Classic Cocktail to ring in the New Year!

This is a simple classic drink

to ring in the New Year!

Angostura Bitters, you know, that easily recognized bottle with the oversized label and yellow lid in the grocery store and liquor stores...

It was 1824, when German born, Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, serving as Surgeon General in Simón Bolivar's army in Venezuela, developed Angostura Bitters for use in his medical practice, in the town of Angostura, now known as Ciudad Bolívar.  

Dr. Siegert used his aromatic bitters as a medical tincture to improve the appetite and digestive well-being of the soldiers.  

By 1875, the family business moved to Port of Spain, Trinidad and was run by 3 of the doctor's sons.  The exact formula of Angostura bitters ~ a unique blend of natural herbs and spices ~ is a closely guarded secret formula.

To this day, people use a couple of drops of bitters in a little water or just plain to relieve an upset stomach, gas, hiccups and so forth.

The bitters are extremely concentrated and are an acquired taste, being used is small amounts as flavoring in cocktails, coffee, juices, salads, ice cream, marinades for meat, soups and sauces.

It's the key ingredient for many cocktails, including this classic champagne drink.  

Classic New Year’s Eve Champagne Cocktail

1 sugar cube
Angostura bitters
Moet & Chandon Brut Champagne
Lemon twist, for garnish

Soak the sugar cube in the bitters and drop into a champagne flute. 
Top with champagne.
Garnish with lemon twist.
Makes 1 serving

This New Year I wish that ~
Fate never takes you for a bumpy ride,
Cupid strikes you with his sweetest arrow,
Lady Luck bestows upon you health and wealth,
Your Guardian Angel keeps your mind 
alert and bright.

Have a Happy and Blessed New Year 2017!

The best,


Christmas Eve Prime Rib ~ Merry Christmas!

Tradition here is Prime Rib, Standing  Rib Roast, 
Christmas Eve. 

My fave carver, slicing it up!

It doesn’t get much better than a beautiful slice of beef, cooked rare.  This is my version; served along with delicious Caesar salad, Hasselback potatoes, oyster dressing, sautéed green beans with mushrooms, and a nice flaky dinner roll, with caramel cheesecake to top it off. 

Our prime rib is ordered from our local Italian butcher shop.  The butcher trimmed a large part of the fat off, then cut the bone off and brought it all back together by tying it with string.  It’s perfect, easy to roast and even easier for slicing. 

Allow the meat to stand at room temperature for an hour;  rub it with salt, a little pepper, and garlic powder, before roasting it in a 350° oven, until it reaches 120° internally.  Upon removing it  from the oven, let it stand for about 25 minutes before slicing.  By then, it will the register about 130° on the thermometer. 

This is my favorite cut of meat, and it’s cooked to perfection, very tender, juicy and delectable!


XMAS - Mutti's Butter Cookies

These little butter cookies 
are just 
the best!

I'd rather leave the decorating to someone else...

The waft of cinnamon while baking, fills the kitchen with marvelous aroma.

And I wish I were baking them now, as it's -12° here this morning...

This is a simple recipe for these cookies, and I used all 3 cups of flour.

Easy to cutout

Umm, the aroma!

I reworked the dough a couple of times while rolling out and cutting.  It’s the first cookie dough I’ve made that did not crumble and dry out when re-rolling.  It's a magnificent dough to work with!

The Chicago Tribune Holiday Cookies cookbook featured this recipe that won second place for Ivy Risch in the 2009 cookie contest.  

She can trace the recipe back to her missionary grandparents’ years in China and her grandmother’s friendship with Madame Chiang Kai-shek.  

Her grandmother called the cookies “speculatius.”

I say they’re spectacular!  

They truly are spectacularly buttery ~ and delicious!

Mutti’s Butter Cookies


2½ sticks (1¼cups)  butter, softened
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour, divided
¼ teaspoon cinnamon


Combine butter, sugar, eggs and salt in small bowl; stir with wooden spoon until smooth, about 1 minute.
Combine 2¼ cups of the flour and cinnamon in a medium bowl; add to butter mixture, 1 cup at a time, stirring to make a soft, sticky dough.
Sprinkle remaining ¾ cup of the flour on counter; place dough on the flour.
Knead, incorporating more flour just until dough is no longer sticky.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
Heat oven to 350°.
Remove dough from refrigerator; cut off a 2” piece.
Re-wrap remaining dough; return to refrigerator.
Roll dough out on lightly floured surface to ⅛” thick.
Cut shapes with cookie cutters.
Transfer cookies to parchment-lined baking sheets; bake until edges turn golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes per batch.
Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.
Repeat with remaining chilled dough.
Makes 100 cookies.

Printable recipe


Cookies! Apricot Kolaczski, Kolachke, Kolache or Kolacky

Kolaczski, or whatever you call them, 
are a tradition here, 
as they are in many homes at Christmastime.

Forgot to sift the sugar on top!

There’s a plethora of names for this cookie, all with the same basic ingredients, and a plethora of fillings.  Put simply:  they’re a type of pastry, that holds a dollop of fruit, surrounded by supple dough.

This old recipe is from Helen, a friend of my mother’s in Louisville, whose Polish grandmother made these great cookies. 

I particularly like this recipe because it has a healthy dose of cream cheese, more than most kolaczski recipes.  The dough is what makes them exceptional!

Kolaczski come in many shapes ~ I cut the dough into squares, fold the opposing corners together and pinch the dough to seal the cookie.

Fill these delicious little morsels with a nut filling, pastry filling, jam filling or a cream cheese filling; I use apricot jam.

Dust a little powdered sugar over the cookies when cooled…

They’re perfect tasty little gems!

Apricot Kolaczski


4 packages (3 ounces each, totaling 12 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
4 sticks (2 cups) butter, room temperature
3 cups flour
1½ cups apricot jam, more or less
Confectioner’s sugar


Beat together butter and cream cheese in bowl of electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Add flour, 1 cup at a time, until well combined.
Divide dough into thirds; wrap each third in plastic wrap.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours.
Heat oven to 350°.
Remove 1 dough packet from refrigerator, roll to ⅛” to ¼” thickness on a floured surface.
Cut into 2” squares with a pizza cutter or knife.
Fill scantily, ½ teaspoon or less, with jam.  (If you use too much filling, it will run out onto the baking sheet.)
Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake until bottoms are lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Repeat with remaining refrigerated dough.
Generously sprinkle with sifted confectioner’s sugar.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
Printable recipe


Sprakling Chewy Ginger Cookies with a Twist

Don’t say I didn’t warn you❣

These cookies are chewy and delicious ~ bursting with a warm, surprisingly fiery and pungent flavor!

The taste is almost peppery and that’s why I love these cookies, because the surprise ingredient is just that, pepper!

I always bake some sort of ginger cookie during the Christmas season, and this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens surpasses them all.

For additional spicy flavor, the recipe includes  molasses, dark brown sugar, fresh ginger and pumpkin pie spice.  

Gold sanding sugar sprinkled on top of each cookie gives them a festive look when baked and adds another touch of sweetness.

I think they’re divine ~ they’re addictive ~ and if you like ginger cookies,  I bet you will agree!   

Sparkling Chewy Ginger Cookies
Printable recipe


1⅓ cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup shortening
2 large eggs
½ cup molasses
4 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
3½ cups flour
3 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⅓ cups gold sanding sugar, or granulated sugar*


Preheat oven to 350°.
Beat dark brown sugar and shortening in a medium bowl at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
Add egg, molasses and finer, beat 30 seconds.
Sift flour with next 4 ingredients in a small bowl.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture, beat at low speed until combined.
Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Place sanding sugar in a small bowl.
Drop dough by level spoonfuls into sanding sugar, using a 1½” cookie scoop; roll to coat.
Place coated cookies 3” apart on 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are fragrant and browned around the edges.
Cool on pans for 5 minutes, transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  
Makes 3 dozen

*Gold sanding sugar can be purchased online or purchased wherever specialty cake supplies are sold.


Braised Cube Steak w/Mushroom and Onion Gravy

Cube steak is an underrated cut of beef.

The meat has great flavor, but tends to be on the tough side.  I have the butcher run top round steak through the tenderizer machine, which has a series of blades or nails that are designed to puncture the meat, giving it a cubed surface.

Grandma just grabbed a saucer out of the cabinet, and used the edge of it to thoroughly beat the meat to tenderize it.  A mallet will do also, I've used both methods with equal success.

First off, after dusting the meat with flour, I seared it in hot oil in the skillet, over high heat. I transferred the browned meat to a platter, then added onions and mushrooms to the skillet for searing.

The moisture from the vegetables deglazes the browned bits on the bottom of the skillet; scrape it well, and add a little flour. 

Once the onions were tender, the cube steak was returned to the skillet and covered for cooking, while sitting in beef broth with the mushrooms and onions.

This whole technique is known as braising,  cooking tougher cuts of meat into tender, fall-off-the-bone cozy dinner food.  

In other words, the meat is browned, or seared, in fat and then simmered over low heat in a covered pot; braised.  Crock pots, dutch ovens, pressure cookers are great tools for this. You decide, cooked on top of the stove or in the oven, you will like the results either way.  Plus, you'll have a little gravy!

I would normally serve this with mashed potatoes, rice, or noodles.  This time, though, I diced and browned leftover baked potatoes ~ they were taking up refrigerator space.

This is all it takes for a delicious comfy dinner on a chilly evening!

And, leftovers make a great tasty sandwich!

Braised Cube Steak w/Mushroom and Onion Gravy


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 (5-ounces each) cube steaks
Salt and seasoned pepper
½ cup flour, plus 1 tablespoon
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (8-ounces) can sliced mushrooms, drained
2 cups beef broth or water


Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
Sprinkle both sides meat with salt and pepper
Place ½ cup flour on plate, coat each piece of meat.
Cook about 3-4 minutes, per side, place on platter and set aside.
Add onions, garlic and mushrooms to skillet, cook until onions are wilted, 3-4 minutes.
Stir to loosen up browned bits from bottom of pan.
Lower heat, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour, stirring constantly for about 4 minutes.
Gradually add broth or water, stirring continuously to avoid lumps.
Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and add steaks to pan.
Simmer, partially covered for 45 minutes.
Transfer to platter, taste pan sauce, adding seasoning, if needed, spoon onto meat.
Printable recipe


Cranberry-Ginger Sauce for Your Thanksgiving Table!

Cranberries add a little 
glitz and glimmer 
to your 
holiday meal!

Cranberry sauce is one of my favorite foods on the holiday table, and I’m not referring to the canned variety.  

I like my cranberry sauce homemade and fresh…

This is an uncomplicated, easy recipe.  All I had to do was curl the grapefruit, fill the saucepan with more ingredients and cook.  

Aromatic notes from the ginger spices the sauce up a notch.  You can use grated fresh ginger, but I had on hand a jar of minced ginger.  

A jar of minced ginger is a great handy convenience for cooking and baking that remains fresh in the jar, when refrigerated, for approximately 3 months. 

When using the jarred variety, add the same amount that is called for in the recipe.  It's a wonderful thing to have on hand when your recipe calls for fresh ginger!

In my way of thinking, no Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner would be complete without a serving or two of this tangy, sweet, delicious cranberry sauce!

It’s divine!

Cranberry-Ginger Sauce
Printable recipe


2 large ruby-red grapefruits
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons red onion, chopped
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ cup sugar
12 ounces fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon minced ginger


Peel about 10 curls of skin from grapefruit.
Juice both grapefruits into a bowl; reserve.
Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat and add onion, grapefruit peels, and salt.
Sauté until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add sugar, grapefruit juice, and cranberries, bring to a simmer.
Continue to simmer until the berries have completely softened, about 12 minutes.
Stir in ginger and let cool.
Serve at room temperature.


Here's hoping 
you all 
have a 

Apple and Pecan Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash plus a Supermoon Stargazer Alert!

The filling is the highlight here, as is the case in most stuffed dishes!

This scalloped smooth-textured tiny squash is about the size of a softball, and has cream-colored skin with green specks and stripes ~ resembling a mini-pumpkin with its top pushed in.

It’s a mild-tasting sweet squash with tender orange meat that is great for stuffing and baking.

This is easy to prepare:  a mixture of fresh apples, dried cherries, chopped pecans, butter and spices, to stuff the sweet squash and bake until the squash is tender.


There’s little better on the supper table on a cool fall night or…

At the Thanksgiving table!

Apple and Pecan Stuffed Sweet Dumpling Squash

Printable recipe


2 sweet dumpling squash
½ cup apples, diced small
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup dried cherries, diced
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, diced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350°.

Cut each squash in half and scoop out seeds.
In a medium bowl, add apples, cherries, brown sugar, melted butter, salt, pepper, and spices.
Fill the squash cavities with equal amounts of apple mixture.
Place squash on a baking sheet and lightly cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 40 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes, until squash is fork tender.


On another note...

Stargazer alert:  Gear up for tonight's extra-bright Supermoon!

The rare occurrence will make the full moon appear bigger and brighter in the sky, and this event will be the biggest supermoon in 68 years. Supermoons occur about once every 13 months, at the point when the moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit, and they can appear to be as much as 14% larger and 30% brighter than an average full moon, according to NASA.

At its closest point today, the moon will be about 221,524 miles from Earth — about 30,000 miles closer than is typical. The moon hasn’t been this close since 1948, and it won’t be this near again until Nov. 25, 2034.
And you don't even have to be a stargazer or need a telescope ~ just look up!

Supermoon over Chicago River by Dancin Artworks

Weather permitting, it's a sky-show the whole planet can observe and enjoy! 

Vertans Day Tribute to Bill, and all Veterans!

Happy Veterans Day!

Private, Ft. Knox, KY 1965

Sgt, Bamberg, Germany, 1967

Sgt. E5, Machine Gun Instructor, Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo 1968

With a special shout-out to Bill, my favorite veteran,
thanks to all veterans out there, who served in defense of our great country, for protecting our freedom!  

You are all heroes!

Happy Veterans Day!

You know,

nobody can ever

cook as good as

your Mama.

~ Paula Deen

You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
Read more at:
You know, nobody can ever cook as good as your mama. Paula Deen
Read more at:


Jules-Alexandre Grun

ᴡᴏᴏ ʜᴏᴏ!!!

ᴡᴏᴏ ʜᴏᴏ!!!



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