Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Testing of the Blog

This is a test of the system

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Mixed salad with Vanilla-Pear Vinaigrette and toasted walnuts

from Cooking Light, Dec. 2005

1 cup vertically sliced red onion
2 (10-ounce) packages Mediterranean-style salad
2/3 cup Vanilla-Pear Vinaigrette
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

To prepare salad, combine onion and lettuce mix in a large bowl. Add Vanilla-Pear Vinaigrette, and toss well. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Vanilla-Pear Vinaigrette
1 (15-ounce) can pear halves in juice, undrained
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of ground red pepper

To prepare dressing, drain pears, reserving 1/3 cup pear juice. Combine pears, juice, vinegar, and remaining ingredients in a blender; process until smooth.

Yield: About 2 cups (serving size: about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Moosewood macaroni and cheese

From the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cookbook, which I suggest you check out in person because it is very awesome.

I also threw some fresh spinach in here, just into the mixture before the breadcrumb step, and it turned out really well.

1 1/2 c 1% cottage cheese
1 1/2 c skim milk or buttermilk
1 t dried mustard or 1 T prepared mustard
pinch of cayenne (or more)
1/4 t nutmeg
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/4 c grated onions
1 c grated sharp cheddar (4 oz.)
1/2 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni (or other tubular pasta)
2 T finely grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1/4 c bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare square baking pan with a light spray of oil.

In a blender, combine cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper and puree until smooth. In a large bowl (actually, I did this right in the baking dish), combine pureed mixture with the onions, cheddar and uncooked macaroni. Stir well. Pour macaroni and cheese mixture into the baking pan. Combine the grated Pecoino or Parmesan and bread crumbs and sprinkle over top.

Bake about 45 minutes, until topping is browned and the center is firm.

Serves 4.

Lime snowballs


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon (packed) finely grated lime peel
1/2 teaspoon lime oil (we didn't use lime oil, we just used more peel and juice)

Additional powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and cornstarch in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in lime juice, lime peel, and lime oil. Beat in flour mixture until smooth. Refrigerate dough until just firm, about 45 minutes.
Using scant 1 tablespoon for each, form dough into balls and place on prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart.
Bake cookies until pale golden on top and browned on bottom, about 23 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to racks; immediately sift generous amount of powdered sugar over cookies. Cool cookies completely on baking sheets. (Can be made ahead. Store airtight at room temperature up to 5 days or freeze up to 2 weeks. Dust with more powdered sugar before serving.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Lobster bisque

from Cooking Light December 2005

5 cups water, divided
2 cups clam juice
3/4 cup dry white wine, divided
2 (1 1/4-pound) whole Maine lobsters
1 1/2 cups chopped carrot, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped celery, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped onion, divided
1 cup chopped fennel bulb, divided
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
5 fresh parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped peeled baking potato
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons brandy
Chive sprigs (optional)

Combine 3 cups water, clam juice, and 1/2 cup wine in an 8-quart stockpot; bring to a boil. Add lobsters; cover and cook 10 minutes or until bright red. Remove lobsters from pan, reserving liquid in pan. Cool lobsters. Remove meat from tail and claws. Discard any roe or tomalley. Chop meat; chill until ready to use. Place lobster shells in pan. Add remaining 2 cups water, 1 cup carrot, 1 cup celery, 1 cup onion, 1/2 cup fennel, broth, tarragon, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, 1 1/2 hours. Drain through a fine sieve over a bowl; discard solids.
Melt butter in pan over medium heat; add remaining 1/2 cup carrot, remaining 1/2 cup celery, remaining 1/2 cup onion, remaining 1/2 cup fennel, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup wine; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Sprinkle flour over carrot mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in reserved cooking liquid and potato; cook 20 minutes or until potato is tender. Add tomatoes; cook 10 minutes. Place one-third of mixture in blender; process until smooth. Pour pureed mixture into a large bowl. Repeat procedure twice with remaining mixture. Return pureed mixture to pan. Stir in lobster, milk, cream, and brandy; cook 5 minutes over medium-low heat or until thoroughly heated (do not boil). Garnish with chive sprigs, if desired.
Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)
CALORIES 153(24% from fat); FAT 4.1g (sat 2g,mono 1.3g,poly 0.3g); PROTEIN 16.3g; CHOLESTEROL 84mg; CALCIUM 83mg; SODIUM 407mg; FIBER 1.4g; IRON 0.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 9g

**My notes: This soup was really, really good. I used three lobster tails instead of the whole lobsters, and it turned out just fine. Also left out the brandy, because the Gabs was eating. Very tasty...we tried it last weekend before I make it as the first course on Christmas this year.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Spiced Nuts

from Grazing by Julie Van Rosendale

1 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1/2 Tbsp coarse sea salt
2 c. unsalted mixed nuts

Preheat oven to 325. Set a large saucepan over low heat and add oil and spices, except salt. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the spices begin to toast. Add the nuts and cook, stirring, until well coated.
Transfer nuts to a baking sheet and bake for 15 min, shaking the pan occasionally so that they will toast evenly. Toss with coarse salt and cool.

** My notes: I didn't have unsalted nuts (there's a really good Ann's House of Nuts warehouse by my office, and I can buy nuts in bulk for cheap, but the salted ones were cheaper), so I omitted the salt from the recipe. And I didn't use garlic salt, because I think granulated garlic tastes better. Also, I didn't add any of the chili powder and just a couple of dashes of the cayenne. But I have a 3-year-old that likes to eat everything, and isn't so sure about spicy yet.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Maple-glazed chicken with sweet potatoes

*from Real Simple

Serves 4

3.5 to 4 pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced into 1-inch wedges
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp maple syrup
6 sprigs fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 400. Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place chicken in 9x13 baking dish. Arrange vegetables around chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Drizzle with maple syrup. Lay thyme sprigs cross top. Bake until chicken is cooked through, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring vegetables once during cooking. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

* I did not use a whole chicken. I used one package of boneless, skinless thighs and one package of drumsticks.
* I would recommend seasoning the chicken first, because when you add the vegetables they mostly cover the chicken, and then the chicken misses the salt and pepper, and it's kind of difficult to stir this dish when you have big pieces of chicken in there.
* When I took the dish out to stir the vegetables halfway through, I drizzled some more maple syrup over the whole dish before putting it back in the oven.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Chocolate covered popcorn

I just made this for Gaby's teachers this year (and for us, too) and it's really good. Super easy to make. I had it in the oven while we were dipping buckeyes, Oreos and peanuts.

recipe from Nestle

12 cups popped popcorn
1 (12-ounce) can (2 1/2 cups) salted peanuts
1 (11.5-ounce) package (1 3/4 cups) milk chocolate chips
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter

1. Heat oven to 300F. Butter large roasting pan. Line serving plate with waxed paper.
2. Combine popcorn and nuts in prepared roasting pan. Place morsels, corn syrup and butter in medium heavy-duty saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
Pour over popcorn; toss to coat.
3. Bake, stirring often, for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool slightly in pan; remove to prepared serving plate. Store in airtight container for up to two weeks.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


3 sticks butter
2 1/2 c. peanut butter
2 tsp almond (plus an extra splash)
2 lbs powdered sugar
24 oz chocolate
1/2 stick parafin

Combine butter, peanut butter, almond, and powdered sugar. Mold into balls that are about 1 inch in diameter, lay onto cookie sheets lined with wax paper. Put cookie sheets into fridge so the balls can harden, probably 1 hour. Melt chocolate and parafin in a double boiler (you can just put a large bowl on top of a pot with boiling water, but the last time I did that I burned the hell out of my hand). Spear each peanut butter ball with a toothpick, dip in chocolate, and put back on wax paper. Take toothpick out, cover up hole. Put back in fridge to let chocolate set. These should be kept in the fridge (not on the counter), and you can also freeze them.

Hearty tortellini vegetable soup

I think this was a weight watchers recipe that my Gran gave me. No idea on the points, though.

3 c. small mushrooms, quartered
1 c. onions, chopped
1 c. carrots, chopped
1 c. zucchini, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp olive oil
1 (or 3, your choice) garlic cloves minced
1 quart spinach leaves
3 c. canned stewed tomatoes (use the no salt added ones, they taste better)
2 c. low sodium chicken broth
2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. dill or basil, chopped
56 frozen tortellini (or dried works just as well)

1. In saucepan, combine mushrooms, onions, carrots, zucchini, oil and garlic and stir to coat. Saute about 6 minutes.
2. Add everything except the tortellini, and stir to combine. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender.
3. Add tortellini and stir; cover and cook until tortellini is soft.
4. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Casserole of turkey with rice

I think I found this a few years ago in a newspaper, but I can't remember which one. This is how we use up some of the turkey leftovers...since we don't have any leftovers this year, I'll probably make a turkey breast next weekend, just so I can make this.

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 med onions, chopped
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 c. cooked turkey
1/2 c. ham (optional)
1 c. crumbled bread stuffing
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 c. uncooked rice
2 c. hot chicken or turkey broth

Preheat oven to 375. In a skillet, melt 4 Tbsp of the butter and add onions, cook until golden. Add mushrooms and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer vegetables to baking dish. Add turkey, ham, stuffing, parsley, thyme and stir well. In same skillet, melt remaining butter. Add curry powder and rice and cook until rice is translucent. Transfer rice to baking dish, stir in broth, and bake until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender -- 25 to 30 minutes. Eat with other Thanksgiving leftovers, like green bean casserole and five cup salad.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Corn Casserole

I don't remember where I got this, but I've been making it for years and apparently it went over well at Pre-Thanksgiving. It's the easiest thing you could possibly imagine, and really yummy. Total comfort food.

1 can corn, with juice
1 can creamed corn
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
2 eggs
1/4 stick of butter, melted.

Mix all ingredients together. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. I usually cover it with foil, but remove it in the last 15 minutes or so to brown the top a little.

Monday, November 21, 2005

crockpot stuffing

I made this for pre-Thanksgiving, and it was good -- even better the second day, actually. I didn't measure anything, but I threw two whole big loaves of bread in so that the lid barely closed, and it cooked down a lot. I also added more chicken broth during the stirring after at the first hour.

It's from, with which I am increasingly enamored; the person who posted there got it from the Calgary Herald. What could be better at Thanksgiving than stuffing from Canadians?

2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced celery
1 cup diced tart apples, peeled and cored
1/4 cup butter (you don't need that much)
1 tablespoon ground sage
1 teaspoon ground marjoram
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon savory
1/2 teaspoon thyme
12 cups lightly toasted bread, cubes
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock

In a large fry pan saute onions, celery and apple in butter until onion is just translucent.

Stir in sage, marjoram, salt, pepper, savory and thyme.

Combine vegetable mixture with the bread cubes and parsley.

Toss well.

Pour stock over mixture, tossing well.

Spoon into your (greased) crock-pot.

Cover and cook on high for one hour.

Reduce to low and continue cooking for 2-3 hours, stirring every hour.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Orange soy baby back ribs, housekeeping

First things first. The archiving process is done, so all the recipes are cataloged in alphabetical order along the side. Whew. Also, I'm thinking about switching to authentication for comments, because I'm tired of deleting all the spam. We get a bunch these days. I'll discuss with Gwen, but if you feel strongly either way, let me know.
And most importantly, the weather is turning cold (everywhere but where Ainsley is), and I've got the urge to bake and make "cold weather food." So, this is my plea for you all to post your tried and trues, be it cookies, cakes, pies, candies, casseroles, etc. I'll dig up mine.

And now, for the ribs...

Orange soy baby back ribs
Gourmet May 2005

2 racks baby back pork ribs, cut into individual ribs
1/4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cumin

Put ribs in a large plastic bag. Stir together orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar and cumin. Then pour marinade over ribs, seal bag and put in fridge. Marinate 30 minutes on one side, then flip bag and do 30 more minutes.
Put oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 375.
Transfer ribs and marinade to baking dish and arrange ribs in one layer. Roast 30 minutes on one side, then turn with tongs and continue roasting until ribs are tinder and well browned and marinade is thick and syrupy, about 30 more minutes.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Pumpkin Muffins (healthy!)

(I might have posted this one already, but I couldn't find it)

2 cups Low-fat Bisquick
15-oz can of pumpkin
1/2 cup Egg Beaters
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup Bakers Cake Pastry Filling- Prune Plum flavor*
1 cup All Bran With Extra Fiber
1/2 cup skim milk

Add milk to All Bran. Set Aside. Mix together pumpkin, Egg Beaters, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and Prune-Plum filling. Stir in bran/milk mixture. Stir in Bisquick. Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray.** Split mixture evenly between 12 muffin cups. Fill muffin cups very full. Mix together some sugar and cinnamon for topping- sprinkle evenly over tops of muffins. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

* You could also use the Apple flavor. You can find this in the baking goods section. It comes in a jar.
** Do not use paper cups. These muffins do not have enough fat in them to separate from the paper- they will stick
*** these freeze well.

each muffin: 120 cal, 2g. fat, 8g fiber, 1 point (WW)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Linguine with Squash, Bacon, and Goat Cheese

Finally, nearly a month after Shannon, Ernie, Gaby, Geoff, and I went to the pumpkin patch, where I promised to post this recipe! This one's for you, Shannon, and all you squash lovers out there in the ether....

Linguine with Squash, Bacon, and Goat Cheese
(Real Simple magazine)

6 slices bacon
1 2- to 2-1/2 pound butternut squash -- peeled, seeded, and diced*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt (I just used regular, and it turned out ok)
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1 1-lb package linguine, cooked
1 T olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel, then crumble or break into pieces; set aside.**

Drain all but about 2 T of the bacon fat from the skillet. Add the squash and garlic to the skillet and saute over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the broth and the salt. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the squash is cooked through and softened, about 20-25 minutes.

Add half the goat cheese and stir well to combine. Place the cooked linguine in a large bowl. Stir the sauce into the linguine and toss well to coat. Drizzle with the olive oil and add the reserved bacon, the remaining goat cheese, and the pepper. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

* Tip: Before cutting it open, stabilize your oddly-shaped squash by cutting a small slice of skin off one side so it will lie flat. Then slice it in half with a sharp chef's knife. (I can't overstate the importance of a good knife for this process.) From that point, for me, it's easiest to slice it into smaller pieces in order to remove the skin. In other words, I halve, slice, remove skin, then dice...rather than halve, remove skin, and dice.

** Or, take a shortcut and buy already cooked bacon at the grocery. Then use butter as the fat for cooking the squash.

Sauteed Ham Steak Pineapple

Another favorite in the Morrison-Jackson Household. I like it because everything cooks up in a large skillet. There's some jockeying of materials from place to place -- reserve this, reserve that -- but that's ok with me, because I'm not dirtying too many dishes. This is super-yummy and pretty easy.

Sauteed Ham Steak Pineapple
(Sara Moulton, Food Network)

2 (1/2-inch thick) ham steaks (I use the ones without the bone)
4 T butter
1 T whole-grain mustard
3 8-oz cans pineapple chunks, reserve liquid
1/4 cup orange juice
1 T Dijon mustard
Salt, fresh ground black pepper

From ham steak, remove rind and trim off all but a 1/4-inch of outer fat. Cut ham into 4 serving pieces. (Note: the ham steaks I buy don't usually have a lot of fat, so I just cut 'em up and throw 'em in the skillet.)

In a large saute pan/skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 T butter. Add ham steaks; saute for 3 minutes each sidee, until they're lightly browned. Remove and reserve (cover with foil).

Blot pineapples as dry as possible. Add remaining 2 T butter to pan. Add pineapple and saute until the edges begin to caramelize, about 4-5 minutes. Remove pineapple and reserve. Add orange and pineapple juices to the pan and reduce by 1/2, about 5-6 minutes (always seems to take longer to me). Whisk in Dijon and whole-grain mustards. Transfer ham steaks back into the pan. Add pineapple chunks and toss. Heat through thoroughly. Season, to taste.

Savory Chicken Pie

I got this one from the Pampered Chef (came with the Deep Dish Baker), and just tried it last week. It's very good, and I'm sure will become a favorite in the Morrison-Jackson Household.

Savory Chicken Pie

1 package (15 oz) refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)
1 egg, divided, plus 2 more eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 T Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped*
4 green onions with tops, thinly sliced
3/4 cup (3 oz) shredded Swiss cheese
6 crisply cooked bacon slices, crumbled**

1. Preheat oven to 375. Let pie crusts stand at room temp for 15 minutes. Unfold one crust; place in bottom of Deep Dish Baker (or other large round baking dish...I think a pie plate would be ok), pressing into bottom and up sides. Cut one piece out of center of second crust; set aside. Cut second crust into 12 equal wedges and set aside.***

2. Separate 1 egg over small bowl; set aside. In big bowl, whisk yolk, remaining 2 eggs, milk, mustard and black pepper. Add chicken, green onions, cheese, and bacon to egg mixture; mix well.

3. Beat egg white lightly; brush over bottom crust. Spread filling into crust. Fold edges of crust in towards center, forming a 1/2-inch border; brush border with egg white. Arrange crust wedges over filling, with outside edges against sides of baker/dish/pie plate and points toward the center, in a slightly overlapping pinwheel pattern. Press edges to seal top and bottom crusts together. Brush top crust with egg white. Place reserved piece of crust in center; brush with egg white.

4. Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Yield: 12 servings

* I took the easy way out and bought cooked chicken from the fridge section at the grocery store.

** Again, I took the easy road and bought cooked bacon from the store. I did, however, crumble it by myself. Perhaps real bacon bits would work well, too??

*** Basically, Pampered Chef is all about making things pretty. If you don't feel like cutting the crust into wedges and doing the whole "overlapping pinwheel pattern" (see Step 3), then just put the top crust on top, and don't worry about it! Just be sure to put some holes in it with a fork, so steam can escape.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

Two more soups

These are from Cheryl. I've tried the first and it's really good.

Taco Soup

1.5 lbs hamburger meat, browned and rinsed
1 package taco seasoning mix (note: i use the low sodium kind)
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 can pinto beans
1 can ranch style beans (note: I usually use kidney beans, because I've got no idea what ranch beans are. must be a texas thing)
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can rotel tomatoes
2 cans petite cut diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce

Mix all ingredients together; let simmer several hours. Serve with corn chips and cheese or cornbread. Freezes very well, and is actually better left over than when first made.
(My note: I actually put this all together and then cook it in the crockpot all day)

Chicken Onion Soup (don't know what it's really called, lol)

Approx 1 to 1.5 lbs cooked chicken, cut into pieces
1 onion, sauteed until done
2 cans french onion soup
1 can rotel tomatoes
2 cans whole kernel corn

Mix ingredients together and let simmer.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Creamy Potato-Leek Soup

Adapted from The Great American Detox Diet, by Alex Jamieson (Rodale Press, 2005).

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts washed and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch cubes
4 cups vegetable stock
2-3 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
1. Heat a 4-quart soup pot over medium heat and add the oil.
2. Add the leeks, onion, and sea salt and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onion begins to turn translucent.
3. Add the garlic and stir well. Cook for 1 minute more.
4. Add the potatoes and vegetable stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook 20 minutes.
5. Remove the soup from the heat and use an immersion/stick blender to blend the soup in the pot or ladle the soup into a blender, 1 cup at a time. Blend the soup with the fresh rosemary leaves until smooth and free of chunks. Pour smooth soup into a heat-proof bowl and continue until all of the soup has been blended.
6. Transfer the blended soup back to the original soup pot and warm over low heat until heated through. Serve hot.

Potato Soup with Caramelized Onions

Don’t be confused by the mention of onions in two places. The first gets stewed in with the potatoes. The second is caramelized slowly with butter and oil.
4 cups potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium leeks, white part only, halved lengthwise, sliced, and washed
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream (optional)
Fresh parsley
Freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 cup small croutons, fried in butter (optional)
1. Put the potatoes, coarsely chopped onions, leeks, water, and salt in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the vegetables are completely soft, about 40 minutes.
2. While the vegetables are simmering, melt butter with olive oil in a heavy skillet and slowly cook the diced onions until they are caramelized a deep brown, about 20 minutes. Stir frequently so they don’t burn.
3. Press the softened potatoes and other vegetables through a sieve, then return them to the soup pot. Add the caramelized onions, milk, and cream to the soup. Taste for salt. Thin with more milk or cream if necessary.
4. Serve the soup with plenty of chopped fresh parsley, coarsely ground pepper, and croutons.
Serve 8 to 10.

Creamy Kale and White Bean Soup

Adapted from The Tassajara Recipe Book, by Edward Espe Brown (Shambhala, 2000).

1 1/2 cups navy beans, cleaned and sorted, soaked overnight
3 quarts water
1 bay leaf
3 - 4 sage leaves, fresh or dried
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups finely diced yellow onions
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (my note: I'm not sure I know what nutritional yeast is. i may leave it out)
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
6 - 8 cups kale, stemmed and chopped to spoon size
Cream to finish (optional)

1. Simmer beans in 3 quarts of water with the bay leaf, sage, and whole garlic cloves until the beans are completely soft, about 2 1/2 hours.
2. Remove one quarter of the cooked beans, puree them in a food mill or blender, then return them to the pot. The puree will give the soup a creamy background texture.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet, add the onions, then cook until transparent. When soft, add the yeast, a teaspoon of salt, and several grindings of pepper. Stir frequently to prevent the yeast from sticking to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes then add the mixture to the cooked beans.
4. Cook the kale in the remaining butter until it is wilted. Combine with the beans and add enough water to bring the volume to about 3 quarts. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour.
5. Check the seasonings and finish the soup with a little cream, if desired.

Serves 8 to 10.

Butternut squash and mushroom lasagna

from epicurious

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups chopped onions
1/2 pound crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 5 1/2 cups)
1 14-ounce can vegetable broth
4 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
4 tablespoons sliced fresh sage, divided

3 15-ounce containers whole-milk ricotta cheese
4 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4 large eggs

Olive oil
1 9-ounce package no-boil lasagna noodles

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Increase heat to high; add mushrooms and cook until tender, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mushroom mixture to bowl; set aside.

Add squash, broth, 3 tablespoons thyme, and 3 tablespoons sage to same skillet. Cover and simmer over medium heat until squash is just tender, about 6 minutes. Uncover and cook until squash is very soft but still retains shape, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, and remaining 1 tablespoon thyme and 1 tablespoon sage in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper; mix in eggs.

Brush 13x9x2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with oil. Spread 1 cup ricotta mixture over bottom. Arrange 3 noodles on top. Spread 13/4 cups ricotta mixture over noodles. Arrange 1 1/3 cups squash mixture over. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mushrooms and 1 cup mozzarella. Top with 3 noodles, then 1 3/4 cups ricotta mixture, half of remaining squash, 1/2 cup mushrooms, and remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat with noodles, 1 3/4 cups ricotta mixture, remaining squash, and remaining mushrooms. Top with 3 noodles. Spread remaining ricotta mixture over; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Cover with oiled foil.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake lasagna, covered, 35 minutes. Uncover; bake until heated through, about 25 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. (The lasagna can be assembled one day ahead and refrigerated.)

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes

I was looking a few weeks ago for a cake I could take to Becky's house. I ended up just bringing her a bottle of wine, but man this cake looks good.

Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Variations: For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.

For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Baked Sweet Potatoes and Apples

(I make this a lot in the winter. We had it last night with pork chops. Also good with turkey or any yummy autumn/winter recipe. And it makes your house smell great while you're cooking it).

2 large sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and sliced
5-6 apples, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup brown sugar
orange juice (optional**)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13" pan. Place a layer of sweet potatoes and a layer of apples in the pan. Mix the brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl. Sprinkle half the mixture on top of the apples. Dot with butter. Repeat with another layer of sweet potatoes and apples, then the remaining sugar mixture. Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Baste with the pan juices. Return to oven, uncovered, continue baking for 15-30 minutes more, or until apples and sweet potatoes are tender.

*I had to bake for a total of one hour in order for all the sweet potatoes to be tender.
** You can also add a little bit of orange juice to the dish to add another flavor and to create more liquid as it's cooking (maybe 1/4- 1/2 a cup of orange juice).

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Eggplant Caviar

This is so, so good. I usually eat it with pita, but it'd probably be good with crackers or other breads.

from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

1/4 c. olive oil (I usually use much less, though, just a couple of swirls around the pan)
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 can tomatoes, finely chopped and well drained
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
black pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium high heat in a skillet, add onions, and saute for 5 min. Add tomatoes and saute another 5 min, stirring often. Lower heat to medium, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Cover the pan and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Stir periodically. Remove the cover and cook until all the juices have evaporated, about 5 min. Puree have the mixture and return to pan. Stir well to mix, then scrape into a serving bowl. Serve at room temperature.

Sweet potato casserole with pineapple and coconut

from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker

2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1/4 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped or canned pineapple (I'm using crushed)
1/4 tsp pure coconut extract (I don't have any of this, so I'm going without)
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Lightly oil the insert of the slow cooker. Add the sweet potatoes, brown sugar, coconut and cinnamon and stir to combine. Cook on low for 6 hours.
Shortly before serving, stir in the pineapple and the extracts.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

eggplant parmigiana (healthy-ish)

If there were any food in my house right now, I would be making this.

cooking spray
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs, Italian-style
1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 medium eggplant
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup canned tomato sauce
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic powder together in a medium-size bowl; set aside. Remove skin from eggplant and trim off ends. Slice eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Dip eggplant first into egg whites and then into bread crumb mixture. Bake eggplant on a nonstick cookie sheet until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Place a layer of eggplant on bottom of prepared baking dish, then add 1/3 of tomato sauce and 1/3 of mozzarella cheese. Repeat with 2 more layers in same order. Bake until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling, about 10 minutes more. Slice into 4 pieces and serve.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Cleaning up

Just an FYI that I'm cleaning up the blog, finally, and getting rid of all the spam comments. I'm also working on linking all the recipes on the side, in categories. It'll probably take me most of the weekend, but if you click on a link and it goes to the wrong place, or I missed some recipes, let me know.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Here is a recipe in honor of the bride-to-be, Kel-baby and her wildly popular birthday whoopie "pile." Her pile included pumpkin and red velvet pies too - I'll be on the lookout for those recipes.

Rachel Keller's mom's Chocolate Whoopie Pies

2 cups sugar

1 cup shortening

1 cup cocoa

2 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs (save the egg whites for the filling)

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup sour milk or buttermilk

2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups flour

Cream sugar and shortening together in a large bowl. Add eggs and mix. Sift dry ingredients together and add to the creamed mixture alternatively with milk. Batter will be stiff. If it is too thin, add more flour. Drop by tablespoon onto greased sheets. Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cookies comes out clean.


2 egg whites

1 box 10X sugar

1 cup shortening

4 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg whites till stiff. Add shortening and vanilla and blend. Add milk and then add the sugar. Beat until smooth. Spread some filling on the bottom side of one cookie; top with a second cookie. Repeat with the remaining cookies and filling. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. Yields approximately 5 dozen.

Note: You can buy a powdered buttermilk mix to make your own buttermilk or you can substitute 1 cup yogurt for either the buttermilk or sour milk. To make sour milk, place 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or vinegar) and fill with milk to make 1 cup. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Pancakes, sweet potatoes

These have nothing to do with each other, I just got them both in the same e-mail from Monica:

Here are some recipes I saw in an issue of Home Cooking I picked up. I have
not tried them yet, but they look yummy.

Eggnog Pancakes
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups eggnog
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 tsps vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
4 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg

In a large bowl, combine eggs, eggnog, oil and vanilla. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg; add to eggnog mixture and mix just until blended. (Add additional eggnog if needed to make batter the proper consistency.) Pour by 1/4 cupfuls onto heated griddle; turn when bubbles form around edges of pancakes. Serve warm. Makes about 15 pancakes.

(I like my eggnog with a little Southern Comfort. I wonder how that would taste...mmmm...)

Basil & Pecan Sweet Potato Bake
3 (15-ounce) cans sweet potatoes
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 tbsps butter, softened
2 tbsps chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9-inch baking dish. In medium mixing bowl, combine sweet potatoes, half-and-half, butter, basil, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper; blend with an electric mixer or in a food processor. Transfer mixture to prepared dish and smooth the surface.
Top with chopped pecans. Cover and bake 20 minutes; remove cover and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serves 5 to 7.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


These are all from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker

Golden-Glow Stuffed Squash

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium sized onion, minced
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. turmeric
2 1/2 c. cooked white or brown rice
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme or ground sage
salt and pepper to taste
1 large winter squash, halved and seeded
1 c. hot water

Heat the oil a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and bell pepper, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and tumeric, then stir in the rice, parsley, thyme or sage and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and spoon in the squash cavities.
Pour the water into a 6-quart oval slow cooker and add the squash halves, stuffing side up. Cover and cook on Low until the squash is tender, about 6 hours.

Winter squash stuffed with couscous, apricots and pistachios

2 c. apple juice
1 c. couscous
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1.4 tsp. ground allspice
1 c. chopped dried apricots
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1.2 c. chopped pistachios
salt and pepper to taste
1 large kabocha, buttercup or other winter squash, halved and seeded
1 c. hot water.

Bring the apple juice to a boil in a med. saucepan. Add the couscous, cinnamon and allspice. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the apricots, cover, and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Fluff the couscous with a fork, then add the onion mixture and pistachios, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
Place the squash halves, cut side up, in the slow cooker. Pack the stuffing into the halves. Carefully pour the hot water into the slow cooker without disturbing the squash. Cover and cook on low about 6 hours.

Winter squash and sweet potato soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
4 c. vegetable stock
1 tsp. dried thyme
1.2 tsp. dried sage
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery, cook until soft.
Transfer cooked veggies to a slow cooker. Add the sweet potatoes, squash, stock, thyme and sage; season with salt and pepper. cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
Puree the soup in a blender or food processor, working in batches, or directly in the slow cooker using an immersion blender.

I can't wait until I can stand up again. I came home all excited to try these recipes, and now I can't stand long enough to get the stuff in the crockpot!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Alissa's Butternut Squash & Ginger Soup

Tonight, looking ahead to the coming squash-ful weeks of fall, I made a variation on Alissa's lovely recipe. I'll post hers in full and then below I'll add changes dictated by limits of my pantry.

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cubed
3 med. shallots or 1 onion, diced
2 T of butter
2 T dry white wine or sherry
salt & pepper
ginger (dry or fresh peeled & diced) to taste
1 C whole milk
2 C chicken or vegetable stock

In a large stockpot:
Saute shallots/onion/leek in butter on med-high heat.
When the onions are golden brown add wine & squash.
Cook 30 sec to burn off the alcohol. Add stock, salt, pepper and ginger to taste.
Bring to a boil.
Turn down & simmer, covered.
Cook until squash is tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Use blender/food processor/hand masher/hand mixer to puree until desired smoothness.
Add milk during this process.

Serve with bread. Add a dash of cinnamon to each serving bowl.

Keep 3 days in fridge, or can be frozen.

I'm fresh out of all things ginger tonight, and I needed another strong flavor, so I added a dash of cayenne and about 7 or 8 shakes of curry. I added a bunch of black pepper, left out the salt and gave it a splash of tamari instead. I stuck in a bay leaf while it simmered.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Mrs Kalia’s Aloo Mutter

1 C coarsely chopped onion

2T coarsely chopped gingerroot

2 lg cloves garlic

2 T vegetable oil

1 t cumin seed

3 medium potatoes, peeled, boiled and cut into 1” cubes

2 C frozen green peas

2 medium tomatoes cut into 1” cubes

1 C water

1 t Garam Masala

1 t ground red pepper (cayenne)

1 t salt

¼ t ground turmeric

2 T finely chopped fresh cilantro

  1. In a food processor, finely mind the onion, gingerroot and garlic.
  2. In a wok or 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seed and sizzle for 15-20 seconds. Add the onion mixture and stir-try for 3-5 minutes until golden brown.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients except cilantro. Lower the heat and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 12-15 minutes until the potatoes are warm, the peas are cooked, and the sauce slightly thickens. Sprinkle with cilantro.

from The Turmeric Trail, by Raghavan Iyer

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Creamy tomato soup with Israeli Couscous

from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 c. vegetable stock
One 28-ox can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
pinch of sugar or other sweetener
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1 c. cooked Israeli couscous
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil for garnish

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a slow cooker, add the stock, tomatoes, tomatoe paste, sugar and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Puree the soup in a food processor or blender (remove bay leaves first), adjust the seasonings.
To serve, spoon about 1/4 c. of couscous in a bowl, then ladle the soup on top. Serve with sprinkled basil. (and fresh mozarella, if you have any)

**My notes--I haven't made this one either, but it's another one I'll be trying next week.

Garlicky polenta with Wild Mushroom Saute

from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
6 c. boiling water
2 c. medium or coarse-ground cornmeal

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
8 oz assorted mushrooms (shitake, cremini, oyster or button)
Salt and pepper

To make the polenta, lightly oil the inside of the slow cooker. Add the olive oil and garlic and turn the cooker to High. Pour in the boiling water and salt, then whisk in the cornmeal, stirring constantly until blended. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
Spoon the cooked polenta into a lightly oiled loaf pan and smooth the top. Refrigerate until firm.
To make the mushrooms, heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the firm polenta into 1/2-inch slices and place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush the top with the remaining olive oil and bake until hot and golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes.
To serve, arrange the polenta on a serving platter and spoon the mushrooms on top.

**My notes -- I haven't made this one, but I think when I get home from the walk on Sunday, I will stick the polenta in the crockpot and cook overnight, refrigerate all day, and have this for dinner on Monday. If you didn't want mushrooms (which I know some of you don't like), you could probably substitute tomatoes for the saute or make some wilted spinach. Come to think of it, the wilted spinach would probably be really good, and a good source of iron.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Gallo Pinto (Black Beans and Rice)

This is such a tasty recipe. I originally watched a Honduran guy named Chuck make it in my apartment kitchen my senior year of college, and I've combined what I remember from him with Cuban recipes from a lovely Mennonite international cookbook.

Saute in a wide & deep frying pan:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced

When the onion is translucent, add 1/3 of the mixture and a dash of salt to a pot of yet uncooked rice (about 3-4 servings). Cook using your preferred rice-making method.

Open two cans of black beans, drain one but don't pour off the liquid from the other. To the veggies left in the frying pan, add the two cans of black beans & liquid.
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 t oregano
1 t cumin
1/2 t coriander
salt & pepper
cayenne to taste

Simmer for as long as it takes the rice to cook.

Serve beans over rice.

(You can top with cheese or sour cream, but it's irresistable as is. You can also add chicken to this recipe - cooked with the onion & pepper before adding the beans.)

adapted from Honduran Chuck and
Extending the Table, A World Community Cookbook
by Joetta Handrich Schlabach

books for Shannon

Laurel's Kitchen (where the spreads came from) is an oldie-but-goodie guide to complete vegetarian nutrition.

I recently got Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home from our library and it also has some good basics. (I'll post the corn & avocado salad)

I love love love my Extending the Table...A World Community Cookbook that I bought years ago at Ten Thousand Villages. It's not actually exclusively vegetarian, but the recipes are from all over the world. (I'll post gallo pinto)

I subscribe to's monthly recipe email and that always has some delicious-sounding options.

Chicken Adobo

This isn't a completely authentic recipe (I'll post that one later), but this one is quick and easy.

2 c. rice vinegar (go to the Asian section and get the right kind, don't substitute just white vinegar)
1 c. water
dark soy sauce to taste (half a cup, maybe? I just pour it in and then taste it. Do yourself a favor and get some Silver's better than Kikkoman)
8-10 garlic cloves (no kidding)
a handful of peppercorns
chicken (whatever kind you like, we use boneless, skinless thighs)

Throw it all in a pot and cook until the chicken is done. Eat over jasmine rice (add some of the sauce to the rice and it's tasty). If you're lucky, you'll be eating lumpia with this (you can buy it already rolled and frozen) and some sliced tomatoes.

Looking for some reading...

...that I thought maybe someone out there would be able to help me find. I'm thinking of going mostly vegetarian...maybe keeping meat (turkey, seafood, chicken) in my diet at most three days of the week, and eating vegetarian the other days. Anyway, I'm looking for some reading on how to make that happen, and make meals that Ernie will eat and not miss the meat.
Any suggestions? Also, recipes are always helpful. :)

Anyone up for another fruit/veggie challenge? One that we actually carry through for an entire week this time? I've been eating like crap lately...not junk food, just not the right food. I'm up for one starting next Monday, if anyone else is up for it.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Mozzarella Pesto Spread

Saw this one, and figured in the spirit of spreads, I'd post it. I haven't made it yet, but it looks good and I might this weekend.

Gourmet August 2005

1/2 lb. coarsley chopped grated mozzarella (2 cups)
1/4 c. well-stirred prepared pesto
1/4 c. finely chopped drained oil packed sundried tomatoes

Stir together all ingredients in a bowl until combined well. Spread on Italian bread.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Triple Chocolate Cake

I've brought this in to a couple of office parties, and to potlucks and such. It's a great recipe because it only has 5 ingredients, it's super-easy, and it tastes great!

Note: this cake doesn't have any frosting. In my opinion, it doesn't need it, because the cake is so rich.

1 small package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 package devil's food cake mix
6 oz. chocolate chips
1 3/4 cups milk
2 eggs

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, then stir by hand for 2 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes, until it springs back.

Let cool completely before serving.

Aunt Kinky's Salsa and Margaritas

If you're having a party, I recommend making Aunt Kinky's Salsa and Margaritas! Both are pretty simple, and you won't have any leftovers, I promise. =)

By the way, Aunt Kinky's is Geoff's aunt, and her given name is Lynn. What happens when a small child can't say Lynn? His funny dad jokes, "Just call her Aunt Kinky!" and the name sticks....

1 fresh jalapeno
1 can stewed tomatos
1 can Mexican stewed tomatos
6-10 cloves of fresh garlic, pressed*
1/2 medium or large onion, chopped
small bunch of fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
1/2 fresh lime

Boil pepper about 10 minutes, or until soft.

In the meantime, pour tomatos in a blender, then add cilantro, onion, garlic. Finally, squirt in the juice from the lime.

When the pepper is soft, cut in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds from half, then put both halves in the blender.**

Add a little salt, to taste.


* Obviously, it would be a good idea if everybody knows each other pretty well, and they don't mind garlic breath. Alternatively, you could reduce the amount of garlic, but I think the salsa's not nearly as good when you do that.

** Boiling the pepper, then removing half the seeds cuts down on the heat. Feel free to adjust as you see fit.

Bacardi frozen margarita mix
Cuervo Gold tequila
Limes -- let's say 6?

Yield: about half a gallon

Pour margarita mix into a pitcher. Fill can 3/4 full with tequila, top off with amaretto; pour into pitcher.

Add one can of water, one can of ice.

Halve 4 limes and remove the seeds. Squeeze juice into pitcher, then throw the rinds in, too. Stir.

Refrigerate at least a couple of hours.

When serving, cut the remaining limes, rub them around the mouth of the glass, and dip into margarita salt. Put ice in glass, pour margaritas, and serve!

Hot Artichoke Dip

2 jars (6.5 ounces each) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped (note: I found some frozen, non-marinated artichoke hearts in Trader Joes and these work just as well)
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, pressed
3 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Drain and coarsely chop artichoke hearts with Food Chopper. Combine artichoke hearts, spinach, garlic, sour cream, mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese.
2. Spoon dip into casserole dish. Bake 20-25 minutes or until heated through.
Yield: 10-15 appetizer servings

More notes: I'm thinking this wouldn't be terrible for you if you used non-fat sour cream and low-fat mayo. And you really can't taste the mayo, I think it must help with the creaminess or something.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Spinach Dip

At Gwen's request, here is one of the easiest, most instantly gratifying recipe on the planet (outside of a good PB& ham, right Liss?). I don't think she believes me that the recipe is right on the box.

1 pkg. Knorr vegetable dry soup mix (it's in the yellow and green box)
16 oz. sour cream
1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained
1 can water chestnuts, chopped coarsely
Mix soup with sour cream. Add spinach and water chestnuts. Chill for at least 1 1/2 hours. Serve with vegetables, crackers, in a pumpernickel bread bowl with 1" bread squares or on a spoon in the middle of the night while you're wearing pajamas.

And now for a few variations:
- 2 packages of spinach instead of one (make sure it's chopped, not cut or you'll be mad)
- use cottage cheese instead of sour cream and use as a sandwich spread

While we're on the topic of sandwich spreads

I'm eating Soy Spread sandwiches this week
both recipes are from Laurel's Kitchen

Soy Spread

1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small stalk celery, minced
1/4 C chopped green pepper
2-3 T olive oil
2 T tomato sauce
1 T basil
1/2 t oregano
1 can cooked, mashed soybeans
1-2 t vinegar
1/2 t salt
dash pepper

Saute onion & garlic in olive oil until soft, then add celery & cook until onion is transparent
Add tomato paste & herbs and simmer.
Stir in mashed soybeans, vinegar, salt & pepper.
Makes about 1 1/2 C.
Serve on sandwich bread with sprouts.

(I have to add about 1/4 C of water to give it enough liquid for everything to simmer together. I usually mash the beans with everything else once it's simmered awhile.)

Cheese Spread

1 C grated cheese
1 C cottage cheese
add any combination of:
finely chopped celery, green or red pepper
minced parsley/chives
chopped tomatoes
mustard powder
dill weed

Serve on sandwich bread.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Blackberry Peach Cobbler

(Can you tell Gwen and I got a bunch of peaches and blackberries last weekend? We're both looking for ways to use them all)

Gourmet Sept. 2005

2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/5 c. plus 1 tsp. sugar
1 1/4 lb blackberries (about 5 cups)
2 lb. peaches, (6 medium), peeled, pitted and cut into wedges
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 c. plus 3 Tbsp. whole milk

Preheat oven to 425 F. Butter a 13x9x2 glass or ceramic baking dish. (I skipped the buttering step)
Whisk together cornstarch and 1 1/2 c. sugar in a large bowl. Then add peaches and blackberries and toss to coat. Transfer to baking dish, bake 10-15 min.
While fruit bakes, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt in another large bowl, then blend in butter with pastry blender or fingers. Add milk and stir until dough forms.
Drop dough on hot fruit mixture in 12 mounds, then sprinkle dough with remaining sugar. Bake until golden brown, 25-35 min. Serve warm. (good with vanilla ice cream)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Peach and Blackberry Crisp

Gourmet 1991

1-1/2 pounds peaches (about 3), pitted and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
2 cups blackberries, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
3/4 cup coarsely chopped lightly toasted pecans
peach and brown sugar ice cream or vanilla cream as an accompaniment

In a large bowl toss the peaches and the blackberries gently with the cornstarch, the lemon juice, and the granulated sugar until the mixture is combined well. In a small bowl stir together the flour, the brown sugar, the oats, the salt, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg, add the butter, blending the mixture until it resembles coarse meal, and stir in the pecans. Spread the peach mixture in a 13- by 9-inch (3 quart) baking dish, sprinkle the pecan mixture evenly over it, and bake the crisp in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden. Serve the crisp with the ice cream.

chunky apple-berry sauce (crockpot)

Alissa gave me this recipe once upon a time, and I used the apples and blackberries we picked this weekend to make it yesterday...

7 or 8 large apples, peeled and sliced
1 bag frozen cherries/berries/whatever (or other fruit -- I used a cup or two of fresh blackberries, and I think it would work with anything)
1/2 cup sugar (I only used a few tablespoons yesterday since the berries were really sweet)
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 t ground cloves

Toss it all together and put the crockpot on low for 10 hours. Voila.

summer squash gratin

Just browsing around and I saw this recipe at the hungry tiger, a very cool-looking recipe site I've never seen before. We're are getting so much freaking squash from the farm share that I have no idea what to do with it -- and we're also getting sage, which smells really good and which I never know what to do with, so bonus for the sage usage in this recipe.


The best summer squash for a gratin, I think, is a pattypan squash or the variety of zucchini that is only seed-filled down at one end. Try to keep the seeds to an absolute minimum. Trim ruthlessly and feed your compost heap.

Two pounds summer squash, trimmed and sliced thin (about 1/8")
2 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons butter, plus extra for the baking dish
1 small onion diced very fine
several sage leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup milk
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz parmasean cheese, grated
dash nutmeg
freshly ground pepper

Toss the squash with the salt and spread on a clean towel for at least half an hour. Rinse well and squeeze dry. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Butter a baking dish. A 10" pie pan works particularly well -- the more exposed surface area, the better.

Heat the rest of the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add the squash and sage and cook, stirring, 5-10 minutes more, until there is no water at the bottom of the pan (the squash will express some liquid as you cook it) and the squash is soft and beginning to brown in a few places. Sprinkle the flour over the contents of the pan and cook, stirring, for another 1-2 minutes. Add the milk and stir gently, scraping the bottom of the pan. When the milk begins to thicken, in another two minutes or so, add the garlic and cheese and continue to cook a minute more.

Tip the contents of the pan into your waiting, buttered baking dish and smooth the top. Bake for twenty minutes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Chicken broccoli stuff

This recipe doesn't have a name, and there's actually no set recipe. So make it however you like it. My Nana makes this and it's tasty...we made it last night and even Gaby liked it.

1 can cream of chicken soup (any kind you like. We used chicken and herbs last night)
1 can full of milk

Combine soup and milk in casserole dish. Add to it cut up chicken (we used boneless, skinless thighs) and broccoli. Mix together. Put in 375 degree oven until chicken is cooked, about 45 minutes. Eat over rice or whatever kind of noodles you like.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Raspberry-topped rice pudding brulee

Bon Apetit, August 2005

6 cups whole milk, divided
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 large egg yolks, beaten to blend
1/2 c. chilled whipping cream
2 1/2-pint containers raspberries
8 teaspoons golden brown sugar

Mix 2 cups milk, sugar, and rice in large saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean, add bean. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, simmer 10 minutes, stirring often. Mix in 2 cups milk, increase heat; bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer until thickened, about 12 minutes. Add 2 cups milk, return to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until rice is tender and pudding is thick and reduced to 4 1/2 cups, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Quickly whisk in yolks. (be careful here. if you're not whisking the instant the yolks hit that pudding, they congeal. whisk fast.)
Transfer pudding to large bowl set in a larger bowl fuilled with ice water and chill until cold, stirring often, about 3 hours.
Whisk cream in medium bowl until peaks form. Remove vanilla bean from cold pudding. Fold in cream in two parts. Divide pudding in 8 ramekins or custard cups. Press raspberries onto each pudding.
(can be made 1 day ahead up to this point)
Preheat broiler. Arrange puddings on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle each with 1 tsp brown sugar. Brown until sugar carmelizes, about 2 minutes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

stewed peaches (crockpot)

Courtesy of my mom -- we used to eat this all the time when I was little. It also freezes well and is kind of good when it's a little icy, too.

Slice a zillion peaches and put them in the crockpot with 1/2-3/4 c. water.

Put in 3 packets of Sweet'N Low (when I sort of balked at this step, my mother said you could also use a few tablespoons of sugar, but "it's fine with the fake stuff! no one's ever complained!" :) and it definitely doesn't taste Nutrasweet-y or anything).

Sprinkle in a lot of cinnamon.

Put the lid on and cook on low for "a very long time," she says -- she leaves it on overnight, 12 or 18 hours, but thinks you probably don't have to do it for that long.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

watermelon snow cups

So sorry, neglected food blog! If it makes it feel better, my kitchen is also neglected -- I I literally haven't cooked anything for a month, but that is going to change this week. And I brought a whole watermelon back from the beach and need to find a way to use it, so here are snow cups (courtesy of, the National Watermelon Promotion Board, which is kind of funny).

Watermelon Snow Cups

4 cups cubed, seeded watermelon
6-ounce can frozen fruit punch concentrate, thawed
2 cups lemon-lime soda

Place watermelon cubes in a blender and blend until a smooth puree. Pour into empty ice cream pail; add concentrate and soda. Stir until well-blended. Freeze for about 2 hours and stir vigorously. Continue to freeze until slush consistency. Serve in paper cups.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Blueberry Muffins

I think I'll probably make some of these this weeekend, too.

Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine
Difficulty: Easy
Yield: 15 muffins

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 3/4 cup sifted flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add milk and egg and beat until smooth. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Mix until moistened. Toss blueberries with tablespoon of flour and fold into batter. Fill a well-greased
muffin pan 2/3 full with the batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Squash Casserole

2 pounds yellow squash, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 pounds cheddar cheese
1 cup Italian
bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Saute squash, onion, and pepper in a saute pan with olive oil until squash is soft. Add salt and white pepper. Put into a casserole dish. Mix the cheese and 1/2 cup of bread crumbs into the casserole dish with the vegetables. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs on top of casserole. Bake until golden brown.


Gwen's a slacker, so I'm posting this minestrone recipe, which is totally hers and not in any way mine. I just remember she made it for me after my Poppi died and it's one of the few things I actually wanted to eat. I may make some again soon, with all the veggies being in season right now. Anyway, dug up this e-mail in which she sent the recipe, so here you go (her notes in parenthesis, not mine):

At last, minestrone! From "The Best Recipe."

Our secret to this soup is adding the rind of the cheese... complexity and depth, blah blah... water instead of stock (I'm editing for you). Remove the rind from a wedge of fresh Parmesan (or buy a container of rinds at Whole Foods like I did). Rinds can be stored in a ziplock bag in the freezer to use as needed.

Serves 6 to 8.

2 small or 1 large leeks, washed thoroughly, white and light green parts sliced thin crossways (about 3/4 c.)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small dice (about 3/4 c.)
2 onions, peeled and cut into small dice (about 3/4 c.)
2 medium celery stalks, trimmed and cut into small dice (about 3/4 c.)
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into medium dice (about 1 1/4 c.)
1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into medium dice (about 1 1/4 c.)
3 c. stemmed spinach leaves, cut into thin strips
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained and chopped
1 Parmesan rind, about 5x2 inches
salt and pepper
1 can (15 ox.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 c. basil pesto or 1 T fresh rosemary mixed with 1 t. minced
garlic and 1 T olive oil

1. Bring vegetables, tomatoes, 8 c. water, cheese rind and 1 t. salt to boil in a soup pot. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender but still hold their shape, about 1 hour. (Soup can be refrigerated after this step in airtight container for 3 days for frozen for 1 month.)
2. Add beans and cook just until heated through, about 5 min. Remove pot from heat. Remove and discard cheese rind. Stir in pest or garlic mixture. Adjust seasonings, adding pepper and more sald if necessary. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.

Variation with rice or pasta:
Follow recipe for Minestrone until vegetables are tender. Add 1/2 c. arborio rice or small pasta shape such as elbows, ditalini or orzo and continue cooking until rice is tender but still a bit firm in the center of each grain, about 20 minutes, or until pasta is al dente, 8 to 12 minutes depending on the shape. Add beans and continue with recipe.
If the soup seems too thick after adding the pasta or rice, stir in a little more water (mine was fine without it).

Blueberry-Lemon muffins

Colleen sent this to me last year. I'm going to pick blueberries on Sunday (A LOT of blueberries) and I'm planning to turn some of them into these muffins. They freeze well, reheat nicely and are really tasty.

Blueberry-Lemon Muffins
From Cooking Light

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries
1 cup low-fat buttermilk (I used 1% milk)
3 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, melted
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (flour through salt) in a medium bowl. Stir in blueberries; make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, butter, rind, and egg; stir well with a
whisk. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moist.

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pans immediately; place on a wire rack.

Yield: 1 dozen (serving size: 1 muffin)

CALORIES 164 (22% from fat); FAT 4g (sat 2.2g, mono 1.1g, poly 0.3g); PROTEIN 3.5g; CARB 28.8g; FIBER 1.1g; CHOL 26mg; IRON 1.1mg; SODIUM 209mg; CALC 66mg;

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2000

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mediterranean Marinade

>Not sure where I found this one, but it looks good.

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea), or to taste
4 strips of lemon zest
3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil, cilantro, dill, oregano, or a
mix of all four
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
(You can also substitute orange juice and zest for lemon in this one.)

Fresh Tomato Salsa

Recipe was found here. Made it yesterday for our bbq using both red and orange tomatoes, and it was tasty.

2 pounds vine-ripened red and/or orange tomatoes (about 5 medium)
2 fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles (I only used one)
1/4 medium onion (preferably white)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Quarter and seed tomatoes (I didn't bother to seed). Cut tomatoes into 1/4-inch dice and transfer to a bowl. Wearing rubber gloves, seed and finely chop chiles. Finely chop enough onion to measure 1/4 cup and chop cilantro. Stir chiles, onion, cilantro, and garlic into tomatoes with sugar and lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Salsa may be made 1 hour ahead and kept at cool room temperature.

Grilled corn

Everyone does it differently, but this is how we do it in our house.

Melt 1 stick butter with some granulated garlic.
Shuck corn, rinse. Put corn on grill, brush with butter mixture. Cook until desired brownness.

Watermelon daiquiris

All measurements are approximate because after two batches of these, Sylvia and I quit measuring.

5-9 Tbsp. white rum
3 c. frozen watermelon (yellow or red)
4-5 ice cubes
3-5 frozen strawberries
2-4 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. sugar

Put all ingredients in blender. Blend.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Fruit Salad with a Twist

I got this one from a Betty Crocker cookbook. It's been really popular whenever I've made it, so there's hardly any leftovers. :-(

4 cups chopped fruit
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup frozen limeade, thawed
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
toasted almonds, if desired

In a large bowl, combine honey and limeade, then add poppy seeds. Stir in the fruit. Top with toasted almonds.

It's quick, it's easy, and it's good for you. Plus, you won't use the whole can of limeade, which means you get a pitcher of limeade out of the deal, too! Mmmmm.....I love limeade!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

And now, tomatoes

Alissa's going to have even more of these than peppers, and I'm obsessed with vine-ripe, farmer's market tomatoes. Here are some recipes.


Provencal Stuffed Tomatoes
(Recipe courtesy Maria Sinskey)

8 (1 by 1-inch) bread cubes
8 medium-small ripe red or yellow tomatoes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup pitted, sliced kalamata or nicoise olives
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 large garlic clove, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Arrange the bread cubes on a baking sheet and lightly toast in the oven, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
Increase the oven to 400 degrees F.
Remove the cores from the top of the tomatoes and cut the top off the tomato 1/4 of the way down. Reserve the tops. Slice enough of the bottom off each tomato, so it stands up, but don't cut through to the seed. (If you cut too deep, patch the hole with the piece you have just sliced off, by placing it in the bottom after you've hollowed it out.)
Using a melon baller, carefully scoop the inside of the tomatoes out, taking care not to penetrate the sides and create holes. Collect the balls of pulp and chop coarsely. Press the juice and seeds through a strainer. Add the strained juice to the chopped pulp.
In a bowl, mix together the tomato pulp, Parmesan, olives, olive oil, parsley, basil, oregano, and garlic. Toss with the bread cubes and season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture sit until the bread cubes have soaked up most of the moisture.
Season the interior of each tomato with salt and black pepper. Stuff each tomato with 1 bread cube and as much as herb olive mixture that you can pack in. Top with the reserved tomato tops and stick a toothpick through the center of the top to keep it from sliding off while it bakes. Place the stuffed tomatoes in a roasting pan that has been drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle the tops of tomatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until bubbling and tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil
(Recipe courtesy Scott Conannt, copyright 2004)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
20 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
Pinch crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1-ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, (about 2 tablespoons)

In a wide pan over medium-high heat, heat 1/3 cup of olive oil until quite hot. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and season lightly with the salt and pepper. (I always start with a light hand with the salt and pepper because as the tomatoes reduce, the salt will become concentrated.) Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes finely. (This will be easier to do as the tomatoes begin to heat up.) Cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened.
Meanwhile, stack and roll the basil leaves into a cylinder and cut thinly crosswise into a chiffonade.
Bring a large pot of amply salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente. Reserve a little of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook over medium-high heat, gently tossing the pasta and the sauce together with a couple of wooden spoons and a lot of exaggerated movement (you can even shake the pan) until the pasta is just tender and the sauce, if any oil had separated from it, now looks cohesive. (If the sauce seems too thick, add a little pasta cooking liquid to adjust it.) Take the pan off of the heat and toss the butter, basil and cheese with the pasta in the same manner (the pasta should take on an orange hue) and serve immediately.

Cook's Note: Here is a good tip for peeling and seeding tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Cut a small shallow X on the bottom of each tomato. Ease about 5 tomatoes into the pot and cook for about 15 seconds, and then promptly move them to the ice water. (Do this with the remaining tomatoes.) Pull off the skin with the tip of a paring knife. If the skin sticks, try a vegetable peeler using a gentle sawing motion. Cut the tomatoes in half and use your finger to flick out the seeds.

Tomato "Carpaccio" with Arugula and Herb Salad
(Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello)

For the vinaigrette, use whatever herbs you like, but I recommend a mixture of 50 percent basil or parsley. The vinaigrette can be prepped but not assembled ahead of time, since it does not benefit from a long maceration period.
For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
2 cups red and/or yellow tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 to 3 tomatoes)
5 ounces Sweet 100 tomatoes, cut ½, 1 cup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 large red and/or yellow tomatoes, about 8 ounces each, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces (about 6 cups) fresh baby arugula
2-ounce chunk Parmesan

For the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, shallots, and garlic. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to form an emulsion. Add the chopped herbs. Stir in the diced tomatoes and Sweet 100's and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
To assemble: On a round platter, arrange the sliced tomatoes in concentric circles, slightly overlapping the slices and alternating colors if using both red and yellow tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the tomatoes from the vinaigrette over the sliced tomatoes, leaving some of the vinaigrette in the bowl. Toss the arugula in the bowl with the remaining vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the arugula in the middle of the platter. Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin slices of Parmesan over the tomatoes and arugula. Pass freshly ground black pepper. Serve at room temperature.

More green peppers

these are from

1 1/2 cups dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
2 quarts plus 1/4 cup water
1 large green bell pepper, chopped fine, reserving about 1 teaspoon for
1 small red onion, chopped fine, reserving about 1 teaspoon for garnish
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
2 tablespoons cider vinegar, or to taste
tortilla chips as an accompaniment

cherry peppers for garnish if desired

In a large saucepan let the beans soak in cold water to cover for 1 hour, drain them, and in the pan combine them with 2 quarts of the water. Bring the water to a boil and cook the beans at a slow boil for 1 hour, or until they are tender.
While the beans are cooking, in a large heavy skillet cook the bell pepper and the onion in the oil over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened. Drain the beans, reserving 1/2 cup of them, add the remaining beans to the bell pepper mixture with the remaining 1/4 cup water, and simmer the mixture, covered tightly, for 15 minutes, or until the beans are very tender. In a food processor blend the mixture with the vinegar and salt to taste, pulsing the motor until the mixture is combined well but not puréed smooth. Transfer the dip to a bowl and stir in the reserved 1/2 cup beans. The dip may be made 2 days in advance and kept covered and chilled. Garnish the dip with the reserved bell pepper and onion and serve it with the tortilla chips.
Makes about 3 cups.

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
1/4 cup tomato, finely diced
1/4 cup green pepper, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced

In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, diced onion, tomato, green bell pepper, and oregano. Add the salt and pepper, and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, salt, and pepper. Shape into eight 4-inch round, flat patties. Place a spoonful of the vegetable filling in the center of one patty, top with a second patty, press down firmly, and shape into a round, carefully sealing the sides by pinching together. Repeat with the remaining patties.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and sauté the sliced onions until lightly brown. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. Brown the hamburgers for about 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked to medium; return the onions to the pan and heat. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.

Turkey Stuffed Peppers

adapted from a recipe courtesy of Cathy Lowe (also found on

Haven't tried this, but I hear Alissa will have a wealth of green peppers in a bit.

4 red, green or yellow bell peppers, tops sliced off and chopped up
2 cups leftover rice or couscous
1 cup leftover chopped turkey (cooked ground turkey would probably work)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 scallions, chopped

Slice off tops of bell peppers, remove seeds and discard. Chop up the bell pepper tops and place into a large bowl. Add rice or couscous, chopped meat, dried basil, parsley, chopped pepper tops, chicken stock and scallions. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Stuff each pepper with filling and place in a square baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender

Green Pepper and Tomato Salad

Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray (from

2 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch dice
3 vine-ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced (1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 a palm full

Combine peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, parsley in a bowl with your fingertips. Squeeze the juice of the lemon with the lemon half sitting upright. This will help prevent the seeds from falling into the bowl. The lemon juice will spill down over the sides of the lemon and the seeds will remain with the fruit. Squeeze the juice evenly over the salad. If the lemon is under-ripe, microwave it for 10 seconds before you cut into it. Next, sprinkle a tablespoon of vinegar over the salad -- just eyeball it. Drizzle the extra-virgin olive oil over the salad, add the salt, pepper and cumin. Toss again. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

I haven't tried this yet, but it looks yummy.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

2 beefsteak tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 large lemon, zested, about 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 egg yolk
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat oven 450 degrees F.

For the baked stuffed tomatoes you need to make 4 tomato cups out of
your 2 tomatoes. To do so, cut a very thin slice off both ends of each
of the 2 tomatoes, this is to create 4 flat bottoms. Then cut each
tomato in half across its circumference. You should have 4 cup shapes,
using the thinly sliced side as the bottom of the cups. To create a
cavity, use a melon ball scoop to remove the seeds and pulp from the
wide, fleshy side of each tomato cup. You don't have to be too fussy
about this. You are just trying to create enough room to hold the
filling. When scooping take some care not to puncture through the
bottoms of the cups. If you do puncture it, don't worry, it is not the
end of the world, just keep moving forward. Season the inside of the
tomato cavities with salt and pepper. Reserve the seasoned tomato cups
while you make the filling.

In a small mixing bowl combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest,
cilantro, parsley, garlic, scallions, Parmigiano and season with salt
and pepper. Taste the mixture. This is your last chance to adjust the
seasoning. Once you're happy with the flavor, add the egg yolk and mix
thoroughly. Divide the filling between the 4 tomato cup cavities,
pushing it into the cavity with a rubber spatula or spoon. Drizzle
some extra-virgin olive oil into a baking dish. Arrange your stuffed
tomatoes in the dish, transfer to the hot oven, and bake for 15 to 17
minutes. The stuffing and the tomatoes should be fully cooked and the
top should be lightly brown.

Blasted Chicken

I got this one out of a Sarah Moulton cookbook, but the book is at home so I can't remember the name right now.

3.5 lb chicken (or close to that)
olive oil
granulated garlic

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle chicken with olive oil, then rub in. Season with salt, pepper and garlic.
Bake in oven for 45 minutes. *Note...I roasted an almost 4.5 pound chicken last night, and just added 15-20 minutes to it and it was fine.*
Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yum. The skin gets nice and crispy, and the chicken is really tasty. And, it takes no time at all, which means you could make roast chicken after work.

Also, decided to take Alissa/Gwen's suggestions and I made a yogurt sauce for the berries...vanilla yogurt, vanilla extract, a little brown sugar and a lot of cinnamon. I put it in the bottom of the bowl (or tupperware container) and added sliced strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Yum.

I've got three orange tomatoes I need to do something with (yay farmers market!). Any suggestions, other than just slicing and eating?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

orzo with snap peas and summer squash

Another installment in my obsession with pasta salad, part 87 million...

I was watching a cooking show on PBS this weekend -- it turned out to be Everyday Food, which seems to have some connection to M*rtha St*wart, which makes me like it a little less -- that had a bunch of really good-sounding Greek recipes, and one of them was this one. I didn't catch the whole thing and am not exactly sure about amounts of the main ingredients, but I have a feeling you can't go too wrong. The woman making it didn't seem to be measuring much, and she did give the amounts for the dressing. Just guessing, though -- for some reason, the website doesn't have the actual recipe for this one posted. I blame Martha.

Cook 1 box (?) orzo. When water is boiling, toss into the same pot a bunch of halved snap peas with the strings removed and 2 small yellow squash, diced into medium pieces. (Not sure how long the water was boiling before the veggies went in, but I think they stay in just long enough for them to be blanched, so I'm figuring the orzo was at least half-cooked.)

When veggies are tender but still crunchy, drain whole thing in strainer and return to pot.

Into the same pot, add 3T lemon juice, 2T olive oil and 2T grated parmesan.

Serve warm or cold.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Green beans

It's also the season for fresh green beans, and I've got a bunch of those in the fridge, too, that I'll cook tomorrow for dinner. How are you cooking your green beans these days?
We do it a couple ways in our house:
Steam them
Stirfry with sesame oil and some soy sauce and chili flakes (but that's too hot for Gaby)
Cook in a pot of water with some olive oil and salt until soft
Or...Ernie's favorite...cook in a pot of water with some bacon pieces, until soft. Of course, that's the least good for you, but it's the tastiest.


So, I know I'm the only person I know who likes beets, but it's the season for the things and I've been craving them.
Tonight I steamed a bunch (just wash, trim the tops and bottoms, cut in half, and put in the steamer), and tomorrow when they're cooled, I'll make a salad:

Beets, peeled and sliced thin (the skin will just rub right off after they've been steamed)
Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and just a little lime or lemon juice (I prefer lime)
Salt and pepper to taste
Toss to coat

I still can't find my salt and pepper shakers, but I do have some in the cabinent, so I'll quit being lazy and start cooking for reals now.
Anyone else eat beets? How do you cook them? You can also roast the greens of the beets, they taste a little like kale and are good with white beans, tomatoes and onions, all roasted together. C'mon...someone out there has to like fresh beets...they're good for you...and they turn your fingers pink (and it's natural, unlike marachino cherries)...and they make you pee pink, too, if you eat a bunch. Gaby loves that.

Strawberries, blueberries

I've got one carton of strawberries and two of blueberries in the fridge right now, and I need to do something with them in the next few days before they go bad (and before I go to the farmer's market). Any suggestions?