Giada puts “fireworks” right in your party dessert, for 12.29.17

Happy New Year !!! 



  Though I’m familiar with food capitals here and abroad, I believe it’s hard to beat what comes to the tables in New Orleans. You too? Then you might like to know that early bird tix are available now through Jan 18 at 33% off for the 2018 New Orleans Wine & Food Experience taking place May 25-27. The NOWFE scoop

♦  Here’s a boffo crystal ball. Food & Wine magazine tapped into an A-list to peer into the year ahead and extract these tasty views of the biggest food trends on the horizon. Be an insider with these predictions.

  Well this is pretty cool. Notable chefs’ restaurant experience has yielded a helpful “recipe” for achieving time-saving, money-saving, stress avoiding tricks for the home kitchen. Good stuff! Go see it.

  CS Marketplace Spotlight  

Who’s your favorite choc-a-holic??? 

{Me !!! is a totally acceptable answer}

The candy-filled letters tell the sweet tale

Other colors, many sizes, M&W, plus hats and mugs

My design, crafted by Michigan company SunFrog

Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate on Sunfrog

CS Marketplace

   Featured Recipe  

Could this be more perfect for anytime over the New Year’s weekend??? Smartie-chef Giada uses pop rocks as part of a celebratory filling!

There’s lots more happy news here. The fact that it’s almost entirely ganache. That there is such an easy way to make the ganache. That the topper adds the color splash of a fresh raspberry {or strawberry or even a cherry from pie filling??? – bjn}. And finally that the end result is as festive as can be. One sure way to make your holiday party “pop.”

Giada’s Raspberry-Cherry Chocolate “Pop” Tarts recipe

Giada’s website  Giada’s cookbooks  Giada’s videos

Celebrity Chef Cookbooks


Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to create less food waste? A clipping from some time back notes that while fresh is always good, sometimes canned or frozen can be better for the environment simply because that food is less likely to spoil and then be added to the land fill. And of course to keep that from being counterproductive, you for sure want to properly recycle the packaging too.

Ornament design above by John Morgan


Lady Baltimore Cake & More for 12.22.17

Happiest Holidays

Warm wishes for the best of everything throughout the season

Ornament design by John Morgan


  Would you have guessed it? One of the top of the category sellers on Amazon is Haribo candies. It’s actually the 5lb bag, but it comes in other sizes and varieties. Find them on Amazon here. And find some ideas for recipes and decorated versions on Pinterest.

♦  Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller has teamed up with Seabourn to create selections representing his award-winning cuisine for the luxury cruise line, and as well to “advise on various aspects of the line’s culinary operations, sharing his expertise and vision with the Seabourn culinary team.” The world renowned chef has made his mark in the fine dining world with his restaurants The French Laundry, Per Se and Bouchon.

  The online newsletter from Reader’s Digest offers this take, with some caveats, on food that never expires. See

  CS Marketplace Spotlight  

A big help for any cook. Arrives in a nanoseccond. 

And, just 99 cents. The perfect digital stocking stuffer.

My book. Offered here on Amazon

Yes, you can give Kindles as gifts

It’s easy – scroll down on the left side of the Amazon page 

“50 Fun & Unexpected Food Prep, Presentation & Storage Tricks”

CS Marketplace

  Featured Recipe  

I don’t know about you, but I just love old cookbooks. So often you find wonderful classic preps that have otherwise all but disappeared. One of my cherished tomes, actually was my mom’s, is the “American Woman’s Cookbook,” originally published in 1941. This recipe is one of those oldies but goodies.

The Lady Baltimore cake is notable for its super-sifted, eggwhite-fluffed texture and the nuts and fruits in the frosting/filling. Adding to the charm of this elegant dessert is the fact that its origins are shrouded in mystery, though folks have their theories.

Both images here are from a video by “The Glamouous Housewife,” with a classic take and also this adorable cupcake-in-a-Mason-jar version.

Lady Baltimore Cake

From “The American Woman’s Cookbook”

3/4 c butter or other shortening

2 c sugar

2 c sifted cake flour

3 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1/2 c milk

1/2 c water

1 t vanilla

6 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350. Line 3 9-inch round cake pans with waxed paper.

Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together 3 times. Combine milk, water and vanilla. Add small amounts of flour to creamed mixture, alternately with milk mixture, beating until smooth after each addition. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold into mixture.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 25 minutes.

Frosting & Filling

3 c sugar

1 c water

1/4 t cream of tartar

3 egg whites, stiffly beaten

1 t vanilla

1/2 c chopped figs

1 c chopped raisins

1 c chopped nut meats

Boil sugar, water and cream of tartar together to 238F or until a small amount of sirup will form a soft ball when tested in cold water. Pour hot sirup gradually over beaten whites, beating constantly and continuing to beat until mixture is of spreading consistency. Add vanilla.

Divide mixture in half. Add fruit and nuts to 1 portion and spread between layers of cake. Frost top and sides with remaining frosting.

Notes: No disrespect to the “Lady” but think I’d feel better with parchment in the baking pans instead of waxed paper. Also, hmmmm, suspect if no one’s looking you might take a “frosting shortcut.”


{reminder: you can give Kindle as a gift – and, it’s instantaneous}

“The American Woman’s Cookbook,” 4 1/2 stars, Kindle, paperback and hardcover

The Glamorous Housewife youtube on “The Best Dessert You’ve Never Heard Of”

The “What’s Cooking America” site offers some fun facts & an alternate recipe

Other cookbooks on Kindle


In addition to Amazon, what fun to stroll through used book stores and find treasures, including of course cookbooks. An oldie I found recently is “Mrs. DeGraf’s Cook Book,” by Mrs. Belle DeGraf, published in 1922. And you can be sure recipes from that sweet read will be posted here for you in the near future.



Christmas Tree Brownies for 12.15.17


  Hacking of a certain kind is a very bad thing, but when that refers to ways to make cookie baking easier or better, then woohoo! Readers Digest is offering just that, and not too suprisingly the chocolate one is a fave, but the cookie dough one is genius. Btw, one of their hacks {sticky measurements} was already in my Kindle book. RD cookie hacks    My “50 Fun & Unexpected Food Prep, Presentation & Storage Tricks”

  Well don’t be looking for Mario Batali products any longer at Eately or Target and likely elsewhere. This revelation just breaks my heart, such a talented man and I can say from the couple of times I met him, so genial, approachable. One thing about the notion of boycotting his restaurants, some culinary luminaries, who I of course join in condemning Batali’s actions, are making the point that avoiding those places punishes the wrong people, the hardworking staff.

If you’re interested, scroll down to the bottom of this post to see an email I received from Batali {including his recipe for cinnamon rolls}.

  Turkey for Christmas? Do you pull the wishbone out first for a tug of war to see who gets stuck with carving? Fear not, this video almost reaches out and takes you by the hand from start to finish. Two things I especially like about this demo: first, it shows you how to navigate the bones, and second you end up with a very appealing platter rather than something that looks like the loser in a barnyard brawl. Go to turkey school right here.

  CS Marketplace Spotlight  

Leave it to cook, cookbook author, and tv show host Ree Drummond, the “Pioneer Woman.” to turn everyday kitchen essentials into little works of art.

As a 20-pc set it’s a sensational gift for someone special or, disassembled, a whole array of stocking stuffers or add-ons {then you could even keep some for yourself!}.

If you’re interested, hurry, just a few left. And ordered now, Amazon says it can still arrive for Christmas.

Utensil set  Ree’s cookbooks  CS Marketplace

  Featured Recipe  

Oh, I love this cookbook. The title six sisters have folded their respective talents into fun dishes for every month of the year, and that’s in fact how the contents are organized, with heartier fare for cold weather, lighter ones for warmer times, and lots of special preps for the various holidays – plusProduct Details “traditions’ and hacks.

Just some dishes that caught my eye: slow cooker chili cheese dip, mini red velvet cheesecakes, St Pat’s Day cupcakes {with gold-sprinkled caramels!}, bacon Parmesan green beans, Nutella stuffed French toast, and dinner in a pumpkin. And, our featured recipe!

And what’s not to love about that festive dessert??? It marries the ease of a mix with a so-clever and also easy decoration that completes the tree design. One thing, the pic shows a “trunk” which isn’t covered in the directions, but guessing no one will care if frosted brownies are trunk-less.

Christmas Tree Brownies

From “Celebrate Every Season with Six Sisters’ Stuff”

Serves 9

15-oz box brownie mix , baked according to pkg directions

1 T butter {at room temp}

8 oz cream cheese

1 t vanilla

1 t milk

3 c powdered sugar

4 drops green food coloring

Sprinkles for garnish

Cut cooled brownies into triangles. Place on parchment paper or a cooling rack so they can be easily removed without sticking.

In a medium bowl beat butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and milk until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and continue to beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 min. Add food coloring and continue to mix until fully blended.

Scoop the frosting into a plastic zipper bag, seal bag, and cut a small hole in the corner. Pipe over the brownies in a zigzag pattern. Add sprinkles for ornamenets.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: if like me you’re not a big sprinkles fan, there are some tasty alternatives like crushed peppermint, sugar or silver pearls, brownie brittle, or an indulgent 4-pack of crushed Oreos, M&Ms, Ande’s and Butterfingers. Here are some on Amazon.

Celebrate Every Season with Six Sisters’ Stuff” on Amazon

Celebrity Chef cookbooks page on this site


You may want to use more food coloring, but be cautious when adding those drops. One of my fave Christmas cookies calls for green food coloring and I decided I wanted it much darker than was achieved with the specified amount. Wow, the cookies looked great – the green teeth on my guests, not so much!


Received 12.15.17 {if the recipe link in his email doesn’t work, click here instead}


As many of you know, this week there has been some news coverage about some of my past behavior.
I have made many mistakes and I am so very sorry that I have disappointed my friends, my family, my fans and my team. My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility.
Sharing the joys of Italian food, tradition and hospitality with all of you, each week, is an honor and privilege. Without the support of all of you — my fans — I would never have a forum in which to expound on this.
I will work every day to regain your respect and trust.
ps. in case you’re searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast, these Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls are a fan favorite.




Perfect Prime Rib from Les Kincaid for 12.08.17


  Did you know about this? There’s a site called MasterClass that features well known names offering instruction in their respective areas of expertise. And that includes some high profile chefs. Currently you’ll find Thomas Keller, Gordon Ramsay, and Alice Waters, and hers specifically says the class is about home cooking. Later on Wolfgang Puck will join the lineup. There’s also an option to give a class as a gift. MasterClass  Chef Puck’s class

  And here’s a fun stocking stuffer for the jewelry loving pizza-phile on your list. Pizza slice earrings! Now on sale for $6.23 at Etsy. What fun. Take a look right here.

  And WalMart is doing its part to make your holiday prep a little easier with these helpful videos. You’ll see step-by-steps for appetizers, side dishes {oh, yum, the Loaded Mashed Potato Cups}, brunch dishes, entrees, desserts, drinks too. They go by pretty fast but that’s what the pause button is for. Here’s where you can watch.

  CS Marketplace Spotlight  

With the Instant Pot becoming such a darling of the culinary world, it’s not too surprising that this tome is Number One in the Amazon cookbook category. It promises easy, fast, and healthy meals.

At this writing, Kindle $2.99, Paperback $8.99 {save $6}.

Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook  

Other best selling cookbooks on Amazon    Best rated cookbooks on Amazon, 4 stars & up

See the rest of CS Marketplace here

  Featured Recipe  

It’s a real treat to be able to share a recipe from chef/cookbook author/cooking instructor/syndicated wine show radio host Les Kincaid. Would you like to meet him? Future posts will carry news about food-centric trips hosted by Les and his lovely wife Tammy.

The delectable entree below here would be “perfect” for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day. Can serve a group of guests. Not having a group? Great! More for you, or you and who.

Perfect Prime Rib from Les Kincaid

Serves 6-8

 1 (4-pound) bone-in standing rib roast

Kosher salt and black pepper

4 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
For jus

2 cups beef broth

1 small fresh rosemary sprig

1 small fresh thyme sprig

1 garlic clove, smashed

 Preheat oven 360 degrees F.

One hour before you plan to cook, take the roast out of the refrigerator. Season the roast on all sides liberally with salt and pepper. Don’t add water to the pan, and don’t cover it!

In a small bowl, combine the butter, basil, tarragon and rosemary and mix well. Spread the herb butter all over the roast, applying the heaviest layer to the fat cap.

Place the roast, fat side up, in a roasting pan and cook for about 2 hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature deep in the center of 125 degrees F for medium-rare.

Transfer the roast to a platter, tent loosely with foil and let rest for at least 20 minutes or up to 30 minutes. Cut the meat away from the bones and slice the roast thickly or thinly against the grain as desired. Separate the leftover beef rib bones and serve them along with the meat.
Make jus:

Skim fat from pan juices. Add broth, rosemary, thyme, and garlic and deglaze pan by simmering on top of stove over moderate heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Transfer to a small saucepan and add any juices that have collected on platter. Gently simmer 10 minutes. Skim fat and season jus with salt and pepper.

NOTES {from Les}: To make the best prime rib:

A thermometer is the absolute best way to guarantee the roast turns out exactly the way you want it. For an accurate reading, push the thermometer into the middle of the roast, making sure the tip is not touching fat or bone (or the pan).

Medium Rare = 130-140 degrees F
Medium = 145-155 dfegrees F

Remember that the roast’s temperature will rise at least 5 degrees after you remove it from the oven.

Allow the roast stand for 15 or 20 minutes before carving to let the juices return to the center.
Also, allow at least 6 ounces of cooked, trimmed meat per adult. A boneless roast will give you about two servings per pound, and a bone-in roast will give you one to one-and-a-half servings.

Les Kincaid’s website


What to serve with the perfect prime rib? Go to Les’ site and click on recipes for a tasty array of salads, side dishes, and of course desserts. Lots of other information too.


Yam {yum} bake – a rave magnet – for 12.01.17


  Know a high school student with culinary career dreams? Rachael Ray, bless her heart, is staging a contest featuring a grand prize of up to $25,000 for tuition and other related expenses as well as an assortment of the chef’s branded cookware. The three runners-up will each receive a $5,000 scholarship and Rachael Ray merchandise. See the details here.

  A recent page in Food Network Magazine melded two of my interests, two of my sites: food & dogs! The photo display showed Trisha Yearwood with her rescue dog Emmy, Sunny Anderson with her rescued beagle mix Gary Gumbo, Marcella Valladolid’s retriever/springer spaniel mix Kongo, Ayesha Curry with her goldendoodle, and Katie Lee with her adopted pom/chihuahua Gus. Lots of love going on! Food Network Mag

  Windstar, the “official cruise line of the James Beard Foundation” sets sail with special guest appearances and cooking demonstrations by JBF chefs on select cruises. Start your journey here

Featured Recipe

I’m a longtime Stellino fan, charmed by the way his cooking shows offer not only dishes abundant in Italian flavor but as well the tales he folds into the narrative. It always gives me a chuckle watching the Palermo-born chef put away containers, clear away used dishes and utensils, wipe the counters – saying his mama would get mad if he didn’t keep his kitchen clean. You are likely to find him somewhere on your PBS channel.

The recipe that follows is fairly faithful to Stellino’s prep, but I just opt not to make it a souffle, which is to say no eggs. I will though let you know in the Notes how to create the original {or you can find it in his book}. As you’ll discover, this is an awesome crowd pleaser.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Inspired by Nick Stellino

3 med sweet potatoes or yams, baked, peeled, cut into large chunks

8 oz. cream cheese

3/4 t salt

1/4 t pepper

1/2 c honey

1/2 c freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

2 T chopped fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Combine all ingredients in a food processor and mix until creamy and smooth. Scoop into a lightly greased 8×11 pan and bake until heated through, about 20-25 min. Serve and enjoy.

Notes: I like to use garnet yams here . . . I use just a pinch of dried thyme and sometimes instead 1/4-1/2 t nutmeg . . . if your diet permits, adding a couple T’s of melted butter to the mix also doesn’t hurt. If you’re salt sensitive you can probably reduce or even eliminate it and still end up with a mighty tasty dish.

As for Nick’s original recipe: 3 egg yolks are processed with the cream cheese before adding the yams, and then other ingredients . . . only 2T of honey is added to the mix {with an additional 1/2 cup drizzled over the final dish} . . . the processor mixture is scooped into a bowl and then 3 beaten-till-stiff egg whites are folded in . . . it’s then baked in a 9×13 pan for 30-40 min or until the top is lightly browned and beginning to crack.


The above recipe is from Stellino’s cookbook, “Cooking With Friends”

Nick Stellino’s other cookbooks  Nick Stellino show videos  Nick Stellino bio


When I bake anything that I think might stick even to a non stick surface, as this recipe could do with the amount of in the mix, I use baking spray, a genius combination that incorporates flour into the nonstick spray.