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Who are the Roulades, you ask? It isn’t a who . . . it’s a what! A dish cooked or served in the form of a roll, typically made from a flat piece of meat, fish, or sponge cake, spread with a soft filling and rolled up into a spiral. And, it comes packed with the flavors you love, because you combine your favorites to create your own “special dish.”


Spinach and Sausage Pork Loin RouladeSpinach and Sausage Pork Roulade
This eye pleaser delivers on flavor, with chopped spinach and slivered almonds combined with Italian sausage and a variety of herbs and spices all rolled up into a roll-cut or butterflied boneless pork loin roast. Lea usually serves this with Fennel-Potato Au Gratin. We also have a version with holiday-time seasoning. You can find the recipe here.


Cranberry-Lemon Pork Loin RouladeCranberry-Lemon Pork Loin Roulade
Here is a delicious pork dish that is elevated to formal dinner status and delivers the flavor that its presentation promises. This tasty treat combines the flavors of cranberries, lemon, mustard, and brown sugar to titillate the tastebuds and please the pallet. Finish your servings with a tablespoon of pan-drippings sauce or pork gravy, and garnish with fresh chopped parsley or micro greens. An excellent side dish for this roulade is the Roasted Parmesan Baby Potatoes.


Parmesan Stuffed Chicken RouladeParmesan and Gloucester Chicken Roulade
Based on our delicious Parmesan Stuffed Chicken Breast Another pallet pleaser is this cheesy roulade which goes together quickly and delivers superb, rich, flavor while keeping sumptuous chicken breast the star of the show. Parmesan and gloucester cheeses are combined for this roulade, but, of course, any cheeses you prefer can be mixed and matched to take the flavor in the desired direction. An excellent side to accompany this dish is our savory New Potatoes and Mushrooms in Brown Gravy


Flank Steak Bacon and Spinach RouladeFlank Steak Bacon Spinach Roulade Medallions
Chopped spinach, crispy bacon and earthy mushrooms combine with your favorite steak seasoning to create a colorful and delightful roulade that dresses up the dinner plate and takes the meal to a new level of appeal. This is a dependable entree that pleases every time. An excellent side with this roulade is our Twice Baked Potatoes.


Parmesan Beef Braciole Beef Parmesan Braciole
The traditional braciole (the word is commonly pronounced /bra’zhul/) is the name given to a roulade (typically pork, chicken, beef, or fish) that are filled and rolled, browned and then braised in a sauce. This is an Italian flavored roulade with thyme, oregano, parsley, rosemary, basil and black pepper, baked in a tomato sauce and served on a parmesan crisp.


Larry ties pork roulade with cook's twineRoulades are fun, very flexible, and can add an element of class to everyday meals. The fillings are the fun part, allowing you to be as creative as you like, taking the flavors in your favorite directions. Meat roulades give you all the flexibility you need to wow the family and your guests with striking presentations without may limitations. One rule of thumb, however: always roll the meat with the grain running end to end so when you slice it later, across the grain, the beef will be more tender. For those who are intimidated by the thought of creating a roulade, visit our How To Truss A Roulade page. Enjoy!

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Do you struggle with guessing how well done your steak is? Do you make a calculated guess based on thickness of the steak, heat of the fire, and a length of time to the desired doneness? Sometimes that works, but often it fails dismally. So, is there a better way? How do steak houses seemly get it right every time? Have you noticed that they don’t poke them with meat thermometers? Any time you poke a hot steak you let all those delicious juices run out into the plate where they are wasted. Professional chefs can tell when a steak is done just by feeling it, and you can learn how to do the touch test too.

Chefs have developed four primary “touch” methods, including the “Face Test,” where the firmness of the steak is compared to various areas of the face. But, we don’t like the idea of our cooks touching their face while they’re cooking food, so we are going to discuss three other methods that use hands, which are more likely to be clean every time. Each of these methods takes a bit of practice, which is a great reason to cook (and eat) more steak.

Spring Back Touch Method

  1. Lightly press the center of the steak with your thumb. If it feels really soft, or jelly-like, it is still rare.
  2. When the center of a steak has a little more resistance and just springs right back, its perfectly medium rare. (It’s important that it springs back!).
  3. If it’s just firm and hard, and has no springiness, it’s well done (overcooked, in our humble opinion).

Fist Touch Method

  1. First, make a relaxed fist. The fleshy area of your hand between your thumb and forefinger is soft, which is how a rare steak feels.
  2. Now, slightly clench your fist. It will feel a little firmer, like medium doneness.
  3. The last step: Clench your fist tightly, and that area will feel like well-done meat.

Palm of the Hand Method
Palm tests for steak doneness
We like this one best: Here’s how to do the Palm method:

  1. Hold your hand out, palm up, and relaxed. Poke your hand by the base of the thumb with your other index finger. This is what raw meat feels like.
  2. Now, make an OK sign with your hand by touching your forefinger and thumb together. Feel the same part of your hand. It’s a little firmer. This is how meat feels when it’s rare.
  3. Move your other fingers to your thumb in the following order. As you do, you’ll notice the pad of your hand will get progressively firmer:
  4. Touch your middle finger to the tip of your thumb. That’s how a medium rare steak feels.
  5. Next, touch the tip of your ring finger to your thumb. This is what a medium-well will feel like.
  6. Lastly, touch your pinkie to your thumb. That’s the equivalent of a well-done steak.

Both these methods are fairly easy, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll cook perfect steaks every time.

Sound sound too complicated? It really isn’t, but we realize that the touch method can appear to be, until you get some practice in. In the meantime, if you would rather continue using an instant read thermometer, here are the temperatures for doneness:

  • Extra Rare – 115-120 degrees
  • Rare – 125-130 degrees
  • Medium Rare – 135-140 degrees
  • Medium 145-150 degrees
  • Medium-Well – 155-160 degrees
  • Well Done – 165 degrees

What happens if the steak has a gorgeous crust, but the temperature clocks in too low? It’s time for pan roasting! Fire up the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, put your steak on a roasting rack on a baking sheet with sides. Stick it in the oven. It’ll finish cooking without getting too dark.

For other insights into proper techniques for cooking that delicious piece of steak, see our notes on 7 Tips to Cooking Great Steaks.

We love a tender, juicy, well-cooked beef steak. Because preparing it perfectly involves proper technique, temperature control, timing, and seasoning, cooking a steak is a great test of your culinary skills. Cooking the perfect steak might not be as easy as you wish, but with practice, and some insight, you can quickly master it. Here are six tips on how to cook the perfect steak every time.

1. Get Your Grill On

Grilled Rib Eye with Baked Potato

Grilled Rib Eye Steak

Grilling is the best way to cook a steak, whether indoors or out. And, the way to best grill a steak is to get the grill very hot. Place your steak on it. Stand back. Don’t touch it. After about three minutes, use a long pair of tongs to flip it over. Grill it for another two minutes or longer, depending on how thick it is. Don’t poke it with a thermometer, or cut into it to see what color it is, because the hole or slice will just let all the juices leak out, and your steak will be dry and chewy. A medium-rare steak will be light pink at the center and between 130° and 140° F.

Grilling times depend on how thick the steak is cut. However, in every case, the grilling should be done on a very hot grill directly over the heat source. To cook your steak to medium-rare:

  • 3/4 inch thick – cooks 3-5 minutes per side
  • 1 inch thick – cooks 6-7 minutes per side
  • 1 1/2 inches thick – cooks 7-8 minutes per side
  • 2 inches thick – 10-12 minutes per side

grilling-times-by-steak-thicknessThese suggested times will vary, depending on how hot your grill gets. A little practice will help you nail down the perfect timing. Additional methods of cooking vary by the type of steak you’re serving, and there’s some great insight on cuts of meat and cooking techniques here.

2. Warming Things Up

T-Bone Steak, uncookedWhether you’re cooking a thin strip steak, or a thick porterhouse, you have to plan ahead, and that means taking the steak out in advance of actually cooking it. This gets rid of much of the chill, and lets it approach room temperature. The warmer the meat starts out, the less time it takes to cook the center, and therefore, less time the outer layers are exposed to high heat which can cook them beyond the desired doneness.

So, how long is “well in advance”? For the thinner cuts, twenty minutes to a half-hour on a cooling rack will do. If your steak is over an inch thick, plan on 45 minutes to an hour or more. Remember that the top will warm more quickly than the center (or the bottom surface if it is not exposed to air, such as when it is placed on a platter). This is why we recommend the cooling rack for this step. Remember, too, that once any surface reaches room temperature you have about two hours before dangerous bacteria begin to grow in that surface.

3. Marinading and Seasoning

Horseradish and Pepper Crusted Rib Eye

Horseradish and Pepper Crusted Rib Eye

When it comes to marinading and seasoning, this is the time to be bold. You can’t flavor the inside of the steak, so the flavor has to come from the exterior. Your marinade should point in the direction you want your flavor to go, or create a complementary contrast. Larry’s General Purpose Marinade is a perfect basic mixture that can easily be modified to suit your needs. Soak your steak in the marinade for at least ten minutes per side. If turning the steak, use tongs. We don’t want any holes that will let juices drain out during cooking.

In addition to providing great flavor for your steak, seasoning also aids the formation of a gorgeous crust. What we want to achieve here is big, bold flavor. We sometimes create our crusts from a thick coat of seasoning. Use coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and season generously so that you can actually see the salt and pepper. If you want to use a flavorful rub to create that crust, visit our dry rub page, which lists some simple, easy to make rubs for various pallet pleasing flavors. You can easily modify these basic rubs to let your favorite flavor dominate.

4. Chilling Out About Resting Your Meat

Smoked Rib Eye Steak

Rested before slicing

Aside from over or under-cooking and incorrect seasoning, not allowing meat to rest properly is probably the cooking blunder of which we are all most guilty. Cutting into hot meat before it has properly rested lets all the juices run out, causing dry, chewy, meat. Here’s why: when you place your steak into the hot pan or grill, the juices are forced away from the heat towards the center, increasing the concentration of moisture in the middle of the steak.

When the steak gets flipped over, the same thing happens on that side. The center of the steak becomes supersaturated with more liquid than it can hold on to. So, when you slice it open, all that extra liquid pours out. By resting the steaks, you allow all that liquid in the center time to migrate back out to the edges. How long to let it rest? For thin cuts, 5 to 10 minutes will do; for larger, thicker steaks, plan for 10 to 15. Don’t worry, your steak will not get cold, it will still be quite warm, juicy, and delicious.

5. Slice Across the Grain

Roast Beef on Meat Slicer

Slicing Roast Beef

There seems to be some confusion around cutting meat “against the grain,” or, “across the grain.” Those terms mean the same thing, but what is that meaning? You see in the photo in the next paragraph the fat that lies between the muscle fibers in that cut of meat. To slice “across the grain” means to cut those long strings of muscle into short pieces so they can be chewed more easily. Flank steak, skirt steak, brisket, and London broil have visible lines in the muscle. These are typically long, flat, and prized for the flavor, rather than tenderness.

Fat marbling in beef

Grain visible in beef

These cuts of meat are usually sliced in a way so that the fibers are cut through, making the meat more tender and easier to eat. Notice the horizontal lines of fat running in long lines throughout the raw steak shown here. If you slice in the same direction as those lines, you’ll have to chew through those long fibers that will end up like strings. If you cut across the lines, however, the knife will have already done that work, and the meat seems to be more tender. Try slicing thinly while holding the knife at a 45-degree angle for a more elegant presentation. You can also shave the meat on a meat slicer like the one shown above.

It isn’t usually an art form, but serving well prepared and handled steaks will get you a reputation for knowing what you’re doing, and you will get more comfortable taking better cuts of meat to the fire. Getting it right every time takes practice, but it is a skill you can definitely develop, and hopefully these tips will help those that want to step it up. Do you have favorite techniques you like to use?

Google recently released their “Google’s Year in Search 2016.” One category included was a listing of the top-searched food recipes for the year. We took a look in our own collection to gather our recipes for these delicious, and sometimes, just fun, items to create our own list of favorites in 2016.

1. Green Bean Casserole
Green Bean CasseroleThis classic casserole might be the star of your holiday table, but it isn’t just for holidays and pitch-in dinners any more. In 2016 home cooks were bringing this side dish to their table throughout the year, and we commonly see at least a couple of versions of this dish on pitch-in dinner tables. We are always delighted to try other’s approach to this staple. Here is our recipe for a Green Bean Casserole, with Mushrooms, Bacon, Onions and two optional Cheeses.

2. Brussels Sprouts
Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts with Cipollini OnionsThe Brussels sprout continues to be super popular this year; it’s the only green vegetable that got its own Google search spot in the top 10. Here is our recipe for Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts, and, you might also like our Browned Brussels Sprouts with Cipollini Onions.

3. Hashbrown Casserole
Hash Brown CasseroleCasseroles continue to dominate the top 10 list, and for good reason; they can be prepared ahead of time, chilled, warmed, and served later, making them very versatile and reliable. One of the most popular recipes searched is the ever-popular hashbrown casserole. This has been a Christmas Breakfast staple at our house for many years, and I prepared it a number of times for Men’s Breakfast at church. Get the recipe here.

4. Guacamole
GuacamoleAnother simple-to-make delicacy made it to the top of the charts this year. It’s guacamole made from wonderful Haas avocados. Avocados are full of monounsaturated fat and nutrients, especially potassium, B vitamins, 11 different carotenoids, and vitamin E. It makes a great dip with tortilla or corn chips, excels when planted by the spoonful on top of entrees, sides, salads, and even when served sliced in soups and tacos. The process is quick and easy, and produces a luscious, silky smooth dip with a hint of lime. You’ll find our recipe here.

5. Chicken Marsala
Chicken Tenderloin MarsalaThis is a delicious, classic chicken dish that used to be taught in junior high school cooking classes. Our Italian-American version calls for breaded chicken breasts that are braised with Marsala wine, mushrooms and onion. Paprika provides a smokiness to offset the sweetness of the wine. Quick and easy to assemble, this dish is ideal for a simple weeknight dinner, and is elegant enough to gain status as a longtime favorite for entertaining company. You can find our recipe here.

6. Chicken Tetrazzini
Chicken TetrazziniIf you’re not familiar with Chicken Tetrazzini, this essentially is a bowl of luscious pasta loaded with lots of chicken and mushrooms. This is one of Lea’s favorite dishes, to make, and to eat. If you have time to make your own delicious egg noodles, you can take this dish to a whole new level. Get the recipe right here.

7. Snow Cream
Homemade Ice CreamSnow cream can be one of two distinct desserts; a cream-based dessert with one or more flavoring agents added, or, a dessert in which snow is mixed with a sweetened dairy-based liquid to make an ice cream substitute. We rarely see snow here in Central Texas, so we tend to go with the cream-based version. Get the recipe here. Our recipe is located here.

8. Buttercream Frosting
Buttercream frosting on mini-muffinsIt’s great that there are enough cooks out there that want to learn to make their own buttercream frosting, rather than giving in to the ease of buying it at the store. It’s completely simple to make, and totally essential for baking when you want that extra measure of flavor that comes only from homemade buttercream. Our recipe includes a tip to avoid getting the frosting too runny. The recipe is located here.

9. Pork Chops
seared-pork-tenderloin-medallions2_smlThe ever-popular pork chop topped this year’s Google search charts again, which is not so surprising considering how easy or elegant this homey dinner staple is to prepare. We have lots of pork chop recipes on our Entrees page, and one of our favorites, Apple-Ginger Thick Cut Pork Chops, is located here.

10. Turkey Gravy
Pan Gravy with Chicken Fried ChickenSearches for turkey gravy rose to new heights in the last few weeks prior to Thanksgiving, and, according to Google, it was very popular this year! Once you learn to master gravy making, you can pretty much turn pan drippings and fond from any dish into a silky smooth and extra flavorful pan sauce or gravy to serve with your meal. Here’s our recipe and some tips to help.

These delicious recipes are essential for every recipe starter collection, and all have countless versions that have been developed by seasoned cooks over the years. Historically, the most adventurous cooks had extensive libraries of cookbooks to use for inspiration and exploration. Trading recipes with others who had an interest in expanding their meal offerings was a very common practice. Today, there are many other ways to find a recipe, including that quick search on the web, including our own collection. We hope you enjoy our tried and true recipes, and look forward to hearing about your favorite variations, too.

Terminate that chill and warm up with comforting tomato soup!

Bowl of Tomato SoupServed steaming hot in an over-sized mug, with a toasty brown grilled-cheese sandwich, tomato soup takes us back to those childhood days when this cool weather treat seemed really special. Comforting and warming all the way to the tummy, most of us probably had the canned soup most often. But, I still fondly recall the aromas coming from my great-grandmother’s kitchen during canning season when she was “putting up” tomatoes while making tomato soup from scratch. And, there is no tastier way to terminate a chill than that bowl or mug of tomato soup! Today, making homemade tomato soup is simple. Open a couple cans or jars of tomatoes, sauté some aromatic vegetables, and blend it all together. That’s it!

Selecting Tomatoes

Chilies and TomatoesWhile ripe fall tomatoes can make a delicious end of season tomato soup, when it comes to the classic flavor we remember, canned tomatoes are best. They provide a consistent flavor because they are picked, processed, and canned at the peak of perfection. We have found that crushed tomatoes have the preferred balance of acidity and flavor for soup, and they don’t have to spend a lot of time in the blender or food processor to break down. They have a texture between firm diced tomatoes and smooth tomato sauce, and they provide a fresh, full, flavor that is great for pasta sauces and smoother soups.

Home Canned Crushed Tomatoes

Crushed Tomatoes

We also use a small amount of tomato paste in our soups. Tomato paste comes in small cans, usually six ounces each, and also in 4.5 ounce tubes, and they are the most cooked down of all the canned tomato products with eighty per cent (80%) of the water content removed. The paste has a very concentrated flavor and a much darker color.

While the amount of paste in most recipes is small, compared to the crushed tomatoes, you really can’t develop that deep, rich, flavor we all love in tomato soup without it. Keep both canned tomatoes and tomato paste on hand for tomato soup anytime, and you’ll also discover many other uses for them.

Blending and processing hot tomato soup can be messy and even dangerous. See our tips on how to be safe while completing this essential task.

Creamy Tomato Bisque
Creamy Tomato Bisque One of our favorite soups is a steaming mug of tomato “bisque,” by definition a creamy, highly seasoned soup of French origin. It is classically based on a strained broth of crustaceans or shellfish, but it can also be made from roasted and puréed fruits, vegetables, or fungi. Our bisque uses fire roasted tomatoes, heavy cream and a sprinkle of Parmesan to develop an earthiness and silkiness. Get the recipe here.

Tomato Soup with Parmesan Cheese
Tomato Soup with ParmesanHere is another of our tomato soup recipes that has you do the puree while the product is still cool. I have found this to be much easier to handle than trying to pulse the hot soup in a blender or food processor. This recipe incorporates orange juice, a natural pairing with tomato, maple syrup for a touch of sweetness in the background, and cilantro for a fresh citrus note. This one, like the bisque, we finish with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. The recipe is on our soup page, here.

Tomato Vegetable Soup
Tomato Vegetable SoupOur tomato vegetable soup is a recipe we developed in the church kitchen while cooking large batches for fellowship dinners. This is a comforting and filling soup with just a hint of citrus from orange juice. We use homemade Emeril’s Essence in this version to take it just slightly to the cajun side where it blends so well with the mixed vegetables. Find the recipe here.

Rich and flavorful tomato soups are winter warmer-upper favorites that are chock full of vitamin C, and a great way to get the antibiotic effect of the onions and garlic. If you’re fighting a winter cold or flu, you can also whip up a delicious dairy-free version to keep the mucus factor down. It will still be delicious and give you a welcome boost. Tomato soup; the winter chill terminator!

Now that Christmas dinner is past, and the leftovers have been relegated to stews and casseroles, it’s the right time to be thinking about a change of pace with dinners that differ from seasonal classics while still delivering on flavor. Pork may be the ideal alternative, and we’ve collected a few of our favorite pork chop dishes to help you with mealtime planning.

Apple-Raisin Thick Cut Pork Chops
Apple Raisin Pork ChopThis is a delicious main dish that has been a favorite for generations and passed down in cookbook after cookbook. The apples and raisins combine to create a fruity and savory flavor, while apples and pork are just a natural pairing. Combined with touches of ginger, mustard and cinnamon, this hardy mealtime offering is well liked by diners of all ages. Get the recipe here.

Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops
Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin ChopHere’s a dish that hits all of the taste buds with a sweet-sour sauce, umami flavor from a quick browning sear in a very hot pan, and salt and pepper seasoning to taste. Thick center-cut pork chops finish in a balsamic vinegar and brown sugar sauce. These chops are as attractive as they are tasty, and really turn up the satisfaction ratings. Get the recipe here.

Coriander Boneless Pork Chop Cubes
Coriander Pork CubesLooking for a savory pork chop recipe with a dash of pizzaz? These thick cut pork chops get cubed into bite-size portions, marinaded, seasoned, and pan seared for that great earthy umami flavor that comes from a quick, hot, sear. Served over chicken flavored couscous or rice, and finished with fresh chopped coriander or parsley, this flavorful combination will become a family favorite. Get the recipe here.

Grilled or Roasted Stuffed Loin Chops
Stuffed Thick Cut Loin MedallionThis can be a really fun adventure. Have your butcher cut some extra thick loin medallions. You’re going to marinade them, stuff them, grill or roast them, as you like, and prepare a dish that is not only attractive and tasty, but will dominate the table when you dress it with a drizzle of hot balsamic reduction, and garnish with a cilantro or parsley twig. Get the recipe here.

Vino Pork Loin
Pork Loin Bites over CouscousThis is a savory plate of comfort food that is certain to please the heartiest of appetites. Taking a Cajun cue from Emeril’s Essence, we use a homemade version of the spice to bring pork to a whole new level. Use as much, or as little, as you like, to make this dish your own. We like it served with a side of Island Rice Pilaf. Get the recipe for this delicious pork dish here.

From roasted to pan fried, and smothered to breaded, our selection of savory and sweet pork chop recipes will give you many tasty options for your mealtime. Bone-in or boneless, thick-cut or thin, budget-friendly pork chops are a favorite option for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Pork chops is what is “in”!

Cranberry-Mustard Pork Tenderloin
Slow Cooker Cranberry and Mustard Pork TenderloinAn outstanding recipe that Lea adapted for the slow cooker to present big flavors. She hadn’t had a slow cooker for years, but bought one just before starting work on publishing our favorite recipes and trying out some new ones. This was her first slow cooker recipe, and she added an extra tablespoon of mustard to the original recipe to bring up the flavor. It was delicious! The recipe is located here.

Seared Pork Tenderloin with Worcestershire Sauce
Seared pork tenderloin medallionsA good cut of pork tenderloin is both tender and flavorful, so it won’t need a lot of seasoning. We coat lightly with Worcestershire sauce, and add the salt and pepper as we turn the medallions, so the salt doesn’t draw out much moisture. Try a little garlic paste or a very light coating of a flavored olive oil, if desired. The recipe is located here.

Spinach and Sausage Pork Roulade
Spinach and Sausage Pork RouladeThis delightful dish tastes as good as it looks! It combines slivered almonds, onion soup mix, and Italian sausage to create a filling for a pork roast. Cooking is simply putting the roulade on a hot pan and carefully turning every few minutes to get it brown all the way around, and then baking it until ready to serve. It is a fun dish to prepare, and is always greeted enthusiastically. Lea usually serves this with Fennel-Potato Au Gratin. The roulade recipe is located here.

Holiday Spinach and Sausage Pork Roulade
Spinach and Sausage Pork RouladeLarry also made a “large group” version of the roulade above, specifically for a Christmas meal we were serving at our church. It has special holiday-time seasoning, including carrots, onions and celery in the bottom of the pan, which helps give it a very special flavor. This recipe is for 48 servings, but can be easily scaled to fit the size of your gathering. Here’s the recipe.

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Roulade
pix-2008-baconloin_13Thick cut boneless pork loin chops get pounded out to 3/8″ thin and filled with cooked stuffing (left over is great), or flavored bread crumbs, and then wrapped in thick sliced bacon for a mouth watering, and pretty dish. Capture the bacon drippings and pan scrapings to make a wonderful sauce, served on the side for dipping, or as gravy. The recipe is located here.

All of these dishes create some pretty great drippings. If you like, while the pork is resting, make a quick pan sauce. Start by boiling a cup of red wine in the pan while you scrape up the pork fond from the bottom. Add enough pork or chicken broth to serve your group, and thicken with a flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot slurry. Have some fun in the kitchen this holiday season while preparing some great meals that can become family favorites.

Christmas morning is a time that you shouldn’t have to spend any more time in the kitchen than you want too. Here is a small collection of some of the dishes we would have at our house when our children, and then the grandchildren, would come to spend Christmas eve with us.

Walton House B&B Christmas Table SettingAfter the children were tucked into bed, adults set the breakfast table and prepared some casserole dishes that could be slipped into the refrigerator over night, and then into the oven in the morning. Buttered toast and hot chocolate were served first thing Christmas morning while we admired with anticipation all the presents under the tree. After opening our presents, the aromas coming from the kitchen foretold a delicious brunch featuring some of our favorite dishes.

Homemade Hot Chocolate with Buttered Toast
Hot Chocolate with Buttered Toast Sliced for DippingHomemade hot chocolate mix makes it really easy to make a warm, comforting, drink for everyone with very little fuss. Hot chocolate with buttered toast sliced for dipping was always a family favorite for early Christmas morning. We also kept a quart jar of the mix in the guest coffee area at our bed and breakfast so guests could enjoy a cup by one of the fireplaces any time they wanted. Get the recipe here.

Egg and Breakfast Sausage Casserole
Egg and Breakfast Sausage CasseroleWe made this a number of times on Christmas eve for our Christmas morning brunch. It’s always fun to get everyone in the kitchen mixing and preparing casseroles late Christmas eve after the children were in bed. Come morning, it is so nice to be able to pop everything in the oven, and then take a break from opening gifts and sit down to a great meal. We always had this with the Good Potato Casserole. Get the recipe here.

Egg and Sausage Casserole with Biscuit Mix
Egg & Cheese CasseroleThis is Larry’s recipe, which he developed during their Bed & Breakfast days. Using biscuit mix, rather than bread crumbs, it is loftier, and presents great eye appeal. It was always a hit with their B&B guests, and has the old familiar warmth of the Italian fragrance and flavors that really stimulated our appetites on Christmas morning. Get the recipe here.

Good Potatoes (Hash Brown Casserole)
Hashbrown Casserole with Chicken Soup and Corn FlakesTalk about wonderfully flavorful comfort food for those cold winter mornings! Using frozen hash brown potatoes, chicken soup, sour cream and cheese, topped with corn flake cereal, this dish is too simple for the wonderful aromas it creates. It can be prepared the night before, covered and refrigerated until morning! This is one of our favorites, and the entire family has delighted at this dish for many Christmas mornings. Get the recipe here.

Walton House Orange French Toast
pix-2008-walton-house-orange-french-toastLarry delighted a great many B&B guests with this delightful breakfast! It was the favorite of a lot of returning guests. We were amazed at how many people would remember exactly what they had eaten on a prior visit, and asked him to fix it again! The French toast in poached over medium low heat, and served upside down on a garnish of raspberry sauce, sprinkled with powered cinnamon-sugar, and topped with whipped cream. Get the recipe here.

Carrots, Potatoes and Onions
Fried Carrots, Potatoes & OnionsThis is a very simple, but comforting, dish that can be assembled very quickly, and with very little fuss, left on the stove top to cook over medium heat. The dish only needs to be turned over once when the bottom layer is cooked through and begins filling your home with delicious aromas. Originally this was fried in bacon grease for extra flavor, and has long been a long time family favorite. Get the recipe here.

Christmas Morning Coffee Cake (Monkey Bread)
Christmas Morning Coffee CakeOur family has enjoyed this Monkey Bread recipe several different times at Christmas; so much so that our granddaughters dubbed it Christmas Morning Coffee Cake. But, it would be a nice breakfast surprise any time! Simple to assemble and bake, it will become a favorite in your family, too. We’ve seen a lot of variations of this, but find that we keep coming back to this version. Caution….do not try to put more than the number of rolls called for in this recipe, as they may spillover while rising. Here’s our recipe.

With cold and flu season rapidly approaching, this is a good time to discover delicious recipes to help serve up the age-old cure to winter sniffles. We’re talking about soup. And, now with abundant winter vegetables that deliver or contribute to tasty soups, there are no excuses for winter doldrums. Squash is not only abundant in the fall, it is also cheap. Here are a few of our favorite soup recipes for chasing away those winter blues.

Chicken Lime Cilantro Soup
Chicken Lime Cilantro SoupThis is Lea’s version of a favorite chicken-lime-cilantro soup that she particularly enjoys at a Mexican restaurant we frequent. Combining lime and cilantro flavors with the hominy and chicken stock. It’s quick and easy to put together, and is an excellent dish to wisk you away from the everyday doldrums. Find the recipe here.

Carrot Soup
Carrot Soup, served hot or coldHere is an historic and flavorful recipe Lea acquired when we went to a hearthside dinner at Connor Prairie in Fishers, Indiana. You can just imagine yourself being in a simpler time when you sit down to bowl of this soup that can warm you up in winter, or cool you down in summer. It just doesn’t get any handier! The recipe is located here.

Spicy Sausage and Navy Bean Soup
Spicy Sausage and Navy Bean SoupThis is a perfect soup for those chilly days of fall and winter, with Hot Italian Sausage, Fire Roasted tomatoes, and fresh kale. This is a quick and easy recipe, but if you want to cook it longer to blend the flavors, leave the kale out until just before you are going to serve. The kale is best when it has just a little crunchy bite to it. The recipe is here.

Creamy Tomato Bisque
Creamy Tomato SoupLarry often made this soup for our church’s ill and shut-in members during our afternoon of cooking for weekly fellowship dinners and adult bible study. This soup looks quite tasty even when packaged in re-purposed plastic containers to be delivered to shut-ins’ homes. Celery, fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese, combine to make this perfect tonic for those chilly, gray sky, days. The recipe is located here.

Egg Drop Soup
Egg Drop SoupThis is an excellent recipe we developed for our youngest grandson, who really likes a good bowl of egg drop soup. Our version is heartier than you get in most restaurants. The recipe is real easy to scale for the number of servings you need. To make a single serving cut the above amounts in half. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Here’s the recipe.

Cream of Celery Soup
Cream of Celery SoupCelery is an excellent source of antioxidants, beneficial enzymes, and vitamins, and can be used to help with weight loss. And, it also makes a delicious soup! This recipe turns up the heat on a cream of celery soup that is SO much more flavorful than the canned variety! This soup will keep in the fridge for at least 3-4 days, and is an excellent base for other soups, stews and casseroles. Get the recipe here.

Spoon Dumplings for Soup
Spoon Dumplings in StewTake any soup or stew to a whole other level by adding simple spoon dumplings just like great-grandma used to make. This recipe was handed down by Lea’s grandmother to her mother, and then to her, and has long been a family favorite. These dumplings are moist and silky, adding another layer of flavor and texture to elevate your dish. Get the recipe here.

To browse our collection of recipes, simply click on the category links at the top of the page. “Entree” means “main item,” (often meat), while Side means something to accompany the “main item,” such as a vegetable. If you’re fairly new to cooking you might enjoy browsing our page on spices. Wonder about what spice goes with what? Just click here for some helpful detail.

Comfort food is what we like to call it, and we all love it. Food that warms the soul and creates a warm and comfortable feeling to combat the cold weather doldrums. Here are some of our dishes that fill the bill and are great additions to the wintertime dinner table.

Roasted Pumpkin with Maple Chipotle Glaze
Roasted Pumpkin with Maple Chipotle GlazeHere’s a spin on traditional pumpkin dishes for the fall and winter seasons. Using a small 2-pound pie pumpkin that is first boiled and then roasted, the wedges are colorful and full of flavor. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce combined with maple syrup create an exciting mix of flavors, and the roast delivers the beautiful fall color. Get the recipe here.

Barbecued Pork Spareribs
Smoked BBQ Pork RibsIf you haven’t tried to barbecue pork ribs, here is a detailed set of instructions to take you through the steps of creating a flavor much like an outdoor campfire style Kansas City sauce. The BBQ is wonderfully delightful with an additional pepper-caramel note after the flambe step. The sauce exchanges flavors with the dry rub during the tented process, and creates a flavor that is better than either one by itself. Get the recipe here.

Polish Sausage with Peppers and Onions
Polish Sausage with Pepper and OnionsThis is one of those surprise recipes that are tossed together with whatever ingredients you have on hand, and it instantly became a hit, being spread throughout cooking sites with their own little variations of it. There are many similar recipes available on line now, but this is the original that Lea put together for an impromptu lunch one chilly day. Get it here.

BBQ Pulled Pork SandwichBBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

You have a number of options with this recipe; If you want to serve the large, stadium size buns (5″), you will need to increase your pork accordingly because you will be going from a 1/3 lb serving to 1/2 pound per sandwich. You lose about 1/3 of the weight when you slow cook pork, so you can adjust your recipe as needed. The recipe is located here.

Baked Pasta Beef Tacos
Baked Pasta Beef TacosThis is a hardy comfort food that uses jumbo pasta shells stuffed with a rich, spicy blend of cooked ground beef, cream cheese, and chili powder with taco sauce topped with cheeses and sour cream. The combination creates a Mexican flavor delivered in a pasta shell! Garnish with diced tomatoes, lettuce, sliced avocados, ripe olives, or verde sauce, if desired. This is a very versatile dish that you can customize to make your own. The recipe is located here.

What recipes do you use to spice up your wintertime tables? Do you have favorites that will be passed on to your families? Drop us a note and share your thoughts. Happy cooking!

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