Happy 4th Anniversary Recipes


Happy Anniversary everyone! It’s been four years of glorious recipes — almost 2000 recipes printed in the Topsail Advertiser throughout these past four years — and I do hope you found a few recipes that you liked, prepared and enjoyed. If you’ve been collecting the recipes, as I know some of you have, you probably have a pile somewhere.  If you’d like to get them in some type of order, try using a loose leaf binder and taping the recipe column to an 8-by-11-inch blank piece of paper, making sure to punch holes in it first so it’ll fit into the loose leaf binder. You can even categorize them when arranging by date, type or something else that makes sense to you.

This week’s column is very special and includes some extravagant recipes. You’ll want to try something really elegant like the roast duck in raspberry and Chambord sauce, the Hibiscus recipes, the delicious pineapple casserole side dish, or the shrimp puffs. These recipes are all easy to make and will impress your family and guests. Enjoy!


Delicious Martinis by Hope

These martinis are neither shaken nor stirred, just folded into the glass, to prevent any bruising of the alcohol.

Use stemmed martini glasses. Makes one drink.

½ ounce dry vermouth

2 ounces gin, vodka or rum (Use a good brand for best results.)

1 thin lemon peel strip, twisted.

In a small pitcher add 6 to 8 ice cubes, add 2 ounces gin, vodka or rum. Let this sit for about 3 to 4 minutes to chill through; or freeze straight liquor for about 3 hours and don’t use the ice cubes. In a stemmed glass pour vermouth down the side of the glass. Take the lemon strip and rub it over the rim of the glass then put into glass. Pour chilled liquor slowly down the side of the glass into the vermouth and serve.

For a sake martini use 1 ounce of sake and 2 ounces gin, vodka or rum and proceed with the rest of the recipe.


Elegant Champagne Cocktails with Hibiscus Flowers

One bottle of flowers and one bottle of Champagne will make 6 to 8 cocktails.

Use wide mouthed champagne flutes for best results. Hibiscus flowers in syrup may be purchased at specialty food shops or ordered on line. I purchased mine in a fine wine shop. A jar (8.8 ounces) contains about 10 ready to eat and use flowers. Here is the online address: www.wildhibiscus.com.

1 jar Hibiscus Flowers in syrup

1 bottle, well chilled, brut champagne or seltzer

Place a whole hibiscus flower in the bottom of a champagne flute, pour in about 1 teaspoon of the syrup, and slowly fill glass with chilled champagne; or for non-alcoholic drinks use chilled seltzer. The bubbles of the liquid will gently unfurl the flower. Flowers are edible and have a delicious raspberry and rhubarb flavor. Enjoy!


Cheese Ball with Hazel Nuts

This recipe may be doubled if desired.

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup hazel nuts, chopped and divided in half

¼ cup or 4-ounces, crushed pineapple, drained

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Fold in ½ cup chopped hazel nuts and crushed pineapple; form mixture into a ball. Roll cheese ball into ½ cup chopped hazel nuts. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve, not more then overnight.


Shrimp Puffs

I use this dish as an appetizer and it’s always completely finished. Make 2 per person for best results, more if you like. They can be refrigerated if any are leftover.

½ pound small or medium shrimp, cooked and peeled, then cut into ½-inch pieces

1 7-ounce package flaky refrigerator dinner biscuits

1 cup 3-Mexican cheese, shredded

¼ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried dill

½ cup light mayonnaise

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Vegetable spray a 12-cup muffin pan.

Split the refrigerated biscuits in half and place one half in each muffin cup, pressing it into the bottom and up the sides.

In a bowl stir together cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, dill, and mayonnaise. Fold in shrimp and mix thoroughly. Scoop 1-tablespoon of shrimp mixture into each biscuit.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until puffs are bubbling and are a golden brown.


Quick Sesame Seed Bread Sticks

1 package refrigerate bread stick dough

1-2 tablespoons EVOO, olive oil

2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon sesame seeds or poppy seeds

 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

½ teaspoon garlic powder, if desired (optional)

Separate bread stick dough and lay flat on a buttered baking sheet. Brush with olive oil mixed with garlic, if desired (optional), and sprinkle Parmesan cheese, sesame or poppy seeds, and parsley over top of dough.

Holding end of each bread stick, gently twist 2 to 3 times and bake according to package directions.


Pineapple Casserole

This delicious recipe, dates back to the 1800s, and will please everyone in the crowd. It very rarely has leftovers, but it tastes as good as the first time around.

2 20-ounce cans pineapple tidbits, drained, juice reserved

½ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ cup pineapple juice, reserved juice

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-by-7-by-2-inch baking dish or 2-quart casserole baking dish. Set aside.

In a large bowl stir together pineapple, sugar, cornstarch, pineapple juice, eggs and vanilla. Pour this mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dot the top with butter and evenly sprinkle with ground cinnamon.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes until golden brown on top. This can be served hot or cold as leftovers.


Green Goddess Dressing and Iceberg Wedge

Serves 4

Iceberg lettuce wedges are the “ in” salad dish right now in trendy restaurants, and are eaten with a fork and knife.

1 medium head of iceberg lettuce, cut into 4-6 wedges

1 cup light mayonnaise

½ cup light sour cream

¼ cup dried parsley, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced and mashed

2 teaspoons anchovy paste (optional)

2 tablespoons wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Ground black pepper, to taste

In a bowl whisk together all ingredients, cover with plastic and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Spoon over iceberg lettuce wedges.


Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto

This can be served as an appetizer or side dish.

1 pound fresh asparagus

1 tablespoon EVOO, olive oil

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

3ounces prosciutto, cut lengthwise in half

Balsamic vinegar

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare asparagus by gently snapping off woody ends of asparagus. In a bowl toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until crisp tender. While asparagus is roasting, cut 3-ounces of prosciutto lengthwise in half.

After removing spears from the oven, let asparagus cool slightly about 4 to 5 minutes.  Around the center of each asparagus, wrap with a strip of prosciutto and place in a single layer on a serving plate. When ready to serve drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over top of asparagus, about 1 tablespoon. This maybe served warm or cold.

* To make this an extra rich dish, before wrapping with prosciutto spread a little soft cheese like goat or brie cheese and then wrap spears.


Roast Duck with Raspberry Chambord Liquor Sauce

1 4-5 pound duck, pierced all over skin

1 large apple, cut into eighths

¼ cup honey

¼ cup low-salt soy sauce

1 clove garlic, minced and the mashed


Raspberry Chambord Sauce

2 tablespoons  cup butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup red raspberries

2 ounces Chambord liquor

Prepare duck by removing neck, gizzards, and fat pads from inside cavity. Cut off excess neck skin. Pierce the skin of the duck with the point of a sharp steak knife about 20 places or more on front and back, so fat will drain out while cooking. Place duck on a rack in a roasting dish or pan. Place apple pieces inside duck. In a cup mix together honey, mashed garlic, and soy sauce. Brush over outside of duck.

Roast duck in a preheated 325-degree oven for 2 to 3 hours. Duck is done when leg turns easily. Remove apples from cavity and allow duck to cool slightly.

To de-bone the duck, with a large sharp knife or kitchen scissors slice down through the middle of the cooked duck breast to open the duck. With kitchen scissors cut through on each side of the backbone and remove. Taking each half remove the rib cage, it should come out easily. If your prefer, duck can be cut in half before cooking. Cut the cooking time down to 1 to 2 hours, and follow the recipe.

Place duck halves, breast side up, on a baking sheet pan. Place in a 350-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes to heat thoroughly. Remove from oven and place on dinner plates. Pour heated Raspberry Sauce over duck. Serve with wild rice or brown rice, and vegetables.


Baked Creamed Spinach

2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and tough stems removed

2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

½ cup finely chopped shallots or sweet onion

1 clove fresh garlic, minced and mashed

½ cup heavy cream, half and half or beef broth

½ cup mozzarella or Swiss cheese, shredded

¼ cup Italian flavored bread crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rinse spinach off and place in a large pot over medium high heat. Cook, covered with just the water that is on the leaves, stirring occasionally. Cook about 3 minutes until spinach is wilted. Pour into a colander or strainer. Immediately fill pot with very cold water and transfer cooked spinach to the pot so the spinach will stop cooking. Then drain again and squeeze all the water out of spinach. Coarsely chop the spinach; you should have about 2 cups of spinach.

Wipe out the pot then melt butter over medium heat and stir in shallots or onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add chopped spinach. Cook for about 3 minutes. Lower heat and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flour and stir, cooking for 2 minutes more. Add cream, half and half or broth, a little at a time, scraping up any stuck spinach. Simmer on low heat for just 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Lightly butter a shallow 1-quart rectangular or circular baking dish. Fold in mozzarella cheese and pour into prepared baking dish. In a glass measuring cup melt 2 tablespoons butter, stir in Italian flavored breadcrumbs forming crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over top of spinach. Bake in 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes until heated through and golden brown on the top.

Helpful Hint: For ease frozen, cooked, and pressed dry chopped spinach may be substituted.


Spinach, Sausage, Egg and Potato Casserole

1 10-once package frozen chopped spinach, cooked for 5 minutes, drained and pressed dry

1 pound fresh breakfast sausage links, cooked and cut into ½-inch pieces

1 cup Vidalia or sweet onion, chopped

2 white potatoes, like Russet or Yukon gold, peeled and shredded

6 eggs

1 cup heavy cream or half and half

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

5 tablespoons butter

4 ounces grated mozzarella or Gruyere cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl whisk together eggs and cream or half and half. Fold in grated cheese and Parmesan cheese; mix thoroughly. Season with a little salt and black pepper, to taste. Set aside.

In a 10-inch skillet melt 1 tablespoon butter on medium heat, and brown sausages on all sides, turning often, until cooked through, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate, and sauté onions in skillet until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Cut cooled sausage links into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.

Melt 3-tablespoons butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Press any liquid out of grated potatoes and add to hot skillet spreading out into a single layer. Cook over medium heat without stirring until bottom and edges are a crisp golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Slide potato pancake out of pan onto a plate. Using another plate invert the pancake so browned side is facing up. In skillet melt another tablespoon of butter and slide potato pancake back into skillet, uncooked side facing down. Cook until the new bottom is browned and golden, about 8 minutes.

Place potato pancake in the bottom of a buttered 2-quart baking casserole dish. Evenly sprinkle spinach, onions and sausages over pancake in even layers. Slowly pour egg and cheese mixture over top of sausages. Bake in 350 oven for 35 to 40 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Peaches and Cream Dessert

2 cups finely crumbled vanilla wafers

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup vanilla baking chips

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

4 cups ½-inch sliced fresh peaches or nectarines, peeled if desired

½ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ cup water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

To make crust: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl cream together sugar and butter until light. Mix in cookie crumbs and vanilla. Dough should be soft and clump together when pressed together with your fingers.

Place dough in a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan, and press it up the sides making sure that the layer on the bottom is even. Bake crust for 24 to 28 minutes, until crust is set and firm at the edges, and is a golden brown. Cool completely then fill with filling and bake as recipe directs.

To make filling: In a microwavable bowl, microwave white vanilla baking chips uncovered for 45 to 60 seconds or until chips are melted and can be stirred smooth. In another bowl, with an electric mixer beat cream cheese until smooth. Stir in melted vanilla chips until blended. Spread mixture over crust. Cover and refrigerate.

To make topping: In a bowl crush 1-cup sliced peaches. In a 2-quart saucepan, stir together sugar and cornstarch, add crushed peaches and ¼ cup water. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Add lemon juice, stir and cool for 10 to 12 minutes. Gently fold in remaining 3 cups of peach slices. Evenly spoon topping over filling, forming the peach slices in circles or rows across the top for a nice design. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until set, serve within 3 to 4 hours.

Helpful Hint: This recipe can be made with blueberries or strawberries instead of peaches or nectarines.


Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina 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.