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Italian Stuffed Mushrooms




Happy New Year! What a better way to kick off  2013, than by cooking up a storm in the kitchen.  This recipe came to me from a friend who grew up cooking by her Italian-American mother and Italian Grandmother’s side. The best way to learn how to cook, in my opinion. Adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that, a more instinctive way of cooking and way more delicious. Here is my version of her classic recipe. It is an Italian stuffed mushroom 101 appetizer recipe that lends itself to add-ins. I added-in cooked sausage, but crab, spinach or your special ingredient could be added at the final stages.043


1 Large package or two small packs of very fresh mushrooms-about 15029


Fresh Parsley: ½ cup

Lots of garlic:4-5 cloves or 1 large clove of elephant garlic

 1 Cup of Italian bread crumbs-store bought or homemade

 1 medium onion

 1 cup of add-in of your choice- sausage, chopped cooked spinach, crabmeat- diced, totally optional and can be left out completely

 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

 Black pepper to taste

 1/2 teaspoon  dried Basil

 ½ Cup grated cheese:  parmesan or your choice-finely grated

 Salt to taste

 1 cup white wine or water

 1. Clean mushrooms, which ever way you feel comfortable. Some people argue that you should only lightly dust them off. I wash mine and towel dry, removing any soil, that clings to them. Separate caps from stems, reserving stems.027


2. In food processor: finely dice onion, garlic, mushroom stems and fresh parsley, about 20 seconds.031


3. Saute mixture in skillet with olive oil. Season with pepper, basil, ½ cup of the white wine. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes or until vegetables and herbs are tender. Turn off heat.034

 4. In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, cheese ,and cooked filling and any add-in of your choice. I added cooked diced Italian sausage. Filling should have the texture of stuffing.036

 5. Fill caps with a generous, mounting teaspoon or two of stuffing, slightly over filling caps. Can refrigerate at this point, if serving later.038

 6. On a baking tray, or serving casserole dish , place mushroom caps. Add ½ cup of the reserved white wine to the bottom of the bakeware, bake 35-40 minutes depending on size of caps, at 350 degrees until hot and golden.041

 7. Serve hot and enjoy. Stuffed mushrooms will shrink  as they cook.046


044Totally delicious, after making these I had trouble stopping eating them! There has been new scientific research stating the benefits of eating mushrooms.  Check out this link to learn more about mushrooms. These are guaranteed to disappear at your next party or even as a part of a light dinner. What are you cooking in the kitchen this winter??? Let us know.

Jenn at The Antique Garden




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

Caramelized Hot Artichoke Spinach Dip

This is my lightened up version of an old classic dip and it may be the best hot dip I ever made!  I have to admit I love saucy, gooey foods and when it comes to party fair I like dips. Give me hot crab dip, bean dip, guacamole, salsa, onion dip, ranch, cheese dip, spinach dip, you name it and I’ve probably made it and eaten it. This one combines several favorite ingredients, namely spinach, artichokes, onions and bacon.  Now you know you can’t go wrong with a recipe that has bacon.  It will please everyone at your next pot luck.

To lighten this one up, without losing any flavor, I’ve used the light cream cheese, substituted plain yogurt for the sour cream and microwaved the bacon on paper towels to crisp it and remove much of the fat. In fact I believe this recipe tastes even better than the original high fat recipe.

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 can 14 oz. artichoke hearts,  chop into small  bite size pieces
  • 1 10 oz. package of frozen chopped spinach-thaw, drain and squeeze dry
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1  8 0z. pkg light cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt
  • 3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar, to help the onions brown

In a heavy bottomed skillet brown onions in oil that has been heated.  After about 5 minutes add the brown sugar and stir well, continue cooking on low medium heat, another 5 minutes.  Watch carefully as not to burn onions, they should be a golden brown hue when done.  Remove from heat.

 Combine the rest of the ingredients and the cooked onions in a large bowl until well blended.  Add freshly ground pepper to taste. Place in a greased 1 quart casserole and bake at 350 degrees for a bout 25 minutes.

Serve with crackers, sliced toasted french bread, carrots, sliced peppers and celery sticks. With a healthy dose of vegetables in this recipe and lightened up fats, this one is a winner.  I’m bringing it to a Super Bowl party this afternoon and I’ll let you now what those Giants fans think of this dish!

 Post Game Note: Serve piping hot for best flavor.  If you make this ahead of time and refrigerate, you will have to add extra bake time.  The party goers enjoyed this dip with the exception of one non-spinach eater in our group.  Rating 2 thumbs up!

Mom’s Easy Blender Gazpacho Soup

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When I was a young college girl many years ago, I mean ahem, a couple of years ago , my mother did a nice thing.  She knew I was going to work as a Mother’s helper on the Cape for the summer, and she made me a homemade cookbook of our family favorite recipes and a few new ones.  It came in two small spiral notebooks with tabs for the various categories of cooking. Both handwritten and with clipped out recipes she had gathered, I headed off to Massachusetts with recipes in hand.  I still have these books, have added to them and refer to them often.

I don’t remember if I made the Gazpacho recipe that summer in Hyannisport, although I did bump into Ted Kennedy going off on his sailboat, I make this a lot in the hot summer months. My husband LOVES this chilled soup.  While not the fanciest or gourmet of versions, it is our favorite and is simple to prepare, using a base of condensed tomato soup.  I do know that we have been making it for 30 years, ok my age is showing, and by now it is a time-tested family classic.

Mom’s Gazpacho

1 can tomato soup–any brand

1 can water

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup green pepper

1 cup chopped cucumber

2 T. olive oil (or salad oil)–gives it a nice mouth feel

2 T. red wine vinegar

dash of your favorite hot sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

The cucumber in this soup makes it especially refreshing on a hot day. I chill the can of tomato soup in the refrigerator before I combine ingredients.  Put all ingredients into a blender and pulse a few times.  You want texture in this soup.  Pulse until all ingredients are chopped medium-fine.  Chill your serving bowls and the soup several hours before serving.  For a special touch, put lemon slices and a bit of parsley on top of each serving.  Serves 4-6.

Creekside 12 Bean Salad

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Conococheague Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River, is a free-flowing stream that originates in Pennsylvania and empties into the Potomac River near Williamsport, Maryland. It is approximately 80 miles (130 km) in length, with 58 miles (93 km) in Pennsylvania and 22 miles (35 km) in Maryland. By definition of the Delaware Indians, this creek translates to mean ” water of many turns”.

We were lucky enough to have a beautiful, sunny, spring day to visit our friend’s land on the Conococheague Creek, this week-end.  Unless you have lived in the area for a while, it is near impossible to pronounce this water way correctly, let alone spell it!  The Conococheague was flowing after weeks of serious rains and floods and is a beautiful spot for camping and enjoying nature.   I climbed out on a limb on the old Sycamore tree and hung on, not to get swept away by the current.

Our friends supplied the amazing setting along with  hot dogs, watermelon, chips, drinks and  I brought along some wraps and bean salad.  I make this bean salad every summer and while I call it 12 Bean Salad, it rarely has 12 beans, just mainly what I have on hand in my pantry.  The basic ingredients are:

1 can of green beans

1 can black beans, pinto, kidney 0r navy beans

1 can chick peas

1 can of corn

1 jar of marinated red peppers, chopped

Green or black olives

Yellow banana peppers

Onions are optional

Good vinaigrette or bottled Italian dressing

Fresh garden herbs of your choice really perk up the flavors.  I added fresh parsley, oregano, basil and even some  mint. Blend well, refrigerate and transport to your picnic in Tupperware.

My wraps were on whole wheat tortillas and were a combination of grilled chicken breast, fresh arugula, bottled red pepper slices and mayo.  Very easy to transport to a gathering.

I made extra grilled chicken for these easy wraps. Just add your greens, make a chicken salad and your ready to go.

Place greens and chcicken salad on a wrap.Kayaks are stored in the cabin.

Yummy wraps are easy to bring to a picnic.Smile Lars!

A great way to curl up and relax!


Grilled Easter Butterflied Leg of Lamb

lamb 011

We had a wonderful Easter Sunday and the weather cooperated for our late April celebration with family and friends.  Finally the sun appeared and temperatures warmed so I could grill our traditional leg of lamb dinner.  On the menu were deviled eggs, fresh asparagus,roast potatoes, spiral glazed ham and my marinated butterflied leg of lamb, not to mention the wonderful desserts.

We are so lucky to have farm fresh real butcher shops in our area of Western Maryland.  I had the butcher debone a ten pound leg of lamb, reserving the bone for Polish Lamb Bone Soup.  This technique makes grilling quick and easy with a little preparation.  The lamb is cooked more like a steak, but is marinated for 24 hours to ensure the best flavor. While expensive at 6.99 a pound, there is little waste and after all, holidays are meant to have something a little special.  To butterfly at home have a sharp knife and carefully remove the bone on a whole or half leg of lamb.

Marinade for Butterflied Leg of Lamb

8 ounces good mustard like Dijon

2 T. dried Rosemary

2 T. chopped fresh ginger, or in a synch 1 teaspoon powdered

2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

2 T. Soy Sauce

2 T. Peanut Oil

Mix all ingredients together and cover butterflied lamb overnight.  Turn over in morning and cover with marinate.  Grill on medium gas grill or broil until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees for rare. This takes about 30 minutes, make sure not to over cook this meat. Remove from hot grill and let rest for about 15 minutes.  Slice thin. Can serve with mint jelly if desired. The best part is the easy clean up, no messy roasting pans and the taste is spectacular!

Super Bowl Vegetable Lasagna Update

cheeseheads 006

By half time, this was all that was left of our Vegetable Lasagna!


 News Flash: Vegetable lasagna update!  

The vegetable lasagna recipe was a hit at our Super Bowl Party with friends.  This no noodle, no meat dish, was gobbled up by those  cheese head Packer’s fans!    

Remarks were “I love vegetables”, “I like meat but this is delicious”, “I can taste that you grilled the vegetables” and this was from the men in the group!  Grilling all the vegetables in my grill pan really did give the dish the “meaty” taste that made it hearty and was well worth the extra time.  Try out whatever combination of vegetables that you like.  Try zucchini squash, fennel, Portobello mushrooms, asparagus or your personal favorites.  


Remember this dish will have even the carnivore at your house asking for seconds.   


Cheer leader Rosie putting on her half time show!




Impromptu Christmas Gathering with Quick Food

John's fabulous poached salmon was the centerpiece of our party food.


John's fabulous poached salmon was the centerpiece of our party food.



Sometimes the best parties are the ones that you give at the last moment.  Think about it, less stress, more fun.  Maybe a snow day party, a last-minute dinner for friends, or even one we went to last year, an impromptu wedding party of our friends Bill and Bev.  Just imagine the surprise we had when we got THE call.  Long time couple Bill and Bev called us on a week-night, telling us they had just gotten married that day and were hosting a small reception at a local restaurant!  What would you do, say  no I have to watch the evening news?  Heck no, we jumped, got dressed, grabbed a quick gift and were there within the hour. 

Bill and Bev dressed in festive attire.



So it was no surprise when we made some calls and emails to a small group of friends for a last-minute Christmas Gathering at our home last night.  Never mind that we both had to work at The Antique Garden all day.  A fast clean-up of the house, a run to the store and we were ready to party.  Everyone brought some food and drink, and most of the food I prepared was simple like green salsa served with blue tortilla chips.  Cheeses-both hard and soft, grape tomatoes, prepared baby carrots, hummus dip, lots of crackers and bread and a center piece of John’s Poached Salmon, always a hit.

Singer/Songwriter Jennie Avila sang Silent Night on guitar.



Friend and musician Jennie Avila graced us with her talent, when I asked her to play for us on my guitar.  Effortlessly she led us in renditions of Silent Night, Away in a Manger and Frosty the Snowman.  When I asked for Bobby Mcgee, the women in the group sang back-up!  Needless to say, all it takes is a little joint effort, some store-bought food and a group of merrymakers, to create a memorable quick party.

The women enjoying a photo op during the party.



To order Jennie’s incredible new album go to  Entitled Civil War Stories in Song, this was produced for the 150th Anniversary of the War in conjunction with The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

Friends enjoying the impromptu Christmas Gathering.



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.

Autumn Open House at The Antique Garden

Having a great time at our autumn Open House!


We had a perfect night for our first Open House at The Antique Garden. The weather cooperated, after a nor’easter the day before, and the skies cleared. The evening turned out better than expected with friends, neighbors and business associates in attendance.  

After developing the property, in Leitersburg, for five long years, it was time to show off all our hard work! We wanted to entertain outside, even though it was mid-October, to show off the exterior of the store. Luckily it was in the low 60’s and a friend and artist, Harold Shapiro, loaned us his wonderful ciminea to keep us warm!  

Inside the old general store we had hot coffees, including a pumpkin blend, mulled apple cider, and a spread of deserts like, mini pumpkin cupcakes, apple dumplings, prize winning brownies, and various cookies. Michele and Harold Shapiro even brought us a tier from their daughters wedding cake, who had gotten married just days earlier. All the deserts were catered by Desert Rose Cafe, a local coffee house in Williamport, Maryland.  

Rose, the owner of the cafe, Pam and Allen were on hand to help set up, keep everything stocked, and serve. This was wonderful as serving 50+ can be overwelming if you want to enjoy the party!  

People started arriving exactly on time, and toured the store and grounds in the evening twilight. The pond and waterfalls were flowing, the flowers, grasses and trees illuminated with lights, both spot light and holiday lights, arranged artfully by John. The out buildings were lit up also, the latest being a Christmas Shed, with red wall paper featuring chickens!  

On the buffet tables, were spiral sliced hams and rolls, salsas and blue corn tortillas, cheeses like goats cheese, fresh mozzarella, swiss and cheddar, antipasto trays with delicious black and green olives, roasted red and yellow peppers and hummus. Rose’s artichoke brushetta was a hit and not a bite was left! I have begged her for her recipe and she promises to send it after her nuptuals in two weeks!
The bars were set up around the patio and Allen was a great bartender, making sure glasses were full.  

People stayed and lingered around the fire, toured the store and all in all had a terrific evening. The Open House was worth all the planning and effort involved. Even my parents, who drove in from White Plains, New York, said they enjoyed the party and made new friends. And that is really what a party is all about!