Monday, November 26, 2007

Cranberry-Pear Butter

Although it contains ginger, this buttter is more sweet than savory and tastes as good on your morning toast as it does on a turkey sandwich. Make sure to stir the mixture often to prevent it from sticking and scorching. Straining the mixture is not essential, but is an easy way to remove skins.

5 pears (about 2 pounds), peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced (about 5 cups)
2 cups fresh cranberries , picked through and coarsely chopped
1 cup apple cider
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Mix all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer, stirring often, until pears fall apart and mixture thickens, about 1 hour. Working in batches, process mixture in a food mill or press through a fine sieve to strain out solids. (Can be jarred and refrigerated for at least 2 weeks.) Makes about 2 1/4 cups.

Recipe courtesy Cooks Illustrated

Friday, November 23, 2007

Leftover Turkey Casserole

Though it isn't a family recipe, this one also comes to me through my mother. It is a wonderful creamy cheesy sauce with a bit of zing, balanced nicely by the mushroom, black olive, and turkey combo. I'm not sure the original source, but here it is with slight adaptation.

3 Tbs butter
4 Tbs flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Cayenne (I like to add a few dashes)
Dash of red hot pepper (I like to add a few dashes)

6 oz. fresh chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup cold water

1 and a 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 and a 1/2 cups milk

2 and 1/2 cups cooked macoroni shells (medium)
1 can pitted black olives sliced
2 1/2 cups chopped leftover turkey

4-5 slices white American cheese

Preheat 425 degrees.

Cook pasta shells according to package instructions. Simmer fresh chopped mushrooms in a 1/2 cup water until they have absorbed most of the liquid.

Melt butter in a large saute pan. Blend in flour and all the spices and seasonings up to Cayenne and red pepper. Slowly add chicken stock, stirring all the while. Add mushrooms (liquid and all). Add milk and bring to a boil. Stir until mixture thickens. Add shells, olives, and turkey.

Turn half the mixture out into a 2 quart casserole dish. Cover this first half with American cheese slices cut into triangles. Pour remaining mixture on top and top with American cheese triangles again.

Bake 15-20 minutes.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Caramel Sauce

1 1/2 cups corn syrup
3 cups brown sugar
1 cup cold water
1/2 stick of butter
1 can sweetened, condensed milk

Combine corn syrup, brown sugar, butter and water in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium high and bring to boil. Stirring constantly, boil the butter mixture for three minutes. Do not overcook. After three minutes, remove from heat and stir in sweetened, condensed milk.

Makes two and a half pints.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Apple-Orange Cranberry Sauce

A favorite recipe here. Tart, sweet, and richly flavored. The apples in this sauce reduce the bitterness of the cranberries, keeping it nice and tart as you would want it, but less bitter. It's also quite beautiful on the Thanksgiving table. The photograph below really doesn't do it justice - I'll replace it when I make the sauce next week. Enjoy!

1/2 orange
2 cups water
1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, pippin or McIntosh
3 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Squeeze the juice from the orange and set the juice aside. Remove and discard the membrane from inside the orange rind and cut the rind into small dice. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the rind and the water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Peel, core and quarter the apple. Cut into 1/2-inch dice and place in a saucepan. Sort the cranberries, discarding any soft ones. Add to the apples along with the orange juice, orange rind, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan partially. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, the apple is tender and the cranberries have burst, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the cranberry sauce to a heatproof bowl and let cool for 1 hour before serving. Or cover and refrigerate; bring to room temperature before serving. Transfer the cranberry sauce to a sauceboat and pass at the table. Makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups.

Recipe courtesy Williams-Sonoma

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The day I discovered this cool device....


....was a happy day indeed.

Last year on Thanksgiving Day I prepared mashed potatoes for a hundred people. Wanting my starch to be served fresh and hot for such a multitude, I bought a potato ricer in anticipation of the endeavor, thinking I would alternate using it with the KitchenAid, or maybe utilize both at the same time (ha! Try that at your own risk!). What I didn't realize, was how wonderfully easy it was to mash with this little contraption. It whipped up my potatoes faster, smoother and with less mess than the mixer. After the first five pounds of potatoes I stopped using the mixer entirely.

I'm totally hooked. It's fun, and I love that it looks like a huge garlic press! I'm not sure yet how many people I'll be preparing for this year, but should I be required to serve potatoes.....I've got my weapon. Bring 'em on!

(photograph courtesy

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Best of Fall: A Feast to Remember


Fall is a perfect season for spending more time in the kitchen. As summer heat wanes we begin to bring cooking back into the home rather than outside on the grill. Our meals become richly flavored, robust and cozy after the light, fresh fare we seem to enjoy during the warmer months. The first cool, crisp day - a harbinger of autumn - inspires thoughts of deeply flavorful stews, pot roasts and pumpkin pies, and we long to fill our kitchens with the aromas of harvest time.

Here in The Virtual Kitchen I wanted to gather you, friends and family, around the table for an autumn feast. This is our table, and it is as graced by God and our Faith as it is by the beautiful people surrounding it. So welcome, sit down with us. Savor the fall tapestry of food woven by the devoted hands of wives, mothers, friends....and taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Soups and Salads

Vicki at Deo Gratias brings us her yummy New England Clam Chowder, which she serves up for World Series gatherings at her home. She lends a very helpful tip for seafood preparation you don't want to miss!

Did you know the beautiful Heather at These Thy Gifts is a former personal chef? You will not be the least bit surprised when you taste her favorite recipes. Her Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Lime is a perfect accompaniment to her Roasted Butternut Squash, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad, and they are just as beautiful as they taste!

Our sweet Meredith shares goodness abundantly with her readers, and her food blog - Sweetness in the Kitchen - is no different. I placed her Golden Stew of Pumpkin, Cabbage, Turmeric and Riso and Chicken Barley Soup here under "Soups and Salads", but both recipes make hearty main courses, perfect for fall. Be sure to check out the ingredients in the Golden Stew (I love that name!) - sherry, chives and tarragon among others. Mmmm!

Main Course

Heather brings two entrees to our table, and both perfectly set the tone of autumn and it's warm, sweet flavors. Her Cider Braised Pork Shoulder with Caramelized Onions and Mustard Maple Ham Steaks with Cider-Madeira Sauce fill the house with fall aroma.

Mary Ellen at Tales From the Bonny Blue House brings not only her lovely smile and gentle demeanor, but she serves us a scrumptious Crock Pot Beef Stew - simple and delicious!

I love the main course Elizabeth brought over from her food blog, Kitchen Comforts. Her Cranberry Chicken is beautiful. Hmmm....simplicity, deliciousness and beauty all in one? It is just like Elizabeth to be so balanced in the goods of this life!

A good friend of your hosts here and mother of this scrumptiously adorable baby brings us two entrees I know you will love. This woman cooks and bakes like no one, and she does it in a spirit of true hospitality. Thank you, Erika!

Curried Beef Stuffed Squash

3 medium acorn squash (about 1 pound each), halved and seeded
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup cooked rice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

Invert squash in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until almost tender. Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic until meat is browned and onion is tender; drain. Dussikve bouillon in water; add to skillet. Stir in remaining ingredients; mix well. Turn squash cut side up in pan and fill with meat mixture. Fill pan with hot water to a depth of 1/4 in.; cover loosely with foil. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings

Savory Meat Pie

2 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup sliced green onions
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
Pinch ground cinnamon
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup chili sauce
Pastry for double crust pie (9 inches)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon milk

In a saucepan, cook potatoes in boiling water until tender; mash and set aside. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown the beef; drain. Stir in the next nine ingredients. Simmer for 4-5 minutes. Stir in potatoes, parsley and chili sauce; remove from the heat. Place bottom pastry in a 9-in. pie plate; brush with mustard. Add the meat mixture. Top with remaining pastry; seal and flute edges. Cut slits in the top crust. Brush with milk. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350; bake 25 mintues longer or until golden brown. Yield: 6 servings.

Side Dishes

Heather's contribution, Gingered Mashed Sweet Potatoes, is one I am looking forward to making this week, and I know my girls will love it too. Yum!

My friend Jen and fellow Catholic, homeschooling mama sent me a link to Roasted Winter Vegetables from the Food Network. She says it is so delicious she will eat the leftovers for breakfast, and, judging from the recipe, I believe her! Thank you, Jen.

The ever kind and generous Barbara brings us not one, but three side dishes to complement our meal. From her food blog, Bless Us O Lord, she shares a Sweet Potato Souffle, Green Beans with Shallots and Peppers and a mouthwatering Cranberry Relish. Be sure to peruse the plethora of good and beautiful foods while you're there!

Jill at Kindred Spirits, who recently had a new baby (Welcome, Henry!) finds time to cook with a newborn in the house! Today she serves a simple, but delicious Wild Rice with Fruits and Nuts, along with a beautiful Red Applesauce our children will surely enjoy just as much as we will. Thank you, Jill!

If you've tried any of Waltzing Matilda's concoctions before, you know you will love her Spicy Sweet Potato Muffins. Matilda, they look deeelicious!


Did you notice the Mile High Strawberry Dessert on the table? I doubt any of us will be able to turn it down. Thank you, Vicki from Deo Gratias, for another yummy contribution!

I have no doubt that Cheryl's Pumpkin Muffins are just as delicious as they look and sound. Cheryl devotes herself to everything she does, whether it is tending to her family, smocking, embroidery, cooking, baking....well, you get the picture! Thank you so much, Cheryl.

Margaret's A-Apple Pie is a true recipe of love, requiring no "recipe" at all, just love. Can you think of a better ingredient than that? She also shares her all-time favorite Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie recipe, which happens also to be a favorite of Emeril Lagasse. Warm caramel and apples together...need I say more?

Mary Ellen brought a delicious dessert to complement her stew above. Favorite Gingerbread is sure to please even the finickiest eaters in the house. Wonderful!

Erika also contributes a dessert to go with her entrees above. I made these cookies with Gianna last weekend, and they were delicious!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup diced, roasted almonds
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, pumpkin, and vanilla. Mix and sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add to creamed mixture; mix well. Add almonds and chocolate chips; mix thoroughly. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto well-greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheets while still warm; cool on racks. Yield 5-6 dozen.

One of our favorite homeschool bloggers, Maureen at Trinity Prep School gives us this delightful Taffy Apple Salad. Don't be fooled by the suggestion of "salad" in this recipe! :)

Last, but most certainly not least, the lovely Kimberlee at Pondered in My Heart finishes off our feast with her warm and autumnal Rice Pudding and cozy Pumpkin Spice Cake. Kimberlee, these sound as divine as the beautiful rosaries you make!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our fall feast or stopped by for a visit! It was splendid. The food was delicious. The company, wonderful. I'm full. I'm tired. Though I'd happily do it for you, I am thanking heaven I don't have to clean up! :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Blueberry Bash

Mr Beauregard: I can't have a blueberry as a daughter.
--from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

It's true-- blueberries would make terrible daughters, but they are wonderful snacks. We learn more and more about the health benefits of blueberries all the time, and these tasty little berries can be enjoyed with every meal of the day. Let's start with breakfast, shall we?

Barbara Stein of Praying For Grace offer this yummy looking recipe for Blueberry French Toast at her cooking blog, Bless Us O Lord.
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E. Caughron sends along this wondeful recipe for Blue berry Glaze she says work equally well on pancakes or cheesecake.

Blueberry Glaze:

1/2 c. sugar
2T cornstarch
1/2c. water
1T lemonjuice
2 c blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 t salt

mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in bottom of saucepan. Slowly stir in
water and lemon juice. Add blueberries. Bring to boil over medium
heat and boil 2 minutes or until desired thickness. Sam likes it
when the blueberries have "popped" and are not individual berries in
the sauce.

Barb, sfo has two recipes to share. First her Blueberry Coffee Cake and also a recipe for Blueberry Muffins. These are great simple recipes.

Hallie offers us this delectable entry. Wow! I love lemon with blueberry.

Lemon Dipped Blueberry Muffins:
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons sugar
For the muffins, toss the blueberries with 2 tablespoons sugar and lemon zest in a bowl. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and mix well. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.
Whisk the milk, oil, and egg in a bowl until blended. Add to the well, stirring just until moistened. Fold in the blueberry mixture. Fill paper-lined or greased muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
For the topping, combine the butter and lemon juice in a bowl and mix well. Dip the tops of the warm muffins in the butter mixture and then in the sugar.
Makes 1 dozen muffins.

This tempting recipe and the above picture are from Cheryl of Time Really Does Fly...

This sweet little dish is just perfect for breakfast or afternoon snack. I use frozen blueberries because I like them cold, but fresh would be wonderful also.

In a bottom of a small bowl I put some yogurt – usually low-fat plain (I love Brown Cow Farm vanilla!), then on top the yogurt I sprinkle a nice serving of Cascadian Farm Honey and Oat granola (pretty much any granola would work), next some chopped nuts – pecans, walnuts, even cashews (whatever is in the fridge at the time) and finally the delicious blueberries top it all! The different tastes and textures are wonderful!

This recipe for Blueberry Streusel comes from Renee Moore...

Blueberry Streusel:

Streusel Topping
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (2 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch table salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, softened but still cool (1/2 stick)

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool (1 1/4 stick)
2/3 cup granulated sugar (about 4 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 cups fresh blueberries, picked over (about 20 ounces)

For the streusel:
n standing mixer fitted with flat beater, combine flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt on low speed until well combined and no large brown sugar lumps remain, about 45 seconds.Add butter and mix on low until mixture resembles wet sand and no large butter pieces remain, about 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer streusel to small bowl and set aside.

For the cake:.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan*(I used a shallow rectangle white dish and it cut neat squares) with 2-inch sides with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour and baking powder in small bowl to combine; set aside. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, cream butter, sugar, salt, and lemon zest at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes; using rubber spatula, scrape down bowl.
Beat in vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds.

With mixer running at medium speed, add eggs one at a time; beat until partially incorporated, then scrape down bowl and continue to beat until fully incorporated (mixture will appear broken). With mixer running on low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat until flour is almost fully incorporated, about 20 seconds. Disengage bowl from mixer; stir batter with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl, until no flour pockets remain and batter is homogenous; batter will be very heavy and thick.Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries until evenly distributed. Transfer batter to prepared pan; with rubber spatula, using a pushing motion, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter.

Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes.

Cool on wire rack 15 to 20 minutes (cake will fall slightly as it cools).

Cool until just warm or to room temperature, at least 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve.

Renee is fighting cancer and she passes this savory recipe on, given to her by a doctor who recommends eating blueberries to fight cancer.

Chicken Pasta Salad with Blueberries

1 cup red wine vinegar dressing
3 cups spiral pasta
2 cups (about 1 pound) cooked chicken, cubed
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup pea pods, trimmed, cut-in-half
1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup red wine vinegar dressing
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to directions on package. About 1 minute before it is cooked, add the pea pods. Drain and rinse with cold water. To a large bowl, add pasta and pea pods along with the remaining salad ingredients, except Parmesan cheese. Toss with 1/2 cup red wine vinegar dressing. Cover; refrigerate several hours or overnight to blend flavors. Before serving, toss with remaining dressing and Parmesan cheese.
Yield: 12 (1 cup) servings

Matilda takes the cake...Ooops I mean doesn't make a cake for her husband's birthday. She's going to try inventing a No Bake Blueberry Creme Pie. I hope she posts a follow up on this one to tell us if it works.

Another wonderful pie comes our way from Family Food For Feast and Feria, JenniferGM says this pie is comfort food for her family: Blueberry Meringue Pie. Yum.

Muffins, muffins, muffins...

Everybody loves blueberry muffins. Here are a few favorite recipes...

Jill from Kindred Spirits shares her recipe for Blueberry Orange Muffins. Those look terrific, Jill!

Sherry turns our attention to these delicious looking muffins.

And (drumroll please) I am very pleased to announce the birth of a new cooking blog. Mixing Bowls and Measuring Spoons is the collaborative effort of Michele, Robin and Celeste. Go see the recipe for Blueberry Muffins and look around a bit, too.

Meredith, from Sweetness and Light has a "recipe" for summer fun with blueberries here.

And last, but not least, Margaret slides into home plate at midnight as I am putting this together with a last minute entry at Come For Coffee, A Blueberry Coffee Cake. I'm glad you made it on time for the Blueberry Bash, Margaret.

Thank you all, for visiting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Blueberry Scones

2 Cups flour plus more for dusting.
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. butter, cold, cut into pieces
1 Cup heavy cream
1 Cup fresh (not frozen) blueberries

Preheat oven 400 degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Using forks, a pastry blender, or your fingertips, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles cornmeal. Make a well in the center and pour in cream. Fold together just to incorporate. If the dough seems excessively dry add a tablespoon of milk just so the dough holds together. Do not overwork dough. Toss blueberries in a little flour to dust them and fold into the dough gently, taking care not to bruise them.

Press dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle that measures 12 inches by 3 inches and is 1 1/2 inches tall. Cut in half. Cut each half in half again. Cut these four squares of dough along the diagonal so that you end with 8 triangles.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until brown.

Lemon glaze: This lemon glaze is very good on these scones. The scones pictured above are just brushed with an egg white wash and sprinkled with large sugar crystals.

1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice
2 Cups confectioners sugar
Zest of lemon
1 Tbs. butter

Mix lemon juice and confectioners sugar together in microwave safe bowl. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add zest and butter. Microwave 30 seconds on high. Whisk until smooth and drizzle over slightly cooled scones.


Monday, July 16, 2007


Text from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, by Julia Child:

"Ratatouille perfumes the kitchen with the essence of Provence and is certainly one of the great Mediterranean dishes. As it is strongly flavored it is best when it accompanies plain roast or broiled beef or lamb, pot-au-feu (boiled beef), or plain roast, broiled or sauteed chicken. Equally good hot or cold, it also makes a fine accompaniment to cold meats, or may be served as a cold hors d'oeuvre.

A really good ratatouille is not one of the quicker dishes to make, as each element is cooked separately before it is arranged in the casserole to partake of a brief communal simmer. This recipe is the only one we know of that produces a ratatouille in which each vegetable retains its own shape and character. Happily a ratatouille may be cooked completely the day before it is to be served, and it seems to gain in flavor when reheated. "

For 6 to 8 people

1/2 pound eggplant
1/2 pound zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed
1/2 pound (about 1 1/2 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
2 (about 1 cup) sliced green bell peppers
2 to 3 tablespoons more olive oil, if necessary
2 cloves mashed garlic
1 pound firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced (makes 1 1/2 cups pulp)
3 tablespoons minced parsley
Salt and pepper

Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8 inch thick, about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends and cut the zucchini into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices. Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain. Dry each slice in a towel.

One layer at a time, saute the eggplant and then the zucchini in hot olive oil in an enameled skillet for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly. Remove to a side dish.

In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Stir in the garlic and season to taste.

Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8-inch strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice. Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil for several minutes, until juice has almost entirely evaporated.

Place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish and sprinkle over it 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.

Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Correct seasoning, if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil. Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.

Set aside uncovered. If not serving immediately, reheat slowly at serving time or serve cold.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Single Malt Whipped Cream

A delightful discovery. I had no bourbon in the kitchen, so I substituted my husband's scotch (shhh......).

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1+1/2 tablespoons single malt scotch
1-2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat ingredients together in an electric mixer on high speed until the cream is softly whipped. Serve with your favorite peach pie, and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Strawberry Festival

Doubtless God could have made a better berry; but doubtless God never did.

--William Butler

Strawberries take their name from the most commonly used mulch for the cultivated berry--straw. The wild strawberry, known throughout history and literature as the emblem of summer, can be found by following your nose in fields the sun favors. The juicy ripe sweetness of the strawberry is a perfect pairing with cream and is so loved by Americans that there is a National Strawberries and Cream day, May 21st. But don't worry that you've missed it because National Strawberry Sundae Day is just around the corner, July 7th.

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And what better way to celebrate Strawberry Sundae Day than with homemade strawberry ice cream? Barbara Stein shares this delicious recipe with us at her beautiful food blog, Bless Us O Lord.
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Johane is an exquisite cook and a chef by profession. She shares some fabulous recipes for Strawberry Coulis and Strawberry Rumpot at her blog where she shows herself to be a mom as well as a cook, The Home Gourmet.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble.
This yumilicious recipe comes to us from Monica Bernstein...

1 cup white sugar
3 T flour
3 cups sliced strawberries
3 cups diced rhubarb
(If you have more berries than rhubarb, you can do 4 cups berries, 2 cups
rhubarb. In fact, I prefer it that way, myself!)

Preheat oven to 375.
In large bowl, mix sugar through rhubarb. Place in even layer in 9x13"

Crumble topping:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups regular oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp salt in small bown.
Add butter and vanilla; stir with fork until moist and crumbly.

Sprinkle oat mixture evenly over strawberry mixture.

Bake, uncovered, 45 minutes.

Yield: ~8 servings, depending on the size of the sweet tooth!

Mile High Dessert
from Jamie's grandmother

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
mix together, press in 9x13 pan and bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Cool. Crumble and use for bottom and top of dessert.

10 oz pkg frozen strawberries (thawed)
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Beat for 20 minutes (use a BIG bowl) fold in small cool whip.
place in 9x13 pan on top of crumble crust/top with some of the crumble and freeze overnight.

Lite Strawberry Pie
and another from Jamie. This one looks easy and light...

Container of cool whip
pkg dry sugar free strawberry jello
fresh or frozen strawberries
graham cracker pie crust.

Mix the cool whip with the dry jello, add the strawberries, place in crust, refrigerate!

Strawberry Topping:
This recipe for vanilla ice cream topping from Sarah looks simply divine!

1-2 lbs Quartered (or thick-sliced) strawberries (amount depends on how much you want to make)
1 bottle of late-harvest chardonnay (the bottles are usually smallish)
A little sugar

Simmer the strawberries in the chardonnay until the liquid has reduced to a somewhat syrupy consistency. If necessary, sweeten with sugar. Spoon over ice cream and serve IMMEDIATELY.

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Waltzing Matilda never lets us down. Here's a recipe your kids are sure to clamor for, Cappuccino Mouse. Wow that looks good. This is making me hungry.

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And Lorri of the Mac and Cheese Chronicles proves she can cook up more than Mac N Cheese-- she offers us the deliciously rich phrase "veritable cornucopia of strawberry goodness" as well as her mother's recipe for strawberry pie. Now that's smart comfort food.

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Minnesota Mom contributes with a terrific looking Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler. Peruse her Come for Coffee cooking blog while you're there. It's well worth "staying for the cake." If you're not hungry yet, you will be.

Michelle Halpin of Party of Five directs us to this Two-Tier Strawberry Pie recipe at the great menu planning and recipe resource All Recipes.

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Elizabeth Foss shares this recipe for a berry pie (can be made with other berries) that her nine year old daughter made. Elizabeth says this recipe stands out because the berries are not cooked and therefore retain their crisp texture. Take a look around at Kitchen Comforts and don't miss the Fourth of July Cake--topped with strawberries too!

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Our old college dorm prefect, Nora N. emailed us too, to say that if you want the best Strawberry Shortcake, look no further than Betty Crocker. Thanks Nora!

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Strawberries are not just for Dessert.
Enjoy These Savory Recipes

Melanie B. adds a link in our combox to her very appetizing blog, In the Kitchen with Bella. This recipe for Strawberry Soup looks like something we need to try.

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Also, our great friend Eika T. emailed us with this recipe for Strawberry Salsa

Strawberry Salsa
1 pint fresh strawberries, diced
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 to 2 medium jalepeno peppers, minced
Juice of 1 lime
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
In a bowl, combine strawberries, tomatoes, onion and peppers. Stir in lime juice, garlic and oil. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Serve with cooked poultry or pork or as a dip for tortilla chips. Yield 4 cups.
* * *
And last, but not least, our very own Kristen has prepared a beautiful and summery spread below,
"Berry Tart and Strawberry Lemonade."

Please, pull up a chair and join us-- we're just about to serve!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Berry Tart and Strawberry Lemonade

I've been making this tart for years, and love it for it's simplicity and scrumptiousness. Because the pastry dough and filling can be made in advance, this dessert is perfect for occasions when you're short on time. Enjoy!
Tart Pastry (for a 10-inch shell)
A little less than 2 cups flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
3 Tbsp. or more, cold water
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into pieces and drop into the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter, blend the butter into the flour until mixture resembles coarse meal. One tablespoon at a time, sprinkle cold water over the flour and blend lightly with a fork, until the dough is ready to hold a shape. Pat the dough into a cake with your hands. If using now, roll the dough out onto waxed paper or a on a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the rolled out pastry to your tart pan, poke holes in the top and sides with a fork.
To fully bake the crust, preheat your oven to 425. Press a square of aluminum foil securely into the pastry dough, poke a few holes in the foil, then add pie weights if you have them (rice or dried beans will also work). Bake for 8 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking 8-10 minutes more, or until the crust is browned lightly. Cool on a wire rack before filling.
Pastry Cream
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Stir dry ingredients together with a fork. Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally so as not to cause curdling. When the milk begins simmering, gradually add it into the sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, 4-10 minutes. Whisk in the egg yolks over the heat, stirring until slightly thicker, about 2 minutes longer. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the butter.
Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Cover and chill thoroughly. Pastry cream will keep in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 3 days.
Assembling the Tart
Spread pastry cream into tart crust, add as few or as many varieties of berries as you wish. The tart may be served now, or glazed before serving:
Red-Currant Glaze
1 cup red-currant jelly
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Bring the jelly and lemon juice to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool for a moment to set. The glaze is now ready to be spread atop your fruit with a pastry brush.
Strawberry Lemonade
No recipe needed for this one. Sprinkle strawberry wedges with sugar and let stand about 10 minutes. Add to your favorite homemade or store-bought lemonade, and watch your tart yellow beverage turn into a sweet, blushing delight! The longer it sits, the sweeter it becomes. Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Celebrating Cilantro

Cilantro is an herb with a refreshing, cool flavor that serves as the perfect accompaniment to the hot flavors found in many Mexican and Indian dishes. The leaves and the stems are equally pungent and useful for cooking, but this herb must always be used fresh. Cilantro loses all its flavor when it dries. It's leaves are similar in shape and color to flat leaf Parsley, but the flavors and scents are worlds apart. Parsley is no substitute for Cilantro. This herb is so distinctive in flavor, that it is either loved or detested. (Oddly enough, those who dislike Cilantro agree universally that it tastes like "dish soap.") Personally, I love it. But I detest the spice that is the seed to this otherwise delightful plant, Coriander.

Here are few simple recipes using Cilantro...

World's Best Simple Salsa

2 cans Delmonte or Contadina petite diced tomato
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Handful bunch of Cilantro, chopped fine
1-2 Jalapeno peppers (depending how hot you want your salsa), minced
1 Tbs. minced Vidalia onion
dash of salt
lemon juice to taste

Empty tomato into a medium sized bowl. Add all other ingredients. Stir well. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips. I've made this salsa mild, medium, and hot. The hottest is when you release the most juices from the peppers by crushing them slightly when you mince them.

Corn Cilantro Salad

2 Cans of corn, drained
1 Handful bunch Cilantro, chopped fine
1 Can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Red lipstick pepper
1/4 Sweet red onion, chopped fine
2 Tbs. vinegar (I use sushi vinegar, but any white or blush vinegar would do)
1 Tbs. light salad oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix corn, beans, pepper and onion in a medium bowl. Add Cilantro and mix. Mix vinegar with oil and drizzle over all. Mix and add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy this colorful dish!

Cilantro Salmon with Lime

1 Fresh fillet wild caught Salmon
1 Bunch Cilantro
1 Clove garlic, minced
1 Lime
salt and pepper to taste

Salmon is a rich and oily fish so I never add oil to it when cooking. Rub garlic on fillet and add salt and pepper. Cover with generous amounts of chopped Cilantro. Slice lime into thin circles and place several on top of Cilantro. Squeeze remaining lime onto fish. Grill the fish to cook or bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until flaky.

* * * * * * *

Jean's Pesto (up from the combox)

Cilantro makes a delicious pesto too!
Grind in a food processor
2 cups cilantro leaves
1/2 c pine nuts
2 cloves garlic (or to taste)
1/2 a seeded jalepeno (or not)
1/4 olive oil

Blend to make a paste and add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice and kosher salt to preserve color and flavor.
This recipe adapts well to substitutes and add-ins like walnuts, feta cheese and other oils and it freezes well!
This can be used on pasta, as a meat seasoning or any other use you like for pesto. My mom even swirls it into freash baked bread and it is really tasty!

Cilantro Martini

Similar to the refreshing Mojito which uses rum and mint, the Cilantro Martini uses vodka, Cilantro, and Lemongrass.

Simply mix your favorite brand vodka with some chopped Cilantro and Lemongrass and, if you are so inclined, add a tiny bit of fresh ginger root minced well. Shake over ice and serve.

Jill's Easy Salsa

1/2 cup thick and chunky salsa
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons of chopped red onion
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder

It makes a great topper for steaks. We don't make steaks too often, so we
use it on chicken or with some chips!

Do you have a great Cilantro recipe? Care to share? Email it to me. (just scrape off the spam)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Orange-Tarragon Sauce with Cream

This is a wonderful citrus sauce for white fish fillets, and very simple to prepare. I typically use this recipe for halibut. Fish purchased from your favorite market is wonderful, but if you are on a budget I have found the seafood at Costco (or similar warehouse grocer in your area) to be very good, well priced, and suitable for large families.

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium shallot , minced (about 3 tablespoons)
1 cup* fresh squeezed orange juice , from 3-4 medium oranges
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , cold
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
Table salt and ground black pepper
orange wedges for serving

1. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking; add shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and beginning to color, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add orange juice and vinegar, increase heat to high, and bring to boil; boil until reduced to 3/4 cup, 4 to 6 minutes. Add heavy cream and continue to cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Remove saucepan from burner, whisk in butter and tarragon until combined; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm; set aside, stirring once after about 1 minute.

2. To serve, stir sauce to recombine and spoon 1/2 cup over fish. Serve immediately with orange wedges, passing remaining sauce separately.

*I use 3/4 cup of orange juice to reduce the sweetness of the sauce just a bit.

Recipe courtesy Cook's Illustrated

Chicken with Sage and Prosciutto

This is a very simple recipe to prepare. It has been a favorite in my home for years. The chicken quantities are listed specifically, but can be altered easily according to the number of guests. Just figure one slice of prosciutto and 1-2 sage leaves for each piece of chicken. Enjoy!

6 chicken breast halves
6 chicken drumsticks
6 chicken thighs
18 thin slices prosciutto
18 fresh sage leaves, plus sage sprigs for garnish
1 1/2 to 2 Tbs. olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels. Trim the excess fat from the prosciutto, then cut the slices to the dimensions of the chicken pieces.

Carefully slide your fingers under the skin on each chicken piece, separating it from the meat but leaving it attached on one side. Place a slice of prosciutto directly on the meat and top it with a sage leaf. Carefully pull the skin back in place and press gently with your palm to secure it.

Arrange the chicken pieces in 1 or 2 shallow baking dishes or in a roasting pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Brush the skin with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Roast until the skin is brown and crispy, and the juices run clear when a thigh is pierced at the thickest part with a fork, about 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe courtesy Williams-Sonoma

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Picky Child's Delight

It can be difficult-- even with thoughtful planning-- to come up with nutritious meals, seven nights a week, that appeal to every person in a large family. Since I don't make my children eat anything (though I always offer and encourage), I've found myself preparing two different dinners each night--sometimes three--in order to please everyone and ensure healthy eating.

This got to be too much.

Now, once a week, I make up a large bowl of "Picky Child's Delight." In essence, this dish is a balanced combination of foods with universal appeal. To make it, I combine a popular carbohydrate, accepted vegetable and favorite protein with a much-loved dairy.

Drizzle or spritz this with a small amount of light oil in order to keep it from drying out, cover it well, and keep it in the fridge for a side dish fill-in or whole meal substitute for the picky child du jour. The balance ensures healthy fill-ins for picky kids and the make-ahead plan offers last minute convenience.

Here are some of our favorite combinations...

Ham and Cheese
16 oz. whole grain* Penne pasta, cooked
1/2 lb. ham squares or diced Canadian bacon
1/2 lb. broccoli tops, steamed
8 0z. white cheddar cheese cubed
light olive oil

Pizza Mix
16 oz. whole grain* Rigatoni, cooked
8 oz. pepperoni, sliced
10 oz. black olives, sliced
8 oz. mozzarella diced
light olive oil

Peas and Shells
16 oz. medium shells, cooked
8-10 oz frozen peas, thawed
1/2 lb. chicken pieces, diced
8 oz. Jack cheese, cubed
light olive oil

Chicken and Rice
2 cups dry wild rice, cooked
1/2 lb. chicken pieces, diced
1/2 lb. cooked carrots, diced
8 oz. provolone cheese, cubed
bit of melted butter in rice

Breakfast Mix
16. oz macaroni, cooked
10 eggs hard boiled and cut up
1/2 lb sausage or kielbasa, cooked and chopped
2 green or red peppers, diced
8 oz. white cheddar, cubed

All ingredients are cooked and cooled before mixing. Some of my pickier kids will even try to pick out parts of Picky Child's Delight ! They eat it hot or cold and top it with their favorite condiments (Red Hot, Worcestershire, Ketchup, Olive Oil, Pasta sauce). I'd like to know your combinations if you make some!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Lamb of Spring Stew

1 1/2 lbs baby red potatoes
half a dozen carrots
2 stalks of celery
2 large parsnips
18 pearl onions
1 turnip
1 1/2 lbs boneless lamb stewing meat

Dice potatoes into one inch pieces and toss into a large crock pot or dutch oven. Slice carrots, turnip, parsnips, and celery. Toss on top of potatoes. Peel outer layer off onions and add them to the pot. Cut lamb meat into bite sized pieces and place on top.

1 Tbs butter
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves
2 Cups water
2 tsp. Better Than Bouillon Beef
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
Fresh cracked pepper
Secret Ingredient

Melt butter in a medium sauce pan and saute garlic and rosemary (cut into small pieces) for a minute or two. Turn the pepper mill over this a few times. Add water and Better Than Bouillon. Whisk until completely dissolved. Whisk in Dijon mustard. And now....

...for the secret ingredient

OK, it doesn't have to be shaped like a bunny, but the secret ingredient is...


Melt one oz. unsweetened chocolate in the broth and pour the mixture over meat and vegetables already prepared in the crock pot or dutch oven. Cook on low heat for 8 hours or higher heat for 5 hours.

10 oz. fresh snow peas
1 TBS. butter
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 Tbs corn starch
Black pepper to taste

Half an hour before cooking has ended, melt 1 Tbs. butter in a small saucepan and fry rosemary and black pepper for a minute. Add water and wine and bring to scalding. Whisk cornstarch in and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and add to the pot, stirring well. Top with snap peas 5 min. before serving.

Garnish with fresh sprigs of rosemary
Serve with plenty of fresh crusty bread and butter.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Ricotta and Peas

This recipe is an easy, throw-together-at-the-last-minute gem. I have never been very fond of mint used for culinary purposes, but somehow it works quite well here. Freshly chopped sage is a good substitution if you don't favor mint in your food.

1 pound medium pasta shells
table salt
1 cup frozen peas (4 ounces)
2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
12 ounces whole-milk ricotta (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (one 8 1/2-ounce jar) drained, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped coarse
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese , plus additional for serving
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil, covered, in stockpot. Stir in pasta and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until al dente, adding peas in last 15 seconds of cooking. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup cooking water, and return pasta and peas to stockpot.

2. Meanwhile, heat garlic, oil, and red pepper flakes in small skillet over medium heat; cook until sizzling but not browned, about 1 minute. Set skillet aside to cool slightly. Stir together ricotta, sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan, mint, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and garlic/oil mixture in bowl. Stir pasta cooking water into ricotta mixture; add ricotta mixture to pasta in pot and stir well to combine. Serve immediately, passing additional Parmesan separately. Serves 4-6.

Recipe courtesy Cook's Illustrated

Friday, March 23, 2007

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a staple of our children's diet. They eat so much of it, I became concerned about the amounts of trans fats they were consuming. We switched to the messy, but tasty, natural variety several years ago. Then we switched again recently to this more convenient Skippy no-need-to stir. It has no hydrogenated oils or trans fats of any kind. Some contend with the "natural" label because it substitutes palm oil for peanut oil, but there is nothing wrong with palm oil. Also, Skippy tastes great and you can't beat the convenience.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pan-Seared Filets with Red-Wine Shallot Sauce

This sauce wonderfully enhances any good cut of beef, and is very simple to prepare. It is one of the only meals enjoyed by my entire household. If you prefer to grill your beef, you may pan-sear one steak just until brown bits and juices accumulate in the pan, then transfer the meat to the barbecue. Enjoy!
4 filet mignon steaks (rib-eye is a good second choice)
2 medium shallots , minced
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 cup dry red wine - Pinot Noir, Cabernet or Zinfandel
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 6 pieces
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Over medium-high heat, sear the steaks in a 12-inch heavy bottomed saute pan or skillet, about 4-8 minutes (4=rare; 8=medium) per side. Remove filets to a heat-proof platter and keep warm in the oven, reserving accumulated juices in the pan.
Off heat, in the same pan used to cook steaks add shallots and sugar; using pan’s residual heat, cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are slightly softened and browned and sugar is melted, about 45 seconds.
Return pan to high heat. Add wine, broth, and bay leaf; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits on pan bottom with wooden spoon. Boil until liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 4 minutes.
Stir in vinegar and mustard; cook at medium heat to blend flavors, about 1 minute longer.
Off heat, whisk in butter until melted and sauce is thickened and glossy. Add thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf, spoon sauce over steaks and serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy Cook's Illustrated

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Irish Whiskey Soda Bread

From the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook.

4 Cups flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tablespoons butter
11/2 cups raisins (plumped in milk at least 3 hours)
2-3 Tablespoons Irish Whiskey
2 eggs
1 Cup buttermilk

Preheat to 400 degrees.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Cut or rub the butter in using your fingertips or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

Drain the raisins. In a second bowl, mix the drained raisins with 2 Tablespoons whiskey. Blend these with the flour until thoroughly coated.

Beat the eggs and remove one Tablespoon and set aside. Add buttermilk to beaten eggs. Add wet ingredients to dry stirring just enough to combine.

Mix well, if the ingredients seem too dry (won't hold together) add the additional tablespoon of whiskey. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 times until mixture comes together as a whole.

Form into a roundish ball and place on a well greased cake pan or casserole dish.

Brush top with reserved egg. Cut a four inch cross across the top with a floured knife.

Bake 45-50 min. or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Slice thin and serve.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spring Nutrition Guide '07

Gabrielle Reece of Yahoo Health offers a spring cleaning plan for your body and a common sense health guide. Identify your problem areas and make the changes that will help you live a happier, healthier life.

Ok. Now I'm going for a run...

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Cinnamon Apple Bread

(This photograph was not taken by a professional. A professional would have taken the little sticker off the apple.)

This is an adapted recipe from The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook. It can be made with apples or raisins. It's really wonderful either way. Makes three loaves.

Fruit: 1 cup finely diced apples or raisins plumped in milk.

Proofing the Yeast in a Sponge:
2 Tablespoons or packets active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup flour

The Sponge

To make the sponge, dissolve sugar in warm water and add yeast. When yeast begins to froth, add the 1/2 cup of flour and mix well. Cover and set aside.

The Dough:

1 1/2 cups milk, scalded
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole wheat flour
5-6 cups white flour

In a medium saucepan scald the milk. Turn off heat just as it begins to boil and add the stick of butter. Stir until it melts. Add honey and brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Stir and let cool to lukewarm. Add the beaten eggs, the sponge, and the whole wheat flour. Stir in remaining flour one cup at a time stopping when the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead, adding only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. Knead until springy--about ten minutes. Let the dough rest as you wash out the bowl and grease the bottom. Place dough back in bowl, turning once so that the top is greased. Let it rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in size (about an hour).

8 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
Plenty of melted butter
Apples or raisins (well drained)

Mix cinnamon and brown sugar. Cut the dough into thirds. Roll each into an eight by fourteen inch rectangle. Brush liberally with melted butter and spread the sugar evenly over top. Add one third of the apples to each. Roll tightly and pinch the ends to close. Place each, seam-side down, in a well greased loaf pan. Brush the tops with more melted butter. Let rise in a warm draft free place until doubled in size (45 minutes).

15 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees. (Take loaves out if you let them rise in the oven) Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon. Bake 45 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.


Saturday, March 3, 2007

Chicken and Ginger Soup

I saw this recipe on the cover of a magazine in a grocery store check out line. I memorized it and picked up all the ingredients. The only thing I didn't memorize was the name of the magazine. Ooops. Anyway, the husband loves ginger, so this slightly adapted version was an instant favorite.

4 cups water
4 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon (chicken flavor)
1 Tablespoon Thai fish sauce
4 scallions
1 cup cooked chicken
1 cup aromatic Jasmine rice
1-2 six inch pieces of ginger root
Cracked black pepper to taste
Cilantro to taste

In a large pot, mix the water with the Better Than Bouillon and simmer to dissolve. Add the fish sauce. Cut the ginger into thin six inch long sticks and add to pot. Slice scallions from the bottom half way up, leaving four inch tops for garnishing. Add cut scallion. Turn pepper mill over the soup a few times and let simmer to mix flavors. Meanwhile, cook chicken and rice separately. Add to pot when done. Garnish with scallion tops and Cilantro.


Thursday, March 1, 2007

Favorite Corn Bread

1 1/2 cups flour
11/2 cups fine ground cornmeal
3 Tbs. brown sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup corn oil
1 egg beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9 inch pan, round or square.

Sift flour cornmeal brown sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Combine milk, corn oil, and beaten egg in a medium sized mixing bowl. Mix wet ingredients into dry just to combine. Fold in sour cream. Pour into buttered pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean. About 35-40 minutes.

Serving suggestions: Serve warm for dinner with plenty of butter, salad and soup. Use for snacks with applesauce. Let it dry out overnight and use for cornbread stuffing. Add more brown sugar to the recipe, sprinkle with nutmeg and serve with whipped cream.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lenten Pretzels

(from A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz) H.T: Danielle Bean

1 Tablespoon honey or sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 envelope or 1 Tbs. active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
Coarse salt or herbs or poppy seeds
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbs. water

Dissolve the honey in the water; sprinkle in the yeast. When the yeast is active, add 1 tsp salt and the first cup of flour. Stir well and blend in the remaining flour. Knead the dough till smooth.

Cut the dough into pieces. Roll them into ropes and twist into pretzels shapes. Place the pretzels on lightly greased cookie sheets and brush them with the beaten egg and sprinkle with salt or herbs. Makes about eight pretzels. Bake at 425 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

We loved these with the honey sweetener and sprinkled with sage.

Friday, February 23, 2007


The bread that is almost a pizza.
(In fact, I made half the dough into a pizza for the boys)

When accompanied by this substantial side dish, even lighter soups or salads can be served as a meal.

For the dough:

1 3/4 cups warm water
1 Tbs. sugar
1 packet or tablespoon dry yeast
5 cups flour
1/4 olive oil
1 Tbs. salt

Dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Add yeast. When the yeast is active, add your first cup of flour. Stir well. Add oil and salt and mix. Add remaining flour one cup at a time until the dough holds together. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until springy adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the counter or you. Let dough rest while you wash out the bowl. Grease the bottom of the washed bowl and put dough in, turning once so that the top is greased. Let rise in a warm, draft free place for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, set out the toppings...

1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves cut up into small pieces
1 Tbs. minced red onion
1 clove garlic minced
2 plum tomatoes sliced very thin
Generous amounts of fresh grated Parmesan
Cracked pepper to taste

Cut the dough in half and roll, toss and stretch it like a pizza dough. Lay each half on a pizza stone or lightly greased pan. Press dough into desired shape and make indentations one inch apart throughout the dough to create pockets to catch and the flavorings you put on top. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle the rosemary over each. Add the onion and garlic. Top with the tomatoes and cover liberally with Parmesan. Add pepper over all to taste.

Place focaccia in a cold oven and set the temperature to 450 degrees. Bake 25-30 minutes or until the edges are a golden brown and the cheese has that wonderful baked look.