Saturday, November 8, 2014

October 12, 2014

Tonya and I met at Sandy's house. Tonya started our evening with some delicious cheese and crackers.  The cheese was a sweet apple log with a creamy, mild cheese.

The salad was a broccoli salad with grapes and sunflower seeds.  The grapes gave it a mild sweetness and the sunflower seeds some crunch and saltiness.  The recipe made a huge bowl and the leftovers were good for many days.  I liked the dressing because it just barely coated the salad and let all the other flavors come through. Some broccoli salads are too wet and sweet.

Our main dish was deliciously tender  pork short ribs with celery and carrots.  Sandy made these herself due to the long cooking time.  She served over polenta, which was also delicious.  It was very creamy, flavorful and kept warm in a crock pot.  Sandy also had acorn squash for us.  It was simply prepared with some butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.  This was a fall friendly, comfort food filled, meal.

Our cooking group is known for our love of bread pudding.  Following the fall theme, Tonya prepared pumpkin bread pudding with a caramel sauce. Caramel makes everything better though this cake did not need any help with its homemade pumpkin bread as the base!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

September 7, 2014

Tonya, Mary, Sandy and I met at my house for an evening of delicious food and fellowship.

Dessert:  Sandy, Apple Bavarian Torte

Tonya started us off with two appetizers:  cheese stuffed mushrooms and a beautiful cantaloupe, mozzarella and prosciutto skewer with pesto.  I love mushrooms and this was an elegant yet simple appetizer that incorporated a spreadable cheese in mushroom caps.  The skewers were full of freshness from the melon, salt from the prosciutto and creamy mozzarella that balanced it all.  The pesto added a burst of spice with the basil and shallots.

Our salad, prepared by Mary, was a combination of sweet and savory.  There were oranges, feta, walnuts, red onions, greens and roasted beets with a balsamic vinaigrette.  This was a hearty salad with lots of flavor and a great way to showcase beets. 

For our main dish I picked pasta with shrimp and a creamy sauce.  The dish made a ton and re-heated very well.  I liked the tomatoes and fresh basil and parsley.  Parmesan cheese garnished the dish. Sandy brought some sourdough bread that we served warm with butter on the side.

Our meal concluded with an apple torte that Sandy made.  It looked as amazing as it tasted.  The almonds scattered among the apples created a crunchy texture.  There was a creamy filling and delicious crust.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 24, 2014

We met at Tonya's.  In attendance were Tonya, Mary, Angie and Tonya's friend, Sandy.

Appetizer and Cocktail (Angie):  Peppadew  Peppers with Goat Cheese, Yellow Squash and Mozarella Quiche and White Sangria
Salad (Sandy):  Green Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing
Side and Main:  Polenta and Crab Cakes
Dessert (Mary):  Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone and Caramel

We started our evening off with Peppadew Peppers stuffed with lemon goat cheese and Squash and Mozzarella Quiche.   The peppers were introduced to me at Spec's.  You can find them at the olive bar and the lemon flavored goat cheese perfectly compliments the slightly sweet with a touch of heat, peppers.  The quiche has a super simple crust.  I typically do not make my own crusts but this recipe was full proof.  I made it the day before and then let it warm slightly at room temperature before rolling it out.  I used only half of the ingredients called for in the filling and it was the perfect amount for my square tart pan.  When I sauteed the squash I also included one diced shallot.

The sangria was beautiful to look at with all the fruit.  The flavor is light and slightly sweet.  The addition of club soda keeps it from being too potent.  After we finished it off I added more wine to the fruit and it was good for several days.

The salad had a creamy garlic dressing.  There were tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and candied pecans.  It was a simple salad with big flavor that rounded out the meal.

The polenta was simple recipe with water, milk, salt and cornmeal.  It was served along side the most delicious crab cakes I have ever had.  The filling was about a quarter bread crumbs and spices and three quarters lump crab meat.  We made the patties and then placed in the refrigerator to firm up.  The coating on the outside had 3 steps which resulted in incredibly crunchy cakes.  We used Panko bread crumbs rather than regular bread crumbs for the outside.  The cakes were fried for about 3 minutes per side.  On top, Tonya made a sauce of mayo, lemon juice, sirracha and salt.  These were amazing and re-heated very well in my toaster oven. 

For dessert, Mary prepared a unique dish of peaches stuffed with a vanilla bean mascarpone and topped with salted caramel sauce.  The peaches were broiled until soft then filled with the cheese and the caramel sauce was drizzled over the top.  The caramel can be tricky to make and the key is patience and not to stir, just swirl the pan.  This is one of my most favorite desserts I think we have ever had.  The peaches are naturally sweet, the cheese has a strong flavor of fresh vanilla and the caramel sauce is addictive.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Blueberry Lemon Pound Cake

The original poster of this cake calls it Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake.  Since there are 10 times more blueberries than lemon, I am going to call it BLUEBERRY lemon cake.  No matter what you call it, it is delicious and simple to make.  

The lemon flavor is very mild in the cake but highlighted in the glaze.  I used the juice of 2 lemons and the zest of 1 in the glaze in order to use up the juice in the lemon I zested for the cake.  Also, I do not think you can over do lemon!  The other changes I made were using whole milk with a tablespoon of vinegar to make it buttermilk, I pressed some extra blueberries in the top of the batter and I baked it in one bread pan.  This added about 20 minutes to the cooking time.

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake from …This recipe is HEAVENLY! Seriously melt-in-your-mouth good!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The best chocolate cookie ever...

A chocolate cookie with an Andes Mint melted on top.  YUM and pretty!  Tastes like a chewy thin mint.

A coworker brought these and I cannot stop thinking about them.

¾ c. butter
1 ½ c. brown sugar
2 tbsp. water
12 oz. bag chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 ¾ c. flour
½ tsp. salt
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
1+ boxes of andes mints ( I used like 3 mints from a second box when I made them so you can get away with just one box)

Melt butter, brown sugar and water.
Add Chocolate chips and stir until melted.
Let cool for 10 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients and then chill dough for at least an hour.
Roll into balls and place on a cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 for 8 to 9 minutes.
Remove from oven and place half an Andes mint on top and place back in the oven for around 10 seconds.
Once removed swirl the top of the cookie with a spoon and let cool.

Friday, July 18, 2014

July 13, 2014

We met at Mary's, along with guests Cecilia and Stephanie. 

Our meal started with spicy guacamole, chips and a mango cocktail served in chilled, sugar rimmed tumblers.

The cocktail also featured tequila which kept with the Caribbean Nights theme.  I did not realize how versatile tequila is and I have made it my alcohol of choice lately (sorry, rum).                                                                    
The Stephanie Special
Mango sparkling soda (Trader Joe's)
Fresh squeezed lime juice
Top with champagne
Garnish with a lime wedge and serve very chilled

Our meal continued with conch fritters (used clams) with a zesty dipping sauce, a colorful black bean salad, fall-of-the-bone tender ribs and white rice.  Thank you to Tonya for the cool picture below!

The fritters were a mixture of finely chopped clams, green and red peppers, celery, onion, jalapeno (seeded), egg, flour and baking powder.  Make these into small balls and fry in oil for about three minutes.  Turn to get browned on both sides.  The oil may foam up.  Do not be alarmed.

Tonya's salad was full of fresh flavors with corn, red pepper, avocado, and cilantro.  It was a perfect compliment to the rich ribs.  The rice also went nicely with the spicy ribs and served as a base to soak up the juices.

Now... the ribs.  YUM.  These were so tender that you did not need a knife.  The flavor was complex with hints of cinnamon and cloves.  Mary prepared these prior to our arrival and they cooked as we prepared the fritters.

We had not one but TWO desserts.  Cecelia's mom's flan and a rum cake that I prepared.  The flan was denser than most recipes, using cream cheese to give it more of a cheesecake texture.  The rum cake was like a drunk pound cake.  While there is no rum in the cake itself, there is some in both a syrup and a glaze.  These add flavor and keep the cake very moist.


1 can (14 oz) of Nestle Condensed Milk
1 can (14 oz) of evaporated milk
1 package of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 TBSP of vanilla extract
3 eggs

1 ½ cup of regular sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a small nonstick saucepan, heat the sugar over medium heat until it is dissolved and begins to brown. Pour caramelized sugar into a pie or cheesecake dish, and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan evenly.
  3. Combine custard ingredients in a large bowl. With a mixer, mix for one minute. Pour over the caramelized sugar dish.
  4. Place the dish into a larger pan and add 1 inch of HOT water to the outer pan. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until set.
  5. Remove dish from oven and allow to cool down.
  6. Turn upside down when cool.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

June 8, 2014

Mary, Tonya and I came together for a cooking feast at my house. 

Appetizer:  Guacamole, Angie
Salad: Tropical Fruit Salad, Mary
Side: Bourbon Slaw
Main:  West Virginia Trout Tacos
Cocktail:  Paloma, Angie
Dessert:  Mexican Chocolate Pots de Creme, Tonya

For a cocktail, I picked the popular Paloma.  I have seen it mentioned on tv many times lately.  It is simple to prepare with grapefruit soda, tequila and fresh lime or grapefruit juice.  Very refreshing and fresh tasting with the fruit juice.

Eva Longoria's Guacamole

  • 4 large ripe avocados, chopped
  • 1 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 small Serrano peppers, ribs and some seeds removed, minced
  • Coarse salt
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Tortilla chips, preferably lime-flavored 

Our salad was prepared by Mary.  It featured fresh fruit and a sweet, zesty dressing. 

Tropical fruit salad

Cubed cantaloupe
Mandarin orange segments

Honey Lime Dressing 

Honey-- about 1/4 cup  (I like it a bit sweet)
Lime zest of 2-3 limes
Fresh lime juice-- about 3 large limes
Pinch of salt
Couple teaspoons of vegetable oil
A couple teaspoons of brown sugar

Mix all the ingredients and adjust amounts to taste.  Let dressing sit in refrigerator for a couple of hours so that flavors can develop.  Lightly dress the fruit about 30 minutes before serving.

The main dish was one I saw on a recent episode of  The Kitchen.  I love fish tacos and this recipe included a side of slaw so I thought it would be a good dish for the Gourmet Gals to tackle. 

 Tonya made the most delicious chocolate dessert.  The pot de creme was creamy and rich with a hint of cinnamon.  She garnished with nuts, simple Mexican cookies and whipped cream.  It was happiness in a ramekin.