Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Nut Cups

This recipe came originally from a family friend. She made my mother promise that she would never make these for any friend or community events and so they always made an appearance at family get-togethers.

These are incredibly easy to make and delicious - like mini walnut pies !

Ingredients (Makes 48 pieces) :
1 stick margarine
1 stick butter
8 oz cream cheese
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp melted butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups chopped walnuts

Mix together butter, margarine and cream cheese. Gradually mix in flour. This is the "crust".

Divide the mixture evenly among muffin tins (do not grease the tins).

Using your fingers, spread the mixture evenly along bottom and sides of tins to make the cups.

Mix together the next 5 ingredients. This is the filling.

Spoon evenly into cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Let cool slightly and then remove from tins. I use a little paring knife to just pop them out.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and they're ready to go !

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I never understood why people hated meatloaf.

So often the butt of jokes, meatloaf has gotten a bad reputation over the years as a dry lump of meat cooked by some unloving, kitchen novice. This disdain likely comes from the dish's origin as a way to stretch scrapple by mixing it with oatmeal or cornmeal. The meatloaf I grew up on, however, was moist and flavorful and on a rotating list of dishes I requested on trips home from school.

Years ago, an ex-boyfriend made me the version of meatloaf that he grew up on - beef, onion soup mix, saltines and peppers all baked in a loaf pan ("because it's called meat'loaf' not meat'football-shaped'" he told me) - I finally understood the jokes.

Both of grandmothers made their meatloaf in a similar way, beginning with the same basic recipe of meat, fresh bread, eggs and seasoning. My own mother played around with the recipe, trying out different toppings and sauces. In the end, a son's love for "the way Mom used to make it" won over and my Mom began making it exactly the way my paternal grandmother Margaret Hank Schmitt made it - over a bed of golden onions and covered in a tomato gravy.


1-1 1/2 lbs ground beef (I have also made it with ground turkey)
3 slices of white bread
1 egg
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp chopped dry onion
1 medium yellow onion
1 can tomato soup
1-2 large potatoes (optional)

Moisten the white bread with water, ring out the excess and add it to the beef along with the egg, cheese and dry onion. Mix well (hands work best!).

Slice the yellow onion and layer on the bottom-center of a baking dish.

Onion Bed

Form the meat mixture into a loaf shape and lay on top of the onions.

Loaf or football ?

Cut the potatoes into 1-inch chunks.

Scatter the potatoes around the meatloaf.

Bake in a 350 degree oven, uncovered, for an hour.
Mix the tomato soup with equal part water until combined. Pour the mixture gently over the meatloaf.

Return to the oven for an additional 20 minutes. To serve, cut the meatloaf into 1 inch slices and spoon the tomato gravy over the top. Serve the remaining gravy on the side.

If you're so lucky as to have leftovers, this meatloaf makes a great sandwich the next day - sliced and served on a kaiser roll or white toast with a little bit of ketchup. Yum!

Incidentally, I always use Italian white bread for this and when making meatballs because that is what my mother always buys. I particularly like this just seems to call my name.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Eddie's Super Shrimp Scampi

On March 22, 1993 Intel shipped its first Pentium chips, World Water Day was established and my father perfected his recipe for Shrimp Scampi.

This dish is easy and delicious and is as good, if not better, than anything you would get in a restaurant.

3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp margarine
1 tbsp chopped green onion
2 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves pressed garlic
4 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 tsp white wine
1 tsp oregano
1 lb peeled, deveined shrimp
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp water
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 lb cooked linguine

Melt the margarine and butter in a skillet. Add the next 8 ingredients and cook until bubbly.

Add the shrimp and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning halfway through.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the tsp of water and add to pan, giving it a good stir.

Turn off the heat and add the parsley and linguine.

Toss to coat.

Alternatively, this could be served over rice.

Definitely, it should be enjoyed with a nice glass of white wine.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Shrimp Ring

Both of my grandmother's were connoisseurs of the jello mold. Jello salads and aspics were so popular in the 1950s that Jello even introduced special flavors to support the trend such as 'celery' and 'tomato'. I imagine that Betty Draper from the popular show "Mad Men" made a jello mold or two. Perhaps when the ladies came over to play cards or when entertaining Don's business partners. (Megan Draper on the other hand, probably never made a jello mold as the only thing I'm sure she ever made was spaghetti.)
Virginia Martorana
Margaret Schmitt

Betty Draper

My own mother continued the jello mold tradition into the 70s and 80s. I personally abhorred these concoctions of jello and fruit that made their way to the picnic table. Sure, they looked pretty but to me, fruit had no place sitting next to the sausage and peppers (nor a place did pineapple or cherry sauce have on ham).
This savory shrimp and tomato mold, however, is delightful. It's like a shrimp cocktail in one soft, creamy bite.

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water
1 can tomato soup
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
2 cans tiny shrimp, drained and roughly chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup green or yellow onion, finely chopped

Heat soup in a small saucepan or in a microwave oven.
In a medium bowl, stir gelatin into cold water. Mix hot tomato soup into the gelatin liquid.
In a medium size mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and mayonnaise together. Mix soup mixture into the mayonnaise and cream cheese mixture. Mix well.
Add shrimp, celery, and green onions.
Spoon the mixture into a 1 quart mold and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To unmold, soak the mold in hot water being careful not to get any water in the shrimp mixture. Place a plate on top of the ring and invert...carefully! Place back in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up.
Serve with Ritz crackers.
Oh, and one final note.....beware of hungry cats !