Monday, July 30, 2012

Scented Christmas Ornaments

CAUTION: These are not edible, so don't eat them.

1 four-ounce can (approximately 1 cup) of cinnamon
1 Tbsp cloves
1 Tbsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup applesauce
2 Tbsp. white glue

In a medium bowl, combine cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Add applesauce and glue, stirring to combine. Work mixture with hands 2-3 minutes or until dough is smooth and ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Divide into 4 portions. On lightly floured surface, roll each portion to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut dough with floured cookie cutters. (Make holes in the top if you want to use them as ornaments.)

Place cut outs on wire racks and allow to dry at room temperature for several days. (For a more uniform drying process, turn ornaments over once each day.) Drying can take up to a week, so allow plenty of time.

Cold Sesame Noodles for 2

Make the Salad:

Cook enough asian noodles (somen, udon, ramen) for 2 people in well salted water (you can use spaghetti in a real pinch). Then chill by rinsing in very cold water. Drain.

Jullienne, shred and/or slice very thin (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup each):


At this point, I often add some sprouts and/or diced tofu, as well (optional)

Toss everything together in a very large bowl. Clean hands are the best tool for this.

Make Dressing:

Melt 1/4 to 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter in a 1/2 cup of hot, black tea (Lipton or Chinese). Add 2 tbsp each sesame oil and honey. Add 1 tsp each of minced garlic and fresh ginger. Whisk together and add the following to taste:

crushed red pepper flakes
soy sauce
rice vinegar
sesame seeds (1/4 to 1 cup)

Toss the salad with the dressing and chill for several hours. Serve cold.

Kathy's Chicken Soup

Roughly chop the following:

2 carrots
2 onions
2 lemons

Roast a small chicken in the oven until browned. Cut into quarters and place in a large (8 qt) stockpot with the above - plus:

1 bay leaf
1 tsp of dried thyme (or a handful of chopped fresh thyme - can also use other fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary, tarragon)
1 tbsp of dried parsley (or several handfuls of chopped fresh parsley)
4-6 cubes chicken boullion (OR 1 tsp salt)
4-6 peppercorns

Fill the pot with water to within an inch of the top. Simmer uncovered 12-72 hours. Strain the stock and reserve the chicken meat (or use fresh cooked chicken meat). Chill the stock overnight until the fat solidifies. Spoon off the fat (NOTE: You can also run the stock through a gravy separator).

Chop some or all of the reserved chicken meat and add it back to the stock with any of the following:

1-2 carrots chopped fine
1-2 onions chopped fine
1 stalk celery chopped fine (optional)
1 cup of small pasta (tubetini, orricietti, orzo, acne de pepe, etc.)
additional herbs and salt and pepper to taste

Simmer the soup until the vegetables and pasta are cooked. Serve with bread.

Kathy's Bruschetta

You will need:

tomatoes (cherry tomatoes are the most flavorful)
fresh basil
extra virgin olive oil
fresh garlic cloves
sea salt (course grind)
French bread (baguette) or baguette-shaped Italian bread

You can use any kind of tomatoes for this but I like to use the multicolored heirloom cherry tomatoes if I can find them. Yellow and orange tomatoes are usually slightly lower in acid content, so including at least a few of these with red tomatoes makes it especially yummy.

Chop or dice tomatoes into 1/4 inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Drizzle a few tbsp of extra virgin olive oil on top. Sprinkle with a good pinch of sea salt per tomato. Add a clove of garlic minced very fine. Chop a large handful of fresh basil finely and toss to mix.

NOTE: Although you can fry them in a skillet, I have had good luck recently with the following method of making the crostini:

Slice a baguette of good French/Italian bread into 1/2 inch slices. Slice on a slight diagonal for larger slices. Mix extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic and brush on both sides of each slice. Bake in a 300 degree oven until golden brown and crispy (1/2 to one hour) turn over midway through baking.

Spoon the tomato mixture onto cooled bread crisps and enjoy...

Kathy's Famous Mac and Cheese

You'll need:

1 lb elbow pasta
1 lb shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 heaping tbsp prepared mustard
1/4 tsp nutmeg
white pepper to taste

NOTE: You can really use any type or combination of semi-soft to hard cheeses that you like for this recipe.

Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain.

Meanwhile, make a white sauce:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook until bubbly and smooth. Whisk in the milk and simmer until thickened. Then whisk in the mustard, nutmeg and pepper.

Add the sauce to the pasta and mix. Add the shredded cheese and toss well. Place in a large casserole and bake in a 450 degree oven until very brown on top (my family loves the burnt edges). You can sprinkle with paprika for color before baking.

Kathy's Caesar Salad

You'll need:

1 egg
1/2 tsp dried ground mustard
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp each red wine vinegar, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce (replaces anchovies)
2 small heads (or 1 large head) of romaine lettuce (can also use purchased spring mix, baby greens mix or baby romaine mix)
1/2 to 1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cut or tear dry romaine lettuce leaves into bite sized pieces and place in a very large salad bowl. Make a dressing by beating the egg, mustard, garlic and oregano with a stick blender. Add olive oil very slowly as if to make mayonnaise. Once an emulsion is achieved, slowly add red wine vinegar, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Add pepper to taste and beat until smooth. Toss lettuce with dressing and parmesan cheese. Serve with croutons, if desired.

Kathy's Mexican Ceviche

Combine and chill for one hour:

1/4 pound each raw, sushi-quality Salmon, Yellowtail and White Tuna diced into 1/4" to 1/2" cubes
1/4 pound small raw Shrimp, peeled and cleaned (or cut larger shrimp into 1/4" to 1/2" pieces)
(you can substitute up to 1 pound of any raw fish/seafood)
1 ripe Mango, peeled and diced into 1/4" to 1/2" cubes
a splash or two of Tequila (optional)
the juice of 2-3 limes, freshly-squeezed
fresh cilantro, chopped fine, to taste
salt & pepper to taste

Dice any/all of the following into 1/4" or 1/2" pieces and add (to taste):

1/2 Vidalia onion, very finely sliced
1 tomato
1 pepper (bell and/or jalepeno)
1/2 avocado

Dress with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and chill before serving (up to 8 hours). Serve in lettuce-lined bowls with corn chips...

Kathy's Meatloaf

You will need:

1 bell pepper (any color or a mix), seeds and ribs removed
1 medium onion
1 1lb can of diced tomatoes, drained
2 lbs meat loaf mix (ground beef, veal and pork in about equal amounts)
1 egg
3 heaping tbsp plain bread crumbs
1/2 tsp dried ground mustard
1 tsp each celery salt and garlic salt (important)
1/4 tsp pepper
2 thick slices bacon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a food processor, chop 1 bell pepper and 1 onion very fine. Add tomatos and chop a bit more.

Transfer mixture to a stand mixer with a paddle blade (or mix in a large bowl by hand). Add meat, eggs and bread crumbs and mix slowly. As mixture gets looser, add the seasonings and blend well.

Transfer to a large loaf pan and press out air. Round the top and place bacon lengthwise on top. Place on a sheet pan to catch drips. Place in middle of the oven and bake 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Pour off drippings and/or place on a platter to serve.

This meat loaf stands on its own - no sauce is necessary. Just slice and serve with mashed potatoes or rice and a veggie... It is also GREAT, when cold, on bread with mayo....

Kathy's Jambalaya

You'll need:

olive oil
1/2 to 1 cup each onions, peppers and celery, chopped or diced fine (use as many colors of bell peppers as you can find)
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 lb chicken, cubed
1/2 lb small to medium sized shrimp, peeled
1/2 lb andouille sausage, diced or sliced
1 cup rice (use any kind of rice, including brown rice - a gourmet rice mix works really well)
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 to 1 cup chopped or diced tomatoes
3 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tsp to 1 tbsp creole or cajun seasoning (to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

Cover the bottom of a large, heavy skillet or dutch oven with olive oil. Add onions, peppers, celery and garlic and saute over medium high heat until translucent. Add chicken, shrimp, andouille and rice and saute until chicken is cooked and the rice begins to toast a bit. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer (covered) until the rice is tender (45 minutes or so).

Kathy's Favorite Chili

You'll need:

2 lbs ground beef or stew beef cut into 1/2" chunks
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped bell peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (1 lb 12 oz) diced or crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce

Add the following to taste:
3-4 tbsp chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin, ground
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1-2 cans kidney beans (light or dark)

In large, heavy skillet or pot, brown the beef. Add the onions, peppers and garlic and saute until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 2 hours or so. Serve on rice and top with shredded cheddar/jack cheese.

Kathy's Really Good Meatloaf

You'll need:

1 lb each ground turkey, chicken and pork (you can also use the traditional meat loaf mix - beef, veal and pork)
2 eggs
1 cup each onions and peppers, chopped very fine (use a multi-color pepper mix if possible)
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1 to 2 tsp each celery salt and garlic salt (to taste)
pepper to taste
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 slices thick sliced bacon

Place onions, peppers, drained tomatoes and seasonings in a food processor and chop fine. Meanwhile, place meat in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle blade. Add eggs and mix very well on low. Add the vegetables from the food processor and mix well. Add bread crumbs and let the mixer run until smooth. This will give your meatloaf a fine texture like lunch meat.

Place mixture into a large loaf pan. Shape the top by mounding the mixture and top with bacon slices. Bake in a 450 degree oven for one hour. Allow to cool a bit before serving. Pour off excess juices if desired.

NOTE: This meatloaf can stand on its own and doesn't need gravy or tomato sauce poured over top. I often just serve it with plain brown rice and haricots verts (fresh thin green beans blanched and then sauteed in butter with lemon juice and parsley).

Kathy's Tomato Basil Soup

You will need:

3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, minced or chopped very fine
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced or chopped very fine (to taste - no limits)
2 lbs. tomatoes, rough chopped
1 lb. sun dried tomatoes
1 large handful of fresh basil (can use 2 - 3 Tbsp dried)
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup white wine (I used white zinfandel)
1-1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, sautee the onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Chop the tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes and basil in the food processor until fine. Add the tomato mixture to the onion mixture and sautee until the veggies are soft. Add the stock and wine and simmer for about 1/2 hour.

Run the mixture through a sieve or a food mill to remove skins and seeds (skip this step if you like your soup rustic). Add milk (you can use cream) very slowly, beating with a stick blender (or use a whisk or a hand mixer, if you don't have a stick blender). Reheat carefully, but don't boil! Garnish with basil leaves and serve with garlic toast or crostini. This soup also goes very well with classic grilled cheese sandwiches.

Kathy's Winter Soup

You will need:

1 large acorn squash
1 small pumpkin
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled
4 large stalks celery
1 large onion
3 large leeks, trimmed
2-4 large garlic cloves
3 medium turnips, peeled
2 large parsnips, peeled
2 quarts chicken stock
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp thyme or sage
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 pint light cream or sour cream

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cut the acorn squash and pumpkin in half. Scoop out and discard seeds and pulp. Place on a baking tray and top with 1 Tbsp of butter each. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little parmesan cheese. Bake for 1 hour and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, clean and slice leeks thin. Roughly chop onion, celery, carrots, and garlic in a food processor. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy pot and sweat all until the onions are translucent. Add chicken stock to the pot. Peel and dice the turnips and parsnips. Remove the skins and stems from cooled pumpkin and squash and roughly chop. Add to the pot with the turnips and parsnips. Add bay leaves, nutmeg and thyme.

Simmer until all the vegetables are tender. Puree with a stick blender or in batches in the blender. Blend in the light cream or sour cream until smooth. Garnish with chives.

NOTE: You can add a tsp or so of fresh grated ginger to the soup, if desired.

Kathy's Butternut Squash Soup

You will need:

1 or 2 butternut squash to total about 2-1/2 lbs
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive Oil

Chop fine in a food processor:
2-3 carrots
2-3 stalks of celery
2 medium onions

1 bunch of scallions (or green onions), sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp finely minced ginger root
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1-2 tsp dried sage (or 2-3 tbsp fresh, chopped fine)
4-6 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

Cut squash in half, remove seeds and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30-60 minutes (until very tender and slightly caramelized). Meanwhile, sweat carrots, celery, onions, scallions, garlic and ginger in olive oil. Scrape squash from rind and add to soup with nutmeg and sage. Add chicken broth just to cover and simmer until all ingredients are tender. Puree the soup in a food processor or blender in batches or use a stick blender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with sour cream and chives.


Peel, slice and add a few apples to the carrots, onions and celery and saute until soft before adding the squash.

You can also use pumpkin instead of squash, but substitute cinnamon for the nutmeg and thyme for the sage.

Kathy's Chicken Curry

Making chicken curry (Tikka Masala is the proper name) is extremely easy and fast. The secret is to use the best curry powder available. McCormick Culinary Madras Curry Powder (with a bit of cumin and turmeric added) comes the closest to the best of the chicken curries I've had from Indian restaurants. IMHO, Garam Masala is too spicy and varies too much from brand to brand and jar to jar to depend on for this recipe.

McCormick Madras Curry Powder is available at:

You will need:

1/4 cup of ghee (clarified butter)
2 large onions, sliced thin
3-4 boneless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 tsp ground fresh ginger root
3-4 tbsp McCormick Madras Curry Powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried cilantro (or one small handful fresh, chopped)
1 cup plain yogurt (if desired)

In a heavy pot, lightly brown the onion and the chicken in the ghee. Add garlic and ginger. Add the rest of the ingredients except the yogurt. Simmer for 1/2 to 1 hour. Add the yogurt and stir well. Serve over basmati rice with naan (indian flatbread) on the side.

Kathy's Beef Stroganoff

You will need:

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, sliced thin
1 pound mushrooms (any kind), sliced thin
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 to 2 pounds chuck, sliced thin
1 quart beef stock/broth (can replace 1 -2 cups with red wine)
1-2 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
2 Tbsp corn starch
8 oz sour cream
1 Tbsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy pot. Saute onions, shallots and garlic until carmelized (10 minutes). Add mushrooms and saute until soft. Remove onions and mushrooms to a bowl and saute beef until browned. Return onions and mushrooms to pot and add broth/wine. Stir in Worchestershire sauce, paprika and corn starch. Simmer until beef is tender (2 - 3 hours). Stir in sour cream and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over egg noodles.

Proper Haricots Vert

You will need:

1 pound very fresh French green beans
(Get the thin, dark green beans that are all straight and parallel in the package - from the PRODUCE section - NOT from Frozen Foods!)

1/2 cup butter (not margarine)
1 large bunch of fresh parsley, chopped - or a large handful of dried (fresh is better)
1 - 2 lemons (to taste)

Fill a large stockpot (8 quart) with water and put on to boil. Add a large handful of sea salt to the water and bring it to a good, rolling boil. Add the green beans and blanch for 30-60 seconds or so (to taste - they should be quite crisp). Drain the beans and flush thoroughly with very cold water. Melt butter in the stockpot and add the green beans back to the pot. Toss in the butter until hot. Squeeze lemon on top and toss again. Add the parsley and toss.

NOTE: According to Julia Childs, this is the ONLY way to cook these beans. I've tasted them and I agree. The loads of fresh parsley give them a fresh, sweet taste that is unmatched. If you insist, however, you can toast sliced almonds in the butter while it's melting for "green beans almondine".

Kathy's Ratatouille

You will need:

1 large or 2 small eggplant(s)
2-3 medium zuchinni squash
2-3 medium yellow squash
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb sliced mushrooms
2 large onions
1 large bunch of garlic (10 cloves or so)
2-3 large shallots
1 each bell pepper - green, red, orange and yellow (4 total)
2-3 lbs tomatoes

Plenty of any/all of the following herbs:

Thyme, Marjoram/Oregano, Parsley, Basil, Rosemary, Sage, Savory
~or~ use Herbs de Provence

Bay Leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Dice the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash into 1/2" to 1 inch cubes. Place in colander/strainer in the sink and salt well. Allow to sit and drain for about an hour.

Meanwhile, chop or slice onions, garlic, peppers and shallots. Add to hot olive oil in a large (8 quart), heavy pot and sweat. Add mushrooms and saute until tender.

Chop and add tomatoes and simmer until soft. Chop and add plenty of herbs (fresh is best). Add the eggplant and squash and simmer until everything is tender.

Freezes extremely well. Serve over pasta, with french bread or on top of spaghetti squash. Use it as a topping or filling for omelets. Try it cold with sliced fresh mozzarella.

Kathy's Borscht

You will need:

12 cups (3 quarts) beef broth
1 - 2 pound slice(s) of meaty bone-in beef shank
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, chopped fine

Peel and grate the following in your food processor:
4 large beets
4 carrots
1 large russet potato
1/2 small red cabbage

3/4 cup chopped fresh dill (or 3 tbsp dried)
3 Tbsp red wine (or apple cider) vinegar
3 - 4 juniper berries
Salt and pepper to taste

Add at the last minute:
1 pint sour cream

In a large stockpot, simmer the beef shank in the broth with the chopped onion and celery until tender. Remove meat, discard the bones and chop. Return to the broth with the rest of the ingredients except the sour cream. Simmer until all the vegetables are tender. Add the sour cream and serve garnished with dill.

NOTE: You can stir the sour cream in at the last minute or serve the soup with a glob of sour cream in the center and a sprig of dill.

Kathy's Grandma's REAL Roquefort Dressing

You will need:

8 oz. of sour cream
8 oz. of good roquefort cheese, crumbled
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce

Yes, that is ALL you will need! The mayonaise, oils, vinegars, sugars, spices and salts of various kinds that most people add really detract from the flavor of the roquefort. I think that they are doing it because they are addicted to bottled dressings.

Add everything to a large mixing bowl and beat until somewhat smooth and creamy - but leave some chunks. If you wish to thin it and are not using it for 24 hours or so, add a dash of milk - otherwise, use buttermilk. Let stand for 30 minutes or so at room temperature. It should thicken and get a little "foamy" (this is fine).

Toss it into a romaine salad (don't over-dress) - or I just plop it over the top of a large wedge of iceberg lettuce and let it run down the sides. I often garnish my lettuce wedge with halved cherry tomatoes. I usually sprinkle that with finely crumbled bacon OR very finely chopped red pepper OR onion (not to much of either). Fresh ground pepper on top is a must. 

This dressing will keep about a week or so in the fridge. Stir well before using. If it develops an unpleasant odor that is different from roquefort, throw it out.