Friday, December 7, 2012

Is Louisville the next Portland?

Take a look at where I live, own and operate my bed and breakfast in Old  Louisville, Kentucky. 

According to an article sent to me  by Robert Wessels owner and innkeeper at Central Park Bed and Breakfast in Old Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky was named the top U.S. destination for 2013, following travel publisher Lonely Planet's discussions among its group of U.S. editors and authors. Robert Reid from Lonely Planet remarked, "While they tend to debate entries into each year's Top 10 list, everyone agreed on Louisville."

Reid goes on to say  "While many horse lovers descend upon this Southern town the first Saturday in May to witness the Kentucky Derby, also known as the "greatest two minutes in sports, there's more to Louisville than one horse race."

"With its hip bourbon scene (including micro-distilleries), fine dining and emerging East Market District, also known as NuLu, Louisville may just be the new Portland, Oregon." Reid said. "Consider exploring the city via the Urban Bourbon Trail for a powerful introduction to Kentucky's famous spirit."

The rest of Lonely Planet's Top 10 destinations: Fairbanks, Alaska (2); San Juan Islands, Washington (3), Philadelphia (4); American Samoa (5); E astern Sierra, California (6); northern Maine (7); Twin Cities, Minnesota (8); Verde Valley, Arizona (9); and Glacier National Park, Montana (10)

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Yaaaay, Christmas Cookies

Nothin'gets me in the Christmas mood quicker than making Christmas cookies. I love the smell, the fun of creating different kinds and shape, and of course I love eating them.

I found this link today to 77 cookie recipes. Needless to say, I had to check it out. It's a Southern Living Magazine site and it also has Christmas dessert recipes. Thought you might like to get in the Christmas spirit too. Love Chunky Chocolate Gobs!.......Yum.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Timothy's White Chili

Timothy's was a wonderfully eccentric eatery, opened by Tim Barnes in the early 1980s, on East Broadway in Louisville, Kentucky. They served continental style food and frequently displayed a "now sauteing" neon sign in the front window. Most Louisvillians will remember it and, although I wasn't introduced to it until I moved here almost 18 years ago, I still remember going there with friends to savor some of their awesome "White Chili".

In March of 1991, Bon Appetit did an article on Timothy's and published the White Chili recipe. I was ecstatic when I found it and have been making it ever since. When Tim died in the late 1990s, the restaurant closed and reopened in Indiana in 2003. They still have his chili.

Every other year, I spend the Christmas holidays in the southwest visiting my daughter and her boyfriend. They have a great house with 4 cats in Austin Texas. We have a wonderful week of Christmas, zoning out on food, wine and card playing. We all three love to cook, so instead of going out to eat, we spend every night cooking for each other. Last year, I cook for two nights and guess what I made for them...and their friends? Yep! White Chile. And they loved it! So I've decided to share the recipe with you ..........just go easy of the hot stuff. My mouth is still smarting!

Yield: 6 servings

2-3 8 oz. cans Great Northern Beans
2 LB chicken breasts
1 ½ tsp. oregano
1TBL Olive oil
¼tsp grnd cloves
2 med Onions, chopped
¼ tsp Cayenne
4 Garlic cloves, minced
6 C. Chicken stock or broth
8 oz. Chopped mild green chilies
2tsp. Grnd cumin
3 C. Monterey Jack; grated
1/2 C. Sherry

Garnishes: Salsa, Chopped fresh cilantro, Sour Cream

Saute chicken in heavy large saucepan. until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool, remove skin, & cut into cubes. Heat oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, then chilies, cumin, oregano, cloves, and cayenne pepper and saute 2 minutes. Add beans and stock and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1/2 hour. Add chicken and 1 cup cheese to chili and stir until cheese melts. Continue to simmer for another 1/2 hour. Add sherry 5 minutes before finished cooking. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls. Serve with remaining cheese, sour cream, salsa and cilantro. (recipe edited by Aleksander House)

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Louisville's Food Culture

Louisville, Kentucky is definitely on top of good nutrition for it's residents. City gardens and outdoor fruit and  vegetable markets abound during fair weather. Most local restaurants are proud to say their produce in gown within the immediate area. That goes for their wines and Bourbon whiskies too.

In addition, our bed and breakfasts pay very close attention to what they serve our guests. At the Aleksander House, we always use the freshest ingredients and make sure our fruits and vegetables, as well as our breakfasts meats, are not only fresh but of the highest quality.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Breakfast in Bed

Wake up to Tyler Florence's French Toast Waffles with Caramelized Apples and Bacon. Served with a mocha cappuccino whipped up with an immersion blender."

I found the above video and recipe while I was scoping out Macys department Store to purchase a new waffle iron. One of mine broke a week ago and I still haven't found a replacement that I like. I had two Toastmaster Belgium Waffle Bakers that I just loved.  Now I'm having trouble find the same waffle iron. I don't think they make it any more. I did see one on EBay. They referred to it as Vintage and it was used. I didn't want to take a chance.

My irons make a round Belgian waffle with deep indentations that fits perfectly onto our B&B china ware. If I buy a replacement that is not the same shape or does not have deep indentations on the grid, then we will not be serving uniform portions to our guests and that just wont do.

There are waffles, and then there are Belgian waffles. A regular waffle can run through a range of possible flavors and textures – from light and crispy, to hearty and filling – and can be any of a variety of shapes, according to the type of waffle iron that you own. A Belgian waffle is always light and it is always made in a deep waffle iron that maximizes the amount of batter exposed to the griddle for maximum crispness of the finished waffle. Their deep pockets are ideal for collecting syrup and butter, and while all types of waffles are good, there is nothing quite like a good Belgian waffle.

We need two because if we only have one it takes too long if we're making waffles for four or more guests having breakfast at the same time. If you've ever worked in a kitchen or restaurant, you know that keeping the food hot is a priority. And you have to be care with waffles. If you hold them in the oven too long they will dry out. You want them crusty on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

Anyhow, after unsuccessfully scouring the web for a duplicate of the one working iron I have left, I came across this Cuisinart round waffle maker...Not sure I will purchase it as it is not a Belgian waffle maker...the indentations are not as deep on the grids and the waffle is not a thick as Belgian waffles, which are 6-7 inches thick. So I will keep looking...but I still think the recipe and the breakfast shown on the video above are interesting and look delicious.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

How to Cut A Mango

I absolutely love Mangoes but when I go to the fruit market, even though they always look delicious to me, I usually don't buy them. Why? Because I have so much trouble slicing and pitting them. I have a Mango sitting in my frig right now and have been reluctant to eat it...until today, that is. Today, I found this video. It makes slicing and pitting Mangoes look so easy, I'm going to slice and eat mine for breakfast tomorrow. Why don't you join me?

compliments of Just One More Bite

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Crispy Zucchini Sticks

Serves 4
3 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt or garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 medium zucchini
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water


Preheat oven to 475ºF. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt and black pepper in a shallow bowl.

Cut the zucchini lengthwise into eighths. Cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces.
Combine zucchini, vegetable oil and water in a resealable plastic bag.
Shake to coat zucchini. Remove zucchini from plastic bag.
Coat with the bread crumb mixture.
Arrange zucchini in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until tender and browned, about 7 minutes.
Serve immediately with warm spaghetti sauce, if desired.

Grandma's Secret Tip
The summertime flavor combination of zucchini and basil was one Grandma liked. So she often added 1/4 teaspoon dried basil to the bread crumb mixture before coating the zucchini with it. She sometimes set out a bowl of warm meatless spaghetti sauce for dipping the crisp zucchini sticks into. (recipe and tip from Grandmas’s Kitchen)
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pear and CheddarGalette


pastry for single-crust pie
1/2 cup cheddar
 2 cups pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch slices
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Burnt Sugar Syrup Topping
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
Spray an 8-inch tart pan with oil and line with pie pastry. Sprinkle crust with cheese.

Combine pears, lemon juice, and nutmeg in a medium-size bowl; toss well. Add brown sugar and flour; toss gently. Mound fruit mixture on top of cheese. Fold edges of pastry up over the pear mixture. I sprinkled the top with nutmeg.

Bake at 400-degrees for 30 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
To prepare the burnt sugar syrup topping, in a small, heavy saucepan (cast iron is best), heat sugar until it
dissolves. Drizzle syrup over galette.

Burnt Sugar Syrup
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups water
Dump the sugar in a skillet on the stove. Turn the heat to medium-low. You don’t actually “burn” the sugar–you melt it. The sugar will just…melt. Seriously. Who knew? (Stop laughing. I’m from the suburbs.) Stir only occasionally. The less you stir, the better. If you can’t restrain yourself, walk away for five to ten minutes and come back. It will turn a golden brown color.

Now add the hot water, continuing with your heat on medium-low. (The online recipe instructed me to boil the water before adding it. This was not in sync with the old-time recipe and it’s not necessary. (Old church ladies know this stuff!) I made the burnt sugar twice, with each recipe, and I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to boil the water. Just use it hot right out of your tap. That’s good enough.

The melted sugar gets all excited when you add the water and it will bubble up. Then it will calm down and after another five to ten minutes (again, it doesn’t like to be stirred too much), it will look like pancake syrup.

Turn off the heat and set it aside to cool to room temperature while you start preparing the cake. The syrup is thin while it’s hot, but as it cools, it thickens. By the way, if you’re ever snowed in and have to have pancakes, this makes a pancake syrup in a pinch. Add a bit of maple flavoring if you have some on hand and it’s make-do maple syrup. Just remember, however much you want to make, use equal parts sugar and water. You know, if you’re snowed in and have to have pancakes. I wouldn’t want anyone to go without pancakes ever again. It’s an unnecessary tragedy.

Note: Using 1 1/3 cups sugar and 1 1/3 cups water, you’re going to end up with approximately 1 1/4 cups Burnt Sugar Syrup after it cooks down in the process. Your exact mileage may vary.

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Garlic Grilled Tomatoes

 This recipe was adapted from Steven Raichlen the BBQ king. I make these delicious tomatoes as a side dish frequently,  to serve with quiches and omelets. They're a great addition. They can be done on the grill or broiled in your toaster oven. This is a great summer recipe when tomatoes taste their best right off the vine.

4-6 ripe tomatoes
fresh cracked pepper
crushed garlic
olive oil
grated parmesan cheese

Cut your tomatoes in half crosswise, season with salt and pepper. In a small frying pan add crushed garlic, olive oil and fresh thyme, cook til golden, take off the heat and add in grated parmesan cheese. Place your tomato halves cut side down on and oiled grill until you get grill marks, then turn them over with tongs and spoon the garlic cheese mixture on top and continue cooking.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Fabulous Pumpkin cream filled bread

I found this recipe on line at:  Sunday It's a wonderful site, filled with all sorts of yummy recipes. Below, Tanya the author of the site describes how she experimented with low cal. ingredients to come up with this amazing pumpkin bread. In fact, it turned out so well, she eat a whole loaf herself (Nancy)

Tanya's story: "So my goal here was to play around with a recipe to make it so I could still wolf it down like a glutton but not feel so guilty about it. Because I honestly believe that even though moderation is a wonderful thing in life, some things are meant to be exceptions. Chocolate is one. And a bread that I wait all year to make is the other.

So after tweaking some ingredients and getting rid of others altogether, this is what resulted. It's probably not as sweet as my favorite pumpkin bread (that can easily be fixed by adding more sugar which I don't want to do), but it was the perfect pumpkin texture and really quite good (especially the second day)! The ribbon of cream cheese is a tasty addition. There are about 79 calories per slice."

Pumpkin and Cream Bread
Yield: 2 loaves (14 slices each)
1-1/2 c. pureed pumpkin
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 whole egg
3 egg whites
1 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. Stevia Cup For Cup sweetener
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
Cream filling
8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 T. all-purpose flour
2 egg whites
1 t. vanilla extract
1. For the Batter: With an electric mixer, beat the pumpkin, applesauce, egg, and egg whites on medium speed until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, Stevia, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Slowly mix the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture.
2. For the cream cheese filling: Beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, egg whites and flour until creamy and smooth.
3. Grease 2 8x4x2" loaf pans. Divide half of the batter between the two pans. Pour half of the filling in one pan and the other half in the second pan and smooth with the back of a spoon. Top with the remaining batter.
4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Don't overbake or your bread will be dry on the edges. Cool and remove from pans. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Tanya's Confession: " I ate this entire loaf by myself, for real. Rich asked me "How is that pumpkin bread you made?" I lied and said, "It is OK, you wouldn't really like it." The truth was I had already finished it and didn't want him to know. I really do love pumpkin!"

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Another lemony dessert for summer

Lemon Brownies

The "Brownie" Batter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour {King Arthur All-Purpose Flour}
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt {Sea Salt}
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Tart Lemon Glaze
1 rounded cup powdered sugar
4 tablespoon lemon juice
8 teaspoons lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease/Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with butter/cooking spray and set aside. 

Zest and juice two small/large lemons; set aside. {whatever you have}

In the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, sugar, salt, and softened butter until combined. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice until combined. Pour into the flour mixture and beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. 

Pour into baking dish and bake for 23-25 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before glazing.  Do not overbake, or the bars will be dry. {even with the yummy glaze}

When brownies are cooled completely, make the glaze...sift the powdered sugar, add lemon zest and juice, and whisk together all three ingredients. Spread 1/2 the glaze over the brownies with a rubber spatula.  Let glaze set.  Spread the remaining glaze over the bars, and let it set.  This glaze does not harden like most.  Cut into bars, and serve!

Found on Bakergirl, originally from Rita May's Recipes

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Baking: Lemonade Layer Cake

  • Cake:
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 3 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk
  • Cooking spray
  • Frosting:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened $$
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 2 teaspoons thawed lemonade concentrate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese $
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. To prepare cake, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.
  3. Pour batter into 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
  4. To prepare frosting, place 2 tablespoons butter and the next 4 ingredients (2 tablespoons butter through cream cheese) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, and beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat). Chill 1 hour.
  5. Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Not by Bread Alone: A Little History About Pie

Historically, around the early 1500s, it is thought the first pies on the European continent, were called "coffins" or "coffyns". They were savory meat pies with tall crusts which were sealed on the top and bottom. Open crust pies were called "traps". These pies held assorted meats and sauces and were baked like a modern casserole with no pan.

The origins of pie can actually be traced to the ancient Egyptians, who incorporated nuts, honey and fruits into bread dough. However, according to most food historians, pie pastry actually originated with the Greeks. At that time they were made of a flour and water paste which was wrapped around meat to seal in the juices. The Romans took home Greek recipes and developed their own pies, cakes and cake-like puddings. The pie craze then spread throughout Europe, via the Roman roads, every country adapting them to their own customs and foods. English women were baking pies long before the settlers came to America, but by the 1700s American pioneer women often served pies with every meal.

Samuel Clemens, who used the pseudonym Mark Twain, loved pie and often ate Huckleberry pie baked by his life-long housekeeper, Katy Leary. After a trip to Europe, where he developed a strong dislike for European food, he complained that " has been many months...since I have had a nourishing meal..." He ironically devised a recipe for "English Pie". His tongue-in-cheek recipe, hinting at the awfulness if these pies, follows:

"...Take a sufficiency of water and flour and construct a bullet-proof dough. Work this into the form of a disk, with edges turned up some three fourths of an inch. Toughen and kiln-dry for a couple days in a mild but unvarying temperature. Construct a cover for this "formidable creation", in the same way and of the same material. Filled with stewed dried apples. Aggravate with cloves, lemon peel and citron, and add two portions of New Orleans sugar. Then solder on the lid and sit in a safe place until it petrifies. Serve cold at breakfast and invite you enemies."  (Mark Twain)

Traditional Kentucky Pie

Many of the pies that became associated with Kentucky, came from the Shakers of the Amish in Indiana. Two very popular ones are the Sugar Cream Pie and the Shaker Lemon Pie. A  third is Vinegar Pie.

The Sugar Cream Pie was a simple, basic, "desperation" pie made with ingredients that were always nearby or on-hand at the farm. When making this pie "finger-stirring" in the unbaked crust was necessary, so as not to whip the cream before baking.

Only three ingredients go into Shaker Lemon Pie : lemon slices (peel and all), sugar, and eggs. The filling is more like marmalade. Where did the Shakers get the lemons? It is said that they traveled in boats to New Orleans to sell their wares and returned with cash and lemons.

This is a very tart lemon pie which uses whole lemons, rind and all, inside the pie. They are first sliced very thin, then macerated overnight, four lemons to two cups of sugar. The key to this pie is slicing the lemons very thin.

When lemons were not in season, pioneer women baked pies with vinegar, which substituted for lemon juice. They were custardy and still had a fruit-like flavor from the vinegar. Vinegar Pie remained popular in regency England, throughout the nineteenth century, even after English settlers brought it to America.

Sugar Cream Pie
Vinegar Pie
Shaker lemon Pie



Sugar Cream Pie
pastry for one 9-inch pie crust
3/4 cups sugar
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
whole nutmeg
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees and prepare the pie pastry. Place sugar and flour in the unbaked pie shell. Add whipping cream and mix well, using you fingers to slowly mix the liquid ingredients. Add vanilla and continue stirring. Grate nutmeg over the top. Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 and continue baking, approximately one hour. Do not over bake. Remove from oven. The pie will appear runny, but sets when it cools. If the pie doesn't set, get out some spoons and enjoy it anyhow

Vinegar Pie:
1 nine-inch pastry crust
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cider vinegar
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a blender or large mixing bowl, mix together eggs, butter, sugar and vanilla. Pour into pie shell. Bake about 50 minutes until firm. Let cool. Top with whipped cream.

Shaker Lemon Pie (late 18th c.)
2 nine inch pastry crusts
2 medium sized lemons
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
Slice two lemons paper thin.Take out seeds and macerate the slices in two cups of sugar overnight. Stir the mixture now and then so that the sugar dissolves into a fragrant syrup. The next day, prepare pastry for a nine inch two crust pie. Beat four eggs well, then mix them with the syrup and lemon slices. Pour the mix into the bottom crust and cover with the top crust. Bake at 450 degrees for fifteen minutes, then reduce heat to 375. Bake an additional 20-25 minutes, or until knife inserted into pie comes out clean.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Kentucky Derby 2012: How the Innkeeper sees far

      This year's Kentucky Derby festival started with a bang as always. Thunder Over Louisville started off the festivities a couple of weeks ago. If you like outdoor activities like marathons, balloon races, river boat races, and parades, you would be right in your element here in the "ville" as many locals refer to it, during this time.

    At the Inn, we have had a flurry of activities: guests coming and going from all over the country, new recipes being tried out, and the  redressing of some of our rooms. It's been a while since I had some of my antique pieces recovered. But I went ahead and redid two wing-back chairs and a lounge chair and ottoman, in our second floor suite.

     In august, we booked three rooms for the Derby. I decided that was enough because, after 17 Kentucky Derby celebrations, I knew how work intensive it would be. But, honestly, this year seemed easier and more relaxed than in the past. John, my regular assistant was there to help me and Chandra who has worked for me on and off for the past three years came in to give some extra assistance.

     We have changed our activities at our Inn over the years. Originally, we put on a Bar-B-Q for my guests on Thursday evening when they arrived. (I always have between six and ten guests.) But after years of dodging the rain on Thursdays, we switched to an indoor Cocktail Party. We also do a Champagne brunch on Derby morning, with Mimosas and a beautiful buffet.

     We really go all out at the both events, but the Cocktail Party is special. We serve: Brie wrapped in Puff Pastry or Filo. We used Filo this year and it was delicious. In fact, I still have a little in the frig that I secretly stowed away to eat tomorrow. I love it! We also served Curried Meatballs in an awesome sauce, Artichoke Dip, fresh Marinated Mozzarella, Boursin cheese dip with Tuscan Toast and crudites, fresh shrimp, and Derby Pie. Yum.Everything was made from scratch, except the Derby pie and shrimp. And, of course, we serve Mint Juleps. The guests loved everything. And so did the help (me, John, and Chandra.

 Brie Wrapped in Phyllo with Brown Sugar and Pecans

Phyllo wrapped Brie

1 round of Brie (6 or 8 inch)
Brown sugar
Whole pecans
I package Phyllo dough sheets (most super markets carry this)

Take top off of chilled brie cheese. Sprinkle evenly with nuts and brown sugar. Place in 350 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes, until sugar is melted and Phyllo is brown. Serve with small chunks of French bread, toasted bread, or crackers. Garnish with red and green grapes.

Phyllo-Wrapped Brie with Caramelized Onions

1 tablespoon margarine or butter
4 medium onions, cut into thin wedges (about 2 cups)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts (filberts) or walnuts
8 sheets (17x12 inches) frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
2 4 1/2 ounces rounds Brie or camembert cheese
1/4 cup apricot spreadable fruit
Baguette-style French bread slices, pear and/or apple wedges, or assorted crackers

1. Melt the 1 tablespoon margarine or butter in a large saucepan. Add onion. Cover and cook over medium-low heat about 15 minutes or until onion is tender and golden, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle sugar over onion. Cook, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes more or until browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in hazelnuts or walnuts. Cool.
2. Work with one sheet of phyllo at a time, keeping remaining sheets covered with plastic wrap until needed. Lightly brush one sheet of phyllo dough with some of the 1/4 cup melted margarine or butter. Place another sheet of phyllo dough on top of the first sheet, and brush with margarine or butter. Repeat with two more sheets of phyllo, brushing with margarine or butter. Cut a 12-inch circle from the stack; discard trimmings.
3. Slice one round of Brie or camembert in half horizontally. Place bottom half in center of phyllo stack. Spread with 1 tablespoon of the apricot spreadable fruit; top with one-fourth of the caramelized onion-hazelnut mixture. Top with other half of Brie, 1 tablespoon spreadable fruit, and another one-fourth of onion-hazelnut mixture. Wrap phyllo up and over filling, pleating phyllo as needed to cover and slightly twisting phyllo on top. Brush phyllo with margarine or butter. Repeat with remaining phyllo, margarine, Brie, spreadable fruit, and onion-hazelnut mixture.
4. Place one wrapped Brie round in an 8x8x2-inch baking pan or two rounds in a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Cover and chill up to 24 hours. Bake in a 400 degree F oven about 20 minutes or until golden. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Serve with bread, fruit wedges, or crackers. Makes 12 servings.


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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Be careful what you eat

While I was checking out the news on the internet this morning, I came across this video. According to the foods that are shown and discussed, I guess I should be dead by now because eight out of the ten shown are my favorite foods.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

To Die For Gourmet Vegetarian Pizza

This pizza was developed by a very close friend, another inn keeper, and myself a few years back. She's a wonderful cook and has taught me a lot. I hope I've done the same for her. Anyhow,  one summer my granddaughter came to visit me with her little girlfriend. My innkeeper friend, we'll call her Donna,  invited us all out to her bed and breakfast, in the country, for lunch.

We arrived early afternoon and Donna showed the 10-year-olds around her inn before they wandered outside to check out her dog, cat, and the swimming pool.  I was curious about what we were having for lunch, so Donna told me about the wonderful recipe for pizza she got from her daughter. Both Donna and I are very much into healthy cooking and eating so combining a bowl full of veggies, cheese, and a whole wheat crust seemed like a great idea. The girls wouldn't realize they were eating Spinach and whole wheat with all that cheese.

Donna had cut up some vegetables and caramelized the onions. She put the cheeses in little bowls and set out a Boboli whole wheat crust. She is so organized! Then she asked me to assemble the whole thing.
Following are the ingredients and method we used to produce that  fabulous bit of heaven. We all gobbled it down like we hadn't eaten in weeks. It was so good.

After that wonderful summer day, at Donna's, she and I got together and re-did the ingredients and method for making this delicious pizza, made some changes and printed out a recipe card so we'd be able to duplicate it. I've printed the recipe below so all of you can enjoy it.


 1 Boboli whole wheat pizza crust
*1 tub Boursin cream cheese

Place pizza crust  in a pizza stone (preferably) or a metal pizza pan. Spread the Boursin cheese over the crust, using a flexible spatula. Top with the following ingredients in order:

Sliced fresh mushrooms
Sliced (thinly) red peppers
Sliced (thinly) fresh tomatoes
*1 med. onion (caramelized)
Chopped fresh basil
Chopped fresh oregano
Shredded Asiago cheese
Grated Parmesean cheese
Roasted garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise

Bake in a preheated oven at the designated temperature and length of time on the Boboli package, or until crust is lightly browned and cheeses are thoroughly melted. Slice into eight pieces, serve immediately and enjoy!

*Note: Alternative to Boursin cheese: J.L. Kraft "Spreadable Cheese" (Parmesean, Asiago & Romano with Garlic and Herb flavor)

*Note: To caramel onion, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a ten- or twelve-inch skillet. Slice the onion as thinly as possible and add to heated olive oil. Stir until onion is caramel in color and glazed. It should taste sweet.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

It Wasn't A Dream

It Wasn't A Dream

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Louisville, KY voted one of best cities for family visits

ABC City Guides for Kids Names Top 7 Family Destinations  

Press Release:  Newswire

 PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Spring Break is around the corner and ABC City Guides for Kids has released its annual Top 7 Family Destinations list. According to Family Travel expert, Matthew Rosenberger, 2012 will be another strong year for family travel.
  1. Pittsburgh, PAHeinz History Center  and the Carnegie Science Center are world class.  Ride the Duquesne Incline for the best view of Kidsburgh and the city's 3 Rivers.  Visit Primanti Bros., the Strip District and Andy Warhol Museum.
  2. Atlantic City, NJ – So much more than casinos here, visit the Absecon Lighthouse,  Historic Gardner's Basin, Steel Pier and Ripley Museum, then enjoy salt water taffy on America's first Boardwalk or at the beach.   Visit Tony's for great pizza and the other White House for a submarine sandwich.
  3. Times Square, New YorkSee the Gazillion Bubble Show on Broadway, ride the Giant Ferris Wheel inside Toys "R" Us, and visit the Hershey and M&M super stores.  At the end of the day, grab a seat on the red steps in Father Duffy Square and soak in the sights and sounds of the Crossroads of the World.
  4. Chicago, IL – Plan a summer visit during the Taste of Chicago Festival.  Schedule plenty of time for Museum Campus, Navy Pier and the Art Institute. Lincoln Park Zoo, Lake Michigan and Wrigley Field are mandatory stops.  Wind down with a stroll on Michigan Avenue.
  5. Philadelphia, PA – Start at the Rocky statue then race to the top of the Art Museum steps and plan a city sculpture scavenger hunt.  Stop by the Franklin Institute and Mummers Museum then grab "one wit" at Geno's or Pat's in South Philly before heading to a Phillies game.
  6. Louisville, KY— The Louisville Slugger Museum may have the best "factory" tour in the country.  Visit Churchill Downs, Ali Museum, and Louisville Stoneware factory and gallery.  Kids will want to eat every meal at Lynn's Paradise Cafe.
  7. Washington, DC – The Smithsonian Museums, International Spy Museum and Newseum will be bustling all year. Plan a visit during the National Cherry Blossom Festival and catch a Nats game too.

Read more:

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Valentine's Day at the Inn

Valentine's Day at most bed and breakfasts is usually very busy. They fill up with couples looking for a romantic get-away to celebrate the day or week-end with someone they love. The Inns offer Sweetheart Packages, Spa Packages and the like. They fill the rooms with red roses, champagne and chocolates. We, at the Aleksander House, like to serve a special sweetheart's breakfast of Belgium Waffles with fresh strawberries and real whipped cream. Strawberries and chocolate seem to be very popular on Valentine's Day, so many of the Innkeepers make chocolate-covered strawberries. They're really not difficult to make. Here are a couple of recipes:

Recipes for Chocolate Covered Strawberries

16 ounces milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening
1 pound fresh strawberries with leaves
Insert toothpicks into the tops of the strawberries.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding them by the toothpicks, dip the strawberries into the chocolate mixture.
Turn berries upside down. Insert pick in Styrofoam for chocolate to cool.
Recipe from: Armida Cooks
Since it's Valentine's Day today, I figured I'll re-post this oldie-but goodie recipe for Chocolate Covered Strawberries. If you want to impress your cutie pie, these strawberries are so easy to make.
Whenever I go to a fancy Sunday brunch, there are two things that I first look out for: the champagne and the chocolate covered strawberries. The recipe below is fool proof and delicious. Just make sure your strawberries are super dry before you dip them in the chocolate. Oh my gawd, I'm having cravings just writing this!
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening, such a vegetable Crisco (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil)*
12 large fresh strawberries, with stems, rinsed and patted dry
Prepare cookie sheet by placing wax paper on bottom of it.
Place chocolate chips and shortening in medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 1-1/2 minutes or just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred; cool slightly.
Holding strawberry by top, dip 2/3 of each berry into chocolate mixture; shake gently to remove excess. Place on prepared tray.
Refrigerate until coating is firm, about 30 minutes. Store, covered, in refrigerator.
*Butter, margarine and spreads contain water which may prevent chocolate from melting properly; oil may prevent chocolate from forming a coating.

*Chcek out our Valentine's packages. They are available now through the end of February.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Starting today (01/01/12): Eat Healthy in the New Year

Well, I did it...not a good thing, but a bad thing..... to my cholesterol. I made a really stupid mistake. After taking a two hour ultrasound test to determine the amount of plaque in my arteries, I found out I had zero plaque. I was surprised, amazed,  and very happy. But instead of focusing on the fact that my cholesterol was only 190, I focused on the "no plaque" diagnosis and decided I could eat all the fat, including saturated, I wanted. Yeah....I know, as I said...stupid! I love dairy, so I just went nuts eating all ice cream, cheese, sour cream, etc. I wanted. And not the low-fat kind.

The result, a year later, was a rise of 30 points in my cholesterol. I can't believe I did this to myself. I didn't gain a lot of weight, only around seven pounds, but the increased  cholesterol has me and my doctor worried enough that I've made a New Year's resolution to get it down. My doctor says it's not high enough to put me on medication, so he evidently trusts me to do what I can with diet and exercise. I really know what to do; I've done it before, but I scouted around the intenet to find a few reminders and some new ideas just to get me back on the right track.

So here's my plan:  Diet wise, of course I have to stop eating all that Ben and Jerry's ice cream...that's a given. In addition, I'm going back to low fat dairy in general and cutting out processed foods, including cookies and crackers. One exception is rice cholesterol there. Here's one thing I haven't tried before: Cheerios for breakfast every morning, with walnuts and dried cranberries. They say it works; I'll let you know if it works for me.

Now, for the exercise. I know for a fact regular exercise lowers cholesterol. So yesterday, I trekked over to the YMCA, where I have a membership I haven't used in months, and checked out what's available for seniors. First thing was the weight room. In October and November, I was in physical therapy and worked on my quads and ham strings. It really strengthened me and I lost some weight to boot. Anyhow, I'm going to work on the same machines at the Y. I lost some of that strength, because I didn't continue exercising after I was released from PT, so I need to get that back right away. In addition to the weight machines, I plan on using the treadmill. It's a machine that I can handle pretty well so I think it will be helpful. Finally, I will take a "sit-down" free weights class for seniors twice a week, for upper body strength.

Now, besides lowering my cholesterol and gaining back some strength, I want to lose some weight. I have stage 4 arthritis, which is essentially bone on bone. So, strengthening those muscles around the knee and losing weight will help alleviate the pain.

Good plan...right? Well, I just hope I can stick to it. It'll be hard when the business picks up again after January. But right now I'm pretty motivated and if I can get myself hooked on this program, like I was on PT, I think I can muddle through. Anyhow, at my age, it's super important to maintain my health and strength.....Pray for me.

I found this video and I will be posting more ideas as I find them.

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