Tired of endlessly flipping through cookbooks and websites for recipes?

I'm here for you! I try out recipes and post the successes, so you don't have to waste time on failures. I only post the VERY BEST recipes I try out. You can be confident that if you plan to serve any of these, they will be a success! Don't substitute or you will not get the same result!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Key Lime Pie

This recipe comes from Emil Lagasse and the Food Network:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/key-lime-pie-recipe/index.html. It's perfect. I didn't change a thing. It might seem wierd to add the sour cream, but it was perfect. Once you add the powdered sugar, you couldn't taste it. Even my dad ate two pieces of this pie. Both my picky daughters loved it.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter) melted
2 (14-ounce) cans condensed milk
1 cup key lime or regular lime juice (fresh squeezed preferred)
2 whole eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter with your hands. Press the mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie pan, and bake until brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before filling.

3. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

4. In a separate bowl, combine the condensed milk, lime juice, and eggs. Whisk until well blended and place the filling in the cooled pie shell. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

5. Once chilled, combine the sour cream and powdered sugar and spread over the top of the pie using a spatula. Sprinkle the lime zest as a garnish on top of the sour cream and serve chilled.

Monday, July 19, 2010

World's Best Lasagna

I got this recipe from www.allrecipes.com, and made some alterations. Every time I've made this, people have gone nuts for it. I'm warning you that it takes a few hours to make (1.5 hrs to simmer the sauce), but it's totally worth it if you want to impress your guests! Even the pickiest eaters have more than one helping.


3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage
3/4 pound lean ground beef
1/2 minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 ounce) cans canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese (I would actually use a little less--more like 12 oz)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced (or grated--I prefer to freshly grate the cheese before I add it to a recipe)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. In a Dutch oven (or skillet), cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

4. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tropical Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

This cake tastes better after it has been refrigerated overnight. I love the tropical spin on the traditional carrot cake. I got this recipe from epicurious.com, and made some alterations.

2 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup dry-roasted macadamia nuts
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (see note below on how to make this)
3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups finely grated peeled carrots
2 8-ounce cans crushed pineapple in its own juice, well drained

2 8-ounce packages Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco López, found in the liquor section of store)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (scant) coconut extract
14 whole dry-roasted macadamia nuts (optional)
2 cups coconut
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

For cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Combine 1/3 cup flour and next 3 ingredients in processor. Process until nuts are finely chopped. Whisk remaining 2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in medium bowl to blend.
Using electric mixer, beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour-spice mixture. Stir in coconut-macadamia mixture, then carrots and crushed pineapple. (Note: if you don't like the texture of pineapple, like me, then add it to the coconut-madamia mixture before blending)

Divide batter among pans. Bake until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 1 hour. Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

For frosting:

Toast coconut in melted butter for a few minutes until crispy.

Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, then cream of coconut and both extracts. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes. (don't chill too long!)

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over top of cake. Top with second cake layer, flat side up. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over. Top with third cake layer, rounded side up, pressing slightly to adhere. Spread thin layer of frosting over top and sides of cake. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange coconut and then whole nuts on top of cake. Chill 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

Note:  To make crystallized ginger, thinly slice 1 cup fresh ginger. Boil in 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar for 5 minutes. Then bake in 200 degree oven until rubbery but not dry. Then sprinkle with sugar.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bacon, Swiss Burgers with Tomato and Avocado

I didn't have time to take a picture of these hamburgers because they were eaten so quickly!
I got part of this recipe from www. epicurious.com--their hamburgers were a bit boring but I added a few ingredients to make a savory flavor.
Tip:  If you're having trouble keeping the patties together, add a beaten egg.

8 slices bacon
1 pound ground beef chuck or sirloin
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 or 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil, for grilling
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 hamburger buns, toasted, for serving
Thinly sliced ripe tomato
Thinly sliced red onion
Sliced ripe avocado
Lettuce leaves

1. If you will be grilling the burgers, preheat a barbecue grill to medium-high.

2. While the grill is heating up, cook the bacon on the stovetop in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it is just crisp, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set it aside to drain. (If you prefer to panfry the burgers, reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the skillet.)
3. Place the beef, Worcestershire, Tabasco, green pepper, onion, garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper in a bowl, and toss lightly with a fork to combine. Form the mixture into 4 patties, each about 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.
4. When you are ready to grill the burgers, oil the grill grate well. Add the burgers and grill for about 3 minutes for rare, 4 minutes for medium-rare meat. Turn them over and grill for another 3 or 4 minutes, topping the burgers with the cheese in the last minute of cooking. (Or panfry the burgers in the hot bacon fat over medium heat for 3 minutes per side for rare meat, adding the cheese as described.)
5. Place the burgers on the toasted buns, and top them with the bacon, tomato, onion, avocado, and lettuce. Cover with the tops of the buns and serve immediately.

Pancake Puffs

You need a pancake puff pan for this, which can be purchased Williams-Sonoma or Bed, Bath and Beyond.  I got this recipe from http://www.heidisfullplate.com/2009/09/pancake-puffs-recipe.html with some alterations. They can be refrigerated and re-heated and taste just as good!  I love Nutella-filled puffs.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
4 Tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for cooking

Fillings: jam, peanut butter, Nutella, fruit, chocolate chips, lemon curd. . .

powdered sugar

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the milk and the 4 tablespoons of melted butter. Whisk the yolk mixture into the flour mixture until well combined; the batter will be lumpy.

In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff but not dry peaks from, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter in two additions.

Heat the pancake puff pan over medium high heat. With a pastry brush, coat each well of the pan with butter. When the butter bubbles, pour 1/2 tablespoon of batter into each well. Put 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of each pancake and top with 1/2 tablespoon of batter. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy, 2-4 minutes. Using 2 wooden skewers or 2 mini spatulas, flip the pancakes over and cook until the other side is golden and crispy, about 3 minutes more.

Transfer cooked pancake puffs to a plate. Dust with powdered sugar if desired. Repeat with remaining batter and fillings. Can be served with syrup or whipped cream.

Serve immediately. Makes about 40.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Potato Hobo Packs

The potatoes have a unique flavor, with the garlic and sage. Make sure and buy the center-cut beef (it's a bit expensive). Served with sour cream and fresh chives, this meal is mouth-watering! From http://www.epicurious.com/ with some adjustments.

2 tablespoons black peppercorns (I just buy the spice shaker that has the built-in grinder)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (2 1/2-lb) center-cut beef tenderloin roast, trimmed and tied
1 1/2 lb fingerling or baby Yukon Gold potatoes (about 16), halved lengthwise
1/2 lb pearl onions (about 16), blanched in boiling water 1 minute, drained, and peeled (or sliced white onion)
12 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup sour cream
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives
Coarsely crack peppercorns.  Stir together pepper and salt in a small bowl, then add oil and stir until combined well. Rub spice mixture all over beef.
Tear off 8 (2-foot-long) sheets of heavy-duty foil and arrange in 2 stacks of 4. Divide potatoes, onions, garlic, and sage between stacks, arranging in 1 layer in center of foil, then drizzle each with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper. Working with top sheet of foil, fold each side over potato mixture to enclose, then turn package a quarter turn and repeat folding and turning package with each piece of remaining foil. Make second hobo pack in same manner.

To cook beef and hobo packs using a gas grill:

Preheat all burners on high, covered, 10 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low on 2 burners if your grill has 3 (or 1 burner if your grill has 2) and cook hobo packs, folded sides down, on grill rack, covered with lid, over moderately low burner(s) 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, sear beef on lightly oiled grill rack over remaining burner on high, covered with lid, turning over occasionally, until well browned, 12 to 15 minutes total. Reduce heat to moderate and cook beef, covered with lid, turning over occasionally, until thermometer inserted diagonally into center registers 120°F for medium-rare, about 10 minutes. Transfer beef to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 minutes.


Chop meat and place in hobo packs. Grill together 40 minutes.
Serve beef and hobo packs:

Thinly slice beef, then remove potato mixture from packages and serve with sour cream, bacon, and chives.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Marscapone Cream-Filled Cake with Berries

This cake was marvelous!  Very different flavors--the marscapone cheese (an Italian style cream-cheese, most famous in Tiramisu) created a rich, sweet cheesy taste, with the berries balancing everything. I found this recipe on www.epicurious.com (and made some alterations).

For cake:

2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
For berries:
1/2 cup Fino (dry) Sherry (can substitute 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup water and 1 tablespoon sugar)
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups mixed berries, cut if large
For cream:
8 ounces mascarpone (1 cup)
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
confectioners sugar
Make cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter 2 9-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep). Line bottom with a round of parchment paper, then butter parchment.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer at low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing after each addition until just combined.
Spread batter in cake pans, smoothing top. Rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Discard paper and reinvert cake onto rack to cool completely.
Macerate berries:

Bring Sherry and sugar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Put berries in a bowl and pour hot syrup over them, gently tossing to coat. Let stand 15 minutes.
Make cream and assemble cake:

Beat mascarpone and cream with sugar in a large bowl using cleaned beaters until mixture just holds stiff peaks (don't beat too long or it gets mushy!).

Put one half on a plate, then spread evenly with all of cream and replace top half. Serve with berries.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Grilled Jerk Pork with Curried Peach Relish

I made this recipe for dinner tonight (from epicurious.com with a few variations) and it was a symphony of flavor! Please note that the relish and pork must be prepared eight hour ahead, so start early!


1 1/2 lb firm-ripe peaches
1/2 lb tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped red onion (1 medium)
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

3 scallions (white and pale green parts only), trimmed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
1 teaspoon Scotch bonnet or habanero hot sauce
2 pork tenderloins (1 3/4 to 2 lb total)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil for basting

Make Relish:
Steam peaches and tomatoes over boiling water until skins split. Transfer peaches and tomatoes with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water and let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel peaches and tomatoes, then halve peaches lengthwise and pit. Cut peaches into 1-inch pieces. Coarsely chop tomatoes.

Cook onion, ginger, and salt in oil in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add curry powder and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add peaches and tomatoes with any juices, sugar, and lime juice and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick and peaches are tender but still hold their shape, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool, uncovered, then chill, covered, at least 8 hours.

Marinate pork:

Combine scallions, thyme, salt, allspice, pepper, lime juice, molasses, and hot sauce in a blender and blend until smooth. Put pork in a nonreactive dish and rub all over with marinade. Marinate, covered and chilled, turning occasionally, 8 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling.

Grill pork:

Preheat grill.

Discard any marinade remaining in dish, then brush pork lightly with oil and grill on a lightly oiled grill rack, turning occasionally and basting frequently with oil until cooked through.

Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand 15 minutes. Serve pork with relish.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Baked French Toast

Ooooh, this breakfast is sweet and rich.  If you want the french toast a little more crispy, half the sauce and bake it on a cookie sheet.

1 loaf French bread, cut diagonally in 1-inch slices

8 eggs
2 cups milk
1.5 cups half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup butter
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
Butter a 9x13 casserole dish. Arrange the slices of bread in the bottom (do not layer!).

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350. In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup; heat until bubbling. Pour over bread and egg mixture.

Bake in a preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Linguine with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Toasted Pignoli Garlic Sauce

My friend Sarah cooked this at our girls' weekend last year.  It's a fancy dish that doesn't require a whole lot of time. And it's to die for!

3 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 tablespoon minced shallots (or minced onion)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup dry white wine (or white grape juice with a dash of apple cider vinegar)
2 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
2 teaspoons instant beef bouillon crystals
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fine
1/2 cup toasted pignoli nuts (optional)
1 lb fresh linguine (or bow tie pasta)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Boil water for pasta.  Add pasta and cook to taste.

While pasta is cooking, toast pignoli nuts lightly in oven or nonstick teflon fry pan.

In a large skillet or sauce pot, saute garlic and shallots in olive oil.

Add white wine and cook to reduce by half.

Add half-and-half, then bouillon crystals to sauce and reduce again by half.
Add tomato paste and mix well to blend in sauce. Add the basil.
Add toasted pignoli nuts. Stir to mix.

Add the sun-dried tomatoes and parsley and stir. Let this simmer gently while the pasta cooks.

Put pasta in skillet with sauce and mix well. Empty pasta and sauce into a large serving dish. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over the pasta.