Tag Archives: recipe

Here comes Fall! Recipes + Tunes

23 Sep

Today is the first day of fall – my favorite season. And no, not because of pumpkin spiced anything (have advertisers gone nuts with that obsession or what?) I actually love maple flavor better than pumpkin. There is nothing like the crisp snap of the air here in Wisconsin, the fired-up feeling on Saturdays when the Badgers play at home and the leaves begin changing at their own free will.

More than anything, I wish I was up north. If it were up to me, I’d be up there from October 1 straight-time until December. I just can’t take the drives up there for granted. To me, they are awe-inspiring! The turkeys scavenging for who-knows-what along side the road, the crops getting ready to be harvested and the big moon highlighting it all. But we’re starting to renovate the cabin up north so we’re going to be MIA up there for a little while.

Here are two recipes I’m going to be trying this weekend and what we’ll be listening to while making them.

I think you’ll like this playlist, it’s what you want to be listening to as the temps drop, sweaters come out again and you can smell the waft of the casserole coming from the oven. Maybe play some cards too. ROF is beating me by a couple of hundred points right now which is downright depressing but I keep going back for more torture.

Why don’t you join me in making these recipes? We’ll all post our pics on FB or IG and we’ll give ourselves ratings on what we thought. OMG fun times ahead…

photo courtesy of Half Baked Harvest


I love this food blogger and excited for her new cookbook to come out! Half Baked Harvest is Tieghan Gerard and her blog and IG is awesome. I’m going to try this recipe this weekend because it combines 4 things I love the most: broccoli, cheese, rice and it’s a casserole. Not that I don’t love chicken but I am just indifferent towards it (sorry, chicken.) Casseroles are the best – we just had a delicious one at my Aunt Sally’s house in Long Beach, California. After I make this I’m going on a diet.


So, now that I’m on this diet, I’m going to have one of these for breakfast. But will probably slather butter all over it. There I go predicting my behavior again! I’m actually not familiar with this blogger yet but stumbled upon this recipe and thought I’d try it. Does this float your boat? I like the whole hodge-podge mess of ingredients in here. Let’s give it a roll this weekend.

fall muffins
Here is my playlist. It’s pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. And I do.


cook it: crab cakes w/lemon dill sauce

4 Aug

cook it this recipe is designed for the person or couple who wants to cook but have a hard time deciding what to cook and frankly, how to cook.

sometimes you just gotta say “cook it!” and dive right in.

it is the perfect time of year for this recipe!


this is a perfect recipe to do this saturday.  so read the recipe, buy the ingredients and then saturday mid-morning, after you’ve slept in a little bit and had your coffee:

grab all your ingredients

read the recipe again

put together your mise en place and

make your sauce and your cakes

then you just put them in the fridge.  when dinner time rolls around, well, aren’t you fancy?!  just pop those cakes in the oven, prepare a little baby spinach salad with a light vinaigrette and plop two cakes down on top, swirl your lemon dill sauce on the side and you’ve got one hell of a dinner.  easy.

this recipe is from my wonderful sister-in-law susan who is an excellent cook.  check out the video she filmed of her making these for us at the bottom!


yield: 4 reasonably sized people

prep time: 30 min

total: 2 hours and 30 min

lemon dill sauce


mayo – 1 cup

buttermilk – 1/4 cup

dill – 2t chopped fresh

italian parsley – 1t chopped fresh

lemon zest – 1 t

lemon juice – 2 tsp

garlic – 1 clove minced

make: combine all the ingredients above in a bowl and stir well.  put in fridge and let it chill out.  sauce will thicken as it chills. 

crab cakes


butter – 3t

scallions – 3 chopped

red bell pepper – 2t chopped

garlic – 1 clove minced

heavy cream – 3t

dijon mustard – 1t

egg – 1

italian parsley – 1.2 t chopped fresh

cayenne pepper – a dab’ll do ya

bread crumbs – 1 cup

parmesan cheese – 1/4 cup

crabmeat – 1 lb.

make: melt 1t of butter in a skillet over medium heat.  

saute’ the scallions, pepper and garlic for about 3 minutes. in a bowl, 

mix together the cream, mustard, egg, parsley, cayenne pepper, 1/2 the bread crumbs and the vegetables you just sautéed.

gently fold in the crabmeat.  form mixture into 8 patties.  

in a mixing bowl, combine the remaining bread crumbs (1/2 c) and the parm cheese.  pat this topping onto both sides of the patties.  refrigerate until firm – at least 2 hours. 

you can cook these on the stove in a little bit of oil or bake them which is what we do. 

top each patty with a small pat of butter and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.  serve on a bed of spinach with a dollop of lemon dill sauce on the side. 

are you ready to impress your loved one with this awesome dinner?  here is susan making both the lemon dill sauce and the crab cakes.  make them this weekend and post a pic to instagram and tag me.  i dare you…!

Cook it: gazpacho 

27 Jul

get it:

4 vine ripe tomatoes, skin removed and chopped

1/2 cucumber, diced

1/2 green pepper, diced

1/4c red wine vinegar

1/4c olive oil

1 tbsp black pepper

1 tbsp garlic powder (we love bolners fiesta brand)

2 c zing zang bloody mary mix

6-46 dashes of tabasco

make it:

prep all your ingredients. Put them all in a bowl.  add more of what you like and less of what you don’t. mix well.

cover and put in fridge for at least a couple hours – these folks need to spend time getting to know each other in the bowl.

when ready to serve, you can serve as-is or puree half of it in blender and pour it back in the bowl. Gives it a more soup-like texture but with some chunks.  serve in a bowl with dollop of sour cream, some croutons and chopped scallions.

shirley’s pot roast recipe

27 Feb

nothing beats a juicy pot roast on the weekend.

whether you’re one person or 10 – this is a winter necessity.  so buy some meat today for the weekend and make your house smell fantastic!

i received some requests for shirley’s pot roast recipe after my post last week, so here you go.  these are a few of my favorite things to do on a saturday or sunday night while a pot roast is cooking:

potroastfor those of you reading from dallas, you may think a fire in the fireplace is odd.  because, after all – it IS the end of february.   not here in michigan.  we still have feet (not inches) of snow on the ground.

thanks shirley!

i think you and jerry need to come up here and stay with us and COOK it for us + jim + marinell roe + the boys!  you’re welcome any time.

from the kitchen of shirley gasvoda!

I like to select a round bone pot roast and trim most of the fat off.

Brown both sides in a little oil in a dutch oven pan.

Season with salt and pepper after browning.

Add one envelope of dry Lipton Onion Soup +

One cut up green pepper (gives a wonderful flavor to the roast)

One bay leaf and a

Sprinkle of garlic salt.

Add enough water to cover half the depth of the roast.

Simmer on top of the stove for several hours or until nearly tender (depending on size of the roast)

Add carrots and potatoes, if so desired.  This makes a delicious base for gravy too.

Now with slow cookers being so popular I use the same ingredients and cook according to the cooker instructions and it turns out just as good.

You can also do this in the oven but I’ve had better luck on top of the stove and think the roast turns out more juicy and tender.

I have fond memories of the kids coming home from school lifting the pot lids and just enjoying the aroma!

3 fantastic & fabulous recipe resources

19 Oct

i don’t know too many people who have the meal thing all together.  i always want to make time to do dinner right, but end up working all day and going out.  i think there does come a time of diminishing returns for always going to restaurants to eat.  it isn’t a treat anymore, not special.

here are 3 resources to find some good recipes or help you organize your meals.  

1. foodgawker.com

i’m overwhelmed at the number of food blogs out there.  they are absolutely amazing too.  the photography, step-by-step pics – it’s crazy!  foodgawker.com organizes it in a nice, easy to see grid.

you can sort by category and customize your own page and recipes.

but then you choose a picture and it takes you right to the blog with the recipe:

and boys, if you think this is just a chick thing, think again!  you can find bbq, things to grill, smoke, kill – whatever you want!

2. emeals.com

a friend clued me into this website and i signed up for the weekly menu for 2 for “clean eating” at whole foods.  every wednesday you get an email of only two pages.  one is a shopping list BY AISLE and WITH COST (!) and the other page are 7 recipes for dinner.

you can choose from a family of 4, family of 2 and from many different stores or general and diet.

3. just plain food blogs.  all these are really fun and creative.  google any of them.  i would provide links for you but i’ve got to run.  hope you have a great dinner planned for the weekend – stay at home!

it’s fall … make a great chicken recipe!

8 Oct

this week i’m heading to beautiful new york state and i get the opportunity to pop in to spend some QT (quality time) with some of my very favorite people in the world.  that would be the prendevilles!  

in honor of that, i’m going to repost susan’s awesome chicken recipe from last year.  you must know that it was and still is my #1 most looked-at post!

so looking forward to seeing you this week!

hi, my name is susan

and i am lucky enough to be “the appreciator’s” sister in law and ROF’s sister. she asked me to share a recipe and since i would do anything for her, i agreed. leave it to the appreciator to invite guest bloggers – always the includer.

dear trish – my sister in law on my husband’s side – made this dish when we visited years ago and it has become a family favorite. i selected this recipe because i wanted the opportunity to tell you about (appreciate) trish.

trish & my mother-in-law eileen

she is a gentle soul and one of the best listeners i know. one of the things i like best about her is the way she shows me things. trish tells the story and holds the thing in her cupped hands in a way that conveys her treasure of it. i can always feel her feelings… when she shows and tells.

trish has given me:

Continue reading

killer guacamole: killer weekend

2 Sep

we were blessed to be able to spend some quality time with some very good friends of ours this weekend at their beautiful lake house and with their beautiful daughter.

kelly made her killer guacamole…

in which i deeply regretted only having a few scoops before taking a lazy nap and waking up to it being devoured by the men of the house.  sigh.

i’m sure you’re looking for a recipe – but who needs it?  here are the ingredients (going from memory here, folks)

avocados (about 1 per person)

bunch of cilantro

red onion

jalapeño (or go hotter, if you dare)

sour cream

sriracha sauce (don’t tell anyone about this – this is the secret punch)

lime juice

first the chopping – chop up a handful of red onion nice and fine.  

next, chop up the jalapeño

then, pull the stems off the leaves of cilantro

cut avocado in half (either way) and scoop with a big spoon it out of the shell.  pop a knife in the hard core and twist the core out of the other half.  scoop that half out and put in bowl.  squeeze with lime to keep from browning.  mash together like crazy insane person.

add the cilantro and onion and mix up.

now give a squirt of sriracha sauce.  if you are not familiar with this – taste it first.  it will burn the crap out of your mouth, but mixed in with the avocado, it goes quite nice.

very last step, stir in a dollop of sour cream.  this makes it creamy.

oh, one more step – season.  get out the salt and pepper and put a little in and taste and repeat until you love it.

tip – if you screw something up – kelly says just add another avocado!

serve with BLUE chips (the best) and anything else you want!

thanks kelly & paul.  had a great labor day weekend with you two and soph!

breakfast for dinner, “off-limits” tv shows & kat

3 Nov

breakfast for dinner – the ultimate comfort food

by kathrine glass – friend of the appreciator and wanna-be mayor of her house!

ever have one of those days when you want something for dinner that is really satisfying but not too high in calories; something quick and easy to make with an equally easy clean up; something to de-complicate dinner instead of adding to the stress of your really long day?  oh – and something that the whole family will love? of course you have!

while I fancy myself a pretty good cook, well, recipe follower, i love a good dinner that needs no real recipe and takes me back to my childhood days.  this one is a favorite! my grandmother evelyn use to make me this dish when i would stay overnight with her.  the two of us would sit around her huge dining room table, eat “breakfast for dinner” and watch “off-limits” television shows i wasn’t allowed to watch at home.  two things that felt a little risky and rebellious to me.  what fun!

not only does the dinner conjure up fond memories of being with my grandma, it also really makes me feel good!  kind of like a big bear hug does.  what could it be? grandma evelyn’s breakfast for dinner, of course!  basically it’s canadian bacon, hashbrowns, swiss cheese, eggs and some salt and pepper.  pretty simple stuff but when you put it all together i guarantee it’s an adult and kid pleaser alike!

what you need:

–       canadian bacon or ham slices. now days i often use honey ham thinly sliced.  i like the extra sweetness and think the thin slices of ham are better than it’s thicker canadian bacon cousin.  i usually use two – four slices per.

–       thinly sliced baby swiss, mozzarella, monterey jack or provolone cheese.  i prefer the baby swiss for the little extra bite and it balances out the sweet ham very well.  but it really doesn’t matter. just use whatever light, white cheese you have in the fridge. i usually get the pre-sliced kind and use one and a half slices per.

–       hashbrown patties. i prefer ore ida but i am sure any will do. i use one and a half per.

–       two eggs per.

–       salt and pepper to taste or use paula deans house seasoning, which i prefer. it’s good on just about anything.  that recipe to follow.

–       and feel free to make yourself a mimosa or go with your usual red or white wine.  it is dinner, after all!

what to do:

–       begin to cook your hashbrowns according to the package instructions. make them crispy so they can stand up to the layers of ham, cheese and eggs.

–       heat your oven to 450.

–       about 3/4ths through the cooking time of the hashbrowns start cooking your eggs. i like mine poached with the yolks a little runny.  i have these great little things called poachpods which have made my life super easy when cooking eggs. no more egg whites all over! and the more pods you have the more eggs you can cook at one time.  they won’t stick together!  love those little pods!

–        your hashbrowns should be done just a few minutes before your eggs.  take one of the hashbrowns and cut it in half.  lay one full hashbrown with the half hashbrown to make a supersized hashbrown. season to your liking.

–       take one piece of cheese, cut it in half and layer both pieces on top of the hashbrowns so that it connects the two pieces.

–       layer the ham on top of the cheese.

–       take the extra half of slice of cheese and layer on top of ham.

–       put into the oven until the cheese begins to melt.

–       gently place the two eggs on top of the hashbrown stack.

–       i usually pop it back in the oven for a minute or two just to make sure everything is heated up nicely.  seems like my timing is always just a little off so a last minute touch up works well.

–       season with salt and pepper and/or paula deans house seasoning.

–       add a bowl of fruit, apple sauce or other favorite side and serve! i try to always keep pre-packaged fruit in it’s own juices and natural apple sauce, both with no sugar added on hand for busy days and exhausted nights!

Paula Dean’s House Seasoning

–       1 cup salt

–       1/4 cup black pepper

–       1/4 cup garlic powder

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months

hawaiian pumpkin pie recipe, beer & lori roe

20 Oct

when my awesome cousin, the appreciator, asked me for a recipe/drink post for her blog, i said “sure! sounds like fun.”

cousin lori with her daughter linds & aunt annette

It then took me about two seconds to realize there was one small problem – i don’t cook.   i weighed my options:

my “plan a” was to write about the one “recipe” i do have.  marinate salmon in a combination of yoshida’s gourmet sauce and brown sugar.  then bake it.  ok, so plan a is a little short and incomplete, so i thought of a plan b.

appropriately, my “plan b” was beer. 

i’ve tried lots of different beers over the years.  as i started to put together my list of favorite/interesting beers – rogue dead guy ale, lost coast great white, walkabout workers pale ale . . . i realized that most of these beers are impossible to find if you don’t live in northern california or southern oregon. so, about all i have to offer on the subject of beers is this – explore the local microbrews wherever your travels take you.  they won’t all be winners but it’s sure a lot of fun exploring the local varieties.

so, on to “plan c” . . . call my mom.

when i picked up the phone to call my mom, i suddenly felt nine years old again.   of course my mom can have three dozen cookies ready by tomorrow for the school bake sale.  as i talked with my mom about what to write, we took a journey through years of stories related to the kitchen.  a couple of the stories may explain why i don’t cook . . . there was the crème de menthe display i destroyed with a grocery cart after weeks of begging my mom to let me “drive” the cart (my driving privileges were revoked for months after that little incident).  there was also the brand new mixer i destroyed by getting the spatula caught in the beaters.  as my mom shared her stories of the kitchen, i realized how many great memories were created in our family kitchen. it almost makes me want to start cooking . . .

so no surprise, the recipe we selected comes with a story. 

hawaiian pumpkin pie was always a holiday family favorite.  my brother, jim, especially loves this dessert, so when he was invited to aunt joan and uncle jim’s house (yep, also home of the appreciator) for thanksgiving dinner years and years ago, he offered to bring hawaiian pumpkin pie.  the recipe truly is a great recipeif you remember to add all the ingredients. that thanksgiving, jim forgot one ingredient – the sugar.  aunt joan said, as the appreciator’s family sat eating dessert, they were exchanging glances as if to say “does your piece taste as bad as mine?”  afraid of hurting jim’s feelings, they never said a word and waited until jim had left to compare notes on what went wrong with the pie.  so here it is . . . just don’t forget the sugar.

hawaiian pumpkin pie

1 baked 9″ crumb crust
1 pt. vanilla ice cream
1 c. canned pumpkin
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. heavy cream, whipped
1/2 chopped pecans

spread slightly softened ice cream on bottom of cool pie shell. put in the freezer.
combine pumpkin, sugar, spices and salt. fold in whipped cream. spread over ice cream in pie shell. sprinkle with pecans.  put in the freezer.  remove from freezer a few minutes before serving. can be frozen up to one month.

crumb crust:
combine 1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 c. sugar and 1/4 melted butter or margarine. Press into a 9″ pie pan. bake at 375ºF for 8 minutes. cool.

pesto cheesecake, chili, pumpkin somethin’ & sal

22 Sep

let’s put the cart before the horse, and begin with not one…but three recipes…….

pesto cheesecake……the beginning

1 tablespoon butter-
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs-
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese,
16 oz. softened cream cheese,
1 cup ricotta cheese,
1 tablespoon salt,
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper,
3 eggs,
1/2 cup prepared pesto sauce,
1/4 cup pine nuts

1. rub butter on bottom and sides of 9 inch spring-foam pan.  mix bread crumbs with 2  tablespoons grated parmesan cheese. coat pan with mixture.
2. blend cream cheese, ricotta, salt, cayenne and 1/2 cup parmesan in large bowl until light.  add eggs one at a time.  beat well.  set aside 1/2 of the mixture.
3. blend the other 1/2 with the prepared pesto sauce.  pour into the prepared spring-foam pan, smooth the top.  carefully spoon the plain mix over the top, smooth.  top with pine nuts.

bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  loosen sides, release spring, transfer to platter.  garnish with fresh basil sprig.  serve warm with crackers.  yield 16-18 servings.

chili….the middle

5 pounds ground beef,
3 teaspoons cumin,
1 large package frozen onions,
6 one pound cans of chopped tomatoes,
6 one pound cans of chili beans,
4 cans tomato soup,
3 tablespoons salt,
1 teaspoon pepper,
2 tablespoons chili powder (do not drain the liquid from the beans and tomatoes)

saute beef and onions. add seasonings.  add rest of ingredients. simmer 4 hours. do not add water.
serves 20-25

NOTE: the truth of how you do this is make it a few days ahead, open your spice drawer and keep adding spices. add lots more cumin, chili powder, and a ton of lawry’s salt and pepper.

pumpkin somethin……the end

1 cup milk,
3 eggs,
1 cup sugar,
1 teaspoon cinnamon,
1/4 teaspoon ginger,
1/8 teaspoon cloves,
1/2 teaspoon salt,
1 large can of pumpkin,
1 package yellow cake mix,
3/4 cup nuts,
1 and 1/2 stick of margarine.

mix well the milk, eggs, sugar, spices, pumpkin and salt.  pour in a 13 x 9 inch pan.  sprinkle dry cake mix over the top of mixture. drizzle melted margarine over top.  sprinkle nuts on top.  bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees, or until browned.

my name….sally nilsen….i’m “the appreciator’s” aunt (joan is my sister)

the story…..how does a tradition begin?  i know exactly how this one began.  my husband and i  have lived in california for forty four years.  sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents on both sides all lived in other states.  with no “blood” relatives nearby, our friends became very important, especially during the holidays.  we had spent our first five thanksgivings in california with two friends who were transferred to boston.  they vowed to always return for the thanksgiving celebration.  they kept their promise, and to kick off the weekend together, i decided to have a chili party….easy….could make it ahead, and enjoy our “company.”

about forty years ago we started with about 10 people.  now the group has swelled to 75 +.  i triple and half the chili recipe.  lots of oyster crackers, grated cheese, chopped onions and sliced jalapenos are available.

i throw together some large bags of marie callendar’s prepared corn bread mix (add water, bake, it’s done), buy about $100.00 worth of colonel saunders cole slaw, put it in my own glass bowl..nobody knows (expensive, i know, but easy and goes nicely with the chili) and enjoy my guests.  my husband tends the bar, people get their chili dinner whenever they want, some stay a long time, others drop by to have a quick dinner, and say hello.  if there are any leftovers we enjoy them the rest of the weekend, along with turkey sandwiches.

i really have to admit that this is my favorite party to give.

it opens up the holiday season and brings good friends together.  now the event has trickled into other generations.  if a grandparent is in town they come and our children’s friends come with their children. i hear people ask, “are you going to wednesday night before thanksgiving at the nilsens?”  and i sit back, relax, and think about how “the tradition” began.

oh….if you’re in long beach over thanksgiving….give us a call.

5 lovely links (you’ll love): tailgating recipes

20 Sep

happy tuesday!

another day, just aiming towards friday.  i hope you’re doing well.  today is tuesday, so you know what that means…i find links and you click on them.  it’s really that simple.  for some reason lately, i always have food on my mind.  it’s just wrong.  i think it could be stress.  but that’s another blog post all together.

since i’ve been on this fall kick (and if you must know, i am a full fledge cowboy fan) and it’s time to talk tailgating.  here are some links to some good ones.

LINK #1 cheddar blt burgers with tarragon russian dressing

cheddar burger with tarragon russian dressing

LINK #2 italian chicken soup

i think this is great to pack in a thermos and sip while the burgers are being made!  thanks ree

  • 1 box Ditalini Pasta (very Short Macaroni-type Pasta Noodles)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Cut Up Fryer Chicken
  • 8 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 2 whole Green Bell Peppers, Diced
  • 2 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 2 whole Fresh Jalapenos, Diced
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 can (28-ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • ⅓ cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Oregano
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
  • Parmesan Cheese Shavings, For Serving

preparation instructions

Cook pasta in a pot according to package directions, being sure not to overcook it. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool. Toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.

Place chicken in a large pot or dutch oven and cover in chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer chicken, covered, for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and leave covered for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and shred meat. Discard bones and set meat aside.

Dice canned tomatoes and return them to their juice. Set aside.

Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and oregano and turn off heat, stirring over the next minute to keep oregano from burning. Set this aside.

Either pour off chicken broth into a separate container or use a new pot to saute onion, green pepper, celery, and jalapenos in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add chicken broth, shredded chicken, and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add cooked pasta, cream, and all the oregano and olive oil from the small skillet. Stir to combine. Turn off heat.

Serve with lots of Parmesan sprinkled on the top–the more the better! Crusty Italian bread is good, too.

LINK #3: traditional southern deviled eggs

i’m not usually a fan of paula deen just because that accent drives me BONKERS but these eggs will be the hit of your party or tailgate.  just pop them in a tupperware dish and throw on the table.  BAM! oh, wrong chef.

LINK # 4: amy’s party ideas

check out these great and cute ideas for a theme party on the sidelines…

LINK # 5: carmelized onion dip

gotta have a dip!  check this one out from southern living (click above)


shrimp, potatoes, beer & karen

15 Sep

low country boil recipe

by karen krause, aka “the appreciator’s”  stepmom

having lived in south carolina for a few years, this recipe represents traditional low country cooking.  it was my quick and easy solution for a casual dinner party, not much fuss, prepare in a big pot, add cole slaw and piping hot bread and finish with peach cobbler.

fill a large stock pot 2/3 full of water

add 3-4 tablespoons old bay seasoning

16 small red new potatoes

8 ears fresh corn (i break in half)

2 1/2 pounds kielbasa sausage, slice into one inch pieces

2 pounds xl fresh shrimp, unpeeled

bring water and seasoning to a rolling boil in large stockpot
add potatoes, return to a boil and cook uncovered, 10 minutes
add sausage and corn and return again to a boil and cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender
add shrimp to pot, cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are pink, careful not to overcook
drain off stock, toss with butter and serve on a huge platter over newspapers spread atop your table

tip from me to you-often times rather than buying shrimp by the pound, i calculated approximately how many shrimp servings per person, perhaps 6-8 xl depending on the appetites of your guests

best spaghetti, buttery breadsticks & mom

8 Sep

today’s guest recipe blogger is my mom. 

if you don’t know her already, you can read about her here.  Or click the “wednesday story” to the right!

i’m joan krause, mom of “the appreciator”.  she invited me to supply a favorite recipe and story.  my absolutely favorite thing to make and to eat is spaghetti.  who knows, maybe it’s because of the lycopene in the tomatoes. 

 according to wikipedia:

 “lycopene is not an essential nutrient for humans, but is commonly found in the diet, mainly from dishes prepared from tomatoes. When absorbed from the stomach, lycopene is transported in the blood by various lipoproteins and accumulates in the liver, adrenal glands, and testes.”

hello?  testes? well, i’ll tell you one thing, they have never found lycopene in my testes and that’s a fact!

i truly think i’m a spaghetti-a-holic.

when I turned 16, my mother gave me a surprise birthday party.  i’ll never forget it.  she told me that i had to babysit my cousin on my birthday and i just couldn’t understand how a mother could ask her daughter, on the most important birthday ever, to babysit.  when i got home, mom asked me to go in the basement and get something out of the old chest freezer. i went downstairs, there were all my friends and i was surprised!  i, obviously, forgave my mom.  plus, she fixed spaghetti for us all.

then, on our mom and dad’s 25th anniversary, i was around 22 and my sister sally was 18 or 19.  we decided to give them a party (much to my mother’s dismay).  our mom was quite the entertainer, so losing this control was not easy for her.

side view of our house in cincinnati - wish i could find the front view - darn!

what did we decide to cook? 

spaghetti of course – not necessarily my parents favorite dish, but it was mine.  my parents were out on our beautiful long front porch having drinks with four other couples.  meanwhile, sal and i were busy in the kitchen and i’m carrying the spaghetti pot from the old chambers stove to drain the water.  sally said, “don’t drop it!” which i promptly did.  spaghetti was everywhere.  we were literally skating on the starch and sally was laughing so hard.  i shouted, we’ll laugh later, these people have to eat now!

my mother

walked through the closed swinging door from the dining room – had her hand over her mouth and not saying anything, turned around and went out to the porch.  needless to say, the cocktail hour was extended, more spaghetti was made, and the guests were finally able to come to the table.  we heard that it was the best party ever.  hmmmmmm …could it have been the extended cocktail hour?

mom, sally & me (mom is turned around and Sal to her right)

oK, i’ve changed my mind – everyone has their own favorite spaghetti recipe.  i’m going to give you something you can make that is so easy and always goes with my spaghetti and everything else.

hot dog breadsticks

i have passed this recipe on so many times and i feel it’s a real winner.  this was my mom’s recipe.

take a package of hot dog buns – cut the buns lengthwise, so that each bun makes 4 breadsticks.

take 2 sticks of BUTTER – not margarine – and melt in a frying pan.

get a cookie sheet lined with foil ready.  dip one of the sticks in the butter till coated and put on foil lined cookie sheet.  put them close to one another.  after all have been dipped and warm from the butter,

take parmesan cheese, out of the shaker container, and heavily coat the sticks. 

then sprinkle lots of poppy seeds on top – you can shake a little garlic salt on top if you want. (I don’t do this – but you can).  now, if you’re making a lot, you might have to melt more butter.

i have cooked these several different ways – fast oven and a slow oven.  The main thing is that you have to watch them.  They brown fast.

400 degrees for 15-20 minutes and watch – could take longer

325 degrees for 30-40 minutes and watch – could take longer

a couple of variations are that you substitute cinnamon and sugar for the parmesan cheese.  douse them in the butter and shake the combined cinnamon and sugar heavily over the top.  or douse in butter and put any kind of finely grated cheese on top.  so good!

you can do ahead and freeze then warm in the microwave. Great for large parties – everyone always asks about them!

stuffed brie, paradise & vino

31 Aug

by m. decker

“if you’re alone, i’ll be your shadow. if you want to cry, i’ll be your shoulder. if you want a hug, i’ll be your pillow. if you need to be happy, i’ll be your smile… but anytime you need a friend, i’ll just be me.” – anon

the above quote pretty much sums up my love and adoration of “the appreciator.”  so, when she asked if i wanted to post a recipe on her blog, i instantly said yes! as the best female friend always obliges.

the “appreciator” and i met many light years ago at a dog park in uptown dallas (yes, very romantic..)  our dogs instantly clicked, which left us with little choice but to go out for an alcoholic beverage at our favorite pooch patio (for the sake of the dogs, of course!).  luckily for all of us, the booze never ran out, the laughter never stopped and the friendship blossomed.  i feel blessed to have you in my life.

the below mushroom stuffed brie was recently created on vacation in Seaside, FL.  30A, is the 20-mile scenic shore tucked neatly between destin and panama city beach, florida, or as my son called it, “paradise mommy.”

mushroom stuffed brie a la “30A”


  • sancerre sauvignon blanc – in a glass, straight up
  • chopped mushrooms — (2 hands full)  cos that’s how I roll
  • chopped fresh garlic –  (1 clove) yes, the real stuff you have to peel
  • chopped crabmeat(1 generous hand full) preferably not from Fiesta
  • one egg  — (1) beaten not stirred
  • defrosted phyllo pastry sheet – (2 sheets) “fee-lo” for all you Southern Folk
  • round of brie –– (the bigger the better) – “that’s what she said..”


what next?

  • set your oven to 350 degrees on bake.
  • in a pan, fry with butter the mushrooms, garlic and splosh of wine.  sprinkle salt and pepper to season.
  • slice the brie in half (like a bread roll) and stuff the cooked fried pan mix from above in the middle of the brie.

  • place the crabmeat on top of the fried pan mix.  cover this with the brie top – sandwich style. drizzle salt, pepper and EVOO on top of brie.
  • swaddle the whole brie with the phyllo pastry sheets, like an itty bitty baby.
  • baste the egg over the fillo before putting in the oven :
  • place itty bitty baby brie in the oven for 20mins or so.
  • remove from oven and eat with a spoon or crackers of your choice.

to quote woody allen (the “appreciator’s” favorite movie icon), “i am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.”


pretzel jello salad

24 Aug


my name is katie krause.  ” the appreciator” is my favorite older sister.

ok, she is my only sister.

but she is still my favorite.  other than my parents, she has taught me what unconditional love means.  i’m very appreciative of her.

let me first start off by saying that this is very hard to write all in lower case.  you see, i’m a compulsive capitalizer.  i’m known for capitalizing words that should not Be capitalized. (side note: i’m grateful for the appreciator for pointing this out.) this is a great lesson in self control.

the recipe I chose is the jell-o pretzel desert.

i chose this because it’s been a staple at our thanksgivings and Christmas’ for as long as I can remember.  we all LOVE this dish.  When things were upside down for the holidays and we didn’t make a big dinner, my brother jim would always say, “can we at least make the jell-o?” and so we would.  This dish signifies HOME for me.  one year, one of the children (who will remain nameless because this is her blog and I wouldn’t want to embarrass her) tried to make it and the jell-o never set.  you would think that the world was ending.  it ruined Christmas! (j/k)

where this recipe differs from the other similar recipes on the internet, is that instead of using 2 cups of boiling water, use 2 cups of boiling pineapple juice.   i also used 1/3 less fat cream cheese and lite cool whip.   OOHH sooo good!

the recipe:

2 c. crushed pretzels (katie side note: don’t use fancy choppers, pound your stress away with a baggie and a can!)
3/4 c. butter, melted
3 tbsp. sugar
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 c. sugar
1 (9 oz.) carton cool whip
1 (6 oz.) pkg. strawberry Jell-O
2 c. pineapple Juice
2 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen strawberries in juice

mix crushed pretzels, melted butter, and 3 tablespoons sugar together. press into a 9×13 inch pan. katie note: use a clear pan so you can see all the layers!

bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. cool.

combine cream cheese, cool whip, and 1 cup sugar. mix well and spread onto the cooled crust.

mix jell-o with pineapple juice, then add frozen strawberries. stir until berries soften and jell-o starts to thicken. gently pour or spread mixture over cream. refrigerate.

thanks for letting me share my memories and my favorite dish with you.  enjoy!

waffles, peanut butter & healthy oh my!

18 Aug

by sarah voet

healthy yummy waffles

“the appreciator” is one of the first friends i made in dallas, we met through our hubbys – rof and joe

i really enjoy nutri grain brand low fat waffles, nice and crispy topped with my favorite topping: all natural peanut butter.

however…there was a waffle shortage

a year or so ago due to the eggo plant losing power! i was so distraught, what in the world will i have for breakfast?

my recipe is just as good and cheaper. they freeze great between pieces of wax paper, just pop them in the toaster oven.

2 eggs beaten
1 3/4 cups skim milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup flax seed
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp salt

mix together and pour into waffle iron.



ain’t gonna bake

6 Aug

nope, ain’t gonna do it!

our house is 80+ years old and i believe the oven is just as old.  not really, but this thing heats up the house more than it does the food.  that matched with the fact that it is 180 degrees outside – who the hell-o wants to cook?

me. i kinda want to.

it’s the weekend and i want to make something that gets me some “yums”you pickin’ up what i’m putting down?  so i went looking for something i can make today that wouldn’t heat up the whole house.  let’s check them out together, shall we?  tell me what you’re going to make and i’ll tell you what i’m gonna make.  take your pick:

i stumbled upon these a while ago and can’t get them out of my mind. these look so darn good.  thanks to blue-eyed bakers for the salt river bars and to two tiny kitchens for these peanut butter, pretzel mash-up of goodness bites

do you notice how i start with dessert?  just like a kid.  ok, so let’s move on to the ultimate summer food… chicken salad. you do have to poach the chicken which involves boiling water and that may be too hot right now, but heck, go buy some already cooked chicken – big whip – it’s not like you’re beneath that.  Back to the recipe it’s here.  check out those reviews.   makes me want to run out and make it for breakfast.

Continue reading

swimming pools, southern belles and peach cobbler

4 Aug

the fuzzy truth

by suzanne holzwanger,

who has the rare pleasure of actually liking her boss “the appreciator” and considers her a dear friend.

ah texas.

gorgeous sunsets, hot summers and swimming pools. and nestled snugly in the backyard of our far north dallas home, peach trees. thanks to my dad who filled the backyard with peach trees instead of a pool.

while the entire neighborhood was cooling off in their refreshing, glistening pools, my siblings and i were picking peaches. from the trees. from the ground. every peach went into the basket. everybody else (and in a young mind means everyone on earth) had a pool. they swam in their pools, ate by their pools, slept in their pools. not us though-we had peach trees and someone had to pick them. i was convinced my parents had the 4 of us only for this purpose.

and we didn’t just pick, we sorted.

it was usually punishment for chores not done or fights we got into. a far worse punishment though was hearing the sounds of “marco polo!” and “cannonball!” from our friends while we were stuck separating good and bad peaches in the heat (what? she invited her??)

i remember my great aunt Viola, who happens to turn 99 this month, driving down from sherman to visit. I thought she was coming to see us but it was really for the peaches. she and my mom would sit and peel, jar and bake with a kitchen full. boxes and bowls and all fruit ev-er-y-where. i loved the end result of their cobblers, pies, and jams though. such a bitter sweet relationship.

flashing forward a few years,

Continue reading

epic steaks, dirty martinis & boobs

21 Jul

there are so many great cooking blogs out there.  this isn’t one of them.  i’m not going to take step by step pictures. but there is a strategy here.  it’s written so that you can read it through and then just do it.  you don’t need hand holding.  after all, we’re talking about a manly man meal here.   just read it through and you should get it.

i married someone who would have really gotten along with my dad.  they both love good steaks, good drinks, good music and of course,  great girls (ME!).  i interviewed ROF who, without a doubt, makes an excellent steak & martini dinner.

ROF’s famous steak technique: Continue reading

meat loaf, gin & ina

14 Jul

i want to be like ina garten.  aka the barefoot contessa. do i really need to explain why?  she is perfect and that is what i strive to be.  well, not really, but you know what i mean.  her effortless way of putting recipes together, arranging flowers, helping gweneth in the kitchen, celebrating jeffery.  you all know jeffery, i assume.   i love that she can talk her way around her kitchen, nyc and paris.  but i think what inspires me the most about her is that she had a career in the white house but turned around and bought a specialty food store without having any experience.  she pushed herself and had tons of support.  i love that.  just the thought of breaking out of routine inspires me.  For example,  i actually like turbulence on airplanes because they shake me out of my day-to-day trance. i appreciate them.  Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: