Warm Collard Green Dip

I served this dip on New Year’s Day to rave reviews.  You can easily substitute spinach, kale, turnip, or other greens for the collards.



  • 1 (16 oz) package frozen collard greens, thawed
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 4 oz sour cream
  • 1 jar/can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan, grated


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the thawed greens, cream cheese, sour cream, artichoke hearts, onion and garlic powders, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste in a microwaveable bowl.  Microwave in short increments, stirring frequently, until cream cheese is just melted. (You can also do this on the stove top over low heat.)

Transfer to a lightly greased 8″x 8″ dish (or other oven-safe dish) and top with the Parmesan cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 3o minutes or until browned and bubbly (you may need to bake at 450 for 10 minutes on the top rack of the oven at the very end). Serve with crackers.

Black-Eyed Pea Salsa

This is a great dish for New Year’s Day – or anytime!



  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
  • 2 cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • Vinaigrette, to taste (balsamic, mexican, whatever!)


Mix together all ingredients.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with tortilla or pita chips.

Spiced Cranberry Sangria

An ideal cocktail for a winter holiday celebration. It’s best to start the day before you plan to serve the sangría, by macerating fresh cranberries and diced Granny Smith apples in the simple syrup and spices. Next day, add the remaining ingredients, chill, and let the party begin.

Adapted from Chef Jose Garces recipe found here.



For the fruit:

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, large dice
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 ginger root, sliced
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup Cointreau
  • 1/2 cup port wine

For the sangría:

  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle fruity red wine
  • 1/2 cup port wine (a good-quality port blend, such as W. & J. Graham’s Six Grapes Reserve Port, is ideal)
  • 1/2 cup Cointreau
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice


To macerate the fruit:

  1. Make a ginger simple syrup by bringing 1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, and the sliced ginger root to a simmer.  Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then cool.
  2. Combine all of the remaining ingredients in a 3-quart container with a tight-fitting lid.
  3. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

To assemble the sangría:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to the chilled fruit mixture and stir to combine.
  2. Refrigerate until well chilled; serve as is or over ice.

Chilled Cider Punch



  • 1 part apple cider
  • 1 part ginger ale
  • 1 part bourbon
  • Several dashes bitters
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Orange slices
  • Fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme work well)


Combine equal parts cider, ginger ale, and bourbon in a punch bowl.  Add several dashes of bitters.  Garnish with cinnamon sticks, orange slices, and herbs.

Serve over ice or with an ice ring in the punch bowl.

Broccolini with Pecans and Cane Syrup Vinaigrette

The red and green hues made this a perfect addition to our holiday table this year!  Not to mention the broccolini and tart vinaigrette cut the richness of the other foods nicely.  Elegant enough for a holiday table, but easy enough for every day!

Recipe adapted from Southern Living Magazine found here.


  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3 bunches fresh Broccolini (about 1/2 lb.), trimmed
  • 1 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
For the Cane Syrup Vinaigrette:
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons pure cane syrup (may sub molasses or honey)
  • 1 tablespoon Creole mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

Bring salt and 8 qt. water to a boil in a large stockpot over high heat. Gently stir in Broccolini, and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Toss together Broccolini and 2 Tbsp. Cane Syrup Vinaigrette. Top with toasted chopped pecans and pomegranate seeds, and serve immediately with remaining vinaigrette

Jezebel Sauce

A wonderfully sweet and spicy sauce that goes wonderfully with ham & pork or as an appetizer served over cream cheese or baked with Brie.



  • 1 (18 oz) jar apple jelly
  • 1 (18 oz) jar pineapple-apricot preserves
  • 1/4 dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons pepper
  • 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish


Stir together all ingredients and chill until ready to serve.  May be served hot with ham or pork, chilled over cream cheese with crackers, or baked with Brie.


Fruit Cake Cookies

This Christmas classic is a must around the holidays (as is a strong stand mixer to get it to all come together!).  Fruit cake may not be for everyone, but I dare you to dislike these festive little gems!

This is my grandmother’s/mom’s original recipe, and it makes a LOT of cookies.  The do freeze beautifully and make great gifts, but feel free to half the recipe if you wish.



  • 2 lbs fruit cake fruit mix
  • 6 cups pecans, chopped
  • 2 boxes dates, chopped
  • 1/2 lb white raisins
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp milk
  • 1/2 cup whiskey or brandy
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened


Preheat oven to 300°.

Beat/whisk the egg whites on high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form (you may add 1/8 tsp of lemon juice or cream of tartar to aid in whipping).  Set aside.

Sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Set aside.

Dissolve the baking soda in the milk.  Set aside.

Combine all of the fruits and nuts in a large bowl.  Toss with a little of the flour mixture so that all of the fruit is coated. Set aside.

Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add the milk mixture slowly and mix until incorporated.

Add the flour mixture and whiskey alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Gently fold in the egg whites. Gently stir the fruit and nuts into the batter.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 1 inch apart onto lightly greased baking sheets. Bake about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on wire racks (about 20 minutes).

Store in an airtight container.  Keep well in the fridge, and freeze beautifully.

Yield: 14 dozen cookies

fruitcake cookie recipe


Truffled Mac and Cheese

Oh. My. Goodness.  Sooooo decadent and delicious!  I made the special dish on Christmas Eve this year and got rave reviews.

*Note:  I had truffle oil rather than truffle butter, so I just made the roux with regular butter and added truffle oil in later – worked just fine!



  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced 1/2-inch
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced 1/2-inch
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • Salt
  • 1 pound pasta (such as cavatappi)
  • 2 ounces white truffle butter (regular butter may be used, supplemented with truffle oil)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart whole milk, warmed
  • 12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces Fontina cheese, grated (2 1/2 to 3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup panko
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan, add the mushrooms, and cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until they are tender. Add the wine and continue to saute for a few more minutes, until the wine is absorbed. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and a healthy pinch of salt. Add the pasta and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until al dente. Drain well.

Meanwhile, melt the truffle butter in a large (4-quart) saucepan and whisk in the flour. Cook for 2 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. Heat the milk in the microwave.  Slowly whisk the hot milk into the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the white sauce is thickened and creamy. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Fontina, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, the pepper, and nutmeg.

Combine the pasta, sauce, and mushrooms in a large bowl and pour them into a 10 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish.

Place the garlic powder, parsley, panko, and softened butter into a large bowl.  Mush it all around (gently!) with (clean!) hands until the butter is distributed.  Sprinkle over the pasta and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Serve hot.

Italian Breakfast Strata

Around the holidays, I always find myself in need of a good breakfast casserole recipe.  My father-in-law has been making this one for a while, and it’s always a hit!



  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3/4 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • each green and red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 loaf Italian bread (14 oz) cut or torn into 1 inch cubes
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella


Bring 1 cup of water to a boil.  Place sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl, and cover with the boiling water.  Let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, crumble sausage into a large skillet.  Cook over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes.  Add the chopped peppers and onion and continue to cook for another 4 minutes or so.  Remove from heat.  Drain sun-dried tomatoes and chop.  Stir into the sausage and pepper mixture.

Place bread cubes in a very large bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and basil.  Stir sausage mixture into the bread along with 1 cup of the cheese.  Stir egg mixture into the bread mixture a stir to moisten all of the bread.  Coat a 9×13″ baking dish with non-stick spray.  Pour in the bread and egg mixture and spread evenly.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

Heat oven to 350 deg. F.  Uncover strata and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Uncover, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Cool slightly before serving.


It’s the end of summer, and I know you have a bunch of herbs in your garden that are about to bolt.  Or, it’s the end of summer and you need one last great summer dish!  Whatever your reasons, I highly recommend whipping up a big bowl of tabbouleh.  This traditional Lebanese dish is healthy, refreshing, and the perfect take-along to any BBQ or potluck.



  • 1 cup bulghur wheat (or couscous, or quinoa…)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 2 lemons (do NOT use bottled)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup mint, chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded and cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 cups tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces
  • Salt & Pepper


Prepare the grain you’re using according to package instructions.  Use a little less water than they recommend – you want it to be slightly dry.

In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and some salt and pepper.  Add the warm grain and stir to combine.

Add the remaining ingredients and adjust seasonings as needed.

Cover and allow to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours (ideally).  Serve cool or at room temp.

Serves at least 8.

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Tabbouleh recipe found here.