Sunday, March 23, 2014

Let's do brunch! Sharing our love of some of the finer things in life--food, friends, fiction and fun!

Let's do brunch! I am ready to celebrate the arrival of Spring! Let's get together and share our love of some of the finer things in life--food, friends, fiction and fun! We'll have a terrific variety of tempting treats that are easy to make and even easier to eat and enjoy. 

I'll put on some easy listening and light jazz--Harry Connick, Jr; Norah Jones; Tony Bennett; Diana Krall; and Michael Buble'. Some nicely scented candles will provide aromatherapy along with the bunches of fresh cut flowers. Casual dress--relax and be yourself. Bring a favorite book along, and tell us why it's a favorite. Read a special passage or line from the book--don't be shy! Be sure to attend--bring a book and bring a friend. There's no telling when this party will end!


One gallon lemonade
3 cups frozen mixed berries
if desired, sugar to taste

Place berries in a blender, and add enough lemonade to cover fruit. Puree until blended. Combine puree and remaining lemonade in a large serving pitcher. If desired, add sugar to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir well before serving.


1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar for topping

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture (the dough will be soft). Drop by teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees F for 7-8 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Place on a serving plate and sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.


2 cups cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined and chilled
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 tablespoon finely minced onion
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
Romaine lettuce or mixed greens
thinly sliced tomatoes
avocado slices
lemon wedges

In a medium bowl, mix shrimp with celery, onion, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper to taste. Chill well. Serve on individual salad plates on a bed of romaine lettuce. Garnish each plate with tomato and avocado slices and a lemon wedge.


1/2 pound elbow macaroni
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Cook the macaroni according to package directions (do not overcook). Drain and set aside. Spray four 12 cup mini-muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray (if you only have one mini-muffin pan just repeat the steps until finished). In a large saucepan melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and continue cooking 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and continue cooking and whisking for 5 minutes. Add both cheeses and whisk until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in egg and paprika. Add macaroni to pan and stir with a large spoon to combine. Spoon macaroni into the muffin cups in slightly rounded tablespoons, gently pressing them into the cups. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden, careful not to overbake. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Gently loosen each mini mac from the cups using a butter knife, then lift from pan. Serve warm.


6 mini bagels, split
1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing
3/4 cup drained sauerkraut
1/4 pound thinly sliced deli-style corned beef
4 large slices of Swiss cheese, each cut into 6 pieces
12 dill pickle slices

Heat broiler. Place mini bagel halves onto ungreased baking sheet, cut-side up. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat until bagels are lightly toasted (1 to 2 minutes). Spread 1 teaspoon dressing onto toasted-side of bagels. Divide corned beef evenly among bagel halves. Top each with 1 tablespoon sauerkraut and 2 pieces cheese. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat until cheese is melted (1 to 2 minutes). Garnish each appetizer with 1 slice pickle; secure with toothpick. Serve warm.


1 (6 ounce) package. chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash salt

Melt chocolate chips and butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt. Cook stirring constantly about 5 minutes until mixture is hot and slightly thickened. Keep warm in fondue pot while serving. If mixture thickens too much, add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until at a dipping consistency. May also be used as ice cream topping. Serve with assorted dippers. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Cubed pound or angel food cake
Fresh strawberries
Pineapple chunks
Apple wedges
Maraschino cherries (with stems)

Bacon Crackertizers: 

1 package Club Crackers
1 pound Thin Sliced Bacon
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Lay crackers face up on a cookie sheet. Scoop about 1 teaspoon of grated Parmesan cheese onto each cracker. Cut your package of bacon in half (or cut pieces individually) and carefully, so the cheese doesn’t fall off, wrap each cheese covered cracker in one half piece of bacon, completely covering the cracker. It should fit snugly around the cracker. Place the bacon wrapped crackers onto a baking sheet that has a rack on it. Place in a 250-degree oven for about 2 hours (check at about an hour and forty-five minutes so they won’t be overdone). Serve warm.

Pizza Pasta Salad 

I box tri-color spiral pasta
1 red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper (or red or yellow), chopped
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
1 small pkg. sliced pepperoni, slices halved
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 large bottle favorite Italian dressing

Cook pasta in cups boiling water to al dente. Don’t overcook. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add to remaining ingredients in an extra large bowl, then toss with enough dressing to coat well. After salad has thoroughly chilled in refrigerator, may have to moisten with additional dressing. If desired, top with additional shredded mozzarella cheese before serving.


8 to 10 cups fresh melon cubes
1 to 2 tablespoons white corn syrup
1 pint fresh strawberries
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
2 oranges, sectioned
Fresh mint leaves, optional

In a large bowl, combine melon cubes and corn syrup. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, stir in remaining fruit. Garnish with fresh mint leaves if desired. Yield: 3-4 quarts.

Margarita Pie with Pretzel Crust
1-1/4 cups crushed pretzels
1/4 cup  sugar
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 can  (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
**1/2 cup lime juice
1 envelope. Lemon Lime Unsweetened Soft Drink Mix
1 tub (8 oz.) nondairy whipped topping, thawed, divided
**use a fresh lime for juice; finely grate lime peel for garnish before cutting and squeezing lime for juice
Mix pretzel crumbs, sugar and butter; press onto bottom and up side of 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate until ready to fill. Mix next 3 ingredients in large bowl. Gently fold in 2-1/2 cups whipped topping; pour into crust. Freeze 6 hours. Remove from freezer 15 min. before serving; let stand at room temperature until slightly softened. Top with remaining whipped topping and grated lime peel.
Creamy Roquefort Dip & Fresh Vegetable Platter
1 medium clove garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb. Roquefort cheese
1 pint sour cream
1/4 cup heavy cream
assorted fresh vegetables such as yellow, green, and red bell pepper strips; yellow and red grape or cherry tomatoes; celery, carrots, and green onions; radishes; broccoli and cauliflower florets
toasted baguette slices; baked pita triangles; assorted savory crackers and breadsticks

In a medium bowl, mash the garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Add the Roquefort cheese, roughly mashing  the cheese with the back of a spoon. Stir in the sour cream and several grinds of pepper, and then add the cream until the consistency is slightly thinner than sour cream. (It should cling to the vegetables nicely but not be too thick) Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Refrigerate until shortly before serving. (The dip will thicken in the refrigerator but will return to its original consistency as it comes to room temperature.)
Wash and drain vegetables and allow to dry on paper towels. Cut larger vegetables into long thin strips. On a large platter, place bowl of dip in center and surround with prepared vegetables. Serve with crispy breads and crackers.
Carrot Cake Cuties
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple, undrained
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup shredded carrots powdered sugar
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon in large bowl. Add undrained pineapple, eggs, butter, raisins and carrots; stir until just blended. Spoon evenly into 36 mini-muffin cups sprayed with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Bake at 375°F., 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pans onto wire rack to cool. Before serving, sprinkle muffins lightly with powdered sugar.

Quick Coconut-Almond Macaroons
2 packages (7 ounces each) flaked coconut (about 4 cups)
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix coconut, sweetened condensed milk and almond extract in large bowl. Drop teaspoonfuls of mixture onto greased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Immediately remove from baking sheets to wire racks; cool completely.

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