Faith, Family, Friends and Food
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I love to cook and entertain. I’ve had the privilege of taking several cooking classes and I even owned and operated a catering business for a while, as shared on the “About” page on this site. I love developing recipes and I’ve written a cookbook: 101 Chicken Recipes all taste-tested on my family and friends! Some of my future projects include developing elegant coffee-table books with gourmet recipes, photographs, and stories. Stay tuned!
When I send out my bi-monthly ENewsletter, I make a point of including one of my specially developed recipes. Subscribe to my complimentary E-Newsletter using the side bar or the form at the bottom of the page, then you’ll be sure to get the latest edition complete with one of my “signature” recipes. Better yet, invite me to come speak for your group and I’ll treat you to a cooking lesson with yummy food we can enjoy together!
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It’s mid August which mean summer is winding down to be celebrated one last time with the great Labor Day Barbecue. I have found nothing better to go with grilled meats than this tangy and hearty salad. I bet it will become one of your favorites too!
Green and White Salad
Fabulous with beef, pork or chicken that’s grilled and finished with a tomato based BBQ sauce.
1 Bunch fresh spinach, washed, dried, and chilled, torn in bite size pieces
3-4 White onions, sliced thin
1/3 C Fresh basil, julienne cut
1 C Feta cheese, crumbles
1/8 C White wine vinegar +/-
¼ C Olive oil +/-
1 T Lemon juice
1 t + Cavendar’s Greek Seasoning*
Place all dry ingredients in a large salad bowl.
Mix the wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings well. Pour over salad and toss to evenly coat. I don’t use any added salt since the Greek seasoning contains salt.
*Cavendar’s Greek Seasoning is a unique spice blend available at most grocery stores.
What’s more American than Apple Pie? I know a crumb topping is often considered Dutch or French, but America’a a melting-pot, no?
Pam’s Ultimate Apple Pie
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup well-chilled all-vegetable shortening
4-8 tablespoons ice cold water
Cut flour into shortening using pastry blender or two forks until it resembles small peas. Add water one tablespoon at a time, fluffing with a fork until it just barely comes together in a ball. Roll out on floured surface and fit into deep dish pie pan.
6-8 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/3 C firmly packed combination of both light brown and dark brown sugar
1/3 C white sugar
1 T cornstarch or 2 T flour
1 t cinnamon
¼ t fresh grated nutmeg
¼ t salt
2 T butter, diced small
While preparing apples, place slices in salted water to prevent oxidizing. Drain very well before assembling.
Mix the sugars, cornstarch or flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a large bowl. Add the apples and toss gently to coat evenly. Place into prepared pie crust packing closely with care not to tear crust. Dot apples with butter and set aside.
1/3 C flour
3 T sugar, or less depending on sweetness of apples
1 T light brown sugar
1 T dark brown sugar
¼ – ½ t cinnamon
2 T butter
Mix all topping ingredients together using a pastry blender or two forks until well mixed. Crumble evenly over top of apples to cover thoroughly.
In an oven preheated to 425 degrees, place the pie. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce heat to 350-375 degrees. Continue baking for 45-75 minutes more. Test apples for tenderness using a long toothpick or skewer. Bake until topping is nicely browned and apples are tender. Cool on rack.
A perfect light, refreshing Easter dessert!
Pam’s Best Ever Lemon Bars
1 ¾ C sifted all-purpose flour – divided
1/3 C sifted confectioners’ sugar
¼ t salt
¾ C chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for baking dish
1 t plus 1 T finely grated lemon zest
1/3 C almonds, toasted and chopped
2 C granulated sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
½ C freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ t baking powder
powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Into a medium bowl, sift together 1 ½ cups flour the confectioners’ sugar and the salt. Cut in the butter, 1 teaspoon of the zest and almonds until mixture just clings together.
Press mixture into a lightly buttered 9 x 13 banking dish. Bake until just firm and lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before filling.
In a large non-reactive bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, eggs, lemon juice baking powder and remaining ¼ C flour and tablespoon of zest until combined. Pour into prepared crust.
Bake until filling is set and lightly browned 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, cool. Place powdered sugar in a sieve and dust top then cut into squares.
This is a truly decadent dessert perfect for Valentines Day! Make this very early in the day or even the day before serving day, to have sufficient cooling time.
Pam’s Port and Chocolate Truffle Tart
Makes 8-10 servings
1 1/2 cups finely ground chocolate graham crackers
6 tablespoons butter melted and brought to room temperature
1/2 lb 65% cacao chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon instant coffee grounds
6 tablespoons butter cut into small cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 tablespoons full bodied port wine, such as a Ruby or Reserve
3 1/3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
whipped cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap a sheet of foil over bottom of an 8-inch springform pan. Lightly butter sides of pan.
Stir together graham cracker crumbs and butter in a bowl until combined, then pat mixture evenly onto bottom of pan and slightly up the sides.
Bake 10 minutes, then cool completely in pan.
Melt chocolate, instant coffee grounds and butter over low heat, stirring until smooth, then remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.
Whisk together eggs, cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a bowl.
Add port to egg mixture, whisk lightly.
Whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined well.
In medium saucepan over moderate heat, stir together raspberries, powdered sugar, and lemon juice. Heat, stirring often, until raspberries begin to release juice. Raise heat to moderately high and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Strain through fine-mesh sieve, pressing on solids to extract all liquid. (Sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, up to 1 week.)
Pour filling into cooled crust and rap pan on counter (gets rid of the air bubbles).
Bake at 350°F until filling 1 inch from edge is set and slightly puffed, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Cool tart completely in pan, about 2 hours. Center will continue to set as it cools.
After it’s cooled completely, chill uncovered in refrigerator until center is firm, approximately 4 hours.
Remove from springform pan and display on your favorite serving dish.
Serve slices with raspberry sauce. and fresh whipped cream, if desired. Don’t forget to serve with a glass of Port wine.
I’m so excited it’s Christmas season! I’m sharing one of my family’s favorites. It’s prefect for brunch, lunch or dinner and gives you the option to cook in the oven (350°F for about 45 minutes) or use your crock pot (allow 4-5 hours).
Pam’s Green Chili Chicken Casserole
Makes 10-12 servings
1 whole chicken
12-16 corn tortillas
1 28-oz can of Green Enchilada Sauce
Cumin, ground – about 1 T
Fresh garlic, pressed, about 4-6 cloves
1 Jalapeno, seeded, and finely diced
Cilantro, chopped – About 1 C plus more for garnish
Mexican Cheese blend, grated (or jack and cheddar) – about 3-4 C
Fresh green onions
Boil chicken (keep broth) cool and remove skin and bones and discard. Chunk chicken into bite size pieces.
Char tortillas over the stove top directly over flame or electric burner, and set aside.
Combine cumin, garlic, jalapeno, and cilantro to the Green Chili sauce according to taste.
Place a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish or your crock pot.
Place some broth in a shallow dish. (freeze remaining broth for another use). Tear half of the total charred tortillas and quickly dip into chicken broth then place on top of the sauce.
Using half the chicken create a layer of chicken
Using 1/3 of cheese add a layer of cheese.
Evenly pour over half of the sauce.
Top with remaining 1/3 portion of cheese.
Bake in 350 degree oven until warm and bubbly. Let cool slightly, cut and serve. Or place in a crock pot and cook until heated through about 4-5 hours.
Garnish with sour cream, green onions and additional cilantro.
Pumpkin Pie Cake
Makes 12 generous servings – A perfect treat that makes your home smell like autumn!
Preheat oven to 350°F
1 29-oz. can pumpkin (unseasoned – not the pie filling)
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk (can be light 2% or non-fat)
1 1/2 C sugar (can substitute Splenda)
1 t salt
2 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cloves
4 large eggs
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cube butter, melted
1 C chopped pecans
whipped or ice cream – optional
Combine the first eight ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Pour this into a 9 x 13 unprepared pan. Sprinkle the dry cake mix on top of the pumpkin. Drizzle the melted butter over all, sprinkle with pecans. Bake 325-350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool about 15-20 minutes. Slice and serve alone or with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.
Grilled Corn and Sweet Potato Salad
Makes 6 servings – A perfect side dish for barbecue.
2 1/2 pounds medium-size sweet narrow (not fat/large in the middle) potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
1 T ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ears corn, husked
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar, available in most supermarkets or specialty food shops
1 tablespoon canned chipotle chile with adobo sauce
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 minced garlic clove
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Cut pointed ends off sweet potatoes and pierce all round with the tines of a fork. Place in microwave oven and microwave until potatoes are just barely cooked tender. You do not want them the least bit mushy. Cut the potatoes crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick round slices.
Prepare grill. In a small bowl whisk together the oil, cumin, salt and pepper. Brush both sides of the potato slices with the oil mixture. Brush the ears of corn with the remaining oil mixture.
Grill the potato slices for 1 minute per side and transfer to a large bowl. Potato slices can be halved into bite-size pieces at this point.
Grill the corn for 3 to 4 minutes rotating once a minute and transfer to a plate. When the corn is cool enough to handle, remove the kernels with a sharp knife.
Add the corn to the potato slices. Add the red bell pepper, scallions and 1/4 cup cilantro leaves. Do not stir to combine.
In a food processor or blender combine the seasoned rice wine vinegar, chipotle chile, shallot, garlic, lemon juice and remaining cilantro leaves and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Pour half of the dressing over the vegetables and gently toss to combine. Add the remaining dressing and carefully stir again. Cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine.
Gazpacho – Pam’s Original Recipe
Makes 6 servings – A wonderfully cold and refreshing summer soup.
1 large can tomato juice (about 5 cups)
2 T beef bullion base
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 t sweet smoked Paprika
3/4 t hot smoked Paprika
1/3 C red wine vinegar
1 cucumber (seedless or English), diced small
5 tomatoes (plum), diced small
1 red bell peppers, diced small
1 yellow bell peppers, diced small
1 red onion, diced small
2 avocados, diced small
1 C cilantro, chopped fine
1 1/2 C croutons (purchased or homemade)
Heat the tomato juice just to a boil. Add the bullion base, garlic, and the types of Paprika. Stir until the bullion is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add vinegar and place in a suitable covered container to refrigerate until nice and cold.
Add one half of the rest of the ingredients, except for the croutons, to the cold soup base. Place the remaining ingredients into separate decorative bowls. Allow family and friends to add to their individual serving bowls additional elements as they like. A nice light and refreshing treat on a hot summer day.
Pam’s Elegant Cream of Asparagus Soup
Makes 4 servings – Easy to make and perfect for any occasion, special or otherwise.
1 large white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
2 pounds green asparagus
1 T minced fresh Italian parsley
2 t minced tarragon (more or less to taste)
1 t fresh thyme
4 cups homemade chicken broth
1/2 cup crème fraîche or combination of plain Greek yogurt with heavy cream mixed to a nice sour cream type consistency.
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
In a 4-quart heavy pot over low to medium heat, sauté onion and garlic in 1 T butter and the oil until tender, stirring often so as not to brown/caramelize.
While onions cook, cut 1 1/2 inches from tops and halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish. Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.
Stir in the asparagus pieces, parsley, tarragon, thyme, salt, pepper and cook 5 minutes, stirring.
Add broth 4 cups of broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Cool slightly.
While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain. (Microwave salted water to boil and add the tips and cook a minute or so until crisp tender.)
Stir in most of the crème fraîche to the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Puree soup using an immersion blender. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Garnish with remaining crème fraîche and reserved asparagus tips.
Pam’s “Unforgettable” Beef Stew
Makes 4-6 servings – This is called “unforgettable” because: 1) I unintentionally used Cream of Tartar instead of Arrow Root once, and my guests and I will never forget that sour version; 2) But to be fair, the first time I made it, we all swooned at the first bite–it was THAT amazing.
2-3 lbs beef chuck, trimmed completely and cut into large bite size pieces
1 bottle young red wine – Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon or a Blend
2-3 celery ribs, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 potatoes, peeled and chopped (optional)
1 can (14.5 oz) stewed tomatoes
1 C beef broth or more (preferably homemade – see below)
4 cloves fresh minced or pressed garlic
2 t dried oregano
1 T fresh chopped rosemary
1 T parsley flakes
1 Turkish bay leaf
1 t peppercorns
salt to taste
pepper to taste
instant beef bouillon (in case – see instructions)
arrowroot or corn starch (thickener)
Dry beef pieces thoroughly. Heat a Dutch Oven over medium to high heat and pour enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. Working in batches, place pieces of meat in oil, without crowding and brown on all sides; about 4-5 minutes total. Remove beef from pan and place into crock pot container. Use a small portion of the red wine to deglaze the pan, scrapping up all bits from the pan bottom; pour in to crock pot. Heat Dutch Oven again and repeat until all beef is browned. Do not deglaze the last batch with wine. Instead add the vegetables and toss to brown lightly, scraping up any browned bits in the process. Add the vegetables to the beef. Now use a small portion of the remaining wine to deglaze the pan scraping up every tasty morsel. Pour this into the crock pot. Add remaining wine and enough beef stock to cover the meat. Add minced garlic
Create a Bouquet Garni from the oregano, rosemary, parsley, bay leaf and peppercorns. Tie tightly and add to the crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 8.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the stew and place in a holding container. Remove and discard the Bouquet Garni. Pour the hot gravy from the crock pot carefully into a suitable size saucepan. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and beef bouillon if needed to boost flavor. (I prefer “Better than Bouillon” beef flavor paste)
Add about 3 T arrowroot or cornstarch to about 1/3 C water, stir well. Add a little at a time to the hot/simmering gravy (If using cornstarch: Bring gravy to a boil then proceed). Stir continuously adding more thickening agent until desired thickness is achieved. Return thickened sauce to the crock pot and add the beef.
All measurements are approximate and can be adjusted to suit your taste.
Serve with fresh hot crusty bread and enjoy remembering the time you first at this stew…
Homemade Beef Broth (Julia Child’s recipe)
Make the day before you need to use it
3-4 pounds raw meaty beef bones, sawed into 3” pieces
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
6 or more quarts water
1 t dried thyme or 4 sprigs fresh
1 T dried parsley or 4-6 sprigs fresh|
1 Turkish bay leaf
8 all spice berries
2 large cloves garlic, unpeeled and smashed
1 large tomato roughly cut or ½ C canned tomatoes cut up1 ½ t salt or more as needed later
Preheat oven to 450º Arrange the bones and ½ cup each of chopped vegetables in a roasting pan and brown in the upper third of the oven, turning and basting with accumulated fat several times until they are good and walnut brown.
Scoop the bones and vegetables into a kettle, pour out and discard accumulate fat.
Deglaze the roasting pan with 2 cups of the water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat; using a wooden spoon, scrape browned bits up from the pan then pour this over the browned bones in the kettle.
Tie the thyme, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, all spice berries and garlic into a square of cheese cloth to make a Bouquet Garni. Add this to the kettle. Cover ingredients with water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, skimming off any grey foam and discard. Add 1 ½ t salt. Cover loosely and maintain a slow simmer, skimming of fat and foam occasionally and adding a little more water if liquid has evaporated below the surface of the ingredients. Simmer until you feel the bones have given their all (4-5 hours).
Strain the stock through a fine mesh colander into a bowl, pressing juices out of the vegetables. Toss out the vegetables and bones. Degrease the stock by placing it in the refrigerator. After several hours the fat will have risen to the top and hardened making it easy to remove. Once the fat is removed the stock is ready for use.
Pam’s Savory Pumpkin Soup
Makes 6-8 servings – A savory soup, perfect for autumn time.
1 29 oz. can pumpkin puree
½ lb bacon, more if you want to have some for garnish
½ large onion
2 ribs celery
2 small carrots
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 ½ C chicken stock
¾ C half and half
½ t salt
1t Madras curry
1 T cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream for garnish
Green onions, chopped for garnish
Extra bits of chopped bacon for garnish
Cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Using some of the bacon drippings, sauté the onion, celery and carrots until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute stirring. Add pumpkin, chicken stock and half and half, stir to combine. Chop bacon fine, adding some to the soup, reserving remainder for garnish. Add curry and cumin and simmer 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings to liking adding salt and pepper at this time if desired. Use a hand immersion blender and puree the mixture. Bring to heat but do not boil.
Serve with dollop of sour cream, green onions and chopped bacon bits.