Sunday, December 18, 2011

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had to experiment a bit to come up with a recipe that closely resembles those of that famous bakery.  These cookies are like Paradise. ;) The tricks to keeping the cookies from spreading too much were to use shortening instead of butter and to hand mix rather than use an electric mixer. 


1/2 cup shortening (I used butter flavored Crisco)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the butter and sugar by hand.  Hand beat in egg and then add vanilla.  In separate bowl, sift or stir together flour, soda and salt.  Add to sugar mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and coconut.  Drop by rounded tablespoons (or use a cookie scoop) onto sprayed cookie sheet (or Silpat).  Bake approx. 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Yield: 2 dozen

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Corn Fritters with Roasted Tomatoes and Lime Aioli

This is a very impressive appetizer that is quite tasty and not too difficult to make. If you can make pancakes, you can make fritters! Original recipe taken from Cooking Light

8 ripe tomatoes, halved (the vine-ripe variety was a good size for me.)
olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups corn kernels (3 ears fresh)
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
Aioli Ingredients:
3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 garlic clove, minced

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Arrange tomato halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet (my Silpat works great for this). Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil; sprinkle with freshly ground cracked pepper. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and have lost a lot of their moisture. They should look a bit like sundried tomatoes - kind of flat. After 1 hour, check them every 15 minutes or so to make sure they don't burn.
3. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add milk and egg; stir until smooth. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon pepper, corn, green onions, and salt.
4. Heat some olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drop batter by level tablespoonfuls into pan; cook 2 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges are golden. Carefully turn fritters over; cook 2 minutes or until golden. Repeat procedure with remaining batter. (*This is just like cooking pancakes. Add more olive oil as needed in between batches.)
5. Combine mayonnaise, lime juice, and garlic.
6. Place one tomato half onto each fritter and drizzle with aioli.

Serves: 16

*NOTE: you can make these ahead of time (minus the aioli on top) and store in the freezer or fridge. You can heat them back up by baking for 10 minutes at 350° or in toaster oven on Medium.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Buttermilk Cornbread

I like cornbread. I *love* sweet cornbread. You know, the kind that almost tastes like a cake? And one that holds together and doesn't crumble into dust before you get it to your mouth (like a certain unnamed box version...).  This may be the world's perfect cornbread recipe. Or at least Lori's perfect cornbread recipe. Yum!  (taken from

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square pan.
  • Melt butter in large microwave-proof bowl. Stir in sugar, then add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture. Add cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Cool, then cut into 16 squares.
Yield: 16

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Flavored Butters

  • Avocado Butter
    6 ounces ripe avocado meat, approximately 2 small avocados
    1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    2 ounces unsalted butter, softened
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro leaves
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Peel and pit the avocados. Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process until well combined. Place mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper and shape into a log. Place in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours. Slice and serve with grilled fish or chicken.

Pumpkin Butter
Mash 1/4 c. canned pure pumpkin, 1 stick softened butter, 1/4 t. orange zest, 1/2 t. each suagr and pupmkin pie spice, and a pinch of salt. 

Bourbon-Raisin Butter
Microwave 1/2 c. raisins with 1 T. bourbon, covered, 45 seconds, let cool. Pulse in a food processor with 1 stick softened butter, 1 T. chopped chives and a pinch of salt. 

Citrus Herb Butter
1/2 lemon (juice of)
1/2 orange (juice of)
1/2 lime (juice of)
1 pound salted butter
1 tablespoon dried tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
In the bowl of a food processor or mixer, combine all ingredients. Beat until smooth, about 4 minutes. Add salt and sugar to taste. Pack into molds or a glass container with a lid, and refrigerate. Keeps up to 1 week.

Strawberry Butter
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sliced strawberries
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
Blend 1/2 c. butter, 1/2 c. sliced strawberries and 2 t. grated orange peel in blender or food processor until smooth.

Cinnamon Butter
1/2 cup butter -- softened
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix ingredients in bowl until light and fluffy.

Garlic Black Pepper Butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper, cracked
4 ounces salted butter
In a small sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the garlic and oil for 3-4, or until the garlic is soft and golden brown. Add the fresh cracked black pepper. Reduce heat to low. Add the butter and cook until melted, being careful to now allow the butter to boil. Remove from heat and skim off the salt and butterfat. 
Can be used as a butter dip for seafoods, or chill and use as a spread on breads, or steaks etc.

Onion Parmesan Butter
1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons sliced green onions
Stir together all ingredients until well mixed.

Shallot Thyme Butter
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until brown, about 4 minutes. Cool. Combine remaining 6 tablespoons butter and thyme in small bowl. Add shallot mixture and blend well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Orange Butter
1/2 cup softened butter
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
Combine butter, orange juice and orange peel; blend well. Serve with muffins or quick bread. 

Cranberry Butter
1/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup unsalted and softened butter
Mix cranberries and maple syrup with softened butter. Be sure not to over-mix or butter will turn pink. Place half the mixture in the butter crock and serve. Refrigerate remaining portion until ready to use. Scrumptious spread for warm waffles and pancakes.

Ginger Pecan Butter
3/4 cup Butter
1/2 cup Pecans; finely ground
2 tablespoons Ground crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon Brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Allspice
Mix together and store in refrigerator.

Bacon Herb Butter
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
8 strips crisp crumbled bacon
Mix well. 
Use on: Corn, potatoes, red beets, tomato halves, zucchini, green beans. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Andy's Favorite Brownies

My dear friend Sarah gave me a set of her favorite to-go recipes as part of my wedding gift, almost 10 years ago! Most of them are now my go-to recipes as well. :) This is the recipe for her husband's favorite brownies. I have made them countless times - with or without the melted chocolate chips on top. They are no-fail and fabulous.

3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup cocoa
3/4 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips + more to melt on top, if desired

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan and set aside.

Combine the ingredients in the order listed in a large bowl, beating after every addition. Pour the mixture into the pan. Bake 30-35 minutes or until the center is cooking or a toothpick comes out barely moist.

Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips for a really simple icing.

Cut into squares and serve warm.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Healthy Deep Dish Cookie Pie

I recently stumbled across a new food blog called Chocolate-Covered Katie. She creates healthy dessert recipes, featuring chocolate! A lot of her recipes are also gluten-free and vegan. While those diet restrictions don't apply to our family, I have more and more friends who are moving to strict diets and it's nice to have some recipes that I know everyone will be able to enjoy.

This deep-dish cookie pie caught my eye and I made it yesterday. The girls DEVOURED it. They didn't know what was in it, they just saw it's gooey, chocolate-chip yumminess and gobbled it up. It is made with oatmeal and garbanzo beans. BEANS! My girls ate beans! And they LOVED it! :)  Doug also ate a piece without knowing and he liked it as well. He said it's texture was "different" but he had no clue it was made with beans.

If you have picky eaters, like I do, you have to check out her site. I can't wait to try her "ice cream" and fudge pie.

Check out Katie's site for the full cookie pie recipe.

I have also made her Cookie Dough Baked Oatmeal for breakfast and it was delish!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Beef and Barley Casserole

Last week I had a need to make something from what we had on hand in the house. This casserole fit the bill. Granted, I had to break up some frozen hamburger patties in lieu of the ground beef, but it worked! Found from

2/3 cup uncooked barley
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 cup sliced carrots
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Soak the barley in warm water for 3 hours, then drain and set aside.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and stir in the ground beef and onion. Cook and stir until the beef is crumbly, evenly browned, and no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Drain and discard any excess grease, then stir in the carrots, soy sauce, molasses, drained barley, and 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir until the molasses has dissolved and the mixture has begun to simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then pour into a lidded 2 quart casserole.
Bake, covered, in the preheated oven until the barley is tender and has absorbed the water, about 1 hour.

Serves: 4

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rather Rich Corn Muffins

Rather Rich Corn Muffins 

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 cups heavy whipping cream (or half and half)
3 large eggs
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups coarse cornmeal plus extra to sprinkle over
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned corn, drained (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Generously grease 24 standard muffin cups of line them with disposable muffin wrappers.
Pour the butter, cream, and eggs into the large bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt on top. Mix at medium speed just until the ingredients are combined and not lumpy. Stir the corn into the batter
Using a medium-size ice cream scoop, fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full with the batter. Sprinkle cornmeal over the tops of the muffins. Bake the muffins for 12 to 15 minute, until lightly brown; they should spring back when you touch the tops lightly with your fingertips. They are best served warm, and are equally delicious roasted and if you dare, buttered.
*Instead of doing muffins you can also bake in a greased 9x13 baking pan for aprx. 15-20 minutes. 

Moroccan Chicken

I don't remember how I came across this Taste of Home recipe, but I'm glad I did! I've included my variations below. This is a perfect fall meal, warm and tasty. Moroccan comfort food!

4 medium carrots, sliced
2 large onions, halved and sliced
3 to 4 pounds skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon pepper
Hot cooked couscous (* 3 cups uncooked couscous)

Place carrots and onions in a greased 5-qt. slow cooker. (*The onions and carrots were barely cooked through. I will saute them a bit first next time before adding to slow cooker).

Sprinkle chicken with salt; add to slow cooker. Top with apricots and raisins. In a small bowl, combine flour and broth until smooth; whisk in the tomato paste, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cumin, cinnamon and pepper.

Pour over chicken.

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or until chicken is tender. Serve with couscous.

Yield: 6 servings.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Pop Tarts

The girls had gotten into a habit of having pop tarts for breakfast each morning. This was fine with me, as they are a fast and easy way to get them fed. However, after we started trying to eliminate food dye from Elise's diet  (for potty issues) the pop tarts were off-limits.  Then I found this recipe from smitten kitchen for homemade pop tarts. With a little frosting (powdered sugar and milk) on top, the girls ate them right up! A great healthier alternative to the store bought version. :) I made the Cinnamon Sugar version, but plan to try the jam filling soon.


2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) milk

1 additional large egg (to brush on pastry)

Cinnamon Filling (enough for 9 tarts)
1/2 cup (3 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling


To make cinnamon filling: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.

Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter with your fingers, pastry blender or food processor until pea-sized lumps of butter are still visible, and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. If you’ve used a food processor, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk the first egg and milk together and stir them into the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive, kneading briefly on a well-floured counter if necessary.

Divide the dough in half (approximately 8 1/4 ounces each), shape each half into a smooth rectangle, about 3×5 inches. You can roll this out immediately (see Warm Kitchen note below) or wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Assemble the tarts: If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9″ x 12″. [You can use a 9" x 13" pan, laid on top, as guidance.] Repeat with the second piece of dough. Set trimmings aside. Cut each piece of dough into thirds – you’ll form nine 3″ x 4″ rectangles.

Beat the additional egg and brush it over the entire surface of the first dough. This will be the “inside” of the tart; the egg is to help glue the lid on. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, keeping a bare 1/2-inch perimeter around it. Place a second rectangle of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around the pocket of filling, sealing the dough well on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Repeat with remaining tarts.

Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don’t need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350°F.

Bake the tarts: Remove the tarts form the fridge, and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Cool in pan on rack.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spiced Pumpkin Waffles

I had some canned pumpkin leftover from some muffins I made and pumpkin waffles sounded like an appealing way to put it to use. I was lucky to find this recipe from and with a few tweaks, it immediately became a fall favorite.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 2/3 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl.
In a second bowl, add eggs, sugar, pumpkin, milk, and butter; beat well.
Gently fold in the flour mixture.
Cook according to your waffle iron directions.

I served these with the "homemade fabulous syrup" which made them to die for!

Yield: 5 waffles

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cranberry-Orange Pancakes with Cranberry-Maple Syrup

These are really delicious - we didn't quite use a full cup of fresh cranberries in either the batter or the syrup. 


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • large egg
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
  • Cranberry-Maple Syrup


  • 1. Whisk together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together buttermilk and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, and stir until just blended. Stir in cranberries.
  • 2. Pour 1/3 cup batter for each pancake onto a lightly greased hot griddle or nonstick skillet. Cook 2 to 4 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look dry and cooked; turn, and cook 1 minute or until lightly browned. Keep warm. Serve with Cranberry-Maple Syrup.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Basic Pizza Dough

This is the less healthy version of pizza dough that I will sometimes make.  I received this recipe from a college roommate my senior year.

1 pkg (1 Tbsp) dry yeast
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter or margarine
1/2 tsp salt
2 c. flour


  1. Place all of dry ingredients into large bowl and mix.
  2. Place milk, water and butter in liquid measuring cup and microwave 1 minute.
  3. Mix together until forms sticky dough.
  4. Knead 3 minutes on floured table top. 
  5. Keep in warm place 20 minutes or until a good size.
  6. Put in pizza pan and add sauce and desired toppings.
  7. Bake at 450 degrees F for 15 min.

Yield: 1 pizza

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

We make pizza a lot. I've already shared my 30-minute pizza dough recipe (for when you're in a time crunch), but here's a good one to make when you have time to plan ahead. This healthy dough can be made in the bread machine, or you can hand/machine knead for 10-15 minutes and let rise for an hour. I got this recipe from my friend, Sarah's pizza cookbook. 

1/2 c. warm water (105 - 115 degrees F)
1 (1/4 oz) envelope active dry yeast
2 tsp honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 c. cool water

Dissolve yeast in water and combine all ingredients. Use desired method of kneading and rising.

Bake at 450 degrees F for 12 minutes.

Yield: 1 large pizza pie

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pumpkin Pie French Toast

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons brown sugar
8 slices of bread

1. Mix the eggs, milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, mutmeg and brown sugar in low flat bowl for easy dipping.
2. Dip the bread into the egg mixture on both sides and grill in a pan until lightly golden brown, about 2-3 minute per side.
3. Serve with maple syrup.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies

This is one of my tried and true recipes. It uses shortening, so it's a good one to make when you're low on butter. These come out perfect on my Silpats and are chewy and delicious. This recipe was found in my grandma's church cookbook from many years ago.

2/3 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine shortening, brown sugar, water and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed until well blended. Beat in eggs as well. Combine flour, cocoa, soda and salt; add into creamed mixture at low speed until just blended. Fold in chips and nuts.

Drop rounded dough onto greased cookie sheet (or use a Silpat). Bake 10 minutes. Do not over-bake. Cool on sheet for 5 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 3 dozen

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quinoa with Roasted Veggies and Feta

I jumped onto the quinoa bandwagon and so far have enjoyed the ride.  It's pronouced "kin-wah," by the way, and it not easy to find in the grocery store.  Look for it by the specialty rice and couscous.  This recipe is from Taste of Home and was delicious. Quinoa reminds me a lot of couscous. It is basically seeds and is cooked a lot like rice. It is high in protein and fiber and other healthy stuff.


3 medium carrots
2 small zucchini
2 medium sweet red peppers, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can (15-1/4 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup minced fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese


  • Cut carrots and zucchini in half and into 1/2-in. slices; place in a large bowl. Add the peppers, onion, oil, garlic, oregano, pepper and salt; toss to coat. Transfer to a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray.
  • Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Stir in corn; bake 25-30 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender. Set aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat; fluff with a fork.
  • Transfer quinoa to a large bowl; stir in the vegetables, parsley and basil. Sprinkle with cheese; serve with lemon. 

Yield: 6 servings.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Pear Butter

My friend Kristi mentioned that she attempted some pear butter for her kids, as they are starting the elimination diet. Doesn't that sound fabulous? (the pear butter, NOT the elimination diet...) When I found pears 10 for $10 at Kroger, it was game time. It came out pretty much the same consistency of my apple butter recipe - very spreadable and delicious.

5 lbs pears (about 10 pears)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon (*I used Cinnamon Plus)

Wash pears, then quarter and remove seeds and skins.  Put into dutch oven with 3/4 water and boil for 30 minutes or until very soft. Remove from heat, drain and mash with whatever you have that mashes well. (I used a slotted spoon).  Return to pot and add sugar, OJ and cinnamon.  Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low heat, stirring every hour or so for about three hours or until reduced to a spreadable consistency.

This made about 36 oz of pear butter. I put half in a container to freeze and half in the fridge to enjoy!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Chicken Marsala Rigatoni

This is a copycat recipe for Maggiano's Rigatoni "D." I've actually never had this at Maggiano's, but I sure liked the sound of the ingredients. It's been in my recipe hopper for awhile now, but with the rosemary focaccia rising, we needed an Italian meal worthy of it. This was quite good, but could have used even more garlic and a bit more salt. Will definitely make again.


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces button mushrooms
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 teaspoons garlic, minced (*Or more, if you like garlic!)
Salt and pepper
1 lb chicken breasts, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 quart chicken stock
2 - 4 ounces Marsala wine (* I found some in the cooking wine section)
2 ounces white wine
1/2 quart heavy cream
1 lb rigatoni pasta
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
2 ounces garlic butter (* I used regular butter)
parmesan cheese, shavings (garnish)
chopped fresh parsley (garnish)


  • Heat oil and caramelize onions over medium high heat. Cook them until them until they brown.
  • In a separate skillet, saute mushrooms with balsamic vinegar. The vinegar will reduce down considerably.
  • Add onions to the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. 
  • Add garlic and heat just until you smell it - about 30 seconds.
  • Add chicken and stir to incorporate. Then add chicken stock, Marsala, and white wine. Cook until reduced by half.
  • Add cream and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer to thicken the sauce further. (* I sprinkled some flour in a few times to help thicken the sauce a bit. It is a fairly thin sauce.)
  • Cook rigatoni al dente.
  • Add drained rigatoni to chicken mixture in pan and finish with basil-parsley mix, parmesan cheese, garlic butter, and salt and pepper. Add more Marsala (*Or salt/pepper) for flavor, if desired.  
  • Place in pasta bowl and garnish with parmesan shavings and chopped parsley/basil.
Serves: 6

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The BEST Rosemary Focaccia

I've been wanting to try the Cook's Illustrated version of Rosemary Focaccia for some time now, but it is a bit time-intensive. This past weekend we were home with no plans, so I gave it a whirl. This bread is not a beginner's bread, although it was not difficult. It uses a biga (starter) which you need to do the night before and has FIVE, yes, FIVE rises.  That said, it was out of this world good. Crispy crust, soft, airy insides. Perfect amount of rosemary and salt on top. Wow.  Not something I'd make a lot, but it's a show-stopper.


1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (2 2/3 ounces) warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour , plus extra for shaping
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary


1. FOR THE BIGA: Combine flour, water, and yeast in large bowl and stir with
wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1
minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature
(about 70 degrees) overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.) Use
immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 3 days (allow to stand at room
temperature 30 minutes before proceeding with recipe.)
2. FOR THE DOUGH: Stir flour, water, and yeast into biga with wooden spoon
until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover with
plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 5 minutes.
3. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt over dough; stir into dough until thoroughly
incorporated, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room
temperature 30 minutes. Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with nonstick
cooking spray; fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding
edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl and
fold dough 6 more times (total of 8 turns). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise
for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning, and rising 2 more times, for total of
three 30-minute rises. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position,
place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees at least 30 minutes
before baking.
4. Gently transfer dough to lightly floured counter . Lightly dust top of dough
with flour and div ide in half. Shape each piece of dough into 5-inch round by
gently tucking under edges. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons
olive oil each. Sprinkle each pan with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Place round of
dough in pan, top side down; slide dough around pan to coat bottom and sides,
then flip over. Repeat with second piece of dough. Cover pans with plastic wrap
and let rest for 5 minutes.
5. Using fingertips, press dough out toward edges of pan. (If dough resists
stretching, let it relax for 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.) Using dinner
fork, poke surface of dough 25 to 30 times, popping any large bubbles. Sprinkle
rosemary evenly over top of dough. Let dough rest until slightly bubbly, 5 to 10
6. Place pans on baking stone and reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees. Bake
until tops are golden brown, 25 to 28 minutes, switching placement of pans
halfway through baking. Transfer pans to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes.
Remove loaves from pan and return to wire rack. Brush tops with any oil
remaining in pan. Let cool 30 minutes before serving.

Blueberry Syrup

I had some blueberries that were starting to go bad. You know, too mushy to eat but not yet moldy. How better to use them up than to make a delicious blueberry syrup for dinner? We have waffles/pancakes for dinner at least twice a month. It's a good, quick dinner to make when the fridge is empty (and so is the pocketbook!).  This syrup/sauce was A-MAZ-ING! I stored it in the fridge and heated up for a second meal a couple days later. It was a little more jelly-like, but still very tasty.  This recipe was found on


2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup water
1 cup orange juice
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cold water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the blueberries, 1/4 cup of water, orange juice, and sugar. 
  • Stir gently, and bring to a boil.
  • In a cup or small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water. 
  • Gently stir the cornstarch mixture into the blueberries so as not to mash the berries. 
  • Simmer gently until thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, 3 to 4 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and stir in the almond extract and cinnamon. 
  • Thin sauce with water if it is too thick for your liking.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

I had harvested the last zucchini of the year, so we had to do something special with it.  A recipe featured on Lick the Bowl Good caught my eye- Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake. I had purchased a Pampered Chef stone bundt pan from a garage sale for a mere $2. It had never been used! The time was right to break it in. I added a chocolate glaze for a finishing touch and oh my heavens, if you have a bundt pan you MUST try this cake. MUST.


1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup sour cream
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (* I left this out and it was still amazing)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For Chocolate Glaze:
3 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
2 -3 tablespoons hot water


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan and dust with unsweetened cocoa powder or spray liberally with nonstick spray.

Whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla in a large glass measuring cup and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.

With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Add 1/2 of the sour cream mixture. Repeat alternating flour and sour cream mixtures and end with the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary between additions.

Stir in the zucchini, chocolate chips and nuts, if using.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. (Mine took 65 minutes to bake). Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Combine ingredients for glaze and spoon over top of bundt cake, allowing to drizzle down the sides.

Slice and serve.

Store the uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

Ok - one more Mexican dish from and I need to go! These were super-duper good. Doug ate about 10 of them in one sitting. No joke.


1/3 C (3 oz) cream cheese
1/4 C green salsa (* I used green enchilada sauce)
1 T fresh lime juice
1/2 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t granulated garlic (* I used powdered garlic - I think that is what they meant?)
3 T chopped cilantro
2 T sliced green onions

2 C shredded cooked chicken
1 C grated pepperjack cheese (*I used Monterey Jack)

small corn tortillas
kosher salt
cooking spray


Heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. (* Or use a Silpat!)

Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds so it's soft and easy to stir. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and granulated garlic. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.

You can prepare up to this step ahead of time. Just keep the mixture in the fridge.

Work with a few tortillas at a time and heat in the microwave until they are soft enough to roll without cracking. It helps to place them between damp paper towels. Usually 20-30 seconds will do it. If you find yours are cracking when you roll them or come unrolled right away, just try heating them longer and try the paper towel thing.

(* This was time consuming. I could only do 2 at a time without them cracking. A second pair of hands would have kept the assembly line moving).

Place 2-3 T of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges.

Then roll it up as tight as you can.

Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and sprinkle some kosher salt on top.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.

Quick and Easy Black Beans

I wanted a nice side-dish to go with these Mexican meals I've been making lately. These were quite good! I am becoming a huge fan of Our Best Bites. This is another one of their fabulous recipes.


2 Cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 T olive oil
2/3 C diced onion
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
2/3 C chicken broth (or water, I use broth for extra flavor)
1/4 t cumin
1/4 t coriander
1/4 t oregano
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 lime


In a saucepan on the stove, heat the olive oil to med-high heat. Saute onions for about 3 minutes or until they just start to become translucent. Add garlic and saute abut 30 seconds more. Add beans, broth, and remaining seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and simmer for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. When they are done cooking, remove from heat and add in a few squeezes of fresh lime juice. Then use the back of a spoon or rubber spatula so smoosh (yes, that’s a technical culinary term) some of the beans. (* I found that a beater from my hand mixer was quite effective). You don’t want to pulverize them, but you want to take a bunch of good smooshes so that some of the beans are smashed, which will thicken the sauce. I like mine on the thicker side so I smoosh quite a bit. They will thicken more upon standing.

If you want a more soupy consistency, just add a little more broth.

Yield: Six 1/3 cup servings

Carnita-Style Beef Tacos

I found this recipe on the Pioneer Woman, courtesy of Pam Anderson. It looked SO delicious, I knew I had to try it. I am so thankful that God "fixed" me and I miraculously now love peppers! I altered the recipe a bit to make it in my slow-cooker.  I was excited to use a lot of my garden produce in this recipe!


1 boneless chuck roast, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds (* I used two chuck steaks 1 1/5 lbs each)
3 tablespoons pure olive oil, divided
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and ground black pepper
1 can (4.5 ounces each) chopped green chiles (* I used 3 fresh jalapenos from my garden)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken broth
2 medium-large onions, ends left in tact, peeled and each onion cut into 8 wedges
2  medium multi-colored peppers, each cut into 8 wedges
(* Next time I will double the onions and peppers because they were SO yummy!)
1 dozen medium flour tortillas
1 container (8 ounces) light or regular sour cream
1 bunch cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges


Heat a 5 to 6-quart heavy oven-safe Dutch oven or large cast iron skillet over low heat.

Meanwhile, place roast in a large bowl; coat with 1 tablespoon of oil and season with 1 tablespoon of the cumin and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Mix chiles, chili powder, remaining 1 teaspoon of cumin, and oregano in a small bowl.

A few minutes before searing, increase heat to a strong medium-high until wisps of smoke start to rise from the pan. Add roast; sear, turning only once, until both sides form an impressive brown crust, about 8 minutes total. Transfer roast to a plate; set aside. Add garlic to the now empty pot; sauté until fragrant and golden, about 30 seconds. Add chili mixture; sauté to intensify flavor, another 30 seconds. Add chicken broth, bring to a simmer.

Transfer roasts to crockpot and pour broth over it.  Cover and turn on high for 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Return roasts to pot. Using 2 potholders to protect hands, place a sheet of heavy-duty foil over the pot, pressing on the foil so that it touches the stew. Seal foil around the edges; repeat with a second sheet of foil to completely seal. Turn burner on medium-high until you hear juices bubble. Set pot on middle oven rack; cook for a total of 1 1/2 hours.

Remove roast from oven/crockpot, cool to room temperature, and shred into bite size pieces. About 30 minutes before roast is done, toss onions and peppers with remaining 2 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper on a baking sheet large enough for vegetables to fit in a single layer. Place pan on bottom oven rack; cook until tender-crisp, about 30 minutes. (* If you double the peppers and onions you will need two pans. I used my Silpat for this - worked like a charm.)

When ready to serve, gently warm meat and peppers and onions over low heat. Serve with warm tortillas*, bowls of sour cream, cilantro sprigs, and lime wedges.

*We have taken to heating our tortillas over the gas flames on our range and flipping with tongs. It really gives it more of a homemade taste.


Rosemary Focaccia Bread

With all my wonderful rosemary growing out in the garden, I had a hankering to make some bread with it.  I had to search to find a recipe that didn't require a biga (since I wanted to make and eat it within the same day). This one from was pretty good! Next time I'll have to plan ahead and try the CooksIllustrated version.


1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (regular table salt)
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Coarse salt (*I used sea salt)


Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water, and let sit 10 minutes until bubbly.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, table salt, yeast mixture and remaining water. *I added half the chopped rosemary into the dough at this point.

Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon and then your hands.

Transfer to a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few minutes or until smooth.

Place in a well oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down and place on an oiled baking sheet, forming into an oval or circle.

Dimple the top surface with your finger tips, and then drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and remaining rosemary.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake about 20 minutes or until golden.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

2008 Ellie Krieger, All Rights Reserved

Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
30 min
4 servings, serving size 1/2 cup


  • Cooking spray
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound total)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (3/4-ounce)
  • 1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and a few turns of pepper. Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove with spatula. Serve immediately.

Tomato Salad

Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine

Prep Time:
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
5 min


Cut 1 1/2 pounds mixed tomatoes into wedges; season with salt and pepper. Cook 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 2 teaspoons brown sugar in a small skillet over medium heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes; remove from the heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Drizzle over the tomatoes; top with snipped chives and basil. **I like to toss in a few chunks of fresh mozzerella cheese too!** Delicous!

Couscous-Stuffed Peppers with Basil Sauce

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Prep Time:
15 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
1 hr 0 min
4 servings



  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup couscous
  • 1 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 1 packed cup chopped baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium red bell peppers
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper
  • 1 medium orange bell pepper
  • Hot water, as needed


  • 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) creme fraiche
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus extra, as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra, as needed


Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Filling: In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and cumin to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover the pan until the couscous is tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 to 6 minutes. Put the couscous in a large bowl and add the beans, currants, spinach, feta and 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir until all the ingredients are combined.
Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all the ribs and seeds. If necessary, cut a very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up. Stuff the peppers with the filling and drizzle the tops with olive oil. Put the peppers in an 8 by 8-inch square baking dish. Fill the baking dish with 3/4-inch hot water and bake until the filling is golden and the peppers are cooked through, about 55 to 60 minutes. Cooks Note: If the filling begins to brown too quickly, cover the pan with foil.)
Sauce: In a blender, combine the basil, creme fraiche, olive oil, water, garlic, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.
Remove the peppers from the oven and arrange on serving plates. Spoon the sauce around the peppers and serve.

Summer Squash Casserole

 Summer Squash Casserole
This rich, creamy side with its crunchy topping would make a wonderful dish to take to summer potlucks and picnics or to pair up with a wide variety of entrees. Our taste testers loved the buttery flavor and dubbed it “comfort veggies”! Jennifer Wallace — Canal Winchester, Ohio
10 ServingsPrep: 20 min. Bake: 25 min.


  • 2 medium yellow summer squash, diced
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup crushed butter-flavored crackers (about 25 crackers)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted


  • In a large skillet, saute the summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms and
  • onion in oil until tender; drain.
  • In a large bowl, combine the vegetable mixture, cheese, soup, sour
  • cream and salt. Transfer to a greased 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish.
  • Combine cracker crumbs and butter. Sprinkle over vegetable mixture.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.
  • Yield: 10 servings.

Zucchini Garden Chowder

 Zucchini Garden Chowder
Years ago, when my husband and I put in our first garden, a neighbor suggested zucchini since it's easy to grow. Our kids were reluctant to try new things, so I used our squash in this cheesy chowder—it met with solid approval from all of us! —Nanette Jordan, Flint, Michigan
8-10 ServingsPrep/Total Time: 30 min.


  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/3 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • Pinch sugar, optional
  • Additional minced fresh parsley, optional


  • In a Dutch oven, saute the zucchini, onion, parsley and basil in
  • butter until vegetables are tender. Stir in the flour, salt and
  • pepper. Gradually stir in water. Add the bouillon and lemon juice.
  • Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  • Add the tomatoes, milk and corn; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover
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2 of 2

Zucchini Garden Chowder (continued)

Directions (continued)

  • and simmer for 5 minutes or until corn is tender.
  • Just before serving, add cheeses; stir until melted. Stir in sugar.
  • Garnish with parsley if desired. Yield: 8-10 servings (about 2-1/2
  • quarts).