A Pot of Gold ~

Also known as Make Ahead Gravy. 

If you are anything like me, come the holiday, any holiday, I want to cook for my family.   And I love to find a few dishes that I can make ahead of time and freeze.  Gravy is one of those dishes that I like to get made beforehand.   When I was a young cook, learning to make a good gravy seemed overwhelming to me.  All the hustle and bustle of making it the very last minute and getting everything on the table seemed pretty nightmarish.  So I am here to give you directions on how to make this easy and delicious gravy, ahead of your dinner guests arrving.  And to me, it's like having a "pot of gold".  Well, almost....

It's adapted from Ina Garten, and it's so easy and delicious.  It also can be made ahead and kept in your fridge a few days.  Which means no stressing out over a holiday meal, held up while the cook is preparing the gravy to be served with dinner.  Just heat it up slowly in a heavy pan while your meat is resting and voila. 

Oh and if you want it to go along with beef, just change your stock to beef stock.  Trust me, it is very adaptable.


2 large onions, sliced thinly
1 stick of butter
1/4 cup floour
1 Tablespoon of Brandy
2 cups of chicken stock (yes, boxed is fine)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch Oven, melt butter over medium low heat.  Add your chopped onion and stir well.  Place burner on low and stir.  Now, here is the only tricky part and it's not really tricky.   You want to carmelize your onions, which can take up to 45 minutes.  So, keep your burner on low and every few minutes come stir them. And don't try to rush this part, it makes all the difference in the world.  Trust me and you'll have a wonderful gravy to serve at any meal.  Here are a few pictures.  And you want them to be carmelized, not just browned.

After 15 minutes, just starting to brown.

After 30 minutes, getting nice and brown.

After 45 minutes, now add the flour and stir.  See, aren't they gorgeous?

Cook the  caramalized onion/flour mixture on low for 5 minutes, randomly stirring.  Add your chicken stock slowly and turn up heat to a near boil, stirring continuously.  After it comes up to the boil, turn it down to a simmer and let cook for about 5 more minutes until thickened and golden brown.  Stir in the brandy, then taste and add salt and pepper if you need it.

Let the gravy cool down and use an immersion blender to smooth out any onion pieces.  Either place in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in a freezer container for up to a month.

Having the gravy done ahead of time, is definetly a good thing.


Boozy, New Orleans Bread Pudding ~

Being from Boston, I have never made Bread Pudding before.  It's a Southern thing I think.   But a friend had asked me to make it for her when she was coming to dinner, so of course I said yes.  I did some research and found this easy and delicious recipe from another friend.

The reason I chose this particular bread pudding was because of how easy it is to make and how delicious it sounded.  Oh, and that it has the raisins soaking overnight in Bourbon, with extra Bourbon in the sauce.  How bad can that be?  Right, it can't....  By the way, it's a fabulous dessert.  And easy, did I say that already?  Yes, very easy to make.

You can find the recipe is on my friend Carolyn's blog "A Southerner's Notebook", here.


The only change I made to the original recipe, is that I used Challah Bread and cut the sugar by a quarter of a cup.

Here's a picture of it going into the oven.

And here it is all puffy and golden coming out of the oven.  I baked it about 15 minutes than it called for.  I just checked it every 5 minutes after the initial 40 minutes that the recipes states.

Make sure you let it cool a bit before serving.

Enjoy ~


Pioneer Woman's Rum Cake ~

I don't usually make cakes from cake mixes.  Although I don't have a problem with a cake mix in of itself, I just never seem to buy them.  I think it's because I have all of the ingredients to make desserts in my pantry and fridge, so no need really.  However, I do have good friends who rave about this cake and one even serves it at Holiday gatherings.  So, when a friend asked me to make a rum cake for her Birthday, I chose this one.  And I wasn't disappointed at all.  As a matter of fact, I was delighted and so was my friend.

Pioneer Woman's Rum Cake
1 box (about 18 oz.) Yellow Cake Mix

1 package (3.5 oz.) instant Vanilla Pudding Mix

4 eggs

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cups Rum (dark or light)

1 cup chopped pecans

Brown sugar (optional)

Glaze1 1/2 sticks butter

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup Rum

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Grease and flour a bundt cake pan. Sprinkle nuts over bottom of pan. If desired, sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar over the nuts.

Mix all cake ingredients together. Pour batter into pan over nuts. Smooth the batter out until the top is even. Bake for 1 hour, or a little less if the pan is black. Do not over bake!

While cake has ten minutes left to bake, begin preparing the glaze.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn off the flame and pour in the rum. Stir to combine and reheat for 30 seconds.

Remove the cake from the oven. Immediately drizzle 1/3 of the glaze on the bottom (top) of the cake. Allow to sit for five minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Prick surface a hundred times with a fork very gently. Slowly drizzle the remaining rum glaze all over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Cool to room temperature before serving to ensure glaze has soaked in.

My Notes: I combined a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar with the chopped pecans and then spread them into the bottom of my bundt pan.  And I saved about 1/4 of the glaze to serve with the cake for drizzling.

My cake was done in 55 minutes.

Here is a slice served with a little whipped cream.