Friday, December 10, 2010

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pie


1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

2 cups canned pumpkin, mashed

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1 cup half-and-half

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, optional

1 piece pre-made pie dough

Whipped cream, for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place 1 piece of pre-made pie dough down into a (9-inch) pie pan and press down along the bottom and all sides. Pinch and crimp the edges together to make a pretty pattern. Put the pie shell back into the freezer for 1 hour to firm up. Fit a piece of aluminum foil to cover the inside of the shell completely. Fill the shell up to the edges with pie weights or dried beans (about 2 pounds) and place it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and pie weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until the crust is dried out and beginning to color.

For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, half-and-half, and melted butter, and beat until combined. Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger, if using, and beat until incorporated.

Pour the filling into the warm prepared pie crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set. Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cut into slices and top each piece with a generous amount of whipped cream.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cornbread and Sage Stuffing

From: NY Times

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or 1 tablespoon each olive oil and unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
Salt to taste
4 stalks celery, cut in small dice
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons rubbed sage, or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground pepper
A double batch of Quick Cornbread, crumbled (you can do this in a food processor fitted with the steel blade)
1/2 cup milk, or as necessary, for moistening
About 2 cups vegetable stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter if baking separately

1. Heat the olive oil (or oil and butter) over medium heat in a large, heavy, nonstick skillet, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften, about three minutes, and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and the celery. Cook together for another few minutes, until the onion is tender. Add the garlic, and stir together for 30 seconds to a minute, until fragrant. Transfer to a large bowl, and add the remaining ingredients. Combine well. Taste and adjust salt. Moisten as desired with milk.

2. Stuff the cavity of the turkey, or transfer to a buttered or oiled 2-quart baking dish. Dot with butter. Cover with aluminum foil, and heat through in a 325-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Yield: Makes enough stuffing to fill an 18-pound turkey.

Advance preparation: You can make the cornbread several days ahead and the stuffing a
day ahead.

Turkey Gravy

From my Mama :)

You can use water or milk as the liquid. I generally use milk.

You can use flour or corn starch as the thickener. I usually use flour.

Mix about one cup of milk with about 4 T (heaping) of flour until there are no lumps.

In a saucepan mix 2-3 cups meat drippings (e.g. from turkey bag) with the flour and milk.

Heat, stirring occasionally until thickened.

If it doesn't thicken enough, mix more milk and flour together, add to pan and heat more.

Add seasonings to taste.

Mom's Famous Strawberry Jello

(makes a 13X9 pan)

  1. Mix 1 large box or 2 small boxes of strawberry jello (regular or sugar free) with 2 cups boiling water until dissolved.
  2. Add one can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple
  3. Add frozen strawberries (the kind with sugar added) about 1 pound or 2 cups (This measurement doesn't need to be exact.)
  4. Mix in large bowl.
  5. Pour half the mixture in the dish and refrigerate until firm.
  6. Cover the other half with plastic wrap and set it to the side. (Not in the fridge)
  7. When it's set, spread with about 2 cups of sour cream (any variety).
  8. Pour the other half of the mixture on top and let set.

Sweet Potato Souffle

From: Aunt Susan

3 cups cooked sweet potato (can use fresh or canned)

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup canned evaporated milk

1/4 stick margarine (do not melt)

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp. butter flavoring

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • Whip together with mixer. Pour in casserole dish (I use small rectangular pyrex dish)

Top with:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup self rising flour

1/2 stick margarine (do not melt)

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

  • Mix with pastry blender. Sprinkle on top and bake at 350-375 degrees. for 30-35 minutes.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lemon Cream Meringue Pie

1 8-inch pie crust

2 c. milk
2/3 c. sugar
4 medium lemons
1/4 c. cornstarch
4 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
2 T. unsalted butter, softened

Meringue topping:
4 egg whites
2/3 c. sugar
pinch of salt

  1. Combine milk and sugar in a non-reactive saucepan (i.e. enamel coated).
  2. Zest lemons (scrape off only the yellow part of the peel using a grater, the white part of the lemon tastes very bitter). Add zest to the milk and bring to a simmer over low heat.
  3. Remove from heat for 5 min and strain out the zest.
  4. Squeeze 1/2 c. of juice from the lemons and combine it with cornstarch and egg yolks.
  5. Reheat the milk to a simmer over low heat, and add about 1/3 of the lemon/egg mixture to the saucepan.
  6. Add some milk mixture to a cool bowl and mix the rest of the lemon/egg mixture in with a whisk. Combine mix from the bowl with the mix in the saucepan and bring it to a boil for 30 seconds.
  7. Remove from heat and mix in the butter.
  8. Pour the filling into a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap touching the top of the filling until the filling reaches about room temperature.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
  10. Poke holes in the crust with a fork at 1/2 inch intervals. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, until the crust is a light golden color. Cool crust on a rack.
  11. Spread cooled filling on cooled crust.
  12. Preheat oven to 400 deg F.
  13. Bring a small pan of water to a boil. Lower heat so that water simmers.
  14. Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in a heat proof bowl.
  15. Place bowl over pan with simmering water and whisk eggs until sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  16. Remove egg whites from heat and beat them at medium speed with an electric mixer until the meringue has cooled and can hold stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted from it.
  17. Spread meringue over the cooled filling to cover the entire top surface of the pie and touches the edges of the crust.
  18. Place pie on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 to 10 min until the meringue is evenly covered.

Vegetable Casserole with Herb Dumplings

Casserole ingredients:
1 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 t. sweet paprika
1 large potato, chopped
1 large carrot, sliced
1 14-oz can chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 c. vegetable stock
14 oz. orange sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 zucchini, thickly sliced
1 yellow squash, thickly sliced
2 T. heavy cream

Dumpling ingredients:
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
2 t. chopped italian parsely
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. chopped rosemary
1/3 c. buttermilk

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.
  2. Mix all the casserole ingredients in a large oven proof pot or pan.
  3. Combine the dumpling ingredients in a separate bowl. Form the dough into golf ball sized balls and drop on top of the vegetables.
  4. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 30 min or until potatoes are tender.

Sloppy Mexican Lasagna

2 lbs. hamburger meat (lean-ish)
1 large onion, chopped
1 can black olives, chopped
1 can enchilada sauce
1 16-oz jar Thick'n'Chunky Salsa
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
at least 16-oz shredded colby jack cheese
1 can Golden mushroom soup
18 corn tortillas

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
  2. Saute onions then brown with the beef. Drain the grease.
  3. Add olives, soup, sauce, and salsa.
  4. Simmer over medium heat for 15 min (be careful not to scorch the bottom of the pan).
  5. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray.
  6. Layer 6 tortillas, 1/3 meat mixture, 1/3 cheese. Repeat 2 more times.
  7. Bake in the oven for 30-35 min until it's bubbly.
  8. Serve with salad, sour cream, guacamole, and/or whatever else you feel like eating :)

Corn Bread

Adapted from Foodnetwork

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. yellow cornmeal
3 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. buttermilk (or regular milk with 1 T. vinegar)
1/4 c. canola or vegetable oil
1 large egg

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 deg F and spray a 9x9 inch square pan with oil.
  2. Combine dry ingredients.
  3. Stir in wet ingredients and mix well.
  4. Spread the batter in the pan and bake for 20 minutes. Stab the middle of the bread with a knife, and if it comes out clean, the bread is done cooking.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ethiopian Chick Pea Mash

2-3 T. olive oil
2-3 jalapenos, seeded and minced
2 inches fresh ginger, grated
3 c. cooked chick peas (with about 1 cup water or juice from can or from cooking them)
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste

  1. Saute jalapenos until tender.
  2. Add ginger and cook for about 1 min.
  3. Add chick peas and liquid. Stir and bring to a boil.
  4. Add lemon juice, mash really well, until nearly the consistence of humus.
  5. Serve hot with Yemenite flat bread or Injera.

Yemenite Bread (Lachuch)


2.2 lbs. white flour
1 t. dry yeast
2 T. semolina
1 T. salt
1/2 t. sugar
6 c. lukewarm water
3 c. room temperature water

  1. Mix 6 cups warm water, salt, 1/4 t sugar, and yeast in a big bowl.
  2. Boil 3 cups water and cook semolina in it.
  3. Let boiled water cool, then add it to the yeast mix.
  4. Gradually add flour and mix the dough until it's the consistency of thin pancake mix.
  5. Let dough rise for at least 2.5 hours (it can sit in the refrigerator overnight)
  6. Heat a non-stick skillet with a lid over medium heat. Spread batter on the pan like a crepe and cover it until the top of the bread looks cooked. Flip the bread and cook for a few more minutes. Set aside. Repeat until all the batter is cooked. (It should taste like a yeasty crepe)
  7. Enjoy with Middle Eastern or Ethiopian food (in place of Injera)

Misir Wot (Ethiopian Spicy Lentils)

1 1/2 c. red lentils
3 c. water
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 T. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. Berbere spice mix (see recipe on this blog)

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet and saute onions until they're translucent. Add garlic and lentils.
  2. Stir fry lentils until the skins become slightly darker. Add water, Berbere spice mix, and allow them to simmer until lentils are soft and nearly disintegrated. (You might need to add more water as the lentils cook.)

Berbere Spice Mix

2 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. ground cloves
3/4 t. ground cardamom
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. ground allspice
1 t. ground fenugreek seeds
1/2 t. ground coriander seeds
2 t. ground cayenne pepper
1 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. turmeric
1 t. salt
2 t. paprika
1/8 t. ground cinnamon

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chocolate Shell... world's best ice cream topping

1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 T. canola (or vegetable) oil
3 T. peanut butter (chunky or smooth)

  1. Microwave chocolate chips mixed with oil for 30 seconds at medium power.
  2. Stir chocolate.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until chocolate is just melted. DO NOT OVERHEAT.
  4. Stir in peanut butter.
  5. Put on ice cream before it re-solidifies. It can be re-heated as long as no water gets in it... this will make it scorch when it gets re-heated.

Basic Tomato Sauce

1 28-oz can petite diced tomatoes - no extra seasoning
2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/3 c. shredded carrots
2 T. olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 T. dried oregano
2 T. fresh basil, chopped
1 t. dried crushed red pepper
1 t. salt
1/2 t. sugar
black pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a skillet and cook onions until they're translucent.
  2. Add garlic, carrots, and bay leaves. Cook for 2 minute.
  3. Add chopped and canned tomatoes, basil, oregan, and red pepper.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Simmer for at least 30 min before serving.

Potato Gnocchi

From: My mama's kitchen :)

2 c. leftover COLD mashed potatoes (ready to eat - except cold)
1 egg
2-4 c. all-purpose flour ( amount depends on the moisture in the potatoes)

  1. Get a big pot of water ready to boil.
  2. Scramble the egg and mix it well with the mashed potatoes.
  3. Slowly add flour, stirring it in until the dough reaches a consistency a little softer than play-dough.
  4. Roll the dough into a snake about 1/2 inch in diameter. Slice the snake with a sharp knife to make 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch cylinders. Make them all about the same size so they all cook the same amount of time. As you cut them, keep them dusted with flour so they don't stick to each other.
  5. When the water boils, add a couple handfulls of gnocchis and stir gently. Keep the water boiling. The gnocchis will float to the surface of the water when they are cooked. Scoop the cooked gnocchis out of the water and set aside in a bowl. Sprinkle them occasionally with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking to each other. Cook the gnocchis in batches until they are all cooked.
  6. Serve with any Italian sauce you wish... I like herb and garlic sauce or tomato sauce.
  7. Share with friends and family... it makes them taste better :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lentil Pizza

1 12" cooked pizza crust (If fresh, spread with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake until cooked, but still white)
2 c. cooked lentils
1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatos, drained
3 cloves minced garlic
2 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried basil
1/4 t. ground thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh mozzarella cheese (as desired)

  1. Combine lentils, tomatos, garlic, oregano, basil, and thyme in a sauce pan. Heat thoroughly, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread lentil mixture over the pizza crust and put slices of fresh mozzarella all over the pizza.
  3. Cook at 350 degrees until the cheese has melted.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pad Thai (the easy way)

8 oz rice noodles
1/4 c. canola oil
5 T. tamarind paste
1/4 c. fish sauce
1/3 c. honey
2 T. rice vinegar
2 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 c. chopped green onions
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small head Napa (or chinese) cabbage, thinly sliced
1 1/2 c. mung bean sprouts
1/2 c. roasted peanuts
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lb extra firm tofu, cubed
2 limes, quartered

  1. Boil enough water to completely cover the noodles. Once the water boils, add noodles and remove from heat. Allow the noodles to soak 5 min, until tender and rinse with cold water. Set aside to drain.
  2. Mix canola oil, tamarind paste, fish sauce, honey, rice vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Simmer until ready to use.
  3. Heat a small amount of oil in a LARGE skillet. Add tofu, onions, garlic, cabbage, and bean sprouts and cook until tender and heated through.
  4. Toss noodles, sauce, and vegetables together.
  5. Serve with peanuts, cilantro, and lime on top.

Orange Salad

This makes enough for a meal for 2 people. Adjust amounts accordingly.

1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. white wine vinegar (or white rice vinegar)
1 t. sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

1 small head green or red lettuce
2 oranges, peeled and cut into sections
1/4 c. roasted almonds
4 T. chopped scallions (or red onions)
1/2 c. chopped flat parsely
1/3 c. dried cranberries

  1. Mix all the ingredients together for the dressing.
  2. Toss salad ingredients in a large bowl and add dressing. Mix well and serve immediately.

Wild rice and mushroom stuffed peppers

1 c. wild rice
1 1/2 c. water
3 scallions, diced
1 pint sliced brown mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
3-4 whole bell peppers (any color), seeded
1 c. grated pepper jack cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook wild rice in water until tender (add water if needed).
  3. Heat skillet, add oil, and saute the mushrooms until browned.
  4. Add garlic and scallions to the mushrooms. Cook until tender.
  5. Stir rice into mushroom mixture and fill the hollow peppers.
  6. Put grated cheese on top of stuffed peppers and bake for about 45 min, until peppers are tender-crisp.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Apple Strudel

3/4 stick margarine
1/2 c. milk
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 c. flour
thin slices of apple
2 T. thinly sliced butter
Sugar & cinnamon to sprinkle on dough

2 T. milk
1/2 c. powdered sugar
  1. Mix margarine, milk, egg yolk, and flour. Refrigerate for 3 hours.
  2. Divide into 2 portions and roll out one portion in spread on the bottom of an 8x8 pan.
  3. Spread butter on dough and add thin apple slices.
  4. Sprinkle sugar & cinnamon.
  5. Roll out second half of dough and place strips of dough in a criss-cross pattern.
  6. Bake at 325 F for 1 hour.
  7. Drizzle with glaze.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 lbs. plus 2 c. biscuit mix
2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. mashed cooked sweet potatoes
1/3 c. vanilla extract
2/3 c. buttermilk
  1. Preheat to 360 degrees F.
  2. Combine 2 lbs flour mix, cinnamon, and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl mix sweet potato, vanilla,and buttermilk until totally combined.
  4. Combine flour mix and sweet potato mix.
  5. Dust surface with biscuit mix and roll dough out. Cut biscuits and place them on a greased 9-in square pan.
  6. Bake 20-25 min, until brown on the outside and solid in the center. Glaze with melted butter and serve hot.

"Real Texas Chili"

From: Food Network

3 lb. ground chuck
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 T. chili powder
5 T. flour
1 T. dried oregano
1 t. ground cumin seeds
2-3 cans beef broth
2 small cans drained pinto beans (optional)
Garnishes: sour cream and lime wedges
  1. Brown beef in small amount of oil. Drain off fat.
  2. Add garlic and cook 2 min.
  3. Add chili powder, flour, oregano, and cumin.
  4. Cook until meat is well coated. Slowly add 2 cans broth and stir well.
  5. Partially cover and simmer for 45 min.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Simmer again for 45 min.
Leftovers are great. Serve with squeezed lime juice and top with sour cream and crusty bread.

Jumbo Shrimp Stuffed with Cilantro and Chiles

Adjusted from: Food Network

8 jumbo shrimp (about 1 1/4 lbs)
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. salt
black pepper
3 cloves minced garlic
1 large jalapeno, with seeds
3 green onions, with green parts
1 c. chopped cilantro leaves
Tootpicks soaked in water

  1. Soak shrimp (shelled, deveined, and washed) in a mix of 1 T. olive oil, 1/2 t. salt and pepper, and lime juice for 30 min.
  2. Blend cilantro, onions, jalapeno, garlic, 1 T. oil, and lime juice marinade into a paste.
  3. Cut the shrimp open (enough to stuff them, but not cut all the way through) and put the paste inside. Close by using a toothpick soaked in water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook shrimp on a dry non-stick skillet until cooked through.

Homemade Argentine Spaghetti Sauce (Tuco Italiano)

From a website that is no longer available

2 lb ground beef
2 T. olive oil
4 hot italian sausages
2 medium onions, chopped
2 carrots, grated
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick of celery
3 T. dried oregano
1 T. dried
2 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
1 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. tomato paste
2 c. tomato puree
1 T. sugar

  1. Heat oil in a pot, and brown the sausages in it. Set aside to cool and slice into bite sized pieces.
  2. Brown the onions. When they become translucent, add the ground beef and brown. Drain off the fat, and set it aside.
  3. Cook the carrots, celery, and peppers in the same pot. When they are tender, add the garlic and ground beef.
  4. Add the white wine and all the tomato products. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the seasoning and sugar. Adjust seasoning as desired. (I like to add extra oregano, salt, and pepper.)
  6. Simmer for 45 min. Add sausages in the last 5 minutes of cooking to heat through.
  7. Serve on your favorite pasta.

Spinach & Ricotta Pie

From: Italian

8 oz frozen chopped spinach, cooked, drained, and squeezed dry (or already cooked fresh spinach, chopped and drained)
4 oz. ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 t. nutmeg
2 oz. ground almonds
1 1/2 oz grated Parmesan cheese
2 puff pastry shells, thawed (premade from grocery store)
1 egg, beaten (for brushing on pie at the end)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 deg C). Grease an 8x8 pan.
  2. Mix ricotta cheese, eggs, spinach, ground almonds, parmesan cheese, and nutmeg in a bowl.
  3. Roll puff pastry out to cover the bottom of an 8x8 pan. Put the pastry shell in the pan. Use a fork to poke holes in it every 3 or 4 inches apart.
  4. Fill the pastry shell with the spinach mixture.
  5. Roll second puff pastry shell out to cover the pie. Place over the filling and trim the edges.
  6. Brush beaten egg over the top. Poke holes in the top shell every 3-4 inches.
  7. Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 min, and reduce temperature to 375 degrees F for another 25-30 minutes.

Orange Mascarpone Chicken

From: Italian

2 oranges
2 T Marsala or medium sherry
4 skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c. chicken stock
4 T. mascarpone cheese , room temperature (don't substitute with anything else or the texture will be wrong)
2 T. butter

  1. Using a fine grater, zest one of the oranges (grate ONLY the orange part off the orange rind.)
  2. Juice the zested orange and mix with the zest and marsala (or sherry.) Slice second orange into 4 rings, and cut the rings into 4 segments. Add to juice mixture.
  3. Make slits in the chicken breasts and marinate in orange juice mixture for at least 30 min (could be longer.)
  4. Melt butter in frying pan.
  5. Saute chicken breasts until golden brown on either side.
  6. Add marinade to the pan and boil for 20-25 min until chicken is fully cooked.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in mascarpone cheese.
  8. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Put over low heat for 2-3 min to heat through (DO NOT BOIL).
This dish goes really well with sides of green beans and boiled new potatoes.

Lemon Cake

From: Food Network

1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 c. granulated sugar
4 XL eggs, room temperature
1/3 c. grated lemon zest (only the yellow part of the lemon peel, not the white part)
3 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
3/4 c. fresh lemon juice
3/4 c. buttermilk (or milk with a 1 t. of vinegar mixed)
1 t. pure vanilla extract
2 c. confectioner's (powdered) sugar
3 1/2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 cake pan (or two 8x4 loaf pans.)
  2. Cream butter and 2 c. granulated sugar. Add eggs one at a time.
  3. In a separate bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a third bowl mix 1/4 c. lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla.
  5. Slowly add flour and buttermilk mixtures to the creamed butter.
  6. Spread batter in pan(s).
  7. Bake for 35 to 45 min for 9x13 pan or up to an hour for 8x4 pans.
  8. Combine 1/2 c. granulated sugar and 1/2 c. lemon juice in a small sauce pan. Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. After cooling the cakes for 10 min, stab holes in the cake with a knife, then spoon the lemon juice/sugar mixture over the cake.
  9. For the glaze combine confectioner's sugar and 3 1/2 T. lemon juice in a bowl. Drizzle over the cooled cake.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wacky Cake

1 1/2 c. flour
3 T. Dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
2 t. vanilla
1 t. white vinegar
6 T. canola oil
1 c. cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  1. Sift all the dry ingredients together into a bowl. Mix together.
  2. Make 3 small holes in the mixture. Pour the vanilla in one hole, the vinegar in another, and canola oil in another.
  3. Pour water over the top and mix.
  4. Pour into a lightly greased 8x8 inch pan.
  5. Bake for 30 to 35 min.

Bran Muffins


1 1/2 c. wheat bran
1 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. canola oil
1 egg
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
  2. Mix together wheat bran and buttermilk; let stand for 10 min.
  3. Beat together oil, egg, sugar, and vanilla. Add buttermilk/bran mix.
  4. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir flour mix into buttermilk mixture. Fold in raisins.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tops.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 min, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out cleans.

No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Bars

1 c. honey
1 c. Creamy Peanut Butter
3 c. uncooked old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 c. dried cherries, cranberries, seeds, nuts, or chocolate chips
  1. Combine the honey and the peanut butter in a large non-stick pan. Heat over low heat until the mixture is smooth and runny.
  2. Mix in the oats and any other dry ingredients. Coat with peanut butter mixture.
  3. Pour mixture into a greased 9x9 pan, press down firmly into pan.
  4. Cool and cut into 16 squares.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in a resealable bag in the fridge for up to a month.

Corn Salad

4 c. fresh corn kernels (from 4 ears), raw or cooked
2 jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced
2 T. fresh lime juice
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. queso fresco (mexican farmers cheese)

  1. Mix corn, jalapeños, juice, oil, and seasoning together in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle queso fresco on top.

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

From: Real Simple

1 recipe Basic Sugar Cookie Dough, room temperature
1/3 c. apricot or raspberry jam

  1. Roll dough into tablespoon sized balls.
  2. Press a thumbprint into the center of each ball.
  3. Spoon a teaspoon of jam into the center of each cookie.
  4. Bake at 350 for 15-18 min until the bottom of the cookies turns slightly golden.

Cherry-Almond Jumbles

From: Real Simple

1 recipe Basic Sugar Cookie Dough, room temperature
1 c. dried cherries
1 c. sliced almonds

  1. Mix cherries and almonds into sugar cookie dough.
  2. Drop tablespoon-sized mounds onto baking sheets.
  3. Bake at 350 until the cookies begin to brown (14-20 min).

Basic Sugar Cookie Dough

From: Real Simple

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. kosher salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 t. pure vanilla extract

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg and beat until fluffy. Beat in vanilla.
  3. Gradually add flour mix to butter/sugar mix. Dough will be stiff when flour and butter are completely mixed.
  4. Shape cookies and bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees F.
This dough can be used to make several other types of cookies with a little creativity.

Potato Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

From: Real Simple

This is a great side to go with steak.

1 lb. small red potatoes
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. (about 1 oz.) crumbled blue cheese
2 T. white wine vinegar
1 small head Boston (or green) lettuce, torn (about 4 c.)
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
  1. Wash potatoes and put them in a pot filled with enough cold water to completely cover them. Bring to a boil and simmer (meaning keep little boiling bubbles going) for about 14-16 min. Check to be sure the potatoes are tender, but not mushy. Drain and run cold water over them to cool. Cut the potatoes into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces.
  2. Combine blue cheese, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and mix well.
  3. Mix potatoes with lettuce in a large bowl.
  4. Add blue cheese dressing and toss all the ingredients together just before serving.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thai Ground Beef Salad

Adapted from: Family Circle


1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/3 c. rice-wine vinegar (white)
1 T. dark sesame oil
1 t. sugar
1 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. garlic salt
1 c. cilantro leaves

Shake all the ingredients in a sealed container until well mixed.


2 lb. ground chuck
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. salt
2 carrots, peeled and cut into slender 1 x 1/4 inch sticks
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped into 1 x 1/4 inch sticks
1 small red onion finely diced
1 head green lettuce, chopped
  1. Brown the beef in a skillet. Drain the grease (very important).
  2. Return the beef to the skillet and add the garlic, cayenne pepper, and salt. Cook for 4 more minutes, stirring well.
  3. Let the beef cool (it can sit in the fridge until you're ready to make and serve the salad).
  4. Stir red onion into beef.
  5. Mix carrots, red pepper, and lettuce together.
  6. Top lettuce with beef.
  7. Pour desired amount of dressing on top. Toss and enjoy!

Raisin French Toast with Rum Banana Sauce

From: Inn on the Ocean, Ocean City, Maryland

French toast:

Raisin cinnamon swirl bread
4 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/8 t. cinnamon
butter to grease a skillet
  1. Mix eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon in a pie plate.
  2. Dip bread in the mixture on both sides.
  3. Transfer to a skillet grease with melted butter over medium heat.
  4. Cook until bread is golden brown on both sides.
Rum Banana Sauce:

2 T. rum
2 T. orange juice
2 T. sugar
2 T. butter
2 sliced bananas
  1. Simmer rum, orange juice, sugar, and butter together for about 5 min.
  2. Arrange bananas on top of french toast.
  3. Pour sauce over toast, and add another small splash of rum on top.

Cornucopia Salad (a.k.a. Aunt Kay's "Magic" Salad)

From: Aunt Kay

1 head of red leaf lettuce (romaine is ok too)
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 c. crumbled blue cheese
1 granny smith apple, diced, soaked in lemon juice
1/2 c. chopped parsley
1 avocado cubed (optional)
1 c. caramelized almonds (see recipe below)
1 c. dried cranberries
4 green onions, chopped

Caramelized almonds:
1 c. slivered almonds
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
  1. Mix sugar and cinnamon together.
  2. In a DRY, non-stick skillet, place almonds and sugar mix over medium high heat until sugar melts and coats the almonds.
  3. Remove from heat and spread the nuts on foil to cool. (Soak the pan if the sugar gets stuck to the pan. It will dissolve.)
  4. Break apart any clumps.
Salad Dressing:

1/2 c. canola oil (olive oil tastes strange in this dressing)
3 T. parsley, chopped
4 T. sugar
4 T. apple cider vinegar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Shake together all the dressing ingredients in a sealed container to mix.

To assemble the salad, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and pour the salad dressing on top. Toss and serve.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kusherie (Egyptian Rice with Lentils)

Adapted from: More with Less Cookbook


2 T. oil
1 1/4 c. lentils
3 c. boiling water
1 t. salt
2 c. cooked rice
  1. Heat oil and brown lentils in a covered skillet for 5 min.
  2. Add boiling water and salt. Cook until lentils are tender.
  3. Stir in cooked rice.

3/4 c. tomato paste
2 14-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 green pepper, chopped
celery leaves from 3 stalks
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
black pepper to taste

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan.
  2. Simmer for 20-30 min. (It's worth the wait)
Browned Onions:

2 T. olive oil
3 medium onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
  1. Heat oil in a skillet.
  2. Add sliced onions and cook until tender.
  3. Add garlic and cook for another 3-4 min.
To Serve:
  1. Put the lentil/rice mixture in a bowl.
  2. Spoon tomato sauce over the lentils.
  3. Put browned onions and garlic on top.
This is also very good with a dollop of plain yogurt on top.

Orange Spice Tea Cake

Adapted from:

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
1 c. sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. all-spice or cardamom
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 T. grated orange zest (be careful to only use the orange part and not the white part, or else the cake will be bitter)
3/4 c. freshly squeezed orange juice (yes, in this recipe it makes a difference if you don't squeeze it yourself)
1/4 c. dark molasses
1 large egg
1 T. canola oil
1/2 c. ground walnuts or almonds (really finely chopped is ok too)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 5 bread pan.
  2. Combine flour, spices, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate, non-metal bowl combine orange zest, orange juice, molasses, egg, and oil.
  4. Slowly mix flour mixture with the wet ingredients.
  5. Stir in walnuts or almonds.
  6. Pour into the greased bread pan and bake for about 1 hour, until a toothpick stabbed in the middle comes out clean.

Vegan Banana Bread


1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. margarine, room temperature (softened butter is ok if you don't care if this is actually vegan or not)
3 very ripe bananas, well mashed
2 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 c. vanilla soy milk (or regular milk) mixed with 1 t. apple cider vinegar (also could be replaced with 1/4 c. of buttermilk)
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. allspice (or cardamom)
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8x4 bread pan
  2. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. Cream together margarine and sugars.
  4. Add bananas, soy milk, and vanilla to margarine mix.
  5. Add flour mix to margarine mix and stir well.
  6. Pour batter (it should be very thick) into bread pan.
  7. Bake for 1 hour - 1 hour and 10 min.

Chickpea Masala (or Indian Style Garbanzo Beans)

From: Siva

1 15-oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 14-oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
3 t. olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green chili pepper, finely sliced (jalapeño or serano peppers are ok)
4-5 garlic cloves, minced or smashed
2 t. fresh grated ginger
2-3 bay leaves
1/2 t. turmeric powder
1 t. coriander powder
1 t. garam masala powder
1 t. salt
1 t. indian red chili powder or cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
2 c. water

  1. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet until hot enough for a drop of water to make a sizzling sound. Cook bay leaves for about 1 min.
  2. Add onion, tomatoes, and green chili pepper. Cook until onion is translucent and chili pieces are tender.
  3. Add salt, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, and red chili powder, if desired. Cook for 3-4 min.
  4. Stir in water and bring mixture to a boil.
  5. Add chick peas and stir well. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add more salt to taste and serve on rice or with indian bread (ex.: naan, chapati, etc.)

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

From: Southern Living 12/2005

1 1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 large eggs

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. baking soda

1 6-oz package sweetened dried cranberries
1 1/2 c. white chocolate morsels (best if they're actually made with cocoa butter)

1) Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
2) Cream butter and sugar together. (Can be done by hand or with a mixer.)
3) Mix eggs into creamed butter and sugar.
4) Add flour mix to butter mix.
5) Stir in cranberries and chocolate morsels.
6) Drop cookies on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 min until lightly brown on bottom.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Serves 4

1 4-oz can green chilies - diced
1/4 c. sour cream (any kind)
1/4 c. fresh cilantro leaves
1 15-oz can solid-pack pumpkin
1 14-oz can chicken broth (1/2 14-oz can vegetable broth and 1 c. water could be used instead to make this a vegan recipe)
1/4 c. water
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

1) Combine green chilies, cilantro, sour cream in a food
processor or blender, and process until smooth.
2) Combine pumpkin, chicken broth, water, cumin,
chili powder, garlic powder, and pepper in a medium
saucepan. Stir one fourth-cup of the green
chili mixture.
3) Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Simmer,
uncover, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4) Pour into serving bowls. Top each serving with a
small dollop of remaining green chili mixture. Run
tip of spoon through dollop to swirl.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Beef Empanadas (or Empanadas Salteñas from Argentina)

This recipe is a translation and simplification of the recipe
I found on an Argentine website that is no longer online.
It's one of Nathan's favorites. The pastry shells, called
tapas de empanadas, are available in stores where they
import latin food, but for those of us far removed
from such luxuries, we have to make our own.

Empanadas Salteñas

Pastry crust:

8 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
10 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1 egg, lightly whisked
1.5 t. salt
1.5 c. room temperature water

1) Make a mound of flour with a dent in the middle, forming a bowl.
Place the soft butter and egg in the center of the bowl.
2) Mix the flour, egg, and butter by folding the flour into the liquid.
Mix until the blend reaches an even consistency.
3) Dissolve the salt in the water. Add water to the flour mixture 1/4 c.
at a time until the dough forms a ball. Kneed for 5 minutes, and
cover with a damp towel to let rest for 15 minutes.
4) Dust the counter with flour and roll the dough out into 8 inch circles
that are 1/4 inch thick. Place wax paper or extra flour between the
shells to keep them from sticking together.


2 T. olive oil
4 lb ground beef (less than 20% fat is preferable)
6 hard boiled eggs, diced
4 medium cooking onions, diced
1 c. pitted green olives, diced
1/4 c. seedless raisins
3 T. oregano
3 T. garlic powder
3 T. roasted red pepper, minced
4 cubes of Knorr beef bullion
Salt and black pepper to taste

1) Heat olive oil in a large pot, and add diced onions.
Cook until soft and translucent.
2) Add beef to pot and brown.
VERY IMPORTANT: Drain the meat before proceeding.
3) Add oregano, garlic powder and beef bullion cubes to meat
and mix in thoroughly.
4) Mix in the remaining ingredients, and let the filling cool to
room temperature.


Putting it all together:

1) Take 2-3 tablespoons of filling and place it in the middle of
an 8 in pastry shell.
2) Fold the shell closed so that the filling is still in the center
of the shell, but the edges can
be pinched together. You may want to wet you finger with
some water and run it over the
edge where the dough is supposed to stick together.
3) Crimp the edges of the shell so that it is firmly sealed shut.
The result should be a half circle with filling held inside.
4) Place these on a greased cookie sheet and use a fork to stab
holes in the top of each empanada so that they don't expand
and lose their shape during baking.
5) Cook about 20 minutes or until the outside of the pastry
dough is golden brown.

This is a great recipe to serve with potato or lettuce salad.
Plan for at least 2 or 3 empanadas per person. This recipe
is just as good when cut in half. Enjoy!

Hearty Vegetable Lasgna

This is hands-down the best vegetable lasagna I've ever eaten.

Recipe by: Danielle


1 (16 ounce) package lasagna noodles (only need 9 strips of noodles)


2 tablespoons vegetable/olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 medium carrots, sliced or chopped

1 green bell pepper, sliced or chopped

1 red bell pepper, sliced or chopped

1 medium onion, sliced or chopped

1 medium zucchini, sliced or chopped

1 medium yellow squash, sliced or chopped

About 6 cups (48 ounces) tomato based pasta sauce

1 can diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons dried basil

Salt and pepper

1 (15-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese (fat-free is a terrible substitution)

4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

2 eggs

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 bag fresh or 1 box frozen spinach (thawed, rinsed, and patted dry with a paper towel)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


1. Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Rinse with cold water, and drain.

2. In a large saucepan, cook and stir garlic and all the vegetables (except the spinach) in oil. Stir in pasta sauce (save one cup for later) and basil; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

3. Mix together ricotta, 3 cups mozzarella cheese, eggs, and parsley.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread remaining 1 cup pasta sauce into the bottom of a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer 1/3 each: lasagna noodles, cheese mix, spinach, sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering, and top with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

5. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes, and then uncovered for an additional 15-20 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

How it all began...

I will take a brief moment to introduce myself before I start actual posting my new (to me) discoveries and favorite stand-by recipes. My name is Carissa, and I love to cook.
I grew up living all over the western hemisphere, and as I grew up, Mama had a habit of cooking really good food from all over the world. She let me into the kitchen when I had a good enough grasp of reading to follow recipe instructions, and I became a highly prolific sugar cookie maker thanks to Sesame Street's children's cookbook. Time passed, and I have branched out from cookies and cakes to making "real food" (the kind that doesn't necessarily guarantee the discovery of a new cavity during the next dentist appointment.) Fortunately I fell in love with and married a wonderful man who lets me cook whatever I want, from potato gnocchi to Swedish meatballs to Navratan Korma served with Naan.

Over the past few years I have collected my favorite recipes from any source I could find. Magazines, newspaper clippings, websites, the back of the Hershey's chocolate chip bag, even an alphabet cookbook meant for 10 year olds... I realized that few recipes are just the way I like them, so I change them. Then come the friends with the question: "This is great! Can I have your recipe?" The truth is generally that there is no recipe for the food they just ate, so I hand them the original and wish them good luck making my on-the-spot modifications. So this is where the blog comes into play. This blog is meant to be a place to share the recipes I come across and think the whole world should know about. But this isn't a book... it's just a space to share my new little discoveries. So this is for anyone out there who wishes they could find one straight forward no-fine-tuning necessary recipe for whatever they want to eat for their next meal. Buen provecho!