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Crispy Cheesy Pepper Bacon Bites; An Irresistible Thanksgiving Tapas Treat!

1bacon-7 copy

These flavorful little gems are easy to put together well in advance so you have extra time primping for your get-together. They go directly from the freezer to the oven and if you’re lucky enough (they’re irresistible and guests love to snatch them up), right to your entertaining table. They combine three of the most irresistible snack foods on earth: bread, cheese, and bacon.  Please be sure to let the bites sit for 5 or 10 minutes before serving; the cream cheese gets extremely hot.


2, 8 ounce packages of cream cheese; room temperature

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced

1/2 cup scallions, sliced, white and green

20 slices soft white bread

1 1/2 pounds pepper bacon


Mix together cheeses until smooth. Stir in peppers and scallions until evenly mixed; set aside. Trim crusts from slices of bread. Once bread is trimmed, spread slices with filling, covering completely. Roll bread up from the short side, pressing down just enough to make it stick to itself. Wrap a slice of bacon around each roll, overlapping the bacon to cover bread completely. If you need more than one bacon slice, tuck the end of the second bacon slice under the end of the first. Trim the bacon when you get to the top of the roll. Freeze wrapped rolls for 30 minutes to firm them up.

Preheat oven to 375° lightly grease a baking sheet, or line with parchment paper.

I use a Sil-Pat baking sheet (shown in photo)

Bacon Pan copy

Slice rolls in thirds and place on baking sheet, cut side down. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (5 minutes longer if baking from frozen), until bacon is crisp and tops are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and place on a serving platter; let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Best Apple Slice

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Best Apple Slice

Tis the season for baking! As easy as pie? You bet! This is no store bought! It’s real, luscious and completely satisfying–you will find new best friends with this one; they’ll flock to you! I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and incorporated the “salted caramel” aspect and it’s a winner! The brown sugar offers the caramely, buttery flavor and the salt, well, the salty notes. No need to fear, I will take through each step. This apple pie is award winning; firm not runny, perfectly sweet with the perfect amount of spices. It is sure to become one of your family’s favorites–it is in ours. If the homemade crust intimidates you, a good quality, store bought crust will do, but this classic pie crust is well worth the little time and effort…it’s buttery, flaky and simply AMAZING! So, get that rolling pin out, and join me for a tasty, appley, spicy adventure!

PS…Check out this peeler, slicer gadget! If you use and enjoy apples in any form, it’s a must!


photo source: amazon


Pie Crust:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for bench and cutters

2 tablespoons sugar

½-1 teaspoon fine salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

4 tablespoons ice water mixed with 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, plus more as needed


3-4 pounds cooking apples (7-8 cups) sliced thin…I used the peeler corer slicer

1/2 lemon, juiced

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4- 1 cup brown sugar, packed firmly

2 teaspoons apple pie seasoning (or 2 tsp ground spices; 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves & a pinch of nutmeg)

1 teaspoon fine salt

3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon instant tapioca

1 tablespoon course sugar

1/2 tsp course ground sea salt

Chef’s Note: You can increase the amount of sugar to 2 cups, depending upon your sweet tooth :-)

For the crust: In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt and cold butter.

Pulse the processor until the mixture resembles fine sand. Remove lid and add ice water vinegar to mixture. Run processor just until mixture rolls itself into a little ball. If mixture is a bit dry, add more ice water by the tablespoonful until it comes together. Gather the dough into a ball. With a bench scraper or knife, divide the mixture evenly in half. Shape each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes. Dough will keep in the refrigerator for a few days or you may freeze for later use.

Preheat the oven to 425*


photo source: veronicascornucopia

Flour a rolling pin and roll out 1 pie crust over a piece of floured waxed paper roll to about a 12-inch round and drape over a 9 1/2-inch pie plate—remember curbs not driveways. Roll out the other pie crust to about a 10-inch round. Scatter tapioca on the bottom—this will prevent a soggy bottom

Filling: Peel, core and thinly slice apples (corer, peeler, slicer highly recommended) add lemon juice and stir gently. Whisk flour, sugar, spices and salt in another bowl, making sure there are no lumps. Stir flour mixture into apples and mix well. Pour into pie crust. Scatter with pieces of butter. Top with 2nd 10 inch round. Crimp edges to seal. Cut a hole in the center and make several slits in between. Sprinkle top with course sugar & salt.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, lower heat to 350 degrees and bake until crust is golden; about 55-65 minutes. If the edges brown too fast, cover them with strips of aluminum foil about halfway through baking. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.





Brie en Croute Featuring Rosemary Cherries Apricots & Toasted Pecans



Brie en Croute is a round of brie wrapped in puff pastry then baked to a beautiful golden brown. This recipe is filled with tart, yet sweet cherries, astringent apricots, fresh rosemary and slightly salty, crisp toasted pecans. It requires very little work but always proves to be a very impressive appetizer.

Start with a small wheel of brie, which you will place over a defrosted sheet of puff pastry coated with apricot jam, sprinkled with dried cherries, a scattering of chopped toasted pecans and fresh rosemary.


Use a Full Wheel of Brie, Uncut

Wrap the puff pastry over the filled brie, trim the excess and seal the seams. Feel free to utilize any small scraps of dough using small cookie cutters of various shapes and sizes—ones appropriate for the season.  Place in the frig for approximately 15 minutes—a chilled pastry will provide a flakier crust. Before baking brush with an egg wash and bake until golden.


photo source: simplyhealthy


One sheet puff pastry, all butter brand preferred, thawed according to package insert

½ cup apricot preserves

⅓ cup dried cherries

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped coarsely

1 round of Brie…approximately 1 pound

½ cup chopped toasted pecans

1 egg

1 tablespoon of water

Gourmet crackers of choice


Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface roll puff pastry into a 14 x 14 inch square; trim into a circle. Save scraps to decorate top before baking. Spread preserves across pastry, leaving a 1” bare perimeter. Sprinkle on cherries, approximately the width of the brie. Then sprinkle with rosemary. Top with Brie (rind intact).

Whisk egg and water in small bowl. Brush the plain edge of the pastry with egg wash, and then fold up over top of Brie forming pockets. Trim any excess pastry away if needed and press to seal.  Using a leaf or other cookie cutter cut out pastry scraps and arrange on top of Brie. Refrigerate while preheating oven to 400º F.

Brush pastry top with egg wash; bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and a few chopped pecans. Serve with gourmet crackers of choice.

Serves approximately 6-8


The British Afternoon Tea; Where It All Began & What is Served; Cucumber Finger Sandwiches


There is no more quintessential British ritual than the ceremony and serving of Afternoon tea. It is believed that credit for the custom goes to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford in the early 19th century. The usual habit of serving dinner between 8 and 9 pm left the Duchess hungry and with a ‘sinking feeling’ by late afternoon. To stave off the hunger, she would order tea, bread and butter and cakes to be served in her room. Later on she would invite friends to join her at her home and the light tea was such a success the habit caught on.

The Duchess continued the custom on returning to London and soon the “At Home” tea evolved which quickly spread throughout England. Announcements about tea were sent to relatives and friends stating at what hour the tea would be served. Sometimes entertainment was provided but more often it was simply conversation and a little idle gossip over tea and cakes. If “At Home” notices were received the guest was expected to attend, unless of course, regrets were sent. There was at least one person holding an at home each day and social ties were quickly established with women seeing each other so regularly.

The taking of tea gradually spread from the home and out into society in general. Tea Parties became the norm and Tea Rooms, and Tea Gardens quickly sprang up everywhere

The Afternoon tea traditionally starts with savory finger-sized sandwiches filled with smoked salmon, cucumber, or egg and mustard cress. These are followed by scones with jam and cream (clotted cream in Devon and Cornwall), and finally, a selection of cakes served on tiered cake stands. Variations on the menu may include the serving of English Muffins, thinly sliced, hot buttered toast or crumpets.

Alongside of course, are copious cups of tea. The tea is traditionally poured from heavy, ornate, silver teapots into delicate bone-china cups and served with milk or lemon. Now this is some kind of Tea Party!


Cucumber Tea Sandwiches photo source: lifeinachelle

Traditional English Cucumber Sandwiches

Tea sandwiches – also called finger sandwiches – are the most delicate of all sandwiches. Daintily presented tasty morsels served at a traditional afternoon tea.

Traditional tea sandwich recipes contain such highly-flavored ingredients as anchovies, watercress, mustard, smoked salmon and even caviar.

Cucumber Sandwiches are the epitome of a posh sandwich. Make sure you use soft white bread and slice both bread and cucumbers very thinly.

Take one, lovely fresh green cucumber and slice very thinly. Butter thin slices of soft white bread. Arrange the cucumber slices on half the bread, overlapping them neatly. Season with a little salt and pepper. Cover with the second slice of bread and cut into small pieces. Garnish with a small sprig of dill or thyme.

Cucumber sandwiches are scrumptious enough to eat on their own, but when served alongside a pot of tea, some scones and a few cakes, they simply scale new heights; a proper English afternoon tea.



The World’s Best Waldorf Salad & a little history


“Creamy Waldorf Salad” photo source: onegreenplanet

The Word’s Best Waldorf Salad

The Waldorf salad was first created between 1893 and 1896 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City (the precursor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, which came into being with the merger of the Waldorf with the adjacent Astoria Hotel, opened in 1897).

Oscar Tschirky, who was the Waldorf’s maître d’hôtel and developed or inspired many of its signature dishes, is widely credited with creating the recipe. In 1896, Waldorf Salad appeared in The Cook Book by “Oscar of the Waldorf”; the original recipe did not contain nuts, but they had been added by the time the recipe appeared in The Rector Cook Book in 1928. The salad became popular enough that Cole Porter featured it in his 1934 song “You’re the Top”.

A scrumptious salad, such as this delicious creamy, crisp, crunchy beauty, is a must on your Thanksgiving table; it refreshes the palate and soothes the soul.

The Waldorf, 1893

The Waldorf, 1893


2 medium golden delicious apples, cored and diced (2 cups)

2 medium Honeycrisp or Jazz apples cored and diced (2 cups)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup halved green seedless grapes

1/2 cup halved red seedless grapes

1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

1/4 cup raisins, dried cranberries or dried blueberries

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch freshly ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 cup whipping cream

ground nutmeg


In a large bowl, sprinkle apples with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Add celery, grapes, pecans, and dried fruit.


Combine mayonnaise, cinnamon and 1/2 tsp lemon juice. Whip cream with sugar until fairly stiff. Fold whipped cream into the mayonnaise mixture. Mix with the apple mixture. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Chill at least one hour before serving.


A Typical Waldorf Astoria Brunch




Sausage Stuffing Italia–My Go To Thanksgiving Recipe


photo source: popsugar

This mouth-watering recipe can stand up to any out there that include twice the ingredients and are more complex. I make this every year and it’s always perfect with consistent rave reviews and results, guest after guest.

If you’re not a sausage fan, well make another recipe ;-) Or simply leave it out, but the flavors won’t be exactly the same. That being said, the sausage flavor really isn’t overwhelming,  just adds incredible depth of flavor that combines so well with the remaining ingredients.

Connecticut (from the Statewide most popular recipe search) chose a winner in my book and in my book, you will always find this simple, but luscious holiday recipe.


1 pound sweet Italian sausage, preferably bulk, but I use large links

4 tablespoons butter

1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried sage or 1/4 cup fresh

10 cups stale Italian bread, cubed or 2 bags of prepared store bought such as Pepperidge Farms or Marie Callender

2 cups chicken broth

2 eggs, slightly beaten



Heat oven to 350* Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove casings from sausage and crumble into skillet. Cook until no longer pink. Remove sausage from skillet with a slotted spoon. Add 2 tablespoons butter to skillet. When melted, add mushrooms to pan sauté until lightly browned. Remove and place in a large bowl.

Melt remaining butter in pan. Add celery and onion; saute for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in cherries, parsley and sage and cool slightly. Transfer to the bowl with mushrooms. Add sausage, celery mixture, cubed bread, chicken broth and eggs, mixing well.


Pour mixture into prepared pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes or until lightly browned on top.


Picture Perfect Pie: Crunchy Buttery Charleston Pecan


Pecan has always been a tremendous favorite of mine. I don’t need a holiday to make it, but Thanksgiving is when I find myself preparing it most. My go to recipe is one that I found many moons ago while dining at a, then popular, restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina called “Poogan’s Porch.” That night I dined on a porch among the sultry southern skies, beginning with delectable “She Crab Soup” and ending with this fine pastry. The next day I was lucky enough to find Poogan’s in house cookbook at a quaint, little, local bookstore. Within the pages I found their classic pecan recipe and still use it and the cherished, tattered book today.

Bourbon, chocolate and even coconut pecan pie, in my opinion, do not speak like this one. I imagine, when it comes to pecan, I am a purist. This is sheer pecan pie perfection–sweet, buttery, crunchy and satisfying :-)Here’s Charleston’s famed recipe demanded by New Mexico, but compliments of a talented, southern chef from “the Porch.”



4 eggs

1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 stick of melted butter, cooled but not cold

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups pecan halves

1 Single-crust Pie Pastry (check any of my pies in the search box & half the recipe)

Whipped cream for tops (optional)



Heat oven to 350 degrees .

Beat eggs slightly in bowl. Add both sugars, corn syrup, salt melted butter and vanilla. Stir in pecans. Roll out pastry to a 12-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Crimp pastry edge; set pie plate on heavy-duty baking sheet. Pour filling into pie shell.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes, until knife inserted midway between center and rim tests clean. Cool on rack to room temperature. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.