Tuesday, December 31, 2013

pop fizz clink

let's have some fun. deepest thanks for all the love and support in my new adventure. wishing the happiest of happiest new year to all!!!!!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

tis the season

holiday party tip: need a roaring fire for your Christmas Eve celebration but missing a fireplace? No problem, Netflix has a video for your TV, how cool huh?


our top three holiday traditions:

#1. Christmas Eve dinner
  • 1 week out, menu planning (always Italian) and grocery list
  • a trip to Wegman's, farmers markets, farms, South Mountain Dairy, etc.
  • 1st year ever that I have the entire day to prepare our feast, I have dreamed of this!
  • Christmas music all day
  • set table, light candles & build fire
  • appetizers then on to dinner, sigh & yum
  • relax and change into our matching Christmas PJ's
  • coffee and dessert, relax
  • open gifts, relax
  • maybe time for late night snack? local eggnog & cookies

this year's menu:

Italian charcuterie and cheese board
arugula pecorino romano lemon vinaigrette cracked pepper
spaghetti braciole & meatballs
lemon ricotta cake
pour over Black Dog coffee

If you have never experienced braciole below is a recipe from Lidia Bastianich, Ken's favorite!

This is a typical Sunday Italian American meal. Serve the braciole as is, or fish them out of the sauce, arrange them on a platter and serve the sauce with rigatoni or gnocchi. Sausages and meatballs may also be added to the pot for an even more bountiful dinner.

Makes 6 servings

For The Braciole:
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups bread cubes (1/2-inch), cut from day-old bread with crusts removed
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped coarse
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove, chopped fine
2 lbs. beef bottom round, cut into 12 slices, each about 1/2 inch thick (see Note)
12 slices Prosciutto di Parma (about 6 ounces)
1/4 lb. imported provolone cheese, cut into 1/4 x 1/4 inch sticks
Freshly ground pepper

For The Sauce:
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions (about 8 ounces), chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 (35 oz.) canned Italian plum tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 bay leaves
Water as needed
Crushed red pepper flakes

Pour the milk into a medium bowl, add the bread cubes and let soak until the bread is very soft, 20 to 30 minutes. Squeeze out excess milk from the bread cubes with your hands and return the bread to the bowl. Stir in the chopped eggs, parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano, raisins, pine nuts and garlic. Mix well and set aside.

With the toothed side of a heavy meat mallet, pound each slice of beef round to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Arrange one of the pounded meat slices in front of you with one of the short sides (if there is one) closest to you. Top with a slice of prosciutto and tap the prosciutto with the back side of a knife so it adheres to the beef.

Spread 2 tablespoons of the stuffing over the prosciutto, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Place a stick of provolone crosswise over the edge of the stuffing closest to you. Fold the border closest to you over the provolone, then fold the side borders in to overlap the edges of the stuffing. Roll into a compact roll. Secure the end flap with a toothpick. Proceed to finish all, then season the rolls with salt and pepper.

MAKE THE SAUCE: Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy casserole over medium heat. Stir in the onions and garlic and cook until the onion is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add as many of the braciole as will fit in a single layer and cook, turning the braciole as necessary, until golden on all sides, about 7 minutes. If necessary, repeat with any remaining braciole.

Meanwhile, empty the tomatoes into a bowl and squeeze them with your hands until coarsely

If necessary, return all the braciole to the casserole. Pour the wine into the casserole, bring to a boil and cook until most of the wine has evaporated. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add tomato paste and bay leaves and stir until the paste is dissolved. Adjust the heat to
simmering and cook, adding water as necessary to keep the braciole completely submerged, until the beef is tender, about 3 hours.

Remove the toothpicks before serving. The braciole can be prepared up to 2 days in advance, then reheated over low heat until heated through.

NOTE: The slices of beef should measure about 4 to 5 inches on each side before pounding. To obtain pieces of the right size, look for -- or ask your butcher to cut -- six 1/2-inch-thick slices from a whole bottom round, then cut those slices crosswise into two pieces.


Christmas morning I love to prepare panettone French toast along with fresh squeezed OJ, super yummy.

#2. cookies, top 10
  • my Grandma Bertha's roll out sugar cookies
  • peanut butter and jam cookies
  • Italian wedding cookies
  • chocolate chip
  • gingersnaps
  • oatmeal raisin
  • Italian anise
  • springerle
  • shortbread
  • coconut macaroons
I spend one day and bake all the dough's. Some I roll into logs and wrap then just slice and bake. The roll outs I just do all at once and store on the back porch. As a kid I would help my Mom bake dozens and dozens of cookies, it was the beginning of my baking love. We would start a couple of weeks before Christmas and store all the cookies wrapped up in dress boxes in the garage. After school that is where you would find me! I honed my cookie eating skills at a very early age! It's as if it was just yesterday that I was baking with my Mom, thanks Mom for the cookie tradition, big love.

Italian wedding cookies


  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling cookies
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Cream butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla then gradually add the 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Sift the flour, measure, then sift again with the salt. Add gradually to the butter mixture. Add the pecans and mix well.
Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten slightly using the bottom of a glass, then bake for 20 minutes, or until edges are very lightly browned. Remove the cookies from the baking sheets and roll in powdered sugar while still hot. Cool on wire racks and roll cookies again in powdered sugar before serving.
Once they are completely cooled, cookies may be stored in airtight containers for up to 1 week.

#3. decorating for Christmas!

  • 2 weeks before Christmas we switch our dishes to the Spode Christmas Tree china
  • fresh tree jammed packed with ornaments and lights
  • angel tree topper from a childhood birthday cake
  • my Pop's Christmas village, all the boxes are labeled with date & where he purchased them, so adorable and I love the feeling he is with me when I set it up!
  • crazy Santa, Annalee & Snowbabies collection

Following traditions help hold close all the wonderful moments that have taken place in the past.
During the holiday season traditions make us feel festive and reassured.

Wishing everyone a fantastic holiday. Hope your cookie jars are packed and your plates filled with delicious food!

Peace and love,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

pie talk

jarrahdale pumpkin

                                                                long walks

lately......my mantra
roasted pumpkin pie

brown butter bourbon pecan pie

3 pounds of pink ladies
ready set... bake


sweet tatter pie, oh my
local sweet potatoes
It is that time of the year I become a pie making machine, which I have no problem with cause I most enjoy making, baking & eating pie.
I will be talking pie orders for the fast approaching Thanksgiving holiday. Email me, cheryl.615@hotmail.com call 304-433-7665 or stop by the trailer and fill out an order form.
 I am offering apple $22, brown butter bourbon pecan $19, roasted pumpkin $18 & sweet potato $18.
Along with pies, you can order buttermilk biscuits! yum
Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa
 perfect pie crust



Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust
cookie time!!!!!
Linzer cookies, from Epicurious


  • 2/3 cup hazelnuts (3 oz)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 12-oz jar seedless raspberry jam
  • Special equipment: a 2- to 2 1/4-inch fluted round cookie cutter and assorted 1/2-inch shaped cookie cutters or aspic cutters


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Toast hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan until fragrant and skins begin to loosen, about 6 minutes. Rub nuts in a kitchen towel to remove any loose skins (some skins may not come off), then cool to room temperature.
Pulse nuts and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a food processor until nuts are finely ground.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Beat together butter and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a stand mixer (preferably fitted with paddle) or 6 minutes with a handheld. Add nut mixture and beat until combined well, about 1 minute. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
With floured hands, form dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 5-inch disk. Chill disks, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 2 hours.
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
Roll out 1 disk of dough into an 11-inch round (1/8 inch thick) between 2 sheets of wax paper (keep remaining dough chilled). If dough becomes too soft to roll out, rewrap in plastic and chill until firm. Cut out as many cookies as possible from dough with larger cookie cutter and transfer to 2 ungreased large baking sheets, arranging about 1 inch apart. Using smaller cutters, cut out centers from half of the cookies, reserving centers and rerolling along with scraps (reroll only once). Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are golden, 10 to 15 minutes total, then transfer with a metal spatula to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies from second disk.
Spread about 1 teaspoon jam on flat side of 1 solid cookie and sandwich jam with flat side of 1 windowed cookie. Sandwich remaining cookies in same manner

happy baking

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Rocklands Farm Poolesville MD

                                                                      my street

                                          apples from Charles Town Farmers Market

I absolutely love the smells of fall, rich damp black soil, warm fires burning, fresh picked apples, earthy fallen leaves and the crisp cool air. Could it just stay fall and skip winter, please.

Autumn is romantic and calm. It is my time to prepare for hibernation. I just switched my summer and winter clothes along with the cleaning & organizing of closets. I washed all my windows inside and out. Entertaining moves inside, I enjoy rearranging the furniture to make the rooms cozy and inviting.

Most importantly don't forget the kitchen, this sounds crazy but it is time to clean, arrange and stock up your pantry. The winter is the busiest time of the year in most kitchens.

I thought it would be fun to put a pantry list together from all my favorite Chef's must haves.


Whole black peppercorns
Kosher salt
Good quality olive oil/ cooking, vinaigrette's and finishing dishes
Vegetable or grapeseed oil/ cooking and vinaigrette's
Selection of good quality vinegars, balsamic, champagne, red wine, apple cider & rice
Whole grain mustard/ sauces and vinaigrette's
Local honey
Organic cane sugar
Powdered sugar
Good quality chocolate chips
Brown sugar
Flours, All-purpose, whole wheat, cake & bread
Bread crumbs
Baking soda & powder, check use by dates
Baking spices/cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, vanilla extract
Organic peanut butter
cayenne pepper
Bay leaves
Red chili flakes
Hot sauce
Olives, capers and pickles
Dried fruits
Dried pasta
Nuts and seeds
Assorted crackers
Whole grains/farro, quinoa, brown rice, polenta, Arborio
Good quality whole canned tomatoes
Fresh herbs
Red and white onions
Unsalted butter
Good quality Parmesan, goat, feta & cheddar
Farm eggs
Milk, half & half and heavy cream
Local slab bacon
Champagne, there is always something to celebrate!

I hope this list inspires you to be Top Chef in your kitchen, ready for any cooking challenge.

I happened upon a new Container Store near the Reston Town Center, whoa I had to get out of there cause talk about super duper organizing stuff for the pantry. Crazy cool baskets, gadgets, containers, etc.! Yikes......

Happy fall organizing!!!!!

                        Cuteness from Rainbow Hill Organic Farm Charles Town WV

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Just so peachy keen

Ever since the first Twinkle Bell dinner when I made the creamy corn polenta, I am obsessed with freshly gristed cornmeal. I have to say it is unbelievable more delicious than just plan store bought. If you have the chance to find it at a farmers market or at a mill it is worth the extra time & effort to track it down.

The recipe I have been using to create all sorts of fruit & cornmeal combinations I found in  "The Best of the Best Food & Wine". The cookbook is a collection of recipes from the top 25 cooks books of the year. It just so happens that this recipe is from one of my favorite food blogger's, Deb Perelman from the Smitten Kitchen    www.smittenkitchen.com

Everyone wants this recipe so here it is! She uses blueberry's but I have been baking it with local stone fruits, so get creative!

Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake

Yield: 16 squares of cake

1 stick of unsalted room temperature butter, 115g or 8 tablespoons
1 C all purpose flour, 125g
1/2 C cornmeal, 60g
2 tsp baking powder
1 C sugar, 200g
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1/3 C sour cream, 80g
2 C blueberries, 190g

1/2 C sugar, 100g
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8 inch square pan with parchment and coat with a non stick spray.

whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, set aside. using  an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, at least 2 minutes. beat in eggs one at a time and scrape down sides between additions, then add vanilla and zest.

add a third of the flour, all of the sour cream and another third of the flour beating until just combined. scrape down sides and mix in the remaining flour mixture with the fruit and gently fold into the cake batter.

spread the batter into prepared pan. combine the dry topping with a fork. mash in the butter with a fork, your fingertips or a pastry blender. scatter the topping over the batter.

bake until top is golden and the tester comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
cool then run a spatula around the edges to loosen it and flip out onto cooling rack.

easy and delicious!

Don't forget Twinkle Bell Secret Dining Fellowship last dinner of this year is approaching, October 19th 6pm. Call your friends and make your reservations ASAP!
hey thanks for all the support in the Martha Stewart American Made contest, who knew I could get all those votes! Cowbell loves that you love her!
Fall is around the corner, it's that time of the year as the garden slows down and gets ready for it's winters slumber.. here is what's going on in my yard.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Twinkle Bell Secret Dining Fellowship Invite!


A Twinkle Bell Secret Dining Fellowship Event
Camp Luckybell headquarters. Head on down 6pm, sharp. We aim to serve and protect you upon arrival.

Welcome campers! Come help us bid farewell to summer and usher in autumn with a harvest festival. We are going to light up the sky and open up the mess hall with some locally sourced seasonal bounty. Our focus for your evening stay will include: building team spirit, constructing a teepee styled campfire, using old fashioned communication skills in making new friends, learning the do's and don't of glamping  and of course becoming one with nature. So dust off your Kate Spade or Marc Jacobs knapsack and here is your camp check list: a flask of whiskey or BYOB, flashlight or lantern, your ugliest coffee mug, a deck of cards, a blanket to cuddle in, last but not least a long stick. We do have a strict dress code at Camp Luckybell so remember to wear something flannel, you know grunge, lumberjack, preppy, chic, etc. and we do recommend not to forget to wear your woolly socks. Tell the kids not to worry we do provide adult supervision. See you soon and thanks for your interest.

October 2013

Camp Enrollment is now open! To make the evening easier we would appreciate payment before event, $70 includes tax and gratuity. Thanks!  Email cheryl.615@hotmail.com for the paypal link




Copyright © 2013 Cowbell Kitchen All rights reserved.
In Cahoots with the Old Lucketts Store
42350 Lucketts Road Leesburg, Va 20176
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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pictures are worth a thousand words

Assembling the goodies


                                                                 Pick a basket!

local smoked trout canapés
sweet & spicy mixed nuts
hummus & assorted crackers
café style grated carrot salad
chilled local zucchini vichyssoise
feature presentation
salad nicoise
farm rainbow chard quiche
Bordeaux braised local short ribs
baguette with whipped farm butter
Julia Child’s bittersweet chocolate mousse
homemade shortbread cookies
just picked fresh sliced melon

 Nicoise galore!


                                                        Summer breeze.........


                                                                Croquet anyone?

                                         Bingo Champion: Lexi Herman


                                                   Bordeaux braised local short ribs

giddy up!


French music, laughter & the noisy summer Cicada filling the evening air 


                   now playing, my childhood 8mm home movies along with "The Artist"

Time to thank our beautiful farmers & artisans, Tudor Hall Farm, The Breadery, Rainbow Hill Organic Farm, Potomac Organic Farm, TrueFarms, South Mountain Creamery & Breezy Meadows Farm.
And a big giant thank you to all that joined in on a wonderful evening! Merci beaucoup.

Next secret dinner October 12th, not to be missed!

Hey, if you have a second jump over to Martha and vote for the Cowbell, we need your support! Thanks!!!!

                                                                         Martha Stewart - American Made 2013 - Nominee Badge

             VOTE HERE!     http://marthastewart.com/americanmade/confirmation/82306