Happy fifth anniversary to all who read this column.

Happy fifth anniversary to all who read this column.

It’s amazing to believe that this column has been published for five years this month. More than 2,000 recipes have been put into these weekly columns. I do hope that you have found a recipe or two that might be added to your recipe collection. Thank you for your wonderful comments throughout the years about the recipes.

Here are a few that I make for special occasions or when company is coming.



French Martini

Makes two. Submitted by Nicole St. John of Wilmington

3        ounces vodka or gin

1        ounce Chambord raspberry liqueur

2        ounces fresh pineapple juice

4        ounces champagne or sparkling wine

2        twists lemon peel

Pour all the liquid ingredients into a tall bar glass, shake with ice and pour into a martini glass and top with lemon peel.


Orange Muffins


1        cup self-rising flour

¼       cup brown sugar

2        large eggs

½       cup unsweetened orange juice

¼       cup canola oil

½       teaspoon vanilla extract

vegetable cooking spray


¼       cup granulated sugar

1 ½    tablespoons all-purpose flour

½       teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 ½ tablespoons butter

In a bowl whisk together flour and sugar, make a well in the center.

In another bowl mix together eggs, orange juice, oil, and vanilla extract; pour into well in dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Spoon into paper muffin cups coated with vegetable cooking spray. Fill cups about two thirds full. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 8 minutes.

Topping: in a bowl with a pastry cutter or 2 knives, mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter, cutting the butter into the ingredients. Remove muffins from oven and sprinkle with topping; return muffins to oven for 6 minutes more or until edges of muffins are lightly browned.


Spinach and Apple Salad with Bacon and Candied Pecans

Serves 4-6.

Candied Pecans:

1        cup pecans

¼       cup confectioners’ sugar

Salad Dressing:

salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

¼       cup EVOO, olive oil

¼       cup white wine or champagne vinegar

2        tablespoons maple syrup


6        slices smoked bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1        Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced

1        teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1        package baby spinach leaves, trimmed

Feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl cover pecans with water, then pour through a strainer to shake out the water. In another bowl add confectioners’ sugar, then add pecans and toss. Transfer to the dried strainer to shake off excess sugar. Arrange pecans on a parchment paper – lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly caramelized and golden. Cool and set aside.

In a bowl whisk together vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste.

In a salad bowl toss together apple slices with lemon juice, just to coat, to prevent browning. Add spinach leaves; toss to mix well. When ready to serve add enough salad dressing to coat and toss to mix. Toss in bacon crumbles and feta cheese. Top salad with sugared pecans, serve immediately.


Yellow Squash Soup

Serves 4.

2        tablespoons butter

1        large sweet onion, finely chopped

3-4     yellow squash, depending on size, chopped

1 ½    cups chicken broth

¼       cup white wine (Optional)

1        cup sour cream

Salt and pepper, to taste

Pinch of cinnamon, if desired

Fresh parsley for garnish

In large heavy saucepan melt butter and sauté onions until just wilted, not brown. Add chopped squash, white wine, and chicken broth cook over medium heat until squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Pour mixture in a blender and blend. Add sour cream. Season with cinnamon, salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well and chill. Serve ice cold, garnished with parsley.


Spinach Casserole

2        packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1        envelope onion soup mix

1        cup sour cream

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

¼ to ½ cup Cheddar cheese, shredded Parmesan cheese, grated

In a buttered baking casserole dish combine spinach, onion soup, sour cream, salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well, stir in Cheddar cheese. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.


Brussels Sprouts with Garlic

Serves 4.

1        pound Brussels sprouts, cut in half lengthwise

2        tablespoons olive oil

3        garlic cloves, chopped then smashed

In a saucepan boil Brussels sprouts with water to coat for 2-3 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.

In a skillet heat oil; add garlic and Brussels sprouts, cook over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Add salt to taste and cook another 3-4 minutes, until tender. Serve warm.


Chicken Divan

1        large head fresh broccoli, cut into florets

4        tablespoons butter

4        tablespoons flour

2        cups chicken broth

½       cup heavy cream, whipped

3        tablespoons sherry r dry white wine

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

½       cup grated Parmesan cheese

12-16 thin slices chicken breast, cooked

Wash and drain broccoli. Cook in boiling salted water for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Drain and keep hot.

Melt butter in a saucepan, blend in flour and add chicken broth. Stir constantly until thick and smooth. Continue cooking over low heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Fold in whipped cream, add sherry with salt and pepper, to taste.

In an ovenproof 10 x 13 – inch baking dish place cooked broccoli, pour half the sauce over this. Add ¼ cup Parmesan cheese to remaining sauce and stir to mix.

Arrange chicken slices on top of broccoli, cover with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cook dish under broiler until sauce bubbles and is lightly browned.


Raspberry Sherbert

Makes 4 cups.

3        12-ounce packages raspberries

¼       cup orange juice

½       cup orange juice

½       cup granulated sugar

1        tablespoon lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until liquefied. Pour mixture through a fine wire mesh strainer, pressing with the back of a spoon to squeeze out the juice. Discard seeds and pulp that are remaining in strainer. Pour juice mixture into an 8 x 8 –inch square pan and freeze until almost firm, about 2 hours.

Spoon mixture into a mixing bowl and beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until mixture lightens in color. Return mixture to pan and freeze until firm, about 3 hours. To serve, let soften at room temperature for 10 minutes.


Chocolate Cream Pie with Kahlua

1        9-inch prepared chocolate cookie pie crust

1        large package cooking chocolate pudding


¼       cup Kahlua

¼       cup chocolate chips

whipped cream or topping

In a saucepan cook chocolate pudding according to package directions  minus ¼ cup milk. Stir continuously to prevent sticking and to make it very creamy. Bring to a boil then add chocolate chips, stir to dissolve, then add Kahlua, stir to mix well. Pour this mixture into prepared pie shell. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours. Top with whipped cream.


Hope Cusick has won awards at the N.C. Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.