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ham Pinwheels

Deirdre made these pinwheels for a party we attended last night.  This recipe was a home run!

-  5 10 inch diameter flour tortillas
-  8-12oz cream cheese
-  1 8oz package shredded Cheddar cheese
-  15 slices thinly sliced ham
-  1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
-  1/2 head iceberg lettuce, washed and separated into leaves
-  Southwest seasoning to taste

1.  Mix the seasoning with the cream cheese, then heat the cream cheese in a microwave for approximately 15 seconds to soften.  Place a tortilla on a work surface and using a spatula, spread 2 tablespoons of cream cheese evenly over the tortilla.  Layer three slices of deli ham over half the tortilla, followed by 2 tablespoons Cheddar cheese, 2 or 3 slices of cucumber and 2 or three lettuce leaves.
2.  Starting from the layered half of the tortilla, tightly roll into a log and 
secure with toothpicks.  Refrigerate the for 2-3 hours, then slice rolls into 1/2 inch thick slices and serve.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Chinese Pot Roast

This is in our crock pot as I type this post.  It is a repeat crowd pleaser.

Chinese Pot Roast


1 (4 pound) beef chuck roast (bone in or not)
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups water
3/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground ginger  (I used 1/3 of a cup.  We like ginger)
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Coat the chuck roast with garlic salt, pepper and mustard powder. Heat the oil in a large oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the roast and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side.

Place the roast in a crock pot.  In a medium bowl, stir together 3 cups of water, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, ginger and celery seed. Pour over the roast and then cover the crock pot.

Cook on high for one hour, then on low for 7-8 hours.

When the roast is done, remove it from the pan to a serving plate. Pour the liquid in the crockpot pot into a skillet and heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir together cornstarch and 1/4 cup of cold water. Pour the water/corn starch mixture into the boiling liquid and stir until thickened, about 1 minute. Serve, pouring the gravy over the roast.

Cook's Notes:  You can add some sliced carrots to the roast when there are 2-3 cooking hours remaining for the roast.  The meat from the roast literally falls off the bone.  We serve the meat on the rice and then pour the sauce over the meat and the rice.