Parfait! Jardinière Salad

Sure and all, pasta salad is a staple for summer meals, but it is also quite nice on a cold winter’s evening – and this pasta salad has a wee, tiny bit extra…

Macaroni and cheese (Kraft Dinner), and Catalina French dressing!

Yeh. I know. It sounds kinda gross and weird and like something found in a mid 1960’s ladies’ magazine.

That would be because it was.

My mom clipped the recipe for this (tasty, trust me!) salad, taped it onto a recipe card, stashed it in her recipe box, and then, somehow, never got around to making it.

Then, I came across it (years ago now) and figured “why not try it?”

I’ve tweaked it a bit over the years, even to the point of making my own French Dressing – which is much lower in sugar than store bought – but in a pinch, trusty old Catalina really works just fine.

•1 box mac and cheese dinner
•1/4 cup butter
•1/4 cup milk
•1/3 cup + 2 tbsp Catalina dressing
•1/3 cup mayonnaise
•1 tbsp chopped onion
•1 cup diced celery
•1 cup diced cucumber
•1 jar diced pimiento, drained
•1/4 cup sliced peperoncini
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

Prepare the mac and cheese according to the directions on the box, but, stir in 1/3 cup of the Catalina dressing along with the milk, butter, and cheese packet.

Set aside to cool, then stir in the remaining two tablespoons of Catalina, the mayonnaise, and the veggies.

Note: feel free to swap out veggies according to your tastes and what you have on hand. To make it a bit more of a meal, drained tuna, or chunks of chicken are nice additions.

Another recipe rescued from oblivion.

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Sausage and Spinach Breakfast Casserole

How cool is this? A breakfast casserole – not unlike a strata – that you can make in an 8×8 pan, not one of those 13×9 behemoths?

Yes, please!

First, the nice folk at Pillsbury, who published the original recipe, planned this as a “breakfast casserole for two” with bacon and spinach and frozen Pillsbury biscuits.

Thing is, I couldn’t find any frozen biscuits at my market, so opted for dinner rolls.

And, I had some sage breakfast sausage to use or freeze, and there would be three for breakfast, so I got to tweaking.

•1 lb breakfast sausage
•1 cup diced onion
•1 cup packed baby spinach
•3 dinner rolls, cut in eighths
•4 eggs
•3/4 cup milk
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1/4 tsp pepper
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•3/4 cup Colby Jack cheese, shredded

Note: because the original recipe called for thawed frozen biscuits, and I used thawed dinner rolls, which are more dense that biscuits, I chose to treat this as a mini strata and let it all soak together in the fridge overnight before baking. If you choose to use biscuits, and are more of a morning person than I am, by all means assemble and bake it all at once.

Apply cooking spray to an 8×8 inch baking dish and arrange the roll pieces evenly across the bottom of the pan.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage and the diced onion, breaking up the sausage, for ten or 15 minutes, until the onion is tender and the sausage cooked through.

Stir in the baby spinach and continue to cook until the spinach is wilted, another minute or two. Remove from the heat.

Whisk the eggs together with the hot sauce and seasonings until well blended and a little but frothy, then stir in the cooled off sausage and spinach mixture and 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese.

Pour evenly over the rolls in the baking dish, then cover and stash in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, pull the casserole out of the fridge and let it rest while preheating your oven to 350º.

Bake, uncovered, for about 40 minutes, until the center is set and the edges are golden brown.

Scatter the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded cheese over the top and bake for another five minutes or so, until the cheese is nicely melted.

Scatter some freshly chopped parsley over the top, if you have some, and serve.

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Crispy Air Fryer Potatoes

Just about every market has those small mesh bags of tiny potatoes – gold, red, purple, mixed – and they are perfect for smashing and salad and stuff; but…

Air frying?


And thanks to the nice folk at Delish, we have a method that gives us crispity potato skins and nicely tender insides that makes, to me, a perfect potato.

And in about 20 minutes, so, bonus!

•1 lb baby potatoes, halved
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1 tsp garlic powder
•1 tsp Italian seasoning
•1/2 tsp thyme
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper

Heat your air fryer to 400º.

Wash the potatoes and cut each one in half, then toss in a bowl with the olive oil and seasonings until they are evenly coated.

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on your air fryer basket and cook for ten minutes.

Stir the potatoes and return to the air fryer for another eight to ten minutes.


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Chocolate Cherry Dump Cake

Who’d a thunk it?

Three ingredients (cake mix, pie filling, and butter) come together in a 13×9 pan and make for a pretty terrific cake!

Fair warning – you are not gonna get nice, tidy slices out of this particular cake, but you are gonna get messy, wicked tasty spoonfuls, hopefully topped with whipped cream or mebbe even ice cream.

And it is also wicked simple to make!

•2 (21 oz each) cans cherry pie filling
•1 box devil’s food cake mix*
•1-1/2 stick (3/4 cup) butter, melted

*The nice folk at Betty Crocker, who published this recipe, specify using their Super Moist™ mix.

Heat your oven to 350º and apply cooking spray to the bottom of a glass or ceramic 13×9 inch baking pan.

Spread the cherry pie filling evenly over the bottom of the pan, then top with the dry cake mix and spread evenly over the cherry pie filling.

Note: if you happen to have one, a crêpe paddle, like this one, works a treat for evening out the cake mix layer.

Pour the melted butter on top of the cake mix, then tilt the pan this way and that to spread evenly over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes, until the top is mostly dry, but nicely bubbly around the edges.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for ten minutes before serving, as I noted above, with whipped topping or ice cream.

Note: this cake is best served warm, but later pieces can be reheated individually in the ‘wave, and then topped.

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Hot Honey Wings

Look around this here food blog and you’re gonna find a fair number of recipes for chicken wings.

All of ’em tasty, Katie!

But this version may just be my fave.

Hot honey, hot sauce, a bit of crushed Ritz crackers worked into the breading all come together with, well, there is simply no way around it – ONE STICK OF UNSALTED IRISH BUTTER.

So much for “healthy” – though, at least the wings are baked, not fried, so, points?

•1 packet chicken wings
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp paprika
•1/2 tsp dried parsley
•1/2 tsp garlic powder
•1/2 tsp onion powder
•1 tbsp crushed Ritz crackers (or flour)
•1 tbsp veggie oil

Hot Honey Sauce:
•1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tbsp Mike’s Hot Honey (or regular honey)
•1 tbsp brown sugar
•1 tbsp rice vinegar
•1 tbsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
•1 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/2 tsp garlic powder
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Note: to make these gluten free, substitute almond flour, or g-f cracker crumbs for the Ritz crackers.

Heat your oven to 400º and line a large baking pan with foil.

If you have one, fit a rack into the baking pan and apply cooking spray.

Combine the seasonings and the cracker crumbs in a gallon sized zipper bag, then add the chicken, close the bag, and shake to coat the wings.

Add the veggie oil, close the bag and shake again to coat the wings – some will be more coated than others, but no worries, all will come together in the end.

Arrange the wings in a single layer on the rack and bake for 45 minutes.

While the wings are baking, make the hot honey sauce by whisking all of the ingredients into the melted butter.

Once the wings are done, remove from the oven and transfer to a large bowl.

Pour the hot honey sauce over the wings and toss to coat well.

Rearrange the wings in a single layer on the rack in the baking pan and drizzle with any of the hot honey sauce left in the bowl.

Pop back into the oven for ten to fifteen minutes, until the wings are nicely browned and mebbe a bit crispity in places.

Remove from the oven and enjoy – Ranch dressing works a treat for dipping.

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Air Fryer Glazed Salmon, For the Win

Our local fish monger/smokehouse has great salmon, so we have it rather a lot, and, after trying a couple of different combinations, have settled on the air fryer and a sweet chili sauce and mayonnaise glaze for our favorite preparation.

Not a salmon fan?

No worries!

Theglaze works a treat on swordfish, too, so now you have options.

•1 tbsp mayonnaise
•1 tbsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
•1 tbsp brown sugar
•1 tsp paprika

•2 salmon fillets, skin-on
Seasoned Salt
•Olive oil

Heat your air fryer to 400º and brush the air fryer basket with olive oil.

Place the salmon fillets, skin side down on the basket and season with the salt and pepper.

Whisk the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl, then brush over the salmon.

Note: this amount of glaze seems to be perfect for two servings, if you’re cooking for a crowd, go ahead and feel free double, or triple the glaze amounts.

Pop the salmon into the hot air fryer and cook for eight or nine minutes, until the top is slightly charred, and the flesh flakes when tested with a fork.

So tasty.

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Tortellini and Meatball Soup – A Slow Cooker Recipe

I got a new slow cooker for the holidaze – mostly to replace my trusty three-legged six quart with the broken timer and (because of only having the three legs) a limp.

The new cooker is as large (which I need for when I make The Barbecue Sauce) but also has settings to simmer and roast and all sorts of other cool stuff, so I was excited to try it out.

But. I was not thrilled, this particular day, to be cooking. Anything.

So, when I found a slow cooker soup recipe that I could mostly just dump everything in the pot and go on my way for a few hours, I thought “Perfect!”

And it is. Perfectly tasty, and perfectly simple to toss together – with frozen meatballs (I love these from Whole Foods) and fresh packaged tortellini, and hey, I had that bag of already sliced onion leftover from last night’s dinner and a jar of roasted red peppers, so there really was next to no effort involved.


•1 cup sliced onion
•6 oz (1/2 cup) roasted red pepper, chopped
•32 oz unsalted chicken stock
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
•22 oz (1 bag) frozen meatballs
•20 oz (1 container) fresh tortellini
•1 tbsp lemon juice
•1 cup light cream
•1 cup half and half
•Grated Parmesan cheese

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Add the onion and roasted red pepper to your slow cooker along with the chicken stock, Sherry Peppers Sauce, Seasoned Salt, and crushed red pepper and cook on high for two hours.

Add the meatballs and continue to cook on high for two more hours.

Stir in the lemon juice, cream, half and half, Parmesan, and tortellini and cook for another 15 minutes.

Note: you could also add baby spinach and/or fresh basil leaves along with the tortellini for extra nutrition and flavor.

We had ours with fresh baked sourdough on the side and thought it a fine, mostly labor-free dinner.

This makes a bunch of very nice soup, so prepare yourselves for leftovers, or package some up to share with friends.

I am certain they will not mind.

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Lobster Pie With Cracker Crumb Topping


What better way to start the week than with a nicely chilled glass of Vouvray and a New England classic lobster pie?

In truth, the nice folk at Yankee Magazine, where I came across the original recipe, seem to swing between calling this a pie and a casserole, but, no matter, by any name, it is wicked tasty.

The most difficult part of this recipe may

very well be the cost of the lobster – which came in at around $20 for the frozen lobster pieces I picked up from Whole Foods; but, as you can see, it was a pretty well-spent $20, with a goodly amount of meaty pieces.

Still, I suppose you could swap out shrimp, or even langostinos, for the lobster, and still wind up with a lovely, satisfying meal.

•1/2 cup finely crushed Ritz crackers
•1/2 tsp paprika
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt
•2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
•4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

•8 tbsp (1 stick) salted butter, divided
•1/2 cup good-quality dry sherry
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•2 cups chopped lobster meat
•2 tbsp all-purpose flour
•1-1/2 cups half-and-half
•4 large egg yolks
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce, or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 tbsp lemon juice

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a small bowl, stir together the crushed crackers, paprika, and cheese. Stir in the melted butter until evenly mixed, then set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt three tablespoons butter. Add the sherry and Sherry Peppers Sauce and boil for one minute. Stir in the lobster, stir, then remove from heat, draining the sherry and pan juices (save these, though).

In a medium pan over medium heat, melt the remaining five tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring for a minute or two. Remove from heat.

Slowly whisk the sherry mixture into the butter and flour mixture along with the half and half, hot sauce, and lemon juice. Return to heat and cook, stirring continuously, until the sauce is smooth and nicely thickened.

Spoon four tablespoons of the warm sauce into a small bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Whisk the now tempered egg mixture to the sauce pan and mix well. Stir over low heat for three minutes; but don’t let it boil.

Remove from heat, add the lobster meat, then transfer into four ramekins or a gratin dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the top, then bake in the oven on the middle rack until golden brown, 10-15 minutes.

Serve warm.

I chose to do my pie in a smallish (two quart) casserole, then served it over fresh from the oven biscuits.

And, of course, that nicely chilled bottle of Vouvray, which really does seem to be the perfect wine for this pie.

Such a nicely satisfying dinner.

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Slow Roasted Beef Short Ribs

These short ribs are tender, tasty, and, mebbe surprisingly, not swimming in grease!

No mean feat, when you consider exactly how much fat these guys are packing.

The secret?

Slow roasting in a tightly covered foil packet; and then getting rid of of all those fat-laden juices before adding sauce and finishing in the oven, broiler, or on the gill.

Feel free to change your rub to suit your tastes, and by all means use your own fave barbecue sauce instead of my combination. I think that you will still be very happy with the results.

•1/4 cup brown sugar
•2 tbsp garlic powder
•2 tsp dry mustard
•2 tsp paprika
•1 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tsp black pepper
•2 tbsp olive oil

•3-1/2 lb beef short ribs
•1/2 pint pepper relish
•12 oz chili sauce

Heat your oven to 250º and line a baking pan with foil.

Combine the brown sugar together with the seasonings and olive oil until crumbly.

Arrange the short ribs in a single layer in the foil lined pan, then apply the rub evenly over all of them.

Cover the pan with more foil, crimping the top foil with the the edges of the bottom foil to make a sealed packet.

Place the pan on the middle rack in your hot oven and bake for three hours, or until the ribs are tender.

Remove the top foil, transfer the ribs to a platter, and drain all of the fat from the pan – there will be a heckuva lot of it.

Note: I pour the fat into a storage container and stash it in the fridge until trash night.

At this point, you have a several choices:

1: whisk together your chili sauce and pepper relish (or, as I noted above,  just use your fave barbecue sauce), then…

2: brush with your sauce of choice and either return to the oven in the foil lined baking pan (uncovered, this time) for another 30 to 40 minutes or pop onto a grill or under a broiler for five or ten minutes, brushing with your sauce, until they are crisp outside, but still tender and juicy inside.

Serve as you will – we had ours with mashed potatoes and a salad.

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French Onion Soup With Ham

Who doesn’t love French onion soup?

Well, as it turns out, two of our best friends, and, can you guess what I served them the first time we had them over for dinner?

Still, it has been years, and they keep coming back (just not for French onion soup), so no real harm done.

As a matter of fact, we had them over for Christmas dinner and served a very nice slow cooker ham, which everyone loved.

But then, what to do with the leftovers?

There is just so much ham salad even I can eat, so, off to da Google I went…

and found… what’s this? French onion soup with leftover ham?

Perfect! Well, for us, anyway.

And – I cannot stress this enough – toss out all of your other French onion soup recipes, because this one is the winner!

•4 tbsp unsalted butter
•8 cups sliced sweet onion
•10 oz leftover sliced ham
•1 tbsp flour
•6 cups unsalted chicken stock
•1/3 cup port
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
•1 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tbsp sherry vinegar

•Garlic toast slices
•Sliced Gruyère

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or other large pan over medium-high heat.

Add the onions, tossing to coat with the butter, and cook, stirring and tossing often, for ten minutes, until the onions are tender.

Set the heat to medium low and add the ham. Continue to cook, stirring the onions and turning the ham slices over every now and then for 40 minutes, until the onions are golden brown.

Remove the ham slices and shred.

Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook the onions for another 15 minutes or so, stirring often, until they are nicely caramelized.

Whisk 1/2 cup of the chicken stock together with the flour and the port in a small bowl.

Add to the onions and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring more or less constantly.

Add the remaining stock and the other ingredients, including the shredded ham, and bring to a boil.

Simmer for five minutes.

Keep the soup warm while you prepare the garlic toast slices – I used Texas Toast – (you will need one slice per bowl) according to package instructions, except, top each slice with some of the Gruyère for the last five minutes of cooking.

Place a slice of cheese-y garlic toast in the bottom of each soup bowl, then ladle onion soup over the top and serve.


Such nice soup!

Note: this was more than enough for the two of us for a main course dinner, and then another three lunches or so.

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