Apple Rye Crumble Pie

After another visit to my favorite distillery, Catoctin Creek Distillery in Purcellville, VA , I decided it was time to use their award winning Roundstone Rye Whisky in another recipe.  This time, my target was an apple pie.  First, I let the apples and rye whisky mascerate so each apple slice absorbed the whisky flavor, then tossed the apples with flour and spices, tossed in a few dried cranberries and added a crumb topping.  I must admit, a great combination of flavors.  Delicious served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – now, that is the way to start the fall season!


Apple Rye Crumble Pie
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  1. Pastry for a One-crust pie
  2. 8 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  3. 3 tablespoons rye whisky
  4. 1/3 cup sugar
  5. 1/4 cup flour
  6. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  8. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  9. 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  10. Topping
  11. 1 cup flour
  12. 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  13. 1/2 cup cold butter
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line pie plate with pie crust, crimp edges. In a medium bowl, add apple slices and toss with rye whisky. Let stand for 5 minutes. Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Toss with the apples, stir in cranberries. Turn apple mixture into pastry-lined pie plate. To prepare crumb topping, combine flour and brown sugar, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and butter pieces are smaller than the size of peas. Sprinkle apple mixture with the crumb topping. Bake pie for 50 minutes, cover topping with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent excessive browning.

Apple Brandy Pork Chops

What a delight for the eyes when you enter any produce department this time of year and see pumpkins, apples and fall produce – I definitely wanted to cook a fall meal.  My husband, my chief taste tester, said this was one of the best recipes I have concocted.  He told me to post that you should definitely serve this at your next dinner party or when you want to impress anyone with your cooking skills.  It is so easy and delicious, you cannot go wrong with this recipe!   After those praises from my chief taster do I need to say more?  



Apple Brandy Pork Chops
Serves 2
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  1. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  2. 1 large shallot, diced
  3. 1 apple, sliced (I used a Honeycrisp apple)
  4. 2 1-inch thick pork chops with bone-in
  5. salt and pepper
  6. 1/3 cup apple brandy
  7. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  8. 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium ovenproof skillet ( I used my cast iron skillet) heat over medium to medium-high heat, add oil. When hot, add shallots and apples. Cook stirring frequently until shallots are soft and apples are golden, remove from skillet. Salt and pepper chops on both sides, add to hot skillet and cook until golden brown on both sides. When brown, remove from skillet. Add brandy to skillet and deglaze pan, stir in cream and 1/2 of the parsley. Bring to a boil. Add chops, apples, and shallots. Place skillet in preheated oven and bake 45 minutes. Remove from oven, top with remaining parsley and serve. I served with egg noodles, would also be terrific to serve with a wild rice mix.
  1. Serving more than 2? This amount of sauce would be perfect for 4 pork chops, if serving more, double the amount of shallots, apples,brandy and cream amounts, bake in a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Chicken Broccoli Portobello Pasta with Balsamic Dressing

Looking for an easy dish to serve the next time you entertain?  Chicken Broccoli Portobello Pasta is the perfect dish.  Early in the day begin marinating the mushrooms and chicken, steam the broccoli, fire up the grill, cook your pasta and in under 30 minutes you have a great main course.  Bring this beautiful entree to the table and you have a feast for your eyes as well as a feast for the hungriest of appetites. Easy, delicious and a great presentation – my way of entertaining!

( If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, it makes a terrific cold pasta salad the next day.  Toss with a bit of ranch dressing and you are set. )


chicken broccoli portobello pasta


Chicken Broccoli Portobello Pasta with Balsamic Dressing
Serves 4
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  1. Dressing
  2. 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  3. 3/4 cup olive oil
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  6. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  7. 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  8. Chicken/Vegetables
  9. 6 portobello mushrooms
  10. 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  11. 1 bunch of broccoli, cut into florets
  12. 1 16 oz. package thin spaghetti
  13. Twist of lemon for garnish
  1. Combine dressing ingredients, set aside. Remove mushroom stems and place mushroom caps in a one gallon zip bag. Pour 1/2 of the dressing over the mushroom caps, cover and refrigerate for approx. 6 hours.
  2. Transfer mushrooms to a plate and add chicken breasts to the marinade left in the zip bag, marinate for 30 minutes prior to grilling. Steam broccoli florets until tender when pieced with a fork (4-5 minutes), drain and set aside. Prepare grill. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Grill chicken, approx. 8 minutes per side. Cook spaghetti according to package instructions. During the last 5 - 10 minutes of the chicken grilling, add the mushrooms and grill.
  3. Drain pasta and toss with steamed broccoli and remaining dressing ( the 1/2 that was reserved). Top with grilled chicken and grilled mushrooms. Garnish with lemon twists.



Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every other Monday, I head to the local Fisher House and bake cookies.  If you are unaware of the mission of the Fisher House Foundation, the Fisher House Foundation is best known for a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment.  It is great to donate my time and my love of cooking to this terrific organization.  When I am finished each time, the house has the smell of fresh baked cookies, a full cookie jar, guests who appreciate a touch of home after a long day and a smile on my face.  It is one of the most rewarding volunteer experiences I have had.  I have been compiling a group of cookie recipes from my Monday cookie baking.  I made these last week – I hope you enjoy them.  

chocolate chocolate chip cookies


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
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  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  6. 2 cups flour
  7. ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  8. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  9. ½ teaspoon salt
  10. 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in one egg until completely incorporated; beat in last egg along with vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture until just incorporated; mix in chocolate chips.
  3. Roll dough into 2-inch balls, or drop spoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart, onto ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until edges of cookies are firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to wire racks. Dust warm cookies with powdered sugar, if desired.

Lobster, Potato and Fresh Corn Salad

If you are feeling the heat, these last days of summer, it’s time to serve a cold salad.  Lobster, Potato and Fresh Corn Salad is the perfect main dish salad.  This combination of lobster, corn and potatoes is a match made in heaven!   I tossed it all together with a vinaigrette, fresh tarragon and a hint of cream.  Fresh tarragon is essential in this recipe and easy to find in the herb section of your grocery or any farmers market.  A spectacular combination that I think you will agree is the perfect salad.  I served this with warm Focaccia Bread, olive oil for dipping the bread and a great chilled bottled of white wine – YUM!

Lobster, Potato salad

Lobster, Potato and Fresh Corn Salad
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  1. 16oz. small potatoes ( I used small purple potatoes for color)
  2. 3 ears of corn, cut from the cob
  3. 1/2 cup olive oil
  4. 3 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  5. 2 shallots, minced
  6. 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  7. 1 pound lobster meat, cut into one inch pieces
  8. 1/3 cup chopped fresh tarragon
  9. salt and pepper
  1. Early in the day - Cut potatoes in half and place in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil and cook approx. 10 - 14 minutes until tender. Drain. Toss potatoes with 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1/2 of the minced shallots and salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
  2. Cut corn from the cob, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds, drain.
  3. After the potatoes and corn have cooled, refrigerate. Steam lobster, cool and refrigerate.
  4. Assemble the salad approx. 30 minutes prior to serving. In a medium bowl, toss potatoes, corn and lobster. Combine remaining olive oil and rice vinegar, cream, remaining shallot, cream, tarragon and salt and pepper, to taste. Pour over salad ingredients and gently toss, spoon into a lettuce lined plate. Serves 4
  1. How to steam lobster tails - In a medium saucepan add one inch of water, place a steamer basket in the pan, cover and heat to boiling. Add the lobster tails, cover and steam for 8 minutes, remove and cool.

Zucchini Pancakes

It’s that time of year again!  Gardens and farmers’ markets are overflowing with zucchini.  If you are looking for one more zucchini recipe – Zucchini Pancakes is the one to try.  I received this recipe from a friend of my mother’s who compiled some of her favorite recipes.  Perfect as a side dish or a light dinner.  I served fresh sliced tomatoes along side and the combination was a feast for the eyes and well as a feast for the taste-buds.  The summer is winding down, don’t miss out on the abundance of fresh produce this time of year.

zucchini pancakes

Zucchini Pancakes
Serves 6
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  1. 3 cups zucchini, grated
  2. 1/2 cup flour
  3. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  4. salt and pepper, to taste
  5. 1 egg, beaten
  6. canola oil
  7. 1- 2 tablespoons melted butter
  8. 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Combine zucchini with the flour baking powder salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the egg and stir until well blended. Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat, coat with canola oil. When hot, drop large tablespoons of zucchini batter on hot skillet, slightly flatten the pancake. Cook until brown on each side. Check carefully, if browning too quickly, reduce heat. Serve with a drizzle of melted butter and grated parmesan cheese.

Apricot Almond Tart

I have to admit that I prefer to serve fruit based desserts after dinner.  I think they are the perfect ending to a meal, I also prefer to serve small portions so everyone can enjoy a small sweet treat after an enjoyable dinner.  This time I was pairing a dessert after an Indian inspired meal.  I served this Apricot Almond Tart and it was a perfect ending to the meal.   I served it straight from the refrigerator with a small dollop of peach ice cream.  Oh so cool and refreshing…a great combination.

apricot almond tart


Apricot Almond Tart
Serves 10
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  1. CRUST
  2. 1 1/4 cup flour
  3. 1 tablespoon sugar
  4. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  5. 1 egg yolk
  7. 1/2 cup butter, softened
  8. 1/2 cup sugar
  9. 6 ounces almond paste
  10. 2 large eggs
  11. 2 teaspoons flour
  13. 2 14 oz. cans apricot halves, drained
  14. 4 tablespoons brandy
  15. 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  16. 1/4 cup pineapple preserves
  17. Sliced almonds, toasted
  1. Crust - mix flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender or food processor, combine butter and egg yolk. Add flour and sugar combination and blend until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Spread into a 10 inch springform pan. Press mixture into plan. Bake 350 degrees for 15 minutes. While the crust is baking, make the tart filling. Cream butter and sugar until light. Add almond paste in small pieces and mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour. Pour mixture over prepared crust and bake 20 minutes. Remove tart from oven, carefully place apricot halves on the tart. In a small saucepan, heat preserves, remove from heat, stir in brandy. Spoon over tart. Sprinkle with almonds. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Baked Chicken with Olives and Stuffed Roasted Bell Peppers

Chicken with Olives and Stuffed Roasted Bell Peppers is a perfect week night meal or company fare.  Moist chicken along with fresh mozzarella stuffed peppers, olives and drizzled with red pepper oil.  Since I had fresh mozzarella in the refrigerator and had just picked up a bag of small sweet peppers, I decided to combine the two, toss in some olives and my what a sweet dinner it was.  A feast for the eyes and well as a delicious feast with every bit   I hope you will agree. 

baked chicken with olives and peppers


Baked Chicken with Olives and Roasted Stuffed Peppers
Serves 4
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  1. 12 small assorted bell peppers/various colors (I used the mini sweet peppers)
  2. 6 - 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  3. olive oil
  4. salt and pepper
  5. fresh mozzarella cheese
  6. 1/2 cup assorted sliced olives
  7. 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  8. 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  1. Line a sheet pan with foil. Heat broiler to high heat. Place peppers on pan, broil 8 - 10 minutes until all sides of the peppers are charred, turn frequently. Remove from oven, wrap peppers in foil for 10 minutes. Remove peppers, slice one side of each pepper, open peppers and scrape out seeds. Set peppers aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken thighs on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake chicken for 40 minutes. While the chicken is baking, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes in a small bowl, set aside. Slice mozzarella cheese into 1/4 inch slices, cut to approximate size of 1/2 of each pepper, place one piece in each pepper and fold over remaining half of pepper.
  3. When the chicken has baked for 40 minutes, remove pan from oven, place stuffed peppers on baking sheet, return to oven for 3 - 5 minutes or until the cheese is beginning to melt in each pepper.
  4. Line a serving plate with the spinach leaves. Remove chicken and stuffed peppers from the oven. Place on the bed of spinach. Top the chicken and stuffed peppers with the assorted sliced olives. Drizzle the red pepper infused oil over the entire dish. Serve.

Baked then Grilled Ribs/Interesting Find – Hudson Sauce

Who doesn’t love a great rack of fall-off the bones BBQ’d ribs in the summer time? We certainly do!  I found years ago that by baking the ribs first and then grilling them, you get fall of the bone tenderness without the 3 hours of tending to the grill.  I usually rub the ribs with a dry rub or concoct a BBQ sauce to baste the ribs.  This time, I used a terrific new find – Hudson Sauce.  Their spicy marinade is unbelievably delicious and made this rib preparation even easier.  I marinated the ribs in their Spicy Marinade.  Then followed the method I have always used for ribs.  Bake the ribs in the oven first, them finish on the grill.  I even brushed the ribs with some of the marinade during the last few minutes of cooking.  Finger lickin’ good with a bit of heat and oh so easy!

 hudson sauce 2

                                                                          Marinated Ribs                                   Ribs just taken off the grill

marinated ribs cooked ribs


Baked then Grilled Ribs
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  1. Baby back or spareribs
  2. BBQ sauce or dry rub
  1. Remove ribs from package, place in large ziplock bag or place in glass baking dish. Marinate in sauce or dry rub of your choice. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove ribs from marinade and place on foil lined baking sheet. Cover ribs with additional foil and seal edges. Bake 2 hours at 325 degrees. Prepare grill - medium low heat. Place ribs on grill and cook an additional hour or until ribs are tender. Serve with additional sauce.

BBQ Corn

When we were visiting Hawaii earlier this year, I happened to purchase the most delicious BBQ Corn at a local food stand.  Is was just by chance that I noticed this stand nestled along side other small stands.  While the rest of my group was in line ordering shrimp from one of the many shrimp trucks, I found this stand and just had to try it.  We were all surprised how absolutely delicious the corn was and now that it is peak corn season, this is the perfect recipe to try on the grill.  You will not be disappointed, the flavors blended together are delicious.  A wonderful combination with layers of flavor.  They served their corn on sticks, I have found that wooden skewers are not strong enough to hold the corn, wood chop sticks or small wood dowels work the best.  Enjoy!

corn stand

BBQ corn

BBQ Corn
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  1. Corn on the cob, husks removed
  2. Melted butter
  3. Mayonnaise
  4. BBQ seasoning (there are many delicious blends available at your local grocery)
  5. Juice from one lemon
  6. Juice from one lime
  7. parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Amounts of ingredients will vary depending on the number of ears of corn you are cooking.
  2. Combine lemon and lime juice and put in a small spray bottle.
  3. Place husked corn directly on the grill over medium heat, keep rotating for 12 - 14 minutes until a light char has formed on the kernals. Remove from heat.
  4. Immediately after removing from heat - insert wood dowel
  5. brush each ear with melted butter
  6. brush with mayonnaise
  7. spritz with juice mixture
  8. sprinkle with BBQ seasoning
  9. dust with parmesan cheese
  1. As unconventional as this sounds, try it - the results are amazing!