Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to all!

Love you all!  I'm taking the week off and will see you in 2012!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cookies cookies cookies!!

I am of the opinion that you can never have too many cookie recipes.  So, even though I mostly make the traditional cookies for Hanukkah and Christmas at our house, I like to add something different from year to year.  Here are some suggestions if you feel your cookie list is getting a bit stale!

Grammy's chocolate cookies


Chewy chocolate gingerbread cookies

Lavender biscotti

Lemon and lavender shortbread

The world's best brownies

Lime and basil shortbread

Chocolate shortbread

Homemade Oreo cookies

Perfect vanilla sugar cookies

Perfect chewy chocolate cookies

Bourbon balls

Fudgy chocolate cookies


Matzo toffee

Cream cheese-raspberry brownies

Chai-pistachio sugar cookies

Mexican chocolate cookies

Cream cheese-apricot brownies

Amish raisin cookies

Peanut blossoms

Italian cornmeal cookies

Lime swirl cheesecake bars

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...

...or in a 450 degree oven!  Use a heavy serrated knife to make a small cross cut on the rounded tops (just press down, don't try to slice).  Boil them in red wine for 10 minutes (optional) and then pop them into the oven on a cookie sheet for 30 to 40 minutes.  Serve in a dish towel!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


There's a reason that almost all traditional gingerbread recipes have you mix in boiling liquid near the end of the mixing phase, just before placing the batter into the oven.  I recently tried a method that skipped the boil, and I was extremely sorry that I did!  Even though the flavor of the bread was excellent, the middle was wet and the edges were tough and dry.  Nope.  Back to boiling for me, but I'll be using milk instead of water from now on!


2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 t allspice (or half cloves, half allspice)
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t dark cocoa powder
8 T butter, softened
3/4 c sugar
3 T grated fresh ginger
3 T crystallized ginger, minced
3/4 c mild molasses
1 egg
1 c milk
1 t white vinegar

Prepare an 11 x 7 glass baking dish with cooking spray and parchment paper.  Heat the oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour through the cocoa powder.  In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar.  Mix in the gingers, molasses, and egg, stirring well.  Stir in the flour mixture, scraping the bowl well, but not over-beating.  Heat the milk to boiling (glass measuring cup in the microwave helps to prevent burning) and add the vinegar.  Stir the liquid into the batter, stirring until just combined.  Pour into the baking dish and bake for 42 to 45 minutes.  The top should spring back; a test toothpick will not always come out completely clean.  Let it cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lime swirl cheesecake bars

Nicole from Baking Bites posted this amazing recipe for Key Lime Swirl Cheesecake Bars awhile ago, and I've made it several times since.  Oh yum!  Thank you, Nicole!  The lime zest shown above is my own addition, but frankly, the recipe is perfect without it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Italian cornmeal cookies

This is a great cookie recipe to get the kids involved.  It's easy to mix up and to roll out, and after it's baked and cooled, it's soooo much fun to break into pieces!

Italian Cornmeal Cookies

3/4 c cornmeal
3/4 c flour
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1-1/2 t anise seeds
3 T butter
1/2 c sugar
1 egg
1 T lemon zest
Extra egg white
1/4 c sliced almonds
Extra sugar

In a medium bowl, whisk the cornmeal through the anise seeds together.  In another medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light in color.  Beat in the egg and zest.  On low speed, beat in the flour mixture.  Roll the dough out to a 1/4 inch thick oval on a parchment covered sheet.  Brush lightly with the egg white and add the extra sugar and almonds to the top.  Press down lightly with hands or rolling pin.  Bake for about 22 minutes at 350; try to avoid too much browning.  Cool on a wire rack and break into pieces.  These keep very well since they are fairly dry.    

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Peanut Blossoms

Almost everyone I know has a version of this cookie recipe!  I don't know where they originated, but whether you call them Peanut Blossoms, Witches' Hats, or something else, they are tasty little treats.  My mother passed this version of the recipe on to me.

Peanut Blossoms
Makes 3 dozen

1-3/4 c flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 c Crisco
1/2 c peanut butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
Extra sugar for rolling
Hershey Kisses

In a small bowl, whisk the flour through the salt.  In a large bowl, cream the Crisco and peanut butter together.  Gradually add the two sugars and cream well.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  Blend in the flour mixture and shape into balls by rounded teaspoons.  Roll balls in sugar and bake on parchment covered sheets at 375 for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and top each cookie with an unwrapped Hershey Kiss, pushing down to crack the cookie into a flower shape.  Return to the oven for 2 or 3 more minutes until cookies just begin to brown.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hippy fruitcake

I love all different types of fruitcake, with the exception of the kind that's just basically sweet bread and contains nothing but candied diced citron.  I have nothing against candied citron, but fruitcake is better when it contains a mixture of non-sweetened fruits like currents, dates, dried apples, cherries, raisins, and figs.  Chopped prunes are good too.

My Hippy Fruitcake is the type that most fruitcake jokes revolve around: it's dark, dense, heavy, and loaded with brandy.  You've been warned.

Hippy Fruitcake

5 c of mixed dried fruits and nuts:
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/2 c walnuts, chopped
1 c currants
1 c dates, chopped
3/4 c dried apples, chopped
1/2 c golden raisins
3/4 c dried cherries

1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c plus 2 T all-purpose flour
1/2 c butter
1/4 c honey
1 T molasses
3 eggs
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cloves
Brandy (optional)

Mix all the dried fruits and nuts together and toss with 2 T all-purpose flour to prevent sticking.  In a large bowl, cream the butter, and then beat in the honey, molasses, and eggs.  In a small bowl, thoroughly mix the rest of the flour with the other dry ingredients, and then beat into the butter mixture.  Stir in the fruit.

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper that can be folded over.  Fill the pan and bake at 275 for 2 hours.  Place a baking pan filled with hot water on the oven floor to keep the cake from drying out.  Cover the top with the parchment paper and foil once it begins to set.  Cool the cake in the pan.  Remove it carefully from the pan and peel off the parchment paper, setting it aside.  Wrap the cake in cheesecloth, soak the cloth in rum, and re-wrap in the parchment paper back inside the pan.  Cover then entire cake with foil and let it age for about a month.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Triple O Bread

Our Triple O Bread goes really well with all the Italian food we've been enjoying lately!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Butternut squash filling for ravioli

Quite a bit of work, and much easier with help, especially since you'll probably want to have other vegetables with this meal.  We had it with Sesame Asparagus, Beet Greens, and Triple O Bread.  Three people was the perfect number to handle the cooking.  Good thing too, because my kitchen might not have handled more!

Butternut Squash Ravioli

One batch of fresh pasta dough

Small butternut squash (around 1 lb)
1 T butter
1 onion, chopped
2 t sage

1 clove of garlic, minced
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled

1/2 c salted butter
1/3 c hazelnuts, chopped coarsely

Pre-cook the butternut squash in a water-filled baking dish at 400.  It will take between 40 and 60 minutes to be soft enough.  Remove and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, mix up the Fresh Pasta Dough, and set aside to rest.  In a small skillet, cook the onion, sage, and garlic in butter until golden brown; remove from skillet and set aside.  In the same skillet, melt the butter and heat the nuts until the butter has browned slightly.  Pour into a glass measuring cup and cover with foil to reheat later. 

Scoop the butternut squash flesh into a bowl and add the other ingredients.  Mix together by hand. 

Roll out the pasta dough into long strips.  Place teaspoons of filling about 1 1/2 inches from the long edge and about 1 1/2 inches apart from each other.  Fold the edge over and use a crimping wheel to cut out the raviolis.  Press the edges together to seal well before cooking.

In a large pot, bring water to a gentle boil.  Cook the ravioli in batches, removing with a slotted spoon when ready.  It takes between 6 and 10 minutes to cook them.  Remove to a baking dish and cover until ready to serve.  Reheat the sauce in the microwave and serve. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Making fresh pasta

I didn't know how easy it is to make fresh pasta!  Sure, like anything else, it takes a lifetime of practice to get it perfect, but the basics are really easy.  And your results will (almost certainly) be edible.  I found that without a pasta roller, the biggest challenge was getting the dough thin enough.  You'll need to roll it thinner than you think it needs to be.  A friend told me that you need to pick it up and look at a light through it to see if it's almost translucent.

All I really know is that it's fun to make and it gives your arms a good workout!

Fresh Pasta

2 c all-purpose flour
3 eggs 
Additional flour for dusting

Make a circle on your counter top with the flour and break the eggs into the middle.  Use a fork to start stirring the flour into the eggs, working outward until all is combined.  Add either teaspoons of water or flour if the dough is too dry or too wet.  Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter for at least 15 minutes.

Roll out, shape, cut, fill or let dry, and cook as desired.  My first adventure was with plain old fettucine, so I rolled out the pasta into sheets, rolled them up to cut them into strips, and hung the strips over a plastic-wrapped handle to dry.  The pasta only needed about 5 minutes in the well-salted boiling water later to be cooked perfectly. 

This is only one sheet worth of fettucine.  The recipe above makes 4 or 5 sheets.  These are a little too thick...I got better as I went along! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Golden brandy fruitcake

Here's another total treasure from my mother, RuthAnn Lavin, just as she sent it to me.  She's been making this fruitcake forever, and even people who claim to hate fruitcake like this one.  Mostly I think that's because the cake is more dominant than in most recipes.  My old hippy fruitcake recipe is much more fruit than cake, dark and HEAVY, but this cake actually has cake in it.  Imagine that!  It's not devil's food light, but it's really good and moist.

I'm sure the brandy doesn't hurt either ;-)

Golden Brandy Fruit Cake

1 1/2 C Golden Raisins
2 C Blanched Slivered Almonds (1#)
1 C Sliced Dried Apricots (8oz)
1 C Halved Candied Cherries (8 oz) - I use both red and green when I can get both
1 1/2 C Dried Candied Pineapple
4 Large Eggs
1 C Shortening
1 C Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
1 C Apricot Brandy
2 1/2 C Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Mix almonds and fruit together and soak in a little brandy.  Set aside.  Mix  together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.  Grease Bundt pan well and flour lightly.  Cream shortening and sugar and then beat in eggs.  Add vanilla.  Blend flour mixture alternately with creamed shortening and sugar mixture and then blend in Brandy.  Add almonds and fruit and mix well.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake about 2 hours.  Keep a shallow pan of hot water on lowest shelf of oven while cake is baking.  Let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, then turn out cake and cool completely.  Wrap cake in brandy-soaked cloth and store in air tight container in refrigerator.

I was given this recipe from a woman who grew up in California and she said it came from a California Cook Book of some kind.

Good Luck when you make this cake.  The cake is not a cheap one and sometimes I have trouble finding the dried fruits before Thanksgiving, which is when I prefer to  make this cake because then the Brandy has time to really penetrate the cake mixture.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Artichokes, wine, and garlic! What's not to love?

I love this recipe for Artichokes in Wine and Garlic Sauce, which I've shared previously!  It's so easy to make, lends itself to doubling or tripling for a party, and is sooooo delicious.   Serve them plain or on a salad.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Easy dinner recipes with a kick

A guest post by Melissa C, a writer for the BlogContentGuild

Some people think “easy” and “flavorful” are mutually exclusive, but that certainly isn’t the case. There are plenty of places to find easy dinner recipes, but what about those times when you’re feeling adventurous and — dare we say — a little bit spicy? Read on for two delicious (and easy!) recipes with a kick.

Crock pot curry

This recipe, inspired by Taste of Home, takes less than half an hour to prepare. Like most crock pot meals, it cooks long and slow with minimal supervision.

- 6 chicken breast halves
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste depending on how spicy you want it)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 14-oz can coconut milk
- 3 sliced green onions (divided)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Cooked rice to serve over

Salt the chicken breasts and lightly brown it in a skillet. When browned, transfer the meat to the crock pot. Add the curry, cayenne, turmeric and coconut milk to the pot and stir. Add about half the onion, and then cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or until the chicken is tender.

After the chicken is cooked, mix together the cornstarch and water and add it to the pot. Turn the heat up to high and allow the sauce to thicken for about half an hour. Once the sauce is thick enough, spoon the mixture over rice and season with lime juice. Garnish the dish with the remaining onions and enjoy!

Mexican the mas rapido way

If Indian isn’t your thing, try out this taco recipe from Cooking Light to add some spice to your weekly dinner schedule.

- 1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into strips
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
-  1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (or more if you want it spicier)
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup chopped tomato
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 8 tortillas (flour or corn, whatever you prefer)

Season pork with salt and pepper and sauté it with olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When browned (about four minutes), remove the pork from the pan and set it aside. Sauté onion and jalapeno in the pan until tender, about five minutes. Add the broth and simmer for five minutes, then stir in the tomato and simmer for an additional two minutes. Add the pork back to the pan, along with the cilantro and lime juice. Cook for about a minute or until the pork is done.

Add the mixture to heated tortillas and enjoy! This dish is great with chips and salsa or a bean side dish.

Add these recipes to your repertoire for those days when the normal fare just won’t cut it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Almond-crusted salmon

I found (and made!) this amazing recipe on How Sweet It Is for Almond-Crusted Salmon with Pomegranate Glaze.  While I did change the recipe slightly, including using trout instead of salmon, the basics were exactly as you'll find at the original link.  We had it with steamed broccolini and lemon zest, and a side of sticky rice.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Malaysian chicken pizza

Cooking Light had an interesting twist on classic pizza with their Malaysian Chicken Pizza recipe.  We liked it well enough, but it won't go into our personal list of favorites.  However, I still thought it was worth passing on if you like the idea of a spicy hot peanut sauce pizza :-)  I used our favorite Thin Pizza Crust recipe.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Amish Raisin Cookies

Here's one of my favorite local treats from where I grew up.  Amish Raisin Cookies are easier to make than they look; the crust and topping are just variations on a theme.  This recipe will fill a 9 x 13 pan, but you can cut it in half if you'd like.

Amish Raisin Cookies

2 1/2 c raisins
1 c orange juice
4 t cornstarch
2 T sugar
2 t lemon juice

Crust and Topping:
2 c flour
1 c rolled oats
1/2 c sugar
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 c plus 3 T butter, softened
2 t vanilla
1/4 c brown sugar

Soak the raisins in the orange juice for about 30 minutes.

While they soak, combine the flour through the salt in a large bowl.  With a mixer on low, cut in 1 c of the butter, one small piece at a time.  Stir in the vanilla.  Mix well.  Spoon about 2/3 of the mixture into a prepared 9 x 13 baking dish and press it into a firm crust.  Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Add the rest of the butter and the brown sugar to the remaining 1/3 flour mixture and mix until larger pieces form.

Drain the orange juice into a medium saucepan.  Whisk in the cornstarch and sugar, and cook until thickened.  Add the raisins and lemon juice.  Pour the raisin filling over the hot crust and spread it evenly.  Sprinkle on the topping mixture.  Return to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until the topping is deep golden brown.  Cool well before cutting. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Zucchini cake

When my mother told me that she wanted me to make a Zucchini Cake that she had found in the August 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine for her birthday, I wasn't overly excited.  I've never been too excited by zucchini cake or bread.  But when I looked over the ingredient list, I changed my mind quickly.  I did make some changes, which I've outlined below, but it was really the flavor profile that the spices added that got me excited...and let me tell you, this cake lives up to its promise!

I failed to take a picture of the cake at her house, where I did make it in bundt pan.  Back at home, I made another batch and baked them as muffins, as shown above.  Here is the recipe with the changes I made.  Or visit the link above and bake Martha's version.

Zucchini Cake

For the cake:
2 ½ c zucchini, unpeeled but trimmed
2 ½ c all-purpose flour
2 ½ t baking powder
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t anise seeds
1/4 t ground cardamom
1 dash of allspice
1 t salt

3 large eggs
1 ½ c sugar
6 oz butter (1/4 c + 2 T), melted
1/4 c + 2 T applesauce
½ t grated orange zest
1 T orange juice

For the glaze:
1 ¼  cups powdered sugar
2 dashes of ground cardamom and allspice
1 t finely grated orange zest
3 T fresh orange juice
Milk to thin (if needed)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 6-cup Bundt pan. Grate zucchini and squeeze dry in a clean kitchen towel and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, spices, and salt.

In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar, then mix in melted butter, applesauce, zucchini, orange zest, and orange juice. Stir in dry ingredients until fully integrated. Pour evenly into bundt pan. Bake in 325 oven for about 60 minutes. When done, a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out completely clean.  For muffins, fill cups 1/2 to 2/3 full and bake for 25 to 28 minutes. 

Remove from oven and cool for about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and continue to cool on a wire rack. Cool another 30 minutes before adding glaze.

For the glaze:
Mix all ingredients until smooth and the consistency of thick honey.  Use a large glass measuring cup and pour over the cooled cake. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Simple shrimp salad

I didn't much like the dressing suggestion that came with this was too bitter, and since endive is already bitter, it was just too much.  I might try it again, but I'd probably use a slightly sweet vinaigrette of some sort (pear? apple?).

Shrimp Salad

Shrimp, cooked tail-on
Avocado, sliced
Orange, supremed
Sweet vinaigrette dressing

For each salad, slice up an endive crosswise.  Add shrimp, sliced avocado, and supremed orange sections.  Add dressing and serve.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cream cheese-apricot brownies

I shared one of my favorite "grown-up" brownie recipes with you awhile back, and even though I love Cream Cheese-Raspberry Brownies to death, it's just possible that I love this variation even more.  Follow the directions for the originals, but substitute (what else?) apricot preserves.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cucumbers in sesame oil

So simple, so good.  Enough said.

Cucumbers in Sesame Oil

English cucumber
1 shallot, minced
1 T canola oil
2 T rice vinegar
1 t sugar
1 t sesame oil
Salt to taste
Sesame seeds

Peel strips down the length of the cuke if you want to make it look pretty, and slice it thinly.  Whisk together the rest of the ingredients except for the seeds and pour over the cucumber slices.  Allow to sit at room temperature and marinate for awhile if possible.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.      

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Free e-cookbook for you to download!

I took a look through the table of contents and through some of the recipes, and it looks like a book that readers here would enjoy.  Real ingredients and quick preparation...hard to beat that!  The author, Chef Jeff, says, "Let's get the family back to the dinner table and out of the fast food joints!"  Sounds good to me.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Red peppers and zucchini curry

Here's a really simple idea that I saw in one of the issues of Martha Stewart Living magazine.  Slice up red pepper and zucchini, and saute them in olive oil with red curry paste.  Very nice!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Split pea soup

You can never have too many recipes for good split pea soup, so despite the fact that I've got at least three other versions on this blog, I've made another that I want to share.

Other pea soup recipes:
Pea soup with smoked turkey
Spicy pea soup
Pea and bean soup

Split Pea Soup

2 thick slices of bacon (optional)
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped

1 lb split peas, washed
2 quarts of water
1 t salt
3/4 t marjoram
1 t basil
1/2 t cumin
1/2 c dry white wine
Black pepper to taste

In a large pot or dutch oven, cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove it, along with most of the grease, and crumble the bacon.  Saute the vegetables in the remaining grease until softened.  Add the water, peas, and herb, bring to a boil, and simmer for a couple of hours, adding more water as needed.  Add the wine and adjust the seasonings.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup as much as you'd like.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tomato-corn soup

Hannaford's Fresh magazine had a good-looking recipe for Harvest Tomato-Corn Soup last month, and I ended up modifying it just a bit.  See what you'll probably want to do yet a third version of this delicious soup!  Here's my version:

Tomato-Corn Soup

3 large tomatoes
Olive oil
Vidalia onion, diced
2 small jalepenos, diced
1/2 c celery, chopped
Clove of garlic, minced
2 c vegetable broth
2 c tomato juice
2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T fresh tarragon, chopped
1 T fresh basil, chopped
Tabasco sauce to taste
Greek yogurt

Remove the core and slice an X in the bottoms of the tomatoes.  In a large saucepan, drop tomatoes into boiling water and then douse in cold water.  Slip off skins and set aside.

In a dutch oven, saute the onion through the garlic until softened.  Add the broth and juice and bring just to a low boil.  Chop the tomatoes and add, along with the corn.  Add salt and pepper as needed.  Heat through and add the herbs just before serving.  Add Tabasco and Greek yogurt to each bowl as desired. 


Monday, October 31, 2011

Mexican chocolate cookies

I am a huge fan of sweet plus heat!  Even though I've already got a recipe for chocolate cookies that use chili powder, I've still been experimenting to find a type I like even better.  What I did was to take a page from some of my friends who love authentic Mexican food and fool around with cinnamon and red pepper instead.  Loved it!  Could even go heavier on the red pepper if you'd like.

Start with my recipe for Chewy Chocolate Cookies.
Add 1 t cinnamon and 1/4 t ground red pepper.
Reduce vanilla to 1 t
Use raw sugar on tops

Friday, October 28, 2011

Corn chowder with seafood

Even though I'm calling this soup a "chowder", it doesn't have any milk or cream in it.  So if you're a purist, you might want to call it "soup" instead!  I used my immersion blender right in the pot to create a creamy texture.  Here's how:

Corn Chowder with Seafood

Olive oil
Onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 c corn, fresh or frozen

4 c seafood stock
1/2 to 1 lb of white fish, lobster, or crab
Fresh tarragon

Saute the onion, garlic, and corn in a dutch oven until just beginning to brown.  Add the stock and bring to a low boil.  Lower the heat and use a ladle to remove a few scoops of corn from the pot; set aside.  Use an immersion blender to puree the remaining corn in the pot.  Return the reserved corn and add the seafood.  Cook on medium heat until fish is just cooked through.  Add fresh tarragon and serve.   

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tomatoes with feta and oregano

No recipe needed.  Just substitute thin slices of feta cheese and fresh oregano for the usual mozzarella and basil.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Yum.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chai-pistachio sugar cookies

My friend Beth asked me for a dessert with pistachios recently, and so I came up with this riff on my Vanilla Sugar Cookies for her!  Use the recipe, but add the following spices to the sugar and sour cream mixture: 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/2 t ginger, 1/2 t cardamom, 1/4 t allspice.  Reduce the vanilla to 1 t.  Stir in 1 c chopped pistachio nuts to batter before forming into balls. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kale with prosciutto and Parmesan

Kale is wonderful!  I don't care what anyone else says, it's just wonderful.  For one thing, it holds up to cooking, and doesn't turn into mush like spinach.  I like spinach too, but kale is wonderful.

Kale with Prosciutto and Parmesan

2 bunches of kale
Olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 small jalepenos, finely chopped
4 slices of prosciutto, chopped

1 c vegetable broth

1/2 c fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c seasoned breadcrumbs

Wash the kale thoroughly and strip the leaves from the stems.  Chop coarsely and set aside.  Saute the garlic, jalepenos, and prosciutto in a dutch oven until beginning to crisp.  Scrape out of pot and set aside.  Add stock and kale to the pot and simmer, mostly covered, until kale is wilted, around 10 to 12 minutes.  Add the garlic mixture and all but 3 T of the cheese, and stir together.  Scrape all the kale into a 9 x 13 pan and top with the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese.  Place under the oven broiler for a few minutes to brown the topping. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blueberry scones

Scones!  Most people either love 'em or hate 'em, and I'm convinced that most of the ones who hate 'em have only had the dry crumbly hard version.

Well, these ain't them.

Between the hefty butter content and the full-fat heavy cream, there's almost no way these could possibly dry out!  Martha Stewart had this recipe in one of her recent magazines...I can't remember which one, but you can find it online at the link. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Onion and bacon tart

I realized that it had been a long time since we had indulged in this delicious Onion and Bacon Tart, so we paired it with a terrific salad that contained lots of the herbs from our garden.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Figs wrapped in bacon

Ok, the ultimate in decadence for an appetizer!  Try to get Black Mission figs, fresh.  Even if you think they're kind of boring, once they've cooked down for awhile with the bacon, you get that wonderful sweet and salt thing going on.  I just wrapped each fig in 1/2 slice of bacon and stuck it with a toothpick.  Roast at 450 for 30 to 40 minutes, pouring off the grease as needed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fig barbecue sauce

At our last cookout, I decided to do chicken, some with heat and some with sweet!  For the heat, we used my Chipotle-Orange BBQ Sauce, and for the sweet, we used this fig-based sauce:

Fig Barbecue Sauce

1/2 c dried figs
Boiling water to cover
3 T balsamic vinegar
3 T tomato paste
1/2 t salt
Canola oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced

3/4 c water
Bay leaf

Cover the figs with boiling water and set aside to soften.  Drain the figs and add the vinegar, tomato paste, and salt.  Puree.  In a small skillet, saute garlic in a bit of oil until softened.  Add the fig puree and add enough water to make a thick but workable sauce.  Add a bay leaf and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add more water if needed.  Store in the fridge.     

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lemon-curry chicken

We love all different curry mixes.  This particular one, with only a small amount of cumin, may be a good way to introduce a reluctant curry-eater to the beast :-)  You can easily double or triple this recipe to do more chicken; as printed below, it's enough for 4 decent sized chicken thighs.

Lemon-Curry Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 T tomato paste
1/4 c lemon juice
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t cumin seeds

1/2 t cinnamon
2 t coriander
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t salt

Put the chicken into a zip-loc bag along with the sauce ingredients and mix it around until the thighs are fully coated.  Heat a cast-iron skillet on the stove and sear each side of the chicken in a little oil.  Place the skillet into an oven heated to 350 and cook for about 25 to 30 minutes.    

Friday, October 7, 2011

Simple skillet whitefish

Here's a great way to add excellent flavor to tilapia!  This recipe works well with any whitefish fillets, though.

Simple Skillet Whitefish

Olive oil
2 lb whitefish fillets
Large onion, chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 to 4 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
Water as needed
2 - 3 T fresh oregano
Salt and pepper

In a cast iron skillet, heat some oil and fry the fish on both sides until cooked almost completely through.  Remove to a plate.

Add more oil to the skillet and cook the onions and garlic until soft.  Add the tomatoes and cook down into a chunky sauce, adding water as needed.  Keep at a simmer and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes.  Return the fish to the skillet and heat through, adding the oregano, salt, and pepper.  I like to stir and break up the fish, but you can also leave it in larger pieces.  Serve with bread.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Marinated lamb for subs

I can never get over how many people tell me they don't like lamb.  What's not to like?

One pound of lamb (more or less) makes four decent sized sub sandwiches.  Marinate the lamb ahead of time so the flavor has a chance to really sink in, preferably all day.

Marinated Lamb Sub Sandwiches

1 lb lamb, cubed
3 T olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
1 T lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 t oregano
1 t basil
1 T mint leaves, fresh

Olive oil
Vidalia onion, sliced thin
Green pepper, sliced thin

4 sub rolls

Put the lamb and the marinade ingredients into a zip-loc bag and place in the refrigerator, turning several times during the day.  In a saute pan, cook the onions and peppers until soft, and set aside, covered with foil.  Dump the lamb cubes into the pan and cook until browned on all sides.  Serve with onions and peppers on sub rolls.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Candied jalapeños

Sweet with heat...can't be beat!  Scarf them up plain, serve them on a cream cheese schmeared bagel, cook with them if you'd like.  Check out Serious Eats for the recipe!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Zucchini fritters

Victory at last!  I don't know why, but I am deeply bothered when there is a vegetable that I don't like.  Zucchini and summer squash both fall into that category, not so much because of taste but because of texture.  They just get limp and disgusting immediately upon cooking.  I know that you can make them into quick breads, but that is NOT eating your vegetables...that is dessert!

So I was really happy when I found this idea: use coarsely grated zucchini instead of potato and make fritters.  Add some wicked fine flavors like oregano and Romano cheese, and your fritters will make a very satisfying dinner.

Zucchini Fritters

2 zucchini, coarsely grated
1 onion, coarsely grated
1 oz Romano cheese, coarsely grated (about 1/2 c)
1/3 to 1/2 c flour (start with less)
1/2 c chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 t fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
Olive oil for frying

Stir all ingredients together (not olive oil) in the order given.  Drop the mixture by 1/4 c measures into a skillet coated with olive oil.  Fry for a few minutes per side until cooked through.  Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Serve with yogurt, jam, syrup, or plain. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Beef roll-ups

Beef roll-ups were a go-to meal when I was young.  My mother made them with slightly thicker slices of beef than I now use, and I doubt she fried them in bacon grease...but I could be wrong.  These are not for people who have clogged arteries.  The last time I made them, we kept the onions separate and made a sandwich that included...what else?...bacon!  Those are onion rolls with poppy seeds.  Heaven. 

Beef Roll Ups

Shaved beef
Spread with French's mustard
Thin sliced onion rings
Sliced pickles or relish

Roll up and spear with toothpicks. Fry in bacon grease. Yum.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chocolate Tart with Cookie Crust

 Cookie Crust
Unbelievable!  I forgot to take a picture of the finished tart.  I'll just have to make it again :-)

Chocolate Tart with Cookie Crust

16 chocolate chip cookies (cheap generic ones are fine)
3 T butter, melted

1 c heavy cream
8 oz (1-1/3 c) semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 c milk
1 T butter
1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 350. Make the crust by grinding the cookies into fine crumbs. Add the butter while the processor is running. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie or tart pan. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes until darkened. Let cool totally while you make the filling.

Lower the oven to 300. Heat the cream in a saucepan until just beginning to boil. Pour over chocolate in a large glass measuring cup. Let stand and stir to melt chocolate. Stir in milk and butter. Whisk in egg and pour the filling into the cooled crust.

Bake about 22 minutes until edges are set but middle is still slightly soft. Cool on a wire rack. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Braised chicken adobada

Adobada, or adovada, means "marinated", and although it's often pork in Latin dishes, I found this version that uses chicken thighs in Eating Well magazine. Absolutely delicious.  I ended up eating the left over sauce on crackers the next day!  Even though it calls for the chicken to be braised in the oven, I don't see any reason it couldn't be done in a crock pot if that would be more convenient for you.