Blondies with Cherries, Chocolate, Cashews and Pecans

A wonderful recipe from the blog, Apt.2bakingco. How could you go wrong with cherries, chocolate, cashews and pecans?

1 cup butter
3 cups dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoon bourbon (optional)
2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup roughly chopped cashews
1 cup roughly chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 cups chopped bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350º and line a 9×13 baking pan with foil and grease well

1. Brown the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until all of the milk solids turn golden and the butter has a nutty fragrance being careful to not let it burn. Remove from heat and stir in the dark brown sugar, set aside to cool slightly.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, bourbon and salt. Whisk in the cooled butter, sugar mixture then fold in the flour and baking powder.
3. Stir in the nuts, cherries and chocolate, but make sure the mixture is cool enough that the chocolate won’t melt. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30-35min or until the top is shiny, set and slightly cracked around the edges. Place on a wire rack to cool completely then cut into squares.

Bittersweet Chocolate Tart

This recipe is from the famous chef Alain Ducasse and I found it on Food and Wine It is a little time consuming but can be done in steps so don’t let this recipe intimidate you! The tart shell is a little fragile but it is forgiving when you put it into the pan. It is a showstopper dessert and easily will feed 12 people.
Bittersweet Choc Tart
All-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving
MAKE THE TART SHELL: In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, blend 1 cup of all-purpose flour with the butter, sugar, cocoa, almond flour and salt at medium speed. Mix in the egg just until a soft dough forms. Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and lay another large sheet of plastic wrap on top. Roll out the dough between the plastic wrap to a 12-inch round. Transfer the round to a baking sheet and freeze until firm, 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325°.
Peel off the top sheet of plastic and invert the dough onto a 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Remove the remaining sheet of plastic and gently press the dough into the pan. Trim the dough flush with the rim. Freeze until firm, 10 minutes.
Line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, until the tart shell is nearly cooked through. Remove the parchment and weights and bake until the shell is cooked through, about 20 minutes longer. Transfer to a rack and let cool. Lower the oven temperature to 250°.
MAKE THE FILLING: In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and milk and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and let stand until melted, 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the egg yolk, then whisk in 1/2 cup of the chocolate cream. Thoroughly whisk this custard into the chocolate cream in the saucepan. Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake until set around the rim but still slightly jiggly in the center, 30 minutes. Let the tart cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then refrigerate until chilled, 2 hours.
MAKE THE GLAZE: In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and let stand 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, whisk the cream, sugar and cocoa over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Scrape the gelatin into the cocoa mixture, add the milk chocolate and whisk until melted. Pour the glaze over the tart and spread it in an even layer using an offset spatula. Refrigerate the tart until the glaze is firm, 30 minutes. Serve with whipped cream.

Salty Sweet Peanut Butter Cookies

From the NY Times. A very easy recipe that yields 60 cookies. I used Maldon sea salt and raw cane sugar to sprinkle on the cookies before they are baked-I love this addition to the cookies. I cooked the cookies the full 15 minutes and used my convection oven as well. They are delicious and melt in your mouth!
Lots of peanut butter cookies
1 cup/228 grams/2 sticks unsalted butter, preferably cultured, softened at room temperature
¾ cup/150 grams granulated sugar
¾ cup (packed)/170 grams light brown sugar
1 heaping teaspoon/6 grams kosher salt
2 cups/510 grams unsweetened peanut butter, creamy or chunky
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups/250 grams all-purpose flour
Flaky sea salt and coarse sugar for sprinkling (or use kosher salt and granulated sugar)

Heat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick liners. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Add the peanut butter and eggs, and mix. Add the flour and salt and mix just until well combined, with no white flour showing.
Using a small cookie scoop (about 2 teaspoons capacity), scoop dough onto prepared pans. The tops will be rounded but craggy. The cookies will not spread much or change shape when they bake, so they can be placed quite close together, but leave room for air circulation so they can brown.
In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons sugar with 1 tablespoon salt. Sprinkle each cookie lightly with sugar-salt mixture, getting it into the crags and crannies. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until cookies are set and golden-brown. Carefully lift or slide off baking sheets and cool on racks. Store in layers separated by parchment paper, in airtight containers.

Red Beans and Rice

I have never made Red Beans and Rice and this recipe did was the absolute best! I ordered these fabulous red beans from Amazon and they were sensational. The recipe is absolutely perfect (although I used 2 thick slices of tabasco bacon from Whole Paycheck as I did not have the ham and it was delicious!)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 pound boiled ham cut, into 1/2-inch cubes
6 ounces smoked sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (1 cup)
1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted through, soaked overnight and drained
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
8 to 10 cups water
Steamed rice
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, cayenne, black pepper and thyme for about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, ham and sausage and saute for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the beans, garlic, and enough water to cover the contents in the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 2 hours. Add more water if the mixture becomes dry and thick. Use a wooden spoon to mash about half of the mixture against the side pf the pot. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the mixture is creamy and the beans are soft. Add more water if it becomes too thick. The mixture should be soupy but not watery. Remove the bay leaves and serve with steamed white rice.

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2004

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Nutella Shortbread Brownies

An über decadent and delicious recipe from the wonderful cookbook, A Yellow Table. This recipe will not disappoint anyone! The entire cookbook is filled with fabulous menus and recipes!
2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 t. sea salt
3/4 c. salted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 c. unsalted butter
8 oz. good quality bittersweet (I used Guittard) coarsely chopped
1 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. Nutella
3/4 c. all p flour
1/2 t. fine sea salt
1/2 c. whole roasted hazelnuts, skins removed (check out the Youtube video-it really works!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, brown sugar and salt-pulse to combine. Add butter cubes and pulse until butter is pea size lumps. Sprinkle mixture into a 9″ by 13″ baking pan and use your hands to press evenly into pan. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool.
Cut when cool, dipping knife into hot water in between cuts. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze.

Saag Paneer

This recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen and although it is labor intensive, it is worth it. I love the addition of mustard greens to the spinach.
Serves 4 to 6
Saag paneer cheese
To ensure that the cheese is firm, wring it tightly in step 2 and be sure to use two plates that nestle together snugly. Use commercially produced cultured buttermilk in this recipe. We found that some locally produced buttermilks didn’t sufficiently coagulate the milk. Serve with basmati rice.


3 quarts whole milk
3 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon salt
Spinach Sauce
1 (10-ounce) bag curly-leaf spinach, rinsed
3/4 pound mustard greens, stemmed and rinsed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 onion, chopped fine
Salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and chopped coarse
1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped coarse
1 cup water
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
SP finished
1. FOR THE CHEESE: Line colander with triple layer of cheesecloth and set in sink. Bring milk to boil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Whisk in buttermilk and salt, turn off heat, and let stand for 1 minute. Pour milk mixture through cheesecloth and let curds drain for 15 minutes.

2. Pull edges of cheesecloth together to form pouch. Twist edges of cheesecloth together, firmly squeezing out as much liquid as possible from cheese curds. Place taut, twisted cheese pouch between 2 large plates and weigh down top plate with heavy Dutch oven. Set aside at room temperature until cheese is firm and set, at least 45 minutes. Remove cheesecloth and cut cheese into ½-inch pieces. (Left uncut, cheese can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

3. FOR THE SPINACH SAUCE: Place spinach in large microwave-safe bowl, cover, and microwave until wilted, about 3 minutes. When cool enough to handle, chop enough spinach to measure 1/3 cup and set aside. Transfer remaining spinach to blender and wipe out bowl. Place mustard greens in now-empty bowl, cover, and microwave until wilted, about 4 minutes. When cool enough to handle, chop enough mustard greens to measure 1/3 cup and transfer to bowl with chopped spinach. Transfer remaining mustard greens to blender.

4. Meanwhile, melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds, coriander, paprika, cardamom, and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onion and ¾ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeño; cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and just beginning to stick to pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook mixture until pan is dry and tomatoes are beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

5. Transfer half of onion mixture to blender with greens. Add half of cashews and water; process until smooth, about 1 minute. Return puree to skillet.

6. Return skillet to medium-high heat, stir in chopped greens and buttermilk, and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until flavors have blended, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold in cheese cubes and cook until just heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle with remaining cashews and cilantro, and serve.

Stuffed Cabbage

This wonderful recipe comes from a new beautiful cookbook, A Kitchen In France (it is called Chou Farci). It is so pretty when cooked and delicious! It will easily serve 6-8 guests.
Chou Farci
1 head of Savoy cabbage
unsalted butter for the pan
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, finely diced
2/3# ground beef
2/3# bulk pork sausage
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 t. Rabelais spice (traditional French seasoning mix of allspice, nutmeg, curry)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 c. canned whole tomatoes, crushed with their juices
1 large egg
Stuffed cabbage
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, core the cabbage leaves and separate them, discarding any coarse outer ones. Cook the leaves in boiling water for 8 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Grease the bottom and sides of a 7″ souffle dish with butter. Put a large pretty leaf, domed side down, in the dish. Top with another leaf and continue arranging the leaves on top of one another until the entire base and sides are covered. You won’t use all of th leaves at this point (reserve enough for 4 or 5 layers). Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Cook the onions and carrots until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the ground beef, sausage, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, spice, and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring until browned. Pour in the crushed tomatoes with their juices and simmer until nearly all of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When meat mixture is cooled, discard the thyme and bay leaf. Add the egg and mix well. Put a layer about 1/2″ thick of the meat in the cabbage lined dish and top with a cabbage leaf. Repeat until you’ve used all of the meat and filled the dish, about 4 layers. Finish with a final layer of cabbage, making sure to tuck in the leaves on all sides. Bake for 40 minutes. To unmold, invert a plate over the souffle dish and flip the plate and remove the mold. Serve immediately , cut into slices.


Caviar is the most exquisite food and a special treat on New Years. I was away and am celebrating 2015 with my husband tonight! I bought Plaza osetra caviar from Costco and am thrilled by the quality of it. A friend sent us a special bottle of champagne and that makes it a wonderful fete!

Pot Roast

A wonderful winter meal from The Pioneer Woman. Perfect with mashed potatoes on a cold winter night.

1 whole (4 To 5 Pounds) Chuck Roast 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 whole Onions
6 whole Carrots (Up To 8 Carrots) Salt To Taste
Pepper To Taste
1 cup Red Wine (optional, You Can Use Beef Broth Instead) 2 cups To 3 Cups Beef Stock
3 sprigs Fresh Thyme, or more to taste
3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary, or more to taste
First and foremost, choose a nicely marbled piece of meat. This will enhance the flavor of your pot roast like nothing else. Generously salt and pepper your chuck roast.
Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or you can do a butter/olive oil split).
Cut two onions in half and cut 6 to 8 carrots into 2-inch slices (you can peel them, but you don’t have to). When the oil in the pot is very hot (but not smoking), add in the halved onions, browning them on one side and then the other. Remove the onions to a plate.
Throw the carrots into the same very hot pan and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, about a minute or so.
If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the very hot pan. Place the meat in the pan and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate.
With the burner still on high, use either red wine or beef broth (about 1 cup) to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of that wonderful flavor up.
When the bottom of the pan is sufficiently deglazed, place the roast back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups). Add in the onion and the carrots, as well as 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and about 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.
Put the lid on, then roast in a 275F oven for 3 hours (for a 3-pound roast). For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours.

Chocolate Mousse

I found this recipe in my mother’s collection. It originally appeared in the Naples Daily News. I doubled it for a party and it served 8.
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg white
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 T. Brandy
3/4 c. coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/2 c. heavy cream
Combine the egg yolks, brandy and 1T. sugar in a double boiler over simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture is very warm, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and beat with a mixer on high until cool.
Beat egg whites with 1T. sugar until medium stiff peaks.
In another bowl, whip the cream.
Fold 1/3 of egg white mixture into the chocolate mix, then fold in the rest. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into serving dishes. Cover and chill 3-24 hours. Serve with whipped cream and grated chocolate.