Aunt Jeans Congo Bars

I had a wonderful time vising my family in PA, and the cook out for my dads birthday was a blast.  My aunt Jean brought these cookies with her and they are fantastic.  She said its a very old recipe and she use to make them for my uncle when he was stationed in Vietnam.  My aunt even goes the extra mile by putting chocolate bars on top when they come out of the oven, and spreading them once they melt.  Enjoy!

2 1/2 Cups brown sugar

3 Eggs beaten
2/3 Cups shortening melted

2 3/4 Cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Cup broken nuts
1 6 ounce package of chocolate chips.
Add sugar & eggs to cooled melted shortening & mix well. Add dry

ingredients that have been sifted together. 
Pour into a 15x10 bar pan bake

20 minutes.

Mom’s Tortellini Salad

Well I’m on my way to PA to spend some time with my parents.  We will be celebrating my dads 60th birhtday with a family picnic.  I am sure moms Tortellini Salad will be a guest of honor.  Its probably one of the simplest take along foods, and always a crowd pleaser.

2 containers of  cheese tortellini, or one family sized (in the refrigerator section)
1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes
small jar of sliced olives
1 cup of shredded three cheese blend
small bottle of  Italian dressing

Cook the pasta per the package instructions

While the pasta is cooking:
Slice the tomatoes in half
Drain the olives

Drain the pasta and transfer to a large mixing bowl, cool.  Tip: add a little of the  dressing and stir to keep the pasta from sticking to itself.

Once the pasta is cooled mix in the tomatoes, olives, cheese and half the bottle of dressing.

Serve cold or a room temp and enjoy! 

Caprese Salad on Toast

Its the height of summer and everyone’s garden is fruitful.  I will be going to visit my family next Saturday in Butler PA. We will no doubt spend the week eating family meals right out of my mothers garden.  This is probably my favorite way to “dispose” of perfectly ripe tomatoes.  For the best flavor make this fresh and feel free to eyeball the ingredients. 

1-2 fist size ripe tomatoes
1 ball fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup of basil leaves, washed and patted dry
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Dice the tomatoes into bite size pieces.  It might sound like a little extra work but I prefer to cut the top off the tomato and scoop out the seeds first.  It keeps the dish from being too runny and my indigestion in check. 
Cut about half the cheese into the same size pieces.
Stack several basil leaves together and slice.  Avoid the urge to chop the basil, it will get bruised and not be as green and pretty.
Mix all this together in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, salt pepper and mix again. 

Serve on toasted Baguette, or get fancy and try my garlic bread recipe here.  

I would love to hear your favorite tomato “disposal” recipe?


Garlic Bread

This is the best fool proof garlic bread.

Italian Bread
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
between 4 and (keep away the vampires) 10 cloves of minced garlic

Pre-heat the oven to 350C.  Slice the bread and place on a cookie sheet.  Melt the butter and olive oil together over a low heat.   Once melted add the garlic and continue to heat until it gets bubbly.  Brush over the bread slices.  If you desire to at this point sprinkle with cheese, seasonings or whatever makes your mouth water.  Bake for 7-10 min, then broil briefly over a low heat watching that it doesn’t burn. 

Good Hair Day Tip – The butter can handle more heat than the olive oil, but the olive oil has more flavor.  Result – crispy not scorched bread with generous flavor.


If you’re anything like my husband and me you can’t ever decide where to eat or break away from routine places.   We get stuck in a rut sometimes, all good food in the rut (see below), but a rut none the less.   At one point we had a few of the favorite “ruts” listed on a cork board in his office.  We would throw darts at it to choose where to go. So now I’m putting together my dinners bucket list, a few places I want to try.   Who knows the rut list might even get a few new contenders.   
I found a few resources helped with the task.  Personally, I find the web to be the largest place for current information.  There are lots of restaurant guides out there but for this post I’m narrowing it down to two.  First , , the site is user friendly and has a quick catagory reference on the front page.  Their mobile app makes it easy to find something new or read a review when you are on the go.  Second, there is that is comprehensive and easy to use. It allows the hungry user to view the menu, read reviews and make reservations!  If you consider yourself to be a worthy food critic you can even become one of the Row’s reviewers and make a little extra money.  So using these resources I have my dinners bucket list.
Rut list
Papa Johns
German Cafe
Bucket List 
The Harp – Irish pub
Grand Union Pup – okay so Ive been but I really want to go back
Someplace posh downtown
Zaaki Grill – felafel yumm
The Goody Goody Omelet House – That’s right, I’ve never been there! 
Got any good suggestions out there?

Apricot Almond Pastry

One day I would very much like to write a cookbook.  I have begun to collect my favorite recipes and compose a few of my own.  I pulled this one out of my hat last weekend and I can’t wait to try it again. 
Apricot Almond Pastry
Two tubes of Pillsbury seamless crescent rolls
1 brick of cream cheese (8 0z)
Scant ¼ cup of apricot preserves
 1/3 cup of powdered confectioners’ sugar
1 tspn vanilla extract
½ tspn of almond extract
½ cup slivered almonds
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1-2 Tbsp melted butter
Preheat oven to 350C.
To make the filling use an electric mixer to cream together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, apricot preserves, vanilla and almond extract.  Set aside.   Open and unroll one tube of crescent rolls placing them in the bottom of a 9×13” baking dish.  Spread filling evenly over crescent roll.  Top with the second container of dough, pressing down slightly.
Bake for 25min at 350C
Pour melted butter over the top, sprinkle with almonds and granulated sugar.  Return to the oven for an additional five min or until the almonds have toasted slightly. 
Serve warm or at room temperature. 
Warm and toasty out the oven.

I think next time I’m going to try it with the brandied cherries that a friend made for me!