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Hot Artichoke Soufflé Spread

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Everybody has a "go to" appetizer that they can count on and this is mine... I call it my "go to" appetizer because I seem to make it when I am in a pinch or want something to take to a friend's and I have been making it for at least twenty years. I always seem to have the ingredients on hand and it is super easy.  You wouldn't think that this would amount to much just reading the recipe....the proof is in the taste.  To be good, things do not have to be complicated. Served in your favorite dish, bubbling hot and steaming, with the pungent aroma of Parmesan cheese, this dip will quickly become your favorite!  This also fits perfectly into a 4-inch soufflé dish. Hot Artichoke Soufflé Spread adapted from West Coast Cuisine Yield:  2 cups Time: 30 minutes 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (I use shredded.) 1/2 cup mayonnaise 3-4 shots Tabasco sauce 1 jar (6 oz) marinated artichoke hearts, drained

Lemony Shrimp and Bean Stew

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This dish of Lemony Shrimp and Bean Stew has everything.  It is elegant, comforting, and quick!  It is pretty much a perfect meal on a cold day served over pasta or a warm day without the pasta.  For now, served over pasta works for me! The New York Times has a plethora of recipes and cooking guides .  I subscribed to their newsletter and have found it to be one of the fun emails that I receive.  What is more fun than perusing recipes?  Take a few minutes and explore. Lemony Shrimp and Bean Stew adapted from NYT Cooking 1 tsp fresh lemon zest and 2 T fresh lemon juice 1 tsp spicy smoked paprika (Sweet paprika works equally well.) 2 garlic cloves, minced Kosher salt and black pepper 1 pound peeled, deveined large shrimp (tails removed) 4 T unsalted butter 2 large leeks, trimmed, cleaned, then halved lengthwise, slice the white and light green parts crosswise, 1/2-inch thick ( or 1 large onion minced) 1 (15-ounce can) cannellini beans or other white bean, rinsed 2 cups chicken stock (Ve

Just One More Mac and Cheese!

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Nothing says comfort better than Macaroni and Cheese.  I have always loved it and the leftovers that follow that dinner!  It was the first casserole that I learned to make.  My mom worked on the switchboard at a local hospital and since it was the 4:00 PM to Midnight shift, so, at sixteen I had to do the cooking for my dad and brother.  They were so brave and my dad never complained.  Mac and Cheese was a dish that I couldn't really mess up.  As times have changed, so has Mac and Cheese.  I think we have all tinkered with the recipe in search of one that is just a little bit better than the last.  What I have learned is that I do not really care for Mac and Cheese that is really firm and can sometimes be cut into blocks.  I like one in between loose and firm...it is a quest... I love the recipe from Toni Tipton-Martin's cookbook, Jubilee.  The recipe is similar to my mom's in that there is evaporate milk and eggs but it ends there!  The first time I was served Mac and Chees

World Famous Banana Pudding from Magnolia Bakery!

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 When one is told that the recipe is " World Famous" and that you have to try it, how can you argue?  That is what happened when my SIL said he was making this amazing banana pudding.  The two of us do enjoy cooking together so why wouldn't I make it also.  We can compare notes long-distance it is just 1,000 miles! All I knew about banana pudding was that my mom would make it and we had Vanilla Wafers with it.  Maybe she was a trend setter and didn't know it!  What I do know is that this was a super tasty pudding and it makes a lot...there are only two of us...we needed at least six more people...but there is a pandemic so why not pig out on banana pudding! The recipe comes from the Magnolia Bakery in New York City.  It has become a pop-culture phenomenon according to the Today Show .  It has "the" spot for sweets in "Sex in the City" and has been seen in other popular TV shows and movies. World Famous Banana Pudding  from Magnolia Bakery Yield: 

Pralines for Your Valentine!

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Something a little different is in order for Valentine's Day this year!  When was the last time you made pralines?  How about never?  Never done it. When was the last time you had one of these tasty morsels?  Hmmm...can't remember?  Then it is time...time to hit the kitchen to make something special. I expected Praline recipes to be pretty basic...cream, sugar and pecans....not necessarily so.  The Commander's Palace in New Orleans uses equal parts cream, sugar, pecans and a touch of orange zest while the recipe from Toni Tipton-Martin's cookbook, Jubilee, has a variety ingredients...sugar, brown sugar, molasses, cream, butter, pecans, and vanilla. I know the pralines from both recipes are yummy!  The recipe today is one that Toni shared with Southern Living . Pralines Shared with  Southern Living  by  Toni Tipton-Martin   1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 cup heavy cream 3 Tbsp molasses or dark corn syrup 2 Tbsp unsalted butter 2 cups pecans toasted

Harira - A Spiced Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Soup

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In looking at all of the spices on the shelf, my eye first darted past the harissa but quickly darted back.  It had been awhile since I had explored cooking with it.  It is a spice or paste that is said to have originated in Tunisia but can be found across North Africa.    Harissa ingredients vary across the region based on the country and ethnicity.  Basically, it is a combination of hot peppers, herbs, garlic salt and olive oil.  It is hot!  It is as common place in the area as mustard and ketchup! I was in the market for some type of vegetable soup that included harissa in the list of ingredients.  I had the basics: chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes, celery, carrots.  Plus, I had leftover chicken that I intended to add to the pot.  My search for soup stopped when I saw a recipe for Harira, a Moroccan Vegetable Soup.  It was the perfect combination of spices and who wouldn't like a version of Harira that originated from a Moroccan grandmother! Spiced Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable So

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

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 I have always been a fan of curry but I don't get to prepare it very often.  Last week, though, I did and it was delicious!  I had seen the original recipe in the New York Times.  It used a blend of Thai spices.   It was a make it with what you have moment so I made it with some spice substitutes. Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach Yield:  4-6 servings 3 Tbsp olive oil 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (3/4 inch) 1 medium onion, chopped 3 tsp curry powder 3 garlic cloves, minced 1/4 tsp ginger 1 small jalapeño pepper, vein removed and chopped 1 tsp tumeric 1 cup lentils  4 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock) 2 tsp kosher salt 1 (13 oz) can full-fat coconut milk 1 (4-5 oz) bag of baby spinach, stems trimmed 1/2 lime, juiced 1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for serving In a Dutch oven or other pot, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the sweet potatoes and cook.  Allow the potatoes to brown but stir frequently to prevent sticking, 7

Another Day, Another Cookie

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This is the way of it....Pandemic day 132...another cookie.  Today's cookie of choice is oatmeal.  I was paging  through another of the older cookbooks on the shelf.  I actually remember the day that I bought this one.  It was my lunch hour and I stood at the small bookcase in the department store trying to decide if I really needed a second "basics cookbook", of course I did.  I enjoy the cookbooks by Rosso and Lukins.  They were published at a time when cooking was changing, becoming more adventurous.   My mom baked the very best oatmeal cookies.  They were the basic recipe that she did something magical to...I will never know what it was but they were quite tasty.  Today, though, I was branching out.  I wasn't looking for basic oatmeal, I had hopes of finding something just a but different.   I found a recipe for Lacy Oatmeal Cookies.  These were not basic, they were lacy and they were supposed to be extra special.  Actually, they had me at the words lacy and brown