Five Minute Desserts

Five minute desserts.  Sound too good to be true?  It’s not, if you do just a little advance planning.  Good vanilla ice cream, instant espresso powder and coffee or amaretto liqueur and you have a delicious ending for almost any meal.  Add a homemade cookie if you have them on hand for an extra treat.

Coffee Liqueur Coupe

1 generous scoop vanilla ice cream
A sprinkling of instant espresso powder
1 or 2 tablespoons of coffee liqueur (or amaretto)


Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers keep in the pantry for weeks and are the basis for a number of great desserts.  The recipe for the original chocolate log is on the package but you can make it a bit more sophisticated.  Just add a little of your favorite liqueur and an appropriate topping.

Coffee and Cream Chocolate Cookie Stacks

1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks with 2 teaspoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla
⅓ cup coffee liqueur, in a shallow dish
16 chocolate wafers

Place a dab of whipped cream on a dessert plate (this will “anchor” the dessert)
Quickly dip a cookie in the liqueur and place it on the plate.

Spread the cookie with whipped cream and top it with another dipped cookie.
Repeat until you have a stack of 4 cookies.  

Top with more whipped cream and add a chocolate-covered coffee bean or some chocolate sprinkles.

Make 3 more stacks in the same manner.
Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours to allow cookies to soften.

You can try the following variations:

Amaretto liqueur and top with a few toasted sliced almonds.

Crème de menthe and tint your cream a pale green, top with some chocolate curls.
Framboise liqueur and top with a raspberry
Grand Marnier and top with some orange zest

Of course these can be made using just whipped cream and topped with colored




I love to cook.  Cleaning up?  Not so much.  So when the weather permits, I love to grill and these chicken fajitas are one of my favorite warm weather dishes.  It's a great company dish too since you can have all of the elements ready (don't cut the avocado too much in advance!) and just grill the chicken at the last minute.  Set everything out as a buffet and let guests build their own fajitas.  You can substitute steak for the chicken and my choice cut for this is skirt steak.  Cut it in 4 or 5 inch lengths, marinate, grill and cut on the bias.


For the Marinade:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup lime juice
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

6 skinned and boned chicken breast halves
12 warm flour tortillas
Sliced avocado
Sour Cream
Red and green pepper strips and sliced onion, sautéed

  1. Mix marinade ingredients in a shallow non-metal container.  Add chicken, turning to coat each side.  Refrigerate, covered, 4 hours or longer, turning occasionally.
  2. Remove chicken from marinade and grill until cooked through. Slice chicken into thin slices.
  3. Serve with remaining ingredients

St. Patrick's Day Dinner

With St. Patrick's Day just a few days away we have created several videos demonstrating a complete dinner menu that includes glazed corned beef, colcannon cakes (a great substitute for plain cabbage) and glazed carrots.

The video here includes the preparation for all three. The immediate previous three videos cover colcannon cakes, Irish soda bread and glazed corned beef individually. The list of ingredients is included with each item.
Hope you enjoy!


Colcannon Cakes


1 lb.  waxy potatoes, cut into ½” dice
4  tablespoons butter
⅓ pound cabbage, finely chopped
1 cup onions, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Flour for dredging
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon oil

Cook potatoes in salted water then drain in   colander and set aside.

  Heat 3 tablespoons butter with ½ cup water  in medium sized pan and add
  Cook over high heat until cabbage is just cooked and water
  has almost evaporated.  Add onions and cook just until mixture is
  starting to fry.
  Tip cabbage into bowl with potatoes.  Mash or crush the two together
  roughly - using your hands may be best.
  Shape mixture into 8 cakes.  Dredge in flour.
  Heat oil and remaining butter till foaming. Add patties and cook over
  medium heat for 3 minutes on each side.
  Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.


Irish Soda Bread


3 cups  all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons  granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons  cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
¾ cup raisins
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
1 ½ cups  buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 ° and place the rack in the center of the oven.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and
salt. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and blend into the flour
mixture, with a pastry blender or your hands, until the mixture looks
like coarse crumbs. 

Stir in the raisins. Make a well in the center of
the flour mixture and add most of the buttermilk. Using yours hands,
or a spatula, mix (adding more buttermilk if necessary) until you have
a soft moist dough.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and gently knead the dough into
a 7-inch  round. Place the round on your prepared baking sheet and
then, with a sharp knife, cut a ¼ inch deep "X" across the top of the

Bake for about 40 - 50 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick
inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. You can also
test that is fully baked by tapping the bottom of the bread - it should sound hollow. Remove from oven.
Cool slightly and serve with lots of butter!

Glazed Corned Beef


3-4 lb. corned beef brisket
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup brown mustard
½ cup water

Rinse off the brisket under running water. Trim off excess fat.
Place in large stock pot and cover with water. At this point you may
use the seasoning packet that came with the corned beef. Bring to a
Lower the heat to simmer.
Cook about 3 hours until very tender (skimming fat as necessary). Add
more water if needed to keep covered. Allow to cool in water.
Preheat oven to 325º.
In a sauce pan, combine the brown sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a
simmer over medium-high heat. After about 5 minutes, stir in mustard.
Continue simmering another 2-3 minutes.
Place the brisket on a rack in a roaster.
Thinly coat meat with glaze.
Put in oven and bake for 30 minutes, reglazing every 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let rest at least 15 minutes.
Slice thin to serve.

Serves 6

Watch the video (The St.Patrick's Day Video shows how to prepare a complete meal of glazed corned beef, colcannon cakes (cabbage taken to a higher level) and glazed carrots); 

Chicken Pot Pie Deconstructed

Now that you have made Poached Chicken and Chicken Stock (see previous post)  you are ready to make James Beard’s Chicken Pot Pie.  Since the 1960’s I have tried many different recipes for this wonderful comfort dinner, but none have compared.  The only change I have made is to cook the pastry separately since I find the pastry is more crispy.

Also, this is a wonderful recipe to get children to eat their veggies!

Chicken Pot Pie


4 to 5 cups cubed leftover cooked chicken
12 small white onions
2 carrots, cut in thin slices
1 cup peas
1 cup cubed potato
1 cup corn
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy cream, or milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon Tabasco
One sheet of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry
1 egg yolk blended with 1 tablespoon cream

Cook vegetables until just tender, about 8 minutes in the chicken
broth, seasoned with garlic and parsley.  Strain, reserving 1 cup of
the broth and remove the garlic.
Melt the butter in a saucepan or skillet, blend with the flour, and
cook several minutes.
Gradually stir in 1 cup of the broth and continue stirring till the
mixture thickens.  Cool slightly, stir in the cream or milk and season
with salt, pepper, and Tabasco.   Add the chicken and vegetables to
the sauce and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for 30
Open the sheet of pastry and cut along fold lines.  Cut in half
horizontally to make six portions.  Brush the pastry with the egg yolk
mixture and, if you wish, you may cut out pastry chickens with a small
cutter and place on top of the pastry “lids” and brush the chickens
with the yolk mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes in a 400° oven or until well puffed and golden.  ”
Serve in bowls topped with the pastry “lids”.

This is a great make-ahead recipe.  Simply reheat the chicken mixture
gently and reheat the pastry in a 300° oven.  The filling may also be

Poached Chicken (and Chicken Stock)

The 1960’s, when I was starting to hone my cooking skills, was the
start of a revolution in American home cooking.  The gurus of the
movement were James Beard, Craig Claiborne and Julia Child.  Those
three became known as the Holy Trinity of American cooking.  None of
them were trained chefs but rather were passionate cooks and they
shared that passion with all who were willing to read.  Of course
Julia went on to become one of television’s biggest stars.  I still
treasure their books and refer to them often.  Even though many of the
recipes are for dishes we would no longer serve today, their
instructions for basic preparations are still valid and often provide
a springboard for something more contemporary.

With that in mind, the following recipe is for something truly basic

for any cook.  How to poach a chicken and the resulting stock (or
broth).  The meat from the chicken can be used in dozens of ways and
the stock is like having gold in your freezer!  Because you don’t add
any salt during the preparation, you can control the taste of any
recipe in which you use it.  Also, it has no preservatives and no
ingredients you can’t pronounce.

The recipe:

1 chicken (I use a large roasting chicken)

1 large onion, unpeeled, cut in half
4 large carrots, scrubbed and roughly chopped
3 or 4 stalks of celery, roughly chopped (I like to use the heart of
the celery with the leaves)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Thoroughly rinse the chicken and place in a large stock pot.  Cover

with water and bring to a boil.  Skim any “gunk” that comes to the
surface.  Reduce to a brisk simmer and cook for about 10 minutes and
skim again.  Add the vegetables and peppercorns, reduce to a simmer,
cover and cook for 30 minutes.  Turn off heat and allow the chicken to
cool in the broth.

Remove the chicken and remove all the meat, returning the skin and

bones to the stock pot.  Return the broth to a simmer and cook for 3
to 4 hours.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the solids from the broth
and then strain through a cheesecloth lined strainer into a large
bowl. Chill and then transfer to containers for freezing.  Note:  If
you are short on freezer space, after you have strained the broth, put
it back in a clean pot and simmer for an hour or so until reduced by
half.  Just remember to use half broth and half water in your recipes!

What to do with the chicken meat?  I used some of the breast meat,

sliced, for a chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomato, bacon and
mayonnaise.  The rest I will use to make my deconstructed chicken pot
pie - with the final remnants going to our Yorkie, Mac! Of course,
this chicken makes delicious chicken salad, you can use it in any
casserole recipe, chop some along with some chopped carrots, a few
frozen peas, some rice or tiny pasta and make chicken soup.  The
possibilities are endless.



Did you end up eating the chicken? lol  SarahBeth

Hi Sarahbeth,

We sure did eat the chicken! Most of it went into a chicken pot pie
(see video) and the remainder made several BLT sandwiches with sliced
chicken breast, some I chopped and froze to use in Fajita Tacos (see
video) and the few remaining scraps went to our Yorkie, Mac!
Remember, I am a Scot - nothing goes to waste!