Sunday, March 31, 2013


The final hours of the Easter weekend are fast approaching.  The smell of ham and Easter lilies still permeates the house and the memories of a glorious Easter are still fresh.  Our day started very early.  Olivia and I arrived at church with our husbands at 6:30 a.m.  to put the finishing touches on the light reception held after the Easter Vigil.  The spread consisted of muffins, coffee cakes, quick breads, fruit, etc.  along with juice, lemonade and coffee.

Church was wonderful and afterward we headed home to prepare for Easter dinner.  The menu included ham, cheesy potatoes, asparagus wrapped with prosciutto,glazed carrots, apple and pear salad, deviled eggs, sourdough bread (made with Olivia's homemade sourdough starter), cheesy biscuits, lime coconut bars, and spice cake!  We enjoyed the company of wonderful guests, and ended the day thankful for all the blessings of this life. Enjoy this delicious potato recipe.  Make memories that will linger in your house long after the holiday is over.

P.S. We had fun making "empty tomb" centerpieces for the tables at church.  We saw the idea on Pinterest.  See a picture of one of them below.

Cheesy Potatoes au Gratin

4 Russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cups milk (I used 0%, because that's what I had on hand.)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons flour
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

1)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2)  Spray the bottom of a glass baking dish with butter spray.
3)  Either slice or cube the potatoes.
4)  In a bowl, whisk together the butter, heavy cream, milk, sour cream, flour, garlic, salt, and pepper.
5)  Place half of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish.  Pour half of the milk mixture over the potatoes.
6)  Sprinkle on half of the cheese.
7)  Repeat steps five and six again.
8)  Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown and bubbly.
9)  Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.  YUM!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 23, 2013



This VERY delicious cheese ball is a variation on a recipe we learned at the Das Essenhaus Cooking Show a couple of weeks ago.  Olivia made this version for a recent gathering at her home and it disappeared almost immediately.  Everyone really enjoyed it.  I think you will too!

While enjoying this great recipe, a friend shared with us their inventive use of the same kind of  raspberry jam used in this recipe. We appreciated this idea since you can sometimes buy an ingredient for a specific use and then kind of forget about the rest of it as it becomes a science experiment in your refrigerator (c'mon you know it has happened to all of us).  She told us she combines raspberry jam, thyme and Italian salad dressing as a marinade for chicken.  Another friend suggested it might also be good for pork tenderloin.  After you make this killer cheese ball, you might want to give this a try!

Raspberry Cheese Ball
1 cup shredded cheese (we like sharp cheddar)
1 cup shredded swiss cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
4-5 chopped green onions
1 cup finely chopped pecans
squeezable raspberry jam

Line a flat bottom bowl with plastic wrap.  Press the chopped pecans into the bottom of the bowl and up the sides.  Mix the cheeses, green onions, mayo, and sour cream.  Press the mixture on top of the nuts.  Cover and refrigerate.  Uncover the top and place a plate on top of the bowl so you can invert the contents on a plate.  Squeeze jam over the nuts.  Serve with your favorite crackers.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Last week we shared our adventures at the Das Essenhaus Annual Cooking Show in Middlebury, IN.  This week we are sharing yet another delectable recipe from that show.  If you are looking for something different, fresh, and delicious to serve perhaps for Easter, this would make a wonderful addition to your menu.  The combination of fruits, the cheese, and the sweet but tart dressing on this salad complement one another really well.

When Olivia made this recipe she used Anjou pears and Honeycrisp apples, but if you have another variety of either fruit that is your favorite, give it a try!  Olivia also changed the dressing just a bit by adding orange and lemon juices.  The original recipe also didn't divide and extend half of the dressing by adding olive oil for drizzling over the salad.  She made the changes, and her version is below.  Let us know if you like it!


3 ribs of celery, diced
2 medium ripe pears (Anjou), cut up
2 medium ripe apples (Honeycrisp), cut up
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
4 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup honey
1/8 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
pinch of salt
ground pepper to taste
romaine lettuce, chopper

1)  Mix together the celery, pears, apples, pecans, cranberries, and cheddar cheese in a bowl.
2)  In another small bowl, mix together the apple cider vinegar, honey, orange juice, and lemon juice.
3)  Pour half of the dressing mixture over the apple and pear mixture, and toss to evenly coat the fruit.
4)  With the remainder of the dressing, whisk in the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
5)  Assemble the salads by placing romaine lettuce on a plate, spooning the apple and pear mixture over the lettuce, and finally drizzling some of the dressing over the salad.
6)  Serve assembled salads immediately.  Store remainder of the apple and pear mixture in the refrigerator.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Olivia and I have lived in Indiana all our lives.  We enjoy immensely the many food traditions tied to each  season we experience in this state.  Maple syrup in the early spring, tomato festivals in the summer, apple festivals in the fall, and madrigal dinners in the winter are just a few of the many events we traditionally attend each year.  We thought we knew of most of the notable events in our area, but boy were we wrong.

My friend, Vickey, told me about an annual event at the Das Essenhaus in Middlebury, Indiana.  It is held annually in March.  It is a cooking show featuring a wide variety of recipes that are demonstrated and samples are offered to those attending.  We have been to the Das Essenhaus many times to eat at their restaurant.  It features  a wide variety of Amish and family favorites and delicious desserts.  The cooking show features much of the same type of fare.  The show recipes are easy and include everyday ingredients you probably have in your pantry.  It is held each year, is free, and also features vendors who offer food related products for sale.  Olivia and I will definitely be putting this event on our seasonal "must attend" event list and on our calendars for next year.

It is delightful to attend such an event and look at common  ingredients with fresh eyes.  The following recipe is an example.  Olivia made this recipe the day after the show.  To give it her own signature flare, she added pimento and said she really liked it that way.  You may use hamburger buns if you like.  Olivia chose chibata rolls-- a family favorite.

If you are near Middlebury, Indiana, check out Das Essenhaus.  It features a restaurant, hotel, theatre, shops, etc.  If that isn't possible, cruise the web looking for unique cooking events in your neck of the woods.  There may be something out there just waiting to put a little pizzazz in your pantry and a tasty addition to your culinary repertoire!

Recipe originally from:  Das Essenhaus Cooking Class
Adapted by:  Olivia Coons


2 lbs. 95% lean ground beef
1/2 lb. sliced bacon
1 package of ranch salad dressing mix
8 oz. package shredded Italian-blend cheese
2 oz. (half a jar) of pimentos, drained well
8 chibata rolls, split.

1)  Cook the bacon on an inside grill.  Remove bacon when crisp and break up into pieces.
2)  In a large bowl, combine beef, bacon pieces, ranch dressing mix, Italian blend cheese, and pimentos.  Mix well.
3)  Form into eight patties.  Grill over low heat on the same inside grill as you cooked the bacon on until burgers are lightly browned on one side.
4)  Turn patties and grill on the other side.  Remove burgers when both sides are lightly browned.  Do not allow burgers to burn.
5)  Turn the grill down to the lowest setting, and gently warm the chibata rolls on the grill.
6)  Serve the warmed chibata rolls with the burgers immediately.  You may serve these burgers with the traditional burger toppings, or leave as is since this is after all, an All-In-One Bacon Cheeseburger!