Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Shaved Radish Toasts

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Earlier in the week I reviewed the Southern Living 2021 Christmas book. This recipe is from that book. It is a super simple crostini that is perfect for the holiday season. The creamy cheese is a perfect complement to the crunchy, peppery radish slices. The beauty of this appetizer is that it can be fully prepped ahead of time, assembled just prior to serving, and is the perfect pre-dinner snack because it is both light and satisfying at the same time.

Shaved Radish Toasts

24 (1/2 ” thick) diagonally cut baguette slices
¼ c. unsalted butter, melted

Buttermilk-Herb Cream Cheese (recipe follows)
Thinly sliced radishes*

Sea salt flakes
Black pepper
Freshly chopped chives

Preheat oven to 375° F. Arrange baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake until slices are just beginning to brown at the edges, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool to room temperature.

Spread 1½ t. Buttermilk-Herb Cream Cheese on each crostini.

Top with radishes, sea salt flakes, black pepper, and chopped chives.

*I used a
mandoline for this.

Buttermilk-Herb Cream Cheese

8 oz. chive and onion cream cheese, softened
6 T. whole buttermilk
2 t. lemon zest (from one lemon)
½ t. kosher salt
½ t. black pepper

Process cream cheese, buttermilk, lemon zest, salt, and black pepper in a food processor until smooth.


Disclaimer: I received a complementary copy of Southern Living 2021 Christmas book from Abrams books as a member of their 20 21–22 Abrams dinner party.


Monday, October 18, 2021

Oven-Baked BBQ Pork Steaks

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I like barbecue, in fact, I love it. I also like anything grilled -- fruit, vegetables, even potatoes (parboiled first, of course). But while I like the idea of grilling, I don’t actually like doing it. As a consequence, I miss out on lots of delicious food. (Not that I don’t get, plenty, trust me.) That’s not to say that I haven’t done it, because two of my favorites are barbecued chicken thighs, as well as one of the best hamburgers that I’ve ever eaten. Largely, it just seems like so much trouble to me.

My grill is placed, diagonally, in one of the corners of my deck. It is surrounded -- and I am talking three pots deep -- by herbs, plants, and flowers. The thought of not only moving those out of the way, but trying to find someplace to go with them in the process, means that the only good time for me to grill would be mid-winter, and who wants to do that? That is why this recipe for oven barbecued pork steaks has become one of my instant faves! It is super simple to put together, requires little to no effort, and just lazes away slowly cooking in your oven, while you get on with things, enjoying the smoky aroma. My suspicion is that this would also work on ribs and thick pork chops. I may try an experimental burger over the weekend. If you like barbecue as much as I do, you will love this.

Oven-Baked BBQ Pork Steaks

 4 (1” thick) pork steaks


1 T. Montreal Steak Seasoning

T. Montreal Pub Burger Seasoning

1 T. Jerk Seasoning

 1 T. onion powder

1 T. garlic powder

1 T. sweet paprika

1 t. espresso powder

¼ c. dark brown sugar

1 c. BBQ Sauce (I use Traeger)

 Preheat oven to 350°F.

Pat pork steaks dry with a paper towel; set aside.

 Mix the dry rub ingredients together in a small bowl.

 Place a long sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil into the bottom of a straight-sided 9” x 13” pan (I like this one.), allowing 6” overhang on either side.

 Place pork steaks on top of the foil, and generously slather 1 T. of the dry rub on both sides of the pork, rubbing it into the meat. Wrap pork steaks completely with the foil.

Bake at 350°F for 1½ hours. Reduce heat to 275°F and bake for 1½ additional hours.

 Remove from oven, open foil, and slather on the barbecue sauce. Return to oven and continue to bake for ½ hour longer.


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Christmas with Southern Living: Inspired Ideas for Holiday Cooking and Decorating, Reviewed

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Lifestyle magazine Southern Living came into existence in 1966; when you are still in circulation after 50 years, you know that you’re doing something right. In addition to their wildly successful periodical, they have also published a series of lifestyle books including a Christmas annual. This year’s Christmas with Southern Living: Inspired Ideas for Holiday Cooking and Decorating is a real winner!

There is much to like about this book — the wonderful decorating styles, the beautifully photographed, mouthwatering recipes, the overall feeling of Christmas joy as well as one of my favorite parts, the included holiday planner.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have trouble getting it together over the holidays. If I’m honest, sometimes I have trouble getting it together, period. This book will help you if you’re anything like me because not only does it provide you with a calendar, it even tells you what to do! I love that! There’s also plenty of room for note taking, a special planning section strictly for decorating, a party planner, guest list, party to do list, Christmas dinner planner, gift and card log, and a guided section to help you highlight the successes of this year.
  If you are familiar with SL’s Christmas books, you’re going to want to get your hands on this one; if you’re unfamiliar, ditto. You will begin a long and happy tradition and eagerly await new ones year after year.

Now to the recipes! The recipes in this book are all doable no matter the level of culinary experience. Some take a little more time than others, but I have read through each and every one of them, and even a novice in the kitchen will be able to serve a fabulous dinner over the holidays. Each recipe is written in a clear and concise fashion. In many cases recipes have tips to help you through the process, swapping suggestions in case you don’t have all of the called-for ingredients; the photographs will help you plate your excellent meal in fine fashion.

Whether you are interested in preparing a classic Christmas dinner, or something more modern, all of your answers are in this book. I cannot recommend it enough.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Abrams Books as a member of their Abrams Dinner Party 2021-2022.


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Come to dinner, Pumpkin!

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I got such beautiful flowers for my birthday that I decided to build a table setting around them. One reminiscent of colorful leaves, cool fall days, of wood smoke, and strong tea.

I chose to match all of the colors of the flowers in the dinnerware, glassware, and the purple votive candle holders. It’s bold, but I love it!


Here you’ll find a gathering of new items, of gifts, of inheritances, and memories galore.

Water hyacinth placemats make up the base. They are topped with Bordallo Pinheiro geranium leaf chargers. A lot of green is visible in fall, and I wanted to reflect that in my table.

The wavy edge plates are favorites of mine. I love the color and sunflower pattern. They are called, suitably, “Sunset Sunflower,” and they are from Maxcera.

 The lidded pumpkin bowls are from Pier 1, and were gifts for a milestone birthday. The pumpkin mugs I have had for years. They are from Starbucks from some time back in the 90s.

The amber stemware is from POSH in Chicago; the green water glasses I inherited from my mother. The small green salad bowls (that I had intended to fill with maple leaf cookies, but forgot) are also Bordallo Pinheiro.

Napkin rings are from Pier One, the napkins are from my mother. The yellow flatware is the “Radiant” pattern from Noritake. It was my mother’s, then mine, then hers, and then mine. We tended to pass things back-and-forth a lot as it suited us.

The purple votives I bought last year, on a whim, from Wal-Mart. I thought that they would look mysterious on a Halloween or fortune telling table.

  Also from Wal-Mart is the darling pumpkin-shaped cheese board with matching spreader.

 This post is linked to:

Tablescape Thursday

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

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I awakened to the sound of raindrops hammering the skylights. Flashes of lightning lit up the room, followed moments later by thunder that rattled the windows. It was a perfect morning. Fall is here! There was a cool nip in the air (I have yet to turn on my furnace), so I pulled the quilt up to my chin. I waited for the timer to turn on the coffee, and lie in bed listening to the first steam signaling it was ready. While I was enjoying my 1st cup, I assembled ingredients, and in 15 minutes had a big pot of potato soup in the crockpot. 4 1/2 hours later I tasted my first bite. This soup, like most of them, he’s better the second day, but it was dark for the first. It is super simple to put together. If you don’t feel like chopping vegetables, toss in some celery seed, and a tablespoon of instant minced onions. When it comes to potato soup, it’s all about the garnishes, so go heavy on those. A cup with half a sandwich makes a wonderful lunch, a big bowl, garnishes piled high, makes a hearty, seasonal dinner.

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

1 32-oz. pkg. cubed frozen hash browns*
1 rib celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
Melissa's shallots, sliced
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 packets (6 T.)
Ranch Dressing mix
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 T. dried parsley
32-oz. chicken or vegetable stock
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, cubed
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Spray the inside of a
6-quart slow cooker with Pam. Put potatoes on the bottom, and scatter celery, carrots, and shallots over the top. In a small bowl, whisk together the soup, dressing mix, pepper, garlic powder, salt, and parsley. Pour over potatoes. Pour stock over potatoes. Place cream cheese on top, sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of that, and top everything with bacon. Put the lid on your slow cooker, and cook on low for four hours.

*Because I like peppers, I used a combination of potatoes O’Brien and shredded hash browns. I liked the taste, and I liked the different textures.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Peace, Love, and Pasta, Reviewed

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For the third year in a row I am representing Abrams Books as a part of their Abrams Dinner Party. The first batch of books has arrived, and they all appear to be winners. One of the beauties of reviewing books is that I get to try a lot of new recipes and share them with you. Last week, I shared the recipe for Pasta e Fagioli, a restaurant quality soup that can double as a meal. Today I’m going to tell you a little bit more about the book.

Peace, Love, and Pasta: Simple and Elegant Recipes from a Chef’s Home Kitchen by Scott Conant, may initially appear not, as the subtitle would suggest, simple. In quite a few cases, there are lengthy cooking processes, hard to find, perhaps unfamiliar ingredients, and techniques that may be foreign to the average home cook. That said, anyone who has a working knowledge of cooking, or the desire to turn everyday food into something restaurant quality, this book is for you.

 The recipes are plentiful and varied; the photos are positively mouthwatering. The desserts will make your eyes roll back in your head. The introductions to many of the recipes are both helpful and informative. You’ll feel as though you are sitting down with an old friend with whom you often exchanged culinary tips and ideas.

In addition to a cookbook, you will also get an education in Italian cooking, taught by the chef and owner of Italian-American dining destination, the Americano in Scottsdale, Arizona, Mora Italian in Phoenix, Arizona, and Cellaio, an Italian steakhouse in the Catskills. This book focuses on the dishes of Conan’s childhood, the ones that he makes for his loved ones today. These recipes combine sophistication and comfort to bring the absolute best to your table.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Peace, Love, and Pasta from Abrams Books as a member of their Abrams Dinner Party 2021-2022.

Friday, October 8, 2021

ABM Cheese Bread

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Yesterday I posted a recipe for tasty Italian soup. Today I am going to give you a recipe for something delicious to go with that soup, cheese bread. This bread is fabulous, and incredibly easy to make, thanks to the automatic bread machine. It’s delicious when warm, wonderful at room temperature, and absolutely superb when toasted to enjoy at breakfast the next day. It also makes a mean BLT.

ABM Cheese Bread
Adapted from Red Star Yeast

1/2 c. buttermilk, warmed to 110° F
1/3 c. water, warmed up to about 110° F
5 T. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 large egg, room temperature
3 c. bread flour
1 t. salt
¾ t. garlic powder
2 T. granulated sugar
1 packet (2¼ t.) yeast

2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

2 T. unsalted butter, melted
2 T. chopped fresh parsley (or your favorite herb)
¼ t. garlic powder
10 cheese cubes, your choice of cheese

Place bread ingredients, in the order listed, into the bowl of the bread machine. Put the machine on the “dough” setting and press “start.” When the cycle has run its course, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Punch down. Roll the dough into a 9“ x 15“ rectangle. Sprinkle cheese all over the top, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Tightly (and I am talking TIGHTLY) roll the dough into a 15-inch log. Place the log seam side down on the work surface. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log in half lengthwise. Crisscross 1/2, cut side down on top of the other half, forming an “X.“ Tightly twist the two together. Pinch the outer edges to seal. Place in a greased loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with Pam. Allow the covered loaf to rest for 30 minutes. It will rise slightly.

Place the oven rack in the bottom third of your oven and preheat to 350° F. Whisk the melted butter, herbs, and garlic powder together, and drizzle over the top of the dough. Shove cheese cubes into various splits on the surface of the loaf. Bake until golden brown, about 45 to 55 minutes. If it begins browning too quickly, tent with aluminum foil. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely before slicing and serving.