Friday, November 18, 2016

Breakfast for Supper

Breakfast. I don't love it, especially in the mornings. I am usually happy with a cup of yogurt and a piece of fruit or a piece of cheese toast. This is something that I have dealt with all of my life. My sister would chow down on eggs over easy with the yolk running all over the plate, but I have never been a big fan of eggs. Then, one day Mom discovered that she could give me a Pop Tart and call it a hot breakfast. Brown sugar an cinnamon Pop Tarts got me through my teen years.

But every now and then, I want breakfast for supper. Recently, I decided to try biscuits once again and pulled up a recipe from the White Lily website. I didn't love'em. I am willing to take the blame for this one; I did not use White Lily flour, but instead I used what I had on hand, a no name brand of flour from Aldi's. I will try again one day, and keep trying until I succeed.

Tonight I had a craving for pancakes and when the craving strikes, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. I used Lucinda Scala Quinn's recipe for Old Fashioned Pancakes.

Old Fashioned Pancakes



1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for serving
Vegetable oil, for the griddle
Pure maple syrup, warmed, for serving

Place a heat-proof platter into a warm oven (at 200 degrees).
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add in the egg, milk, and 2 tablespoons of the butter. Whisk from the center, slowly incorporating the flour. Rest the batter for 10 minutes.
Heat a large well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or favorite griddle over medium-high heat. Swirl the remaining tablespoon of butter in the skillet (or use oil to coat the griddle) and immediately pour in 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. When bubbles rise to the surface, flip the pancakes, slightly reduce the heat, and cook until the bottoms are golden and the centers are cooked, about 1 minute. (Rarely does the first pancake work because it takes a bit of time to get in the groove with the heat, fat, and batter.)
As the pancakes come out of the skillet, place them on the warm platter in the oven until ready to serve. Serve a stack of 3 pancakes, topped with more butter and the maple syrup.

These are thick and fluffy, light as air and delicious. They are not pretty, but again, I will take the blame for that. I seldom make pancakes, and when I do, they almost never look like the ones in photos.

Have you ever seen a TV chef taste something and come out with something like an orgasmic sigh and eye roll? These pancakes literally made me do that with each bite, sitting alone in my kitchen. A little drizzle of maple syrup and a little dab of salted butter was all they needed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Not Your Typical Hot Day Meal

I had an aunt who could neither read nor write. Now we know that suffered from dislexia, but it was not a known ailment 90 years ago. However, she made two things that I have never had better...fried apple pies and chicken and dumplings. No written recipes, so no one knows how to recreate either. I have, over the years, tried my hand at fried apple pies to some success, but my best attempt at chicken and dumplings has been a slow cooker recipe with canned biscuits and cream of chicken soup.

So I decided on a day of record heat to try a recipe from scratch. I searched the net for a recipe and found the one below on

Chicken and Dumplings

1 large fryer chicken, cut up
2 celery ribs, sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2 c chicken broth
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 tbs dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

2 c all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 tbs oil*

1. Combine chicken, celery, carrots, onion, chicken broth, bouillon, parsley, salt and pepper in a large pot and add enough water to cover cicken.
2. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for two hours or until chicken is done.**
3. Remove chicken and let cool until it is easy to handle. Remove skin and bones and shred chicken. Dispose of bones and skin and add chicken back to pot.
4. Add more salt and/or pepper if needed. Return to simmer.
5. In a large mixing bowl, combine dumpling ingredients and mix until forms a stiff dough.
6. Drop by tablespoons into simmering soup. Cover and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
7. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

*I used canola oil, but corn or vegetable oil will do.
**My chicken was done in about 90 minutes, so start checking early.

This will never compare with Aunt Alma's, but it will do. Peppery, creamy, with light, fluffy dumplings, it will do.

Thursday, October 27, 2016


I have signed up for King Arthur Flour's Baking for Good and have been a baking fool. I am fascinated by scones and have, in the past, not been happy with the recipes I've tried. I found this recipe on the King Arthur website and gave it a whirl.


2 3/4 c unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 c sugar*
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 cold butter
1 to 2 cups dried fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, or combination**
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla***
1/2 to 3/4 cup half and half or milk****

2 tbsp milk
2 tbs cinnamon sugar

Whisk together flour, sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Work in butter until it is unevenly crumbly. Stir in fruit and nuts.

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In another bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, and milk or half and half. Add to dry ingredients and stir until all is moist and holds together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle with flour. Scrape dough onto parchment and form into two rounds, approx 6" in diameter and 3/4" thick.*****

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Brush each round of dough with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Run a knife under cold water and cut each round into six pieces. separate wedges, leaving 1/2" between each. Place pan in freezer for 30 minutes.

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Remove pan from freezer and place in a 25 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool briefly and serve warm.

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*I used 1/2 cup of sugar for a sweeter scone.
**I used what I had, 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and 1/2 cup chopped pecans.
***I used 2 tsps of baking emulsion. photo 20161022_154411_zps6hdznz4v.jpg
****I had milk and I had heavy cream, so I made half and half.
*****Cover the dough with a piece of plastic wrap to shape it and keep your hands clean.

These are moist and delicious. I think that the next time I make this recipe, I will use chocolate chips and almonds and almond extract.

My Dad had a birthday this week and I decided to make for him his favorite carrot cake. This recipe is from the October 1994 issue of Bon Appetite.

Three Layer Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves 10.

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups finely grated peeled carrots (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (about 1/2 ounce)
1/2 cup raisins

4 cups powdered sugar
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

For cake:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper. Lightly grease waxed paper. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and vegetable oil in bowl until combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into sugar and oil mixture. Stir in carrots, chopped pecans and raisins.

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Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing equally.
Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and cakes begin to pull away from sides of pans, about 45 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 15 minutes.
Turn out cakes onto racks and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature.)

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For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in medium bowl until smooth and creamy.

Place 1 cake layer on platter.
Spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with another cake layer. Spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Using icing spatula, spread remaining frosting in decorative swirls over sides and top of cake. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.) Serve cake cold or at room temperature.

Turn out cakes onto racks and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature.)

For frosting:
Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in medium bowl until smooth and creamy.

Place 1 cake layer on platter.
Spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with another cake layer. Spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Using icing spatula, spread remaining frosting in decorative swirls over sides and top of cake. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.) Serve cake cold or at room temperature.

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This cake is spicy, and rich, and delicious. And the frosting is the best cream cheese frosting, ever. I use it often for other cakes.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Big Blonde Moment

I decided to try my hand at brioche. I searched the internet and found a very detailed and informative recipe that seemed ideal for a beginner. I had the recipe for a few days before actually trying it because the timing for brioche is complicated if you have, you know, a life. I made the batter yesterday and did the baking today. This will be explained later. The recipe comes from


2 sticks of butter at room temperature
1 tbs active dry yeast
1/2 c warm milk
1/4 c sugar
6 large eggs
2 tsp salt
4 to 4 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1 tbs water


1. Combine the milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand for a few minutes.

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Add sugar and eggs and stir until fully blended. Add the salt and 4 cups of flour until it forms a shaggy dough. I think this looks shaggy.

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2. Using the dough hook, knead the dough for 2 minutes, until flour is fully absorbed and dough pulls away from sides of bowl.

3. Increase mixer speed and begin adding butter, I tablespoon at a time, making sure that each tablespoon is fully incorporated before adding the next. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides. Beat for five minutes. Dough should be glossy and jiggle like custard.

4. Loosely cover and move to a warm place. Allow 1 to 1 1/2 hours to rise.

5. When dough has doubled in size, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight. If it looks as though the dough will spill over the sides of the bowl, lift the wrap and degas but do not punch.

6. The next day, prepare two loaf pans. Remove dough from fridge and place on floured board. Divide the dough in half. I formed half into a standard loaf. The other half I rolled into 6 round balls and placed in the loaf pan to resemble a braid.

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7. Whisk together egg yolk and water and brush over top of loaves.

8. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

9. Remove from and oven and cool for 5 minutes in the pans. Gently remove from pans and allow to cool on a rack.

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I should note, here, that I have never had brioche and it is not easily found living out in the sticks, so I really have nothing to compare it with.

For dinner tonight, I made a pot of creamy tomato soup (recipe found here and sliced the bread thin and made sandwiches with honey mustard, smoked turkey, cheddar cheese, bacon, slice apple, and butter then toasted it. There are no pictures because they were gobbled up quickly.

Now to the blonde moment. While reading the recipe, I looked at degas and for some reason saw Degas, the famous French impressionist. I was so confused and assumed it was a term known to advance bakers. I Googled it and was even more confused because they all talked about punching the dough. This morning, the light bulb went off over my head and realized it was de-gas, or remove the gas bubbles. I have laughed all day, thinking about it.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Magic in the Air

Two new recipes this week, and I did them both on the same day. First the entree.

I often make a dish called South of the Border Stuffed Shells that came from a former member of the Contessa's Kitchen discussion board in which jumbo shells are stuffed with seasoned meat, placed in a dish of salsa, covered with salsa, sprinkled with Monterey Jack cheese, and baked. It makes a lot and is great for potluck dinners. But I had always wanted to try a traditional, Italian stuffed shells. So, like any 21st century cook, I took to the internet and found this recipe.

Two things were different. I had made a very large pot of marinara a couple of months ago and had put several containers in the freezer. I pulled one out for this dish. And the recipe called for Italian seasoning, which I did not have, so I just winged it. So, this is my version.

Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells.

24 jumbo shells
15 oz Ricotta cheese
1 10 oz pkg frozen spinach
1 large egg
1 c grated parmesan chees
2 c grated mozerella cheese
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Pinch of nutmeg

Cook shells in salted, boiling water for 9 minutes, then drain. Mix together ricotta, spinach, parmesan, 1 cup mozerella, and herbs. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Add the egg and mix well.

Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with cooking spray and spread with a thin layer of marinara. Put about 1 tbs of filling in each shell and place seam down in the sauce. Top with sauce and remaining mozerella cheese.

Cover with foil and place in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 10 minutes. Allow a few minutes to cool before serving.

On to dessert, and the real magic. I made a magic cake! Have you seen this?

Three Layer Magic Cake

4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups luke-warm milk

Preheat the oven to 325. Prepare an 8" x 8" pan with butter or cooking spray. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and set asside.

Beat yolks and sugar until pale yellow. Add butter and vanilla and mix well. Add flour and beat until just combined.

Fold in egg whites. This is a very loose batter and there will be lumps of egg whites.

Pour into pan and bake until golden brown and the center of the pan does not jiggle when loosely shaken. The original recipe said 40 to 50 minutes, but it took mine about an hour. I started checking at about 30 minutes because the top was golden brown but it was very jiggly. I loosely covered it with foil and checked every 10 minutes or so until it was done. Let it cool for 0 minutes in the pan and turn out onto rack to cool. I placed the foil I had uses earlier on one rack, turned it onto the foil, than flipped it back onto a second rack. I then covered it with a chocolate ganache*.

Cut the cake and magically, there are three layers inside.

*Ganache made by heating 1/4 cup heavy cream in the microwave for 1 minutes and adding 3 oz of chopped semi-sweet chocolate, stirring until mixed.

If you love a custard, this is a wonderful dessert.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Summer Review and What's New

Helllooo! Is anyone still there?

I know that I've been missing a while, but I had a bit of a crazy summer.

My summer included some ribs using a recipe from a famous pitmaster. Here they are before going on the grill.

And here they are after 4 1/2 hours on the grill.

There was really nothing else of interest...except that I have become an official recipe tester for America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country.

So far, I've made a one pan breakfast with sausage, potatoes, and egg in the hole, pork stir fry, meatballs in marinara, and a ricotta chicken. Some were better than others, but all were good.

I went to the grocery store with a plan this week. I had my menu for the week all prepared, I had the weekly ad in hand. I had my list made out in the order of the store.

I came home with almost everything on my list (I forgot lemons and Kaopectate) and didn't stray far off the list. Except, they had puff pastry by one get one free.

And how could I sit here, knowing that in my freezer was a box of nearly endless possibilities. I opened the pantry, looking for inspiration and found some. The results were mini chocolate turnovers and cherry danish.

I thawed the pastry using the instructions on the box before rolling the first sheet out on a floured board to a 12" x 12" square and then cut 16 3" x 3" squares. I placed a square of semisweet chocolate on each before rubbing the two sides with an egg wash and folding it into a triangle. I pressed the edges together and brushed the top with egg washed. Placed them on a parchment lined baking sheet and baked them at 400 degrees until browned.

The other sheet was rolled out to 10" x 10" and cut into 9 squares. I put some cherry pie filling diagonally on each square and placed some egg wash on two corners before folding them to the middle. Brushed the pastry with egg wash and baked at 400 degrees until done.

I drizzled everything with a glaze made from heavy cream, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla.

While they are warm, the gooey chocolate oozes from the center of the flaky pastry. If you grab one that is cold, pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds and you can once again dark chocolate heaven.

Puff pastry is an easy way to make a danish and I've used it before. I made Ina Garten's cream cheese danish years ago. But I had cherry pie filling in the pantry. Couldn't hurt, right?

On another note, I seem to have cured my brown thumb. I have managed to keep a houseplant alive for a year now. I have a tomato plant that is indeterminate. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, it has bloomed again and still has tomatoes at the end of September! And, having seen something on Facebook, I am growing romaine lettuce from the ends of heads I cut to make salad.

So, how you doin.?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Checking In

I've been rather busy this summer and haven't had much time to post. I have been cooking, but it has all been southern Summer cooking. You know, green beans, squash, okra, melon, tomatoes, etc. All good stuff, but nothing extravagant. Nothing adventurous. Nothing exotic. Plain Jane, home cookin'.

I have made some new and adventurous recipes, testing them for an upcoming cookbook, but I am not allowed to talk about those.

As the summer comes to an end and the neighbors' gardens are playing out, I should be back to my bucket list. Until then, thanks for checking in!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Cool, Easy, and Delicious

Things are still crazy here, but I hope to do some cooking over the long, holiday week-end.

Last week-end, I was invited to a barbecue at my sister's house to meet her daughter's fiance. I was asked to bring a dessert, and I had always wanted to make an icebox cake. I reviewed recipes. Like everyone else, I had had the traditional version made with chocolate wafer cookies and Cool Whip, but had been intrigued by versions I had seen by Ina Garten and Martha Stewart that used chocolate chip cookies.

This beauty graced the cover of Martha Stewart Living a few years ago.

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And this is in one of Ina Garten's cookbooks.

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I took a look at both recipes and came up with my own. And here it is:

3 cups of heavy cream
8 oz marscapone cheese
1/3 c superfine sugar plus 2 tbs.
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 dozen chocolate chip cookies

Whisk together 2 cups of cream with marscapone cheese until soft peaks form. Add 1/3 c sugar and extract and whisk until consistency of buttercream frosting. Line the bottom of a 9" springform cake pan with a layer of cookies. Cover with 1/3 of cream mixture. Repeat. Final layer should be of cookies.

Cover well with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Whip 1 cup of cream with 2 tbs sugar and spread on top of cake. Remove side from pan, place cake on cake plate and serve.

Just a couple of notes: my friend Karen had given me some Grand Marinier extract a while back and I used that in lieu of vanilla and I used cookies from the bakery at Publix. Martha Stewart, of course, makes her own.

I did not get a photo before the hungry hordes had decimated it, but here is a pic of the last slice.

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I kept thinking how wonderful this would be using oatmeal raisin cookies and by adding cinnamon to the cream mixture.

There is little left to be said but yum! If you are looking for a cool dessert for your 4th of July celebration, give this one a try.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Tea, Anyone?

It's funny, isn't it, that life will roll, boringly, along when, BAM!suddenly you don't have a free minute. My life is normally filled with quiet nights at home, watching TV and playing on the internet. The past few weeks have been different. Very different. I have barely had time to sit down, much less do any cooking.

I was asked to help with a Ladies Tea at church, which happened last Saturday. It was a lovely event, if small, and very well received. We had various types of finger sandwiches, an assortment of teas, and an assortment of cookies.

I made Lemon Coolers. Much like the little cookies made by Sunshine in my youth.

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Lemon Coolers

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening (I used butter)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon water (next time, I will use fresh lemon juice instead of water)
(I also added 1 teaspoon of lemon zest to the dough)

Lemon Powdered Sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
rounded 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened Kool-Aid lemonade drink mix (next time, I will try 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream together sugars, butter, egg, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Add the flour, baking powder and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Add 1 tablespoon of water (or lemon juice) and continue mixing until dough forms a ball.

Roll dough into 3/4-inch balls and flatten slightly onto a lightly greased cookie sheet (I used parchment-lined baking sheets). Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until cookies are light brown.

As cookies bake, combine 1 cup powdered sugar with the lemonade drink mix (or 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, or both) in a large plastic bag and shake thoroughly to mix. When the cookies are removed from the oven and while they are hot, add 4 or 5at a time to the bag and shake it until the cookies are well coated. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Makes 4 dozen.

I also made a Victoria Sponge Sandwich cake using Mary Berry's recipe, which you can find here

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They were both perfect for tea.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tears In My Muffins

I walked into the kitchen this morning and noticed that my bananas were as brown as they were yellow and decided that I needed to do something with them. I pulled out an old favorite recipe and began mixing, mashing, and stirring. I suddenly remembered the last time I used this recipe and was brought up short. It was a day as beautiful a today 3 1/2 years ago. October 10, 2012, the day my mother died. As we sat beside her, watching her fight to hold on to life, I grew restless and went into the kitchen in search of something to do. My cousin Beth joined me, sitting at the bar, drinking a Coke and talking to me while I worked. And as I remembered the day, waves of grief and sorrow washed over me, leaving me gasping for breath, holding onto the kitchen counter for dear life.

I managed to finish the batter and get the muffins in the oven between bouts of tears. I had not experienced this depth of emotion in a long time. I was once again serving banana muffins to the friends and family sitting there with us--Dad, my sister, her husband, their daughter, Mom's pastor, Beth, and the hospice nurse. I felt much like the Biblical Martha, doing the practical, playing the hostess. It was my comfort zone.

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The smell from the oven, so marvelously warm and wonderful, made me sad. I remembered the fact that Beth is no longer with us and wept again. I remembered that Mom's dear sister, my Aunt Rachel, had come to visit Mom the week before and the joy on Mom's face was beatific. Now, Aunt Rachel is also gone and, once again, swells of melancholy rocked me.

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I took the muffins from the oven; it took me a long time to try one, but when I did, it was delicious. Slowly, the pain inside me eased and I started to smile, remembered the happy times with Mom, including the first time that she made these muffins. Mom loved to cook, loved to try new recipes. She loved to laugh. And like me, she had a Martha mentality. She would never be your shoulder to cry on, but she would bake you a cake or clean your house in times of need. I loved that woman!

If it is true that the emotions of the cook are in the food, these muffins will taste of love and loss and grief and joy.

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Banana Muffins

1/2 cup room temperature butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs lightly beaten
3 bananas
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flour and baking soda.
Cream butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well; stir in mashed bananas. Add flour mixture and stir until moist--do not over-mix.
Fill muffin pans 3/4 full. Bake approx 25 minutes.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Never, Ever From A Box

If you had asked me as a child or young adult if I liked macaroni and cheese, I would have said no. My mother, like so many working mothers, used that blue box.

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I am a cheese freak, and I never felt that the box stuff was cheesy enough.

When I was in my twenties, I discovered Velveeta Shells and Cheese. It was cheesy enough and pretty good. Anyone who turns up their nose at Velveeta is a poser. It has a place in American food history, if for nothing more than queso dip. It is wonderfully delicious chemical concoction that makes parties special.

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I experienced a total revelation the first time I had homemade mac and cheese. It had a custard base made with evaporated milk and bread crumbs on top. It was wonderful, but lacked the smooth cheesiness I craved. The cheese was not evenly distributed throughout the dish.

One day I stumbled upon a recipe from Southern Living that began with a bechamel and became a luscious cheese sauce poured over elbow macaroni before being topped with more cheese and baked.

Classic Baked Mac and Cheese

1 (8oz) box elbow macaroni
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour (all purpose)
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1 (8oz) block SHARP cheddar cheese divided.

Prepare the pasta and keep warm.

Melt butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium low heat: whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes until thick. *Gradually whisk in the milk and cook whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the salt and peppers then add one cup of shredded cheese and stir or whisk until melted. It becomes thick (slightly) and creamy. Add to the cooked pasta and mix together.

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Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2 quart baking dish and top with remaining cheese.

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Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly (I think mine was bubbly after 15 minutes then I turned off the oven and let it sit for another 5). Let it stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

*Raise the temperature to medium/medium high.

A little more food porn?

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This has become my go-to recipe. While making it today, I had a bit of inspiration, so don't be surprised if a variation of this recipe shows up some time in the future.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Meyer Lemon Tart

On a recent trip to Trader Joe's, I picked up a bag of Meyer Lemons. They sat in the fridge, waiting patiently to be used, but I had neither the time nor desire to work with them until today. A day off. A day off with nothing else to do. No shopping, no meetings, nothing. So I pulled up Martha Stewart's recipe recipe for a tart.

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If you've never had a Meyer lemon, they are a cross between a mandarin and a lemon, and the filling is much milder and sweeter than a typical lemon curd. It's hard to tell from these photos, but the color is a golden yellow, much different from a plain lemon.

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The crust is good enough to eat alone. Seriously, it's that good!

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the crust: Whisk together flour, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the lemon zest in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or your fingers until dough begins to hold together.
Stir together 1 tablespoon water and vanilla, then mix into dough. Shape dough into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Using your fingers, press dough evenly into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch* fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Freeze for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely.

2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest, plus 1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (from 3 lemons)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Make the lemon curd: Whisk together eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Whisk in lemon zest and juice. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter, 1 piece at a time.
Pour filling into cooled tart shell. Bake until filling is browned, slightly puffed, and set, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely.**

*I only have a 10" tart pan, so I increased the crust by 1/4.
**I didn't let it get brown on top, but instead used the discarded egg whites to make a meringue. I spread it on top of the cooled tart and then ut it under the broiler until the meringue was a perfect shade light brown.

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And the final product....

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016


I always wanted to make a true bolognese. I found Martha Stewart's recipe and bought the ingredients. I got a knife sharpener for Christmas and it made my knives a pleasure to work with.

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Just look at that mise en place!

Here is the recipe I used:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (2/3 cup)
2/3 cup minced yellow onion (1/2 medium)
2/3 cup minced carrot (2 medium)
2/3 cup minced celery (1 rib)
1 pound ground beef, such as chuck or sirloin
1 pound ground pork
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 cups whole milk
5 sprigs thyme, tied into a bundle with kitchen twine
1 to 2 fresh bay leaves
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, pureed (with juice) in a blender (or through a food mill)
6 to 7 cups Basic Chicken Stock
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until butter starts to sizzle, then reduce heat to medium. Add pancetta, and cook until golden and fat has rendered, about 2 1/2 minutes. Add onion, carrot, and celery, and cook, stirring often, until just beginning to brown around edges, about 10 minutes (adjust heat if mixture is browning too quickly).
Add beef and pork and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and separating meat with the back of a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes. Once meat is completely browned, pour off any excess fat. Add tomato paste and cook 1 minute, stirring to intensify sweetness.
Pour in wine and cook, stirring to scrape up browned bits from bottom of pot, until liquid has evaporated, 6 to 7 minutes. Add 1 cup milk and cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes (don't worry if it appears slightly curdled, it will smooth out again). Add thyme bundle and bay leaves, and then pour in tomatoes and 6 cups stock. Season with 1
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook, partially covered, 3 to 3 1/2 hours, skimming the fat from the surface with a ladle periodically. If at any time the sauce appears too dry, add up to 1 cup more stock as necessary. The finished sauce should have the consistency of a loose chili. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup milk and season with salt and pepper, as desired. If not serving immediately, let cool completely before transferring to airtight containers. Refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months; defrost in the refrigerator before using.

This is Mario Batali's recipe:

6 Ragu Bolognese Recipe by Mario Batali ­
For the Meat Sauce:
1/4 cup xtra Virgin Olive Oil
2 talepoon utter
2 medium Onion (finel chopped)
4 ri Celer (finel chopped)
2 Carrot (finel chopped)
5 Garlic clove (liced)
1 pound ground Pork
1 pound ground Veal
4 ounce Pancetta or Sla acon (run
through the medium hole of the
utcher' grinder)
1 ; 4 1/2-ounce tue of Tomato Pate
1 cup Whole Milk
1 cup Dr White Wine
1/2 cup Parle (leave picked and
For the Pata:
1 1/2 pound Freh Taglietelle
1/2 cup frehl grated ParmigianoReggiano
(plu more for garnih)

1 For the Meat Sauce:
2 In a 6- to 8-quart heav-ottomed pot, heat the olive oil and utter over medium heat until melted.
Add the onion, celer, carrot, and garlic, eaon with alt, and cook until the vegetale are tranlucent ut not rowned,
aout 5 to 7 minute.
Add the veal, pork, and pancetta, increae the heat to high and rown the meat, tirring frequentl. Cook for 10 to 15 minute,
or until the meat i dark rown and the fat ha rendered out completel. There will e a hallow pool of fat in the pan. Thi i
3/8/2016 Ragu Bolognese Recipe by Mario Batali ­ The Chew­chew/recipes/ragu­bolognese­mario­batali 2/2
Similar categorie: Ingredient, Pata, Coure & Meal, Dinner, Pizza & Pata, Cuiine,
Add the tomato pate and cook it in the fat for 2 to 3 minute, or until the color i rut orange. Add the milk and cook until
almot completel reduced.
Add the wine and ring jut to a oil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and immer for 2 to 3 hour. Seaon the ragu with
alt, remove from the heat, and let cool.
7 Sauce can e tored in an airtight container for 1 week in the fridge or frozen for up to 6 month.
8 For the Pata:
To erve, ring a large pot of alted water to a oil. Cook pata 1 minute hort of the packaged intruction. Drain, reerving
pata water for auce.
In a large aute pan heat aout 1 1/2 to 2 cup of auce over medium. Add the cooked pata and aout a 1/2 cup of reerved
pata water. Stir to coat pata.
11 Add 1/2 cup of Parmigiano and 4 talepoon of olive oil. Stir until cream. To in the chopped parle.
12 Serve and garnih each plate with a generou amount of frehl grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Can you see a difference? I kept thinking that it could use garlic. And perhaps the 6 to 7 cups of chicken stock?!

The sauce was bland and watery

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and I have a couple of quarts in the freezer.

I think that I will add some tomato paste and garlic to it when I heat it up, but next time, I will try Mario Batali's recipe.