Thursday, December 31, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup

V8 makes a wonderful butternut squash soup. Not only is it two servings of vegetables per serving, it's super tasty. I love this soup, but the cost per person is a little high. I decided to re-create this recipe. Once again, it's kid tested and approved too!


  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 butternut squash, cut in half
  • (2) 14 ounce cans of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • kosher salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large saucepan, saute onions in butter until tender. Set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, combine olive oil, minced garlic,and kosher salt to taste. Brush the tops of the butternut squash with olive oil mixture. Bake on a cookie sheet for 45 minutes to an hour.
  4. Scoop baked squash from skins and add to sauce pan with onions. Add the vegetable broth, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to rolling boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Puree squash in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth. Serve immediately. Add salt and pepper to taste. This also freezes well for single serve portions.
I'm sure that this soup, once the onions are sauteed and the squash is baked, would simmer on low in a crock pot very well too!

    Posted by Picasa

    Tuesday, December 22, 2009

    Enchilada Sauce

    Because my beautiful sister in-law requested the recipe! :)

    • 1 TBS vegetable oil
    • 1 c. diced onion
    • 3 TBS chopped garlic
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 3 TBS all-purpose flour
    • 5 TBS hot chili powder
    • 4 1/2 c. chicken broth
    • 1/2 (1 oz.) square semisweet chocolate


    1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high high heat. Saute onion until tender. Stir in garlic, oregano, cumin and cinnamon; saute for a few minutes.
    2. Stir in flour and chili powder, stirring until sauce thickens. Slowly whisk in chicken broth; reduce until sauce reaches desired consistency. Stir in chocolate until melted and well blended.

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Onion Ring Dipping Sauce

    This one is amazingly like one you'll find at your local Down Under Steak House. We love it on our onion rings !

    • 1/2 c mayonnaise
    • 1 TBS ketchup
    • 2 TBS cream style horseradish sauce
    • 1/3 tsp paprika
    • 1/4 tsp dried salt
    • 1/8 tsp oregano
    • 1 pinch ground black pepper
    • 1/3 tsp cayenne pepper


    1. In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish, 1/3 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp oregano, a dash pepper, and cayenne pepper; mix well. Keep sauce covered in refrigerator until needed.

    Old Fashioned Onion Rings

    My family finds these onion rings to be particularly delicious!

    • 1 large onion, cut into 1/4 inch slices
    • 1 1/4 c flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 egg
    • 1 c milk
    • 3/4 c dry bread crumbs
    • seasoned salt to taste
    • 1 qt. vegetable or canola oil


    1. Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 365 degrees
    2. Separate the oil into rings and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.
    3. Dip the onion into the flour mixture until the are all coated; set aside. Whisk the egg and milk into the flour mixture using a fork. Dip the floured rings into the batter to coat, then place on a wire rack to drain until the batter stops dripping. The wire rack may be placed over a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil for easier clean up. Spread the bread crumbs out on a plate or shallow pan. Place the rings, one at a time, into the crumbs, and scoop the crumbs up over the ring to coat. The coating should cling. Coat all rings.
    4. Deep fry the rings a few at a time for 2-3 minutes, or until golden. Remove and drain on paper towels. Season with seasoning salt and serve.

    Pumpkin Scone

    Since I'm officially back online, I've decided to share a scone recipe with you today. This is my all time favorite scone recipe!! And since I really like scones, that's saying a lot!


    • 2 c. all purpose flour
    • 7 TBS granulated sugar
    • 1 TBS baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
    • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/2 c canned pumpkin
    • 3 TBS whipping cream
    • 1 large egg
    • 6 TBS cold butter, cubed

    Plain Glaze

    • 1 c plus 1 TBS powdered sugar
    • 2 TBS milk

    Spiced Icing

    • 1 c plus 3 TBS powdered sugar
    • 2 TBS milk
    • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
    • pinch of ground ginger
    • pinch of ground cloves


    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
    2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cloves, and 1/4 tsp ginger in a large bowl.
    3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, whipping cream, and egg.
    4. Add cubed butter into dry ingredients. Use a fork to combine butter with dry ingredients. Continue mixing until no chunks of butter are visible (food processors works great for this!) The mix should look like cornmeal.
    5. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and form a dough; roll the dough into a ball. Gently roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle 9 inches long and 3 inches wide. Using a large knife, slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough.
    6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake scones for 12-14 minutes or until light brown.
    7. Cool scones on wire rack. While scones are cooling, mix the plain glaze. Mix until smooth.
    8. When the scones are cool, use a brush to paint a coat of glaze on each scone.
    9. While the glaze sets up on the scones, prepare the spiced icing. Drizzle the spiced icing (which will be thicker) over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving - about 1 hour.

    Makes 6 scones

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Crispy Chicken Nuggets

    This will probably be my last post for awhile. My family and I have made the big decision to move out of state, and I may not have computer access for awhile. Isn't that just horrendous?! So I've decided to share my kids new favorite summer treat that is much healthier than regular breaded and fried nuggets.

    • 2 egg whites
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • 2 1/2 cups rice crisp cereal
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika*
    • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt*
    • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder*
    • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder*
    • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 1 TBS butter, melted
    • 1/4 c reduced-fat ranch salad dressing
    1. In shallow dish combine egg whites and water. On large sheet of wax paper combine rice crisp cereal, paprika, seasoned salt, garlic powder and onion powder.
    2. Cut chicken into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Dip chicken pieces into egg white mixture, coating all sides. Roll in cereal mixture. Place in single layer on ungreased baking sheet. Drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 450°F about 12 minutes or until no longer pink in center.
    3. Serve warm with salad dressing as dipping sauce.
    *Note: For a different flavor, substitute 1 package (1.25 oz.) reduced-sodium taco seasoning for the paprika, seasoned salt, garlic powder and onion powder.

    Tuesday, August 04, 2009

    Teriyaki Onion Burger

    Because summer time means burgers, and we all need a change of pace sometimes!

    • 1 lb. ground beef
    • 1/4 c teriyaki marinade sauce
    • 1 (3 oz) can French-fried onions
    • 4 slices Cheddar cheese
    • 4 hamburger buns, split
    1. Preheat a grill for high heat.
    2. In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, teriyaki marinade Form the mixture into 4 patties and let marinade for 3 hours.
    3. Add French fried-onions to top of burgers.
    4. Lightly oil the grilling surface, and place patties on the preheated grill. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until well done. Top with cheese, and serve on hamburger buns.
    Some fun variations for this include adding some garlic to the teriyaki marinade, grilling pineapple and adding it to the burgers, use provolone cheese instead of cheddar - the list of variations is endless!!

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

    It's summer, and it's WAY to hot to cook! I really love salads in the summer so I'm always looking for new dressings. This is delicious!

    • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4 c honey
    • 1/4 c olive oil
    • 1 tsp soy sauce


    1. Whisk together the vinegar, honey, olive oil, and soy sauce until the honey has dissolved, and the dressing is smooth.

    No Mayo Ranch

    I'm a huge ranch dressing fan. HUGE! I like to eat it on baked potatoes, french fries, veggies, my hamburgers, and of course, salad. I even conveniently 'forget' it's made from mayo (which I used to love but after the birth of my fourth child, could no longer stomach if I smelled it, go figure) to enjoy it. Except recently, I came to the horrifying realization that there are MEGA calories in my favorite dressing. So I had all but cut it out....until! This dressing.

    • 1 cup low-fat sour cream
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried chives
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
    • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper


    1. Place sour cream and buttermilk into a mixing bowl. Season with parsley, chives, garlic powder, dill, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Whisk together until smooth. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. You can whip this again before serving for a thicker texture.

    Thursday, July 02, 2009

    Real Lemonade

    Ice cold, fresh squeezed, lemonade. What could be better?

    • 1 3/4 c white sugar
    • 8 c water
    • 1 1/2 c lemon juice


    1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until chilled.
    2. Remove seeds from lemon juice, but leave pulp. In pitcher, stir together chilled syrup, lemon juice and remaining 7 cups water.

    Balsamic Glazed Salmon

    I love fish. My kids love fish. My husband...hates fish. One out of seven is not bad odds! Out of all fish, salmon is my favorite! One of my favorite restaurants has a blackened salmon with a strawberry vinaigrette salad. Such a wonderful combination!!!

    This recipe reminds me of that. The flavor is wonderful and I could easily eat this for days. My kids feel the same way, lol, so it's almost a family favorite! Serve this with grilled asparagus and rice pilaf for really yummy, light summer dinner. I also grill these in foil packets on the bbq to keep from heating the house up in the summer!

    • 6 (5 oz.) salmon fillets
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 TBS white wine
    • 1 TBS honey
    • 1/3 c balsamic vinegar
    • 4 tsp Dijon mustard
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 TBS chopped fresh oregano


    1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
    2. Coat a small saucepan with non-stick cooking spray. Over medium heat, cook and stir garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Mix in white wine, honey, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper. Simmer, uncovered, for about 3 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
      Arrange salmon fillets on foil-lined baking sheet. Brush fillets with balsamic glaze, and sprinkle with oregano.
    3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 14 minutes, or until flesh flakes easily with a fork. Brush fillets with remaining glaze, and season with salt and pepper. Use a spatula to transfer fillets to serving platter, leaving the skin behind on the foil.

    Thursday, June 25, 2009

    Brown Sugar Biscuits

    OK, these aren't real biscuits. And they're not cinnamon rolls. But they're really yummy, and make a great morning breakfast treat!!

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
    • 1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
    • 2/3 cup milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup butter, softened
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 5 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F . Lightly grease a baking sheet, or use parchment paper.
    2. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cream of tartar. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in milk and vanilla. Knead briefly on a floured surface. Roll out into a large rectangle, 1/2 inch thick. Spread softened butter onto surface of dough. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over butter. Roll tightly, and cut into 12 equal slices. Place on prepared baking sheet.
    3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

    Wednesday, June 03, 2009

    Grilled Pesto Salad

    Summer is all but here and this is a yummy alternative to the typical potato salad.


    • 3 lbs. red potatoes
    • olive oil cooking spray
    • 1/3 c balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • freshly ground pepper to taste
    • 1/3 c shredded Parmesan cheese
    • 1/4 c finely minced fresh basil
    • 1/4 c toasted pine nuts


    1. Place potatoes in a large microwave safe bowl; cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

    2. Use oven mitts to carefully remove the potatoes from the microwave. When cool enough to handle, cut potatoes in half or quarters and spray liberally with olive oil spray. Grill over high heat for 5-7 minutes, turning occasionally until grill lines appear.

    3. Remove from grill and let cool. Cut into bite sized pieces and place in a large bowl

    4. Whisk together vinegar, oil, salt, and garlic; pour over potatoes and toss lightly to coat. Season with pepper, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    5. Just before serving, toss with Parmesan cheese and basil, then sprinkle with pine nuts.

    Serves 8

    Monday, May 25, 2009

    Marinated Garden Tomatoes

    These have been a family favorite for years now. Even my daughter, who is not a lover of tomatoes, enjoys this tangy side dish. It will go perfectly with our Memorial Day barbecue of grilled cheeseburgers and Chipotle Ranch Pasta Salad!

    • 6 large tomatoes, sliced to a 1/4 inch thickness
    • 1/2 c. thinly sliced green onions
    • 2/3 c. olive or canola oil
    • 3/4 c. red wine vinegar
    • 1/4 c. fresh minced parsley
    • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp salt (kosher is wonderful for this!)
    • 1 TBS fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme
    • 1 tsp coarsely ground pepper


    1. Place the sliced tomatoes and onions in a shallow bowl. 11x13 works well.
    2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, parsley, garlic, salt, thyme, and ground pepper. Mix well.
    3. Pour over tomato. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours - overnight is best if you have the time.

    Serves 10

    Tuesday, May 05, 2009

    Sausage Mushroom Quiche

    We ate this Easter morning, before heading out for church. Since I knew it was going to be awhile before we at our dinner in the early afternoon, I wanted something filling and tastey. My family loved this and it was more than enough to feed all 7 of us.
    • 1/2 lb pork sausage
    • 2 cartons of sliced mushrooms
    • 1/4 c. butter
    • 2 frozen pie crusts, thawed and ready to bake
    • 1 c. heavy cream
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1 TBS all-purpose flour
    • 1 TBS melted butter
    • 1 TBS lemon juice
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese


    1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Bake pie shells in the preheated oven until edge of crust is golden, about 10 minutes. Set crust aside, and lower the heat to 350 degrees F.
    2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and stir in the sausage. Cook and stir until the sausage is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink. Place the sausage on a towel lined plate and discard any excess grease from the pan. Add the mushrooms and butter to the skillet, and cook and stir until the mushrooms are a light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Spread sausage and mushrooms evenly over the bottom of pie crusts.
    3. Combine the cream, eggs, flour, butter, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Pour into the pastry crust, allowing egg mixture to thoroughly cover the sausage mixture. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese.
    4. Bake until light and puffy, about 35 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes before slicing.

    Brunch Enchiladas

    These are always well received at any function where brunch is served! This dish does need to be prepared the night before.
    • 1 lb. cooked ham, chopped
    • 3/4 c. sliced green onions
    • 3/4 c. chopped green bell peppers
    • 3 c. shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
    • 10 (7 inch) flour tortillas
    • 5 eggs, beaten
    • 2 c. half-and-half cream
    • 1/2 c. milk
    • 1 TBS all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 dash hot pepper sauce


    1. Place ham in food processor, and pulse until finely ground. Mix together ham, green onions, and green peppers. Spoon 1/3 c. of the ham mixture and 3 TBS shredded cheese onto each tortilla, then roll up. Carefully place filled tortillas, seam side down, in a greased 9x13 baking dish.
    2. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, cream, and milk, flour, garlic powder, and hot pepper sauce. Pour egg mixture over tortillas. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
      The next morning, preheat oven to 350 F.
    3. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until set. Sprinkle casserole with remaining 1 c. shredded cheese. Bake about 3 minutes more, or until cheese melts. Let stand a least 10 minutes before serving.

    Sunday, April 26, 2009

    Asian Slaw

    A tastey side dish for your favorite asian meal.

    • 1 head green cabbage, shredded
    • 1 large carrot, grated
    • 1 c. grated jicama
    • 1 tsp sesame seeds
    • 1 c. mayonnaise
    • 2 TBS rice vinegar
    • 1 TBS sesame oil
    • 3 tsp honey


    1. Place the cabbage, carrot, jicama, and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sesame oil, and honey in a small bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the salad; toss until evenly coated. Chill at least 4 hours before serving.

    Soy Sauce Glazed Mushrooms

    These are really good as a topper for grilled steaks, with the Asian Wraps I posted earlier, or just as a yummy side if you enjoy mushrooms as much as my family does!

    • 2 tsp sesame oil
    • 1 (8 oz.) package sliced white mushrooms
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced - optional
    • 1 TBS soy sauce
    • ground black pepper to taste


    1. Heat the sesame oil in skillet over medium low heat; add the mushrooms; cook and stir until the mushrooms have softened and released their liquid, about 5 minutes.
    2. Stir in the garlic and ginger; continue to cook and stir for 1 minute.
    3. Pour in the soy sauce; cook the mushrooms in the soy sauce until the liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes.

    Serves 2

    Healthy Asian Lettuce Wrap

    I enjoy finding healthy substitutes to foods that normally aren't so healthy. This is a favorite for both me and my husband! If you prefer a more traditional style, substitute ground pork for the turkey and jasmine rice for the brown rice.

    • 1 lb. ground turkey
    • 1 TBS light soy sauce
    • 1 tsp minced garlic
    • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger root
    • 1 c. brown rice
    • 1 c. water
    • 16 large lettuce leaves
    • 1 c. shredded carrots
    • 1 c. green onions, thinly sliced
    • 1 c. sliced red bell pepper
    • 1/3 c. light soy sauce
    • 1/3 c. water
    • 3 TBS rice vinegar
    • 2 tsp minced garlic
    • 1 TBS minced fresh ginger root
    • 1 tsp sugar


    1. In a medium bowl, mix together ground turkey, 1 TBS soy sauce, 1 tsp minced garlic and 2 tsp ginger. Form into 16 meatballs and roll into ovals. Cover and refrigerate.
    2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine rice with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. (or use your rice cooker for perfect rice every time - just remember that brown rice takes more liquids and needs to cook longer)
    3. Preheat the grill or broiler. Arrange rice, lettuce leaves, carrots, scallions, and red peppers onto a serving platter or place each into a small bowl. In a medium bowl, mix together 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/3 c. water, rice vinegar, 2 tsp garlic, 1 TBS ginger, and sugar. Divide into 4 small dipping bowls.
    4. Thread two meatballs onto each 10 inch skewer. Grill or broil for 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally to brown all sides. If broiling, line the broiler pan with aluminum foil and drain fat after 6 minutes.
    5. To eat, place a leaf of lettuce onto the palm of your hand, spoon on a little rice, then a meat roll, and a few of the vegetables. Roll up and dip in dipping sauce or spoon sauce over.

    Serves 4

    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    Asian Chicken Noodle Salad

    With summer like weather upon us, it's nice to have some meals that don't require heating up the kitchen.

    • 1 (3 oz.) package ramen noodle pasta, crushed
    • 1 TBS peanut oil**
    • 1/2 c. sunflower seeds
    • 1/2 c. pine nuts
    • 3 c. shredded bok choy
    • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
    • 1 c. diced, cooked chicken breast meat
    • 1 (5 oz.) can water chestnuts, drained
    • 12 pods snow peas
    • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
    • 1/4 c. rice vinegar
    • 1 TBS soy sauce
    • 1/4 c. white sugar
    • 1 TBS lemon juice


    1. Preheat oven to 350 F
    2. In a large bowl, mix the noodles, sunflower seeds, and pine nuts with the peanut oil until evenly coated. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a baking sheet.
    3. Bake 7 to 10 minutes in the oven, stirring occasionally, until evenly toasted. Remove from heat, and cool slightly.
    4. In a large bowl toss together the noodle mixture, bok choy, green onions, chicken, water chestnuts, and snow peas.
    5. Prepare the dressing by blending the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and lemon juice. Pour over salad, and toss to evenly coat. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until chilled.

    Serves 4

    ** you can substitute canola or vegetable oil if you prefer

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    Garden Bean and Potato Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

    The balsamic and Dijon mustard create a wonderful and distinct flavor for some every day vegetables.
    • 1 1/2 lbs. small red potatoes, cubed
    • 3/4 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
    • 1 small red onion, chopped
    • 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
    • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
    • 2 TBS Dijon mustard
    • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • dash of Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 garlic clove, minced


    1. Arrange potatoes in a steamer basket** over boiling water; cover and steam for 20 minutes or until tender. Place in a large serving bowl.
    2. Arrange beans in a steamer basket ** over boiling water; cover and steam for 10 minutes or until crisp-tender
    3. Add the beans to the potatoes; add the onion and basil.
    4. In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and the minced garlic. Mix vigorously with a wire whisk.
    5. Pour Vinaigrette over potato mixture and toss gently. Serve immediately, or cover and chill.

    Serves 6

    Tortellini Salad

    This is one of those make ahead meals. It needs to cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

    • 3/4 c. olive oil
    • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
    • 1 TBS dried basil
    • 1 TBS Dijon mustard
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp pepper
    • 1 garlic clove
    • (2) 9 oz. packaged or dried cheese tortellini
    • (1) 6 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
    • (1) 2.5 oz. can sliced olives, drained
    • 1/2 c. sun dried tomatoes, cut into strips
    • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
    • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped


    1. In a food processor, mix olive oil, vinegar, basil, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.
    2. Cook the tortellini according to package directions; rinse with cold water and drain. Add artichoke hears and remaining ingredients; pour dressing over salad and toss gently.
    3. Cover and chill at least 2 hours

    Serves 8

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Beef Pepperoncini Sandwiches

    With a busy family, many times we have to eat meals on the hurry. My crockpot is my best friend when it comes meals on the hurry. One tip I can pass along is to buy the crockpot lining bags. They make cleaning up the crockpot very easy and are worth every penny, particularly on those nights when you don't have time for lot of clean up!

    So my husband is a big fan of pepperoncini's. When we go to a sandwich shop for lunch, he expects his sandwich coated in them. When I came across this recipe, I knew he would love it. I cut back a little for my own tastes, but my kids are following in their father's foot steps, and they love these things. At least for now, lol...

    • 1 (3 lb.) beef chuck roast
    • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
    • 1 (16 oz) jar pepperoncini
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1/2 c. warm water
    • 1 tsp beef bullion (paste or granules)
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • French rolls


    1. Make small cuts in roast, and insert garlic slices in cuts.
    2. Dissolve the beef bullion in the warm water.
    3. Place roast in the slow cooker. Add the beef bullion, bay leaf, and pour the entire contents of the jar of pepperoncini, including liquid, over meat.
    4. Cover, and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours.
    5. Shred the beef and serve on French rolls

    For an added zip, mix up a dressing of horseradish sauce and sour cream, and top the sandwich with provolone cheese...mmmh, yummy

    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    Glazed Ham

    I love lamb for Easter, but it's hard to find in the market and tends to be considerably more pricey (unless I get it the day after Easter - I love how the markets quickly clearance it out!) so we usually have ham Easter day. This is a very tastey glaze. This recipe calls for a bone in ham, and even tells you to de-bone it. You can do that if you want. I buy a spiral cut ham, and baste the glaze on the ham while cooking, eliminating this step. The spiral cut allows the flavor to soak in while baking and basting.

    • 1 (8 lb.) bone-in shank ham
    • 4 c. water, or as needed
    • 1/2 c. honey **
    • 1/2 c. brown sugar
    • 2 TBS liquid smoke flavoring
    • 2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 pinch ground cloves


    1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Place ham in a roasting pan. Pour in water to a 2 inch depth. Cover with a tight fitting lid.
    2. Bake for 6 to 8 hours in the preheated oven (all day or all night). Remove from the oven, pour off drippings and reserve. Debone ham, removing any excess fat as well, and return to the roasting pan.
    3. Skim fat from the top of the drippings, and discard. In a small bowl, mix one cup of the drippings with honey, brown sugar, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce and cloves. Pour this over the ham, cover and return to the oven. Remaining drippings may be discarded or reserved for other uses.
    4. Bake for another 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

    Three Cheese Garlic Scalloped Potatoes

    Potatoes are hit and miss in my house. One child loves anything potatoes. One likes baked. One likes them mashed. And the fourth one doesn't tolerate them at all. Except when they're prepared like this! This is slightly different than your typical scalloped potatoes but they're delicious!

    • 1 1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced**
    • 2 TBS butter, divided
    • 1 pint heavy cream
    • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
    • 4 slices provolone cheese
    • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan or Romano cheese


    1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a 1 1/2 qt. or larger casserole dish with butter or nonstick spray.
    2. Layer half of the potato slices in the bottom of the casserole dish. Dot with half of the butter cut or pinched into small pieces. Arrange half of the garlic slices over the potatoes, then pour half of the heavy cream over. Sprinkle one cup of Cheddar cheese over the layer, and season with salt and pepper. Repeat layering of potatoes, garlic, cream and Cheddar cheese, then top with the slices of provolone cheese. Season again with salt and pepper.
    3. Bake for 1/2 hour in the preheated oven, then sprinkle the Parmesan or Romano cheese over the top. This will create a semi-hard cheese crust. Continue baking uncovered for another 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender when tested with a fork.

    **Not everyone is familiar with Yukon potatoes. This yellow skinned potato is fantastic because it is much less starchy than your standard russet potato. They have a third less starch and the flavor is very pleasant. Some grocery stores carry them infrequently, but I've noticed more and more are stocking them on a regular basis. If you can't find them at your local store, the standard russet potatoes will work, but use regular whipping cream in place of the heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream as it's sometimes called) because the excess starch from the russet potatoes will make this a very heavy dish to sit in your stomach!

    Stawberry and Spinach Salad

    One of my favorite restaurants serves a lovely grilled salmon with a salad that's topped with a strawberry vinaigrette. This isn't exactly that recipe (they don't use spinach), but it's really yummy!!

    • 2 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
    • 4 c. sliced strawberries
    • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
    • 1/4 c. white wine vinegar
    • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
    • 1/2 c. white sugar
    • 1/4 tsp paprika
    • 2 TBS sesame seeds
    • 1 TBS poppy seeds


    1. In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and strawberries.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegars, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds. Pour over the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.

    Friday, April 10, 2009

    Sweet Corn Cake

    The secret to this is to not over cook it or under cook it. It needs to be juusssstttt right!


    • 1/2 c. butter, softened
    • 1/3 c. masa harina
    • 1/4 c. water
    • 1 1/2 c. frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
    • 1/4 c. cornmeal
    • 1/3 c. white sugar
    • 2 TBS heavy whipping cream
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder


    1. In a medium bowl beat butter until it is creamy. Add the Mexican corn flour and water and beat until well mixed.
    2. Using a food processor, process thawed corn, but leave chunky. Stir into the butter mixture.
    3. In a separate bowl, mix cornmeal, sugar, cream, salt, and baking powder. Add to corn flour mixture and stir to combine. Pour batter into an ungreased 8x8 inch baking pan**. Smooth batter and cover with aluminum foil. Place pan into a 9x13 inch baking dish that is filled a third of the way with water.
    4. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven F oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Use an ice cream scoop for easy removal from pan.

    **This is to keep it from burning. I use a Pampered Chef 8x8 stone to bake this, and it comes out perfect if I don't pull it out to soon.

    Cocktel de Camaron

    I have no idea if that's really the name, or if it's something someone made up. All I know is, I had something just like this many years ago when I was in Cancun. So I was thrilled to come across this recipe that tastes just like it!!! I know the ingredients sound odd, but I promise, it's delicious!

    • 8 oz. cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
    • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
    • 1/4 c. orange-flavored carbonated beverage
    • 3/4 c. ketchup
    • 1 (4 oz.) packet saltine crackers


    1. Chop the shrimp into smaller pieces and transfer to a bowl. Stir in the avocado and cilantro. In a separate bowl, stir together the orange soda and ketchup until the foaming stops. Pour over the shrimp mixture and toss to coat. It should be soupy. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors before serving with saltine crackers.

    Lemon Meringue Pie

    My grandmother was a wonderful cook. Anything she made (yes really, anything) was delicious. I wish as I had gotten older, that I had been around her more to learn from her.

    Grandmother made wonderful pies. In particular, everyone loved her Lemon Meringue. To this day, when the family talks about pie in conjunction with my grandmother, Lemon Meringue always comes up. I don't have her original recipe but this one is very good.

    In loving memory of my grandmother,
    Margaret D. Linton


    • 1 c. white sugar

    • 2 TBS flour (I use cake flour)

    • 3 TBS cornstarch

    • 1/4 tsp salt

    • 1 1/2 c. water

    • 2 lemons, juiced and zested

    • 2 TBS butter

    • 4 egg yolks, beaten

    • 1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked

    • 4 egg whites

    • 6 TBS white sugar


    1. Preheat oven to 350
    2. To Make Lemon Filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Stir in water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in butter. very important -Place egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in 1/2 cup of hot sugar mixture. Whisk egg yolk mixture back into remaining sugar mixture. Bring to a boil and continue to cook while stirring constantly until thick. Remove from heat. Pour filling into baked pastry shell.
    3. To Make Meringue: In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Add sugar gradually, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over pie, sealing the edges at the crust.
    4. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown.

    The making of the pie!

    Peanut Butter Chocolate Easter Eggs

    These are yummy and creamy, and they look lovely on Easter morning! This is really fun to do with kids too, just be forewarned that it's messy. If you can'


    • 2 lbs. confectioners sugar
    • 1/4 lb. butter, softened
    • 1 (8) oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 12 oz. creamy peanut butter
    • 1 lb. flaked coconut
    • 4 c. chocolate chips
    • 2 TBS shortening


    1. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract. Divide the batter in half and place each half of the batter in a bowl on its own. Stir the peanut butter into one of the bowls and coconut into the second.
    2. Using your hands, mold the dough into egg-shaped balls and arrange the forms on cookie sheets. Place the eggs in the freezer until frozen.
    3. Once the eggs have frozen, melt the chocolate and shortening in the top of a double boiler. Dip the eggs into the chocolate until coated. Place the eggs on wax paper lined cookie sheets and return to the freezer to harden. After the chocolate has hardened the eggs can be kept in the refrigerator.

    **you can dip the eggs in sprinkles and such after you dip them in the chocolate to decorate them.

    Friday, April 03, 2009

    Carrot Pudding

    I know, you've never heard of it. It's good!! The buttery sauce is optional, but I highly recommend it.

    • 1 cup grated carrots
    • 1 cup peeled and shredded potatoes
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1 cup raisins
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground allspice
    • 1 tsp ground cloves
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


    1. In a large mixing bowl, combine carrots, potatoes, sugar, raisins, flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, all spice, and ground cloves. Transfer mixture to a clean 1 pound coffee can. Secure wax paper over the top and place the filled can in a large pot with 2 to 3 inches of water. Cover the pot and bring the water to a simmer.
    2. Steam the cake for 2 hours. Serve warm.
    3. Buttery sauce: In a medium-size pot, combine butter, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Heat until the mixture is liquid. Spoon mixture over the warm carrot pudding to serve.

    Rosemary Carrots

    Because carrots are supposed to be healthy sometimes...


    • 2 1/4 cups thinly sliced carrots
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 TBS snipped fresh or dried chives
    • 1 TBS brown sugar
    • 1 tsp chicken bouillon granules
    • 1/2 tsp snipped fresh rosemary or pinch dried rosemary, crushed
    • 1/8 tsp pepper


    1. Place carrots and water in a saucepan; cover and cook over medium heat for 8-9 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons cooking liquid. Transfer carrots to a serving bowl and keep warm.
    2. In the same pan, combine chives, brown sugar, bouillon, rosemary, pepper and reserved cooking liquid. Bring to a boil; stir until bouillon is dissolved. Pour over the carrots and toss to coat.

    Carrot Cookies

    My girlfriend advised me that she has a plethora of carrots at the moment and asked me for some recipes. Variety in carrots sounds like the ticket to me...

    • 1 cup shortening

    • 3/4 cup white sugar

    • 2 eggs

    • 1 cup mashed cooked carrots

    • 2 teaspoons baking powder

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour

    • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    • 3/4 cup shredded coconut


    1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease cookie sheets.

    2. Mix shortening, sugar, eggs, and carrots.

    3. Blend in flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in coconut.

    4. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto lightly greased baking sheet.
      Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until no imprint remains when touched lightly. Immediately remove baking sheet. Let cool.

    5. Use the orange frosting to finish these yummy cookies!

    Pesto Lemon Basil Rub

    Summer is going to be here soon and that means barbecuing in my house! Here's a yummy pesto rub for your steaks! I haven't tried it on chicken yet, but I bet it would taste good too...


    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
    • 1/3 cup pine nuts
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 6 (6 ounce) flat iron steaks
    • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
    • salt and pepper to taste


    1. Chop 4 garlic cloves in a food processor until minced. Add the basil and pine nuts, and pulse a few times to combine. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides. Place the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes into the food processor, and pulse until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside 2 TBS of pesto rub to grill with
    2. Rub the flat iron steaks with 2 cloves minced garlic, season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil grate.
    3. Grill the steaks to your preference on preheated grill. Baste the steaks occasionally with a little of the pesto sauce. Once done, serve topped with the remaining pesto.

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    Chocolate Cappuccino Cheesecake

    My husband, bless his soul, doesn't eat cake. No matter how I make it, no matter who enjoys it, he does not eat cake. His real hearts desire is cheesecake! This is the one I made for his birthday this year, which was a hit with all of our guests!


    • 2 c. chocolate cookie crumbs
    • 1/2 c. butter, softened
    • 1/4 white sugar
    • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 3 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened
    • 1 c. white sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 8 oz. squares semisweet chocolate
    • 1/4 c. + 2 TBS whipping cream
    • 1 c. sour cream
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 c. espresso**
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 c. heavy whipping cream
    • 2 TBS confectioners sugar
    • 2 TBS coffee-flavored liqueur


    1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan. (I use cooking spray but butter works well too).
    2. Combine the chocolate wafer crumbs, softened butter, 1/4 c. sugar, and the cinnamon. Mix well and press the mixture into the prepared spring form pan. Set aside.
    3. In a medium sized bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add 1 cup white sugar, mixing until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating at a low speed until smooth.
    4. Melt the 8 oz. of semi sweet chocolate in a double boiler. When the chocolate is melted and slightly cooled, add 2 TBS of whipping cream; remove from heat and beat until smooth.
    5. Add chocolate mixture to cream cheese mixture and blend well. Stir in sour cream, salt, espresso, and vanilla; beat until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
    6. Bake in the center of the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. The center will look undercooked, but will firm up when chilled. DO NOT OVER BAKE. Leave the cake in the oven with the heat turned off and the door a jar for 45 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and chill for 12 hours.
    7. To make the flavored whip cream, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add confectioners sugar and 2 TBS coffee liqueur. (do not make flavored whip cream ahead of time)
    8. Just before serving, top the cheesecake with mounds of flavored whip cream. Garnish with chocolate curls if desired.

    **if you don't have an espresso machine, you can substitute 2 tsp of instant coffee that's been dissolved in 1/4 c. of hot water.

    Birthday Barbeque

    So, my wonderful husband turned 35 yesterday! And while we enjoyed taking him out to dinner, I think we're all anticipating our barbecue that we have planned on Sunday to celebrate with our family and friends.

    This year we decided to do a Mexican themed food spread. Our menu will consist of Carne Asada Tacos, Mexican Corn on the Cob, Cocktel de Camaron, Sweet Corn Cake, and a yummy Chocolate Cappuccino Cheesecake (yes, not Mexican at all, but my husband's favorite!). Family and friends will be bringing food too, but this is what will be keeping me in the kitchen for the next two days!!

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    Macaroni and Cheese

    Everyone has a favorite recipe. Mine comes from my friend Miranda. She's not the original creator, but I'm giving her credit!! This is creamy and cheesy and really yummy, a definite family pleaser (even for my kids, who don't usually enjoy onions!)


    • 14 oz. elbow macaroni (or mini penne) 
    • 2 cans (11.5 oz.) cheddar cheese soup
    • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    • 4 cups milk
    • 1 6 oz. can of French Fried Onions (the cheddar ones are extra yummy!)
    1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking spray to grease the bottom of 2 qt (8x8x2) casserole dish (it will stick if you don't). Mix the milk, cheddar cheese soup, and 2.5 cups of cheddar cheese.  Then add the pasta and add to your prepared dish. This can be made up to 24 hours in advance, just refrigerate until ready to cook. If refrigerated first, mix before putting into oven.
    2. Bake covered for one hour. Then remove cover, add French Fried Onions, and the remaining cheese on top and cook for another 20 minutes uncovered. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Sweet Rolls

    Because Shelley asked for them... :)


    • 1/2 cup warm water
    • 1/2 cup warm milk
    • 1 egg
    • 1/3 cup butter, softened
    • 1/3 cup white sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 package active dry yeast
    • 1/4 cup butter, softened


    1. Place water, milk, egg, 1/3 cup butter, sugar, salt, flour and yeast in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select Dough/Knead and First Rise Cycle; press Start.
    2. When cycle finishes, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 12 inch circle, spread 1/4 cup softened butter over entire round. Cut each circle into 8 wedges. Roll wedges starting at wide end; roll gently but tightly. Place point side down on ungreased cookie sheet. Cover with clean kitchen towel and put in a warm place, let rise 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden.

    Saturday, March 14, 2009

    Velvet Truffle Fudge Cheesecake

    Yes, this is as sinfully delicious as the name implies!!


    • 1 1/2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
    • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
    • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1/3 cup butter, softened
    • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
    • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


    1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together crushed vanilla wafers, confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and butter or margarine by hand. Press ingredients into a 9 inch springform pan.
      In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, making sure that they are very smooth.
    3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy with an electric mixer. Gradually beat in condensed milk until smooth. Mix in melted chocolate, eggs, and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are thoroughly blended. Pour the filling into the prepared crust.
    4. Bake at 300 degrees F for 55 minutes. The cake will seem underbaked in the center, but will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven.

    Monday, February 23, 2009

    Tomato Soup

    I almost hate to call this tomato soup. It's SO much better than the stuff you get in the can!! My husband, who is not a tomato soup fan, will even eat this with a grilled cheese sandwich. My kids request it. It's sort of a cross between french onion and tomato soup, with all the best parts!


    • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 (46 ounce) bottle V8 juice (I use low sodium)
    • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
    • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
    • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
    • 6 slices French bread, toasted
    • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


    1. In a large saucepan, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add the tomato juice, bouillon, lemon juice, parsley and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    2. Ladle soup into 10-oz. ovenproof soup bowls or ramekins. Top with French bread; sprinkle with cheese. Broil 4-6 in. from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

    Monday, January 26, 2009

    Ultimate Orange Glazed Chicken Wings

    So the Big Game day is coming up (not so much for us Cowboy fans!) and perhaps you need some tasty treats for your Super Bowl fans. This one is a crowd pleaser!


    • 1 cup fresh orange juice
    • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest
    • 6 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium works great)
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
    • 4 pounds chicken wings


    1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
    2. In a large bowl, combine the orange juice with the orange zest, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken wings and toss to coat.
    3. Reserve 1/4 cup of the orange mixture. Place wings in bag and toss to coat. Marinade in your refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
    4. Place wings on two large baking sheets, arranging the wings in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn the wings over and baste them with the reserved orange mixture. Cook until just done, about 10 minutes longer.

    New Look!

    It's a new year, my blog needed a new look! And while I can edit HTML to my liking, I don't actually write pages of code like this. So I want to give credit to The Cutest Blog On The Block for this darling layout!

    I don't have any new and fantastic recipes to share...yet! It's been a slow month for me, cooking wise, but I plan to get back on track here very soon. With Valentine's Day around the corner, I need to start planning a menu worthy for my sweetheart!