Happy New Year! Here are some nice recipes to enjoy during the holidays.



Pignoli Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on size. The delicate flavor of the pignoli nuts deepens as the cookies bake.

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup confectioner’s sugar

Pinch of salt

1 7-ounce tube almond paste

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg , room temperature

1 cup pine nuts


Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 300 degrees. Line 2-baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a food processor pulse the flour, granulated sugar, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until combined. Add the almond paste, and vanilla extract; pulse until fine crumbs form. With the motor running slowly add the egg and process until the dough comes together, or mix dough with your fingers.

Put the pine nuts in a small bowl. Form tablespoonfuls of dough into 3/4-inch balls with damp hands and roll in the pine nuts to coat completely, pressing to coat. Arrange 2-inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until light golden around the edges, about 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheets on wire racks.


Dessert Drink

One may not be enough.

3 ounces crème de cocao or Kahlua

3 ounces brandy

½ gallon coffee ice cream

Ice cubes

Pour crème de cocao and brandy into a blender. Fill blender with as much coffee ice cream to fill blender 2/3 full. Add 2-3 ice cubes. Blend well. Serve in low ball glasses after dinner.


Olive-Pecan Cheese Ball

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 stick butter, softened

½ small sweet onion, finely chopped

16 black olives, chopped

12 green olives with pimentos, chopped

1 cup toasted pecans, chopped


In a bowl combine cream cheese, butter, onions, and olives. Roll into a ball. Roll in pecans. Chill for 2-3 hours. Serve at room temperature with crackers.


Sausage and Cheese Quiche Pie

1 prepared 9-inch deep dish pie crust

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

½ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

1 pound sausage, browned, drained and crumbled (I like to use sweet Italian sausage.)

1/2 Cup chopped sweet onion, sauteed

4 Large eggs, room temperature, slightly beaten

1 ½ cups half-and-half or almond milk

½ teaspoon salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In the bottom of prepared pie crust sprinkle sausage meat and sautéed onion then top with shredded cheeses.

In a bowl whisk together eggs, half-and-half, sour cream, salt and pepper. Pour over meat and cheese.

Bake in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 325 degrees and bake for 30 more minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes then cut and serve.


Fried Lobster Ravioli

Any filled ravioli may be substituted.

1 pound package of frozen lobster ravioli, thawed

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup semolina flour

Vegetable oil for frying

Grated Parmesan cheese

Marinara sauce, warmed

Mix the two flours together and place in a shallow dish. Dip refrigerated cheese ravioli in beaten egg, then in flour mixture. Deep fry in 375 degree vegetable oil until golden, about 4-5 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce and grated Parmesan cheese.


Turkey and Broccoli Pasta

Ham or chicken may be substituted in this recipe.

4 cups uncooked bow tie pasta about 12 – ounces

1 16-ounce package frozen broccoli florets

3 cups fully cooked turkey, cubed

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese or Mexican Three Cheeses

¼ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

½ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon dried dill

½ cup milk

Pinch salt and fresh ground black pepper

Grated Parmesan cheese.


In a Dutch oven cook pasta according to package directions, add broccoli during the last 5-minutes of cooking; drain and set aside.

In a large rectangular baking dish add shredded cheese, sour cream, milk, dill, salt and pepper; stir together . Toss in pasta and broccoli mixture to combine. Fold in cooked turkey and mix evenly.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until all the cheese is melted and is slightly golden on top. Serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese


Carrot and Apple Baked Casserole

5 Granny Smith green apples, cored, peeled, and thinly sliced

2 cups cooked and drained carrot slices

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons corn starch

¾ cup orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place half the apple slices in a greased 2-quart baking dish, and cover with half the carrots.

In a bowl mix together brown sugar, butter, and flour. Sprinkle half the mixture over the apples and carrots in baking dish. Repeat these layers and pour the orange juice over the top. Bake 40 to 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.



Eggnog Bundt pound Cake


Make sure to use a 12 or 15 quart Bundt pan, if using a smaller pan use the excess batter for a loaf pound cake. Make sure not to fill the Bundt pan more than 3/4 full or it will be all over the bottom of the oven.


1 1/2 Cups butter, 3 sticks, softened

3 Cups granulated sugar

5 Large eggs

2 Teaspoons vanilla extract

3 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 Teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 Teaspoon Chinese Five-spice or ground cinnamon

1 Cup eggnog or eggnog coffee creamer

1/4 Cup rum (Optional)


1 Cup confectioners' sugar

1-2 Tablespoons rum or eggnog


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat a 12 to 15 cup Bundt pan with baking vegetable spray or grease. And dust with flour.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Add vanilla and rum and mix well.

In another bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and Chinese Five-spice. Add the flour mixture and eggnog mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour, mixing well after each addition.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Do not fill the pan more than 3/4 the way. Bake in 325 degree oven for 55 to 70 minutes, or until a golden brown and is just starting to pull away from the edges of the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert pan over a cake dish and turn out. Cool completely before glazing.



In a bowl combine confectioners' sugar and 1-2 Tablespoons rum or eggnog or a combination of both, mix until completely dissolved, add more liquid or sugar for desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled cake.

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; placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing and winning second place for her Sweet Blueberry Pepper Jelly in 2015; and winning first in 2016 for her spoon blueberry muffins with apricot sauce and second for her blueberry crisp squares — and has won various other contest awards — including three blue ribbons at the 2016 Cape Fear County Fair — for her blueberry cheesecake, muffins, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.