Sunday, March 5, 2017

Classic Reuben Dip

I love holidays that focus around food and drink.  With St. Patrick's Day approaching, I don't believe you have to be Irish to enjoy the culinary delights of this holiday.  Though I am not a big fan of corned beef and cabbage with boiled potatoes, my close friends know I love a great Reuben sandwich.  So my contribution combines the flavors in a classic Reuben sandwich. 

A Reuben sandwich is traditionally made with corned beef, but even when substituting pastrami or the smoked tongue used by one of my favorite Nashville eateries, the Reuben sandwich is how I like to honor St. Patrick's Day.  The thought of standing at the stove making sandwiches while my friends are celebrating in another room does not excite me.  This Reuben Dip combines all of the ingredients of a classic Reuben sandwich and transforms them into a fabulously creamy dip, a perfect way to enjoy the flavors of the Reuben sandwich without the last minute attention.

§     1/2 pound deli corned beef, chopped
§     2 1/2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
§     1 1/2 cups sauerkraut, drained and finely chopped
§     1 cup mayonnaise
§     1 cup Thousand Island dressing
§     1 8oz package of cream cheese, room temperature
§     5 tablespoons chopped green onion
§     Rye bread or Marble Rye bread
§     Sweet butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a hand mixer, cream together the softened cream cheese, Thousand Island dressing and mayonnaise.

Fold in corned beef, 2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and 3 tablespoons of green onion. 

Spray baking dish with non-stick spray.  Spread the prepared dip in the baking dish.

Top with the remaining Swiss cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes until bubbly. For an authentic Reuben flavor, cut bread into quarters and toast in a skillet with butter.  When golden and bubbly, remove Classic Reuben Dip from oven, sprinkle with remaining green onion and serve with toasted, butter bread or crackers.

For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Classic Reuben Dip.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Barcelona Hot Chocolate

I just returned from Barcelona, Spain, where I attended the Association of Destination Management Executives International (ADMEI) annual conference. Since this was the first time we have been to Barcelona, we extended our trip to give us time to explore the city.  The weather was brisk, so when we stopped into a tappas restaurant for lunch, I ordered a cup of hot chocolate.  When I took the first sip, I was surprised by the pudding-like texture.  I tried to take the second sip using the teaspoon, but it was not quite as thick as the first sip hinted.  I finished the cup of delicious yet surprisingly thick, creamy hot chocolate; vacillating between sips and teaspoons full. I made a point to jot down the name of the restaurant, so that I could recommend it to friends.  After all, this restaurant must specialize in hot chocolate. 

The next day, equally as chilly, I ordered a cup of hot chocolate at the hotel and was presented with an identically rich, smooth and delicious drink.  It was not long before I realized that this was how hot chocolate was served in Barcelona.  The day I got home, I tried to recreate the drink I fell in love with in Barcelona, and believe I have succeeded. My Barcelona Hot Chocolate is wonderful as is, but during these chilly nights, a shot of peppermint schnapps is sure to add a wonderful dimension to this decadent treat.

§     5 tablespoon cocoa
§     2 tablespoon sugar
§     1 tablespoon brown sugar
§     1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
§     1 cup milk
§     1 tsp vanilla
§     1/2 tsp instant espresso or coffee (optional)


In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, espresso powder and cornstarch. 

Pour cold milk in to a small saucepan and add cocoa mixture.

Begin cooking at medium low heat while stirring constantly.  Mixture will thicken as it heats.  Cook until it thickens.  Stir in vanilla, instant espresso coffee (optional) and serve immediately. 

For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Barcelona Hot Chocolate.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Anyone who has been to my home knows that my pantry, freezer and refrigerator are stocked and ready to entertain a pop-up army of guests.  Being that items in my fridge are perishable, at least one time in a week I find myself with a license to be creative.  Several months ago, I opened the refrigerator and saw a half-filled gallon container of whole milk.  I don't remember ever buying a gallon of whole milk, let alone using half of it. Since the expiration date was fast approaching, I knew it was going to be the base for whatever I ultimately made that day.  My refrigerator scavenger hunt turned up a half of a rotisserie chicken, several pathetic looking skinny carrots and a few stalks of celery.  Before I knew it, I had a huge pot of Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup simmering on the stove.

It turned out to be one of those days that several friends dropped by. One of my good friends and contractor extraordinaire, Gordon, was there tending to a few projects in the house.  Around lunch time, I poured him a big bowl to get his opinion. Let’s just say by the end of the day, there were no leftovers.  I knew I had a "Most Requested" on my hands. 

When I recreated the soup for the office holiday party at my home, my Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup was the hit of the party. Although there were many choices for everyone to take a "leftover container," the Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup was not only the most requested item, but also "My Most Requested Recipe."  Not since introducing my recipe for Bacon Candy  did a dish cause so much interest.

I've been making chicken soup my entire adult life.  I always used my mother's recipe, Mama Marko's Chicken Matzo Ball Soup.  Most of the flavor in my homemade broth comes from cooking the entire chicken...including the bones and skin.  With my hectic schedule, these days I often find myself cutting corners, so I use containers of prepared broth.  Sometimes I use the meat from a rotisserie chicken I get at the market.  For the chicken, today I poached boneless chicken breasts in a small amount of salted water to provide the meat for the soup.  Even though I add the remaining water that the chicken poached in to the soup, it adds little actual flavor.  When I do not cook the broth myself, I always add chicken base or bouillon cubes to add more flavor to the soup.  Below is a picture of my favorite chicken base.

§     2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
§     1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
§     1/2 cup all-purpose flour
§     1 cup onion, chopped
§     8 cups (2 containers) chicken broth
§     2 cups celery, chopped
§     2 cups carrots, sliced into coins
§     1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
§     2 cups frozen peas
§     2 cups frozen corn
§     2 cups whole milk or half and half
§     Kosher salt and pepper to taste (I used 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper)
§     1 tablespoon chicken base or bouillon cube
§     2 heaping cups of medium egg noodles


In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter.  Add the chopped onions and sauté, stirring occasionally until soft and translucent.

Stir in flour and cook, stirring for about 2 – 3 minutes to cook out the raw taste of the flour but not long enough to brown the flour.

Pour in 4 cups of broth (1 container) and whisk constantly until the soup begins to thicken.  Add the remaining broth, celery, carrots, chicken base, salt and pepper.  Allow the soup to simmer for a few minutes until the celery and carrots soften.  Add the peas, corn and half and half and bring back up to a simmer.

Add the cooked chicken. 

In a separate pot cook 2 heaping cups of noodles using directions on the package.  Once the noodles are soft, add them to the soup.  Cook the soup for approximately 20 minutes allowing the flavors to marry.

This soup can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for several months, but keep in mind….noodles will continue to absorb liquid, so unless you enjoy eating very thick soup, you may need to add chicken broth when rewarming the soup to thin it down. 
For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Christmas Crispy Treats

If you have ever been a guest in my home, you know I follow the age old Jewish tradition of feeding you. Offering up some of the many chocolates and candies I keep on display and hidden in my pantry is part of the program.  When I ask friends if they would like a piece of candy, the typical response is, “Oh, I don’t eat candy.” I admit it.  No one enjoys a good piece of candy as much as I do. But friends….don’t tell me that I am the only one in America eating the 7.3 million tons of chocolate consumed in the United States each year.  Whether you are a closet candy lover or out, you will love what my niece Elizabeth introduced me to.
Last Christmas, Elizabeth brought her then boyfriend and now fiancé Wade, along with her confection called “Christmas Crack.”  I renamed it Christmas Crispy Treats for obvious reasons, but it really is as addictive as crack. You and your holiday guests just won’t be able to get enough of this stuff.  It was too late in the season to post the recipe on my blog last year, but I kept it close and vowed to share it in plenty of time for my followers to make it for the holidays. 

A few of my other candy favorites posted over the years are Bacon Candy, Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Truffles, Chocolate Salami, Peanut Clusters and White Chocolate Bark.

§     2 pounds white chocolate bark, melted
§     1 16 ounce jar of peanut butter (I used extra crunchy)
§     2 cups salted peanuts
§     4 cups Rice Krispies
§     4 cups mini marshmallows

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, allowing the paper to hang over the sides.  Using a sharp knife, chop the chocolates as finely as possible to help melt the chocolate quickly and evenly. Place the chopped chocolate pieces into a dry, glass or other heat proof bowl.  In a medium size pot, place approximately 1”- 2” of water and bring to a simmer.  Place the bowl over the simmering water.  Don't let the top bowl containing the chopped chocolate pieces touch the water. The steam and the heat from the pot will do all the work. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is softened.  If the bowl is too hot, hold it with a potholder while stabilizing over the pot.  When the chocolate is nearly melted, remove from heat.

Tip: Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 50 – 70 percent power, stirring with a rubber spatula every 30 seconds until smooth and creamy.  Depending on how finely you chopped the chocolate, this process should take between 1 - 3 minutes total.  
Stir in the entire jar of peanut butter until well mixed. 
Add peanuts and mix. 
Pour in the cereal folding gently the whole time until all combined. Then pour in the mini marshmallows and gently fold in.
Turn the mixture onto the prepared sheet and press flat to form an even layer.  Set aside to cool.
When completely cooled, cut into small pieces and serve.  For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Christmas Crispy Treats. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Pumpkin Risotto with Goat Cheese and Dried Cranberries

I don’t remember pumpkin being as popular as it has become in the past few years.  While I could always count on pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread hitting the grocery store shelves at the sight of the first leaf falling, it wasn’t until the introduction of the iconic Pumpkin Spice Latte at our favorite coffee shop, that I jumped on the bandwagon and began creating what has become my favorite sweet and savory pumpkin recipes. 

I wish I could say that I make Pumpkin Risotto with Goat Cheese and Dried Cranberries because I want to impress my vegetarian and gluten free friends, but the truth is that I am neither vegetarian nor gluten free yet I absolutely love this rich and creamy dish, perfect for an elegant weeknight meal or a vegetarian offering at my Thanksgiving Dinner table.  If you like pumpkin as much as I do, try some of my earlier posts….Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Mousse, and Pumpkin Spice Cookies.  

§     4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
§     1 cup canned pumpkin puree
§     4 tablespoons unsalted butter
§     1 shallot, minced
§     1 teaspoon kosher salt
§     1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
§     1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
§     1/2 cup dry white wine
§     1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
§     1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
§     1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
§     1 cup crumbled goat cheese
§     1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
§     1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)

Although it is simple to make, Risotto does require you to devote 20 minutes of your undivided attention.  When cooking long grain rice, you are discouraged from stirring the rice while cooking because the starches will release and the rice will end up a sticky mess.  With Risotto, you want the starch to release which is what makes the dish creamy.  That is why we use starchy Arborio Rice and continuously stir during the cooking process.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the stock and pumpkin over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cover and keep warm. 

In a large saucepan, sauté minced shallot in 2 teaspoons butter. Add salt and cook until tender but not brown. 

Add the rice and sauté for one minute, until all of the rice is coated in butter.  Add the white wine and stir continuously until the mixture begins to simmer.

Add 1 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Continue cooking the rice adding 1 cup of broth at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of the broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, half of the parsley, nutmeg and fresh thyme. 

Pour into serving bowl and top with remaining parsley, goat cheese and dried cranberries.  Serve immediately.  For added crunch, sprinkle with slivered almonds (optional) .

For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Pumpkin Risotto with Goat Cheese and Dried Cranberries.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Cranberry Soufflé Salad

When someone in a family gets married, the family naturally expands.  We have been very lucky that our nieces and nephews have chosen spouses from families we are happy to invite into ours.  When our niece, Lauren married Neal, his parents, Brian and Kim were welcomed with open arms.  Last Thanksgiving Kim brought Cranberry Soufflé Salad, a congealed Jell-O salad to dinner.  I have to admit, I have never been a fan of Jell-O or congealed salad, but I couldn’t get enough of this dish.  Of course, Kim freely shared the recipe and I chuckled when I saw a photocopy of the original recipe that was included with the Tupperware Jell-O mold she purchased in the 80’s. 

Although I haven’t felt the need to buy a Jell-O mold, that doesn't stop me from making this delicious sweet-tart side that is a welcomed addition at my dinner table.


§     2 1/2 cups orange juice
§     1 – 14 ounce can of whole cranberry sauce
§     1 – 6 ounce package raspberry flavored gelatin
§     1 1/2 cups whipping cream


In a saucepan combine 1 1/4 cups of orange juice, cranberry sauce and gelatin.

Cook and stir over medium heat until the gelatin dissolves.

Remove from heat and stir in the remaining orange juice.

Transfer to a mixing bowl and chill until partially set (consistency of unbeaten egg whites).

In a small mixing bowl beat whipping cream to soft peaks.  Fold into the gelatin mixture.

Fold into the gelatin mixture. 

Pour into individual ramekins or a serving bowl and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours or until set. 

If you are using a Jell-O mold, the directions suggest that you unmold the salad by immersing the mold into warm water for 20 to 30 seconds and invert onto a serving plate.  For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Cranberry Soufflé Salad. Enjoy!