Ringing in the New Year with antipasto

If you want something fun for a New Year's Eve buffet, look no further than this simple recipe for marinated antipasto platter. It's in my column today in the SouthShore News & Tribune. If you need too, make it ahead of time and then refrigerate it. That way you'll have plenty of time to get dressed for the party.

I am so grateful for family, friends, good times, traditions, and all the things that can't be measured in tangibles.

Happy New Year to all!


Stockings hung? Cookies baked? Jelly rolled?

I've been baking my way through my annual got-to-have Christmas goodies - thumbprints, bite-size brownie cupcakes and cranberry crunch cookies. In the middle of this baking frenzy, I made a new recipe for a chamber breakfast meeting.

Surfing the Internet, I found this really great cranberry and pecan jelly roll recipe at gourmetsleuth.com. The "healthy favorite" looked impressive, and was much easier to make than it appeared.

It turned out to be a joyous combination of cake and fat-free cream cheese frosting all rolled into one dessert or, in this case, breakfast.

If you have a houseful of hungry guests this week, this jelly roll might be the ticket!

Here's hoping you have a Lake Wobegone Christmas: All the cookies are outstanding; all the presents are satisfying; and all the stocking stuffers are above average.

4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

1 package (8 ounces) fat-free cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup confectioners' sugar

Let eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Line a 15-in. x 10-in. baking pan with waxed paper; coat with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks on high speed for 3 minutes or until thickened. In a small mixing bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high until soft peaks form. Fold into yolks. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gently fold into the egg mixture until combined. Fold in cranberries and pecans.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 - 10 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 5 minutes. Invert cake onto a kitchen towel dusted with confectioners' sugar. Gently peel off waxed paper. Roll up cake in towel jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Cool on a wire rack.

For filling, in a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter and extract. Set aside 1 1/2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar. Gradually beat remaining sugar into cream cheese mixture. Unroll cake; spread filling to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up again. Sprinkle with reserved confectioners' sugar. Store in refrigerator. Serves 12


Tis the season for crashing tea parties?

If you're going to crash a party, it might as well be one with Mrs. Claus. That, and just in time for the holidays, this recipe from today's South Shore News & Tribune for Thumbprint cookies.


Carmel Cafe & Wine Bar

Recently, I was invited to a tasting preview at the new Carmel Cafe & Wine Bar in Clearwater. My daughter and I had a fabulous time. The food was exceptional.

Here are some pictures to whet your appetite, until I write my next Table Scraps column.

Carmel Cafe & Wine Bar
Northwood Plaza
2548 McMullen Booth Road
Clearwater, FL 33761
(727) 724-4228


Sweet temptations!

Say no to holiday goodies? Not going to happen.

The Catering Company is sponsoring "Brandon's Largest Cookie Swap" from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, December 4, at Beef O'Brady's, 9331 Adamo Drive, Tampa.

For those that wish to participate, please bring three dozen homemade cookies along with the recipe to exchange. Containers will be supplied by The Catering Company.

Reservations are requested by e-mailing info@cateringbrandon.com.


Life on the farm at Twenty-Four Rivers

I wrote a story this week for the SouthShore News & Tribune on Twenty-Four Rivers farm. Erik and Carrie Schramm encourage new customers to visit and tour their small family farm in Plant City.

If eating meat is good, eating ethically raised meat is even better. To learn more about Twenty-Four Rivers, visit the farm's website.


Baking a pie almost got me arrested

Congratulations to Myra Hocutt, who made her mom's apple pie recipe at the Freedom Plaza Fall Festival and Craft Show's pie baking contest. The delicious event took place to support Hillsborough County Sheriff's Emergency Services.

Myra's recipe appears in this week's South Shore News & Tribune Table Scraps column.


It's Seafood Festival time!

Terrific seafood, entertainment and fun for families is on tap (so is beer) at the 22nd Annual Ruskin Seafood Festival, this weekend, November 6 -7 at E. G. Simmons Park in Ruskin.

Heralded as the best event of the year, this Ruskin-SouthShore Chamber of Commerce event celebrates every ocean creature imaginable.

Here are the other details:

Where: E. G. Simmons Park, 2401 19th Ave. NW, Ruskin

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Cost: $5; children under 12, free and a $2 per carload entry fee into the park


Cooking gets spooky at Doby Elementary

Recently, I visited with Aubrey Hoishik's second grade class at Doby Elementary. Ms. Hoishik ties hands-on cooking activities to her weekly lesson plan. During my visit, the chefs-to-be decorated "creepy" cupcakes - there was a lot of finger licking going on - to go with the spooky stories they had written. It's featured in today's South Shore News & Tribune. Click here for the complete story.


Sara Moulton at the Rolling Pin in Brandon

Here is a pictorial essay of my visit with Sara Moulton at the Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium in Brandon this afternoon. I will be writing about Sara, and the Rolling Pin, in my Table Scraps column in The South Shore News & Tribune on Oct. 27:

2080 Badlands Drive
Brandon, FL 33511
(813) 653-2418


Tis' the season for mouth-watering Oktoberfest

I didn't have to cross the Atlantic for Oktoberfest. In fact, I didn't even have to leave the neighborhood.

This morning, as I was eyeballing a can of sauerkraut that's been sitting in my pantry, a strong desire for sauerkraut came over me.

Several hours later, Beanie's Family Sports Grill posted this message on Facebook: "October Fest at Beanie's! Bratwurst, red cabbage or sauerkraut and a choice of side.... Come on down!!!"

So we did!

The dinner included two grilled brats, on a bed of homemade sauerkraut, roll and a choice of one side. I chose potato salad. I can't even describe this dish without my mouth watering.

What to drink? Are you kidding? What's Oktoberfest without a beer? In fact, what's a brat without a beer?

Beanie's Family Sports Grill

2002 S U.S. 41 S.

Ruskin, FL

(813) 649-1700


Pie-baking throwdown!

Hey, all you pie bakers. Yes, I mean people like you, Larry Brooks! The challenge is on!

Freedom Plaza is hosting its Fall Festival and Craft Show on Friday, Oct. 22 from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Along with a variety of crafts, hidden treasures, hot dog, chips and soda for $2, there will be a pie baking contest! This event is to support Hillsborough County Sheriff's Emergency Services.

I'm in!

For more information, call (813) 634-1824.

Freedom Plaza
1010 American Eagle Blvd.
Sun City Center, FL


A tip for potato chip lovers

Personally, I can plow through a bag of chips before it has time to get stale.

But, this is a brilliant way to fold down the top of a chip bag without using a clip. The air stays out and the chips stay fresh.

A fondness for herbs?

Colorfield Farms Fall Garden Festival

This weekend, learn all kinds of great tricks for outsmarting South Florida's problematic growing conditions at the annual Colorfield Farms Fall Garden Festival.

The event will include the tasting of recipes using herbs as well as educational demonstrations on growing herbs and commonly used veggies, container gardening, low-volume irrigation, and pests, bugs, sap suckers and other undesirables.

When: Oct. 16 - 17, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Colorfield Farms, 8221 State Road 674 in Wimauma

Cost: Free

Information: (813) 833-2545