My friend Kathy taught me this one. So easy it's almost embarrassing to tell how they are made. They are delicious and don't last long so make a lot!

  • 1 package of Pillsbury Refrigerator Sugar Cookie dough, any size (but go for the large!)
  • Shelled pistachios (about 3/4 C. )
    (chop them coasrsely if you like)
  • Dried cranberries (about 3/4 C. )
  • Melting chocolate - I buy Wilton dark cacao flavored pieces. They are sold with candy-making things at Michael's. Adding the chocolate is optional, but not hard to do and so, so good.

Set oven to the temperature recommended on cookie package.

On a floured surface (with a little extra flour nearby) roll out the tube of cookie dough to make it flat but not too thin. Sprinkle the whole surface evenly with pistachios and cranberries. No rules, just use what seems to be enough to you.

Now I combine all the dough again and roll into a ball (two, if using the large package of dough). This combines the dough and other ingredients.

Now roll each ball into a long log with you hands till it's about 1" thick. It might be quite long so divide to work with it more easily. This allows you to quickly slice the whole thing into even pieces about 1" long. I then roll each piece into a ball and place on a cookie sheet. Space them a few inches apart. Bake according to time set on package (ususally 10 to 12 minutes). Take out when just golden and cool on a rack.

TO COAT WITH CHOCOLATE:

Melt chocolate in double boiler over hot water. Working from the cooling racks, take each cooled cookie, hold over the chocolate and with a spoon, spread the chocolate over one half to coat. Don't bother coating both sides. Place back on rack to harden.

Cookies can be stored for weeks in an airtight container and they ship well!!

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October Recipe
Mexican Cowboy Coffee

I found this recipe at the beginning of a little cookbook that I bought in a second hand shop in Brooklyn. I made the coffee and sat down and read the cookbook as the author recommended. Very satisfying.


In a saucepan combine 6 cups of water, ¼ cup of dark brown sugar, a 3" cinnamon stick and 2 whole cloves. While stirring continuously, boil these ingredients until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Lower the temperature so that the mixture is simmering before adding ½ cup ground coffee. Simmer for 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes so the grounds can settle. Strain into a mug...add cream, it tastes good.

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September Recipe
Roast Chicken with Cream and Black Pepper Sauce

A good roasted chicken - enhanced with a delicious taste.

  • 1 Chicken
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove - minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. crushed peppercorns

Preheat oven to 350°.

Roast chicken in pan with wine, onion, and garlic. Strain liquid and reduce to 1/2 cup over high heat.

Stir in boiling cream and peppercorns. Cook 5 minutes. Serve sauce over carved chicken.

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August Recipe
Pizzas for Hors d'oeuvre

Here are some more suggestions for creating sweet/savory pizzas for snacks. Be sure to check the Caramelized Onion version from March of 2007.

I always start with a Boboli crust. If making a variety of pizzas I use the small ones which cut well and are easily handled.

Fig Pizzas:

Spread fig preserves first, sprinkle with crumbled goat or feta cheese and top with a scattering of pignoli nuts.

Spread ricotta cheese; then add a layer of sliced, fresh figs; top with a drizzle of honey.

Variations:

Try using your favorite conserve or chutney. The savory layer can be crisp pancetta bits, bacon bits or little swirls of prosciutto which will crisp in the hot oven.

Experiment with cheeses you like: Fontina melts well!

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July Recipe
Pasta Puttanesca

This dish is a favorite and one of the best recipes I have tasted. It doesn't require a long simmer time so it's perfect for a quick and hearty dinner. Thanks to The Silver Palate Cookbook.

  • 1 lb. spaghetti or linguini
  • 2 cans (2 lbs.3 oz. each) peeled Italian plum tomatoes*
  • ¼ cup best olive oil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup black oil cured or Nicoise olives (no pits)
  • ¼ cup drained capers
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 8 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped (relax, its for the salt content...you'll never know they're in there!)
  • ½ cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley and more for garnish
  • Salt for the pasta pot

Begin to bring 4 qts. of water to the boil, add salt . Prepare sauce: Drain tomatoes, cut crosswise into halves *(or use diced!); squeeze out extra liquid. Have all the other ingredients laid out.

Combine tomatoes and olive oil in large skillet. Bring to a boil Add the remaining ingredients one at a time in the order shown above. Stir frequently.

Reduce heat and let simmer for between 20 and 40 minutes till it has thickened to your liking.

Cook pasta until tender but still firm. Drain and immediately place portions on individual dishes. Top with hot sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Pass the fresh grated parmesan or other hard Italian cheese.

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June Recipe
Fresh Grilled Pineapple Salsa

This is a great accompaniment for grilled salmon or chicken.

There are only ingredients, no real quantities. Just cut things up and add to taste!

First, grill some sliced fresh pineapple to get some nice grill marks.

Then add:

  • Diced:
  • Jicama
  • Serrano chili pepper (not too much)
  • Red onion
  • Squeeze of lemon or lime juice (at least 3 Tbsp.)
  • Some chopped garlic
  • Cilantro
  • A bit of honey

Taste and adjust as you like. It's beautiful, too.

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May Recipe
Fast Shrimp Tapas

Idea: If you are only doing this for 4 or less, try using metal dishes and prepare the whole process individually. Great presentation!

  • Shrimp - 5 to 6 for each person

    Cleaned, shelled and deveined

  • Olive oil
  • Minced garlic
  • Hot pepper flakes
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

In a large skillet, heat the oil, garlic and pepper flakes till the garlic starts to give off its aroma. Add shrimp all at once and stir constantly until they are cooked through. Immediately divide into small individual dishes, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

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April Recipe
Southern Pimiento Cream Cheese Spread

This fresh and tangy spread will win you over. My High School chum, Ellen G., served it to me on a recent visit to her Falls Church home. She added her own twist to a basic southern take on pimiento cream cheese and it's delicious.

3 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup packed, coarsely grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup packed, coarsely grated extra sharp jack cheese
½ cup mayo
1/8 t. garlic powder
5-6 T. pickled minced pimiento-divided
1 t. grated onion
¼ t. crushed red pepper
Tabasco - a few shakes
¼ t. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Make sure the cream cheese is softened and the other cheeses have come to room temperature after grating.

Combine all ingredients except 1 t. pimiento, salt and pepper in a food processor.

Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning and add remaining pimiento by folding in so that pieces are visible.

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March Recipe:
Swiss Chard Tart

The flavors of this tart are remarkably balanced - it's a bit savory and a bit sweet. It can be served for dessert or, paired with a simple salad, it makes for a supremely satisfying light dinner.

From Gourmet Magazine.

½ cup golden raisins
1 cup water
2 lb green Swiss chard, stems and center ribs discarded
1 large egg
½ cup heavy cream
1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
1/3 cup pine nuts (1 ½ oz), toasted
Pastry dough for a double-crust pie
2 teaspoons confectioners sugar

Special equipment:
an 11- by 8- by 1-inch rectangular tart pan
with a removable bottom
Bring raisins and water to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, 1 hour. Drain in a colander, then pat dry with paper towels.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Blanch chard in a large pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Drain chard with plunge into a large bowl of ice cold water to stop cooking. Drain chard in a colander, then squeeze out excess water by handfuls. Coarsely chop chard.

Whisk together egg, cream, granulated sugar, zest, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Stir in pine nuts, raisins, and chard until combined.

Roll out larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 15- by 11-inch rectangle and fit into tart pan (do not trim edges). Chill shell while rolling out top.

Roll out smallest piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin into a 12- by 9-inch rectangle. Spread chard filling evenly into shell, then top with second rectangle of dough. Using a rolling pin, roll over edges of pan to seal tart and trim edges, discarding scraps. Cut 3 steam vents in top crust with a paring knife, then put tart in pan on a baking sheet. Bake until top is golden, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and cool 10 minutes, then remove side of pan. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Dust with confectioners sugar.

Cooks' note: The tart filling can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Stir before using. Makes 8 side dish or 4 light main course servings.

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February Recipe:
Pear Ricotta Tart

So easy, especially if you buy the pie crust!

1 pie crust

Home made or Pillsbury refrigerator pie crust is good

½ cup of currant or apricot preserves
1 ½ C fresh ricotta cheese

It's worth getting the freshly made Italian product

2 to 3 ripe pears; peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400°

Heat the preserves gently to make spreadable.
Roll out the crust to fit a shallow tart pan, prick the crust all over with a fork.
Put down a round of wax paper and pour in baking pellets or dry beans.
Bake for about 12 minutes until crust begins to turn golden.
Remove from oven and let cool down, remove the pellets or beans.

Spread the ricotta cheese evenly oven the bottom of the cooled crust.
Layer the pear slices in a symmetrical pattern to cover all the cheese.
Brush the warmed preserves over the fruit to cover completely...don't over do it.
Bake again for about 8 to 10 minutes. Watch the crust color!

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January Recipe:

Mulled Red Wine

An internet search on a cold New Year's Eve resulted in this winner. We actually had everything we needed! Amazing!

8 whole cloves
4 whole peppercorns
4 (3 x ½”) strips of fresh lemon zest
4 (4 x ½”) strips of fresh orange zest
4 cups of dry red wine

(we used Big House Red)

½ cup kirsch or other cherry flavored brandy
1 ½ cup sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 (3”) cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise

(we used about 1 teasp. extract instead)

Cheesecloth & string or herb bag

Put cloves, peppercorns and zest strip into herb bag or wrap in enough cheesecloth to make a compact package. Tie cheesecloth securely with string, trim excess.

Combine wine, kirsch, water, sugar cinnamon stick, vanilla bean or extract and cheesecloth bag in a 4 qt. saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve sugar and drench the cheesecloth.

Simmer for 10 minutes. Serve warm in lovely glass mugs.

By simmering uncovered, much of the alcohol burns off. To keep more of a kick, cover and simmer on very low heat.

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copyright ©2013 American Art Studio, Inc. All rights reserved.