Gift of Dinner (new parents, sick friends, etc.)

I have prepared and presented this dinner to many friends This meal helps take the burden off loved ones. The casserole is ample for two dinners or more depending on the number of people involved.

I bring the casserole, a large bag of fresh mixed greens, a half cup of my vinaigrette, a cake, and Acme bread or equivalent quality bread. The recipients are always grateful and one couple told me that it “saved them” when they had a new baby.

The dinner consists of the following and will take a couple of hours to prepare and the recipes are found in my blog:

1) Chicken Florentine Casserole: Found under category, “Chicken”, May 3, 2011

2) Mixed green lettuce with my vinaigrette: Found under category, “Salad”. March 30, 2011

3) Lemon cake with glaze: Found under category, “Cakes”, May 16, 2013

4) Purchased herb bread slab or French bread

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Our Classic Potato Salad

My husband requested this potato salad after a business trip to Australia. It has the classic ingredients of celery, red onion, and dill. This is the simple potato salad that many of us had in our childhood. The dill is optional.

1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into ~3/4 inch chunks
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup celery, chopped
½ cup red onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes until potatoes are tender. Drain and cool until warm.

Add mayonnaise, celery, red onion, and fresh dill to the potatoes and toss gently. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm or refrigerate for later.

Serves ~ 4

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Shrimp Appetizer

Fresh shrimp are preferred for this recipe. Whatever shrimp you use, be sure to rinse in cold water first. This recipe is easy and elegant.

2/3 cup of shrimp
1/3 cup cream cheese, room temperature
~ ¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 – 2 teaspoon chives or scallions (green onions), finely chopped
~ ½ teaspoon salt
Endive or crackers of choice

Chop the shrimp into medium pieces. Add the softened cream cheese and mix well. Mix in the chives or green onions. Add salt and pepper to taste. Marinate in the refrigerator.

Place a heaping teaspoon on a pieces of endive. If you find endive bitter, use crackers that are subtle in taste and won’t over power the shrimp.

Serves 4-6

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Oatmeal Cake

This oatmeal cake is similar to one that I have already posted but it is a richer version and perfect for a family picnic, BBQ, or potluck party. I like to make cakes that I can bake in a 9 x 13 inch pan and then cut pieces easily as guests are ready for dessert. This cake is also easy to transport to a party.

1 ½ cups boiling water
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)
½ cup shortening or butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup raisins (optional)

Pour boiling water over oatmeal and let stand while creaming together shortening, sugars, and eggs.

Mix together the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Add flour mixture and oatmeal mixture together and add raisins if desired.

Pour into a 9” x 13” greased baking pan that will be able to go under the broiler later. Bake for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Check for doneness with a toothpick or cake tester. Take the cake from the oven and spread with icing. Place cake under broiler until icing bubbles. Watch carefully.


¾ cup butter
¼ cup milk
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cook butter, milk and brown sugar for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the coconut, nuts and vanilla to the mixture. Add nuts, coconut, and vanilla to the boiled mixture above. Spread icing over hot cake.

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Strawberry Shortcake Ideas

At the height of strawberry season, we love to make strawberry shortcakes. Here are a few ideas to make them simply.

1) You can make the shortcakes from scratch with a simple recipe and one of my favorite recipes is Martha Stewart’s from her Martha Bakes series:
Any extra shortcakes can be frozen or refrigerated and used the next day.

2) One can also purchase the Pillsbury refrigerated buttermilk biscuits and bake those. Split them in half and add your sliced, lightly sugared strawberries.

3) Another option is to purchase the best shortcakes that you can find in your grocery or bakery.

1-2 baskets strawberries
~1 Tablespoon sugar
~1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
6 shortcakes (see above)
Whipped cream

Slice half of the fresh strawberries and add a touch of sugar and lemon juice (optional). Let the strawberries sit for at least 30 minutes to soften. Cut the prepared biscuits in half and add the sliced, softened strawberries to the bottom of the shortcake. Add whipped cream of choice. Place the top of the biscuit gently over the softened strawberries and add fresh halved berries around the shortcake.

Serves six

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Chicken Marbella made easier

Chicken Marbella was published in “The Silver Palate Cookbook” years ago. It remains popular. I have modified the recipe to make it even easier. Also, this recipe serves 2-4 people instead of 10 or more. Do not be put off by the plums because they absorb the sauce and are absolutely delicious.

1 chicken (broiler-fryer) 2 1/2 lbs., cut into serving pieces or use your favorite pieces to total 2 ½ lbs.
2 cloves of shallots, minced
1 Tablespoon oregano
~½ teaspoon kosher or coarse salt
~½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
¼ – ½ cup pitted prunes (plums)
2 Tablespoons Spanish green olives
2 Tablespoons capers with some of the juice
2 bay leaves

¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup+ white wine

2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Combine the chicken pieces, shallots, oregano, pepper and salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers, and juice, and bay leaves in a large plastic sealable bag and mix well. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator, overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a shallow baking pan and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour the white wine around the chicken pieces.

Bake for 45 – 50 minutes approximately basting with pan juices every 15 minutes. Chicken is done when the thigh yields yellow juice when pricked with a fork.

Transfer chicken, prunes, olives, and capers with a slotted spoon to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with cilantro. Place remaining juice in a gravy bowl and serve with the chicken.

Serve with vegetable of choice. Side dish ideas would be rosemary potatoes and sautéed mushroom and onions.

~ 4 servings

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Buttermilk Pork Chops

A friend of ours gave us this recipe. This is her favorite way to cook pork chops. This recipe results in tasty and juicy pork chops.

Four 1-inch bone-in pork rib chops
1 quart buttermilk
Freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil

In a large bowel or shallow pan, place the pork chops and cover them with the buttermilk. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain the pork chops and pat them dry. Season the chops with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the pork chops and cook over high heat until browned on the bottom, about three minutes on one side and then one minute on the other side. Be careful not to burn the chops. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast for l0 minutes (or less) until the instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 135 degrees F. Let the chops rest for 5 minutes.

Serves 4

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