Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Veracruz Rice


I was inspired to twist around my usual Mexican Rice recipe after we ate at a local restaurant (La Palapa) that focused on Veracruz style seafood cooking. I served this on the side of a Seafood Stew that I usually make a couple times a year.

  • 1 cup long-grain whiterice
  • 2 TB vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp ground anchiote seed (look in the Mexican section of your supermarket; I haven't been able to find it late and have found a bouillion instead and used about a 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup drained pickled jalapeno, chopped
  • 1/4 cup drained green olives, sliced
  • 1 TB drained capers
  • Pour rice into a mixing bowl.
  • Pour boiling water over it until covered.
  • Put a lid over it and let it sit for 20 minutes and then drain.
  • Heat the oil in a sauce pan and saute the achiote seed until fragrant.
  • Add onion and cook until soft.
  • Add rice and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes.
  • Pour in the stock, bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover and cook for 25 minutes.
  • Add the jalapenos, olives, and capers. Stir. And cook for a couple more minutes to warm them.

Tea Bowl

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fry Bread

I found this great recipe for fry bread served with an onion omlet over at A Stove With a House Around It. Fry bread is so simple--sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and water! It doesn't sound very appetizing does it? Where's the milk? The eggs? Okay, at least some butter or please shortening? How can you make bread without some kind of fat?

You wouldn't believe how this stuff puffs up when it hits the oil. The inside is soft and yummy--impossible to believe it isn't a yeast bread!

This is a huge meal! I cut the fry bread recipe in half and could have cut the omlet in half--should have cut the omlet in half. But, I thought a one egg omlet would have been too small for each serving, but considering I had made some additions (go figure), by adding my left over refried beans and rice from La Palapa to the omlet--inspired by La Palapa's sister restaurant Casa Manana's Juevos Tirados (egg with refried beans)--the omlet ended up overflowing the fry bread and I still have leftovers in the fridge.

I also cut the onion down a lot. One whole onion would have to be cooked for 30 minutes to an hour and be really reduced and sweet to work for me in a 4 egg omlet. Since this onion was only supposed to be cooked for 3 minutes, (and I had a large onion) I only used a 1/4 of an onion. This is just reflective of my own personal taste; I like strong onions when contrasted with something like the mild sweetness of the fry bread, but in moderation.

* * *

Later that night I was begged for more fry bread. Someone thought that fry bread would be good served like a sopapilla with powdered sugar, cinammon, and honey!

He was so wrong--it was AMAZING.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Brunch--Honey Custard and Rosemary French Toast Triangles

Our library had a book sale a couple of weeks ago and I found several old cookbooks from the 70s for $.50 a pop. One collected honey recipes and I knew I had to buy it because my husband is nutty for honey. He's also nutty for custard--so after tweaking the recipe from the book, this is what I came up with:


  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup honey, warmed slightly
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • nutmeg
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Butter custard cups
  • Pour an inch of hot water into a sheet cake pan
  • Beat eggs and add milk, salt and vanilla--beat all ingredients together
  • Heat honey in the microwave for about 15 seconds (this will make it more fluid, and less sticky)
  • Pour honey slowly into the egg mixture, beating vigourously to mix in quickly, so eggs don't cook.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of egg mixture into each custard cup
  • Sprinkle nutmeg on top.
  • Place cups in sheetcake pan and place sheetcake pan in the oven.
  • Bake for 45 minutes.
  • Preheat broiler and place cooked custards under broiler for 1- 2 minutes (a tip I picked up at Dakota Country Kitchen for "torching" creme brulee.), until speckled golden.
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving, or place in the fridge to chill.
* * *

I wanted to serve rolls or scones with the custard, but all the bread recipes I had used a much higher temp in the oven than the custards, so I decided on a savory french toast instead.

We had seen an evergreen honey at one of the local grocery stores which inspired this recipe for Rosemary French Toast Triangles served with honey. Wow! You won't believe how well these flavors complement each other.



  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 TB chopped, fresh Rosemary
  • 2 slices milk loaf, cut in half, and then each half cut into triangles (preferably older bread)
  • 2 tsp butter


  • In a wide, shallow bowl whisk egg, milk, honey, lemon juice, salt, and Rosemary
  • Place six triangles of bread in the batter for a minute or two and then flip, and let that side sit for a minute or two.
  • Meanwhile, melt 1 tsp of butter on a griddle over medium to medium high heat.
  • Place soaked bread on griddle and cook for a minute or two on each side until golden.
  • Repeat with additional 6 triangles of bread.
  • Serve with butter and honey.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Faux Mocha

Starbucks, without leaving the house


  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 1 TB cocoa powder

For whipped topping:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tsp. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp. vanilla extract

  • While coffee is percolating make whipped cream by beating the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract on medium speed, until stiff peaks start to form.
  • Pour coffee into large mug
  • Heat milk for about 30 seconds in the microwave, and stir into coffee.
  • Stir in sugar and chocolate.
  • Top with whipped cream

Friday, March 27, 2009

Rapini, Egg, and Cheese Crespelles

So what do you do when it is the end of the pay period, a couple of days before grocery shopping, and all that is left in the fridge is the rapini that your husband picked up because it was a buck, some eggs and milk, an almost ready to throw away bag of shredded mozarella, and a severely shortened hunk of parmesan reggiano? Well, after rummaging through the pantry and seeing that I had plenty of flour left, this is what I came up with!


If you are not terrible fond of bitter foods, blanch the rapini before sauteing. In this recipe I chose not to blanch the rapini because I wanted to contrast the sweetness of the onions with the bitterness of the greens.


  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup plus 2 TB flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Stick of butter
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 large cloves of garlic
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • Large bunch rapini, around 1 LB, chopped
  • balsamic vinegar to taste
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 eggs, cooked and scrambled
  • Mozarella cheese to sprinkle
  • Parmesan Reggiano to sprinkle
  • Melt butter for filling in a large saute pan, turn heat to low.
  • Slice onion thinly and add to pan, put on lid for a few minutes to let onions steam and soften, then remove lid, continue to cook onions on low heat until they turn a lighten golden brown--this may take a while.

  • Meanwhile make the crespelle batter
  • pour milk into a large mixing bowl.
  • Sift flour into the milk, whisking constantly.
  • Whisk in eggs, one at a time.
  • Add salt and whisk.
  • Put batter aside.

  • Check onions, if they are browned, add the garlic, turn the heat up to medium, and stir for a couple of minutes.
  • Add olive oil and stir for another minute.
  • Add a dash of red pepper flakes.
  • Add chopped rapini.
  • Put lid back on to allow broccoli rabe to cook down.

  • Meanwhile, melt a tsp of butter on a griddle at medium high heat.
  • Dip into the crespelle batter with a ladle and pour onto hot griddle, swirling the griddle with your other hand, until the batter covers the whole griddle.
  • Let cook for a couple of minutes until the crespelle starts to pull away from the pan and is a golden brown on the bottom, flip and cook for a couple of minutes on the other side.
  • Remove to a plate, and repeat. I came out with five dinner plate sized crespelles.


  • Dash balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper on top of the greens and allow to cook for a few more minutes.
  • Meanwhile scramble four eggs.
  • Divide greens into four piles and eggs into four piles and distribute filling evenly into each crespelle, sprinkle with cheese, and roll into a wrap.
  • Cut each in half and serve with toast.
And lunch the next day

And one more left over crespelle . . .


Inspired by the sopapillas at the local Tex-Mex places, I reheated mine later, by lightly frying it in vegetable oil to give it a crisper texture. Cut it into four pie shaped pieces, sifted a little powdered sugar and cinnamon on top, and drizzled on honey--topped with whipped cream.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday Thinking Ahead--Southern Style Navy Bean Soup


I received a huge ham from my boss for Christmas. If I had started this blog back in December there would have been a million recipes using ham. I can't even remember what all I cooked now, except for a wonderful ham and mushroom lasagna, a mushroom quiche, and ham with red eye gravy. That ham fed us for a month. When digging through the freezer this week I remembered that, thinking ahead, I had saved the ham bone--and a nice meaty ham bone it was, too. It came in handy this week for making a big old pot of beans.


The sweetness of the ham and the the smokiness of the sausage made a wonderful combination.


  • 2 cups navy beans
  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 large meaty ham bone (or 1 LB ham hocks)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 large ribs of celery diced
  • 2 large carrots diced
  • 1 TB salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 10 oz chopped turnip greens
  • 3/4 LB sausage (I used a slightly spicy, hickory smoked sausage)


  • Wash beans.
  • Either soak overnight or quick soak by bringing to a boil, boil for 3 minutes, and then covering and letting sit for an hour.
  • Add ham bone, onion, celery, carrot, salt and pepper to beans.
  • Cover and simmer for at least an hour and a half (I let mine simmer all afternoon).
  • Half an hour or so before serving add turnip greens and whole sausage.
  • Right before serving removed sausage and ham bone from soup.
  • Chop the ham and slice the sausage.
  • Toss the bone and return the meat to the pot to heat for a couple of minutes and the serve.

I served mine with jalapeno vinegar on the side and Hominy Spoon Bread.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hominy Spoon Bread


This is a very light, fluffy cornbread with grits. Traditionally, it was sometimes so fluffy that it had to be lifted from the pan with a spoon. Mine wasn't quite that soft--in fact it was slightly crunchy on the outside and creamy and custardy on the inside. I served it with butter and honey.



  • 1/2 cup hominy grits
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 TB butter
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup white cornmeal
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • Prehead oven to 350
  • Cook grits with water and 1/2 tsp of salt as directed on package.
  • Meanwhile, sift together cornmeal, bakng powder and salt.
  • Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
  • When grits are cooked pop them in the freezer for about 5 minutes to cool slightly.
  • Stir butter into grits until melted.
  • Stir in egg yolks.
  • Stir in flour mixture.
  • Fold in egg whites.
  • Pour into square cake pan.
  • Bake for one hour.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meatloaf Dinner

I made a large meat loaf last Thursday to eat for lunch over the weekend. Side dishes were a must: sweet and sour green beans, scalloped potatoes, and Southern Biscuits (I wanted rolls, but waited too late in the day, so had to go with a quick bread instead).

It was a hard weekend at work so I never got around to taking pictures until we were at the end of the leftover stage--the side dishes all eaten, we moved on to meatloaf sandwiches on sourdough bread with mozarrella cheese and brown mustard.



For Loaf:

  • 2 TB vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 white or whole-wheat bread slices
  • 2 LB lean ground beef
  • 1 medium carrot shredded
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne peppe
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

For glaze:

  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 TB light brown sugar
  • 1 TB cider vinegar
  • 1 TB brown mustard

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Cook onion, garlic and celery in vegetable oil for about 10 minutes.
  • In large bowl tear the bread slices into small pieces and add the onion and celery mixture.
  • Add the ground beef, shredded carrot, salt, pepper, egg, and half the tomato sauce.
  • Thouroughly mix.
  • Use a bread pan to mold loaf.
  • Dump out into a 12 x 8 baking dish.
  • Combine brown sugar, cider vinegar, mustard and remaining tomato sauce.
  • Spoon sauce over meat loaf after it has been cooking for 10 minutes.
  • Bake in 350 oven for 1 1/2 hours or until meat thermometer read 155 degrees.

Sweet and Sour Green Beans


  • 1 LB green beans
  • 2 slices bacon, cut up
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 TB vinegar
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper


  • Cook beans in boiling water until tender.
  • Drain.
  • Meanwhile cook backon in small skillet until crisp and drain on paper towels.
  • Saute onion in bacon dripping until tender.
  • Add vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
  • Heat to boiling.
  • Stir into green beans.
  • Sprinkle baking on top.

Saturday, March 21, 2009



For a quick snack last week, when I got off work late, I made what I'll call quesadillas, for lack of a better word, using the leftover flatbread from the chicken gyros.

I'm not going to give any measurements. This is fly by the seat of your pants cooking, based totally on what odds and ends are in the fridge. The only necessity is some kind of bread and some kind of cheese.

I grated gruyere and cheddar, chopped up some green onion and parsley. Layered the ingredients between the flatbread, sprinkled on a little freshly ground black pepper, and heated up some vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.

I cooked the flatbread on either side for a couple of minutes, until the cheese was melted and the bread was golden. I served it with horseradish sauce on the side.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Focus on Food--Cumin (with chili recipe)

cumin (Public Domain image)
(Public Domain image)

Cumin at Wikipedia

Favorite Facts from the Wiki article:

The spice is native to Arabic-speaking Syria where cumin thrives in its hot and arid lands. Cumin seeds have been found in some ancient Syrian archeological sites.

Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. The cumin plant grows to 30-50 cm (1-2 ft) tall and is harvested by hand.

Seeds, excavated at the Syrian site Tell ed-Der, have been dated to the second millennium BC. They have also been reported from several New Kingdom levels of ancient Egyptian archaeological sites.[4]
The Greeks kept cumin at the dining table in its own container (much as pepper is frequently kept today), and this practice continues in Morocco. Cumin fell out of favour in Europe except in Spain and Malta during the Middle Ages. It was introduced to the Americas by Spanish colonists.

Superstition during the Middle Ages cited that cumin kept chickens and lovers from wandering. It was also believed that a happy life awaited the bride and groom who carried cumin seed throughout the wedding ceremony. Cumin is also said to help in treatment of the common cold, when added to hot milk and consumed.

Cumin seeds are used as a spice for their distinctive aroma, popular in North African, Middle Eastern, Western Chinese, Indian, Cuban and Northern Mexican cuisine. According to http://www.foodreference.com/html/fcumin.html cumin is the second most popular spice in the world after black pepper.

The spice is a familiar taste in Tex-Mex dishes and is extensively used in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent

Cumin seeds are a good source of iron.

Cumin seeds have traditionally been noted to be of benefit to the digestive system, and scientific research is beginning to bear out cumin's age-old reputation. Research has shown that cumin may stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, compounds necessary for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation.

* * *

In my mind, next to chili powder, cumin is the most important spice in chili. I can't imagine chili without cumin! I also use it a lot during the summertime in curry dishes. I always have the whole seed on hand. Not only is it cheaper to buy it in bulk (true with pretty much all spices), but the flavor is more intense. Cumin is one of the spices that I dry toast before using.

To dry toast:

In a cast iron frying pan, without oil, constantly stirring, toast the seeds until they start to brown slightly. The most important indicator that the seeds are ready, however, is that they become intensely fragrant.

My spice boxes, cumin seeds

* * *

My husband has officially adopted chili as his dish! Last time we made it he assisted. This time he offered to make it during what was a very long work week for me, and has become obsessed with experimenting with ingredients. What follows is the result of this weeks experiment--a mild chili with a hint of fragrant mole.
He's talking about making carnitas next--I think his Texan heritage is starting to kick in!


  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 LB pork, cubed
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2 TB chili powder
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • small can jalapenos (can't remember what ouce, just the itsy bitsy can)
  • Bottle of Beer
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 32 oz of canned beans
  • 1 TB honey
On the Stove:
  • Brown the pork in vegetable oil in a large pot--Richard used my 6 quart enamel cast iron pot.
  • Add the onion and celery and saute for several minutes.
  • Meanwhile, dry fry the cumin until aromatic, grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.
  • Add spices, tomato sauce, chilis, coffee,and beer to the meat and vegetables.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Cover and cook for an hour.
  • Add canned beans and sugar.
  • Cook for 10 minutes.
Serve with jalapeno vinegar (fill a small bottle with chopped jalapenos and cover with vinegar), more jalapenos on the side, cheddar cheese, and flour tortillas.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thursday Thinking Ahead--Left Over Roast Chicken Stock


When I was off the weekend before last I made the Left Over Roast Chicken Stock for the Leek and Pea Risotto with Grilled Calamari. I had a bunch of things going on in the kitchen that day (actually, you might have noticed from the time difference between making a dish, and the actual time that it shows up here, that I've just been busy in the kitchen in general), but the wonderful thing about stock is that it works its magic in the background.

I just pulled the chicken carcasses from the freezer, tossed in the vegetables, herbs, and water and let it simmer! I ended up with about 12 cups, although the recipe said it would make six. Mine seemed very flavorful, and I let it simmer for longer than instructed, because I forgot about it. Shrugs. Who knows? I was pleased with the results.

After it cooled I put 6 cups in one ziploc bag for the Risotto, and bagged the rest in 2 cup quantities for future use. Now, I'll have broth in the freezer, ready to go when I need it. How's that for thinking ahead?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Leek and Pea Risotto with Grilled Calamari

Well, I made the last of the recipes from Gourmet's Birds in Hand article last weekend, Leek and Pea Risotto with Grilled Calamari. I have a confession--I left the peas out! I've just never developed a taste for peas.

If you live in the Little Rock area, Whole Foods on Rodney Parham usually has fresh squid. A tip on cooking squid: either cook it really quickly as in this recipe (grilled for one minute) or for a very long time (I have a pasta recipe in which I cook it for over an hour)--anywhere in between and it will be rubbery. My Foreman grill is on the outs, so I used my panini grill to cook these squid and it worked fabulously.

Isn't the squid beautiful?

Well, at the end of the roasted chicken experiment, I have to say that I'm pretty pleased over all. I'll be making the basic roasted chicken again, and the gyros and the risotto. I'm not so sure about the lasagna. It was all right, but for a white lasagna I'll be sticking to one of Marcella Hazan's recipes for a ham and mushroom lasagna with porcini mushrooms.

Either that or if I try the chicken one again, I might experiment with porcini mushrooms mixed in with the button mushrooms . . . . hmmmm . . . actually that might do the trick!

I'll probably roast two chickens again and come up with some of my own recipes, or use some old favorites. This was a good way of stretching the budget, since whole chickens are so cheap! In the summer time I've often used shredded chicken in both Mexican and Vietnamese recipes--so once the Farmer's Market is up and rolling again, I'm sure there will be more chicken recipes!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sausage and Cabbage Hash revisited


I originally made this hash back at the beginning of February. One of the great things about hash is it's versatility. I didn't have the same ingredients in the house as I did a month and a half ago, so I changed it up a bit.

  • 2 TB Butter
  • 2 TB Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, fine dice
  • 1 Leek, white and pale green parts, sliced
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 4 or 5 canned tomatoes, broken up
  • 2 Mild Italian Sausages, approx. 3/4 LB, meat removed from the casings.
  • 1 1/2 LB Cabbage
  • 1 TB Balsamic Vinegar
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
On the stove:
  • Heat butter and olive oil over medium high heat.
  • When the butter has melted add garlic, leek, and onions.
  • Cook until the garlic turns golden.
  • Add sausage and brown.
  • Add tomatoes, and use a fork to break up into pieces.
  • Add cabbage, stir for several minutes.
  • Add balsamic vinegar and a liberal sprinkling of pepper.
  • Cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the hash doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
This time, I served it over long grain rice and it reminded me of the cabbage rolls my mom used to make when I was a kid!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Experimenting with Cheese--Greek Yogurt Cheese

This is the easiest cheese yet!!! No cooking involved at all. And if I make it again, with a decent amount of yogurt, I will post up some actual measurments. As it was this was a simple experiment, more than a recipe.

Simply line a colander with cheesecloth and spoon in plain Greek yogurt to drain for an hour or so. Then hang in the refrigerator as with the Neufchatel (Experimenting with Cheese--My Attempt to Make Neufchatel--Day Two). I had about half a cup left of the Greek yogurt from the Gyros with Cucumber Salsa and Tsatsiki. (It didn't make very much cheese--but it was very good, and I will be making it again.)

I left the yogurt to hang in the fridge for about 2 days. When I removed it from the cheesecloth, I added a little salt--just a pinch since it was such a small amount of cheese. I put it in a small container and poured olive oil about half way up the ball of cheese, and added a pinch of red pepper flakes, oregano, rosemary, and freshly ground pepper. I let it sit for a day to let the flavors combine, and then we spread it on toasted milk loaf.

Next time I make it, I will make garlic oil to coat the cheese--and I will use a container or two of yogurt to make a bigger batch.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cheesy Chicken and Mushroom Lasagna


Here it is Saturday already, and I made my Cheesy Chicken and Mushroom Lasagna from this month's Gourmet magazine days and days ago--luckily I took pictures! You've probably already forgotten my plan to make all four recipes from the original two roasted chickens in gourmet's Birds in Hand article(original discussion here).

I didn't make too many changes to this recipe. Unfortunately, I ran out of thyme (too lazy to go back to the store) so since the sauce was basically a bechamel sauce I just added nutmeg instead (as I often do with a bechamel sauce)--which went well with the chicken, mushrooms, and gruyere cheese. And, of course, as you can see from the photo above--I made my own lasagna noodles.

The main difference when making lasagna noodles from making other egg noodles, is that these should be used fresh, instead of having the flexibility of being made ahead and dried.

You could just use a knife and cut the sheets, but I used a pasta cutter to make it pretty. My consolation gift to myself from last week's visit to Williams Sonoma! Unfortunately, those beautiful glass, nested, multi-colored mixing bowls that I was drooling over were way out of the budget right now!

Just make the dough and roll it out as you would in previous egg pasta articles A Girl and Her Chitarra, and Don‘t Put all your Eggs in One Basket, and then cut to the appropriate size. A batch of dough from one cup of flour and two eggs, rolled thinly was enough for the lasagna. Boil the noodles for 30 seconds.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thursday Thinking Ahead--Whole Wheat Muffins

Whole Wheat Muffins

I knew when I was off this weekend that I would be working nine days in a row before another day off. So I wanted to make sure I had an easy breakfast to grab on my way out the door. These whole wheat muffins keep well in the fridge and go easily into a ziploc to throw in my purse in the morning.


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 TB plus 2Tsp baking powder
  • 1Tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cups vegetable oil


  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Grease the cups of two twelve cup muffin-pans with a pastry brush
  • In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • In a small bowl beat egg slightly, then stir in milk and salad oil.
  • Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture and stir together until flour is moistened, batter should be lumpy, don't overmix.
  • Spoon batter into muffin pan cups.
  • Bake 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Makes 18-24, depending on how full you fill the muffin cups.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Monday Evening Walk Around the Neighborhood

Click on photo to see larger--I realized when I got up and logged inthis morning that part of the photo was cut off, so I had to shrink it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Half a Pound Cake

Of course, my pound cake isn't really half a pound (despite the misleading photo below!)--more like a pound and a half. Historically the recipe for a pound cake called for a pound each of flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. There was no leavener, just the air whipped into the batter--can you imagine? All muscle, no mixer.

Half a Pound Cake

I love very simple plain cakes, tea cakes, I guess. I ran across a recipe for a Cardamom-Vanilla pound cake and started drooling. However, I don't like to make a whole cake. My husband and I have both had issues with weight in the past, and we limit our sweet intake to once or twice a week. (Portion control is the secret to staying skinny and eating what we do!). So I halfed the recipe, as I usually do when I run across a new cake recipe, and then took one of my secret short cuts--a secret that I'm going to share!

Bread Machine!

I can half most simple cake recipes and pour the batter into the bread pan of my bread machine and cook it on the bake setting(It's like using an easy bake oven--it feels like super big time cheating). The cake comes out square and then I usually cut it in half and immediately freeze one half. The other I slice into fairly small slices and usually serve with tea or coffee.

Here's half the cake recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 TB vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 TB granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 TB lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
Whipped topping ingredients:
  • 3/4 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 1 TB plus 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
(If you freeze half the cake, like I do, half this again: 1/4 cup plus 2 TB spoon heavy cream, 2 1/2 tsp powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)

  • Mix flour, cardamom, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  • Cream shortening and sugar in another bowl for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Mix in vanilla extract.
  • Mix in eggs, one at a time.
  • Mix in lemon juice.
  • Mix a little flour in, and then a little milk. Repeat several times beginning and ending with flour.
  • Pour batter into bread pan of bread machine.
  • Cook on Bake setting.
For Whipped Topping:
  • Beat ingredients together until it stands up in stiff peaks.
  • Serve on side of dessert plate.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Brunch--Smashed Potatoes


We had Panfried Smashed Potatoes with breakfast, instead of hashbrowns Sunday morning. I used vegetable oil instead of olive oil as my olive oil is getting low and they were still yum!

Bolognese Pasta Sauce

Saturday's tomato find with blooming forsythia branches from the backyard

Okay, so I know they are hot house tomatoes, but it was still very exciting to find a couple of stalls starting to sell produce down at the River Market on Saturday. We found these being sold by some Amish farmers. They might not really be in season yet, but they sure look and smell better than anything at the grocery store. So here's my first non-canned tomato recipe of the year!

Bolognese Pasta Sauce


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 mild Italian sausages
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups peeled and diced tomatoes


  • Melt butter on medium low to medium
  • Saute onion until soft
  • Add celery and carrot and saute until soft
  • Add the sausage and brown
  • Add wine and continue sauteing until wine evaporates
  • Add milk/cream, along with the nutmeg and saute until the liquid evaporates
  • Add the tomatoes and saute for a few minutes
  • Turn the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours.

Serve over pasta.

This is the best, richest pasta sauce!

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Chickpeas with Italian Sausage and Artichoke Hearts

I was inspired by one of the blogs I read to get my dried chickpeas out of the pantry. I changed up the recipe a little (go figure), since I didn't have all the ingredients and had vowed not to go back to the grocery store until next week to get the next batch of ingredients for the roast chickens.

Here's the recipe: Chickpeas with Sausage and Peppers.

And here are the substitutions: mild Italian sausage for the spicy sausage (remember my stomach, plus these were in the freezer), canned artichoke hearts for the peppers, and white wine for the sherry. I'm sure it ended up being a pretty different dish, but it was yum, and my husband went back for seconds.

As I said, I used dried chickpeas. I'm pretty impatient and don't soak my beans overnight. I've always had success using the following method to "quick soak" dried beans.


  • 1 cup dried beans
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 Tsp salt


  • Add dried beans and water to a pot.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Allow to boil for 2 minutes.
  • Put on a lid and turn off the heat.
  • Set the timer for an hour.
  • After one hour, add salt, bring beans to a boil.
  • As soon as they come to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook until tender--which will vary according to what kind of bean you are cooking. The chickpeas took about 2 hours.

Friday, March 6, 2009


From left to right, top to bottom: oolong, yunnan, genmaicha, lapsang souchong, keemun, and pu-erh

Okay, so I guess it's a beverage, not a food, but tea is something that my husband and I drink with a lot of different cuisines and desserts. We like to buy it loose and in bulk. We usually put an order in late in the Fall, when it is starting to get chilly. Our favorite mail-order place is
Holy Mountain Trading Company. We can also pick up the yunnan and the genmaicha at Sams Oriental Food Market in Little Rock.

We have a pretty large assortment of teas in our pantry, but I've picked out six that show some of the variety found in products from the leaf of the Camellia sinensis plant:

oolong -- A Chinese tea, somewhere in between a green and a black. I always think of it as a green, probably because of the color after it has been steeped. It has a slightly coppery, vegetal flavor. Oolong can be double-potted--in other words, the leafs can be re-used to make a second pot, in fact, the second pot is often better than the first. The oolong we ordered this winter was the Ti Kwan Yin (Iron Goddess), from Holy Mountain.

yunnan -- a black tea, from the Yunnan Province in China. It comes in compressed cakes. The one that comes in the box above is a large cake, but I have also found it at our local market in smaller, individually wrapped pellets to make a single cup of tea. It has a rich red color in the cup and a sweet, mellow aroma and taste.

genmaicha -- a Japanese green tea with roasted brown rice. Originally this was a tea for the peasant class, thus the filler of the roasted brown rice. Sometimes the rice pops, and there will be little bits of "popcorn" mixed in as well (if you look closely in the photo above, there is a piece of popcorn behind the pile of tea). This tea is yellow in the cup, and has a roasted vegetative flavor. One of my favorite everyday teas, we get it cheap at the local market.

lapsang souchong -- a Chinese black tea that is traditionally smoked over pine-wood fires. This stuff smells like smoking tobacco and is an acquired taste! I like it best in the bitterest of cold weather. Once Ric and I put it in a thermos and carried it out with us on a birdwatching trip to our favorite national wildlife refuge on a cold February day--very warming. It is red in the cup and has a strong (and I mean strong) flavor. One of my cook books uses it, ground, as a dry rub to mock a smoked flavor.

keemun -- Another Chinese black tea. It is red in the cup and has a sweet, almost floral taste. This is our everyday black tea.

pu-erh -- a Chinese green tea. Called a "cooked" tea, it actually undergoes a fermentation process, and is pressed and sold in cakes. It is a pale brownish color in the cup, and has an earthy, mushroomy flavor.

For more information on tea, visit the wikipedia article:
tea on Wikipedia

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thursday Thinking Ahead--March 5

Fixings for Chicken Gyros
Fixings for Chicken Gyros

This weeks Thinking Ahead is very much a continuation of last week. If you will remember, I took Gourmet Magazine's March Article Birds in Hand as a challenge, and roasted two chickens last week and based my grocery list around the four recipes that were based around those two chickens. This article was intended for cooks like me who love to think ahead!

Thursday night we enjoyed
Roast Chicken with Pan Gravy from the magazine, and my own Fennel and Sourdough Dressing. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we had leftover chicken for lunch with black eyed peas, biscuits, and my own Egg Noodles with Fennel-Pepper Sauce. Monday, and Wednesay we had Gyros with Cucumber Salsa and Tsatsiki (I was off on Tuesday, so I rummaged and saved the sandwiches for a work day).

The Chicken Gyros recipe will return to our plates later in the year when the farmer's market opens back up. It was a little out of season for the first week in March, and most of my grape tomatoes ended up in the trash as they were gray inside. Yuck!

The rest of the chicken is now up in the freezer. I'm saving it for next week when I'll make
Cheesy Chicken and Mushroom Lasagne, and Leek and Pea Risotto with Grilled Calamari.

Tuesday afternoon I rummaged through the pantry and fridge, and made up one of my trashcan pastas for lunch on Thursday and Friday to finish out the week before heading back to the grocery store.




Monday, March 2, 2009

Egg Noodles with Fennel-Pepper Sauce

Egg Noodles with Fennel-Pepper Sauce

This weekend I needed a side dish to go with my
Roast Chicken with Pan Gravy, and came up with the following combo. The pan gravy called for only 2 tablespoons of the leftover fat from the roast chicken, so I saved the rest--way too much flavor to waste! I used a tablespoon of it in my sauce, but you could use butter.

I have a love affair with black pepper--if you don't, you might want to cut the pepper down. This has a bite!

  • 6 oz dried egg noodles (From Scratch)
  • 1 TB fat
  • 1 TB flour
  • 1 1/4 cup fennel broth (from scratch)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • fresh chopped flat leaf parsley to garnish
  • Cook noodles in 4 quarts water, drain and set aside.
  • Heat fat, until melted, then turn to low heat.
  • Mix in flour until blended into a roux.
  • Slowly pour in broth, while vigourously whisking roux, until all ingredients are well blended.
  • Cook, whisking often, on medium low heat until thickened.
  • Whisk in sour cream until well blended.
  • Heat for a few more minutes to allow it to thicken back up.
  • Stir in pepper.
  • Stir sauce into noodles until well coated.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fennel and Sourdough Dressing

Roast Chicken with Pan Gravy and Fennel and Sourdough Dressing

I made this dressing over the weekend to go with the roast chicken, and to use the fennel broth I made from the scraps from last weeks pork loin with fennel.

  • 1 (1-pound) loaf sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (10 cups)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (2 cups)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter plus additional for greasing pan
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fennel broth (from scratch)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Spread bread cubes in 2 large shallow baking pans and bake, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until dry, 20 to 25 minutes total.
  • Transfer bread to a large bowl.
  • While bread is drying in oven, cook onions in 1/2 stick butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 20 minutes, then add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute.
  • Add broth, dill, salt and pepper. Stir for a minute.
  • Add onion and broth mixture to bread, toss and combine well, reserving skillet.
  • Increase oven temperature to 450°F and butter a 13- by 9-inch baking dish (3-quart capacity).
  • Spoon stuffing into baking dish. Cut remaining 2 tablespoons butter into bits and dot over top of stuffing.
  • Bake stuffing, covered tightly with a sheet of buttered foil (buttered side down), in upper third of oven until heated through, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Remove foil and bake stuffing until top is lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Sunday Brunch--Chicken Biscuits

So my tummy was upset last week--that's actually putting it very mildly. I was home from work a day and a half, and in so much pain that I was longing to be with my co-workers instead of being at home in bed, or worshipping the you know what.

Wednesday, I finally managed late in the day to have some Liptons Chicken soup, and toast, and jello--and that was little bites and sips over a period of 3 or so hours. Most of the soup ended up down the kitchen drain. The thought of food was miserable--which is saying something, since usually I probably spend way too much time thinking about it.
Thursday, thank goodness, was my day off and I managed very wobbily, with lot's of rest breaks, to roast the chickens that I knew we'd need to see us through my long weekend at work, or else it'd be fast food for sure! I had about four bites of that chicken because it smelled so good, and because finally my stomach seemed to want something. Big mistake!

Friday, I made it through half a day at work, ate a little toast off and on that I told one of my co-workers burned like the fieriest of Mexican food, and then came home to rest that afternoon.
I finally managed to eat a full meal--a small serving of garlic pasta. It stayed down, but didn't feel so great.

Then Saturday morning I woke up hungry--not just hungry but craving of all things a chicken biscuit! And I actually felt almost normal after I ate it!
Here's the result of that craving:

Making Biscuits
Unfortunately, the biscuits turned out pretty flat. I believe the common metaphor is "like hockey pucks." They tasted yummy, but I was also craving a certain texture--so I tried again for Sunday Brunch.

I turned to one of the few food network celebrity chefs that I really care for--Alton Brown. AB always uses science as the basis for his recipes, and if ever I needed science it was now. Altons Southern Biscuits turned out wonderfully! Although the recipe claimed it would make a dozen, I only got six out of it.

Making Biscuits 2

This time I measured the dough to make sure it was the right thickness. I ended up with a much smaller round of dough. I made sure that the biscuits were touching. Also, since it seemed to be very important that the shortening, butter, and buttermilk remain cold, I put the unbaked biscuits in the fridge while I waited for the oven to finish warming up to the right temperature.