Make-Ahead-and-Freeze Waffles

This isn’t an “old standby” YET, but I made them this morning and LOVED putting all of them in the freezer! Hudson loves a waffle or pancake for breakfast, and now I can serve it semi-healthy and homemade! This recipe is from Alton Brown’s cookbook and appeared on the Food Network before I saw it in the Statesman.

Make-Ahead-and-Freeze Waffles

This recipe makes about a dozen 8-inch waffles.

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. kosher salt

6 Tbsp. sugar

6 eggs, beaten

8 Tbsp. butter, melted

4 cups (or 1 quart) buttermilk (make your own by adding 1/4 cup white vinegar to measuring cup, then fill with 3 3/4 cup milk; let set for 5 minutes before using)

Preheat waffle iron. In medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In another medium bowl, whisk together eggs and melted butter until emulsified. Whisk in buttermilk. Combine wet and dry ingredients, but do not overmix. Let batter rest for 5 minutes. Cook waffles according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To freeze: Let waffles cool completely and then freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, place in a zip-top plastic bag, squeezing the extra air out before sealing the bag to help prevent freezer burn.

My Favorite Salad Dressing

This is from a cookbook called Simply Classic. I’ve made this salad dressing maybe more than anything else I’ve ever made. I don’t get to crazy with measuring, but the secret ingredient is the maple syrup. I toss it with bagged lettuce, then top each salad usually with a fruit (dried cranberries or other fruit, canned mandarin oranges, pears or apples, berries), a nut (sliced almonds, pecans – glazed or not, etc.) and a cheese (feta, goat, blue, parm, etc.) I also like hearts of palm and avocado. Oh and don’t forget to dip a lettuce leaf and taste it, primarily for salt and sweet, before you serve!

My Favorite Salad Dressing

1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola, olive, walnut, etc. work)

1/4 cup cider vinegar (could use balsamic, etc.)

2 T. shallot, minced (leave out if you don’t have)

2 T. lemon juice

1 T. (generous) maple syrup

1/4 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

Feta Pine Nut Spread

I love anything you can just whiz in a food processor. This recipe is an old standby from Gourmet. It is also good on a bagel.

Feta Pine Nut Spread

Makes about 2 cups

1 8-ounce tub whipped cream cheese spread
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
3 T. toasted pine nuts
2 T. (packed) chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, minced (2 if small)
1 7-ounce package feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup chopped, drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

Place cream cheese, yogurt, pine nuts, basil, and garlic in processor, and blend until combined.

Add feta cheese and tomatoes and blend, using on/off pulses, until combined but still a little chunky.

Serve with crackers or crostini.

You can make this 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.

Easy Cheese & Fruit Tarts

These are perfect for brunches, cocktails parties and, especially, picnics. You could also substitute dried cranberries for the holidays. They are another one from my fabulous friend Jennifer.

Easy Cheese & Fruit Tarts

Frozen (defrosted) small pastry shells
1 (15 oz.) can sliced Bartlett pears in syrup, drained
8 oz. wedge Brie cheese
Dried cherries

Follow package directions on shells re: defrosting. Preheat oven to 400F. Chop pears and place in center of pastry shells. Trim away outer edge of Brie and cut cheese into small pieces; place over pears. Top each with 3-4 dried cherries. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Excellent served warm or at room temperature.

Baked Chevre with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil

This almost isn’t a recipe, but I served this to my book club, and it was easy and yummy!

Baked Chevre with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil

8 oz. chevre (substitute some cream cheese if too strong)
4 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained
1/2-1 t. garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pam a small ovenproof serving dish. Place chevre (and cream cheese, if desired) in dish and bake until melted, 15-20 minutes. Pulse sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and basil in food processor till minced.

Spoon tomato mixture over cheese, and serve with crackers and/or fresh vegetables.

The Best Sugar Cookies

I had these cookies at a party, and they were life changing. I had to track down the baker, and he graciously sent me this recipe. Now Jon and I will be friends forever.

He served them with pink frosting, all lined up on a red platter, and they were stunning.  Tracy agrees, these are the best sugar cookies! If they are a little crisp, just seal them in an airtight container, and they’ll be perfect the next day.

The Best Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookie Base:

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside.

Place butter in bowl of electric mixer and beat on medium until smooth. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until well combined and fluffy (whatever that means).

Add each egg one at a time and beat until combined. Add almond and vanilla extracts.

With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture until just combined. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a ball and place in the middle of a sheet of plastic wrap. Press into a rough 8 inch circle. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Roll out each dough piece to approximately 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutter (yield with a round 2 inch cutter is approximately 60 cookies). Place cut-outs on baking sheets 1 inch apart. Refrigerate sheets with cut-outs for 15 minutes (this helps the cookies spread less during baking and retain their shape).

Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, rotating front-to-back and top-to-bottom (if using two sheets) halfway through. Let cookies cool completely before frosting.
Tip: If they aren’t soft and moist, you can add a couple of apple slices in an airtight container and they will soften.

Pink frosting:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 oz. butter (3/4 stick), softened
1 tsp. vanilla
A few drops red food coloring
2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter and cream cheese together on medium speed until smooth. Add vanilla and red food coloring and mix until combined.

Gradually add powdered sugar at low speed until fully combined. (Over-mixing will result in a lighter, aerated frosting–not my favorite with these cookies). More powdered sugar results in a stiffer frosting that develops a satisfying outer “crust” once dry (my preference), less results in a creamier texture that remains satiny.

Spinach Dip & Pita Chips

This is another recipe from my friend Jennifer; it tastes like what we get at Trio’s a fabulous restaurant in Little Rock. Yum!

Spinach Dip & Pita Chips

8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 can Ro-Tel
1/4 cup diced purple onion
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
2 T. chopped jalapenos, or to taste

Melt cream cheese and Monterey Jack cheese in a large saucepan over low heat. Add Parmesan cheese, Ro-Tel, onion, spinach, and jalapenos. Stir until smooth.

May be served immediately, or made early and refrigerated several days ahead. Best warm or at room temperature.

Baked Pita Chips
Split pita bread into halves, then quarters. Brush each piece with melted butter or Butter Pam. Sprinkle with cumin and lemon pepper.

Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. The bread becomes crisp as it cools. Store in airtight containers after cool.

Sonoma Pasta

My dear friend Margit served this at our friends, the Fosters’ in Sun River. I knew I was addicted when I woke up in the middle of the night dreaming about it. When I want to throw caution to the wind diet-wise, I make this dish.

Sonoma Pasta

3 oz. halved sun-dried tomatoes
8 slices thick-cut smoked bacon
16 oz. fettuccini
2 T. fresh garlic, minced
12 medium basil leaves, slivered
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
8 oz goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Drop the sun-dried tomatoes into boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and cut into long slivers. Set aside.

Cut bacon into ¼ inch pieces and brown well in heavy skillet. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain; reserve bacon drippings in the skillet.

Boil pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, sauté garlic in bacon drippings for 2 minutes. Add basil leaves and sun-dried tomatoes, and toss well. Add olives and bacon, and sauté until well heated.

Immediately before draining the pasta, break the cheese into pieces, and toss it with the garlic mixture and pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately.

The Best Chicken Tetrazini

I used my mom’s chicken tetrazini recipe for years, until my friend Jennifer gave me this recipe. I have always made this dish for new mom friends, but she somehow elevated it, like she always does with food, parties, her home, and all areas of her life. It is a bit of a time commitment, but it makes several servings for yourself, plus two foil 9 x 12-ish containers for friends!

The Best Chicken Tetrazini

1 whole rotisserie (roasted) chicken
1 lb spaghetti (I use whole wheat)
1 lb. Velveeta (I use 2%)
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onion
1 8 oz. container sliced mushrooms
1 stick butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use Healthy Request)
1 can cream of chicken soup (I use Healthy Request)
1 jar pimentos
1 can Rotel tomatoes (tomatoes and green chilies)
1 cup chicken broth (bullion or canned)
2/3 cup evaporated milk (I use fat free)
Garlic powder, celery salt, pepper to taste
2 cup bag grated cheese (your favorite – cheddar or a blend)

Take chicken off the bone in chunks. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot. Stir in Velveeta. Meanwhile, sauté celery, onion and mushrooms in butter. Add to pasta, along with all other ingredients except grated cheese.

Put into 2 or 3 casserole dishes, and cover with plastic wrap and foil. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so, till bubbley. Or it freezes fabulously.

Monte’s Ham

My sister Tracy and I love sharing recipes, but I always have to go searching various locations for our favorites. So we’re starting this blog as an easy repository of our favorite recipes that we go to again and again.

The recipe for Monte’s Ham is a classic in our family. I adapted it from Saveur magazine a zillion years ago as part of an article about how to feed a ton of people really cheaply. It was such a funny article that I decided to try it for a party with mustard and rolls. It is always fun to watch people at the beginning of the night nicely cutting slices, then by the end of the night, they are literally picking it off the bone. This recipe’s a winner.

Monte’s Ham

Serves about 30
1 cheap 15 lb smoked ham on the bone
1 ½ cups apricot jam
1 cup Dijon mustard
1 ½ cup brown sugar
1 T. whole cloves

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Trim outer skin and excess fat from ham. Place ham, meat side down, in large roasting pan and score, making crosshatch incisions with a sharp knife. Roast for 2 hours.

Remove ham from oven and increase heat to 350 degrees. Combine jam, mustard, and brown sugar in bowl. Stud ham with whole cloves at crosshatch intersections, then pour glaze all over and return to oven.

Cook for another 1 ½ hours, brushing with glaze at least 3 times. Transfer to platter and allow to rest for 30 minutes (put extra glaze on and around).

Carve and serve warm or at room temperature.