Thursday, January 30, 2014

House Punch

House Punch
(little over ¾ gallon)


¾ cup Powdered Sugar
1 (750 ml) bottle Dark Rum
1 pt. Brandy
1 cup Peach Schnapps
2 cups Fresh Brewed Black Tea
2 cups Fresh Lemon Juice
2 cups Water
garnish: Orange Slices (optional)


It is best to chill all liquids before making this punch. In a large container, mix the first 6 ingredients until well combined. Now add the water and mix. Taste punch before, during and after adding water to meet your taste desires. Place mixture in a punch bowl with ice and garnish (if using) with orange slices.

Note: A neat trick to use with punch type beverages is to put it in empty clean old bottles. Wine bottles work great for this and then just put in a stopper. You can keep beverage colder by leaving unused bottles in refrigerator until needed. This way you don't need ice in a punch bowl diluting the drink. Just ice the individual glasses before filling.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pomegranate Party Punch

Pomegranate Party Punch
(about ¾ gallon)


1 qt. Pomegranate Juice
1 pt. Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1 pt. Limeade
1 (750 ml) bottle Champagne or Sparkling Dry White Wine (such as Prosecco)
for garnish: Lime & Orange Slices
for garnish: 1 cup Pomegranate Seeds (optional)
as needed Ice for glasses


In a large sealable container, combine first 3 ingredients and refrigerate. Just before serving, add the bottle of sparkling beverage you are using and mix. If using a punch bowl to serve, add fruit slices and seeds (if using) and provide iced glasses. If serving in glasses, add ice and garnishes before filling with punch..

Note: Prosecco is an Italian dry sparkling wine similar to champagne. It would be the first choice for this punch. If not available in your area, use a beverage that you like from previous use.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Party Drinks for Super Bowl

This year's "Super Bowl" is being played outside in an open stadium.  To make it worse, the stadium is in a cold climate (New York City).  I hope if any of you are somehow going to the game, you get a warmish day. But it is most likely going to be cold.

So you better plan on hot beverages (adult or not) to help keep you warm throughout the long day.  For those of you who will not be going but still watching and/or partying that day.  I hope you have enough sense to do it inside a warm location if you're not in a tropical area.

Most Super Bowl parties involve adult beverages.  So do some planning on what you would like to consume and/or offer to guests.  In doing so, remember to make and try to keep an affordable budget.

Individual drinks are hardest on that budget.  Maybe you might want to think of less expensive ways.  You might even just want to make life easier for everyone by having large dispensers (even punch bowls) for the beverages.

I have a couple of recipes for you this week that might help.  They might be just enough different that the flavor will be new and exciting to most.  You can't please everyone no matter how hard you try.  But I do believe that the majority will love them.

The first is a "Pomegranate Party Punch" on Wednesday and Pomegranates are a hot food choice right now.  The other on Thursday will be for something called "House Punch" and it's tasty too.

Now I already have several good beverage recipes in the "Drink Recipes" tab.  Here are some quick links to them; A Basic Sangria Recipe (V), Bloody Mary's (V), Dark & Stormy (V), Gina's Super Bowl Punch (V), Rum Party Punch (V) and Vodka Party Punch (V) A hot drink recipe one is Hot Spiced Cider (V).

I hope you enjoy some of these recipes at your Super Bowl party or some other fun event.  Until next week, "Happy Cooking" and may your team (at least for that day) wins.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
(8-12 servings)


1 (6 oz.) pkg. Stuffing Mix
½ (10 ¾ oz.) can Cream of Chicken Soup
½ cup Milk
4 cups Cooked Chicken, chopped or shredded
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
6 oz. Sliced Deli Ham, chopped
½ cup Shredded Swiss Cheese
1 ½ cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese


Prepare the stuffing according to the package directions. While it is cooking, mix the soup and milk in a bowl and set aside. Grease a 9x13 baking dish and spread the chicken evenly over the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with the pepper followed by the ham and them Swiss cheese. Top this with half the cheddar cheese. Spread the soup mixture over all and then do the same with stuffing. Finally top with the last of the cheddar cheese and cover with foil. Place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake for 10 to 15 more minutes or cheese has melted and casserole is bubbly.

Note: This recipe is easily doubled and one casserole can be frozen for a later meal.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Creamy Tuna & Noodles Casserole

Creamy Tuna & Noodles Casserole
(4-6 servings)


8 oz. Egg Noodles, cooked
1/4 cup Yellow Onion, chopped
2 (5 oz.) cans Albacore Tuna, drained
1 (10 ¾ oz.) can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 cup Milk
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
2 (4 oz.) cans Sliced Mushrooms, drained & chopped
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 cup Plain Bread Crumbs
1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted


In a medium bowl, combine the onion, tuna and mushrooms. In large bowl, combine soup, milk, mayonnaise, pepper, salt and garlic powder. To the large bowl add the cooked noodles and the tuna mixture from the medium bowl. Carefully combine all ingredients and pour into a buttered 2 quart baking dish smoothing it as you finish. In a small bowl combine bread crumbs and melted butter. Then sprinkle evenly over the tuna mixture. Place the dish in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until browned lightly and it is bubbly along the sides.

Note: You can add or substitute other ingredients to this dish. I like mushrooms and don't like peas, so I do it this way.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Winter Casseroles

I don't know about all of you that read my blog, but this has been a very cold winter so far.  Minnesota has been seeing way to many sub-zero days in December and January.  Hopefully there will be an early spring. Although I'm praying for it, I'm not counting on it.

One thing the cold weather does do is increase the desire for "Comfort foods."  I'd have to say that one of the top categories for comfort food would be "Casseroles."  And to be specific "Winter Casseroles." These are those hearty hot dishes that warm us up when we have weather outside like we have had this winter.

Some casserole dishes are great year round.  While there are those that you just want in the summertime. The "Winter Casseroles" that I'm talking about today are best in the winter but do taste good anytime of the year.

Everyone has their favorites.  Some are standard everyone loves casseroles.  Some are a little unique too. This week I have one of each for you.  On Wednesday there is a classic in the "Tuna & Noodles Casserole."  Then on Thursday, it's "Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole" which is a little twist on the classic individual entree.

The greatest thing about casseroles is that they are usually very easy to throw together.  Then all you have to do is just wait until they're done cooking in the oven.  I've mentioned this before but they are great for "Pot Luck", "Community Meals" or whatever you called them in your location.

They are also great to make and freeze for a later date.  It's not a bad habit to make 2 casseroles (double the recipe) when you make one.  That way you have it tonight and a second one for some day down the road. One of those days when you want a hot meal but really don't have the time to make it.  So be sure and think about that the next time you're going to make a casserole.

I've got a few more recipes for casseroles in the "Entree Recipes" tab.  But here are a few you might like to try; Chicken & Wild Rice CasseroleCrab Casserole (My Favorite) and Turkey Tetrazzini.  Also you might like to try a couple of different lasagna casseroles.  One is "Vegetarian" and the other uses chicken with a white sauce.  They are Vegetarian Lasagna (V) and White Chicken Lasagna.

So until next week, try one of these delicious recipes and "Happy Cooking."

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs
(4 servings)


2 slices White Bread, day old and crumbled
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp. Unsalted Butter
1 small Yellow Onion, fine dice
2/3 lb. Ground Beef
1/3 lb. Ground Pork
1 large Fresh Egg
1 tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
¼ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
¼ tsp. Ground Allspice
1/8 tsp. Ground Ginger
1 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
¼ cup Chicken Broth
3 tbsp. All Purpose Flour
2 cups Beef Broth
4 oz. Sour Cream


In a small bowl, mix the bread and cream and let set 10 minutes to allow cream to be absorbed. In a large saute pan, melt the tsp. of butter and saute onions. Cook about 10 minutes or until onions are light brown over medium heat. In a large bowl, combine the onions, ground beef, ground pork, egg, sugar, salt, pepper, nutmeg, allspice and ginger. Now add the soaked bread and mix lightly. Divide mixture and form into 1 inch balls. Using the same saute pan, melt the tbsp. of butter over medium heat. Add the meatballs to the pan and cook until outsides are browned. Be sure to keep turning them over to get all sides. They will still be pink in the middle. Remove the cooked meatballs to a 8x8 baking dish and add the chicken broth. Cover with foil and place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Place the meatballs on a serving platter and cover with foil. While the meatballs are in the oven make the gravy. Again using the same saute pan, add the flour to the pan drippings and whisk over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Now add the beef broth gradually while you continue whisking. This should deglaze the pan and start thickening. It should take about 5 minutes or so to thicken. Adjust the seasoning with the salt and pepper to taste. Just before pouring the gravy over the meatballs, add the sour cream to gravy and mix well. Serve the coated meatballs as is or over cooked egg noodles.

Note: You can use all beef instead of a mixture if you desire.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wild Rice Meatballs

Wild Rice Meatballs
(40 meatballs)


¾ cup Wild Rice
1 ½ cups Water
¼ cup Yellow Onion, finely chopped
1 large clove Fresh Garlic, minced
½ tbsp. Olive Oil
¼ tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Black Pepper
1 large Fresh Egg, slightly beaten
¼ cup Water
1 lb. Lean Ground Beef (90/10 approximately)


In a sauce pan, combine the rice and water (1 ½ c). Bring mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Rice should be nearly tender when you remove in from the heat and let it rest. In a saute pan over medium heat bring oil to temperature and add the onion. Saute for about 5 minutes or until tender and then add garlic. Continue about 1 minute more or until garlic is fragrant. Put this mixture in a large bowl and add the wild rice, salt, pepper, egg and water (¼ c) before adding the ground beef. Combine well together by hand but don't over mix. Form mixture into 1 inch balls and place (not touching) on a rimmed baking sheet that has been sprayed. Place baking sheet in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until meatballs are no longer pink. Serve as a entree, side dish or snack.

Note: You can change up the amounts in the ingredients for a slightly different taste. Try using a cup of wild rice with 2 cups of water. A ½ cup of onion and/or 2 cloves of garlic gives a different flavor too.

Note:  Use a number 50 scoop to make the meatballs and you'll get around 40 meatballs.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Meatballs II (meatballs continued)

Last week I started talking "Meatballs" and gave a couple of recipes.  This week I want to continue on the meatball theme.

I have always considered any type of meatball to be comfort food.  But really they're more than just that. Besides just having them as part of your entree.  They can be much more diverse.  Meatballs make a great snack item or buffet dish.  The size can go from small to large and thus change their function.

Back in the 70's I lived in Colorado.  At that time there was a small town a few miles outside of Boulder called Louisville.  They had 5 (if I remember correctly) family Italian restaurants.  All made homemade pasta and incredible meatballs.  At my favorite, if you ordered the spaghetti and meatballs, you received only one. But it was the size of a baseball.  Maybe between a hardball and a softball in size.

I've been to and even catered parties that the meatballs were less than an inch in diameter.  Of course the guests going through the line never took just one.  And I've seen them in every size in between too.  That's part of the fun with meatballs.  You can do so many things with them.

One thing is to use different sauces to coat them.  Some ideas there are sweet & sour, sweet & spicy, teriyaki glazed, BBQ, oriental sesame, a Mexican type sauce, a cranberry holiday sauce and even different types of gravy.  You could even bread the meatballs if you wanted.  Last week, the "Ham Balls" came with a sauce and the "Turkey & Bleu Cheese Meatballs" did not.

Meatballs can be cooked several different ways too.  Most people either bake their meatballs in the oven or in a skillet on top of the stove.  But you can also deep fry meatballs.  You could even grill them outdoors over charcoal.

Different types of protein, various sizes, with or without sauces and a number of ways to cook them, who could ask for a more flexible food to eat?  And I've probably haven't even mentioned the half of it.

Thursday, the recipe is for "Swedish Meatballs" and they come in a gravy type sauce.  Tomorrow's recipe is for "Wild Rice Meatballs" and they don't have a sauce but could.

There are a few other recipes on this blog too. Here are links to them; Meatballs (with Potato) and Italian Meatball Burgers.

I hope you enjoy trying some of the meatball recipes and maybe even create one of your own.  Until next week "Happy Cooking."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Turkey & Bleu Cheese Balls

Turkey & Bleu Cheese Balls
(8 balls)


4 cloves Fresh Garlic
½ medium Yellow Onion, chopped
2 medium Jalapeno Peppers, halved & seeded
1 lb. Ground Turkey
3 tbsp. Bleu Cheese Crumbles
½ cup Plain Bread Crumbs
3 fresh Egg Whites
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 ½ tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 tbsp. Dried Parsley
1 tbsp. Italian Seasoning
1 tsp. Black Pepper
1 tsp. Chili Powder


In a food processor, pulse the garlic until minced. Add the onion and pepper and pulse again until minced. Scrape the onion mixture into a large mixing bowl. Next add the turkey, cheese, bread crumbs, egg whites and oil. Mix well and then add the soy sauce,parsley, Italian seasoning, black pepper and chili powder. Mix again and form into 8 equally sized balls. Place the balls on a foil lined rimmed baking pan that has been sprayed. Put into a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until golden and have an internal temperature of 160. Remove and let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Note: You can exclude the Jalapeno peppers if heat is not your game.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ham Balls

Ham Balls
(18 balls)


1 ¾ lb. Ground Ham
¾ lb. Ground Beef
2 Fresh Eggs, beaten
1 cup Milk
1 ½ cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 (10 ¾ oz.) can Tomato Soup
1 ¼ cup Brown Sugar, packed
½ tsp. Prepared Mustard


In a large bowl mix the first 5 ingredients well. Using a 1/3 cup, fill level with mixture and form into a ball. Place the balls in a 9x13 baking dish. Whisk together the soup, sugar and mustard. Pour this mixture over the balls and bake for 1 hour in a pre-heated 325 degree oven. Bast the balls frequently with the sauce during the baking. The ham balls should have an internal temperature of 160 before removing from oven. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

Note: You can use a different sauce if this one doesn't meet your tastes.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

More Than the Traditional Meatball

I believe that most people when they think of "meatballs", think Italian food.  Those traditional dishes of "Spaghetti & Meatballs" or "Meatball Sub Sandwiches".  But there are many different types of meatballs throughout the world.

Going back to the "Italian" type meatballs.  Everyone makes them differently too.  Chefs, professional cooks and even home cooks will use a variety of different meats to make their Italian meatballs.  They will use just one type of meat or some combination of meats to produce their favorite meatball.

Some of the most common meats used are ground beef, ground pork, ground veal and ground turkey.  But you will find people using ground lamb, ground chicken and even ground buffalo today.  They will also use other exotic meats.

You will find eggs and different kinds of bread (crumbs or pieces) to help bind the meatballs together.  The use of spices help to create all those different flavors and styles of meatballs.  A fun fact is that meatballs are easy to make and hard to screw up.  Just don't burn them.

Besides the meatballs, there is usually (but not always) a sauce that goes with them.  The Italian ones have a tomato based sauce mostly.  But you will find BBQ sauces, Asian sauces and different gravies offered with meatballs too.

Even for meatballs today.  Let's look at what recipes are coming up this week.

Tomorrow's recipe even uses a meat not already mentioned, ground ham.  That's right, tomorrow's recipe is for "Ham Balls" and although that may sound a little strange, they are very tasty.  I'm going to say they're a Midwest thing.  I've really only run across them in Iowa and Missouri.  I'm sure there are other states where they are popular.  Guessing most hog producing states make them in some fashion.  They are truly worth trying.

Then on Thursday, I have "Turkey & Bleu Cheese Meatballs" for you.  They consider these a little more healthy because you are using turkey.  I like them because they are using Bleu cheese.  The ham balls recipe above needs the meats stated in the recipe.  But in this one you could use a different type of meat if you wish.

I'm going to continue next week with some more "meatball" recipes and talk.  That's because there are so many different types.  In the meantime, "Happy Cooking" until next week.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Pecan Bread

Pecan Bread
(2 loaves)


½ lb. (2-sticks) Unsalted Butter
2 ½ cups Sugar
4 large Fresh Eggs
1 cup Sour Cream
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 ½ tsp. Baking Soda
1 cup Pecans, chopped


In a large bowl, blend the butter and sugar together. Now start adding the eggs, sour cream and vanilla into the mixture. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda together before starting to add to the wet mixture. Once flour is just incorporated, add the nuts. Mix in nuts carefully and don't over mix. Pour batter into two 5x9 loaf pans that have been greased and floured. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.

Note: To grease and flour the pan (glass or metal) use butter or oil. Use enough to coat the insides of pan without excess. Sprinkle a little flour into pan and shake to coat sides and bottom of pan. Knock out any excess before filling with batter.

Ideas for Future Efforts

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread
(2 loaves)


3 cups Sugar
3 cusp All-Purpose Flour
½ tsp. Baking Powder
2 tsp. Baking Soda
½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Grounded Cinnamon
1 tsp. Grounded Nutmeg
1 cup Canola Oil
1 cup Water
4 large Fresh Eggs
1 (15 oz.) can Pumpkin
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
! cup Walnuts, chopped (optional)


In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (first 7) and in another bowl the wet ingredients (next 5). Now combine the dry into the wet bowl and mix until just combined. Add the nuts and mix just enough to incorporate. Pour into two 5x9 loaf pan that has been greased and floured. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes to1 hour or toothpick comes out clean.

Note: To grease and flour the pan (glass or metal) use butter or oil. Use enough to coat the insides of pan without excess. Sprinkle a little flour into pan and shake to coat sides and bottom of pan. Knock out any excess before filling with batter.

Ideas for Future Efforts