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Brandy Balls: A Sweet Treat With a Little Kick

Almost every Christmas, my mom would make a large assortment of hand dipped chocolates and candies that we would give out to family and friends. There are only two things I can think of that I selfishly haven't shared recipes for, my mom's collection of confections and my dad's spaghetti sauce (both with the idea that one day I may make them into a family business). I'm still hanging on tight to my dad's sauce, but after several requests this year for the chocolate and candy recipes, I decided it was time to share the confectionary love. Starting with posts for the easiest recipes and then moving on to ones that are a little more complex.  My mom catered her own wedding (no surprise) with the help of her mentor and dear friend, Polly Webster. These brandy balls were served at the reception, and mom reports that my Grampy Vaughn was a huge fan of them. They are wicked easy to make and so good that there were only three brandy balls left when I realized I hadn't t
Recent posts

Chef John's Perfect Prime Rib Recipe

  My mouth starts to water just thinking about perfectly prepared prime rib dripped in au jus sauce. As a kid, my favorite place to go with my parents was Lawry's Prime Rib in downtown Chicago. Don't forget all those scrumptious Lawry's a la carte sides. For my dad's 72nd birthday last October, I recreated Lawry's family style menu with a dry aged Prime Ribeye Roast from Wegmans , twice baked potatoes stuffed with bacon, creamed spinach, and of course, Yorkshire pudding. I plan to make prime rib for New Year's Eve and wanted to share a fool-proof perfect prime rib recipe. Scroll down for the directions. The Sides I had intended to make Yorkshire pudding from scratch, but my dad had a box of Original Yorkshire Pudding Mix on hand and I decided to risk it and take the easy way out. Wow, mind blown. They came out fantastic and are totally legit since they were made in our authentic Jordan Pond House (Bar Harbor, Maine) popover pan. Forget from scratch, I'm st

Cottage Pie with tips from Chef Gordon Ramsay

Damn this dish is delicious! I was planning to serve the leftovers tonight but there aren't any, the fam devoured it. Next time I will double the batch!  I used Chef Gordon Ramsay's recipe for shepherd's pie, simply switching out ground lamb for ground beef. I would love to hear from my friends across the pond, and if they have a family favorite recipes or tips, but for me this was the best cottage pie I have ever had. Scroll down to the bottom for the recipe. Ramsey offered several tips to make the perfect cottage pie. First grating the carrot and onion versus chopping them. Seasoning the mash with fresh rosemary and thyme. He highlights in the video "It's all about the mince." Pouring in several "glugs" of red wine and adding splashes of Worcestershire sauce created a steamy sauce that filled the house with a "get in my belly" aroma.  The next tip was life changing. Use a potato press for the mashed potato topping. I had never used one be

Leveling Up our Maryland Pride

For over four years, after removing a large crop of weeds, we had this big round patch of dirt on our front yard.  However, rather than just grass it over, we lived with the eyesore because I had big plans for that circle.  This whole time I have been telling our neighbors, many of which are Terp faculty, staff, alumni, or family, that I planned to replicate the Maryland "M" on our front yard. Well, 2020 was the year we finally got it done, and just in time for Maryland's Homecoming.  And the best part is it lights up at night! First Scott (aka Dr. Evil at UMD) created a template that laid out exactly how many bricks I would need to create the M in the front circle.  I got the bricks with three holes in them so that there could be lights in each hole and the whole M would gently glow.  Luckily, our friend and neighbor Reggie, who is an architect, brought up the concern of pooling water when we told him about our idea of using lights, so we changed our initial design to in

Throw a Can of Libby's 100% Pumpkin in Your Favorite Chili Recipe

Next time you are making your favorite chili, throw a can of 100% pumpkin puree into the mix. Why? Pumpkin is a superfood jam packed with with antioxidants, disease-fighting vitamins, and fiber ( Greatist , 2013). I love letting my chili simmer for a long time, so instead of having to tend to it all day over the stove, I throw it together in my crockpot in the evening and let it cook on low overnight. The tomatoes develop a richer flavor the longer they simmer and when done, you have the convenience of leaving the chili in the crock and setting it to warm until you are ready to serve. If you are looking for a crowd-pleasing chili recipe, my current go to is  World's Best Chili Recipe (AKA Bill's Chili)  from  Cupcake and Kale Chips.  Here is a slightly adapted recipe for the crockpot with my addition of a 15oz can of Libby's Pumpkin. Ingredients: 2 lbs lean ground beef 1 lb stew beef, cut into about one inch chunks 1/4 lb bacon, diced in small pieces 1 small red bell pepper

Creamy Cajun Chicken Alfredo

So this sweater weather has me craving comfort food, especially Cajun Chicken Alfredo.  This quick and easy recipe adapted from Tasty did not disappoint! We are on round two tonight!  Ingredients: 4 cups penne pasta, cooked 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil 1 Cup Cooked Andouille Sausage, sliced 2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning 2 cups heavy cream 1 cup parmesan cheese 1/4 cup fresh parsley Directions: Cook penne pasta as directed on box. Heat oil in a large pot (I prefer a wok) over high heat. Cook the sausage, chicken, and garlic until the garlic turns golden and the chicken is no longer pink. Sprinkle the Cajun Seasoning and stir to evenly coat the sausage and chicken. Add the cream and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, stirring until evenly mixed. Add the parmesan, stirring until cheese melts and the pasta is coated with a thick sauce. Turn off the burner, add the parsley, and gently mix. Serve and enjoy! Makes approximately 4 servings. GNG Tip: If you prefer makin

FoodSaver: A GNG Must-Have

In early June, in preparation for possible extended quarantine and food shortages, we decided to get an extra freezer. Unfortunately, the freezer was too big to fit in our storage room, so it's home for now is in our dining room. Sometimes you just got to roll with it, and really, who cares? It's not like we are having company over right now, and our priority it function over Feng Shui.  Luckily, on our summer commute route to our borrowed beach house in Calvert County, there is specialty grocery store, Nick's of Calvert . Nick's has a phenomenal high quality butcher counter, and the best part is that you can buy in bulk and save a bundle! Over the summer we made multiple trips to Nicks to slowly stock our freezer.  The last thing I wanted to do is invest in filling our freezer and a few months later pull things out to find freezer burn. It was time to dust off my FoodSaver. My partner is crime in the meat packing process was my mom. Early in the morning, we would throw