Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Penne Pasta in Chipotle Cream Sauce

Quick, simple, delicious, bistro-restaurant-quality recipe.

Penne Pasta in Chipotle Cream Sauce
Serves 6

1 pound penne pasta
3 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, minced
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons chipotle sauce or to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper or to taste
1 handful of cilantro, finely chopped

1.    Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions.
2.    Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
3.    Add shallots and mushrooms, and cook slowly, stirring often, until tender.
4.    Turn down heat to low, and stir in cream and then milk.
5.    Stir in chipotle sauce.
6.    Simmer sauce to thicken, stirring often. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7.    Drain pasta and then return to empty pasta-cooking pan. Add sauce to drained pasta and toss lightly to combine.
8.    Sprinkle each serving with a bit of cilantro.

NOTE: Bottles of chipotle sauce can be purchased cheaply at Mexican markets or in the Mexican section of well-stocked grocery stores.

Best way to finely "chop" cilantro is to put it in a cup and use one's kitchen shears to snip it finely.

Wonderfully simple and delicious dish. Great for company served with a green salad and apple juice and then lemon sorbet for dessert.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Easy Chicken Mole

Easy  Chicken  Mole
Serves 6

2 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
1 ½ pounds chicken tenders or boneless chicken breast, cut into small cubes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-ounce can chicken broth
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles
¼ cup creamy peanut butter, ideally natural
1 ounce grated or chopped unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 to 2 teaspoons honey
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt to taste
Cooked rice
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add cubed chicken and sauté just until chicken ñis no longer pink in the center. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
3. Add another tablespoon of vegetable oil to skillet and sauté the onions until softened.
4. Add garlic and sauté another minute or two.
5. Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, peanut butter, chocolate, chili powder, honey, and cinnamon.
6. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. The sauce may be puréed with an immersible blender at this point.
7. Add reserved chicken to the sauce and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
8. Salt to taste. Serve over rice and top with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

NOTE: You can use leftover cooked chicken and skip the first two steps.

Easy Black Bean Soup

My daughter and I liked this soup so much that we made it twice last week and have vowed to eat it once a week in perpetuity. Consider adding a couple of spashes of half-and-half to the soup shortly before serving.

Easy Black Bean Soup
Serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 large jalapeño, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teapoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
7 to 8 cups vegetable stock
1 cup chopped cilantro, divided
Juice of two limes
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in heavy 5-quart pan over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeño, and sauté over medium heat until the onion is soft and the garlic is fragrant, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Do not let the mixture brown.
3. Add ground and whole cumin, coriander, and cayenne and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
4. Add rinsed beans, stirring to combine.
5. Add about 7 cups of vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a boil.
6. Stir in ½ cup of the cilantro and reduce heat to a simmer.
7. Let simmer for 20 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
8. Puree with immersible blender to preferred consistency. Stir in additional broth if you want a thinner consistency.
9. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro.

NOTE: Have a party by making a huge batch of this soup and asking folks to bring a topping. Consider having cooked rice to put on the bottom of the soup bowls. Topping ideas: fried tortilla strips, Greek plain yogurt, sour cream, grated cheese, sliced green onion, chopped red onion, chopped hard-boiled eggs, crumbled sausage, crumbled bacon, chopped tomatoes, avocado slices.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Haseelbackpoteter (Norwegian Roasted Potatoes)

Haseelbackpoteter (Norwegian Roasted Potatoes)

Serves 12

5 pounds oval, medium-sized baking potatoes

6 tablespoons butter, melted

Sea salt

¾ pound Jarlsberg cheese, coarsely grated


1. Lightly butter a nonmetal 9x13-inch baking pan.

2.  Peel each potato and then drop it into a large bowl of cold water to prevent discoloration.

3.  One at a time, fish out each potato and dry it with a clean terrycloth dishtowel. Place the potato lengthwise on a large wooden spoon and make 1/8-inch-thick slices, stopping about ½-inch from cutting all the way through the potato. Then place the potato, sliced side up, in the buttered baking pan.

4. Brush the potatoes with most of the melted butter, and then sprinkle with salt.

5.     Cover pan tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil, and place in 425°F oven for 30 minutes.

6. Remove potatoes from oven and brush with remaining melted butter.

7. Bake potatoes 15 more minutes.

8. Remove potatoes from oven and top with grated cheese and then sprinkle with paprika.

9. Return to oven uncovered and bake 5 more minutes or until potatoes are done.

NOTE: I ground smoked black pepper over potatoes after salting them.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bolognese Sauce

Modified from teen cookbook Clueless in the Kitchen by Evelyn Raab.

Bolognese Sauce II
Serves 6

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely grated
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cups or one 14-oz. can beef broth
1 pound lean ground beef, 10 percent fat or less
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 ½ cups whole milk
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil in heavy 4-quart pan.
2. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring, over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until softened.
3. Add the grated carrot, the chopped celery, and half of the beef broth, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
4. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring to break up the lumps, until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the rest of the beef broth, and cook just until liquid has nearly evaporated, about 4 minutes.
6. Add the tomato paste, half of the milk, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until much of liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally.
7. Add the rest of the milk and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Cook the pasta while sauce is simmering.
8. Serve over 14 ounces spaghetti cooked al dente. Pass grated Parmesan cheese.

NOTE: Loved it with smoked pepper.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Salsa Verde

Without further ado, my assignment for the Secret Recipe Club this month was:

Amy has many tempting recipes, including the Puffy Apple Pancake (quite similar to my Baked Pancake, but with apples!), Baked Vanilla Doughnuts (doughnuts, again?!!), and Pollo al Chilindron.  In the end, I ran across this Salsa Verde recipe (link below), and I had to make it for several reasons:

  • It is one of Rick's recipes.  
  • I love salsa verde, but I have never made it.   
  • Reading the recipe made me crave it, so I ran to the store for tomatillos and chips!  

I doubled it from the start, except I left out half of the water.  Below is the double batch recipe, follow the link for Amy's proportions.
This recipe is easy to put together, and tastes fresh and delicious!  Enjoy some today!

Salsa Verde
makes about 2 cups

1 pound (10 to 12 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded
10 or 12 sprigs fresh cilantro, roughly chopped 
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup water
coarse salt
Roughly chop the tomatillos and the chiles.

In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos, chiles, cilantro and water. Pulse briefly to a coarse puree; scrape down sides.  

Rinse the onion under cold water, then shake to remove excess moisture. Pulse a couple times into the salsa, then scrape into a serving dish.

Season with salt to taste.

Secret Recipe Club

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake

My cooking goal: Never to use another cake mix. Here's a recipe that is helping me to achieve this.

Double-chocolate  Bundt  Cake
Serves 16

1 cup cocoa powder

6 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate

¾ cup boiling water

10 tablespoons butter at room temperature

2 cups brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

5 eggs at room temperature

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups sour cream

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

Powdered sugar

1. Butter a 12-cup Bundt pan and then dust with cocoa powder.

2. Add cocoa powder and chopped chocolate to 4-cup Pyrex 
     measuring cup.

3. Add boiling water to combined chocolate, and stir until bittersweet chocolate is melted. If necessary, microwave in 30-second intervals until chocolate is completely melted, stirring after each 30 seconds. Allow to cool.

4. Cream butter.

5. Add brown sugar and vanilla to butter, and beat well.

6. One at a time, add eggs to creamed mixture, blending well after 
     each addition.

7. Add baking soda and salt to creamed mixture.

8. Fold sour cream into melted chocolate.

9. Add the chocolate mixture to the creamed mixture, and blend 

10. Gently fold in flour just until combined.

11. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan, and bake at 350°F. for 65 to 70 minutes or until the cake passes the toothpick test.

12. Cool slightly in pan before removing cake to wire rack to cool 

13. Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar before serving.

NOTE: May be served with whipped cream. May use chocolate 

              glaze in place of powdered sugar.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wendy's Granola

Wendy’s Granola
Serves 18

6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups raw whole almonds or quartered pecans or walnuts

2 cups grated coconut, sweetened or unsweetened

2 cups raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup raw wheat germ

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup raw sesame seeds

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or almond extract

1.              In a very large bowl, combine oatmeal, nuts, coconut, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, pumpkin    
          seeds, sesame seeds, and brown sugar.

2.              In a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup, measure oil, honey, and salt. Microwave 1 minute. Stir.

3.              Pour honey mixture into dry ingredients and combine.

4.              Pour half the mixture, about 7½ cups, into a roasting pan.

5.              Bake in a 300°F oven for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

6.              Remove from oven, break into bite-size pieces, and cool before sealing airtight.

7.              Follow Steps 4 through 6 for remainder of granola.

NOTE: Can use an entire 7-ounce bag of grated coconut without measuring. Bits of dried fruit can be added after granola has cooled.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Taste & Create: Buttermilk Waffles

***Taste & Create is a fabulous monthly blog event in which participants are randomly paired off to choose and prepare a dish from their partner's blog. If you'd like to join us, please email me at cowgirlmin07 [at] gmail [dot] com by the 8th of the month!! *** 


My partner this month is Carol from No Reason Needed.  I know I can always find a delicious recipe on her blog, and this month was no exception.  I was drawn to her Buttermilk Spice Muffins, but then.  Then, immediately below the muffins on the list, were these Buttermilk Waffles!

I didn't change a thing, although I did follow the 1/2 oil, 1/2 butter suggestion, so I'll list that as I made them.  The recipe is originally from Swanky Paper, and I'm so glad Carol found it and tried it.

This recipe will be one we return to.  It's so easy to whip up and the waffles are light, fluffy, crispy and delicious!

Buttermilk Waffles
Makes about 11 waffles

4 eggs, beaten until light
2 cups buttermilk (2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar, plus enough milk to make 2 cups)
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
1/2 cup butter, melted 
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

Whisk eggs until light, then add buttermilk and oil.  Whisk in butter.  Add flour, salt, baking soda and powder, mix well.  Pour into a waffle maker.  Cook until golden brown.  Serve with butter, maple syrup, and your favorite toppings.  


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Taste & Create: Swedish Meatloaf

***Taste & Create is a fabulous monthly blog event in which participants are randomly paired off to choose and prepare a dish from their partner's blog. If you'd like to join us, please email me at cowgirlmin07 [at] gmail [dot] com by the 8th of the month!! *** 

My partner this month was Tamy of 3 Sides of Crazy.  We've known each other for a while, I used to be a regular contributor to her Our Krazy Kitchen, and she's actually a contributor to The Bad Girl's Kitchen as well!  She's also a loyal supporter of Taste & Create.  At any rate, there is always a new recipe to be found over on Tamy's blog, and this time, Swedish Meatloaf sounded perfect.  (visit the link for Tamy's come my changes!)

I did make a couple changes, for one I didn't have any bread, and my favorite regular meatloaf uses oatmeal, so that's where that came from. I also added some parsley to lean toward a more classic "Swedish" flavor, and didn't have any allspice, so I just used nutmeg. I also didn't add any brown sugar and lessened the salt.

For the sauce, I was kind of in a hurry so I added an extra tablespoon of flour. (even so, my sauce was a bit thin because I rushed it).  I would have preferred beef broth, but chicken worked in a pinch.  Although this sauce is good, next time I'm going to try for a more classic Swedish meatloaf-flavored sauce.  I like the classics!

Tamy also said she often doubles the recipe and freezes one loaf for later--I will definitely be doing that next time!

Baking this in a loaf instead of meatballs is inspired, and this meatloaf is excellent!  A new favorite, thanks Tamy!

Swedish Meatloaf & Sauce
Adapted from 3 Sides of Crazy


1 egg
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup oats
8 ounces ground pork
8 ounces ground beef
1 small onion, finely diced (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk egg and cream together in small bowl. Stir in oatmeal and set aside to soak. Gently blend ground beef and pork, onion, nutmeg, pepper and salt.  Add oat mixture to beef mixture and gently blend until well mixed. Put in loaf pans.  Bake about 45 minutes.

 During the last 15-20 minutes, prepare the sauce.


1 tablespoon butter  
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (I would prefer beef broth here, but didn't have any)

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Melt butter, add flour and cook, stirring constantly with whisk, until flour is light brown. Slowly whisk in broth and bring to simmer. Reduce heat and cook until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and return to simmer.  Stir in lemon juice; season with salt and pepper to taste and serve over meatloaf.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice

THIS is one of our family's new favorite dishes!  It is pretty easy to make, and so so good.  The boys love the coconut rice in particular.  And leftovers are good too!  Once you get everything chopped and prepped, it is fairly easy to do.  It did take me longer than the 50 minutes total time, so keep that in mind.  I think my chicken was in the oven a good 15 minutes (or more) longer at the end.

The recipe comes from Everyday Food magazine, where I get a lot of my recipes.  It is credited to Samantha Seneviratne, who says she has simplified her Sri Lankan mother's recipe.  If you haven't subscribed to this magazine yet, follow the link and do it!  You won't be sorry. 

Anyway, the chicken is savory, the rice is flavorful and creamy and coconut-y, it's just plain delicious.  We are making this again next week!

Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice
Adapted from Everyday Food magazine
Serves 8
Active time:  25 minutes
Total time:  50 minutes (PLUS 15 - 20 extra, if necessary to cook the chicken through)

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces  (I just bought a 4-pound package of chicken thighs, so feel free to substitute the chicken pieces you like)
4 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
coarse salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger (from a 3-inch piece)
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups basmati rice (I only had long-grain white rice)
1 can (13.5 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
fresh cilantro leaves, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with rack in lower third.  Toss chicken with curry powder, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil over high.  In batches, cook chicken until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes total.  Transfer to a large plate.

Reduce heat to medium and add 1 teaspoon each salt and oil (I omitted this oil as there was plenty left from the chicken), and add garlic, ginger and onion.  Cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, until onion is translucent, 6 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute.  Add rice, coconut milk and 2 cups water; stir to combine and bring to a boil.

Arrange chicken in pot, on top of rice, skin side up, cover and transfer to oven.  Bake until chicken is cooked through and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.   
 ***HERE is where I cooked my chicken longer.  I removed a piece of chicken, cut it open, it wasn't done.  I bet I cooked it 20 more minutes, which brings the total time up to 1 hour and 10 minutes.  At least.  But it's worth it!


This is another recipe from crazy aunt Louise - loved that lady! Remember the Corn Flake Wreaths she made us for Christmas, well she always made this Blueberry Lemon Sauce Cake for 4th of July.  She was a serious creature of habit.  Thanksgiving always brought her cheesy garlic grits, but I'm still working on perfecting that one - maybe I'll have it ready for Thanksgiving.
I make this in an 8x8 baking dish, but it easily doubles for a 9x13.  My sauce turned out quite pale today so I added a little yellow food coloring.  LOL I say a little, but from the looks of that picture I added a little too much.
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
Juice of 1 small lemon
scant 1 cup flour
scant 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Jumbo egg
1/4 cup milk
1+ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • Preheat oven to 350˚.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a mixing bowl cream together the butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice until well blended.
  • Add egg and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and blend until smooth.  Batter will be thicker, like a coffee cake consistency.
  • Fold in blueberries.
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
Juice of 2 lemons
  • Over a medium-high heat whisk together the water and cornstarch in a saucepan until smooth.
  • Add the butter and allow to melt.
  • Add the sugars and salt, stirring until dissolved.
  • Add lemon juice and rind.
  • Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until desired sauce consistency.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chunky Monkey Pancakes

I received an email early this morning, (or was it late last night?), with a recipe for Chunky Monkey Pancakes.  I had one banana, and a partial bag of chocolate chips.  This morning I sent Number One off to the store for milk, more bananas and a precious bag of pecans, and now we have pancakes!

I made enough changes to the recipe to call it my own, but it was inspired by this recipe from

These pancakes are fluffy and delicious, and both boys cleaned their plates!  H-Bomb said, "Dada, they're super good!"  What's not to love?

Chunky Monkey Pancakes
 Adapted from
Makes about 6 pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (1 tablespoon lemon juice + enough milk to make 1 cup), plus more milk to achieve proper batter consistency if needed
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large banana, diced
heaping 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon butter for pan
sliced bananas
maple syrup
whipped cream (we forgot to buy this at the store, but next time!)

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients.  Add more milk if necessary to achieve a proper pancake batter consistency.  Gently fold in the banana, chocolate chips, and nuts.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and melt 1 tablespoon butter.  Pour batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface and edges look dry.  Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

Serve with sliced bananas, maple syrup and whipped cream, if desired.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

So you probably know, I joined the The Secret Recipe Club.   It is a secret blog assignment, where you are set off into another foodie's blog alone, and no one else is supposed to know.  Someone else all together gets to peruse your blog.  We'll all find out who had which blog on the same day and time.

Without further ado, my assignment for the Secret Recipe Club this month was:

Shortly after I started looking at Shumaila's blog, it was an clear contest between Toasted Coconut Ice Cream and Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I fully intend on making the Toasted Coconut Ice Cream this week, but between canning and a weekend trip, I decided to make the cookies.  And take them with us on our trip, of course!

They are delicious.  I didn't have patience to brown the butter, but I did melt it for quite a while.  I also used two kinds of chocolate chips.  I can't tell you how many the recipe made, because everyone was eating them straight out of the oven!

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
1cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks (I used a mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate)
sea salt, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking trays with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking frequently. Whisk till the butter turns a little light brown. Takes about 5- 8 mins. Let cool to room temperature.

Add melted butter to both sugars in a mixing bowl and stir until smooth.  Stir in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and kosher salt. Add the dry ingredient to the sugar-butter mix until just combined.  Let cool completely.

Once completely cool, fold chocolate chips in the batter. Scoop 2 tablespoon-size portions onto the tray and flatten slightly. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake for 8-10 minutes and remove from the oven. Cool on tray a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Secret Recipe Club

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Moosewood Pesto

For classic recipes like pesto, I often turn to Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook.  This one comes from the original cookbook that I picked up at a yard sale several years ago.  I also have the 15-year anniversary edition, but it's not with me at the moment so I can't tell you if she updated or changed the recipe at all.

One of the things I love about this recipe is that you have several options of nuts.  This comes in handy, especially since I can't bring myself to pay $20/bag for pine nuts right now!  Unfortunately walnuts are also way UP in price, last time I checked a one-pound bag was about $8, which I also just can't do.  So luckily, I have a bunch of almonds in the freezer, and that's what I've been using for my pesto.

The first batch I made using my homegrown Lemon Basil and almonds, and it is amazing.  My generous FedEx driver dropped off a huge bag of homegrown Basil yesterday, so I am making more pesto today, again with almonds.  I stick the pesto in small freezer containers, so we can have that fresh green summer flavor all year long.

from Moosewood Cookbook
for about 6 servings of pasta

3 packed cups fresh basil leaves (removed from stems)
2 large cloves fresh garlic
1/2 cup pinenuts, walnuts, almonds or a combination
3/4 cup (packed) fresh-chopped parsley
3/4 cup fresh-grated Parmesan
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup melted butter
salt to taste

Combine everything in a blender or food processor on low, then medium speed.  Arrange things so the blender blade will turn efficiently.  Thoroughly work everything into a smooth paste.  Toss with hot, drained pasta.

*This keeps excellently in the freezer too, just thaw before tossing with pasta.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

French Toast Casserole

We love French toast, but I hate having to make recipes that require one of us to eat while it's hot and the next batch is on the griddle. This recipe makes us both happy at the same time and is a time saver because I throw it together the night before AND it uses what might otherwise be wasted. We love sourdough bread, but the heels are sometimes a little tough. I save the heels from each loaf in the freezer and when I have enough I make this casserole. It's absolutely perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas morning. The smell of the cinnamon baking is one of the best smiles you can give your family. 

8-10 sourdough heels (or regular slices work too)
8 eggs
3 cups milk
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons butter, cubed or sliced thin
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
maple syrup - OPTIONAL - it really is great without it
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, 4 teaspoons sugar, vanilla extract and sea salt.
  • Cube bread.
  • Add bread to the egg mixture and toss to coat well.
  • Grease a 13x9 baking dish.
  • Pour bread mixture into baking dish, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Remove casserole from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
  • Preheat oven to 350˚.
  • Dot casserole with butter pieces.
  • Combine topping sugar and cinnamon - sprinkle over top.
  • Cover** and bake 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out of center clean.
  • Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
**If you want a crispy top, uncover 10 minutes before it's through.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

White Chocolate Almond Chunk Cookies

Splurged by buying a $2.99 used cookbook from a thrift store last Saturday. The cookbook is With Love & Butter: Favorite Recipes from Holly B's Bakery on Lopez Island. Tried the first recipe, which confirmed what I thought: No reason for buyer's remorse, since this recipe alone is worth the purchase price. Below is the slightly modified recipe along with a note from me.

Makes 5 dozen

1 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups quick (1-minute) oatmeal
1 1/2 cups whole natural almonds
1 ½ to 2 cups white chocolate chips
½ to 1 cup dried cranberries, optional

1. In large mixing bowl, cream together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.
2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
3. Mix in baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla.
4. Add flour to mixing bowl.
5. In a large food processor fitted with the steel knife blade, powder the oatmeal. Empty oat powder into mixing bowl.
6. Mix in flour and oat powder until barely incorporated.
7. Reassemble the food processor without washing. Add the almonds and pulse until roughly chopped. Empty chopped almonds into mixing bowl.
8. Add white chocolate chips and, if desired, dried cranberries to mixing bowl. Stir by hand until combined.
9. Drop by rounded tablespoon on parchment-covered cookie sheet, spacing them 1 inch apart. Slightly flatten each cookie with the palm of your hand.
10. Bake in a 375°F oven on the topmost rack for 4 minutes. Rotate the pan and then continue to bake 3 to 5 minutes. The centers of the cookies should be soft but not gooey. Don’t overbake or even medium-bake. Rather, underbake slightly.
11. Cool completely and then store in an airtight container.

NOTE: Using an insulated baking sheet spread with parchment paper, I put the oven rack on the second position from the top and baked the cookies a bit longer than suggested. 
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