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Showing posts from April, 2015

Kettle Popcorn

Really? A recipe for popcorn? First the grilled cheese and now popcorn?? Well this is a little different because it's kettle popcorn. It is the perfect mix of  salty/sweet.

Kettle Popcorn

1/2 c popcorn kernels
1/4 c sugar
3T coconut oil

Place the kernels, sugar, and coconut oil in a dutch oven with a good fitting lid. Shaking the pot every few minutes until the kernels start to pop. When almost all the popping is done, remove from heat and add salt.

Now go and watch that good movie and eat your popcorn.

Hot Water Crust Pastry

I had no idea what this was until I saw it on The Great British Bake Off. I've eaten it plenty of times in the UK but never realized that it is made with a mix of hot water, lard, and butter. I had to give it a try and conveniently the eldest gave me a cookbook from the show (The Winter Kitchen). Since this is using UK measurements you might find some of the amounts a little wacky. I suggest using a scale. You have to make the filling first and let it cool.

Chicken Filling (Adapted from My Brain)

1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, cut into small cubes
2 celery stalks, cut into small cubes
2T butter
olive oil
2 clove garlic, minced
1 t dried thyme
1lb chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, cut into small pieces
2-3 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes
3T flour
1 c white wine
2 c chicken stock

In a dutch oven, add onion, carrot, celery, butter, 1T olive oil and salt. Saute until softened and starting to brown. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant. Add chicken thi…

Pumpernickel Bread

I do like a nice pumpernickel. Using buttermilk really gave this bread a nice flavor as well as a soft texture.

Pumpernickel Bread (Adapted from My brain)

1 T honey
1 pkg yeast
1 c water
1/4 c molasses
1/4 c cocoa powder
2 c butter milk
4 T butter, melted
1 t salt
1 c white whole wheat flour
2 c rye flour
3 c bread flour
corn meal
1 egg

In a measuring cup add the yeast and honey to the water. Set aside until bubbly (about 15 minutes). In a mixer bowl, combine molasses, cocoa powder,  buttermilk, butter, salt, whole wheat and rye flour. Once the yeast is bubbly add to flour mixture. Gradually add the bread flour using the dough hook. The dough will be a little sticky but pretty firm looking. Set the dough in a oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled (about 1 - 1 1/2 hours).
Turn dough out and divide in half. If using a stone or stoneware, dust with corn meal. Shape loaves into rounds. Cover and let rise about 30-40 minutes. Slash tops and brush with beaten egg. Bake at 350 for 1…

Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

Once again I had some sweet potatoes sitting around (my intentions are usually good but sometimes the carry out isn't). It was a little rainy so I thought it might be a good day for soup - and it was.

Carrot Sweet Potato Soup (Adapted from my brain)

1lb carrots, cut into chunks
3-4 med sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3T brown sugar
1t cinnamon
5-6 c chicken or vegetable stock
1 c heavy cream
Creme Fraiche and chives for serving

Place carrots and sweet potatoes on separate roasting pans lined with silpat. Toss with about 1T of olive oil and some salt. Roast for about 1/2 hour on 450 (The carrots will be done before the sweet potatoes).

Meanwhile put onions and celery in a dutch oven with some salt and olive oil on a low heat. Cook until caramelized. You can add 1T of brown sugar to help them along. Add cinnamon and brown sugar. Slowly add the 5 c of the vegetable or chicken stock. Remove carrots and sweet potatoes from oven. …

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread

Yes I'm in that situation again where I have some bananas getting a little overripe. What to do?? Yet a different banana bread recipe!

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread (Adapted from Cooking Light)

5T Nutella
1 t canola oil
3 T canola oil
3 T butter
1/2 c brown sugar
2 medium bananas
2 eggs
1 1/2 c flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2/3 c buttermilk
1 oz milk chocolate

Combine Nutella and 1t oil in a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds or until melted. Stir and set aside.

Combine 3 T oil, butter, brown sugar and bananas in a large bowl. Beat until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time; mixing well after each addition. In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk and ending with flour.

Pour 1/2 of batter into a greased loaf pan. Spread Nutella mixture over batter. Pour in remaining batter. Use a spatula to swirl batter. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean.…


I never thought I would like this and I made it one day and really decided it was a really great salad. The mint is delicious and not overpowering. It just brings to mind patchouli oil and lava lamps but it is so not that.

Tabbouleh (adapted from ??)

1 c bulgar (cracked wheat)
1 1/2 c boiling water
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1/2 c red onion, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 T red onion, minced
1/4 c fresh mint, chopped
1/4 c parsley, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 c lemon juice
1 t cumin
3 T olive oil

Place bulgar in a bowl and pour boiling water over it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, onion, mint, lemon zest, and parsley; set aside. In a small bowl mix lemon juice, cumin, and salt/pepper. Whisk in olive oil. Combine ingredients and chill for at least an hour.

On those hot summer days when you don't feel like cooking anything because it's too hot to eat and cook, this is a great…

Cucumber Salmon Stacks

This is another one of those things that you throw together but it looks fairly impressive. It's really not a lot of work - even the creme fraiche!

Cucumber Salmon Stacks (Adapted from ???)

1 English Cucumber, sliced into 1/4" rounds
1 c creme fraiche (homemade of course)*
4 oz smoked salmon
fresh dill

Place a small dollop of creme fraiche on a cucumber round. Top a small wedge of salmon and some dill fronds. DONE!

See I told you it was easy.

*Remember basically if you know how to stir, you can make creme fraiche

Grilled Cheese

I forgot to mention I made grilled cheese for Easter. Doesn't sound impressive does it? Well take a look...
See I made Tomato Bread again. I made the bread the week before and froze it. It freezes well if you wrap it in plastic wrap and then foil. I used Fontina cheese for the sandwiches. I made them right as people were arriving and placed them on a platter on top of a hot plate. So how do you make the ideal grilled cheese - some people don't make good ones - too much butter (is there such a thing??).

Perfect Grilled Cheese (Adapted from My Brain)

2 slices of bread
melty cheese - Fontina, Gruyere, Crappy America (don't you dare!), Monterey Jack, Mozzarella (you get the idea)
Herbs (if not using herbed bread)

Smear some butter on the slices (not too much you want a nice thin coating. I see what you're doing - that's too much!). Grate the cheese or slice it thin. You do not want a big thick glob of cheese - it will not melt properly. Mix in some herbs with th…

Homemade Ricotta

So here is what you've been waiting for....drum roll please...homemade ricotta

Homemade Ricotta (Adapted from David Lebovitz)

1/2 gallon milk (I usually use 2%)
1 c heavy cream
1 c yogurt (go for the full fat Greek yogurt but have also used low and non-fat)
1 T white vinegar
1t salt

 Place all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a low boil. It will start to look curdled and then start to separate. That's it you're done with the cooking. Place a strainer lined with cheesecloth over a big bowl. Strain and let sit for about 15 minutes.

When I went to get the link for this, I was shocked to see that it was from 2009. That is how long I've been making homemade ricotta. It is so easy, it's quite silly. It's so quick and easy I've even made this for a weeknight meal. While the pasta water is boiling, the ricotta is draining. The most difficult thing about this is keeping enough cheesecloth in the house. I just can't seem to do that - between the butter, chee…

Easter Cake

Here's the cake my nephew's girlfriend and my niece made. Isn't it cute. Yes that is all KitKat bars around the sides. You just take a regular iced cake and the icing "glues" them on. Dump the M&Ms on the top and side (my nephew did that part). It was delicious. Apparently it's all the rage on pin-interest (as my Mom calls it).

Endive Cups with Ricotta

This is a nice easy recipe that again looks like you've spent hours. Do the extra and make the homemade ricotta - or at least buy some good quality ricotta. It is worth it.

Endive Cups with Ricotta (Adapted from Real Simple)

1-2 endive, ends trimmed and separated
1/2 c pistachio nuts
1/2 c golden raisins
3 T olive oil
1 1/2 c ricotta (homemade)
2 T fresh chives, chopped

In a small bowl combine pistachio, raisins, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange endive on a platter, dollop some ricotta, and then top with pistachio mixture.

You do need to go the extra on this and get the golden raisins - regular raisins just won't do it. A drizzle of honey wouldn't be too off the mark here either. The original recipe used almonds but I think the pistachio makes a better choice.

Puffy Spinach Egg Bake

When you look at the ingredient list you might think that this is going to be a very heavy dish, but it is actually very light. I can't figure out why.  I mean it's got cheese, bacon, and ricotta. Nothing sounds light there at all!

This is ideal for brunch or even a nice Sunday night meal. However, since you refrigerate it overnight you can even do it for a weeknight. I must confess the first time I made this, I cheated and didn't refrigerate it overnight and it still came out great. I only chilled it for about maybe 6 hours?

Puffy Spinach Egg Bake (Adapted from Cooking Club)

4 c cubed whole grain bread
6 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 c chopped shallots
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
6 eggs
2 c ricotta cheese (homemade)
1/3 t nutmeg
2 c milk
1/2 c shredded Fontina cheese

Coat a 13x9 pan with cooking spray. Arrange cubed bread in the bottom of the dish.

Saute bacon until browned. Add shallots and cook for 2 minutes until tender. Scatter baco…

Happy 2015 Easter

So what's cooking?

Some old favorites:  French Toast and it wouldn't be Easter without Oatmeal Clafoutis,  And then some other blog entries: Kielbasa & Sauerkraut, Sesame Noodles all served with Mimosas. For dessert Raspberry Charlotte (I'll post a new picture of this when we cut the cake. I did a web design this time around)

And then some new things too:

Spinach & Egg Bake, Endive cups with Ricotta*, Tabbouleh salad, and last but not least Cucumber Salmon Stacks.

Happy Easter!

*Finally homemade ricotta will be posted!

Pulled Pork

So this was a happy mistake. I decided to make some pulled pork and when I was food shopping some pork belly caught my eye. I decided to buy that too. Since I was going to have the oven on for a whole bunch of hours for the pulled pork - why not throw some pork belly into the mix for future use. Well I'll tell you why not - they cook at different temperatures! So I decided to give the pulled pork a try in the pressure cooker. Let me tell you the results were great (the pictures - not so much). The pork belly came out well and is sitting in the freezer for a nice rainy day.

I'm going to give directions for both the oven version and the pressure cooker version for the pulled pork. But I do think I'll be sticking with the pressure cooker version for now on.

Pulled Pork

4lb boneless pork butt(or pork shoulder)*
3 T brown sugar
2 T smokey paprika
2 T dry mustard
2 T cumin
1 c water (if using pressure cooker)
1/4 c vinegar (if using pressure cooker)

It's best if …