People helping themselves at a buffet with title: Forget Potluck! Always Have Enough Food to Feed a Crowd

Forget Potluck! Always Have Enough Food to Feed a Crowd

Once I had a potluck dinner party and no one brought anything! I was mortified when there wasn’t enough food to go round and, as a result, I developed a reliable system to make sure I always have enough food to feed a crowd.

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Greek salad on wooden table with title: Greek Salad Makes Catering for a Crowd Easy

Greek Salad Makes Catering for a Crowd Easy

With ripe tomatoes and cucumbers hitting supermarkets just about now, the fresh taste of my easy Greek Salad recipe is a great choice for a crowd.

Known in Greece mainly as country salad, or horiatiki, the Greek Salad we know here is a combination of tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, feta cheese, and Kalamata olives, all dressed up with an olive oil and vinegar blend.

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Glass tubes containing chopped peppers surrounding paper with text: How to Create Great Family Cookbooks with Our Easy-To-Use Templates

How to Create Great Family Cookbooks with Our Easy-To-Use Templates

When we started designing Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software, I began to understand why easy-to-use recipe templates are the key to creating great family cookbooks.

We borrowed the idea of using a template from the crafting world. Sewing hobbyists use patterns. Interior decorators use stencils. Painters and muralists use outlines. So, using a recipe template to automatically produce a professional-looking family recipe cookbook makes total sense. Continue reading

hands trapped in green code matrix overlaid with cooking utensils and blank spiral notebook and title: Taking the 'Tech' out of Recipe Software so It's Easy to Use

Taking the ‘Tech’ out of Recipe Software so It’s Easy to Use

Recipe software, recipe book software, cookbook software, whatever you want to call it to make your own cookbook, the key to your success is how easy it is to use.

Nothing is more frustrating that knowing you need to accomplish something with your recipe software but don’t understand how to do it. Add a deadline, and waah! You can be in tears in no time. Continue reading

open book on table with title: 7 Enemies of Family Recipe Keepsakes and What to Do About Them

7 Enemies of Your Family Recipe Keepsakes

Preserving family treasures, including the keepsakes in your family recipe cookbook or recipe scrapbook, can be a simple matter if you know what you’re doing.

Ever since the Library of Congress lamented the loss of deteriorating books during the late 1980s, we’ve been hearing more and more about conservation techniques to save family heirlooms and museum displays.

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Mom in paper letters with flowers and title: 5-Star Mother's Day Brunch Menu to Make at Home

5-Star Mother’s Day Brunch Menu to Make at Home

Prepare a special 5-Star Mother’s Day brunch at home for your Mom with this super-easy menu.

With a home-made brunch, there are no crowds, no lines, no reservations to contend with, and no enormous check to divvy up among the kids so you everyone can make the most of the time and enjoy themselves.

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Black plate of fritters on wooden table with title: Frittering Away Those Forgotten Veggies - Squash Fritters Recipe: Quick, Easy and Surprisingly Tasty!

Frittering Away Those Forgotten Veggies

Although I rarely fry food, occasionally I make fritters as a really good way of using those forgotten veggies I find at the bottom of the fridge. Leftover squash is particularly good in fritters when combined with cheddar cheese.

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Pregnant woman holding a paper heart in front of her belly with text: How Not to Labor When Creating a Family Cookbook

How Not to Labor When Creating a Family Cookbook

Some people think that creating a family cookbook is worse than going into labor. They obviously haven’t tried Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software. We made sure that creating a family cookbook is fun and easy and not like labor of any sort!Continue reading

tortilla chip scooping salsa with title: Salsa: Food of the Gods for Your Cinco de Mayo Mini-Fiesta

Salsa: Food of the Gods for Your Cinco de Mayo Mini-Fiesta

If you like Mexican food, your favorite holiday will be arriving soon: Cinco de Mayo. What better excuse to enjoy a mini-fiesta and serve the dish I call ‘food for the gods’: Salsa and refried beans.Continue reading

Top 5 Reasons Cookbooks Are Not Obsolete

My dear friend, Ruth, and I were perusing our local bookstore a few days ago (truthfully, we were there for a bit of diversion from the frightful weather) and wandered into our favorite aisle — the one that showcases cookbooks.

Ruth said she’d heard that cookbooks were becoming obsolete. That cookbooks are no longer desired or needed any more, what with the ease and convenience of plucking a recipe for just about any dish off the World Wide Web in a matter of minutes.Continue reading

Top 10 Ways to Cook & Eat Parsnips

“Don’t get so parsnipity with me,” Ruth snickered as we sipped our traditional nip of sherry to celebrate the new year. “That’s what my grandmother used to say when I got rambunctious in the kitchen,” she continued. “It always used to make be laugh and brought me back to reality.”

The parsnip root vegetable hardly is amusing, I thought. Heck, they look like anemic carrots. However, for the new year, Ruth and I have a pact to explore some of the more obscure vegetables that lurk in old family recipes we’ve included in our family cookbooks. One of those is parsnips, a relative of the carrot with a sweet, nutty flavor that is usually available in winter. Continue reading

Noodles & Dumplings: Which is Which?

Ruth and I had a discussion during the New Year’s holiday about the differences between noodles and dumplings. She says noodles don’t have any leavening agents and are always boiled, while dumplings are usually balls of dough that can be cooked any number of ways.

Okay, that made some sense. I see prepared Italian noodles in the refrigerated section of the grocery store and understand they are “fresh” not dried noodles. I also get that noodles are dried and come in a variety of shapes (and names).

I’m told that noodles can be made with eggs and flour. The chief dry flour ingredient can be wheat (such as ramen or pasta), rice (rice vermicelli), mung beans (cellophane noodles), potato (gnocchi or halusky), buckwheat (soba), or other ground flours, too.

But what I don’t get is the term dumplings. They seem to be the same thing as noodles, only lumpy, and sometimes with stuffings. I think of dumplings as small lumps of dough that are boiled in a broth, like some dim sum dishes I like to eat.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about dumplings:

“Dumplings are cooked balls of dough. They are based on flour, potatoes, bread or matzoh meal, and may include meat, fish, or sweets. They may be cooked by boiling, steaming, simmering, frying, or baking. Ingredients may be as a part of a filling, or mixed throughout the dumpling. Dumplings may be sweet, spicy or savory. They may be eaten alone, in soup, with gravy, or in many other presentations.”

Here is a partial list of some dumpling dishes Ruth named from other parts of the world, whether they have fillings, and how they are typically cooked:

Armenian “manti” – filled, boiled
British/Irish “dumplings”- not filled, boiled
Caribbean “dumplin”- not filled, fried, boiled
Central Europe “galuska” or “spaetzle” – not filled, boiled
Chinese “wonton” – filled, boiled
Eastern European “pierogi” or “pelmeni” – filled, boiled, fried
Indian “kadabu” – filled, steamed
Italian “tortellini” or “ravioli” – filled, boiled
Japanese “gyoza” – filled, boiled, steamed
Jewish “matzo ball” – not filled, boiled
Korean “mandu”- filled, steamed, fried, boiled
Mongolian “buuz” – filled, steamed
Scandinavian “pitepalt” – filled, boiled
Venezuelan “papas rellenos”- filled, fried

All I know is that my grandmother made “pastry” with self-rising flour, lard, salt and pepper, and water. The resulting dough was rolled, cut into 2″ x 2” pieces, dried, and then cooked with chicken to make “Chicken and Pastry.” It was a labor of love, and still conjures up pleasant memories, although I haven’t made her Chicken and Pastry recipe (that I have in my family cookbook) for many years.

Perhaps making Chicken & Pastry/Dumplings/Noodles again will be my New Year’s resolution.

Happy Cookbooking,


A Taste of History Reveals Many Old Cooking Secrets

Yes, I admit I’m a little behind the times.

I just found out about a marvelous and fascinating cooking show on PBS that’s called “A Taste of History.” Chef Walter Staib takes viewers on a journey through American cooking with recipes from Colonial times.

Chef Staib actually cooks the 18th century dishes for “A Taste of History” in an open hearth fireplace, using typical utensils available to cooks of the era. For example, he uses a spider, a large iron frying pan with three 10-12″ long spindly legs, to cook everything that doesn’t work well in a Dutch oven. The spider is quite clever; the legs keep the fire underneath the pan (or on one side), and temperature control is basically achieved by moving the pan to and from the fire.Continue reading

Blue Moon Honey Glazed Walnut Shrimp

Once in a blue moon, I like to prepare a very easy, delicious recipe that I call Blue Moon Honey Glazed Walnut Shrimp. It is a take off on a classic recipe that can be found on the menus of some Chinese restaurants in the United States and Hong Kong. I’m told this dish often surpasses the old American standby “Almond Chicken” for Chinese takeout orders in some cities.

Blue Moon Honey Glazed Walnut Shrimp is very easy to prepare, and is great for a relaxing meal during vacations or holidays, or a fabulous game-day snack. The dish is simply lightly battered shrimp in a mayonnaise sauce served with crunchy candied walnuts and sesame seeds. Tantalizing!

Here is the two-step recipe for your enjoyment. I have this recipe for Blue Moon Honey Glazed Walnut Shrimp in the Chinese food recipe section of my family cookbook. Feel free to add it to yours, if you like:Continue reading

Sugar Free Eggnog: Great Way for Diabetics to Enjoy Holiday Cheer

Went to a Christmas dessert party on Saturday and was quite impressed by the variety of holiday desserts that were brought to the festivities. Among the most popular holiday dessert drink was a clever eggless, diabetic version of eggnog, which is usually very thick and very sweet. This sugar free eggnog was great way for diabetics (and others) to enjoy holiday cheer without the guilt or worry about blood sugar levels going off the chart.

Oddly enough, the person who brought the sugar free eggnog was not a diabetic, just someone who prefers a lighter, less sweet version of a favorite holiday dessert drink.

The main ingredient of sugar free eggnog is a sugar-free vanilla pudding mixed with skim milk. In the right proportion, the result is quite good and an excellent substitute for the “real” thing. Continue reading

WARNING! Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies May Be Addicting

As the weather becomes cooler and leaves begin to turn amber and red, it is time to pull out a favorite family recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies that my family has been making for many decades.

These pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are plump, cake like cookies that have a moist and delicious pumpkin flavor accented by chocolate pieces throughout.  I don’t know why, but they have a haunting flavor that draws me to them around Halloween time.  The ghosts of ancestors past perhaps, who baked these cookies in the embers of burned witches (just kidding!).Continue reading

Food Pairing Helps You Invent New Dishes

I stumbled across a fascinating food pairing website the other day that I just have to share. It is a great resource for anyone who likes to cook, from professional chefs to food contest competitors and home cooks, on down to youngsters who are just beginning to explore the pleasures of culinary combinations.Continue reading

My Little Recipe Box: 20 Uses

Recipe box, recipe boxes
My little recipe box has been serving me well for many years (incuding keeping recipes for my family cookbook). Every time I have misplaced something in the house (which is frequently of late), I always go look in my little recipe box, because I never know what I will find in there.

You might think it odd, but my little recipe box has had a whole other life besides its original use. Here are some of the items that have found their way into my little recipe box over time:Continue reading

Top 5 Uses for Baking Soda Besides Baking

Your family cookbook must be riddled with family recipes calling for some form of leavening agent, which makes baked goods expand and rise.  My family cookbook has lots of recipes for baking powder and baking soda.  I’ve always been fascinated by the difference in results when one ingredient is substituted for another.

I’ve had many cookie recipes made with baking powder come out wonderfully puffed up, and the same recipes puff up then flatten out when made with baking soda. There are rules to using both, as interchangeable as they seem. They are not, and here’s why:Continue reading

Traditional Luau Kalua Pork & Summer Crock Pot Cooking

This weekend I’m going to a birthday party. The invitation indicates a luau theme, so I plan to take my really easy, but delicious, Kalua Pork that I make in a crock pot.

Summer crock pot cooking is absolutely great since you don’t need to turn on the oven. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with baking or roasting during the summer (if your oven is well insulated). But baking or roasting during the summer just seems wrong when you can do many of the same recipes and get good results with summer crock pot cooking.Continue reading