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!