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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Greek Caponata

This is my new favorite veggie dish. It's a bit late in the year, but you might find some fresh veggies at farmer's markets. Easy and delicious, this is a great way to convert non-veggie eaters. I've even added a can of canellini beans to make it a complete meal. You can also pour over pasta instead of serving with toasted bread. It makes quite a bit, but that's okay since it's great warm or at room temperature (i.e., leftovers for lunch the next day!).

Greek Caponata

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juice (fire roasted are wonderful)
2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch rounds
2 summer squash, cut into 1-inch rounds
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 large Japanese eggplant, cut into 1-inch rounds (regular eggplant also works, but peel it first, then salt it & let sit for ~15 minutes; rinse & use - removes bitterness)
1 red or yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges
1 potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (can leave peel on)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano

4 to 6 slices toasted sourdough bread, optional for main dish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Pour the canned tomatoes into a 3 1/2-quart baking dish and spread to cover the bottom. In a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients (not the bread). Toss to coat. Pour the vegetables over the canned tomatoes in an even layer. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the edges of the vegetables are golden, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve alone as a side, or over toasted sourdough bread or pasta for a main dish.

Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

You've probably heard of Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman); perhaps you've even seen her blog or tv show on Food Network. Well, her recipe for cinnamon rolls captured my attention quite a while back. It makes a lot (if using the full recipe), and they're really delicous. I've added my own spin and think I've come up with a near-perfect cinnamon roll. The frosting/glaze is still a work in progress, but this is pretty close to perfect for me. She says they can be frozen at any point in the process, but I prefer to bake and glaze mine before freezing. When you reheat them, the glaze soaks into the rolls, allowing you to add more frosting before serving. Y.U.M.

Cinnamon Rolls

1 quart Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable or Canola Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets (15 g total)
8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour (Unbleached)
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Table Salt
Plenty Of Melted Butter (Salted, not Unsalted, ~1 cup)
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Light Brown Sugar
Generous Sprinkling of Cinnamon
4 cups Powdered Sugar (~1 lb)
1 tsp. instant coffee
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. maple flavoring/extract
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. softened or melted butter (salted)
~4 Tablespoons milk
1/8 tsp. table salt

Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot (i.e., between 100F-110F on a thermometer), sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 8 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.
After rising for at least an hour, add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could use the dough immediately; however, I cover & refrigerate the dough at least overnight before using-no more than 2 days, though. Watch to make sure it doesn't overflow - you can punch it down if needed.)
When ready to prepare rolls: Prepare your pans with butter on the bottom & sides (a pastry brush works well.) Set aside.
Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Take half the dough (1/6th if making mini-rolls) and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle melted butter over the dough to cover - a pastry brush works well to spread it evenly. Now sprinkle sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
Now, starting in the middle, begin rolling the dough in a neat line. After you have a roll started, roll from one end across, keeping the roll fairly tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.
Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans.
Repeat this process with the other part of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes (or until nearly doubled in size), then bake at 350F degrees until light golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
For the frosting, mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. You want it thick but pourable/spreadable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls.

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Friday, August 19, 2011

Topside Granola

I thought I'd found the perfect recipe for granola. That is, until I had the granola from the Topside Inn in Boothbay Harbor, ME. Dark and flavorful, it was perfect on its own or with yogurt. The hosts were gracious enough to share the recipe with me. I tweaked it just a bit, and it really is hard to decide if my 'Best Granola Ever' claim can stand against this recipe.

We'll just call it a tie.

Topside Granola

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl:
9 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup sunflower kernels
3 cup chopped nuts (1 cup each of pecans, almonds, & walnuts)

In a microwavable* container (i.e., 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup), mix:
1 1/2 cups canola oil (I've also used 1/2 to 3/4 cup applesauce with 1 or 3/4 cup oil to reduce fat)
1 1/2 cups honey
1/2 cup molasses
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Cook in microwave* on high until hot but not boiling (5-7 minutes), and then stir.

Pour over dry mixture and stir well, coating all of the dry with wet ingredients. Pour mix into 2 large prepared sheet pans (sprayed lightly with oil) and spread evenly.

Place pans into preheated oven and set timer for 15 minutes. Remove pans from oven and stir well, especially from corners of pan. Repeat 3 more times for a total of 4 baking sessions. Watch carefully after two baking sessions; the last two sessions may need to be shorter to avoid burning. It should be dark & golden brown.

Cool on the pan, using a spatula to stir periodically to avoid big lumps.

Stir in
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries (optional-I don't prefer them)

Store in airtight container in the refrigerator, or also can be frozen in heavy zip-lock bags.

From the Topside Inn, Boothbay Harbor, ME

Monday, August 15, 2011


I'm a sucker for a recipe. I follow them pretty much exactly, especially the first time I make something, so it's odd that I'd come up with something new that worked perfectly the first time. So perfectly (and deliciously addictive) that we dubbed them Crack-Cakes and two dozen cupcakes, um, 'disappeared' from our house within 36 hours. You eat one, and it's pretty good. Soon thereafter, you have to have another one. The maple buttercream frosting is out of this world. My culinary muse certainly earned her wings that day.
Or something like that.
Just make the cupcakes.
(But make them for an event/gathering or your scale will be unhappy with you.)


One box Betty Crocker white cake mix (do not use ingredients listed on box)
1 1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. molasses
2 whole eggs

Mix thoroughly & bake according to package directions for cupcakes.

Maple Buttercream

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
4 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. maple syrup (not maple flavoring)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix thoroughly until smooth. This is better the next day, so I recommend making it in advance. Store in the fridge in an airtight container; bring to room temperature and re-whip before using.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Chicken Curry

I received this recipe from our Best Man's mom. She grew up in South Africa, and while I don't know exactly where she got this recipe, I think it's got some African tones to it (I'm thinking Moroccan, but what do I know? I've never been there!) It can be served over rice, but don't forget the condiments! I really like it with banana, raisins, & lettuce.

I haven't made it in the slow cooker before, but I think it'd be an excellent dish to try with that method. Also, since it makes quite a bit, it freezes really well. Try it. It's delicious!

Chicken Curry

1 oz margerine (or butter)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp chopped garlic
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
2 Tbsp flour, heaped
2 Tbsp tomato paste, level
1/2 tsp ground ginger, level
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, level
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp chopped sweet pickle, level
1 tsp worchestershire sauce
Juice 1/2 lemon
2 cups water
2 tsp chicken boullion granules
1 1/4 lbs chicken tenders/breasts, cut into ~1-inch cubes
2 cups diced potato (1/2-inch dice-I leave the skin on)
1 cup water

Add margarine/butter and oil to a large, wide pan or pot. Saute onions until translucent. Add garlic & cook ~30 seconds before adding remaining spices, pickle, worchestershire, lemon, 2 cups water, and boullion. (Can mix together in a bowl before adding to the pan.)

Add chicken & potatoes and bring to a boil. Turn down to low or med-low and simmer until chicken and potatoes are tender. Serve with rice, chopped banana, raisins, tomato, lettuce, and/or coconut.

Note: This is even better the next day!

Recipe courtesy S. Dee

Monday, May 16, 2011


I'm a big fan of Lucinda Scala Quinn's new show 'Mad Hungry.' I greatly appreciate that she makes meals at home for her family using unprocessed food. She is the head food editor at Martha Stewart Living, yet her recipes are not pretentious. She also doesn't like wasting food, maximizing ingredients or leftovers. This recipe is a great example. I was skeptical, but since I had a fresh pineapple in the house, I gave it a try. The results were refreshing and delicious. From now on, I will make this with every pineapple I buy. It only makes about a quart, but I would think it freezes well to 'stock up' for the desired quantity. I tweaked the recipe only slightly. My only caveat is that the longer it sits, the stronger the clove flavor becomes.


4 cups water
Peel of 1 pineapple, washed (scrub it well before cutting up the pineapple)
1/2 cup sugar (for a really ripe pineapple, use ~1/4 to 1/3 cup)
3 whole cloves (orignial recipe calls for 2)
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, sliced into 2-3 chunks
Ice, for serving

1.Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.

2.Place pineapple peel, sugar, cloves, and ginger in a large heatproof pitcher. Pour boiling water into pitcher and stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours; strain. Transfer to refrigerator to chill; serve over ice.

Recipe adapted from LSQ

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Banana Bread (Updated)

I make this bread frequently. And I have yet to hear any negative feedback about it. I've altered the original recipe slightly because I use super-ripe bananas (frozen and thawed) - I didn't need the full amount of sugar. It's the most moist banana bread I've ever had. I recently saw a new ATK recipe for banana bread, but I haven't tried it yet. I'm not sure if I will try it or not since my go-to recipe is so easy and makes 2-3 loaves at a time. Why mess with a good thing?

Mary’s Moist Banana Bread

3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
7 ripe bananas (I use bananas with lots of brown spots)*
1/2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups sour cream (can use low/non-fat - I use lowfat)
2 tsp. vanilla
Pecans (optional)

Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs, pureed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla; mix well. Then add salt, soda, and flour. Add pecans (if using). Mix until combined. Pour into greased and floured loaf pans (2 or 3) and bake at 300F for about 1 hour or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

*Note: The texture is much better if you use bananas that have been frozen. Peel & mash with potato masher & freeze in a zip-top bag.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Busy Day Chocolate Cake

Holy smokes...has it really been two months since I posted? Well, you're in luck, because I've been doing lots of cooking and baking (over the holidays, don't ya know), and I have new recipes to post! Here's the first one, and it's really quick to make. And, evidently it's really quick to disappear, too, at least in our household. This is as close as I've come to getting a picture of the cake.

Told you it was quick to disappear.

Anyways, this recipe comes from Lucinda Scala Quinn, and I've been quite impressed with her show Mad Hungry. I'm glad to see that she's encouraging families to eat more meals together and get involved in meal preparation. I've tried several of her recipes, and so far, so good. Make this cake and get it in the oven just before you sit down to eat. (She even suggests that you mix everything together in the same pan you bake the cake, but I had problems with sticking.) By the time you're done, the cake will be ready. It's best when served warm. Lucinda suggests topping with buttercream frosting, but I think a dollop of sweetened whipped cream is all it needs.

Busy Day Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1-2 tsps. instant coffee granules
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, and coarse salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture and add vegetable oil, pure vanilla extract, white vinegar, and cold water. Whisk until well combined. Pour mixture into an 8-inch square baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Serve warm with sweeteed whipped cream or just a fork.

Adapted from Lucinda Scala Quinn