Slushy Sangria


This cooling beverage will fill about ten wine glasses.  Blend an 8 ounce can of crushed pineapple, three cups of red wine, one and a half cups of orange juice, one half cup of lemon juice, and a half cup of sugar at high speed.  Pour in a shallow baking pan and freeze overnight.  When ready to serve, soften at room temperature and stir with a fork until you have a slushy consistency you can spoon into the glasses.  Enjoy!


Cheddar, Ham, and Green Peppercorn Souffle


A kind and generous follower of But First sent this recipe on to us very recently.  We were blown away with its cheesy goodness and the ease with which it all goes together.  The punch of green peppercorns gives it an unexpected flavor.

  • Four green onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of green peppercorns
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup of smoked ham, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh garlic, minced

Process the onion, peppercorns, and egg in a food processor until the onion is minced. Pour into a one quart  baking dish and add other ingredients, stirring well.   Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes or until puffed and golden.  Serve while warm with crackers or thick potato chips.

Pine Nut and Havarti Souffles

Want  full-flavored hors d’oeuvres to make ahead and reheat in just a few minutes before the doorbell rings!  Make several recipes of these if you have a crowd coming.  This makes 24 souffles in a mini-muffin pan.

  • Two tablespoons of butter, melted
  • Three tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • One small jalapeno pepper, seeded , deribbed and minced
  • Three tablespoons of pine nuts, toasted and minced
  • Six tablespoons of whole milk
  • Six tablespoons of half and half milk
  • One half cup of grated Havarti cheese
  • One teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • Two eggs, beaten

Coat muffin cups with non-stick spray and dust with a little flour.  Combine butter and flour in a pyrex bowl and microwave for one minute, whisking at intervals.  When blended, add pepper and pine nuts and cook for another minute.  Then add milk and half and half.  Cook for two to three minutes, whisking at intervals, or until thick and smooth.  Remove from microwave and blend in cheese, mustard, and seasonings to taste. When cooled to room temperature, add eggs, combining thoroughly, and spoon into muffin cups, filling halfway.  Bake at 400 degrees for about ten minutes or until puffed and golden.

Lime Rickeys by the Pitcher


We have long advocated cocktails by the pitcher or a signature punch when you host a gathering of people who want to catch up  or a crowd of new friends you want to get to know really well.  You’ll find other beverage recipes on this blog that are suitable for parties where a bartender is nowhere to be found.  This recipe gets a jump on spring just as the limes are coming in from the Keys.  Cheers!

Heat a half cup of water with a half cup of sugar to make a simple syrup and chill.  In a three quart pitcher, add one and a half cups of gin, three quarters of a cup of freshly squeezed lime juice, and the cooled syrup.  When you are ready to serve, add one and a half quarts of chilled soda.  This should make about eight tall glasses filled with ice and garnished with lime wedges.

Caviar on Cauliflower Cream


We love this alternative appetizer on thickly cut, home-made, potato chips but it will work just as well with blintz or melba toast.  The most important thing is to make sure you drain the cauliflower well after cooking so that the consistency of the cream is not runny.  I have found that microwaving the cauliflower in a covered dish with a few teaspoons of water for steaming is very satisfactory.

  • Two cups of cauliflower, cooked well and drained
  • One tablespoon of fresh chives, chopped
  • One third of a cup of sour cream
  • One half  teaspoon of kosher salt
  • Five ounces of your preferred caviar
  • One tablespoon of fresh chives, finely minced

Process first four ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Assemble by putting one teaspoon of cauliflower cream on the toast, followed by a half teaspoon of caviar. Garnish with a sprinkle of  minced chives.

Just a Bowl of Butterbean Hummus

butter beans

Nobody had ever heard of hummus when the anthem, “Just a Bowl of Butterbeans” was the sing-along hit at every college band party.  But today, hummus is the go-to snack and appetizer among folks of all ages.  We couldn’t believe how well southern butterbeans and Mediterranean spices worked together.

  • Two 16 ounce cans of butterbeans, drained
  • Three green onions, chopped
  • Two thirds of a cup of tahini paste
  • Two cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Six tablespoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • One teaspoon of lemon zest
  • One tablespoon of cumin, ground
  • One quarter cup of olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • Two teaspoons of sesame seeds, toasted

Process the first eight ingredients, thinning with water if necessary to get desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate in a covered bowl until ready to serve.  Hummus should be allowed to come to room temperature before serving.  This recipe may be may a couple of days ahead to allow full flavor.  We like to scatter the sesame seeds on top and serve with pita chips.

Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade

sundried tomatoes

A bright and shiny tapenade is what we need to banish these dreary January days and I’ve got one for you that harkens back to a cold and windy day in 1995 when I came across a bottle of sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil that had come in a Christmas basket.  I wondered what to do with them.  This is the result.

  • One 8 ounce bottle of sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • Two tablespoons of black olives, chopped
  • Three garlic cloves, chopped
  • Two tablespoons of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Two tablespoons of basil, chopped
  • One quarter cup of olive oil
  • One half cup of parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground

Process first six ingredients and place in a serving bowl.  Stir in parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.