Sunday, March 31, 2013

Myrtle #2...

We're back at the homefront and I thought I would share another Myrtle experience. Last night we went to DP Wine and Tapas Bar since it was highly recommended on the happy hour link I posted earlier (and we were all about "budget travel"). It was definitely a good tip, since the appetizers and wines are half price from 4pm until 7pm every day. At first the kids felt a bit out of place as it turned out to be a pretty swanky joint and we were still in our "jaunting" attire, but once they had eaten, all was happy again (or "happy, happy, happy" in deference to Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty). We had the truffle popcorn, Spanish caprese salad, pork belly, tempura veggies, Yakitori Negima (chicken), and the prime beef slider with truffle shoe string pom frittes. All excellent. Here are a few pics:

Here's a link to the restaurant:

Stay tuned for more Myrtle. Buon Appetito!

Easter Recipe from a friend...

A friend of mine sent me this "Easter" recipe I thought I would share. Got a bit of a chuckle out of it, but it might end up being good...

Photo DetailsSubmit a photo | Learn more
Vodka Soaked Peeps

Vodka Soaked Peeps

Why wouldn't you want to combine the flavor of Easter Peeps and Vodka? Here's how: Place all Peeps into a large jar. Fill with vodka. Allow Peeps to marinate in the vodka in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Vodka can be used as-is, or Peep remnants can be removed by straining vodka through a coffee filter.
Date Posted: Mar. 29, 2013


Photo by joey
Cooking Level: Expert
Living In: Seattle,WashingtonUSA

Buon Appetito!

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter all! Getting ready to hit the road out of Myrtle. Great weekend, but nice to head home. We're having breakfast at Paradise Pancake and Omelette House, no food yet, so not sure. It is fitting that we can say I'll see you in Paradise this morning...Some actual posts soon to come. As always, Buon Appetito!
(Here's a pic of the kids building "Easter towers" or crosses...not sure. Basically it's a study in the refusal to grow up...).

Friday, March 29, 2013

Myrtle #1, Life's a beach...

Here we are in sunny Myrtle. We decided to take the kids on an impromptu, last minute trip to Myrtle Beach, SC. Thanks to my old(er) brother Dan, and his Marriott affiliation, we are able to do travel more than we would otherwise. So far it's been great, a nice family getaway for a few days. This is what we've discovered. First, we found a local website that lists all the local restaurants that have a happy hour, and what they offer. It's great! It also lists which ones offer happy hour on the weekend and which offer it after 7pm, and which offer both. Here it is:

I have to mention one restaurant here that we went to thanks to that very website. It's called Flying Fish Public Market and Grill. Here's the happy hour menu and a few pics from there:

I had the oyster shooter, and I highly recommend it! We also had hush puppies, calamari, shrimp salsa, buffalo shrimp, and rib stack.

For now I will leave you with a view from our room. More to come on the Myrtle adventure. Though this is not a recipe, still, Buon Appetito!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pasta paradiso!

If you're never had/made homemade pasta, I highly recommend it. It's been a while since I've made it and I believe we're about due. Typically when I make pasta, I also make the sauce(s). The three sauces I normally do are red sauce, alfredo sauce, and/or pesto. In a later post I'll talk about sauces, but for now,  pasta. Here's a pic to get things started:

Pasta drying on the air hockey table in the sun room.
Here's a basic recipe:

2 C AP Flour
2 C Semolina flour
pinch of salt
6 large eggs
2 T olive oil

Sift both flours and salt into mixing bowl (I use a KitchenAide), and mix on low, add eggs one at a time (I always crack my eggs into a separate bowl first just in case), add the oil and mix until it forms a ball, don't over mix. Put the dough on a floured surface and knead for a minute. I then use my hand crank pasta machine and usually do a fettucini type noodle. I recommend the hand crank type since they last forever and are inexpensive. Here's mine;

Anyway, simple, simple. It tastes great, too. It only takes a few minutes to cook and it's cheap to make and much better than store bought. I'll add a couple of pics my niece in AK sent me when they made farfalle. 

Buon Appetito!

Some of the finer things in life.

Well, we're not big drinkers (regardless of all the posts about beer, homemade liqueurs, wineries, etc). However, once in a while, we'll break down and get a nice bottle of bourbon. Here are 3 that we've found that seem quite smooth, in this order of favorites:

#1. Blanton's Single Barrel:
 #2. Eagle Rare:

 #3. Evan Williams Single Barrel, 18-yr:

So, we're not connoisseurs or anything, but once in a while we'll splurge, and when we do it's typically one of these. A bottle will last a long time, as we "cherish" it. Unfortunately, my wife likes to sip a little, too. Fortunately, she likes me better when she drinks.

Here's a pic that's related just to throw in a little variety. We found a few beers that are aged in bourbon barrels that are amazing, they end up being a rich lager type with a slight caramel finish. Very nice.
Here's a link to another brand:

So, enjoy (in moderation) and always try something new, whether it be cooking, baking, tasting, sipping, or just living. Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Back on track with less healthy recipes!

I had this at a business retreat and adopted the recipe. I am a big proponent of cooking/baking from scratch and using good ingredients. Sometimes, we all deviate from the path...

Not Yo’ Mama’s Banana Pudding —

Servings: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time:
Difficulty: Easy

Not Yo’ Mama’s Banana Pudding

1 12ounce container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whip

1 14ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 8ounce package cream cheese, softened

2 cup milk

1 5ounce box instant French vanilla pudding

6-8 bananas, sliced

2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies

Line the bottom of a 13x9x2inch
dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using
another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the
whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture
and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining
cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Quick and easy, just like I like my...

From a friend, sounds great and easy.

Frozen berries, dry cake mix, and 1 can of sprite. yummy cobbler. It sounds so easy - and it 
is good and weight watcher friendly! Ingredients

Two 12-oz bags frozen mixed berries

1 box white cake mix (no pudding)

1 can of diet 7-up or sierra mist (clear soda)


Place frozen fruit in a 9x13 baking dish. Add dry cake mix over the top. Pour soda slowly 
over cake mix. DO NOT stir the cake mix and the pop - this will give you a 'crust'. If you stir
the two, you will have a cake like topping.

Bake 350 for 45-50 min.

Not my usual cup o' tea.

I don't usually share things like this, but every once in a while we all need to be reminded.

3/27/13 Anne Theriault: 15 Assumptions You Should Make Today

15 Assumptions You Should Make Today

1. Assume that you are loved.

2. Assume that those who love you find some kind of value in you and the things you do.

3. Assume, however, that you don't need to be valuable in order to be worthy of love.

4. Assume that there is no one out there keeping a tally of all of your failings, ready to throw it in your face when you're either
feeling too good or too awful about yourself.

5. Assume that if anyone actually is keeping a tally of all your failings, that act says more about them than it does about you.

6. Assume that you can't make all of the people happy all of the time; maybe not even some of the people some of the time.

7. Assume that you will, over the course of your life, sometimes anger or disappoint the people you love.

8. Assume that when this happens, it isn't the end of the world, even if that's what it feels like.

9. Assume that there is never an end to learning, or growing, or discovering.

10. Assume that you will always find a way out, even when all the doors slam shut and everything feels impossible.

11. Assume that sometimes earnestness and optimism can trump irony and cynicism.

12. Assume that it's possible to recapture the way you felt when you were young, how the perfect clockwork mechanism of the
universe used to leave you breathless and giddy with wonder.

13. Assume that there will always be more stories to tell, or at the very least new ways of reinterpreting old fables.

14. Assume that nothing is permanent, that someday even the sun will disappear; remember that everything we see and touch
and taste is made of stars that grew and pulsed and died long before this planet ever existed.

15. Assume that you are under some kind of obligation to make the world a better place.

This post originally appeared on The Belle Jar.
What other positive assumptions do you regularly make in your life, or do you wish a woman in your life would make about
herself? Share in the comments or tweet @HuffPostWomen using the hashtag #assumethis.
Follow Anne Theriault on Twitter:
March 27, 2013
Posted: 03/26/2013 10:09 am

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Orange you glad I didn't say banana...


yield: 24 cookies prep time: 1 hour cook time: 12 minutes total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
For the Cookies:
2½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 egg

For the Sweet Orange Glaze:
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
Fresh orange juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine the the sugar and orange zest, rubbing them together with your fingers until the zest is completely incorporated into the sugar.

4. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and the orange zest-infused sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and orange and mix until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. If the dough seems a little on the soft side, refrigerate it for up to 30 minutes. Using a medium cookie scoop (or 2 tablespoonfuls), scoop out the dough and roll them into balls, placing them 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges, but still pale in the middle. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes on the cookie sheet, and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

5. To make the sweet orange glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, orange zest, and enough orange juice to achieve the desired consistency (less juice for a thicker glaze, more for a thinner one). Spread glaze over top of the cooled cookies, and allow to set at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Store at room temperature in an airtight container (divide layers with wax paper so the cookies don't stick together)."

So, I made these tonight, very good. Although I made a few changes, shocker! I used salted butter and I added pure orange extract to the dough (2 t) and also to the glaze (1 t). I used blood oranges, just because, and it was great, hence the pink hue. These are similar to my orange shortbread cookies. Buon Appetito!

Snack attack

We had some frozen, unbaked dinner rolls in the freezer and we were trying to think of something a little less boring to do with them than just bake them. I came across a recipe for Pepperoni, mozzarella pull apart bread that I thought looked good. So, I changed it (please see *disclaimer in an earlier post). The recipe calls for pepperoni (hence the name), which I promptly switched to salami (I like to live dangerously) and also an olive oil dipping sauce to roll the dough in, which I translated as "use your homemade pesto." Anyway, we cut each roll into 4, rolled them balls, then tossed them in the pesto. We layered, the pesto dough balls, cubed salami, and cubed mozzarella in a bundt pan (2 layers) and baked at 350° for 30-40 min. Quick, easy, fun to eat. Buon Appetito!

I left my heart in Sambuca di Sicilia, Ulmo, Sicilia, Italy

It was surreal. It was awesome. Part of me was left behind in Sicilia. I'll post more about our trip to Italy  from time to time, but for now, I wanted to point out one of our highlights, Planeta Winery. As we drove to the winery, we passed rolling green hills dotted white with sheep, rocky coastlines, the smell of the sea, and amazing vineyards and olive groves. I was constantly reminded of how young our history here in America is, as we daily trod over cobblestones, some hundreds of years old, some thousands, but, I digress. I was also astounded by the size of the vine stocks. They looked like trees compared to the relatively young vines we tend to see here. When we arrived, we were greeted by a young lady who asked if we were "ok". With a small bit of puzzlement, we said yes, we were ok. She then said, "no, no, have you eaten lunch?" We said, no, we had not. To which she replied, "then you are not ok". So began our visit to Planeta Wineries Sambuca di Sicilia, Ulmo, Sicilia estate, After our tour of the grounds, the stainless tanks, the oak barrel rooms, and the bottling facility, we were led back to a tasting room with a large table, beautifully set, with 4 wine glasses at each place. There was quite a spread, too, olives (their own they had grown and brined), olive oil (again, their own), bread, bread sticks, and cheeses. When I tried the bread that had been drizzled with the oil, I asked what kind of spice they added to the oil and was told, that's just pure olive oil. I had never experienced anything like it. It was so light, and fresh, and delicious. It was nothing like what we usually have here. When the bottle of olive oil was opened, it smelled like fresh cut grass. These oils were so exquisite, you could actually sip them for an olive oil "tasting". It was remarkable. Of course, the wine was also ridiculously good. From what we were told, some countries export their best wines, but Italy keeps their best and exports the second tier, which are amazing anyway. The wines were clean, and mature, with such flavor. Needless to say, we brought home several bottles of wine and oil. So, here's my shout out to Planeta Winery. There's a link in the "favorite links" section, too. I'll add a few pics, but they can never do it justice. Buon Appetito!

Lovely wife and I (I do not smile, apparently)


Frank and "small" bottle

In front of Planeta olive tree

Another smileless...


Some of the delicious "fare"

Beautifully set up for our tasting

The "shelf"



Here is my disclaimer that I should have begun the whole blog with. I don't always use recipes. Actually, I rarely stick to the recipe to be honest. While I really enjoy perusing a lot of recipes, I look at them as mostly references and ideas, not "written in stone" law. I love to experiment with food/drink, etc. So, why the disclaimer? Because, a lot of times I run into the issue of people asking me for recipes I used to make certain things and I can give them a basic guideline, but not always a strict recipe. Cooking and baking are a great mix of art and science, and maybe what that's why I enjoy it, although the feeling of having someone really enjoy something you've made is pretty awesome, too. If I ever make something great, or experience something great, I always want to share it. So, having said that, for those who have asked for recipes, I will do my best. The best way to cook is from your heart, though, and while that may sound a bit corny, it's true. Enjoy, experiment, feel, and share. Buon Appetito!

Hittin' the sauce...

The sauce is on, simmering at 7am. Yeah, I'm that good...

Buon Appetito!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Any recipe with the word "drunken" in the title has got to be good...

Thanks to my sister-in-law (a great cook) for sharing...

Drunken Cherry Chocolate Torte
Yield: 12 serving slices
Triple layer Chocolate Torte topped with Drunken Cherries!
    For the Crust:
  • 1/2 cup dry roasted macadamia nut pieces
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • For the Middle Layer:
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (1/4oz pkg)
  • 1/2 cup Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp dark chocolate unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • For the Top Layer:
  • 6oz white chocolate (good quality), chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream, divided
  • For the Drunken Cherries:
  • 1 bag (16oz) frozen pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, divided
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
    For the Crust:
  1. Prepare a 9inch springform pan by buttering the bottom only. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the nuts with granulated sugar until finely ground. Add flour and salt. Pulse in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until a soft dough forms (crumbly). Press dough into bottom of pan. Poke with a fork all over. Bake for 18 minutes. Remove and cool completely.
  3. For the middle layer:
  4. Pour cold water into a cold saucepan. Sprinkle with entire packet of gelatin and allow to bloom (absorb the water) for about 2 minutes. Turn saucepan on low and whisk gelatin water for several minutes until completely dissolved. Remove from heat.
  5. In a mixing bowl, beat 5 Tbsp of gelatin mixture (save the remaining for the next layer) with Nutella and mascarpone cheese. Mix until completely smooth. Set aside.
  6. In a clean, dry, and cold mixing bowl (I spin a couple ice cubes in my bowl, then dry it out quickly with a paper towel), beat whipped cream with cocoa powder and granulated sugar on high. Whip until soft peaks form (several minutes). Fold in nutella mixture, combining gently until completely incorporated. Spread mixture over cooled crust.
  7. For the top layer:
  8. In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of cream over low. Add 2 Tbsp of reserved gelatin mixture and heat on low until fully combined. Add white chocolate and whisk constantly until smooth and melted, about one minute. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally (about 5-10 minutes, mixture may thicken).
  9. In a clean, dry mixing bowl, beat remaining 1 cup of cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold a scoop of the beaten cream into the white chocolate mixture, to allow the chocolate to lighten up. Then fold remaining whipped cream into white chocolate. Pour over nutella layer of torte.
  10. Refrigerate torte for 2-3 hours, until layers have set.
  11. For the cherry layer:
  12. This can be made a day ahead of time. Place frozen cherries into a large bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of rum over cherries and allow cherries to thaw at room temperature, completely.
  13. When thawed, drain juice from cherries by placing strainer over a separate bowl. You should have over 1 cup of cherry juice drained. Return cherries to a medium sized bowl in the refrigerator.
  14. Using 3/4 cup of the reserved cherry juice, add 1/4 cup more of rum. (for a total of 1 cup juice/rum mixture).
  15. In a small saucepan, whisk cherry and rum juice with 1 cup of granulated sugar. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. When cooled, return cherries to syrup mixture and refrigerate until ready to serve (or serve immediately).
  16. To serve: Use a spatula to run across the inside of the springform pan to make sure chocolate layers don't stick. Remove from pan. Serve cake with cooled drunken cherry sauce. ENJOY!


I borrowed this from a friend on FB because it looked great and easy, though we hardly ever fry in our house.

12 pieces of string cheese
12 egg roll wrappers
36 slices of pepperoni
Oil for deep-frying
Marinara or pizza sauce

On top of an egg roll wrapper, place three pieces of pepperoni as shown in the picture. Place a piece of string cheese on top. Fold corners over cheese. Fold bottom corner over cheese and pepperoni and keep rolling until cheese is tightly sealed. Moisten corners with water to seal. Repeat with the rest of wrappers, cheese and pepperoni.

In a skillet, heat oil to 375 degrees F. Fry sticks, a few at a time, for 30-60 seconds on each side until completely brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with sauce.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


I've made this several times as a side or appetizer and it's always a big hit. This recipe is from the grandfather of a buddy of mine (Signore LoCicero). I actually like to serve it with crostini (I just take an Italian "baguette" cut it up into thin slices, brush a little olive oil on, sprinkle some garlic salt and bake at 350° for a few minutes). This compannata will last for a few weeks in the fridge or a few months in the freezer.

Eggplant appetizer

2 medium eggplant, diced & Skin on
5 medium to large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½  diced bell pepper
½  diced white onion
Handful of diced green olives

Add eggplant, garlic, green pepper, onion in a pan with olive oil and cook on medium heat until tender and soft (20-25 mins)

Take pan off heat

6 oz of tomato paste
½  cup of water
1/3 cup capers (3 tbsp. add to taste)

Mix well

4 tblsp Red wine vinegar to taste, slowly
Approx 4 tsp of sugar to taste (maybe more)

Mix well
Put in a glass bowl and put in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving

Serve chilled with favorite crackers (Wheat Thin, Sociable, Ritz) or Italian baguette cut in half

Key Lime Pie (no, I could not think of any clever title)

Here's the key lime pie recipe I use. I remember, a few years back, being intimidated by the idea of key lime pie, though I had made cheesecakes for a long time. I'm not entirely sure why, to be honest. Turns out it's easy as pie, so to speak.
This is for a 10 in. springform pan:

15 eggs yolks (beaten slowly)
3 cans of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 C of key lime juice (regular lime juice is not the same)
zest of 1 lime

2 C graham crackers crushed ( I use a food processor)
6 oz melted butter
1/4 C sugar

1 pint of whipping cream
1/4 C sugar
lime zest

Combine the crust ingredients, stir together and press firmly into the springform pan. Bake at 325° for 10 min and cool.

Beat the egg yolk slowly (I do it by hand, otherwise too much air gets mixed in), stir in the 3 cans of sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, and about 3/4 of the lime zest. scrape into cooled crust and bake at 325° for about 40 minutes or until the center if firm and convex.
Cool completely. Whip the cream and spread on top, garnish with leftover lime zest.
*Most recipes don't call for the zest, but it really gives it a nice zing.
I apologize that the only pic I have is "pre topping", but use your imagination.
Buon Appetito!

On my way to Santa Fe...chicken...

Here's a quick, easy recipe for a dish called Santa Fe chicken. Sorry about the post title, I had nothing...So, here we go, it's easy.

Santa Fe Chicken:

Large jar of salsa (24 oz is what I like) *or more if you want more liquid
1 can of black or kidney beans
1 can of corn
2 1/2 lbs of chicken
 8 oz of cream cheese

Cook the chicken (I season it with taco seasoning and garlic salt for this particular dish) and cube (here's a small trick I learned with chicken that will be cut up anyway, after I season it and put it in the pan, I use tongs and scissors to cut it up while it's cooking. You have to cut it up anyway, and it's less messy and cooks faster. This tip is free. You are welcome). Put the chicken in a crock pot along with all the other ingredients to heat up, stir occasionally. I usually serve with rice, but tortillas work well also.  I would add some hot sauce and green chili's but alas my family does not allow. I also serve with shredded cheese, lite sour cream, cilantro and some hot sauce on the side.

We had this at a friends several years ago and have been making it since. Thanks Debbie Peterson.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

It's a stretch...(limo, I mean).

I just wanted to send a shout out to our friends today, some old friends, some new, that invited us on a great outing! Thanks Frank and Kim, Alton and Tami, Mark and Janice, and Allen and Stephanie (who set it up). We were driven around in a limo to 3 different wineries, ending with our favorite, Raffaldini. In the first pic, Jay Raffaldini, Frank Ancona, and yours truly.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Too true, too true.

My babies

Here are my babies. Valerie 15 and Anthony 12. Seems like they really were babies not that long ago.

"Eat butter first, and eat it last, and live till a hundred years be past." Old Dutch proverb

Here is a nod towards butter, real butter.  When baking or cooking, I always use real butter. I realize it should be used sparingly, but I hereby denounce margarine as a substitute. We've all heard that margarine is one molecule different from plastic, and while I'm no chemist, I will hold to that since I like butter. Anyway, I thought I would jot down the shortbread recipe I use and a few variations on the theme.
Here it is:

1/2 C butter, room temperature
1/3 C sifted powdered sugar
1 1/2 C AP flour
*Note: Do not add the flour all at once, depending on several things, temp, humidity, etc, it could take varying amounts and it's much easier to add more flour than liquid.

Roll out to about 1/4 in think, cut with cookie cutter and bake on lightly greased (or use parchment paper or silicone pan liners) at 325 degrees for about 20 min. I rotate the pan(s) ("pans" as I usually quadruple the recipe). Bake until just slightly browned. They're easy to over bake, so be careful.
*Note: For a cooler looking cookie, use a #40 cookie scoop, gently roll into balls and after placing on the pan, use the bottom of a glass that has a decoration on it to press cookie down. Use a mixture of AP flour and powdered sugar to dip the bottom of the glass into first so it won't stick to cookies.

And that's all. Of course, as I believe I made pretty clear, I like butter. So, the fewer ingredients to impede upon the glorious gift that is called butter, the better.

I do actually impede. The first variation is a bit outside the box. It is to add rosemary. I know, I know, it's usually used in savory dishes, but somehow it works. Simply add 2 T of very finely chopped rosemary, or ground if you prefer but I would only add 1 T or to taste as it's pretty concentrated that way.

The next would be orange shortbread. Add about 2 T of orange zest (basically one orange worth) and 1 T of pure orange extract or to taste.

Then pecan shortbread. I roast and chop about 1 C of pecans and add them to the basic recipe. You can add 1 t of almond extract if you like, I do because I love almond extract.

Now for the icing. It's very simple. The basic ratio is 2 C of powdered sugar to 2 T of liquid. The liquid you use depends on what flavor you want. If you're looking for just sweet, use milk and maybe 1/2 t vanilla.For the different shortbread, though, I use different flavors:

*Rosemary shortbread with lemon icing. 2 C powdered sugar, 2 T lemon juice.
*Orange shortbread with orange icing. 2 C powdered sugar, 2 T orange juice (and maybe 1/2 t orange extract for a little more pop).
*Pecan shortbread with almond icing. 2 C powdered sugar, 2 T milk (or whatever, but milk tastes better) and 1/2 t almond extract or to taste.

So, the moral of the story is 2-fold, one, butter is awesome, and two, as with all cooking and baking, there are some basics you need to know, but experiment and have fun with it. As in the case with shortbread, once you get a basic recipe, you can add whatever you like to it. The sky's the limit.
Buon Appetito!