Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Chiles Rellenos

*Edit: We've since made this using hot peppers AND regular ol' green garden peppers, which pleases the younger set of the family enormously. It's a yummy way to use up a bounty of peppers and is received better than the more common and infamous "stuffed peppers."

Not only does John think my chiles rellenos are better than those of the fancy-schmancy Mexican restaurant in the city, but this is one of his most favorite meals now. The humdinger is that I found myself surprised by the fact that it is now also one of my favorites. I've been craving it, and if we had hot peppers hiding in our snow-shrouded garden and if I was excited about gaining 20 more pounds in the next two months, I'd eat this meal a few times a week.

These really are delicious, and the sauce is so good, I could happily eat it plain. The batter around the peppers is an unusual one for me, made only of eggs. It is light and airy, with an almost spongy consistency, rather than the thicker coating that one usual finds in fried foods. The sauce is a heavenly mixture of spicy and sweet. (I'm hungry just thinking about it.) And the rice? Well...it's rice!

@ 6 Poblano and 4 Anaheim peppers (or the equivalent amount of others), roasted and seeds and skin removed
6-8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese (we just use part of an 8 oz. block from Aldi), cut into sticks nearly the length of the peppers
6 eggs, separated
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
canola oil, for frying

Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and roast before removing the skins. Mix the flour and salt in a small bowl. (Meanwhile, prepare rice and sauce. I usually cook up 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups dry rice.) Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and gently fold in yolks. Heat canola oil in fryer or in deep pot on the stove, to a two-inch minimum depth. When oil sizzles when a pinch of flour is dropped into it, it is hot enough. Wrap peppers around cheese, roll in the flour mixture, and carefully coat with the egg batter. Drop in the oil and fry until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towels and then set aside on a wire cooling rack on top of a rimmed cookie sheet in a 250 degree oven to remain hot until all peppers are done.

Serve over rice and top with sauce. Eat immediately, and then scoop out seconds.

* The first time I made this, I used jalepenos from our garden. Too hot! The last two times our garden was barren, and we bought Poblano and Anaheim peppers. Some were too mild, perhaps the Anaheim. For ease of preparation, Poblanos are best, because they are the biggest and easier to wrap completely around the cheese.

* I find the easiest way to roast peppers is to simply broil them close the the heat until the skin is charred and bubbly. Turn them for even roasting, and then the skin is easy to remove. (There are internet tutorials with pictures somewhere, too; I'm just not good enough to provide them!)

* When working with hot peppers, one should use gloves, as the acid from them can burn fingers and hands. I know from experience that this is no old wive's tale...

Red Sauce

About 20 small romas, peeled and seeded (The first time, I used our garden goods, but the last two times, I used the equivalent of home-canned tomatoes-- perhaps a quart and a half-- with excellent results. I left in some of the liquid so that I could simmer the sauce down and let the flavors meld.)
one onion, chopped
8 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
olive oil
1 tsp. salt.
@ 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (I've noticed the last several times, I've added more than this, to taste)
several shakes ground cloves
ground cayenne, to taste
a few shakes of garlic powder, to taste

Saute onion in a bit of olive oil until tender. Add garlic and spices and saute for about 30 seconds to a minute. Add tomatoes, break them down with a spoon, and simmer for about 30 minutes or until sauce is reduced to your liking.

* If using fresh tomatoes- ah, summer!- then pop the tomatoes in boiling water for about one minute before slipping them out of their skins. I don't bother with the seeding for either fresh or canned tomatoes. Just dump 'em in; no one will notice except Martha, and I doubt she's eating at any of our places on a regular basis.

Chicken Mole

I post this in response to your request, Mateo. Me gusta pollo con mole! Millie actually likes this better than any of us, and since the time I made it a month and a half ago, she's requested it about a dozen times. Go figure.

Many thanks to Paula Deen, whose Quick Chicken Mole recipe I used as a base to which I added and subtracted ingredients.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
at least 6 cloves fresh garlic, chopped or put through garlic press
@ 1 and 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. sea salt
@ 2 tsp. freshly grated orange zest
ground cayenne pepper, to taste
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (I used home-canned tomatoes, to taste, about a pint?)
2 chipotle peppers, roughly chopped (I used about 1/3 cup poblano chiles, roughly chopped, because we had some leftover from making chiles rellenos)
1 (10-ounce) can chicken broth (Boil the chicken carcass to make the broth!!!)
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 (5-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces

Sesame seeds and queso blanco, for garnish
Corn tortillas or white rice, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and briefly saute to develop flavor (don't overcook the garlic, however). Add diced tomatoes, chipotles, broth, spices, orange zest, peanut butter, and chocolate. Simmer for 10 minutes. Puree until smooth.

I went so far as to find a recipe for homemade corn tortillas before I came to my senses and served it with white rice. We also had no sesame seeds, and our queso blanco was highest quality monterey jack block cheese from Aldi. :) A few suggestions: if serving with corn tortillas, the amount of sauce is sufficient; if serving with rice, double the sauce. You'll need it. Second: add more cayenne if your hot peppers, like ours, were simply not hot enough. Third: Add or subtract to your liking! This dish is quite similar to the one we had in New York City, but as that's my only experience with chicken mole, I don't have any other standard to compare this to.

De nada!

The Best Home-Baked, Thin-Crusted Pizza Yet

This is completely and totally not an original recipe, and I'm so glad I stumbled across it. Many thanks to Deb of Smitten Kitchen!

John grew up eating really, really good thin-crust pizza from local Italian places on Long Island. The puffy, thick-pepperoni-ed upstate NY pizzas were a new experience for him, and, honestly, having now tasted those really, really good downstate pizzas myself, I can say there's no comparison. Upstate pizzerias aren't necessarily bad, and some are downright wonderful (Mama Guiseppa's, we laud you for your upstate presence!), but the yummy dough and tomato sauce that most serve doesn't compare to thin-crust pizza with from-scratch sauce.

This isn't really like that pizza, either, but it's the best homemade pizza I've ever made, and I'll keep making it until (if) something better comes along.

We double/triple the following. If you have more than two people living in your household, you'll have to do the same.
*My notes in italics

[Deb's] Pizza, Updated

Yield: One small, thin-crust pizza

6 tablespoons warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more water)
2 tablespoons white wine (I use white cooking wine)
¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
½ teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1½ cups flour

Cornmeal for sprinkling
Flour for dusting counter
½ pound torn-up buffalo mozzarella (as much as I'd like to do the same, we use the cheapest, regular mozzarella available in bulk. For shame!)
Few leaves of torn-up basil

Of course, top this as you would any other pizza, with your choice of favorites.

Whisk wine, water and yeast in a medium bowl until yeast has dissolved. Add honey, salt and olive oil and stir. Add flour and no matter how dry it looks, work it with a spoon and your fingers until it comes together as a dough. Add more water one tablespoon at a time if you need, but in my experience, this is almost never necessary.

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead the dough for a minute or two.

If you’re like me and always trying to reduce the number of dirty dishes left at the end of the night, wash the bowl you made the dough in, dry it and coat the inside with olive oil. Put the dough in, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise for an hour or up to two, until it is doubled.

[Easiest way to tell if a dough has risen enough? Dip two fingers in flour, press them into the dough, and if the impression stays, it’s good to go. If it pops back, let it go until it doesn’t.]

Meanwhile, make some sauce [recipe below].

Preheat your oven to its highest temperature. If you have a pizza stone, sprinkle it with cornmeal and put it in the oven. Otherwise, sprinkle a baking pan with the same.

Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured counter and gently deflate the dough with the palm of your hands. Form it into a ball and let it rest on a floured spot with either plastic wrap over it (sprinkle the top of the dough with flour so it doesn’t stick) or an upended bowl. In 15 minutes, it is ready to roll out.

Do so on the floured counter until pretty darn thin, then lift it onto a cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet or pizza paddle. Add the sauce, torn-up mozzarella and slivers of fresh basil.

Slide the pizza from the paddle to your preheated pizza stone, or just put the baking sheet in the oven as is.

Bake for about 10 minutes, checking at 7. Slice and serve immediately.

[Deb's] Moderately Easy Tomato Sauce

4 roma tomatoes
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced (I use more garlic than this)
Pinch of red pepper flakes (Ground cayenne, to taste, will also work)
Splash of white wine (again, I just use cooking wine)
½ teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt

Bring medium pot of water to a boil. Poach the tomatoes for one minute only, and then drain them. As soon as they are cooled off enough that you can touch them, peel them. The peels should come right off. If they don’t, make a slit in the skins. This always does the trick.

Drain and dry the pot. Put it back on the burner over medium heat. Pour in olive oil and let it heat completely before adding the garlic and stirring it for a minute with a wooden spoon. Add the red pepper flakes and stir it for anther minute. You do not want the garlic to brown. Put the peeled tomatoes in the pot, along with the wine, sugar and salt. Break the tomatoes up with your spoon.

Let the sauce simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down. Carefully taste without burning your tongue and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Makes enough for one small/medium pizza.

Abby again with the italics:
* I love having extra sauce for dipping, and I hate not having quite enough for the dough, so I usually make one and a half or twice the amount of sauce.
* During the summer, I used fresh garden tomatoes, but this winter, I've used the equivalent of home-canned tomatoes, and it's just as yummy.

*** THE LAST TIME I MADE THIS, inspired by Mama Guiseppa's, I topped the sauce and cheese with very thinly sliced, fresh garlic cloves. John said it was the best pizza I'd ever made, and as I like garlic, I agreed.

Garlic and Herb Cherry tomatoes

Sigh. Looking at these summertime pictures of summertime food is killing me. I can't wait to make this again this summer. The recipe comes to us from the Barefoot Contessa. I don't really know who she is, but John has a television in the room at work, and though they can't see much on it, it has audio. Being the tomato lover he is, he printed this recipe out and brought it home.

I loved these, but John decided he still likes cherry tomatoes best uncooked, straight from the garden, by the dozen, and unadulterated by anything but copious amount of shaken salt.

3 tbsp. good olive oil
2 cloves freshly minced garlic
2 pints cheery tomatoes (I just grabbed an apronful from the garden....sob!)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp. chipped fresh parsley (I think I added less, with a bit more basil instead)
2 tespoons chopped fresh thyme (I didn't grow thyme, so I omitted this)
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan large enough to hold all the tomatoes in one layer. Add the garlic to the oil and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to loose their firm round shape. Sprinkle with a little fresh chopped basil and parsley and serve hot or at room temperature.


Cumin-spiked Hummus

I created this at two in the morning the first time, and guests loved it. The second time, I made it a day ahead, and people still requested the recipe, so I assure you that you can make it at anytime of the day, and it will be tasty.

2 15-oz. cans garbanzo beans, juice reserved
4-5 plump cloves fresh garlic, finely minced or pressed
a few tablespoons tahini
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 and 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, to taste
@ 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
@ 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (in wonderful summertime) or a tsp. dried parsley.
a few pinches of sea salt, to taste
generous drizzle of olive oil
reserved garbanzo juice

Puree garbanzo beans until smooth. Add garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and remaining spices, and puree again. Add olive oil while pureeing and add as much reserved garbanzo juice as needed to make the desired consistency. Serve with crackers or pita wedges.

*I usually taste-test this before adding the reserved garbanzo juice, because sometimes it needs another splash or two of lemon juice first.

Gingerbread Scones

I like gingerbread. I like scones. I like gingerbread scones served whipped cream and tea.

2 cups flour
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, separated


In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, combine the molasses, milk, and egg yolk until smooth; stir into the flour mixture just until moistened. Turn on to a floured surface; knead gently 6-8 times. Pat into an 8-inch circle; cut into 12 wedges and place 1 in. apart on a greased baking sheet. Beat egg white until frothy; brush over the scones and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with whipped cream (or, if you're lame like me, serve with lumpy, faux Devonshire cream).

Key Lime Pie

John and I are great lovers of key lime pie, and, for a funny reason I won't divulge here, it has special significance to us, so when John's mom brought some limes on a summer visit, I set some aside for this pie. Although some recipes I've made are in reality lime-meringue pie (a kissing cousin to this), this recipe is the genuine article, which, according to Martha, has changed very little in the years since it was first created, although the ratio of condensed milk to lime juice varies slightly. It's only too bad I use regular limes in these pies instead of tiny key limes. I love citrus pies: lime meringue, lemon meringue, orange meringue (someday), but Key Lime pie takes the cake...er, pie....for me.

The filling is perfectly tart-sweet, with the balance slightly in favor of tart.  Creamy and addictive, I find it hard to resist eating it all as I spoon it into the crust.  If you have similar weaknesses, may I suggest you exercise control, because it tastes even dreamier layered between graham cracker crust and freshly whipped cream. 

Now I want to go make myself a pie for breakfast.

Key Lime Pie

Prepare a graham cracker crust.
-6 oz. graham crackers, crushed into crumbs
-2 tbsp. sugar
-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
-2 and 1/2 oz. butter, melted
Mix the above and spread into a lightly-greased 9" pie plate.

Bake the crust in a 325-degree oven for five minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

-1 and 3/4 cups canned sweetened condensed milk*
-1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
-finely grated zest of 3 limes
-4 egg yolks

*Yup, you read that right.  Easy CANNED ingredient!  It's okay, though.  Remember, Martha says so.

-Heavy cream, for whipping, at least a half-pint.
-Sugar, to lightly sweeten the whipped cream

Beat the condensed milk, lime juice, lime zest, and egg yolks together in a bowl until well blended. Remove the crumb crust from the oven, pour the filling into the crumb crust, and spread out to the edge. Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes or until the filling is set around the edge but still wobbly in the center.

Let cool completely on a wire rack, then cover and let chill for at least two hours. Prepare the whipped cream:  you know, whip and whip and add sugar, a leetle bit at a time, until you're satisfied.  This means you'll have to taste the whipped cream, probably repeatedly-- DEFINITELY repeatedly-- to make sure.  

Serve pie spread thickly with whipped cream.  Garnish with additional lime zest if desired.

*I've also frozen this by the slice and enjoyed it as icy key-lime pie.

Cheeseburger Soup

Far more savory and not at all greasy as its name implies, I post this delicious recipe for Leah. My mom makes this soup, along with many others, in the fall and winter months, and it's packed with flavor. I've only made it a handful of times because though John's growing favor now includes a wide range of soups, it still boycotts those soups that have a creamy or cheesy base. The girls and I smack our lips and eat it when he has to work late...

It serves as a perfect supper served with homemade biscuits or rolls. Really, as with all soups, homemade bread of any kind is a great complement.

Saute the following together until cooked and tender:
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup diced celery (I skip this b/c we rarely buy celery)
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. parsley
1/2- 1 lb. ground beef

White Sauce:
3-4 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup flour
1 and 1/2 cups milk

Melt butter in pan, stir in flour, whisk in milk and stir until thickened and bubbly. To this sauce add 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 2 cups diced or shredded American cheese (I usually use sharp orange or white cheddar to add more flavor).

In three cups of chicken broth, cook 4 cups diced potatoes (peeled if you must) until tender. Add the white sauce mixture to the broth, stir together until mixed, and add 1/4 cup sour cream (fat free doesn't harm anything).

Mix and heat until warmed through. Breathe in the aromas and serve immediately.

*I usually add 5 minced fresh garlic cloves while cooking the onion and ground beef together.  I also use more carrot than the recipe calls for.

*I use a couple tablespoons of frozen-fresh parsley from the summer garden instead of the dried stuff.  Ditto for the basil.

*This is excellent with added chopped kale.  Excellent! 

* Due to reasons of thrift, health, and, sometimes, not enough cheese in the fridge, I've only made this ONE time with the full battery of cheese. Usually, I cut back quite significantly on the amount of cheese, and the soup is still scrumdiddlyumptious.

Lemon Bars

This is another food I never thought I would love so well. I first made lemon bars from this recipe a couple of years ago, and, without fail, a few times every winter I'm struck with a sudden and undeniable hankering for them. I don't make dessert regularly for our family, and most dessert recipes on buildabelly are due to company or get-togethers, but these lemon bars usurp the norm. I usually ONLY make these for us.

We prefer them completely cooled.

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour

Update: I always add more lemon juice to the topping now, in order to increase the lemon punch, and then a tad more flour to keep the consistency similar.

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
cherry flavoring oil, if desired (*this comes in an eensy bottle and is usually used for flavoring candy, so it's highly concentrated)

Additional confectioners' sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add flour; beat until crumbly. Press into an ungreased 8-in. square baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, for topping,. combine eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice, extract, baking powder, salt, and flavoring, if desired, in a mixing bowl. Beat until frothy. Pour over the hot crust and bake at 375 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until a light golden brown. Cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Eat until there are none left to eat (I just may be endorsing gluttony here...).

* I began adding a few drops of cherry flavoring oil, to taste, when I first made these because I had no lemon extract. Now I add it in addition to the lemon extract and it makes these bars even better.

Blueberry and Peach Cobbler

I still prefer crisps to cobblers, but this was good. How can one fail when blueberries and peaches are involved? Make sure you make this when the fresh fruit is at the height of its flavor to achieve the yummiest results. The dessert will be as flavorful or as bland as the fruit you use.

1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups sliced, peeled fresh peaches
1 cup blueberries

1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted

In a saucepan, combine the first five ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring until thick. Add fruit. Pour into a greased, 2-qt. baking dish. For topping, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir in milk and butter. Spread over fruit mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until topping is golden brown and tests done. Let cool until warm and serve warm with ice cream.

Jack and Abigail's Magic Party Beans

For Becky.

I lifted this recipe from this book of Mildred's, but I adapted it to suit, so I figured pairing myself with Jack in the title wasn't dishonest.

1 lb. bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled, and set aside
a few tablespoons of bacon grease, reserved
1 lb. ground beef
one onion, chopped
4-6 cans of beans (I used two undrained cans of pork and beans, a can of drained/rinsed kidney beans, and a can of drained/rinsed white beans-- pinto, I think)
1 and 1/2 tsp. dried mustard, or to taste
additional prepared mustard, to taste, if desired
1/2 cup ketchup, or to taste
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, or to taste
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
a smidge of blackstrap molasses, if desired

Cook the ground beef and onions until beef is cooked and onions are translucent. Drain off the fat. Combine beef and bacon with remaining ingredients, including the deliciously greasy bacon grease, to taste. Spoon into a greased baking dish and bake, uncovered at 300 degrees, for 1 hour or until beans reach desired thickness OR put in crockpot on low. Simmer all day until supper. I usually stir in the bacon pieces when the beans have already cooked for a bit so that the bacon doesn't become limp and soggy.

I tasted this a few times while preparing, and though I can't remember for sure, I think I added a bit more vinegar and I think I also sprinkled in a tad of garlic powder.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Feta

This past harvest, we had a bumper crop of peppers from all the seedlings that soaked up sun from the bathroom window, and I roasted a few boxes of red peppers for the first time ever, having an abundance of yummy looking recipes that I've never made because- heavens!- I certainly wouldn't buy the things in those expensive little jars! This dip is okay. I don't know if it's only okay because it's not a stunner or because the taste of roasted red peppers just isn't something I like best as a dip. We'll have to see as I use all the red peppers I froze in other recipes.

My one regret is using so much precious feta cheese in it. There are several things I drool over but only splurge on a couple of times a year-- heavy cream, mushrooms, bacon, and feeeeetaaaa. I love feta cheese and would rather have used it crumbled plain in a Greek salad than in dip. Now I know!

If you have had- and know you like- roasted red peppers in a dip, then let me know if this one is any good. I don't have enough experience to know better!

Slightly more than 2 cups roasted red peppers
@ 1 tsp. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
@ 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
4-5 cloves garlic, freshly pressed
@ 5 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
a few hearty dashes of ground cayenne
1 tsp. lemon juice
olive oil, if desired, for consistency

Puree all the ingredients together. Taste and see if it is good. If so, let me know; if it's only okay, let me know that, too, so that I can edit the title:
"Okay Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Feta"

Gingerbread Waffles

I added enough liquid to these to make a typical waffle batter consistency. The end result is a cakey- rather than crispy- dessert waffle, reminiscent of gingerbread and best served with ice cream.

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
one egg, separated
1/2 cup molasses
1 and 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves

Beat sugar and shortening until fluffy. Add egg yolk and molasses; beat until combined. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add to sugar mixture and beat until smooth. Add hot water (here's the clincher...the recipe doesn't say how much!!!) and then fold in the egg white. Cook in a waffle iron and serve warm with ice cream or spiced whipped cream.

For spiced whipped cream, simply whip heavy cream as normal and add cinnamon and other desired spices along with the granulated sugar. I recommend ice cream. We didn't have any ice cream OR heavy cream, and I improvised with spiced, sweetened, fat-free sour cream. It just wasn't the same...

Eggs in A Cradle

This isn't much of a recipe, but it's a fun and yummy twist on regular toast and sunny-side up eggs. We used Millie's book again for the recipe.

5 eggs
5 pieces of bread (we used thickly-cut slices of this bread)
salt and pepper
sliced cheese, optional

Use a biscuit cutter or an overturned cup to cut a circle in the middle of each bread slice (or egg cradles, if we're proper). Save the middle rounds for the birds or for eating later. Butter both sides of the cradle or melt enough butter in the pan to coat it. Place the cradles in the pan over medium heat and drop 1/4 tsp. of butter into the hole of each cradle (unless you've buttered the whole pan).

Carefully crack an egg into each cradle and cook until firm on the cooking side and milky on the "up" side. Flip each piece and cook for only a minute or two longer so as not to overcook the yolk.

Serve with salt, pepper, and cheese, if desired, to three delighted girls and one approving papa.


Yes, I know. Snickerdoodles are easy and everyone knows how to make them. But they're good! This recipe is for Mitzi, in case you needed your grandmother's cookies from time to time. And for the lone person among the readers who may have never eaten snickerdoodles, they're a soft, chewy, sugar cookie laced with cinnamon.

1 cup shortening (Egads!)
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 - 1 tsp. salt
2 and 3/4 cups flour

Mix together 4 tablespoons sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.

Cream shortening and sugar. Add remaining ingredients and mix just until combined. Roll into balls, and roll the balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until lightly brown but soft in a 400-degree oven, about 8-10 minutes.

Green or Red Pepper Jelly

My mom gave me a jar of this almost two years ago. I set it aside, not really feeling eager to try a jelly made from green peppers. Then I hosted a mini-party here for a group of friends. I cracked open the jar and placed it beside the other cracker toppings thinking maybe someone would enjoy it. Well, nearly everyone raved over it, and the jar was two-thirds gone by the party's end. Most seemed to prefer it spread over cream cheese on Triscuits, but there was one (who shall remain unnamed) who liked it spread on a simple slice of plain cheese! I hesitantly tried it on a cracker spread with cream cheese and was hooked. This past summer I canned many batches of the stuff, and have already finished a few jars all by my lonesome.

Who knows? Maybe you'll think it's odd or gross, or maybe we only liked it because we were a bunch of crazy girls getting together to blab about whatever it is we blabbed about, but that doesn't change the fact that I'm putting it on buildabelly. Take it or leave it.

It leaves a tang on your tongue that demands just one more helping.

4 large red or green peppers, seeds removed
5 and 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 package pectin
3/4 cup white vinegar

Finely chop the peppers in a processor or grinder. Strain, reserving the juice. Measure 2 full cups plus 1/4 cup pepper juice; discard the rest of juice. Combine all but the lemon juice and pectin in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Reheat to a boil, stirring frequently, then add lemon juice. Boil for one minute, stirring. Add pectin and boil for three more minutes. Skim foam from the top, ladle into jars, and then invert for ten minutes. Then turn jars upright and leave for 24 hours. Check for proper sealing before tucking jars into the pantry.


If you think I'm posting "recipes" that aren't really recipes just to bulk up the number of recipes I'm posting, you'd be wrong. It does seems a little fishy when you look at this one, though, doesn't it? I just found this picture in my backlog, and don't know its purpose, so here's a "recipe" from this past summer.

Saute onion slices in a few tablespoons of olive oil for several minutes. Add to them sliced fresh mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are done and onion is tender and carmelized, shaking on liberal amounts of salt and pepper while cooking.

Serve with juicy hamburgers, freshly grilled by one's husband.

The End.

Reese's PB Bars

The only catch is that they're not really Reese's bars, but they're a great home-made version of the same. I've made it half a dozen times in the last few years; in every case I had to prepare a dessert for a church meal or family get-together in a hurry, and it's not failed me. I got this recipe from a Houghton cookbook given to us by Joel and Sonya (soon-to-be) Dunham for our wedding. Its real title is Libby Falk's Peanut Butter Bars. Thank you, Libby Falk, whoever you are or where'er you may be.

2 sticks butter, melted
1 and 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup creamy p.b.
2 and 1/3 cup powdered sugar

12 oz. chocolate chips

Combine first four ingredients in a 13 X 9- inch pan. Melt the chocolate chips and carefully spread over top. Cut into bars when chocolate is slightly firm but not yet entirely hardened.

Zucchini Coins, Method Two

I already posted one scant recipe for frying up zucchini coins, but this is the method I grew up using with the zucchini from the family garden. The only reason why the slices shown above aren't coins is because I was using a zucchini the size of a baseball bat.

Slice a small or medium zucchini. Dip in a egg-milk mixture (two eggs whisked with several tablespoons milk) and then dredge in a flour-salt-pepper mixture. Fry in a pan with a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until golden brown and puffy on both sides. Eat hot, with extra salt shaken, if desired.

Sweet (To the Second Power) Potatoes OR When Used with Squash...Candy Squash

For Mitzi.
I have no picture yet, though I've made it twice in the last month for family and church gatherings. I usually use garden butternut squash instead of the sweet potatoes, hence, the "candy squash." And when I say "usually," I refer to the one or two times a year I make it for holiday get-togethers, where all children are told to "eat the yummy orange dessert that's next to all the vegetables." Guess what? It works.

This recipe is a delectable variant on the usual marshmallow-topped squash or sweet potato souffle and is topped with a crunchy, nutty layer. It's so dessert-like that it really should relinquish its title as "vegetable."

A lifetime of holiday thanks to BelleMichelle and "Fred," chief chef of the Houghton cafeteria my junior year- to Fred for relinquishing the recipe and BelleMichelle for coaxing the recipe out of him.
1 40 oz. can yams (I usually use the equivalent of butternut squash from the garden, cooked, seeds and skin removed, and pureed)
3 oz. butter or margerine
1 cup evaporated milk
1 and 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Drain and warm potatoes (or squash) and mash. Cream the rest and add the potatoes. Mix well, spoon into a 8-in. square baking dish, and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, mix 1 cup crushed cornflakes, 1/2 cup crushed walnuts, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, and 2 oz. melted butter or margarine. Sprinkle over the top of the potato/squash mixture and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

*Important Notice: I've never made this without increasing the topping amount at least by 1 and 1/2 times. So, mix 1 and 1/2 cups crushed cornflakes, 3/4 cup crushed walnuts, and so on. I also add a few sprinkles of cloves and a bit more cinnamon to the squash and a sprinkle or two of cinnamon to the topping.

Cucumber Salad

Yes, another recipe from the summer, when we gathered cucumbers by the dozen. I think I took this picture the last time we had this salad- August, September, or thereabouts. (These recipes are almost painful to post.)

This is my mom's recipe, one that I whip up in the summertime nearly as often as she did back when I enjoyed food from her table at every meal. The flavor is simple and almost stark, easy to prepare, and loaded with salty-sweet, vinegar goodness. If you like salt and vinegar chips, give this a try.

2-3 cucumbers, peeled and sliced into coins
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Mix and eat!

* I usually double the vinegar mixture, because I like to drink it from the spoon.

Blueberry Oat Muffins, Slightly Overbaked

These are yummy with a great texture; just don't overbake them, alright?
Someone gave me this recipe at a wedding shower almost seven years ago now, and I finally made them. Hurrah for me! Maybe it won't take you nearly so long.

1 and 1/4 cup flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg whites
1/2 water or milk
1/3 cup oil
1 cup blueberries (I used closer to two cups)

2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Combine the first six ingredients. In another bowl, beat egg whites, water, and oil. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the blueberries. (If using frozen, do not thaw before adding.) Fill paper lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over muffins. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean of batter.

Garlic Pasta with Lotsa Basil and Tomato

This was one of our favorite summertime meals, and, yes, it's another not-so-involved "recipe."
*Cubed skinless, boneless chicken breast would work well in this pasta, too, and would turn it from a salad to a main dish.

Prepare some pasta, tube-shaped or bow-tied or otherwise. Saute one large onion, chopped, in several tablespoons of butter and olive oil until tender. Use enough butter to flavor the pasta. Add 8 (I think? It was lots.) cloves freshly minced garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Chop many tomatoes (12 roma, perhaps?) and add to pan, cooking just until heated through. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste, and then add a few child-size handfuls of freshly torn basil. Top with parmesan and gobble until the cows come home.

The key to this dish's deliciousness is to not skimp on the garlic, tomatoes, s&p, and basil. Really, just add lots of everything and the flavor is tremendous!