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Mummer’s Parade Party Cheese Ball Recipe


I’ve decided to leave my large Kitchen Aid mixer out on the counter for the holiday season. 010    With Halloween almost here, this officially means things around here won’t get back to normal until 12th Night in January. Hopefully this will encourage me to make all kinds of delicious treats all the way until the new year. So far I’ve managed to make cookies and yesterday I tried out another new recipe for a party we were attending in town for the annual Mummer’s Parade in Hagerstown, Maryland. Supposedly the largest night time parade east of the Mississippi.027

I’ve honestly never made a cheese ball before. After seeing a recipe online, from Family Fresh Meals, I tweaked it as I usually do and made my own version. I actually think this is pretty easy to make and everyone seemed to like it. The stand mixer did make this easy to whip up. Here’s the ingredient list for one cheese ball.

16 ounces cream cheese at room temperature (2 packs)

2 cups cheddar cheese, finely shredded

3 tablespoons red pepper jelly

1 teaspoon cumin

1 cup roasted pepitos (pumpkin seeds out of the shell)

Top of 1 bell pepper for stem garnish if you want to make this look like a pumpkin

1. With mixer on low add cream cheese, 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, jelly, cumin and ¾ cups pepitos. Turn up speed and combine until well blended.

Turn out on plastic wrap and shape into ball. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

2. Remove cheese ball from refrigerator and unwrap. Roll in ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese and remaining pumpkin seeds. Top with pepper stem. Serve with crackers and cut up veggis.

I can imagine making this with salsa instead of pepper jelly and different types of roasted nuts. 023015Perhaps for Christmas roll in green herbs and serve with slices of red pepper. The cheese ball held up well and was nice and firm but not too hard.027

As we get into the fall and winter season it is fun to try out new recipes don’t you think?!

Happy Gardens!

Jenn at The Antique Garden

Cookie Time: Chai Pumpkin Spice Blossoms


I brought all the makings for Chai Pumpkin Spice Blossom Cookies up to my parent’s home in White Plains this week-end.037 039 040 041 042 044   047  051 This and other similar recipes has been floating around the internet and Pinterest since September. I’ve been using the recipe that was posted by Michael and his blog Inspired by Charm, which he found from the blog Pass the Sushi! which was adapted from the site The Curvy Carrot. I don’t know for sure who invented these but they ARE delicious and use the very special seasonal Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Kisses. I had a hard time finding them in my supermarket. First I checked the candy aisle, then the Halloween candy area and finally when I was giving up I found them up front near one of the registers in a display. I also have heard Target carries them. Today the temperatures have cooled, it’s rainy out, and it’s Sunday, the perfect excuse to pull out the ole stand mixer and get baking. In my parents case, the mixer is a vintage Sunbeam that they got as a wedding gift in the 1950’s, that still works great. I just got Dad, aged 83, to peel the wrappers off the kisses! Nothing like a couple of teenagers in the house to help make cookies. It is very handy. I found the liquid Chai concentrate easily in my market near the regular tea bags. I used the Tazo Brand.  Enjoy these wonderful, easy to make cookies.  As you can tell I like to have helpers in the kitchen young and old.  It makes a task easier and much more fun.  These cookies will be a hit, there is no doubt!  Here is the recipe: 

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup liquid chai concentrate (I used Tazo brand.)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
22-24 Hershey’s Pumpkin Spice Kisses
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy (about three minutes).
Add egg, chai concentrate, and vanilla to the butter mixture. Mix until combined.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture until incorporated.
Refrigerate for about an hour as the dough is too soft to handle at this stage
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Unwrap Pumpkin Kisses (my Dad’s job)
Then in a small bowl mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.
Using your hands, roll the dough into one-inch round balls. Then, roll dough balls in sugar and pumpkin pie spice mixture.
Place the dough balls about two inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately place pumpkin kisses in the center of each cookie. Cool completely.
Do not touch or move your cookies until the Kisses have firmed up-yes this is very important!

To top off the  week-end, my oldest son Andy brought over this basket of fresh autumn flowers. I think I’m finally easing into Autumn…..

Small Batch Relishes & Jams

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The Antique Garden Homegrown originated several years ago after we started vegetable gardening. John dug up the back lawn and created raised beds in attractive rows across the yard. We planted crops of peppers, tomatoes, beans, asparagus, raspberries, zucchini, lettuces, Swiss chard, beets, sweet potatoes, onions, herbs, potatoes and more.

Varieties of Tomatoes at Harvest

Yellow Pear, Pineapple and Early Girl Tomatoes are delicious.

We had a bumper crop of almost everything and we never had to spray for insects; something we liked a lot. I began preserving our bounty by freezing and canning, using old-fashioned, time-tested recipes, using the very safe water-bath method and new, American made, Ball canning jars.

Now we bring you the goodness of real food; prepared with garden fresh, pesticide-free vegetables. You will taste the difference of homegrown, small batch prepared food, using only our vegetables or those from local farms. We think you will love it!  Our farmstand is open seasonally through December.

Support small local business, small farms and try our limited quantity relishes & jams today.

Jennifer & John Thomas

The Antique Garden, in the square of Leitersburg, Maryland. contact us through our links, this website  and write to

 Varieties include Sweet and Sour Pepper Relish, Best selling Beet Relish, Pickled Beets in 32 ounce size jars, New Carrot Cake Jam, Pickled Green Tomatoes, Pepper Onion Relish, Pickled Peppers, both hot and mild and Apple Conserve.

Wicked Witch White Bean Chili

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Mother Nature has been bad, very bad…..Instead of preparing for a fun-filled day of Halloween parties and the traditional Mummer’s Day Parade in Hagerstown, Maryland, we were busy dusting off the trees, staying warm and lighting candles, due to power outages from the October 29th, 2011 Nor’Easter, that struck the Northeast.  The parade had never been canceled in the history of the parade, except during World War 2. With almost 4″ of very wet snow, leaf covered trees cracked, snapped and caused havoc on power lines throughout the region.

After dressing in full snow gear and cleaning off the branches of our beloved curly willow tree, that was bent over from the weight of the snow, I decorated my vintage Statton Hutch for the season…and then I decided to cook up a dish that I had only once before, a White Bean Chili. I don’t know why it took me this long to make this dish, because, frankly I like it almost better than a traditional chili.  Using chicken instead of beef, it has an almost chowder quality to it.  Spicy and warming, it is a perfect Autumn dish.  This recipe is my version, culled from several recipes I’ve researched.  I used diced boneless chicken thighs, as we like the flavor better than breast, but feel free to use your favorite type of chicken or even turkey in this chili.

Wicked Witch White Bean Chili  

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion

3 medium poblamo peppers or your favorite mild green peppers

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cumin seed, found in the Spanish food section

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less to taste

1 pound boneless chicken thighs, breasts or ground chicken or turkey

2 -15 ounce cans white beans, drained

1 can corn

1 cup water

4 ounces canned diced green chilies, or diced green tomatoes

1 dried or fresh whole hot red pepper

¾ teaspoon dried oregano


½ cup non-fat cream

¼ cup non-fat plain yogurt or sour cream

2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or cilantro leaves


Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over moderate heat. Add the onions, diced finely green peppers, I used a mini food processor for this, the cumin seed, garlic and red pepper flakes. You want the herbs and spices to cook in the oil so the flavors permeate the dish. Cook, stirring until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 6 minutes.

Add the raw chicken that has been diced into bite size pieces. Stir and let brown for about 5 minutes. Add the white beans, water, oregano, dried whole red pepper and chilies and cook partially covered for 30 minutes. Add the corn, taste for salt and add more red pepper flakes if desired. Cook another 10 minutes. Before serving add the cream, stir until gently warmed.

Ladle into bowls and top with 1 tablespoons yogurt or sour cream and a garnish or minced fresh parsley or cilantro.











Warm up in front of the fire with this hearty, satisfying White Chili.  This is perfect for Halloween or anytime you want to have a spicy treat, even if Mother Nature gives you a trick!







The Best, Easiest, No-Peel, No Fail, Applesauce

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Here it is, mid-October, and you have that big 1/2 bushel bag of apples you purchased at the farm stand, farmer’s market or even picked yourself from one of those places upstate that you bring the whole family to and ride the hay wagon out to the orchard, while swatting at the yellow-jackets and hoping that the port-a-johns are clean.  I’ve made the annual trek many times as a mother of three.  By now you’ve made the apple pies, muffins and even cake and that bowl of macintosh seems to stay full.  Sometimes, as is often the way with life, the simple things are the best.  This is a recipe for apple sauce with three ingredients, apples, water and cinnamon.  No sugar is necessary unless your apples are extremely tart.The only equipment you will need is a heavy saucepan and a food mill, yes a food mill, like the ones your Grandmother had in her kitchen.  As you can see, I have several, and have found them used at yard sales, inherited one, and even bought one at an expensive Bed, Bath and Way Beyond store.  I recommend you get one if you don’t already have one, if only for this recipe, because it is that good.  The food mill also works great for making fresh tomato sauce and homemade baby food.  The blade separates out the peels from the fruit.Here is the recipe for apple sauce, it is much tastier than any store-bought brand I have tried. You will need at least 2 1/2 pounds of your favorite cooking apples and 1/2 cup water to cook them in. First wash and scrub your apples.Then cut up into sections and remove the seeds as they are bitter, leave on the peels.  If you use red apples, your applesauce will take on the most beautiful PINK tint and people will be impressed with you!  I have used a mix of Paula Reds and Jonagolds.








Next cook your apples with the 1/2 cup of water in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, covered, stirring often, as you don’t want burning, a medium heat is good for this.  It will take about 30 minutes for this process and the apples will get very soft, think the consistency of mashed potatoes.When cooked down, transfer to  your food mill which is placed over a round bowl or another pot. Start cranking the handle until the contents are passed through mill and all that remains are the peels.  This will only take a few minutes to process.By now the aroma of cooked apples will be permeating the house and everyone will be asking when is it time to eat.  Taste for sweetness, adding a little sugar if desired and a dusting of cinnamon.  You will have the most wonderful applesauce ever, thick, sweet and hot.  The best part is you made it and know exactly what is in your sauce.  From start to finish in under an hour, less if you have helpers in the kitchen.

October Views from The Antique Garden

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Summertime and the Livin’ is Busy

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As July winds down, and August approaches, that means only one thing,  Autumn is right around the corner. That implies cooler temperatures, shorter days, and the return of the yellow school bus, that still tugs at my heartstrings. Still July and I’ve gotten phone calls and post cards for upcoming teacher’s meetings from the college where I teach Art History each semester.  I intend on enjoying the rest of summer even if it is going to be 100 sweltering degrees today.

We have been extremely busy with work and preparing for the beginning of the festival season, kicking off with The Leitersburg Peach Festival, right in our little village starting on Saturday August 13th and concluding on Sunday the 14th.  Our sleepy, rural village will be transformed into a bustling urban center for two whole days, including bumper to bumper cars and a police officer who directs traffic right through our square. In the park behind the Fire Station, will be tons of vendors selling their wares like crafts, fresh peaches, pies.  Of course no Peach Festival would be complete without  pie contests and rides for the children.  Local orchards supply the fruit and the peaches are as sweet as ever.

Our store will be open through out the week-end, starting on Thursday.  We have lots of antiques, plants, containers, new gift items and pottery.  Steve Wright, a local teacher, musician and master potter, has a display of his works in our shop.  Also on hand will be some handmades by The Shapiro Design Team, husband and wife artists’, Michelle and Harold Shapiro.


Here are some recent photos of The Antique Garden, our old 19th Century General Store, in the square of Leitersburg.  John has been busy decorating and crafting wreaths and flower arrangements, YES real men can style! I’ve been experimenting with turning old glass jars  into Halloween decorated Witches Potion bottles, which include dried oregano to ward off any vampires.

Here is a short list of things I still want to do this summer:

1.  Make homemade southern Chow Chow Relish

2. Can some peach jam

3.  Go jump in a lake

4.  Put my feet in the sand

5.  Go hunt for antiques in remote sections of upstate New York, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire

6. Give Dixie a bath

7.  Take a bike ride on the C & O Canal

8.  Celebrate my 5th wedding anniversary with my husband, John

9.  Take a nap

10.  Enjoy a visit from my son Bobby and his girl friend Rebecca both college students at Rochester Institute of TechnologyBobby is now a strapping 6′ 2″ college Junior!

Now that is said and done, I’m off to Wal-Mart to purchase some bubble wrap.  I am easy to please, life is good!

Smoked Turkey on the Grill

We had two turkeys this year.  Our smoked turkey centerpiece is not only beautiful but delicious.

Here are more photos from our Thanksgiving Day Feast.  Some people believe that the leftovers are the best part.  I’ve just had my first sandwich.  Turkey, of course, on rye bread with russian dressing and cranberry relish.  Can anything be better?

Our smoked turkey centerpiece is not only beautiful but delicious.

Smoked turkey makes a great centerpiece and wonderful sandwiches for the next day.

We smoked this Tom on a beer can.

We smoked this Tom on a beer can.Using charcoal, hickory chips that soaked overnight and a large Budweiser, makes this bird golden brown.Smoked turkey makes a great center piece and wonderful sandwiches for the next day.

Maryland Garden in November

Time to preserve our peppers.  Varieties include bell, sweet Italian, cherry, ancho, poblano, jalapeno and hot cayenne!

A variety of vegetables are ready for harvest and some are still happy in the soil in our backyard garden.


This platter of peppers graces our kitchen table.




Kale, cabbage, and collard green are all part of the anti-cancer vegetables and are delicious when prepared in a tasty pasta dish.


The root vegetables are still going strong! We have several beds of beets that are ready to harvest. The beet greens are delicious too!


Rows of red cabbage are coming along nicely.


The last of the summer vegetables. Many varieties of peppers and green tomatoes will be canned for later use.


The parsley and herbs are enjoying the cool weather.


Dixie explores the garden!

Time to preserve our peppers. Varieties include bell, sweet Italian, cherry, ancho, poblano, jalapeno and hot cayenne!