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Tag Archives | Best of 2011

Country Sausage

Fresh homemade country sausage with fennel.

Reduce the calories, increase the flavor and freshness

If you like the savory sausage essence as an accompaniment or ingredient in breakfast and brunch dishes but take a detour because of the calories, here’s the solution.  This sausage has a freshness you can’t get in packaged sausage and it is much lower in fat.  Maybe you love sausage in calzones or on pizza but are mildly repulsed by the pool of grease all over the top of the pie.
Country-Sausage-PattiesDon’t worry about too much accuracy; just measure the herbs and seasonings in the palm of your hand.  There is no chopping, slicing or dicing.  ‘Quick as a wink’ you can mix this up, form into patties and get it browning or ‘dot’ on the top of a sausage and fresh mushroom pizza pie.  My fave.

Recipe: Country Sausage

Prep Time: 3 Minutes | Cook Time: 8 Minutes | Yield: 8 Patties | Level: Easy


  • 1 1/2 tsp sage, rubbed or ground
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried minced onion
  • 1 tsp coarse garlic powder
  • 1/2  tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil

1 In a small bowl combine the sage, fennel, minced onion, garlic powder, crushed red pepper and salt.  Mix well.

2 In a medium bowl place the pork.  ‘Rain’ seasonings over the meat and mix well.

3 Shape into 8 patties.

4 Heat large skillet with oil.  Place the patties in the pan and cook 3-4 minutes on each side depending on thickness.

Omit crushed red pepper to emphasize the flavor of the herbs and spices.

Dish DesignerCountry-Sausage-Patties

  • Exchange ground pork for ground turkey or chicken.
  • Add more crushed red pepper for more heat.

Inspiration – Saucy Cuisine Kitchen
Cook with Sauces
Written by
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: May 17, 2012

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Corn Muffins

Moist corn muffin with corn texture baked right in.

Secret to moist corn muffins

Twice in my life I have had the opportunity to live in the Atlanta area.  I love it there, the warm and inviting hospitality, the incredible profusion of blossoms in the spring and fiery fall foliage.  One of my favorites is the southern cuisine.  One ingredient they know how to use is corn; corn bread, polenta, grits, spoon bread, and more.  My daughter-in-law Sarah is a southern belle and swears that white corn meal is the color of choice for corn dishes but these muffins are a creamy yellow.
And BTW, don’t ya just hate corn muffins that become crumbly and dry when they cool.  Worry no more because these stay moist.  Even a couple of days later they retain freshness when stored in a plastic zip bag.  Easy to make, they use ingredients you have in your fridge and pantry.  They don’t take long so you can whip them up and then make a salad while they bake for a quick, simple supper. The prep for this recipe is simple but not intuitive, at least not put together like most muffins, but makes the difference for moist texture and great taste.  These are very corny muffins and this is where corny is desirable.

Recipe: Corn Muffins

Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 15 Minutes | Yield: 12 muffins | Level: Easy


  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal, divided
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), cut in small chunks
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs

Special Equipment – Muffin Pan

1 Place a muffin pan into the oven and set to preheat at 450 degrees.

2 In a small bowl combine the flour, 1 cup cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

3 In a large sauce pan, dump creamed corn and heat until it comes to full boil.  Add 3/4 cup cornmeal and stir together to form a very thick mush.

4 Turn off the heat, add the butter and stir to combine allowing the residual heat to melt it.

5 Stir in buttermilk, then eggs.

6 Pour in the dry ingredients into the mush mixture and stir just to combine.  Don’t over mix.
7 Remove muffin tin from the oven and lightly spray with cooking spray.  Divide batter evenly among cups filling to the top of each cup.

8 Bake for 15 minutes.  Take muffins out of tin and cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes.

9 Serve warm with honey butter, maple butter or jam, jelly or marmalade.

Buttermilk – Substitute 3 tablespoons of vinegar and enough milk to make 1 cup and let stand for 5 minutes.

Some cans of creamed corn are thicker than others. If the batter is isn’t thin enough, add a little milk. It shouldn’t be biscuit like creating peaks when you drop it from a spoon.

Batter – Fill the whole muffin cup up with batter. When baked they puff up and create a beautiful crown.

Dish Designer

  • Add 1 cup shredded cheese to batter.
  • For a little heat, add 1 minced jalapeno to the batter.
  • Turn into cornbread by baking a 9X13 baking dish for 20 minutes or until golden.

InspirationPam Anderson’s Perfect Recipes for Having People Over
Cook with Sauces
Written by
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: May 11, 2012

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Guacamole with a bleu cheese twist

Guacamole elevated

It rocks!!!  Here’s a new version of guacamole for bleu cheese lovers.  And since bleu is an acquired taste, this may be a good choice for someone who loves guacamole.  Ease them into bleu (start with half the cheese) with this delicious sauce.  But for those of us who love bleu and avocados, this is a marriage made in heaven. It makes a thick, chunky but creamy chip dunking delight.  The flavors marry even more over night.  If made the day before or if by slim chance there is dip leftover, cover with plastic wrap pressed directly on the Rockamole to prevent color change.

Recipe: Rockamole

Prep Time: 7 Minutes | Cook Time: 0 Minutes | Yield: 6 servings | Level: Easy


  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 oz Roquefort or bleu cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 medium scallion, diced
  • 1/2 cup pickled jalapenos, chopped
  • dash salt
  • bag of sturdy tortilla chips

1 Scoop the avocado flesh into a flat bottom bowl.  Splash the lemon juice over the avocado and turn gently to coat.

2 Add bleu cheese, sour cream, scallions and jalapenos.

3 Use a potato masher combining just until barely mixed and still lumpy.  Salt to taste using a chip rather than a spoon so the saltiness of the chip and the dip balance.  Serve this sauce with sturdy tortilla chips.

Bleu cheeses vary in flavor.  Some are milder and creamier.  Others are more crumbly and pungent.  Use whichever works best for the flavor strength needed.

Dish Designer

  • Exchange pickled jalapeno for finely diced fresh jalapeno.
  • Reduce the bleu cheese for just a hint of pungent flavor.


Inspiration – Nigella Lawson
Cook with Sauces
Written by
Photographs by Helen Horton
Updated: April 22, 2012

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Italian White Bean and Ham Soup

Hearty Italian Soup with beans and ham in a savory broth.

Aroma of Italy

The aroma of an Italian restaurant permeates the whole house while this supper soup simmers away. It is fresh and savory the first day but enjoy it the second day when the flavors meld into an even richer blend. January is National Soup month and what better time is there to have a hearty, one dish meal.

Recipe: Italian White Bean and Ham Soup

Prep Time: 20 Minutes, plus soaking the beans overnight | Cook Time: 2 1/2 Hours | Yield: 13 Cups | Level: Easy


  • 1 16 oz pkg dried white beans, Navy or Great northern
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 8 cups chicken broth, fat-free and low sodium
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley, or 2 t dried
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper

1 Sort and rinse beans then cover with water and let soak overnight.

2 Heat the oil in large pot over a medium fire. Add onion and cook until tender but not browned, about 8-10 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook 1 minute while keeping the veggies in motion.

3 Next, except the salt and pepper, add all other ingredients. Bring to a boil and then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until beans are tender stirring occasionally. discard bay leaves and thyme twigs.

4 With a spider or slotted spoon lift out the ham hocks and cool long enough to handle without burning fingers. Pull meat from bones and dice or shred anything that doesn’t already fall apart.

5 Place 1 1/2 cups of beans in a blender, and whirl until smooth or put the beans in a bowl and have a go at it with an immersion blender. Then swirl the creamy puree back into pot along with ham to thicken soup. Salt and pepper to taste.

Quicker Beans – If you forgot to put the beans on to soak the night before you can speed this soup 3 different ways. 1) Cook the beans for 2 minutes then remove from the heat and let stand for 1 hour. 2) Use lentils adding them dry after the onions and garlic are cooked with the other ingredients. They don’t need to be soaked and cook rather fast. 3) use three 15 oz cans of rinsed beans and substitute diced for ham hocks. Cook for only 20-30 minutes to marry flavors.

Dish Designer

  • Exchange ham hocks for a ham bone left over from your holiday ham dinner.
  • Exchange navy or great northern for cannellini beans.
  • Using a very large pot, double the recipe and ladle the extra soup in quart freezer zipper pouches or containers and squirrel away in the deep freeze for busy days.

Inspiration – Cooking Light and Joann Weir
Cook with Sauces
Written: by
Photographs: by Helen Horton
Updated: April 3, 2012

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Sushi on the Fly

Easy Sushi on the Table in 30 Minutes

Roll It!

One of my best loved memories of living in Japan is eating sushi. Even better, learning how to make sushi so we could have it at home for holidays or just anytime. We make and roll beautiful sushi for family gatherings but one of my favorite ways to have it is casual style. All it takes is good sushi rice, a few mix-ins, nori and wasabi and you are on your way to a gourmet feast that’s also responsible eating.

Recipe: Sushi on the Fly

Prep Time: 20 Minutes | Cook Time: 30 Minutes | Yield: 4 servings | Level: Easy


  • 2 2/3 cups calrose rice
  • water
  • 3 inch square piece of kombu
  • 5 Tbsp rice vinegar, unseasoned
  • 5 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp kosher salt
  • 10-12 medium cooked shrimp, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 6-8 sheets Nori
  • Wasabi Dipping Sauce
  • 6 Tbsp soy sauce
  • few Tbsp wasabi powder
  • few Tbsp water
  • pickled ginger

Special Equipment – Rice Cooker

1 Wash the rice until the water is clear. Add enough water to cover rice by 1 inch. Submerge konbu in the water laying on the top of the rice. Cook in rice cooker until done, about 20 minutes, then let set for 10 minutes without removing the lid. Shovel all the rice in a bowl.

2 Add the vinegar, sugar and salt to the rice. Taking care not to smash the kernels of rice, stir and cool the rice while mixing together. Have a cooking buddy fan the rice with a fan or magazine while mixing to speed the cooling process. When it is just barely warm it is cool enough.

Mix-ins and Roll-ins
3 Add the mix-ins – shrimp, avocado, and cucumber to the rice mixture.

4 Put some full sheets and half sheets of nori on a plate.

Wasabi Sauce
5 Mix the wasabi powder with some water. Start with a little and add more water to form a soft paste. Make it a little looser than you want it because it will tighten while it sets. Serve soy sauce and wasabi separately so guests can combine to their desired heat. Serve pickled ginger on the side.

6 Serve the nori, sushi rice, dipping sauce and pickled ginger. Scoop some prepared sushi rice on a piece of nori and roll up. Dip in sauce and enjoy.

Konbu – The secret to restaurant quality sushi rice is konbu. It is dried giant kelp and is sold in Asian food stores. It keeps for a long time so one package goes a long way.

Rice Washing – To wash rice, put it in the pot or rice cooker and using the kitchen faucet, cover the rice with water. Stir around with your hand to release the powder and then pour out the water. Repeat 4-7 times until the water is almost clear. This makes a big difference in the final quality of good sushi rice.

Rice Cooker Substitute – If you don’t have a rice cooker, put the rice, water and konbu in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil then reduce fire to simmer for 20 minutes. Don’t remove the lid during cooking and steaming.

Dish Designer

  • Exchange shrimp for crab meat or salmon
  • Exchange avocado for steamed pencil asparagus cut in 1-inch lengths
  • Exchange cucumber for diced scrambled eggs.
  • Exchange kombu for wakame.

Inspiration- ‘Japanese Cooking, A Simple Art’ by Shizuo Tsuji
Cook with Sauces
Written: by
Photographs: by Helen Horton
Updated: April 23, 2012

Continue Reading · 5

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