Friday, April 10, 2015

♥ Garlic Knots

So easy to make and so buttery good!  And the aroma coming out of my kitchen while these are baking is out of this world. The hardest thing about these is waiting for them to bake!  

Garlic Knots

 1 3/4 cups of warm water at 115 degrees
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt or course salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of Active Dry Yeast
5 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/8 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced and crushed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Combine water, olive oil, salt, sugar, and active dry yeast in a larger bowl. Mix so that yeast dissolves then add the flour and mix well.
Cover the bowl with a warm hand towel or greased plastic wrap and set in a warm spot until doubled in size (usually 1-3 hrs).

I then chill the dough for about 15 minutes to make it easier to work with, but you don't have to if your time is limited. You can oil your hands to help keep dough from sticking to them. Divide the dough in two parts. I throw the dough on an oiled surface several times to flatten it and then roll it into a rectangle about 5" x 16" and 1/2" thick. Next I use a pizza cutter to make 1/2" x 5" strips.

Sprinkle dough strips and work surface with flour. Taking the strip nearest to you, roll it back and forth to create an even rope. Tie into a knot (over, under, and through) and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Place knots about an 1 1/2" apart. Using lots of flour to keep the dough from sticking to itself while making your knots makes it so much easier. Continue making the rest of the knots with the second half of the dough. After each sheet pan fills up, cover with a dry towel, and place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise.

Preheat oven to 400° degrees. After knots have doubled in size, take off the towel bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Garlic Topping

While knots are baking, make garlic topping. Warm the olive oil, butter, and garlic in a small saucepan. Add chopped parsley and set aside. While the knots are still warm and just out of the oven, brush with the garlic oil and season with salt. Serve warm with your favorite pasta dish!

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♥ Almond Croissants

I love croissants with tea or coffee and a little honey or butter. There is truly nothing like a warm buttery croissant fresh out of the oven. The recipe really isn't that hard but it takes some practice getting the shape right. Someti...mes I don't even bother and just make them as simple as I can. They still taste just as good! 

Almond Croissants

4 teaspoons instant dried yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (no more than 110 degrees)
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water for 5 minutes. Add the bread flour, milk, sugar, melted butter, and salt to the dissolved yeast and water and mix the dough on medium speed for about 2 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add 1 tablespoon of extra flour at a time, until the dough is just firm enough to fold a shape.

Shape dough into a ball and loosely cover it with plastic wrap. Allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Roll the dough into a 10-inch by 15-inch rectangle, and then cover it loosely and allow it to rise for 40 minutes.

Brush the rectangle with the softened butter and then fold the dough into thirds, like a letter. Roll the long, thin rectangle back into the original 10-inch by 15 shape. Fold the dough into thirds, again, and then cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Repeat this process one more time.

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough diagonally to make 20 triangles and then roll the croissants up from the base curving the ends slightly to make a crescent shape. Arrange each finished croissant on a lightly greased baking sheet with at least 1 1/2 inches between each pastry. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and allow them to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until they are nearly doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk the egg and 2 tablespoons milk together to make an egg wash. Brush the egg wash across the surface of each pastry and then sprinkle them with the sliced almonds. Bake the croissants for 14 to 16 minutes, until they are puffed and golden brown and the almonds are toasted. If desired sprinkle the powdered sugar over the tops of the warm croissants. Or drizzle some honey and a few additional almonds over the top. Oh Yum! 

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Thursday, April 09, 2015

♥ Shrimp Macaroni Salad

I love this salad and have been making it for years. It's smooth and creamy with tender shrimp and just the right blend of spices.  I eat it warm or good!   And it's one of those salads that just gets better each day.  In Maryland we love adding Old Bay seasoning to give it a little kick!

Macaroni Shrimp Salad

1 lb cooked pasta (I use elbows or Cavatapi)...
1 lb large precooked fresh or frozen shrimp, thawed and cut in pieces
1 cup diced celery
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (optional)
1 Vidalia or sweet onion chopped
2 teaspoons fresh dill weed
2 teaspoons celery seed
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chives
1 cup mayo (I only use Hellman's Real Mayo)
1 tablespoon of milk or half and half

If using frozen peeled and cleaned shrimp, thaw them over night in bag they came in so you can save some of the liquid. Cook pasta in large pot of salted, boiling water for until tender. Drain pasta and add to large bowl. Do not rinse the pasta. 

While pasta is cooking, remove tails from shrimp and cut into preferred sized pieces. I like to just cut them in half. In a separate bowl whisk together mayo, cream (or half and half), a little of the shrimp liquid, diced celery, chopped onion, salt and pepper to taste. Add the dill weed, celery seed, Old Bay seasoning if using, and chives.

Add dressing to pasta and mix in well. Then fold in shrimp making sure you distribute throughout. You may not need all the dressing if you prefer your salads to be more dry. I like mine creamy. Taste dressing to see if you need more seasonings.

I serve this warm when I first make it and then cold for the next day or two. It just gets better.

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Monday, April 06, 2015

Chicken Waldorf Salad

Tender chunks of chicken with granny smith apples, grapes and celery to give it the perfect crunch.  Served on crisp buttery club crackers. So good this way but I made enough for later this week to serve on a nice soft buttery croissant or Kaiser roll. I love this salad and it's so easy to make.

Chicken Waldorf Salad

2 cups cooked rotisserie chicken breast, cubed
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and cubed
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Lightly toss chicken with grape halves, apple, celery in a salad bowl. Whisk mayonnaise, vanilla yogurt, and lemon juice in a separate bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss again to coat. Salt and pepper to taste.

NOTE:  You can also add 1/2 cup dried cranberries and toasted pecans or walnuts.

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Buttery Buttermilk Biscuits

I made biscuits this past Easter weekend and as usual, when I go with my Mom's old recipe they just come out so wonderfully light and fluffy.  But this time I added a little something extra.  Once I rolled my dough and made my rounds, I brushed the tops with Star Fine Food Butter Flavored Olive Oil and oh what a difference!  Beautiful golden biscuits that are so buttery inside and out you can put away the butter!

Buttery Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, very cold from the freezer
1 cup cold buttermilk 

1/4 cup Star Fine Foods Butter Flavored Olive Oil

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Combine the four, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a large bowl.  Cut the very cold butter into small chunks and using a pastry cutter, cut into the flour until it resembles course meal. 

Add the buttermilk and mix just until combined. At this point if it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk. It should be very wet.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Gently, gently PAT (do NOT roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick. Fold the dough about 5 times, gently press the dough down to a 1 inch thick. Use a round cutter to cut into rounds.

Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet touching each other. 
Generously brush the dough with the butter flavored olive oil allowing it to run down over the sides. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until they are a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom. Do not over bake.

Hints: You want your ingredients to stay cold so you want to handle it as little as possible or you will have tough biscuits. So work quickly. If you use a food processor the ingredients stay colder and there's less chance of over mixing. You also must pat the dough out with your hands, lightly. Don't roll these with a rolling pin or you will have tough biscuits.

You can also make them up and freeze them on a cookie sheet. Once they are frozen, drop them into a Ziploc bag or container for up to one month. Then just bake frozen biscuits as you need them in the oven at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.

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Star Fine Foods now has a promo code for all Welcome Home fans that will give you a 10% discount on anything you order online. Just enter WELCOMEHOME10 at checkout!

STAR Butter Flavored Olive Oil is available at Food Lion, Raley's, Stater Bros., FoodMaxx , select Walmarts and online at

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!
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Maple Pecan Glazed Ham with Apples

I tried a new recipe for my Easter Ham  this year and while it may not have been my prettiest ham, it sure was good. I usually buy whole uncut hams because spiral hams tend to dry out on the edges. But I couldn't pass up the sale price on the spiral cut hams at Costco, so I decided to go with one this year. Next I decided to make my own glaze instead of the one that came in the packet....I think those packets taste too much like cloves and I wanted a Southern ham this year. So I made a maple syrup glaze with some apple juice and some pecans. Then I decided to slice up some Granny Smith Apples and slide them between the slices.....thinking those apples slices would soften and release that juicy apple flavor for the inside....and that is exactly what they did. Here's how it turned out. Again, not the prettiest ham, but so good!

Maple Pecan Glazed Ham with Apples

1 fully cooked bone-in spiral sliced ham 
1 cup apple juice 
1/4 cup Bourbon (or you can use rum) 
1 cup dark brown sugar (packed) 
1 cup pecans, finely chopped 
1/2 cup good maple syrup 
2 tablespoons dry mustard 
2 Granny Smith apples

Add apple juice and bourbon or rum and boil for about 5 minutes until it reduces down to about a 1/2 cup. Add in pecans and dry mustard and stir until combined.

Position oven rack high enough for ham to fit and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a roasting pan with heavy duty foil. Place ham fat side up in pan.

Core your apples and slice them into very thin slices. Then slide them between the slices of ham. I scattered them throughout in no particular pattern. If a couple of the slices start to fall forward you can secure them with toothpicks. Keep in mind, the glaze will help keep them in place.

Pour some of the the glaze over the ham making sure it goes between the slices. Then brush the rest of the glaze over the entire ham. Cover lightly with foil and bake for about an hour.

Take ham out of the oven and remove foil. Baste well with the juices from the pan, making sure the top is well basted. Bake for another 40 minutes or until glaze is nice and sticky and brown and bubbling. Baste again with the pan juices before serving.

NOTE: You can omit the bourbon or rum if you want to.

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Friday, April 03, 2015

♥ Cream of Broccoli Soup

Here's another wonderful soup that just says comfort food to me.  I like my soup rich and thick and creamy with a vegetable now and then to make it somewhat healthy!  LOL.  I like to serve this in a hollowed out bread bowl too. So good and so easy to make!

Cream of Broccoli Soup

6 cups water
10 ounces fresh or fr
ozen chopped broccoli florets
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons white pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/4 cup butter

In a large soup pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the broccoli and onion and boil for 10 to 12 minutes. Add the cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the cheese melts. Add the milk, cream, and butter. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.

If you like your broth thicker, whisk 1/2 cup cold water with 1/3 cup flour until smooth. Slowly add to the hot soup, stirring rapidly. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the soup is the consistency of heavy cream. Serve hot with a little shredded cheese (yellow or white) on top.

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♥ Pork Rib Roast (AKA: Crown Pork Roast)

Not everyone is making ham for Easter.  Personally, I love rib roasts...pork or beef. There's just something about cooking rib roast that says "home." The house gets all warm and the aromas are out of this world. I make my roasts just like I make my oven baked spare ribs that are so popular here at Welcome Home. I start off making my own combination of seasonings in a dry rub and then roast it slowly in the oven using steam to keep it moist and tender.  It's delicious.... moist and juicy and fall off the bone tender!

Pork Rib Roast 
(AKA: Crown Pork Roast)

Dry Rub

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup paprika
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons mild chili powder                                     
2 tablespoons course salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons celery seeds
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground allspice

Mix all dry seasonings and ingredients together until blended. Lay roast on plastic wrap and rub generously with rub. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put a rack inside a large shallow roasting pan to keep the roast off the bottom of the pan. Discard plastic wrap and lay your roast on top of the rack. Then fill the bottom of the pan with water under the ribs making sure the roast is not touching the water. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes in a hot oven.

Turn the temperature down to 300 degrees and allow ribs to cook slowly for at least 4 hours or until bones can slide out easily when pulled from the roast. 

Remove from oven and carefully remove foil so that steam escapes. Carefully use tongs to lift the roast to a platter. Tent loosely with foil and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before carving. Remove foil, slice between the rib bones and serve.

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Mini Cherry Danish

How cute are these? I am a gadget freak and I own every sort of kitchen gadget you can imagine. So when I saw this little pastry cutting roller the other day, I had to have it. And when it came in the mail, I had to use it. So I made these little pastries and they were delicious and pretty too! 

Mini Cherry Lattice Danish

1 pkg. (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
1 egg
1 tbsp. water
1 can (21 ounces) Cherry or any fruit pie filling
Course sugar for topping

Heat the oven to 400°F. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork or whisk and set aside.

Unfold 1 pastry sheet on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut into squares (whatever size you want). On each square spread a little pie filling to within 1 inch of the edge. Brush the edges with the egg mixture. 

Unfold the remaining pastry sheet and cut into the same size squares. You can simply place them on top and crimp the edges or if you want a pretty presentation you can make a lattice top with a pastry roller cutter like the one I used (see comments) or you can use a pizza or ravioli cutter and cut thin strips of dough to create a lattice pattern on top.

Once you have put on the top layer then crimp the edges with a fork or pinch the edges with your fingers to seal. Brush tops with the egg mixture and sprinkle coarse sugar on tops. If not using lattice top, make sure you cut several slits in the top of the pastry and then sprinkle with course sugar.

Bake on parchment lined baking sheet for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Cool the pastry on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with additional sugar if desired.

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Get my new mini pastry roller at

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Thursday, April 02, 2015


The gates are now open my friends.... Books are now only $11.99 to any Welcome Home follower when you click on the links below to buy them. First 100 people will get this special pricing so you need to act quickly. We will help you download to a desktop computer, laptop, iPhone, iPad, and/or your Android Smart phone.

Here are the links:

My most poplular book, Home is Where The Heart Is.....

My first book, Welcome Home Cooking....

 One of my favorites, Home For Dinner....

My dessert book, Home Sweet Home....

 And my most popular book, There's No Place Like Home.....

My newest cookbook, Memories of Home...

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Cheesy Potatoes with Bacon

You can't get much easier than this. Tender cheesy potatoes with smokey bacon....Oh Yum.

Cheesy Potatoes with Bacon

8-10 medium potatoes (cut into ½” cubes)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (undiluted).
1 ½ cups half and half or cream
1 envelope Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
salt and pepper
6 bacon slices (cooked until crispy and crumbled)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish and set aside.

Add potatoes to a large pot. Add enough water to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until the potatoes are almost tender. Then drain well and pour into the casserole dish.

In a bowl mix together cream of mushroom soup, half and half (half milk and half cream), ranch dressing, 1 cup of the cheese, salt and pepper. Pour over potatoes in the casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cup of shredded cheddar cheese and the crumbled bacon over the top.

Place into the oven and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and sauce is bubbly. Sprinkle with extra bacon and additional salt and pepper to taste.

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