Cooking

“Breaded” Chicken- Gluten Free

“Breaded” Chicken – Gluten Free

I love my Mom’s breaded chicken. It was a staple at summer outings. I still make it. Pretty classic, with a flour dredge, egg dip and bread crumbs.

I needed a different option the other day, when making lunch for a friend who can’t eat gluten. I just “breaded” the chicken with potato flakes.  I sometimes use potato flakes as a thickener for veggie soups and the like. I have also used them as a coating for chicken and fish before. Even if you can have bread crumbs, the potato flakes are a fun way to coat chicken, fish or pork. It gives you a nice, crispy crust and is easy, too. The chicken breasts I had were pretty thick, so I cut them into  thinner pieces to help them cook faster, and more evenly. You could also cut them into nuggets, if you prefer. I pan fried, but you can also brown them a little, and finish in the oven, if you prefer.

 

 

Potato “Breaded” Chicken

½ mayo
1 c. potato flakes
Salt and pepper
4 chicken breasts, boneless or 6 boneless chicken thighs
Oil

Spread chicken pieces with the mayo. Season the potato flakes with a little salt and pepper. Place potato flakes on a plate or in a shallow dish. Coat the chicken pieces with the potato flakes, pressing a little to cover well. Heat oil in skillet until really hot. Cook chicken pieces in skillet, on both sides, until golden brown. Turn heat down to medium and continue cooking until chicken is cooked. Serves 3-4.

A Dozen Summer Salads

Purple and Pink Potato Salad

Between cookouts and picnics, it seems there is always a need for more salads. Sometimes I am in the mood for old favorites. Other times, I am looking for something a little different.

Here are some salads I have made that my friends and family really enjoyed. If you are looking for a salad for the holiday weekend – or any time – I think you will find one here that you and your family will enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purple and Pink Salad

1 lb. purple potatoes

1 lb. red onions

1 c. apple cider vinegar

1/2 c. sugar

1/4 c. water

salt and pepper to taste

1 t. celery seed

1/4 c. oil

Bake potatoes until tender. I used the microwave and it took about 7 minutes, but you can bake in a conventional oven, too. While potatoes are baking, peel, then slice onions thin and place in a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients, except the oil. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 5-8 minutes until onions are just tender. Some of the liquid will cook off. Peel and cube potatoes and place in a bowl. Drizzle with the oil. Add the onion mixture and stir gently. Adjust seasonings, if needed. Chill. Serves 4.

Curry Cauliflower Salad

1 head cauliflower, cooked
½ c. chopped green onions
¾ c. mayo – or less or more depending in the size of the head of cauliflower
1 T. curry powder- or to taste
1 t. hot sauce, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c. peanuts

First break the cauliflower into florets. Cook the cauliflower any way you like. I steamed mine for about 5 minutes. You could roast it, or sauté it in a little oil. You want it tender, but still a little crisp. Don’t cook it to mush. I would also advise against boiling it, as it gets too wet. Once the cauliflower is cooked, let it cool down before proceeding. Combine the cauliflower with the green onions, the mayo and seasonings. It was hard to be exact because your head of cauliflower might be bigger or smaller than mine. I could have said 5 cups of cooked cauliflower- but would that really help? Then you’d have leftover cooked cauliflower. Or perhaps not enough. So add a little more mayo, if needed, and adjust the seasonings to suit your taste and the amount of cauliflower you have. Chill and toss the peanuts in closer to serving time. They are fine, even when in the salad for a while, but the peanuts crunchier when first put in.

Curry Cauliflower Salad

Curry Cauliflower Salad

Succotash Salad

Succotash Salad

Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad

Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad

Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multi Bean Salad

Multi Bean Salad

Cucumber and Carrot Salad

Cucumber and Carrot Salad

Pesto Potato Salad

Pesto Potato Salad

Artichoke and Edamame Salad

Artichoke and Edamame Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cucumber and Carrot Salad

This refreshing salad combines carrots and cucumbers in a simple dressing. So easy and fast. Perfect side for your picnic or barbecue.

4 cucumbers, peeled, leaving strips of skin

1 c. coarsely shredded carrots

1 c. thin sliced sweet onion

1/3 c. vinegar- I like cider vinegar in this dish

2 T. Balsamic vinegar

¼ c. oil

1 T. sugar

1 ½ t. salt

Fresh ground pepper

 

Slice cucumbers. Combine vegetables in bowl. Combine dressing ingredients and pour over the vegetables, tossing to coat well. Chill at least 1 hour before serving, Spoon over lettuce, if desired. Serves 4-6.

 

Cornbread Salad

 A little different- people always seem to like this salad. A nice way to use up stale cornbread, too. 🙂

4 c. crumbled cornbread or corn muffins

1 c. shredded mild cheese

1 sweet red pepper seeded and diced

1 c. diced celery

½ c. diced green onion

4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped

¼ c. chopped parsley

1-1 ½ c. mayonnaise or salad dressing, sometimes I use potato salad dressing or even slaw dressing

2 c. diced fresh tomatoes

1 c. toasted pecans

paprika for sprinkling on the top, optional

 

Place cornbread and next 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in dressing until desired moistness is achieved. Chill and stir in tomato and nut just before serving. Sprinkle with paprika if you like. Serves 6.

Note: You can add whole kernel corn also if you like.

 

Sweet Potato Salad

A nice twist on potato salad.

3 large sweet potatoes

2 c. corn kernels, fresh off the cob preferred but frozen is O.K.

2 ribs celery, sliced

1 sweet onion, diced

1 c. sweet pepper, seeded and chopped

2-3 T. fresh parsley

1/3 c. oil

1 t. Dijon mustard

3 T. apple cider vinegar

1 T. lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

½ c. cashews

In medium saucepan boil or steam potatoes until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and place in a large bowl of ice water. Add corn to saucepan and cook until just tender about 2-3 minutes. Drain corn and add to ice water with the potatoes. Once the vegetables have cooled down drain them and peel and cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Place potatoes and corn in a mixing bowl with remaining vegetables. Combine remaining ingredients, except cashews, in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well before pouring over the sweet potato mixture. Toss to blend and chill until ready to serve. Add cashews just before serving. Serves 6.

 

 

Multi- Bean Salad

1 lb. cooked green beans, sliced

1 can lima beans, rinsed and drained

1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley

1 c. apple cider vinegar

1/4 c. sugar

1/4 c. oil

2 T. Italian seasoning- or whatever herb blend you like

1 T. hot sauce, or to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine beans with onions and parsley in a medium bowl. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the bean mixture. Stir well and chill a couple of hours before serving. Serves 8.

Pesto Potato Salad

2 lbs. Boiling potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 c. basil leaves
3 T. pine nuts, walnuts or pecans
3 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
Salt to taste

Cook potatoes until tender. Cool. In blender combine remaining ingredients, except 1 tablespoon of the nuts. Pour blended mixture over potatoes and sprinkle with the reserved nuts. Chill. Serves 6-8.

Just in Thyme Potato Salad

2 lbs. boiling potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces*
½ c. olive oil
¼ c. red wine vinegar
1 T. fresh lemon juice
2 t. fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes until tender. Drain and toss with the rest of the ingredients and serve right away or chill to serve later. Serves 6-8.

* You can really use any potato you like. I often bake the potatoes whole and then peel and cut up. Cook them any way you prefer.

Mustard Potato Salad

4 lbs. potatoes- I used Klondike Rose and I did not peel them

4 hard cooked eggs, peeled and chopped

1 sweet pepper, seeded and chopped

1 c. mayo- maybe a little less

1/4 c. prepared mustard

salt and pepper to taste

dash of hot sauce

Bake whole potatoes until tender and allow to cool. Cube potatoes into large bowl and combine with remaining ingredients. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 8.

Artichoke and Edamame Salad

1 lb. edamame  (fresh soybeans)*

1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

2 c. cooked corn

1 c. chopped sweet onion

1/3 c. olive oil

1/2 c. cider vinegar

1 t. sugar, optional

fresh chopped parsley

fresh chopped basil

salt and pepper to taste

To prepare edamame steam them, in their pods, until tender, about 8 minutes. Place in cold water. Once cool enough to handle slip the edamame out of their pods. Discard pods and place edamame into a mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 4-6.

* A lot of stores have them in the freezer section. They are in the pods. The pods are not edible. If you don’t have edamame you can substitute fresh lima beans.

Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad

1 small head cauliflower, trimmed and broken into bite- sized pieces

2 broccoli crowns, cut into bite- sized pieces

1 sweet pepper, seeded and chopped

1 c. shredded cheese- I used a sharp cheddar

8- 10 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

1/2 cup of mayo – or more according to your taste

salt and pepper to taste

Steam the cauliflower and broccoli until just tender/crisp. About 5 minutes in a microwave steamer, 6 minutes in a conventional steamer. Place in a bowl to cool down then combine with remaining ingredients and stir to combine well. Adjust seasonings, if needed. Serves 6-8.

 

Smoky Succotash Salad

1 lb. lima beans, cooked and cooled

4 c. corn off the cob, cooked and cooled

1 sweet pepper, seeded and chopped

1-2 c. cooked ham, diced

Dressing:

2/3 c. sour cream

3 T. apple cider vinegar

2 T. sugar

1 t. grated ginger

1 t. hot sauce, or to taste

salt and pepper to taste

Combine veggies with the ham in medium bowl. In small bowl stir together dressing ingredients until smooth and toss with the veggie mixture. Chill until ready to serve. Serves 6.

 

Picnic Food Safety

With picnic and cook-out season here-I thought it would be a good time to post some tips to keep your picnic safe.

 

Common Picnic Problems

Besides ants, the biggest concern at a picnic should be food safety.  While most of us know to keep cold foods cold, and hot food hot, there are some basic things we should all do to insure a safe, happy day.

Away from home and refrigeration, it is can be tricky to keep foods cold until ready to serve. Bring plenty of ice and coolers for all perishable food. Keep food cold until you are ready to cook or eat it. Get food back into coolers as soon as everyone has finished eating.

Package raw meats extra carefully.  Raw meat juices, spilling on salads, will make them inedible. Pack raw meats separately if you can, or on the bottom of the cooler in a leak-proof container. You might also consider bringing meats like burgers frozen to thaw on the grill or in the cooler. Smoked meats are safer than their non-smoked counterparts but both types can spoil. The ideal is to have one cooler only for raw meats.

Don’t make burgers on site. Outdoor prep is always tricky. Better to form burgers at home, where you can wash all surfaces, as well as your hands, thoroughly. If you  make them there- bring disposable gloves and a lightweight cutting board to work on.

Never use ice for drinks that have been in contact with raw meat, or even if any raw meats have been stored in the ice. Keep beverage ice in its own cooler, or keep it bagged to insure it is clean and safe.

Solid blocks of ice melt more slowly than cubes and make good cooler inserts for long, hot summer days. Also, keep coolers in the shade to offset the power of the sun.

Meat should be cooked thoroughly and ground meat is always more at risk for contamination. Make sure your fire is hot enough. Allow for chilly, windy days and pack extra coals or other fuel, to keep the fire hot throughout the cooking process.

Make sure you don’t put cooked meats on the tray that the raw meat was on. Also have different prepping and serving utensils for both the raw and cooked meats.

You can also precook meats (like chicken pieces or ribs), cool and chill until ready for dinner. Then just heat them up over the coals. This way you don’t have the worry of bringing along raw meats and you’ll spend less time cooking and more time having fun.

Mayo is not the evil purveyor of bacteria some people think. Mayo from a fresh jar, can actually retard the growth of bacteria. This does not mean you can leave the potato salad in the trunk for 3 hours because it has mayo in it. It just means that mayonnaise is not the culprit for food spoilage- bad handling was likely the cause.

While 2 hours is the maximum for food to be left out before being refrigerated again, use common sense. Obviously, on a 95 degree day that time is much shorter. Rather than one big bowl of pasta salad, bring several smaller ones that you can switch out. That way you always have cold salad that is safe. And bring plenty of serving spoons. It does no good to swap out the bowls of pasta salad for a fresh bowl, if you keep using the same serving spoon. Try to stay in the shade, too. Bringing some sort of canopy can keep food cooler than sitting in direct sunlight.

I am a big believer in a good hand washing being the best way to clean your hands- but you might not have running water where you are. Hand sanitizers are great when you don’t have hand washing as an option. I also bring a package of sanitizing wipes, in case a surface needs cleaning up, too.

If it is a hot day- you might want to have a large container, filled with ice, that you can put the bowls of salad into, to keep them colder. That way the salads are surrounded by the ice and stay cold a lot longer. You can use a small baby pool. I like to use a container designed for under the bed storage. Nice size.

In the end, it is about using common sense, and copious amounts of ice. Remember, that if you lose track of time, forget to put something back in the cooler or leave something in the trunk, it is always better to play it safe. When in doubt-throw it out.

Whoopie Pies- Surprise Ingredient

Whoopie Pies

I always get a smile when I offer someone a Whoopie Pie. Although baked liked cookies, Whoopie Pies are really more like small cakes, held together with a soft and creamy filling. I added an unexpected ingredient to these, but it worked out pretty well. I make a chocolate beet cake, so adding beets to baked goods is something I have done before. I had cooked, shredded beets leftover from another recipe, so I decided to add them to my Whoopie Pies. Worked out well. They are really moist. Here is the recipe for my beet version, and the original recipe, too. Just in case you don’t have cooked shredded beets laying around.

 

Chocolate Beet Whoopie Pies

Cookies:
2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
½ c. cocoa
2/3 c. half and half or milk
½ c. cooked shredded beets
Cream filling
3 T. flour
1 c. milk
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp.
2 t. vanilla
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar

Heat oven to 375-degrees. Line baking sheets with foil and coat with non-stick spray. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Beat in vanilla and eggs then beat in cocoa. Beat in beets. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk. Drop 2 tablespoons of dough on prepared sheets for each cookie, spacing 3 inches apart. Shape into 2 1/4-inch rounds, trying to keep them even as they will be sandwich cookies later. Bake 12-14 minutes, cookies should spring back when touched lightly. Let sit on baking sheet 5 minutes then transfer to rack to cool. Prepare filling: Combine flour and milk in saucepan until smooth. Heat over medium, stirring until thickened and bubbly. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the butter. Place wax paper directly on surface of the mixture and let sit until cool to the touch about 45 minutes. Beat in remaining butter, vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth and fluffy. Sandwich cookies together in pairs with about 2 tablespoons of the filling. Store between wax paper in airtight container. Makes 15.

Whoopie Pies

Cookies:
2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 c. cocoa
3/4 c. milk
Cream filling
3 T. flour
1 c. milk
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp.
2 t. vanilla
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar
Heat oven to 375-degrees. Line baking sheets with foil and coat with non-stick spray. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Beat in vanilla and eggs then beat in cocoa. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk. Drop 2 tablespoons of dough on prepared sheets for each cookie, spacing 3 inches apart. Shape into 2 1/4-inch rounds, trying to keep them even as they will be sandwich cookies later. Bake 12-14 minutes, cookies should spring back when touched lightly. Let sit on baking sheet 5 minutes then transfer to rack to cool. Prepare filling: Combine flour and milk in saucepan until smooth. Heat over medium, stirring until thickened and bubbly. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the butter. Place wax paper directly on surface of the mixture and let sit until cool to the touch about 45 minutes. Beat in remaining butter, vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth and fluffy. Sandwich cookies together in pairs with about 2 tablespoons of the filling. Store between wax paper in airtight container. Makes 15.

Homemade Fruit Soda

Homemade Fruit Sodas

I drink a lot of water. Truth is, most days I am perfectly content to just drink water. But I get that most people aren’t like that.

When friends stop over, I want to offer them something more than just ice water.  Alternatives might include fruit juice or soda pop. I sort of combined the two into a fruity, fizzy drink that is fun to drink.

When it’s hot- and even when it’s not- cold, fizzy drinks are fun to drink. No special equipment is required to make these, and they are better for you than commercial soda pop. I use 2 ingredients- club soda and either concentrated fruit juice or fruit syrups. In every grocery store you can find juice concentrates in the freezer section. Just place a spoonful of the concentrated juice in your glass- add club soda and stir gently to mix. Add ice and serve. Ready when you want it.

One benefit is that you can control how much juice to add. Make it more, or less sweet, to suit your taste. Sometimes I add just a little, so it is more like infused water than soda. If you like it sweeter, fine.

You can also use fruit syrups- sold in lots of grocery stores and beverage stores. Read the label. The ones I buy have 2 ingredients- fruit juice- which is listed first and sugar which is listed second. That’s  it. No high fructose corn syrup or a bunch of artificial ingredients and most of what is in the bottle is juice.

I’ve make “soda” from frozen concentrated grape juice, orange juice, apple juice and pineapple juice. I’ve used fruit syrups made from blueberries, sour cherries, strawberries and blackberries.  You can use them individually or do combos. They are fun for kids to make, too.

Dress them up with fancy ice cubes. I add small pieces of fruit or mint leaves to ice cube trays and then fill with water and freeze.  Also nice when guests stop over.

Is this stuff better for you than water? I suppose not.  But sometimes we all want something more than plain water. For me, this is a nice option- fizzy fruit juice.

Honey Ginger Mango Sorbet

Honey Ginger Mango Sorbet

Sorbet is a great dessert for warm weather.  When I saw Champagne mangoes on sale the other day, I knew I wanted to turn them into sorbet. I also picked up a fresh piece of ginger root, and decided to add some to the sorbet, along with some honey for extra sweetness. The flavors worked great together.

The secret to a creamy sorbet is pureeing the mixture twice. Once with the fresh fruit, then again once the mixture has frozen. Once pureed the second time, you can put your sorbet back in the freezer until ready to serve. It is a nice dessert to have on hand.

Sorbet can be served on its own, with cookies, cake or fresh fruit. You can also add a scoop of sorbet to your favorite Summer cocktail.

I like to keep several different sorbets on hand, so my guests can mix and match. Making a fresh fruit sorbet is also a way of saving seasonal fruits for use throughout the year.

Here is the recipe for the mango sorbet. You might want to add a little more, or less, honey to suit your own taste.

 

Honey Ginger Mango Sorbet

 

6 ripe mangoes

½ c. honey

1 T. fresh grated ginger

 

Remove peel and pits from mangoes. Puree the mangoes and add the honey and ginger. Freeze. After the mixture is frozen, place mango puree in a food processor and mix again until creamy. Serve, or place back in freezer until ready to serve. Makes about 1 quart.

Black Forest Mini Cheesecakes

Black Forest Mini Cheesecakes

I love when things just fall into place. I had some cherry pie filling left over from making Danish. I wanted to use it up. I also needed a dessert for dinner with a friend. These little cheesecakes worked out as the perfect dessert for us.

To start with, it’s cheesecake, which is always a good thing. It is also a really quick recipe, and simple to make. Finally, the recipe just makes 6 little cheesecakes. Perfect for when you don’t need a whole cheesecake. Nothing stopping you from doubling, or tripling the recipe, if you need a few more. I used cherry pie filling (homemade), but you could top these with almost any pie filling or fresh fruit you liked, or even eat them plain.

 

 

Black Forest Mini Cheesecakes

6 vanilla wafers

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/3 c. sugar

1 t. vanilla

1 egg

chocolate syrup or sauce

cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liners in 6 muffin tins and place a vanilla wafer in each one. Set aside. In medium mixing bowl beat together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Beat in egg until just mixed. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.  Bake for 15- 20 minutes. Cheesecakes will puff up and then deflates a little when cooled. Once cooled top each cheesecake with a little chocolate syrup and a spoonful of cherry pie filling. Chill. Makes 6. Serves 2-3.

Orange Oatmeal Scones

Orange Oatmeal Scone

I just love fresh scones, still warm from the oven. These scones have a nice, crunchy outside and crumbly, tender middle. The orange juice and orange zest gives them a wonderful flavor. The oatmeal gives them a lovely texture and the raisins add just a bit if sweetness.

These are great served warm, topped with sweet butter and jam. They are perfect for breakfast or brunch.

You can also use these scones as the base for a berry shortcake. Split, topped with sweetened berries and some whipped cream, they turn into a simple and tasty dessert.

 

 

Orange Oatmeal Scones

2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup very cold, unsalted butter – cut into chunks
1 egg
1/2 cup orange juice
2 t. grated orange peel
1 cup raisins – plumped and well dried
Glaze
milk, sugar, orange zest

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (double two sheets if you have them – one inside the other). Preheat oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, place flour, oatmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and mix together. Cut or rub in butter to make a mealy mixture. Stir in egg and orange juice. Add orange peel and raisins. Mix to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for a few minutes. Roll or pat out into a thickness of 1/2 inch. Using a serrated cookie cutter cut into disks or rounds. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar and orange zest. Bake until nicely browned – about 14 minutes. Makes about 24.

Phyllo Chocolate Fans

Phyllo Chocolate Fan Cookies

For a recent memorial for a friend, I was asked to make these cookies. They are a “fan” of everyone who tries them. If you want a cookie that is really going to impress, make these Chocolate Fans. They are crisp, not too sweet, and tipped with chocolate and fine chopped nuts.

While they look difficult to make, they are actually quite easy. For starters, you don’t have to make dough. These are made with phyllo dough. Phyllo is found in the freezer section at the grocery store. Phyllo dough (also spelled filo)  can be a little fussy. Be sure to keep extra dough covered with a damp towel so it won’t dry out and get brittle.

It is best to work quickly when making these. I made these dipped in finely chopped toasted walnuts. Other nuts could be used. You could also use white chocolate, if you prefer. .

 

 

Phyllo Chocolate Fan Cookies

1 lb. phyllo dough, thawed*
1 c. butter, melted
12-oz. chocolate chips
2 T. shortening- you can use coconut oil instead
1 c. finely chopped nuts or coconut, pistachios are extra nice

Remove phyllo from box, still rolled up and cut crosswise into 5-6 equal pieces. Keep unused dough covered in a damp towel to prevent drying out. Take one piece of dough and open it up, cutting it in half crosswise. Take 1 sheet and brush with butter. Place another sheet on top and brush again with butter. Place third piece of dough on top and butter again. Starting at short end begin to fold the dough in ¾ inch folds, accordion style. Pinch together at one end and fan out the dough at the other. It should look like a little fan. Place on ungreased baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes. Cool. Melt chocolate and shortening together in microwave or on top of double boiler. Stir to smooth. Dip tip of wide end of fans in melted chocolate and then in the nuts or coconut. Place on a rack to cool and harden. Makes about 65 fans. Can be frozen.

 

*I buy frozen phyllo dough but be sure to get the right one. Around here there are 2 different sizes. You’ll need the long box- where the dough is 15 inches long.

 

These are for you, Amy, with love.

Remembering Amy

Amy and Martha

For Mother’s Day this year, I will be spending the day remembering Amy Merrick McWilliam. Friends and family will be gathering together to celebrate her life, her spirit and her love.

She was a dear friend, like a sister to me. She was  a wonderful mother, wife, sister, aunt and friend. Her loss was sudden and unexpected, just a few weeks ago. I still find myself thinking of things I want to tell her. Still miss her a lot.

I’d like to share some things I will always remember about her.

Amy was one of the most generous and caring people I  will ever know. She was always there to help, if needed. She was there for family, for her friends, for anyone who needed a hand. If someone needed help, she would drop everything to step in.

It is fitting that her final party be on Mother’s Day. Amy was a great Mom and loved her boys so much. She was always there for them, in good times and bad. She never faltered in her determination to raise two wonderful young men. She did that.

Amy was brilliant. She could talk to you about almost any subject. You would never be bored chatting with Amy. She always had interesting things to say.

Amy was creative. She could design kitchens and jewelry. She had an artistic sensibility that was amazing.

Amy loved music. Her party will be filled with music today, just as she would have wanted.

Many of the dinner party pictures and recipes I shared, were because of Amy.  She was my partner in crime. We spent many happy hours discussing what ingredients we had, and what we would do with them. Sometimes she would call me from a local farm market, to discuss the produce she was getting.

Amy became so good at plating the food. I can’t tell you how many times I was about to take a picture and she would stop me. There was something she wanted to add. Some subtle tweak she felt the food needed. She would have me pick which serving pieces to use. No detail was too small. She had everybody trained to ask if the pictures had been taken, so they could start eating.No one set a prettier table, especially for holidays.

Our dinner parties were about more than food. They were about friendship and sharing and laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. Evenings spent with the people who could make you laugh so hard, you could barely breathe.

No one told a story better than Amy. She had a way of bringing her stories to life. They were often quite funny, often at her own expense. Amy could laugh at herself and bring you along for the ride.

So today, I will spend time with the people who loved her. We will share stories and listen to stories. We will laugh and we will cry. Amy would want more laughter, than tears, so that is the goal.

I love you Amy- now and forever.

 

 

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