Mr. C’s Strawberries Armagnac

A Berry Boozy Dessert Mr. C’s Strawberries Armagnac Dessert Just when I thought I didn’t have any more recipes from my late stepfather Mr. C, I rediscovered this delicious way to serve those gorgeous strawberries that are just coming into season. I love the first berries of spring as they are so big and juicy, and ooze strawberry deliciousness. There is a lot of booze in this recipe, and I do not have a substitute for any of it, so I would not serve this to any of the under-21 set. (You don’t need to use the bottle of cognac below that we were told by a server cost $3,000 at the bar in Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City … Read more…

Guinness Chocolate Pudding with Irish Whiskey Whipped Cream

The Proof Is More Than In The PuddingGuinness Chocolate Pudding with Irish Whiskey Whipped Cream Dessert Here is a recipe I found on BBC Goodfood, which uses rich dark chocolate and Guinness stout. Guinness is Tom’s favorite beer, and I love chocolate! It seemed like a good recipe to attempt for St. Patrick’s Day. I think it is better than lava cake … light, yet super chocolatey that falls somewhere between a brownie and a truffle … Wow! I combined a bar of Lindt 85% cocoa dark chocolate with a Lindt dark chocolate sea salt bar. The Lindt flavored dark chocolates are only 47% cocoa so be sure to use at least one bar of the 70% or greater. Next … Read more…

Irish Amy’s Potato Leek Soup

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling Irish Amy’s Potato Leek Soup Soup and Salad My mom’s nickname was “Irish.” Her father was Emerson Carey, how much more Irish is that? She told us she was 95% Irish and 5% Scottish, and I know her favorite holiday was St. Patrick’s Day. When I learned Ireland has a deal where you can obtain dual citizenship and move there if your grandparents were from Ireland, I looked into it. Imagine how disappointed I was to learn that my grandparents were born in Kansas. No Irish retirement for us. Anyway, my mom made the best potato leek soup … warm, velvety, creamy. This may even have been the recipe that cinched the deal with my … Read more…

Old-Fashioned Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies

Just Like Mom Used To Make Old-Fashioned Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies Dessert This recipe for peanut butter cookies is from my mom’s very first cookbook, Miss B’s First Cookbook, which she received in 1950.  My mom would have been eight at that time, so I suspect the crayon markings all over the book are mine.                      These are the cookies I grew up with. It was my job to press the fork tines into the cookies to form the hatch marks. I love the first instruction: “Have Mother light the oven …” I have updated the recipe a tad using butter instead of shortening and adding ground dry roasted peanuts to boost … Read more…

Mushroom Leek Gruyère Soup with Puff Pastry Top

Chase The Winter Chill Away Soup Mushroom Leek Gruyère Soup with Puff Pastry Top Soup and Salad As soon as the calendar said it was winter, Tom started begging me to make soup. Mushroom Leek Gruyère Soup is a recipe I haven’t made in some time, but it is a yummy, hardy, delicious, chase the winter chill away soup. Plus, it is just as good with or without the puff pastry top. I found this recipe in a 2001 Holiday Cooking magazine, and I pretty much make the recipe as indicated. The recipe does not specify which type of mushroom to use, but we like Cremini mushrooms which are brown and have a slightly nutty flavor. Buy your mushrooms whole, … Read more…

Emeril’s Hot Jalapeño Crab Dip

Creole Crab Emeril’s Hot Jalapeño Crab Dip Starter Just in time for your New Year’s Eve soirée! This elegant, creamy hot crab dip from Emeril is just what you need to nibble with champagne. Tom’s nephew brought this dip to Thanksgiving many, many years ago. It was so AMAZING, and I loved it so much, that he bought me Emeril’s Creole Christmas cookbook as a gift that same year (although the dip recipe is not in there, there are lots of yummy recipes and menu ideas). It must have been 1997 as that was the year the cookbook came out. Emeril is practically unrecognizable!                                 … Read more…

Chicken with Morels

Elegant Dinner Party Dish Chicken with Morels Main Courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook (with a few variations), here is an elegant, delectable chicken dish for any celebration. For those of you have not experienced Morels, they are earthy and meaty, but unfortunately, they are more expensive than most meat. One ounce of these little guys will set you back nearly 25 bucks. Sadly, for me, they happen to be about the only mushroom Tom will eat.We usually host Christmas Eve dinner, and this is one of my go-to dishes that never fails to impress. I serve it with Crispy English Potatoes with Pancetta and Green Beans with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette & Parmesan Panko Crumbs. A simple … Read more…

Cajun Bread Pudding with Jack Daniels Sauce

The Proof is in The (Bread) Pudding Cajun Bread Pudding with Jack Daniels Sauce Dessert This Cajun Bread Pudding is one of the most requested desserts at our holiday parties. It is tied for popularity with Tom’s Famous Black Russian Cake, both of which are easy to make and guaranteed to Wow! your friends and family.  Tom always dresses up for the parties. If you Google bread pudding recipes you will get 177 MILLION results! So why should you give mine a whirl? Because the combination of the raisins and cinnamon in a moist, custard-like interior together with the Jack Daniels sauce remind me of an adult version of cinnamon rolls. Yum, yum, yum! I have been making this recipe … Read more…

Barefoot Contessa’s Crispy English Potatoes with Pancetta

Perfect Potatoes! Barefoot Contessa’s Crispy English Potatoes with Pancetta Side From Ina Garten’s FOOLPROOF, here is our absolute FAVORITE potato recipe! My notes in the cookbook say, “Holy Moly, these are perfect!”  They are so easy to make that I serve them year-round. Golden, crispy, crunchy oven-roasted baby potatoes with pancetta and a sprinkling of chopped parsley or chives make for one of the best side dishes we’ve ever tasted.                                                     I prefer either baby Yukon Golds (try Melissa’s Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes) or fingerling potatoes. If you use a larger potato cut them so … Read more…

Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque with Star Anise

“Deliciously Decadent” Soup Roasted Butternut Squash Bisque with Star Anise Soup In Tom’s prior life (the one where he earned money … I miss those days), he wrote for a number of magazines. Every January, one of the associations he worked with held what could only be called an extravaganza. In the beginning they were formal affairs, but more recently they had a theme, and were held at various venues around Southern California. We have been attending these events since 1990, and I have a closet full of evening gowns to prove it! (This photo is from 2009.) And, here is a photo from the year Tom won the costume contest!  It seems like only … Yesterday. At the Dinner … Read more…