Cream Cheese Appetizer Spread

cream cheesedipThis is truly a good old standby. I like to make this and spread it on bagels or any sort of cracker as well as raw veggies. It’s a light snack yet full of flavor.

There are tons of variations to this recipe and the basics are cream cheese, carrots, scallions, and red bell pepper, but there are lots of other things you can add to make it both your own, and vary it from time to time to suit your taste at the moment.

This is my version.


  • 1 8 oz brick of cream cheese
  • 1/4 c each of carrot, celery, red pepper, red onion, and patted-dry roasted pepper
  • 1/2 of a roasted poblano or Hatch chile
  • 2 scallions, including green parts
  • 1 jalapeño or Serrano chile, seeds removed
  • 1 tbsp of chopped chives (fresh)
  • 1 tsp chopped dried dill or 1 tbsp fresh
  • 1 clove garlic
  • about 1/3 of a cup of green olives
  • 1 tsp of olive juice


  1. Chop all veggies into a fairly small dice
  2. Place all in a food processor and whir until it is one lovely homogenous paste.
  3. Serve with crackers, bread or raw veggies.

SERVES: 1 generous cup

NOTES: Play with the ingredients as you like. Black olives, hotter chiles, other herbs, perhaps some sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. It all works.

SOURCE: Sherry Peyton



Braised Beef Tips with Spring Onions

Beer-Braised-Beef-1-575x262This sauce is everything in this dish.

But the meat is succulent, and it all plays well with either mashed potatoes or noodles.

The original dish had dumplings which I found a bit too heavy and not so complimentary to the wonderful sauce, so I omitted them, but of course you can add them back in and omit the potato/noodle option.



  • 6 or so spring onions (any will do, but these can be halved and hold up nicely. cut off the green stems and save for a soup)
  • 2 pound chuck roast cut up into 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons softened butter divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound whole baby bella or button mushrooms
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 quarts beef stock
  • ½ cup port wine
  • Small bunch of thyme tied together with twine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon gravy flavoring such as Kitchen Bouquet
  • Additional 1 teaspoon salt, as needed
  • Additional ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons flour



  • In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat, place two tablespoons of butter with the two tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot and starting to get frothy, add half of the beef (do not crowd meat) and sear on all sides. Once browned on all sides (8-10 minutes per batch), repeat for second half of beef. Set all of the seared beef aside.
  • Reduce to medium and add one more tablespoons of butter and then add onions. Sauté three minutes. Add whole mushrooms and sauté for three more minutes. Add white wine and sugar. Cook for two minutes scraping up and bits from the bottom.
  • To the liquid left in the pot, add reserved beef and any liquid from the beef, beef stock, port wine, thyme bundle, bay leaves and kitchen bouquet. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover. Cook on simmer for two hours and up to four.
  • After two hours, remove cover and taste. If needed, add additional salt and pepper.
  • Mix last two tablespoons of softened butter with two tablespoons of flour to form a paste and add to hot stock and beef. Stir to combine and add in reserved onions and mushrooms along with any liquid in the bowl. Bring back to hot.


NOTES: I served this with broccoli, but green beans would be great too. You could also add carrots and I would add them with the onions at the beginning and sear them and cook them about half way, and then remove until about the last 30 minutes of simmer. Nice rolls would be good to sop up every bit of the juice. You can substitute sherry for the port.

SOURCE: Adapted from Family Feast



Mexican Layered Salad

Make-Ahead_Mexican_SaladThis is a lovely salad, fit for a picnic, and if done properly, lasts a couple of extra days in the fridge. So leftovers are fine, as long as you follow the rules.

Additionally, there is another Mexican Layered salad that starts with a base of refried beans and was quite popular in the late 80’s. It is wonderful but is more of a dip than a true salad, and I’ll post that recipe another time.



  • 4 cups of assorted lettuce of your choice. It’s fine if it is a mix, or your own creation, and may include some red cabbage and grated carrot if you wish.
  • 1 can rinsed and very very well drained beans, such as pinto, red, black, or kidney.
  • 3 roma tomatoes, seeded, and chopped small, drained very well.
  • 4-6 scallions, chopped, including the green parts.
  • 1 1/2 c corn, canned, frozen and defrosted, or fresh
  • 2 avocados, diced and tossed gently with the juice of a lime.
  • 1 cup queso fresca cheese, crumbled, or of a similar type.
  • 1 c mayo
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 3 diced jalapeno’s (seeds removed if desired)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano
  • juice of one lime with 1 tsp of zest
  • 1 tsp chipotle or milder chile powder as desired
  • pepper to taste, and salt
  • 6 oz of shredded cheese (cheddar, Monteray Jack or combo)
  • salsa chips or corn tortillas baked until chrispy and broken up into bits


  1. In a large bowl, layer in the order given all the ingredients until you get to the mayo.
  2. It is essential that you get everything as dry as possible, since this will allow the sealed salad to hold up for a couple of days in the fridge if you don’t eat it all on day one.
  3. The issue for the avocado is that it is in a flat layer that will be cut off from air, which is what discolors it. It must be well sealed in with the dressing.
  4. After layering everything, prepare the dressing
  5. Spread the dressing over the entire top making sure to seal around the edge completely.
  6. Cover with the shredded cheese, and then saran wrap the salad, leaving the chips to use as a garnish in a separate bowl.


NOTES: You could use other chiles in the dressing, and roast them ahead of you desire. In serving attempt to make sure that each serving has of all the ingredients.

SOURCE: Sherry Peyton

Asian Pot Luck Salad

AsianPotluckThis salad, or a similar version can be found almost anywhere on the Internet.

It is nicely crunchy and has lots of interesting flavors that make it a great pot luck dish, or in a smaller version perfect for a grilling day.

Feel free to omit any of the extras if they aren’t to your liking.


  • 1 (16-ounce) bag coleslaw mix or about 3 cups of chopped cabbage with some slivered carrots and red slaw. Also feel free to add in some broccoli slaw as well. Half and half works well.
  • 1 (3-ounce) packages of ramen noodles, crumbled (you will not use the seasoning packet)
  • 1 cup shelled edamame (you could substitute any bean you like including garbanzos or peas)
  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted, and julienned (or diced) (other fruit is also acceptable such as dried cranberries, or peaches or omit
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced green onions (scallions)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil (or any cooking oil)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch of salt and black pepper
  • a dish of dry unsalted peanuts


  1. Crush and spread the ramen noodles on a cookie sheet and add the sliced almonds. Put in a 400º oven just until they start to brown, mix a bit, and leave a couple of minutes more. Remove and cool and place in a separate container.
  2. Place all the rest of the veggies into a large bowl.
  3. Mix the oil on down together in a separate bowl until emulsified.
  4. Dress the vegetables with the vinaigrette.
  5. Serve with the ramen noodles on the side along with the peanuts.


NOTES: I don’t recommend placing the ramen noodles in the salad unless you are fairly sure it will be eaten that day to keep the crunchiness intact. Others of course may want the ramen noodles softened up. I prefer to add them as a topping.

SOURCE: Adapted from a general recipe found everywhere.

Chocolate and Oatmeal Cookie Bars

I wanted something simple to fix for the 4th, and this easy cookie bar fit the bill. Just exactly what you would expect.

Fine as a snack and as you know of me, breakfast fare!


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 2½ cups oats (not quick cooking)
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1½ cups pecans, chopped


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In an electric mixer cream butter and brown sugar together. Add eggs, and vanilla; mix well. Mix in flour, salt, and baking soda until well incorporated. Fold in oats, chocolate chips, and pecans.
  • Spread in to a 15×10 inch pan for thinner bars, or a 13×9 for thick bars.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes for thin, closer to 30-40 for thick.
  • Remove from the oven, and let cool before slicing.


NOTES: I would recommend the 15 x 10 size otherwise these get pretty tall.

Andouille and Skillet Potatoes with Chiles and Radicchio

skillet taters and kielbasaSo I was looking for something fairly fast, and very tasty, and I remembered this great potato side dish that turned out so well, and I thought, hey, add some Andouille sausage and it is a nice meat salad dish!

And so I did.

And it was.

And I came, I saw, and I conquered.

This was a real pleaser all the way around.





  1. Prepare as normal, adding the sausage at the end and warming through.
  2. Dress with the salad dressing while still warm.


NOTES: Other types of sausage can be used, as well as left over skirt steak, ham, pork roast. It works fine with any meat.

SOURCE: Sherry Peyton