Monday, December 2, 2013

December is a very important month.  It is the holidays!  But what else is the month known for?

December is also known as National Write a Business Plan Month, and Gluten Free Baking Week of Dec 12-20 and National Cookie Day which is December 4th.  But it is also Root Vegetable and Exotic Fruit Month.  What the heck is a root vegetable?

A ‘Root Vegetable’ is any underground part of a plant—the root.  This part is the starchy tuber or taproot of the plant.  If we let them be they would provide the plant with needed nourishment to thrive.  Instead, we pull them up and eat them.  What are a few examples of root vegetables?  Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, yams, and carrots to name just a few.  I know I discussed the rutabaga several months ago, so let’s take a closer look at the sweet potato and what we can do with that. 

This is one of my favorite stews.  The chicken and sweet potato blend well and really make the stew delicious.

Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew

6 chicken thighs, skin removed and trim the fat
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in strips
½ cup mushrooms, sliced thin
6 large shallots, peeled and cut in half
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup white wine
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried
2 Tablespoons wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients to a large soup pot with medium heat.
Stir occasionally for 5 minutes then lower heat.
Cook for 2 hours slowly or until chicken is cooked.
Serves 6

Here’s a second recipe that you can use as a snack or a dessert.

Sweet Potato Pecan Bread

This moist sweet potato bread is low in fat and easy to make. Besides the fact that it tastes really great.

1 ½ cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mace
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup chopped dates or raisins
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup applesauce (makes it really moist)
4 Tablespoons milk
1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potatoes

Grease bottom of a loaf pan approximately 9- x 5- x 3-inches.
Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and spices in mixing bowl
Stir in the sugar, pecans, and raisins or dates.
In a separate bowl, combine eggs, applesauce, milk, and mashed sweet potatoes
Stir to blend well.
Add wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a large spoon just until the mixture is moistened.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 325° for about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes.
Remove from pan and continue cooling on wire rack.


Friday, November 22, 2013


November is the month for Thanksgiving.  But what else is November  known for.  I had to do some searching.  It is Manatee Awareness Month, and National Georgia Pecan Month, National Novel Writing Month, (that’s good for me as I am still writing my novel).  November is National Peanut Butter Lovers Month and it is also Plum, Pomegranate and Cranberry Month.  With the Cranberry in mind, I figured I do something for ‘ye ole’ turkey table ideas.   Here is a Cranberry mold and some variations that you can use for the big day.


Cranberry Mold


2    3 oz packages  raspberry gelatin (or if you can find
 cranberry gelatin, that is best)
1  16 oz can whole cranberries, broken apart
1  16 oz can pineapple, either crushed or chunked 
1 can mandarin oranges
2 cups hot water
1 cup reserved liquid or add water to make up the  one cup

Mix gelatin with hot water and stir.
Drain oranges, pineapple, and reserve liquid
Add remaining liquid—cold water and cold juices reserve.
Refrigerate until starting to gel.
Add fruit and fold in gently. (This way the fruit will not fall
to the bottom)
Break up whole cranberries with a fork if needed.
Put in mold and chill for at least 4 hours.

There are many variations to this recipe

Add ½ cup of your favorite nuts, I like pecans.   broken, but not chopped.

Add ½ cup chopped celery.


Decrease the liquid by about ¼  cup and  add ½ cup  of
frozen whipped topping. This will change the look of
 he mold. The other mold is transparent. With the
addition of the whipped topping, it becomes opaque
and pink. It is a little sweeter than the others. 


Add 1 cup seedless white or green grapes, cut in half.
You can eliminate the oranges and use the grapes or
eliminate the pineapple and use the grapes.


Add 1 can of raspberries, fresh or frozen. Eliminate one of
the other fruits.

 You don’t want it too dense with fruit. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013



September for many is back to school month.  It is also known as “National Biscuit Month”, “National Chicken Month” and “National Piano Month.’  September 7 is National Acorn Squash Day,  I have given you a great recipe for Acorn Squash soup that is thick and creamy.  Give it a try!

 Acorn Squash Soup

4 strips of bacon, (either cook it or use the pre-cooked type you get at the market.)
1 medium onion, chopped
½ pound Kale, stems removed, and leaves finely chopped (about 8 cups)
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups or 2 packages frozen winter acorn squash, puree
3 Tablespoons oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon or use the pre-cooked type, set aside.
Add oil to frying pan and slowly cook the onions until soft.
Then add the chopped Kale and cook until soft.
Add the squash puree and 3 cups of chicken broth.
Add this a little at a time until you get the desired thickness.
You may not need to use all of the chicken  broth.
Cook almost to a boil.
Stirring to make sure it is creamy.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with bacon as a garnish.

Variation:  You can add ½ Tablespoon of basil or oregano to the soup

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Fennel has a very distinct taste. Fennel is an aromatic herb and a member of the carrot family. It has a large pale green bulb, celery-like stems and feathery leaves. Sliced thinly, the fennel bulb can be used in salads or served with other vegetables and a dip. Uncooked fennel has a mild licorice flavor and crunchy texture like celery. When fennel is cooked, the flavor becomes more delicate and the texture softens. Fennel can be sautéed, braised, baked and added to soups or stews. The feathery leaves have an even milder flavor and can be used in soups and salads or as a garnish.

Avocado Fennel Citrus Salad

1 grapefruit
2 oranges
2 avocados
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 Tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon salt
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and sliced very thin, fronds for

Catch grapefruit and orange juice over a bowl.
Peel and section the grapefruit and oranges.
Cut avocados in half, remove pit, and peel.
Cut into slices or chunks.
Add to grapefruit mixture, toss to coat with juices
Drain juices off into a small bowl.
Stir in honey, lime and salt.
Add fennel slices and juice mixture to mixture
Toss gently to mix.
Low in calories
Serves 2-4  Enjoy

Saturday, June 8, 2013

June has always been a great month.  It is getting warmer, but not too hot.  Although this year, I fear it will be the exception.  It has been warm since April.  June is known as Turkey Lover’s Month and World Naked Bike Ride Month, now that would really be something to watch and I’m afraid laugh at.  But June is also National Ice Tea Month.  There is nothing like a cold glass of ice tea to sooth your thirst and cool you down just a bit.

Most teas can be served hot or cold.  And this one is no exception.  It contains iron and potassium and can help you’re digestive system.  I have just the ice tea for you.

Basil Tea, iced or hot.  I have used this tea over vegetables and meat and even in soups. You know tea is not just for drinking anymore.   Anyway, give this one a try.  Either hot or cold.


Basil Tea      2 cups

 3 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
Add chopped leaves to a teapot and add 2 cups boiling water.
Let steep 5 to 10 minutes
You can either strain into a cup to filter the basil leaves or pour them into the cup and eat/drink them with the tea.
Add sugar to taste. 
Pour over ice if you want it cold.


 Here’s another Basil idea….Basil Lemonade

1 cup water
Also 3 cups cold water
1 cup sugar (or use sugar substitute, but check measurements)
1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed firmly
2 cups ice
Frozen lemonade, small can or packet powdered lemonade
¼ cup lemon juice

In a small saucepan over medium heat , bring 1 cup water and sugar to a boil.
Lower heat and cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes
Remove the saucepan from the heat.
Add fresh basil leaves, cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes.
If you would like to add a tea bag for added flavor, please do.
Fill a pitcher with 2 cups of ice.
Strain the sugar/basil syrup into the pitcher.
Discard the basil.
Stir in 3 cups cold water and packet or small  can of lemonade.
Makes about 6-7 cups of Basil Lemonade Ice Tea.

Check out by cookbook, In Addition…to the Entrée on


Monday, April 22, 2013

May is the beginning of warmer weather in most of the country.  So, what happens in this month and it is a great month.  We have Cinco de Mayo which is always fun.  It is also National Vinegar Month and Potato and Lime month.  It is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month and Lyme disease can be a real problem in Pennsylvania area and other areas where there are deer.  It is also National Salsa month, but the one I really like is National Sweet Vidalia Onion Month.  If you have ever cooked with or cut up a sweet Vidalia onion, you will know what I am talking about.  They re so sweet and good in what ever you are making.  There is a short window for the buying and using of these wonderful sweet onions, but they are worth the wait.

Just a little history about the Vidalia Onion.  It is Georgia's official state vegetable.  This year the Vidalia Onion Festival is April 18-21, 2013.  Lost of events and fun goes on in Georgia at this time.  The onion itself has a high sugar content.  They have a limited season which is usually April to around the end of June.

Here is just one fun recipe using the Vidalia Onion, but you can take any recipe and use a Vidalia Onion and make it sweeter.  Also try making French Onion soup with the Vidalia Onion.  Wow, is that good.

Basic Strata with Sweet Vidalia Onions

12 slices bread, remove crust and cube
1  8 oz  package shredded cheese, any type
4 cups milk (you can use half and half, but I don't need the calories)
8 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon dry mustard is best, but I have used jarred mustard instead
2 large sweet Vidalia onions, halved and quartered and then cut into thin slices
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper
Dash of thyme
4 Tablespoons butter for cooking onions

Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish.  (I like to use a fancy casserole dish)
Spread bread, then cheese.
Cook butter and onions slowly until slightly limp and translucent.
Add to bread and cheese mix.
Beat milk, eggs, dry mustard, and spices.
Pour over cheese and bread and onions.
Refrigerate overnight.
Bake one hours at 350 degrees.
Serve hot.