06 November 2011

Wild mushroom and butternut squash bread pudding

Last weekend was really feeling like fall.  The mornings were crisp, warming to beautiful afternoons.  Not planning on cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year I was speed reading the recipes in the November Sunset Magazine when I stumbled across this interesting mixture of mushrooms, butternut squash and bread pudding.  I decided it would be a perfect fall casserole and it was!

I cut this recipe in half and we had plenty for dinner and left overs for the two of us.  I also skipped the butter and only used about half the amount of olive oil in place of butter.

Serves 8 to 10

Preparation time about 1 3/4 hours.
3 cups cubed butternut squash, cut in 3/4 inch chunks
1 Tbsp.  extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
About 4 Tbsp.  butter, divided
3 leeks, white and green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed well
2 garlic cloves minced
3/4 lb. mixed wild mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
6 cups rustic white bread, cut into 1 inch cubes, lightly toasted
3 cups half-and-half
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp.  flour
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup gruyere cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heap squash on rimmed baking sheet,  drizzle with oil and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Bake stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 35 minutes.  Transfer to bowl.

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add leeks with 1/4 tsp. salt;  cook until softened, add garlic and cook 2 minutes adding mixture to squash.

Melt remaining 2 Tsp butter in same pan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper.  Increase heat to medium high and cook, stirring until mushrooms have released their liquid and are beginning to brown, about 6 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in thyme.

Add mushrooms to squash-leek mixture.  Stir in bread and scoop into buttered 13 x 9 baking dish.

Whisk together half and half, eggs, remaining 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, the flour and parmesan in a medium bowl.  Pour custard over bread mixture and let stand 10 minutes.  Top with gruyere, then bake uncovered, until cheese is melted and beginnig to brown and custard is just set (poke with a knife to check), 30 to 35 minutes.

You can make ahead by mixing and not adding egg mixture.  Cover and chill for 1 day;  or finsh 1 day ahead and chill.

Per Serving:  329 CAL.  190 from fat.  12 grams protein, 21 grams fat, 24 grams carbs.  508 mg sodium  137 mg cholesterol

From Sunset Magazine

15 August 2011

Cherry and Butter Lettuce Salad

You'll have to excuse the picture, I took this to work today and had adapted this picture to be vegetarian, but took no picture.  For now you have to pretend the chicken is not in the picture.  I love the flavors of the dill and dijon in the dressing, and thought it might work....so I tried it for a pot luck today on the first day back at work.  When I found the picture I (listen to the gasp) realized I forgot the radishes, that's what happens when you try to cook at 6:30 a.m.!  I guess that means the radishes aren't that important, although I found them to be a tasty addition.  When fresh cherries aren't available I plan to try with dried.

Dressing Ingredients:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 Tablespoons honey  
1 garlic clove, minced 
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Put  first 5 ingredients in jar, add oil, shake.  Season with salt and pepper. 

Salad Ingredients:

5 ounces of Goat Cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup of candied pecans (Trader Joe's) broken into pieces
4 thick slices of rustic bread, torn (or cut) into 3/4 inch pieces
1 pound fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted and lightly crushed (I used about 1 1/2 cups)
2 bags of butter lettuce, cored and torn into pieces 
4 radishes 
2 tablespoons of chives

Spray bread with Pam and toast in oven to make croutons.
Remove chicken skin and bone, tear into pieces.  Place cherries, lettuce, radishes,  pecans, and goat cheese in bowl.  Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss.  Sprinkle with croutons and chives.  

Printable Recipe

12 August 2011

Spicy Lime Grilled Shrimp

 I hope that once school starts I can be better about keeping this blog up!  Trying to get caught up on the garden, making sure all was going well with Jane and planning for the school year has left me less time to keep posting my new recipes.  The picture we took the first time we had this have been sitting on my desktop for weeks, and I had to go back and search to find the recipe again, which defeats the purpose of the blog!

This is about the easiest recipe for shrimp found.  The original recipe called for a lot more Cajun seasoning, so someone with spicier taste could up the amount.  I cut the recipe in half to serve just the two of us.  In our house shrimp is easy fast food!  Tomorrow I'll post the salad I made, which could be meal itself.


1/2 pound of shrimp
1/2 of a Tablespoon of Cajun seasoning
Juice of of a 1/2 lime
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil


Mix together shrimp, Cajun season and lime juice and marinate in refrigerator while grill heats.  (I place on skewer.)

Lightly grill grate, grill  2  minutes per side.

Printable Recipe

Adapted from  All Recipes

01 August 2011

S'mores Cheesecake Bars

 I really wanted to make homemade marshmallows and make the s'mores in the August issue of Sunset.  Ease of preparation got the best of me and I made these instead.  I also used semi-sweet chocolate chips for all the chocolate called for and piped the melted chocolate on the top in a sandwich baggy whose corner I snipped. 

For the crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup marshmallow cream
2 tsp. cocoa powder
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
For the topping:
1½ cups mini marshmallows
chocolate chips, melted (optional)

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line an 8×8″ baking pan with foil; spray lightly with cooking spray.  Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a small bowl.  Stir together with a fork until well combined.  Press the mixture in an even layer into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.  Bake 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack while you prepare the filling.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325˚ F.

To make the filling, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and marshmallow cream.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth and well combined, 1-2 minutes.  Blend in the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and eggs until incorporated.  Stir in the melted chocolate until well blended.  Pour the filling over the graham cracker crust and smooth the top with a spatula.  Bake about 30 minutes, or until the center is just set (does not jiggle when shaken gently.)  Remove from the oven.

Evenly top the cheesecake layer with the mini marshmallows.  Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, just long enough so the marshmallows begin to melt into each other.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack.  Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the tops of the marshmallows.  (Alternatively, this can be done underneath the broiler with a very watchful eye.) Once the cheesecake has cooled to room temperature, drizzle with melted chocolate if desired.  Transfer to the refrigerator and chill 2-3 hours before slicing and serving.

Printable Recipe

Source: Annie's Eats

27 July 2011

Butter Lettuce, Chicken and Cherry Salad

This has become my go to salad this summer.  My wonderful friend Candace made it for us for lunch we we were finally able to visit her new home while visiting Orange County earlier this summer.  She is so much better than me about reading a new recipe in a magazine and then making it!  It was so yummy I dug out the magazine and bought the ingredients at our local produce market and made it the night we arrived home.  I can imagine it in the winter with dried cherries and without the chicken with goat cheese as a side salad, the dressing really helps make this tasty.

Serves 4

Dressing Ingredients:

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 Tablespoons honey  
1 garlic clove, minced 
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk first 5 ingredients together, gradually whisk in oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

Salad Ingredients:  ( I halved these, using one head of lettuce and about 1 cup of cherries for two of us)

4 chicken thighs, grilled
4 thick slices of rustic bread, torn (or cut) into 3/4 inch pieces
1 pound fresh cherries, stemmed, pitted and lightly crushed
3 heads of butter lettuce, cored and torn into pieces 
4 radishes 
1 tablespoon chives


Spray bread with Pam and toast in oven to make croutons.
Remove chicken skin and bone, tear into pieces.  Place chicken in large bowl and cherries, lettuce, radishes and chives.  Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss.  Sprinkle with croutons and chives.  

This recipe is adapted with fat reduced from Epicurious

18 July 2011

The gardens survivors and victims of vacation

Before leaving on vacation for two and a half weeks I had spent my days getting my garden in order so that everything would, hopefully, be in good shape when I arrived home.  Some things flourished while others became victims of predators.  These photos were shot by me with my trusty iphone...see if you can tell!
Eggplant are doing better than they were at about this time last year.
Cucumber has tiny babies coming on!  The cosmos are weeds, soon to be removed... 

Basil is chugging along, waiting for the tomatoes.
Pumpkin looks happy.  Thank you, Candace!
Tomatoes obviously had plenty of water.  They loved getting watered every other day.
They even have fruit!
The crook neck squash is doing well, as are the weeds in the foreground.
But then there were...
The one edamame still standing, the others look like the one in the bottom, center if they can be found at all.
Saddest of all is the green beans, all that's left are the stems.  

The slugs and snails were all fed bait tonight after I replanted green bean starts. 

16 July 2011

Fish Tacos

Home from 17 days of not cooking and having a difficult time thinking about what to cook, the first thing that appealed to me was fish tacos.  We ate a multitude of fish, but none as tacos.  I would have cooked the fish on the grill, but the weather is so cool in the evening that I didn't mind heating up the oven.  I  find it hard to believe that the photographer stuck toothpicks into my tacos!

 Click for printable recipe

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds red snapper fillets
Cooking spray
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cabbage

 Preheat oven to 425°.
To prepare crema, combine the first 8 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
To prepare tacos, combine cumin and next 5 ingredients (through garlic powder) in a small bowl; sprinkle spice mixture evenly over both sides of fish. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 9 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Place fish in a bowl; break into pieces with a fork. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Divide fish evenly among tortillas; top each with 1/4 cup cabbage and 1 tablespoon crema.

From Cooking Light 

23 June 2011

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

I know that Mark shouldn't be eating these, I did use low fat cream cheese though.   I decided to try for a Father's Day treat and send the bulk of the leftovers home with Kaci, good solution!  I don't usually make bar cookies that only make a 8 X 8 pan, but these are so rich that that was plenty!  I didn't want to run to the grocery store, so I bought organic graham crackers at Andy's Market,  I was surprised at how much less sweetness that they had than those in those I usually purchase at the grocery store.  Something similar is probably available at Whole Foods.


1 1/2 cups of graham crackers crumbs 
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough:

5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened 
1/3 cup of brown sugar, packed 
3 tbsp white sugar 
1/4 tsp salt 
1 tsp vanilla 
3/4 cup of flour 
1 cup of chocolate chips

Cheesecake Filling:

10 oz cream cheese, room temperature (I used low fat, and tasted good to us)
1/4 cup of white sugar 
1 large egg, room temperature 
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing a little overhang, then spray the paper and dish with cooking spray.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter until mixed thoroughly. Firmly press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Place into the oven and bake for 6 minutes. Remove pan and set aside to cool. DO NOT TURN YOUR OVEN OFF.

While the crust is cooling, prepare the chocolate chip cookie dough. Beat the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, salt, and vanilla together using a mixer until creamy and smooth. Add the flour to the butter mixture until just combined then add the chocolate chips and mix. Set aside.

For the cheesecake filling, place the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla together into a bowl then beat, using a mixer, until creamy and smooth. Carefully spread the cheesecake batter onto the prepared crust.

Using your hand to form clumps (I made clumps of about 1 tsp), distribute the cookie dough evenly in clumps on the top of the cheesecake batter until you use all of the dough.
Place into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top (cookie dough) feels dry and firm and the entire pan looks set if given a gentle shake. Move bars to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Lift bars out by the overhang; slice and store in the refrigerator. Serve cold or at room temperature. 

18 June 2011

Sour Dough Waffles

I made sourdough starter to celebrate Mark's coming home from the hospital in March.  The first thing I made with it was sourdough bread.  Once I went back to work I didn't have as much time for bread baking, so I use it to make these yummy waffles every other week.  This week the starter has been in the fridge for 3 weeks because of our trip to Orange County, we'll see how it works with such a long rest period.  I like that I can make the sponge the night before and just add the oil/butter, egg, salt an soda in the morning. 

For the overnight sponge:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sourdough starter, straight from the refrigerator (not fed)
For the waffles:
2 large eggs
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil, or melted butter
All of the overnight sponge
¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
To make the overnight sponge, combine the flour, sugar, buttermilk and sourdough starter in a large mixing bowl.  Mix well to blend.  Cover and let rest overnight at room temperature.
When you are ready to make the waffles, preheat a waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the eggs and oil or butter.   Add to the overnight sponge.  Mix in the salt and baking soda, stirring well to combine.  The batter will bubble.  Pour the batter into the preheated waffle iron and bake according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Note:  I usually cut the recipe in half for the two of us, it makes about 6 waffles using 1/2 cup batter per waffle.

Printable Recipe

Source: King Arthur Flour

06 June 2011

Soft Wrap Bread

 This wonderful bread showed up in my in-box from one of my favorite blogs.  I decided to use it for tacos.  We ate it for tacos and burritos with the rice pictured next to it, and will try for all kind of sandwiches!  I've made flour tortillas many times and found this to roll out much easier than other recipes. 


3 to 3 1/4 cups (12 3/4 to 13 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) boiling water
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) potato flour OR 1/2 cup (5/8 ounces) potato buds or flakes
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon instant yeast*

*According to KAF: this recipe works best with instant yeast because it dissolves during the kneading process, so you don't have to knead liquid into the dough. If you prefer to use active dry yeast, use only 1 cup boiling water for the initial dough, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water, and add this mixture to the dough along with the potato flour mixture. It'll be somewhat "slippery" at first, but will knead in and eventually become smooth. 


Place 2 cups of the flour into a bowl.  Pour the boiling water over the flour, and stir till smooth. Cover the bowl and set the mixture aside for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the potato flour (or flakes or buds) and 1 cup of the remaining flour with the salt, oil and yeast. Add this to the cooled flour/water mixture, stir, then knead for several minutes (by hand, or stand mixer) to form a soft dough. The dough should form a ball, but will remain somewhat sticky. Add additional flour only if necessary.  If kneading by hand, keep your hands and work surface lightly oiled. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for 1 hour.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces (about 3 oz each), cover, and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes. Roll each piece into a 7- to 8-inch circle, and fry them without oil over medium heat for about 1 minute per side. They will be puffed and flecked with brown spots. Adjust the heat if they seem to be cooking either too quickly, or too slowly; cooking too quickly means they may be raw in the center, while too slowly will dry them out. Transfer the cooked breads to a wire rack, stacking them to keep them soft. Serve immediately, or cool slightly before storing in a plastic bag. Yield: 8 breads.

Printable Recipe

From What Megan's Making

04 June 2011

Butter Toffee Popcorn

Wanted to make something easy to eat while playing scrabble with a group of friends.  This may be just a little too easy to eat.  Reminds me of a discussion I had with my sixth graders about the cool toys that used to come in Cracker Jacks when I was a kid.  They had no idea what Cracker Jacks were!

Butter Toffee Popcorn

*Makes about 18 cups of toffee popcorn

1 cup unpopped popcorn kernels, white or yellow
2 sticks butter
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
2-3 cups roasted, salted nuts (I used pecans, cashews and almonds)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease two large rimmed baking sheets and set aside.
Pop the popcorn kernels, in shifts if needed to ensure your popcorn popper doesn’t burn the popcorn, and place the popcorn in a large bowl, sifting through to remove the unpopped kernels.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. When melted add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, for 3 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thickened. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the vanilla and baking soda. The mixture will bubble so be careful. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and mix slightly. Add the nuts and mix well but gently (so you don’t break apart the popcorn) until the popcorn is evenly coated and the peanuts are distributed through the mixture.
Turn the popcorn out onto the baking sheets, spreading into an even layer. Bake the popcorn for one hour, stirring and tossing every 20 minutes. Move the bottom tray to the upper rack and vice versa each time you stir. Stir the mixture after removing from oven.  The popcorn will deepen in color and harden a bit as the caramel bakes and sets. Cool the popcorn to room temperature. Store in an airtight container. I’ve found the popcorn will keep, stored tightly, for 1-2 weeks.

Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

03 June 2011

Hot and Smoky Baked Beans

This is my favorite recipe for baked beans.  I tend to add less chipotle depending on whom I'm fixing these for.  I've used all manner of beans from canned to Van Kamps Pork and Beans to dried. 

6 bacon slices
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 red pepper diced
1 1/4 cups purchased barbecue sauce
3/4 cup dark beer
1/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 to 3 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chilies

1 pound small white beans cooked according to package directions, drained
Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels and drain. Saute onion and red pepper 2 1/2 tablespoons bacon drippings.   from skillet to large bowl. Finely chop bacon; add to bowl. Add onion and next 8 ingredients to bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk in 4 to 6 teaspoons chipotle chilies, depending on spiciness desired. Stir in beans. Transfer bean mixture to 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Bake uncovered until liquid bubbles and thickens slightly, about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

To make vegetarian saute onion and red pepper in about 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil before adding to beans and leave out bacon.

Printable Recipe

Adapted from Epicurious

31 May 2011

Creamsicle Fruit Dip

Creamsicle  and Orange Julius, two of my favorites from childhood.  I remember the Good Humor Ice Cream Man playing his melody on hot Southern California summer days.  Every time I heard his song I would beg for a treat, rarely was I indulged.   Just had to try this for our Memorial Day cook out, which judging by the clouds may or may not be outside!

1 8 oz container whipped topping
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 6 oz container of frozen (concentrated) orange juice thawed out
Fruit for dipping

Mix the first three ingredients together. Add a little water to thin out to desired consistency, if needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Printable Recipe

From What Megan's Making

29 May 2011

Crispy Shrimp Tacos with Strawberry Avocado Salsa

Mark and I stopped at a seasonal strawberry stand on Saturday, after a friend had shared some with me as we drove to the city.  They needed to be eaten quickly and  I remembered seeing a recipe for chicken tacos with strawberry avocado salsa and sending it off to my good friend Candace.   She recommended a change that I made  and I gave it a try with shrimp because we had been eating so much chicken.  They were a success.  I might have to try the salsa on top of grilled chicken next.  I usually use pickled jalapeƱos because they are a staple in my fridge.

Serves 2

1/2 pound raw, deveined shrimp (tails removed)
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lime
shredded lettuce

Make sure shrimp is clean and completely dry. Combine salt, pepper, garlic and cumin and sprinkle it over the shrimp. Add the flour to a small bowl, and dredge the shrimp through the flour to get a very light coating on it. Heat a skillet on medium high heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the shrimp and brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove the shrimp and let drain on a paper towel.

Strawberry Avocado Salsa:

1 avocado, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
4 large strawberries, chopped
chopped jalapeƱo, to taste (I used about 1 tablespoon)
juice of half a lime
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Combine together in a bowl, adding a bit of salt and pepper. Assemble tacos, adding lettuce, shrimp, strawberry avocado salsa, cilantro, spritz with lime juice.

Adapted from How Sweet It Is

28 May 2011

Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

I had planned to show before and after photos of my garden this afternoon.  The rain changed all that.  I'll have to share the before now, and the after tomorrow if the weather cooperates.

I spent hours a few nights ago trying to remember where I had found this recipe, which I wanted to make for our last day of work luncheon.  We traditionally have a salad lunch on the day after the student's last day.  Now that I'm no longer baking desserts at home I have to jump at the opportunity to bake and take!  Note to self:  bookmark all recipes you might make, don't plan on remembering where to find them!


For the oatmeal layer:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup salted honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
For the chocolate layer:
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup salted honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.   Grease the sides of the pan with butter.
To make the oatmeal cookie layer, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Whisk to blend.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium-high speed until it is soft and creamy, about 1 minute.  Add the brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Mix in the oats and peanuts with a rubber spatula until evenly combined.
Reserve 1½ cups of the mixture.  Place the remaining dough in the prepared pan and press over the bottom of the pan in an even layer.
To make the chocolate layer, combine the condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Stir occasionally until the mixture is warm and the chocolate chips and butter are melted.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and peanuts.
Pour the warm chocolate mixture over the oatmeal cookie layer and spread evenly with an offset spatula.  Crumble the remaining oatmeal cookie mixture and scatter evenly over the top of the chocolate.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the chocolate layer is starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.  Cut into bars as desired and serve.

Print Recipe

23 May 2011

Creme Brulee Fench Toast

 This is my favorite take to a potluck brunch recipe.  Easy to whip up the night before and bake in the morning.  If I'm making it at home I lower the calories by using whole milk, rather than 1/2 and 1/2.
It's always on our table on Christmas Morning!  I've used sourdough bread, without the crust, a baguette, with the crust and brioche bread from Trader Joe's and all turn out yummy.


1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cube (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 8 - 9 inch loaf of sourdough bread, crust removed and cut in 1 inch  slices
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
1/4 teaspoon salt


In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking dish.  Cut six !-inch thick slices from center portion of bread and trim crusts.  Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing slightly to fit.  In a bowl whisk together  eggs, half-and-half, Grand Marnier, vanilla and salt until well combined, pour evenly over bread.

Chill  covered at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.  

Preheat oven to 350 F and bring bread mixture to room temperature.

Bake uncovered in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 - 40 minutes.

Serve immediately.

14 May 2011

Turkey Burgers with Chipotle Chili Tartar Sauce

 These have been a standard for grilling at our house ever since I discovered the recipe.  I love it with arugula, but often use whatever lettuce I have on hand.  The original recipe called for dill, but with the chipotles I decided to try cilantro.  We liked it so well and cilantro is a staple in my crisper, dill isn't, I haven't tried with dill.  I usually purchase the turkey burgers that are fresh, but prepackaged.  This is a favorite of both of the men in this family, it was one of the specialties Rob would cook for Grandma P.

In parenthesis I listed my changes to make it lower in fat.


3/4 cup mayonnaise  (  I use the TJ's low fat)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil  (I skip this)
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chilies (I add about 1 tsp., because of heat)
1 tablespoon drained capers
1 pound ground turkey
4 whole wheat hamburger buns, split
4 red onion slices
8 plum tomato slices
2 bunches arugula (about 1 ounce)


Whisk first 6 ingredients in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Sauce can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)
Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Form ground turkey into four 1/2-inch-thick patties. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill burgers until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Grill buns until just toasted. Spread 1 tablespoon sauce on bottom half of each bun. Top each with 1 burger, then 1 more tablespoon sauce. Top each with 1 onion slice, 2 tomato slices, then 1/2 bunch arugula. Cover with bun tops. Serve, passing remaining chipotle tartar sauce separately.

Click here for printable recipe

Adapted from Epicurious

01 May 2011

Asian Lettuce Wraps

This is a new favorite, I actually repeated it in the same month.  I've made it with ground turkey and ground chicken.  Both are good.  You feel so refreshed and healthy after eating this.  Leftovers are great for lunch.  The first time I made it I used romaine rather than iceberg lettuce.  The second time I used iceberg and it was added an element of crispness that really added to the dish.

Printable Recipe

2 tsp canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 lb ground chicken*
3 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped (about 8 small mushrooms)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 C bagged coleslaw mix or thinly shredded cabbage
1 8oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained, rinsed, and finely minced
1/2 C thinly sliced green onions
4 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced (about 3-4 Tbs juice)
1/2-1 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce (1 tsp of Sriracha is fairly spicy in my opinion, so if you want less or no kick, just give it a little, or you can leave it out completely)
1/3 C roughly chopped cilantro
1-2 heads iceberg lettuce
*To prepare your own ground chicken, cut boneless skinless chicken breasts into large chunks and pulse in a food processor until ground.

Dipping/Drizzling Sauce
4 Tbs soy sauce
4 Tbs rice vinegar
3 Tbs water
2 tsp honey
1-2 tsp finely minced fresh ginger

Heat a very large skillet to medium-high heat on the stove top.  When hot, add vegetable  oil and then garlic and ginger.  Saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant, and then add ground chicken, chopped mushrooms, and kosher salt.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until chicken is cooked through.  (*At this point, sometimes I have some extra liquid in the pan from the chicken.  If it’s quite a bit, I tilt the pan and spoon it out so the chicken can cook and not boil.) Add cabbage/coleslaw, water chestnuts, and green onions.  Cook for about 2 minutes, until cabbage starts to wilt.  Add soy sauce, sesame oil, the zest from the lemon and the lemon juice, and hot sauce to taste.  Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
To prepare dipping sauce, combine all ingredients and whisk to combine.
To serve, carefully remove the individual leaves from the head of lettuce.  (The closer you get to the center, the easier it becomes!)  Place chicken mixture in the leaves and serve with sauce.
Yield: about 5 C chicken mixture.  Makes 14-16 lettuce wraps.

25 April 2011

Chocolate and Vanilla Angel Food Cake with "Dipped Cone" Icing

 When I saw the picture of this I knew I had to make it.  What better time than Easter.  The whipped cream made it off the low fat diet, but it was the first dessert we'd had in the house in over a month.  I did opt out of making the cake from scratch and used a Betty Crocker Angel Food Cake Mix.  Mark said he doesn't really like Angel Food Cake, but this was one of the best he's had. 

Cake Ingredients:

1 cup cake flour
1-1/2 cup sugar–divided (I like superfine)
1-2/3 cup egg whites (10-11 large eggs)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Dutch chocolate, sifted

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift together cake flour and 3/4 cup sugar. Using stand mixer and wire attachment, begin mixing egg whites and cream of tartar on low for one minute. Add salt. Increase speed to medium-high and mix until egg whites are thick and billowy. With mixer running, pour the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar in from the side–slowly. Continue beating egg whites until glossy and soft peaks gently tip over when you pull the wire beater up. Add extracts and turn the mixer on for a couple of seconds to incorporate.
2. Use your largest rubber spatula to delicately and carefully fold sifted flour and sugar into whipped egg whites. I add only about 1/4 cup of the flour and sugar mixture at a time. Slice with spatula perpendicular to whites down to bottom of bowl and turn spatula slightly to pull up batter from the bottom and lay over the top. Turn bowl 1/4 turn and repeat slice with spatula until flour and egg whites are just mixed. The folding process should be done with patience and a light hand. Practice helps. If you overdo the mixing, your cake won’t be as high as your hopes.
3. Pour slightly more than half of cake batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan with a removable bottom. Use a spoon to draw a trough around the middle. Carefully fold sifted cocoa into remaining batter until completely mixed. (Do not skip the sifting or you will have little chunks of cocoa in your batter.) Fill trough with the chocolate batter and then smooth over the top.
4. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately turn over to cool for several hours. I recommend overnight. Use a firm hand and a skinny knife to loosen cake from edges of pan and invert cake onto cake plate.

Chocolate Ganache

2/3 cup heavy cream
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate bar

Whipped Cream Icing

1-1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip cream in chilled bowl with wire attachment. When thick with soft peaks, add powdered sugar and continue to whip until cream makes stiff peaks. Go too far and whipped cream will be dry looking or turn into butter. Watch it! Spread smoothly over angel food cake.

1. Heat heavy cream in small glass bowl for 1 minute in microwave oven. Add chocolate bar broken in several pieces to hot cream and allow to sit and melt while you ice the cake.
2. When chocolate is completely melted use small wire whisk or spoon to mix making small circles at first, then larger and finally, mixing chocolate and cream until smooth.
3. Pour warm chocolate ganache into a small Ziplock bag. Snip one corner about 1/4 inch. (Eyeball it.) Turn over a cereal bowl and practice running chocolate along the edge till you get the effect you want. If it’s too thick to make nice “runs”, add a few drops of warm cream. If too thin, let cool a while longer.
4. Here is where it gets a little tricky. Run ganache along the upper/outer edge of cake and slowly squirt ganache from small hole in the corner of your Ziplock bag making “runs and drips” around the entire cake. Do the inner edge the same way. Squirt remainder of ganache over top of cake and use a spoon to quickly spread evenly. You have a small window to get it smooth because the cold whip cream icing will harden the ganache on contact. Chill at least one hour before serving. Best eaten within 24 hours but still amazingly good for a couple days.

Print Recipe

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Seems we just don't have the time to take the pictures and cook the recipes right now, so I've decided to start posting the recipes sans pictures with the hopes of adding pictures in the near future.  My quest since Mark came home from the hospital has been for recipes that are low fat and low salt.  This salad is both and yummy at the same time.  If I weren't keeping it low fat goat cheese would be a nice addition.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

For the dressing:
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt

For the salad:
Baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
Sliced almonds, for topping
Sliced fresh strawberries, for topping

In a blender or food processor, combine the strawberries, vinegar,  sugar and salt.  Process until the mixture is well combined and completely smooth.  Transfer to an airtight bottle or container and refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve, portion baby spinach leaves out on salad plates.  Drizzle with the strawberry champagne vinaigrette.  Top with sliced almonds and strawberries.  Serve immediately.

Print Recipe 

From Annie's Eats

24 March 2011

Fruit and Almond Granola

Something tells me this photo won't be here long before it's replaced by a better one.  This is my first post after Mark's long hospital stay and I don't want to bother him with setting up his camera for the shot, so here's my quickie with my phone.

I decided to make my own granola while trying to find healthy breakfast items that were low in salt and fat.  Now I realize how over priced store bought granola is.  I cleaned my cupboard of dried fruit to make this, but am listing the fruit the recipe suggested.  I used a total of 1 1/2 cups of apricots, golden raisins and cherries.  Can only imagine making it with pecans and dates.

Yield 8 servings
Prep Time:  15 minutes
Bake Time:  45 minutes

5½ cups traditional rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup applesauce (I use natural/unsweetened)
¼ cup honey
1½ cups chopped or slivered almonds
¾ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup chopped dried apricots
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, applesauce and honey until thoroughly combined.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well, until all of the oats are moistened. Spread on the prepared pan in an even layer.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and turn the granola over very carefully using a wide spatula (you’ll probably need to do this in sections). Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until crisp and golden.
6. Cool completely on the baking sheet.
7. Break up the granola into chunks and stir in the almonds, dried cranberries and apricots. Store in an airtight container.
Adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker

27 February 2011

Baked Chipotle Beef Taquitos

I'd planned to make chicken taquitos tonight, until I realized I had way to much chicken on the menu this week.  We rarely eat pot roast, but the idea of cooking it all day and having it ready for the taquitos was appealing.  I forgot to keep the extras out before baking, so we'll see how the left overs fare.  My teaching partner suggested Guerrero Tortillas to me, they really worked well in these.  3 were really filling!

Makes 20 taquitos

3 C cooked, shredded beef roast
4oz green chilies, undrained
1/4-1/2 t minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (I used about 1 teaspoon)
3 t adobo sauce from the canned chipotle peppers
1 t garlic powder
1 t coriander
1/2 t cumin
1 t chili powder
zest from one lime
1 T fresh lime juice
2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
6" white corn tortillas (about 20)
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Take your shredded beef and slice any larger pieces across the grain so you have pieces about 1/2-1" long. Place in a bowl and set aside.
Combine chilies, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, garlic, coriander, cumin, chili powder and lime zest and juice in a bowl. After stirring to combine, gently toss together with shredded beef.

Wrap a pile of about 10 tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave for 1 minute to soften. (after those are used, do the next 10)
Working with one tortilla at a time, sprinkle about 1T cheese in a line across the center of the tortilla. Top with 1-2 T shredded beef mixture and roll up.

Place seam-side down on a lightly oiled/sprayed baking sheet. Use cooking spray or lightly brush olive oil on the top of each one. (I used Pam Olive Oil Spray) Lightly sprinkle kosher salt on the top of each one.

Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and your house smells like a Mexican restaurant.

Take them out of the oven and let them cool for just a few minutes. Eat 'em hot!
Freezer instructions:  Make as noted through the step where you sprinkle the tops of the taquitos with salt.  Place in a dish a single layer, not touching each other and set in the freezer.  After frozen, place in zip-top bag.  To cook, preheat oven to 425.  Place taquitos on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake until edges are golden brown.  About 30 minutes.

25 February 2011

Salmon Croquettes

 I came home tired on Friday night and had planned this for dinner.  Didn't want to cook at all, but didn't want to bother with anything else either.  Decided to grin and bear it and cook these as planned, boy was I glad I did.  The ingredients had been in my pantry for weeks, one of those put off recipes.  The ingredients will now be in my pantry as a delicious easy dinner.  The original recipe was for 8 cakes serving 4, I reduced to serve 2.  In the future, if it's not Friday night, I will make the whole recipe so we can enjoy the leftovers for lunch.

Preparation time:  20 miutes
Serves 2 (2 croquetttes and 1 tablespoon of sauce)


2 T.  mayonnaise, divided
2 teaspoons  fresh lemon juice, divided
1 1/2  teaspoons  Dijon mustard, divided
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
1  tablespoon  minced red bell pepper
1/4  teaspoon  garlic powder
1/8  teaspoon  salt
Pinch  teaspoon  ground red pepper
1 (6-ounce) packages skinless, boneless pink salmon
1  large egg, lightly beaten
1/2  cup  panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1  tablespoon  canola oil
1  teaspoon  finely chopped capers
1 small clove  minced garlic


1. Combine 1 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1/2 tablespoon juice, 3/4 teaspoon mustard, and next 7 ingredients (through egg), stirring well. Add panko; toss. Shape mixture into 4 (3-inch) patties.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add patties; cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned.
3. Combine remaining mayonnaise, juice, and mustard with parsley, capers, garlic, and salt, stirring well.

Adapted from Cooking Light