Sunday, April 2, 2017

My Most Requested Recipes Collection

With friends and colleagues repeatedly asking for my recipe for Bacon Candy, I introduced this blog, My Most Requested Recipes, to share my most treasured treats. That first post in March of 2012 attracted over 7,000 views.  Now, 5 years, 7,000 subscribers and over 500,000 views later, I often receive emails requesting recipes I have previously posted. 

In honor of our 5th anniversary and for the benefit of those arriving late to the party, I’ve decided to make providing a complete list of links to all of the mouth-watering recipes I have previously posted an annual tradition.  I will still be posting new and popular recipes, starting with next month’s Tarragon Chicken Salad, as my newly planted herb garden begins to grow.

Appetizers and Hors d’oeuvres
§     Bacon Candy
§     Hot Corn Dip
§     Hot Artichoke Dip
§     Sweet Onion Dip
§     Nuts, Nuts, Nuts
§     Cheese Ball Pops
§     Shaved Ham Rolls
§     Texas Salsa
§     Classic Reuben Dip

§     Creamy Tomato Soup
§     Pumpkin Soup
§     Autumn Squash Soup

§     Vegetable Frittata
§     Breakfast Basket
§     Breakfast Burritos
§     Breakfast Pizza

§     Chicken Francaise
§     Chicken Marsala
§     Shrimp and Grits
§     Shepherd’s Pie
§     Pot Roast
§     Basic Risotto
§     Lasagna Roll-Ups
§     Tuna Melt
§     Pan Fried Chops
§     Warm Potato Salad
§     Croque Madame
§     Flatbreads
§     Mushroom Lasagna

§     Praline Sweet Potatoes
§     Corn Soufflé
§     Potato Latkes

§     Berry Cobbler
§     Pumpkin Mousse
§     Bananas Foster

§     Mama Marko’s Frozen Dough Cookies
§     Shortbread Cookies

§     Sweet and Spicy Chocolate Truffles
§     Chocolate Salami
§     Peanut Clusters

§     Dill Caper Sauce
§     Corn Muffins
§     Hot Pepper Jelly

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!