Friday, July 26, 2013

Something Good Abigail Cookies, Or, Gluten-free Chocolate Dreams


Elizabeth graciously responded to my request for the lost cookie recipe with this comment:

"I named them "Something Good Abigail Cookies". How do you like that?"

I like it.  The only problem is that if I don't make up a recipe by my lonesome, I like to give credit for it in the post.  I didn't make this recipe up, as much as I wish I had, so somewhere out there in the culinary ether of the internet is a clever, happy baker who created this cookie.

Thank you, Unknown Baker.  Your Cookie is most marvelous.


Something Good Unknown Baker Cookies-- Gluten Free!

Grease a baking sheet and preheat oven to 350 degrees.


1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips, separated
3 egg whites
2 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar, separated
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

1.  Melt one cup chocolate chips and set aside until they cool to lukewarm.

2. Beat the egg whites to soft peaks and gradually beat in 1 cup powdered sugar.  Keep beating until they reach a marshmallow consistency.

 3.  In a mixing bowl, whisk 1 cup powdered sugar, the baking cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. 

4.  Fold/mix the egg white mixture into the dry ingredients and then fold in the lukewarm chocolate.  Gently stir in the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips (dough will be stiff) and then roll balls thickly in the remaining powdered sugar.  

5.  Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and bake until puffed and tops crack.  Eat and eat and eat and eat.

(And Elizabeth even documented me taking the above pictures of these cookies during their visit 2 summers ago.  I was taking pictures of cookies when I should have been making us supper from those garden vegetables.  What a dork I am.)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Asian Slaw with Noodles-- A Non-recipe

I remember really liking this one.  From what I can recall, I sort-of did the following:

-chop some cabbage
-julienne some carrots
-slice some crisp sugar-snap peas in diagonal chunks

-cook some pasta (yep, pasta.  If you have fancy Asian noodles, use those instead!)
- Now, chill the pasta.

In a small bowl, whisk together the following, plus whatever else I'm forgetting:
-soy sauce
-rice wine vinegar
-brown sugar
-fresh, minced garlic (or garlic powder, for a milder flavor)
-cayenne powder or red pepper flakes
-salt and freshly ground black pepper
-a glug or two of dark sesame oil
*Edit: I forgot to type fresh ginger, grated or pressed!
Just saute the ginger and fresh garlic in a bit of oil before tossing with the rest.
All to taste, of course.  

Toss the vegetables, chilled pasta, and dressing together.  Munch away!  It's the perfect meal to make once the peas ripen.

Rustic Summer Mixed-Fruit Tart (Galette)

I make this a couple of times each summer with bruised five-dollars-a-bushel fruit from the farmstand.  Sometimes peaches, sometimes plums, sometimes pluots, sometimes all three.  I've added frozen blueberries to the mix, too, with delectable results.


Galettes are simple desserts made with free-form pie crust and your choice of fruit filling.  You can take the basic idea and go with it as far as you'd like!

This version below is from Martha, but feel free to use your favorite pie crust recipe if you've got one, as long as it's heavy on the butter.

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for work surface
  • 1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds red plums, quartered, pitted, and sliced 1/4-inch thick (OR 1 and 1/2 pounds of ANY FRUIT)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg yolk, mixed with 1 teaspoon water (egg wash)


  1. Step 1

    Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt several times to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces remaining. Add 2 tablespoons ice water; pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed. (If needed, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.) Do not overmix.
  2. Step 2

    Turn dough out onto a floured work surface; knead once or twice. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  3. Step 3

    Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Flour a large (about 16 inches long) piece of parchment paper. Place dough on paper. Using your knuckles, press edges of dough so it doesn't crack during rolling. Lightly flour top of dough to prevent sticking; roll out to a 14-inch round. Transfer dough (still on parchment) to prepared baking sheet.
  4. Step 4

    Make the filling and bake: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together plums, sugar, and flour. Mound plum mixture in center of prepared crust, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Fold border over fruit in a pleated pattern. Brush dough with egg wash.
  5. Step 5

    Bake tart until crust is brown and filling is bubbling, about 45 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a rack; let cool 20 minutes. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

    Note: Filling often bubbles out through small openings in the edge of the crust during baking, so don't worry if a little juice ends up on the baking sheet; line it with foil for easy cleanup.

Corn, Bean, and Tomato Salad with Lime


Here's a summertime salad for you.  I've already made it half a dozen times, eating it plain, eating it with chips, or stirring the leftovers into rice and bean burrito fillings.  It's fresh and bright and sings of summer.

Rough Recipe, Give or Take as You Like

-12 roma tomatoes, chopped and drained of excess juice in a colander
- 1/2 of a big pepper, yellow, orange, or green, diced
- 1/2 of a large white onion, chopped
-4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
-1/2 cup lime juice (more or less)
-1/3 cup vegetable oil (more or less)
-several cups black beans, cooked and drained
-several cups corn, seared in cast iron skillet if desired (I've been using frozen summer corn, 'cause ours isn't yet ready)
-1/4 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper, to taste
-ground cayenne, to taste
-ground cumin, to taste (at least a teaspoon)
-a bit of sugar, to taste, if desired for balance

Mix it all together in a big jumble.  Chill for a few hours to allow flavors to meld.  Eat in the summer sun.

Orange-Yogurt Muffins

These moist muffins are a riff on a Better Homes and Gardens  recipe for orange-yogurt muffins.  I've never had the original, but this slight adaptation is delicious.  I make muffins several times a week through the winter, and my philosophy is simple-- take a standard muffin recipe, keep most of the bones, and increase, reduce, omit, and replace ingredients to your liking. 

So, like many others, this muffin was born.  Voila!  Happy birthday, muffin!

-1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar (original recipe calls for 1/2 cup, so if you like it sweeter, go for it, but the muffins don't need it)
-1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 or 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 cup plain yogurt (I use thinner homemade stuff)
- at least 1/2 cup condensed frozen orange juice concentrate
- 1/8 cup vegetable oil, or a smidge more
- 1 tsp. vanilla

Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredents.  Make a well in the center

In another bowl, combine wet ingredients and mix well.  Add wet mixture all at once to the dry mixture and stir just until moistened.  (Batter should be lumpy.)

Spoon batter into muffin tin, filling each about 2/3 full.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 18-20 minutes until golden.  Cool for five minutes before removing from tin.  If desired, make a glaze with 1/2 cup powdered sugar and a few teaspoons orange juice and drizzle over warm muffins.

Wild Leek and Potato Soup


I love this soup and make it a bit differently each time I make it.  Next spring, go find some wild leeks and whip some up yourself!

-12 small, white potatoes, unpeeled and diced
- 2 and 1/2 cups washed, thinly sliced leeks (white part only), reserving the tops
- about 20-30 green leek tops
- 6 (?) cups chicken broth or water + bouillon (I always wing this)
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh or frozen chopped parsley (I used herbs frozen from summer in this)
- 1 tsp. fresh, chopped thyme
- dried thyme, additionally, to taste
- dash of ground cayenne
- salt (1- 2 tsp.) and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
-fresh garlic, minced and sauteed in a bit of olive oil, or garlic powder, to taste

-fresh chives, chopped, for garnish
- If you have bacon, USE IT.  Crisp it, crumble it, and top your soup with it.  And instead of sauteing the garlic in olive oil, for the love of Pete, USE BACON GREASE. Drizzle some into the soup, too, please, and think of me.

Cook potatoes in salted water until done.  Saute leek bulbs and garlic in olive oil until soft.  Simmer herbs and spices in chicken broth until heated through and then add the drained potatoes, sauteed garlic, and sauteed leeks.  In a blender or food processor, puree the green leek tops with some water and then add to the soup mixture.  Working in small batches with a food processor or blender or using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth, adding flour or additional broth/water as needed to achieve desired consistency. Finish off with more spices, if desired, to taste.  Top with crumbled bacon (if you're so lucky) and fresh chives and serve with buttered, crusty bread.


Blast from the Past: Roasted Cauliflower, Bean, and Feta Salad

*From the pre-Fancy Camera Archives

 Maybe my enthusiasm had something to do with the combined facts that I love roasted anything (even Roasted Kangaroo, which I've never had the chance to chew), and that I would marry feta cheese if I weren't already happily attached to John, but I thought this was extremely delicious.  John tried it but didn't care for it, so proceed at your own risk.  I think I adapted a recipe that Deb of Smitten Kitchen had adapted from a Bon Appetit magazine, though, so there's not too much of a risk here.

- 1/3 cup plus 3 tbsp. olive oil (I used less)
- 1 tsp. fresh rosemary (or ground, to taste, if it's winter)
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. salt (I used 1 tsp. )
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups cauliflower florets
- a 15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 tbsp. fresh chives (or 3-4 tbsp. chopped onion, if it's winter)
- about 1 tbsp. fresh, chopped parsley (Italian flat-leaf, or about 1 tsp. dried parsley, if it's winter)
- 1/2 cup feta cheese (always feel free to increase the amount of feta cheese in any recipe you come across!)
- 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts (I omitted this because we didn't have any, but just toast regular walnuts on a cookie sheet in a 350- degree oven for about eight minutes until golden-brown and fragrant, stirring or shaking a few times)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss cauliflower florets with 3 tablespoons olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until edges are dark and caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once or twice.

While cauliflower is roasting, combine remaining 1/3 cup (or less) olive oil and rosemary in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Cool.

Whisk lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Combine roasted cauliflower, beans, chives, parsley, walnuts, and rosemary oil in medium bowl; toss. Mix in cheese. Add lemon juice mixture and toss to coat. Season salad with salt and pepper.

Healthy Muffins #1 (Banana-Chocolate-Peanut Butter Muffins)

Mmm.  These were also good.  I totally threw the recipe together, so I'm glad they turned out.


Grease one and a half to two 12-cup muffin tins ('cause I don't remember how many muffins this made, but I usually try to make about 24) and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

- 3 cups freshly ground whole wheat (obviously, you can use store-bought, and your muffins will be finer than these, because my grinder only grinds flour coarsely)
 - 1 and 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
-  1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/3 cup baking cocoa
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2/3 cup sugar (or less, or substitute honey...whatever you want...they're muffins, remember!)

- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla

- 1/2 cup peanut butter, softened for a bit in the microwave or on a stovetop
- 1 mashed, very ripe banana

1.  Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and make a well in the center.

2.  In another bowl, combine beaten eggs, milk, and vanilla.  After combining peanut butter and banana, add to the egg mixture and mix well.  Dump the egg mixture all at once into the dry ingredients and mix only until moistened.  (Batter will be lumpy.)

3.  Fill muffin tins as you usually do and bake in a 350-degree oven until done.  (Again, I don't remember how long I baked them!  Some help I am, huh.)

A Cheater's Salted Caramel Sauce

I cheated, and I am not ashamed.  I made two batches of this easy caramel-- two, because I thought I'd ruined the first batch.  It turned out that we all preferred the ruined one on the left, though, to the pristine one on the right, so I'll tell you what to do for both.

Use this to top cheesecake, ice cream, desserts, or your tongue.

Cheater's Caramel Sauce

-1/2 cup butter
-1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
- coarse sea salt, to taste

Melt butter and sugar together in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves into the butter.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and raise the temperature gradually until it starts to simmer, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir the mixture for about 20 minutes until the color changes to a rich golden brown.  Add salt, to taste, and stir.  (This means that you'll have to actually taste the stuff, probably more than once, and, if you're me, several more times to be safe.)

*Important note: To make the caramel on the left, with delicious, crunchy bits of toffee goodness in it, stir the butter/sugar mixture over medium heat until the color begins to deepen slightly, and then add the condensed milk. Stir in condensed milk and continue stirring over medium-low heat until the butter/sugar mixture turns to crunchy toffee but before it turns to bitter black bits.  (How's that for technical advice?)

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Sauce: A Non-recipe


I don't remember how I made this, but I'm pretty sure I just took a standard vanilla cheesecake base, kind of like this one, only with a cinnamon graham cracker crust, and then scraped into the batter the paste of several vanilla beans that had been soaking in some homemade vanilla extract.

Then I topped it off with some Cheater's Salted Caramel Sauce.  You can, too!  (Better yet, now that I have a temporary supply of fresh cream, make this!)

Blast from the Past: Venison or Beef Jerky

This recipe of sorts is what I created way back in Depew, when we only had TWO children.  Lands alive, I had no idea what wonders the next 8 years would bring...

Beef or venison jerky is so easy to make, and a thousand times cheaper than the Jack Link jerky you buy in those tiny bags at the Dandy Mart gas station.  (Wait, you don't buy those?  Never mind.)  I've never owned a dehydrator, so don't think you need one, although it will make the process even easier.

For those without a dehydrator (fellow sad saps), here's what you do:

Take a couple of pounds of venison or beef, freeze it until slightly but not fully frozen, about an hour, and then slice it as thinly as you can with the grain.

Take those slices of raw meat and marinate them in the fridge for a couple of days in the following concoction:

-1/2 cup soy sauce
-1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
-4 tbsp. brown sugar
-1 and 1/2 tsp. onion powder
-1 and 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
-1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
-1/4 tsp. black pepper
-2 tsp. salt
-crushed red pepper flakes, as many or as few as you'd like
-a glug of hot sauce, if desired
-a glug of liquid smoke

Preheat your oven to 150 to 200 degrees, hang the beef slices from the oven racks using toothpick skewers or place them in a single layer on cooling racks placed on top of cookie sheets.  Dehydrate all day long, about 4- 8 hours, checking and turning occasionally, until the meat has reached your desired jerky consistency.

Store in an airtight container and try not to eat all of it the first night ('cause that kind of stinks the next day when you want some jerky).

Cinnamon-Pear Breakfast Crumble

I threw this together one winter and haven't stopped making it since.  As long as I'm able to can pears in the fall, we'll eat this in the winter!  It's easy to throw together with a sleep-fogged brain first thing in the morning and hot enough to warm your bones.

-1 quart pear halves, arranged rounded-side up in a 8x8 square dish, with some of the juice

-sprinkle with 1/4 cup packed brown sugar and 1 and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix together:
 4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup real maple syrup
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
and another
1 and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Spoon over the pears and  bake in a 350-degree oven until heated through and oatmeal mixture is crisp and golden brown on top.

Best eaten warm with a cup of hot tea while watching the snow fall out the kitchen window.

Blast from the Past: Chocolate Toffee Bars


I usually make these at Christmas.  They've a rich, buttery cookie crust, toffee-flavored, chewy and soft, topped with chocolate.  What's not to like?  I dare you to find something.

This cookie uses the same make-ahead base as these almond butter sticks, so it's handy to make a full batch of the mix to have on hand.  If you just want to make one kind of cookie, though, here are the odd amounts.

Make-Ahead Cookie Mix (cut into fourths for the purpose of this recipe)
6 tablespoons butter
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 and 1/2 cups flour
In very large bowl, combine butter, salt, and baking powder and blend well. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup and level off. Add flour to butter mixture; blend until fine crumbs form, scraping bowl often. Store tightly covered in refrigerator for up to four weeks, if desired.

-2 cups mix (LOOK! You just made exactly 2 cups!)
-1 cup brown sugar
- 5 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 egg

- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of a 15" x 10" or 13" x 9" pan.  In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients and blend until smooth.  Spread dough evenly in greased pan and bake 15 x 10- inch pan for 12 -18 minutes and 13 x 9- inch pan for 17 - 24 minutes until the top springs back lightly when touched.  Immediately sprinkle with the chocolate chips and let stand 2-3 minutes until they begin to melt.  Spread over the top evenly and sprinkle with nuts, if desired.  

Three Layer German Chocolate Cake

This was a contest-winning entry from Taste of Home magazine that I found on the good ol' internet, and it was the most impressive German chocolate cake yet.  The changes I made are noted in bold.
 One last change I would make in the future is to make 1 and 1/2 times the coconut frosting, 'cause that's my favorite part.
German Chocolate Cake Recipe
30   60 Ingredients
  • 4 ounces German sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups cake flour  (I used regular flour but removed one tablespoon from each cup of flour the recipe called for)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used sham buttermilk; whole milk plus one tablespoon white vinegar to make one cup; let sit for five minutes
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 5 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 cups flaked coconut (I added more, to taste, because I like to taste, and I toasted it first in a 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes until golden and toasty)
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans (I added more, to taste, and I toasted the pecans on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven first, for about five minutes, which made their flavor tremendous)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ICING:
  • 1 teaspoon shortening
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate (Skip this icing!  Instead, I made some ganache with heavy cream and chocolate chips.  Melt about a cup of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup heavy cream and spread it when it cools to spreading consistency.)


  • Line three greased 9-in. round baking pans with waxed paper. Grease waxed paper and set aside. In small saucepan, melt chocolate with water over low heat; cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 4 egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  • In a small bowl and with clean beaters, beat the 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a fourth of the egg whites into creamed mixture; fold in remaining whites.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 24-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • For frosting, in a small saucepan, heat sugar, milk, butter and egg yolks over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla extract. Cool until thick enough to spread. Spread a third of the frosting over each cake layer and stack the layers.
  • In a microwave, melt chocolate and heavy cream for ganache; stir until smooth; let cool, and spread on cake.

Garlic Rosemary Dipping Sauce: A Non-recipe

Here's your non-recipe:

Take olive oil, about a cup.

Pour it into a pan and add loads of chopped garlic, chopped, fresh rosemary, freshly ground black pepper, sea salt, and any other spices you feel compelled to add.  Heat over low-medium heat until the garlic is soft, oil is hot, and spices are infused.

NOW, here's the important part.  Take a giant loaf of crusty bread, tear off hunks of it with your fingers, and dip them into the still-warm oil.  Tear, dip, eat; tear, dip, eat; tear, dip, eat; and repeat until the bread is gone, the dipping oil is consumed, or you feel sick, whichever comes first.

Day-after-Thanksgiving Pancakes


We LOVE these pancakes, all caps required.  If you've never made Candy Squash before, you should.  Do that first.  Then, the day after Thanksgiving, when you still have half a pan leftover, do this.

Mix together
1 and 1/2 cups milk
1 and 1/2 cups leftover candy squash
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp. oil

In another bowl, mix together
2 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir just until combined to make a lumpy pancake batter.  Cook in a pan or griddle as you do regular pancakes.  Then eat.  Admire their fluffiness, their moistness, and their overall deliciousness.  Plan to make twice as much candy squash next year.

(When I haven't had leftover candy squash, I've substituted pureed summer pumpkin or butternut squash, to which I add sugar, spices, evaporated milk, and a bit of egg.  Still works!)

A non-recipe: Roasted Butternut, Kale, and Balsamic pasta

Sorry for the gross picture.  It was dark outside, but there was no way I was going to save the last helping of this for daylight the next morning.  I made this one night in lieu of the garlic-butter-butternut pasta I am in love with (which is essentially roasted butternut, caramelized onion, and a slew of garlic, all swimming in a cup of butter and olive oil).  This was a yummy, healthy alternative that I made several times over the winter.

-1 large butternut squash, cubed, roasted with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

-1 large onion, diced and then caramelized in 1 tbsp. olive oil
-1/2 head garlic (about 2 tbsp. minced?)

-2 cups kale, chopped and ribs removed

-3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
-2 tbsp. brown sugar (use less or add more vinegar, according to your tastes)
-1/2 cup water into caramelized onions to cook the kale in

- 1 box thin whole wheat spaghetti, cooked to your liking

1.  Preheat oven to about 400 degrees and roast the butternut squash until soft and slightly blackened.

2.  While the squash is roasting, caramelize the onion in the olive oil, then add the freshly minced garlic and cook over low-medium heat for a minute or two.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and vinegar.

3. When onions/garlic are finished, add to the pan
- 1/2 cup water
- the 2 cups kale
- the vinegar/sugar mixture
along with salt (1/2 to 1 tsp.) and pepper (1/4- 1/2 tsp.), to taste.

4.  Cook until kale is heated through and slightly limp (but not soggy!) and serve over warm pasta...with butter, if desired.

For Benjamin Boyd: White Bean Chicken Chili with Cilantro

I have no picture of this yet, but since you wanted it, here it is!

The first time I made white bean chicken chili was for a ladies get-together here on the hill.  I made two enormous crockpots, but in the rush of cleaning and baking and preparing, I didn't even taste it before people spooned it into their bowls.   When I finally sat down with a bowl and commented on how bland it was, a guest politely suggested I add more salt and top it with cheese.  You see, in my rush, I had forgotten to add any salt.  Everyone had already finished most of their bowls, and I felt like a complete idiot.

Never again, folks.

The second time I took it for a meal with friends, I wrote down what I threw in, I tasted it before leaving, and, by golly, I added salt.

Here you are, Boyd.

White Bean Chicken Chili with Cilantro

- 4 cups dried Great Northern beans, cooked until soft and drained

-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boiled until done and then shredded with a fork

- bean broth and chicken broth (or water from boiling the chicken breasts + bouillon) for the soup base
 - 4 tbsp. butter and a bit of extra virgin olive oil
-2 medium onions
- about 8 cloves fresh garlic, pressed or minced
- around 6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups whole milk
 - 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

- 1/4 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 - 2 tsp. salt
- 1 - 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- a dash of chili powder
- ground cayenne, to taste
- about 4 cups corn (I used stuff frozen from last summer)

*additional grated cheese and chopped cilantro for garnish, if desired.

1.  I usually use a mixture of chicken broth (or chicken cooking water + bouillon) plus some bean cooking water as my soup base, and then add the beans and shredded chicken.

2. Next, saute onion in the butter and olive oil until soft; add minced garlic and cook for another minute.

3.  Stir in flour and cook for about 30 seconds to start your bechamel.  Add the milk and whisk until all flour lumps are dissolved (onion and garlic lumps will still be there!).  Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly, and then add the grated cheese.  Stir until melted.

4.  Add bechamel (cheese sauce) to the bean and soup base and add spices.  Add corn and heat through.  Taste and adjust spices, as desired.  DON'T FORGET THE SALT.

Blast from the Past: Mopsy's Peaches and Cream Pie


With its cream-cheese based crust, this is technically more a cheesecake dessert than a pie, but it's a Thanksgiving staple 'round these parts.  I don't remember and can't imagine a Thanksgiving Day without at least a small sliver of this most favorite of holiday sweets.

Grease bottom and sides of 9 or 10-inch pie plate and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 -3/4 cup flour
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. salt
-3 and 1/4 oz. package of vanilla cook and serve pudding mix (not instant)
-3 tbsp. butter, softened
-1 egg
-1/2 cup milk
Combine in large bowl and beat for 2 minutes at med. speed before pouring into prepared plate.

 Peach Filling:
 -one 15 - 20 oz. can peaches, well-drained, reserve juice  (I always use one quart of home-canned peaches, but then you have to slice them yourself. Bummer.)
Place sliced peaches in a single layer over the  batter.


 -8 oz. softened cream cheese
-1/2 cup sugar
-3 tbsp. reserved peach juice
Mix well for 2 minutes at medium speed and then spoon over batter to within one inch of the edge.

Combine 1 tbsp. sugar and 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon and sprinkle over the topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until crust is golden and filling appears soft.  Store leftovers, if there are any, in the refrigerator. 

Blast from the Past: Cranberry Waldorf Salad

This is my standard cranberry dressing for Christmas.  Mrs. Winnie Finbar shared it with me when we lived in Depew, and I remember her as a most excellent cook.  (Remember these spiced nuts?)  Be confident that if Mrs. Finbar made it, it's worth making.

Cranberry Waldorf Salad

- 1 can whole cranberry sauce
- 1 package raspberry jello (Red 40.  I know, I KNOW.)
- 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup boiling water
- very finely chopped celery, 1 stalk or less
- 1/2 red apple, unpeeled and finely chopped (I always add more)
- chopped walnuts (toast them first if you'd like!)
-  I also usually add some orange zest.

Dissove Red 40 jello in boiling water.  Mash cranberries with a fork and add to jello.  Refrigerate for twenty minutes.  Add chopped apple, celery, and walnuts and refrigerate.

*To give credit where credit is due, Winnie included this note at the bottom:  "Recipe came on the Food TV on a program last Christmas time on a show about Cranberry Inn in Cranberry, NJ." 

Here's an Idea: Chocolate Truffle Basket

These truffles from a Martha Stewart cookbook have been my standby since Millie was a baby.  We go waaaay back.   

A few years ago, I celebrated May Day by giving a friend from church this basket, made of chocolate, and filled with truffles.  


I rolled some of the truffles in yellow sprinkles and cut out flower petals from white card stock in order to make the daisies.  I know.  It's so cute, it's sickening.


Good news!  To make your very own truffle basket, you only need a bit of waxed paper, some ribbon, a knife, and chocolate chips!  

This is how I do it: 
Cut a circle of the desired size out of wax paper.  Melt a bag of chocolate chips and a couple of tablespoons of butter the microwave, in 30-second increments.  Stir frequently to avoid scorching.  (To be safe, use a double boiler or a bowl set on top of a pot of water on the stovetop.)  Stir until smooth, and spoon equal amounts of chocolate over each paper circle, using a teaspoon to spread close to the edges to make chocolate rounds with scalloped edges.  (Make sure you spread the chocolate thick enough to ensure easy paper/chocolate separation.) Carefully lift each covered paper round and drape it over an upturned glass, curving the edges to create a frilled effect. Let the chocolate set completely, then carefully lift off the chocolate shape and peel away the paper. With your sharp knife, poke a couple of holes through the chocolate and thread a ribbon through.  Voila!  You  just made a basket for truffle daisies!

*This is also the process I've used for making cake decorations (here and here) and chocolate dessert cups.

Blast from the Past: Photo Dump

It's been four years since I took these photos with a non-Fancy Camera. I don't have the desire or energy to find the recipes, so use them as visual inspiration, instead!

Dill, Ham, and Zucchini Soup (from Rachel Ray, but not pureed):

Summer Squash Pasta with Tomato, Basil, Garlic, and Some Kind of Mysterious Cheese:


Zucchini Quiche: delicious and cheesy as all get-out but with a weird yellow cast because I took the picture after dark


Re-fried beans: oooh, these were good!  Savory and delicious


Tortillas: Easy enough to find a million recipes for these on the internets.  Take your pick!

Super-Simple and Delicious Fresh Salsa: As I recall, this was simply chopped garden tomatoes, onions, fresh garlic, fresh cilantro, salt, and bright lime juice.

Put 'em all together and whaddya get?  Another day older and deeper in debt?  No!  You get a delicious burrito, folks.

Corn on the cob brushed with Cumin-Lime-Cilantro butter.  This was good, too.


Chicken-topped salad with seared corn and Southwest Dressing:

Butternut Squash Curry:


Spiced Applesauce Muffins (made up the recipe and can't find it anywhere...oops):


Chocolate Chip Muffins (made with homemade yogurt and banana instead of oil).  I wish I hadn't lost my notes for these!



Mini Zucchini Quiches (this one is actually moving into Fancy Camera territory, so I must have made it within the last three years):

Cinnamon-sugar Pull-apart Bread (Joy the Baker's recipe):


Maple-glazed whole wheat scones: