Friday, September 4, 2009

Dear loving and far more creative sister,

Proposal: From here on out we take turns posting recipes each week. I'll take this week and you take the next week and so on. IF one of us should fail to post a recipe at the right time, then the slacker owes her sister...

hmmm, let the readers decide...


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pie Crust! ...and the blueberry pie it holds

So it seems that everyone I know has an opinion about pie crust. Either you don't make it, because it appears to be out of your league, or you do make it and you have a recipe you swear by and usually it involves shortening and vinegar. Most people who use shortening say it makes the dough easier to handle. Sorry, but I'm gonna have to disspell the myths. There are exceptions, but usually, the simplest recipe is the best recipe and in this case, it's true. Give this a try and tell me if this crust doesn't taste better and take less sweat and tears than your average pie crust recipe. Incidentally, it's all natural too, because butter doesn't have all of those nasty hydrogenated oils. :)

This recipe is adapted from the New Betty Crocker Cookbook's two crust recipe. You can halve it if you need only one crust.

2/3 c. plus 1T. butter
2 c. flour (bread flour works best)
1/2 t. salt
4-6 T. cold water
extra flour for rolling

First, add flour and salt to a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir. Then, cut up the sticks of butter into little cubes with a butter knife. Add to the flour mix and use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. Keep at it until the mixture looks like small crumbs. (A pastry cutter is basically just a handle with metal hoops attached. If you don't have one, you can criss cross two knives to accomplish the same thing.)

Next, add the cold water one tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork after each addition. When the mixture pulls cleanly away from the bowl, you've got enough water. Pick the dough up into your hands and press it into two round discs. If it's dry and crumbly still, add more water before separating.

Roll each disc out on a generously floured surface until it's about 1/8" thick, or about 2-3 inches wider than the pie pan you will put it in. Remember to flour your rolling pin and the top of the dough, so it doesn't get too sticky. This is really easy to work with, so you shouldn't have any trouble with it falling apart if you've floured well.

Next, gently fold the rolled dough into quarters and place it in the pie plate with the point at roughly the center of the plate. Unfold the dough into the plate and trim the dough to be hang over the edge by about 1/2-1" to make for easy sealing later.

Roll out the second crust the same way, still being careful to flour generously and let it rest while you prep the filling*.

*Blueberry Pie Recipe from Betty Crocker
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. ground cinnamon, opt.
6 c. blueberries (fresh is best)

1 T. lemon juice

1 T. butter
Heat oven to 425 and mix first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into prepared pie crust. Sprinkle with lemon juice and dot with butter.

Then, fold the second crust into quarters and place it on top of the filling and first crust. Trim edges so the crust is only a tad bit longer than the bottom crust. Fold the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and press gently together to seal the edge. Do this around the edge of the pie until it's completely sealed. Cut some slits into the top crust to vent the pie. Then, if you really feel ambitious you can flute the edge, which will wow your friends and fam with little effort on your part. Check out the picture if you want to see and easy way to do it.

Put some foil or crust covers around the edge and pop it into the oven. It should be done in about 35-45 minutes. If you can wait, let it cool off before cutting into it. We usually settle for runny pie and eat it when it's hot, but if you wait, it should set and keep it's shape nicely when you cut it. Enjoy!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Veggie Pizza

So admittedly, this dish is a little trashy, but in a good way.  You know, it's one of those foods that you should be too sophisticated to like, but you just can't help yourself.  Kind of like Velveeta and Rotel.  Yum.  

I learned this recipe (which is really more of a technique) from my friend Dawn.  We taught together in the Netherlands and bonded over our midwestern roots.  Dawn hails from Wisconsin and I am Minnesota born.  We have a healthy appreciation for Jello salad and the like.

So here's what you do.  Buy a can of crescent roll dough.  (I know-- how many great midwestern recipes start with that step?)  Spread the dough out in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  Make sure that it is one giant rectangle.  You may have to press the seams together.  Bake it for 8-10 minutes or until it's golden brown on the bottom.  

Mix a package of cream cheese with a packet of italian (or ranch) salad dressing seasoning.  (I told you this was trashy!!)  Thin the cheese mixture out with milk or plain yoghurt until it is spreadable.  

Once the crust has cooled, "ice" it with about 2/3 of the cheese mixture.  Save the rest of crackers or bagels or fingers or.....

Arrange your favorite cut fresh veggies on top of the cheese.  (cherry tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, scallions, shredded carrot)  Use what you like.  We had some artichokes on hand tonight so we used those, too.  

Cut up into pretty pieces.  This is trashy food, but it's attractive (and tasty) trashy food. 

Do you have any favorite trashy foods?  Feel free to share in the comments!


Roast Beef Summer Rolls

I recently got a subscription to Food & Wine magazine.  Ok, so I subscribed some time in May, but my first issue came in the mail yesterday.  I immediately started flipping through the pages and came across an intriguing recipe for summer rolls made with deli-sliced roast beef.  I had nearly everything else on hand (including the rice paper wrappers), so I added the beef to my shopping list and planned on making these for a simple Sunday supper.  

I put these together with my mother.  I recommend that you have a helper also! The sauce and filling come together quickly, but the actual rolling takes some practice and patience. I would roll them more tightly next time.

You can find the original recipe here. What I am printing includes my notes and modifications.


  1. 1 large garlic clove, smashed (or finely diced)
  2. 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon Thai green curry paste (I used red and it was delicious.  Use what you have on hand.)
  4. 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  5. 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (mmmm..... stinky deliciousness!)
  6. 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (I used flat leaf parsley)
  7. 1/4 cup chopped mint
  8. 1/3 cup mayonnaise (low-fat or fat free work fine here)
  9. 4 cups coleslaw mix ( I bought the really fine kind with no carrots, so I added a quarter cup of finely shredded carrot)
  10. 1/2 pound rare deli roast beef, thinly sliced and cut into 1/2-inch strips (use GOOD roast beef.  Not the cheap stuff.)
  11. 24 six-inch-round rice paper wrappers, plus more in case of breakage (mine were bigger, so we only got half as many.)


  1. Mix the garlic together with the chili paste and brown sugar. Add the lime juice, fish sauce and 3 tablespoons of water. Stir in half of the cilantro and mint. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon of the green curry dipping sauce.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the coleslaw mix with the roast beef and the remaining cilantro and mint.
  3. Fill a pie plate with warm water. Dip one wrapper into the warm water and let it soften. Lift it out onto a cutting board covered in plastic wrap.  Let it sit a few second before filling and rolling. Spread a scant teaspoon of the curry mayonnaise on the bottom third of each wrapper and top with a scant 3 tablespoons of the roast beef filling. (amounts are totally approximate.  Do what looks right.  Roll the wrappers into tight cylinders, tucking in the sides as you go. Transfer the rolls to a plastic wrap–lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining wrappers, curry mayonnaise and filling.
  4. Just before serving, cut each roll in half and serve with the dipping sauce.

Enjoy them!  (we did!!!)


Monday, July 27, 2009

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Orzo

This is a great and super easy side dish that I have entertained with several times. Best of all, it's cheap! It's awesome with my goat cheese and spinach stuffed chicken breasts, but that's a post for another day. The original source for the recipe is
here, but I've made some minor variations.


  • 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic

 Boil the orzo and drain. Rinse well, because it can glob up on you.  Put everything else (except for the cheese) in a food processor and pulse until almost smooth.  Stir it into the cooked orzo and then stir in the cheese.  That's it.  Easy, right?


P.S.  Karen!  Where are your posts, lady?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Don't Ask Don't Tell Brownies

I should let you know right away that the title of these brownies was borrowed/modified from the title of a cookie in Joanne Fluke's Cream Puff Murder.  She makes chocolate cookies with chopped sauerkraut in them.  You don't taste the sauerkraut, but the kraut adds some moisture-- much like zucchini in zucchini bread.  These brownies are from Allrecipes, but I made some modifications.  They are similar to Fluke's cookies in that you would never guess what is in them, and the surprise ingredient is not something you would ever think of as a dessert.  The recipe calls for black beans. Recipes like this have been floating around the internet for awhile. I think it all began with Heidi's version. Anna posted an index of these healthy recipes on national bean day. It was Anna who lead me to this incarnation and I am so grateful!

I have been trying to watch what I eat, and I am going to Curves 3 or 4 times a week. It's hard not to eat sweets, so these seemed like a great alternative. These brownies are high in protein, low in fat and have a reasonable amount of sugar. I didn't have black beans, so I subbed black-eyed peas. They were still fantastic!

Start by dumping all of the following ingredients into your blender:

1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee (optional-- I used 1 tsp. brewed coffee)

Puree until smooth. You may have to scrape down the blender, but it should have a very smooth, velvety texture.

Pour the batter into a greased 8x8 pan and sprinkle with 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the top is dry and the edges have pulled away from the side of the pan.

Let cool slightly and cut into squares. The texture is velvety and smooth and any beaniness is overcome by the chocolate chips and cocoa powder. Enjoy! ( I know I will!)


Monday, July 6, 2009

Really Easy Crockpot Beef Barbecue

This BBQ is amazingly good and it isn't fatty and gristly like other BBQs I've had. Also, I'm not a pork fan, so the fact that this is a beef recipe makes it even better for me. In Chattanooga, people eat their BBQ sandwiches with coleslaw on top of the meat. I've heard it's a Southern thing, but I'm no expert. This is a pretty generous recipe too. The first time I made it, Matt and I had BBQ sandwiches for lunch for a week and we didn't mind, because it's that good. :)

I got this recipe from allrecipes and you can check it out here. I'll list a summarized recipe below if you don't care to visit the site. One note--this recipe calls for a bottle of barbecue sauce. Look for one that has tomato sauce as a first ingredient and preferably one that uses brown sugar and/or molasses instead of high fructose corn syrup. FYI--America's Test Kitchen ranked Bullseye as their fave. I can't get that here, but I used KC Masterpiece and it was delicious.

1 boneless chuck roast (3 lbs. approx)
garlic powder
onion powder
salt and pepper
1 bottle of barbecue sauce

Place roast in crock pot. Season with spices and pour entire bottle of barbecue sauce over the roast.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours and then remove meat to shred/pull apart. Add it back to the sauce and cook for at least another half an hour.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ready, Steady, Cook!

Last night, I went to a women's event at the church based around the British cooking show, Ready, Steady, Cook.  Americans might remember this show was on the Food Network ages ago under the name, "Ready Set Cook" (the host was Sissy Biggers.  Why do I remember that?)

So, basically, the church hall was set up with 6 cooking stations. I was on the yellow team with three other lovely ladies. We wore fetching bright yellow chef's hats.  Just like the show, we had a stocked pantry of ingredients and were given a tray of specially chosen ingredients.  We had one hour to make a three course meal, set the table, and sit down to eat.  I volunteered to be in charge of the team (control freak, I know).  I was given a sheet of instructions and the team and I then had 5 minutes to strategize.

Here's what we had in front of us:

Chicken breasts
British bacon (ham, really)
Creme Fraiche
Butternut Squash
1 giant can of chick peas

Here's the menu I came up with (except for the dessert.  That was all Mary!)

Gingered butternut squash and sweet potato soup with lemon creme fraiche
Chickpea salad with grilled bread
Creamy pasta with sun dried tomatoes, bacon and chicken
Soft Meringues with warm gingered banana compote

Despite a few almost mishaps, like burners not being switched on, we managed to pull it all off!  I hope to post pictures of the food, soon, but for now, here's how I did the chick pea salad.

1 big can of chick peas, drained
1 small red onion, chopped
1 green onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
handful of fresh herbs, chopped (I used basil, cilantro, mint & dill)
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
juice of one lemon
drizzle of olive oil
2 T. white wine vinegar (approx)
Salt and pepper to taste

Let it marinate for 30 minutes and serve as an appetizer or light lunch with toasted italian bread.  Yum!

Cheesy Onion Bake

Okay, so I hope to have a picture up soon, but the cheesy onion bake that I made on Friday was pretty good.  Basically, here's what you do:

Finely dice 2 medium sized sweet onions (about 2 cups diced)

Mix in 2 cups of mayo (light is fine)

Shred 2 cups of cheese.  I used swiss, but I wish I had added something sharper.  I have some old Gouda in the fridge that would have been nice.

shake in a few drops of tobasco or freshly grind some pepper.

Mix this all together and put in a pie plate. Bake at 350 for around 30 minutes, or until it is all bubbly and brown on top.

Serve with sliced brown bread and crackers.  This was pretty good, although I would like it to be zestier somehow.

Friday, May 29, 2009

In the oven...

I've got this in the oven right now.  I'll let you know how it is later on. For now, it smells divine!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Masaman Curry

I love Thai food and this is usually what I order if we're out at a Thai restaurant. I'm certainly a novice at cooking it, but this is one recipe that is fairly easy to make and the ingredients aren't too hard to find.

this is my little helper:)

1 pkg. jasmine rice
1 lb. chicken breasts, or thighs
2 T. cooking oil, like canola or the equivalent
one large onion, quartered and sliced
2 T. fish sauce
1/2 can masaman curry paste
1 can coconut milk
salt to taste
avacado, pitted and chopped or sliced
cashew nuts

Cook rice according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cut up chicken into 1-2 inch pieces and saute with onions in preheated oil and fish sauce, until chicken is cooked through.

Stir in curry paste and coconut milk and simmer just long enough to heat the sauce and season the chicken, approx. 5 minutes.

Serve chicken over rice with avacado and cashew nuts sprinkled over the top.

Do-It-Your-Self Salads

This is one of my kids' favorite meals. It's simple, easy, healthy, and doesn't require you to heat anything up.

This is the idea.

Fill up a large salad bowl with a mix of your favorite salad greens, washed and dried. I use romaine and spinach.

Wash, chop, and prep your family's favorite salad toppers, ie: avacado, tomatoes, carrots, edamame, olives, or whatever you like.

Scour the fridge for whatever else would be nice as a topping, like lunch meat (chopped), leftover meat, hard boiled eggs, shredded cheddar cheese, feta, frozen peas, ...?

Scour the pantry for croutons, nuts, or dried fruit like craisins

Put each topping on a plate and set the salad, toppings, and any salad dressings you have on the table.

Make sure the kids wash their hands first.

Then, let them make their own salad on their plate and allow them to use their hands to create it. This is so much fun for little ones!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Impromptu Lasagna

This is another one of those foods that comes in so many variations that I can't pick a favorite.  Lasagna is more of a method than a recipe.  It has lots of benefits.  It's a casserole, which makes it great for sharing.  It freezes beautifully, and it is really popular with kids and adults alike.  

Yesterday at 4:00, I decided to have dinner guests at 6:00.  At 4:30, I drove to the grocery store in a kind of panic.  I knew the friends I was having over aren't picky eaters, so it wasn't that.  I was frantically searching my brain for a recipe I could throw together quickly and confidently.  In the end, it was going to be steak and potatoes or lasagna.  Lasagna won out when I realized that steak required more side dishes, and side dishes require time!

Here's what I threw together.  I served it with a salad of chopped tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber and basil tossed in balsamic vinagrette.  Garlic bread was also necessary :-)  Because I am still in the Netherlands, my ingredients and amounts might be a bit different, but you get the idea!

Spinach and Sausage Lasagna

4 links Italian sausage (I used 3, plus a bit of ground beef)
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small jar of pasta sauce plus a can of tomato sauce
lasagna noodles (I used spinach)
1 container or ricotta
1 egg
frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1 bag shredded cheese (I used gouda, but you can use whatever)

Squeeze the sausage out of it's casing and brown over medium heat, breaking up the sausage with your spatula.  Drain the fat from the sausage and then add the chopped onion and garlic.  Continue to saute until sausage is brown and onions are translucent.  Add in the tomato sauce and bring it all to a simmer. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper if necessary.  You could also stir in some chopped fresh basil at this point.

Boil the lasagna noodles according to package directions.

Mix the ricotta together with the egg.

Layer your lasagna (I used a pyrex dish a bit smaller than 9x13) as follows:

1 thin layer meat sauce
1/2 ricotta mixture
1/3 remaining meat sauce
1/2 spinach
1/3 shredded cheese
remaining ricotta mixture
1/3 remaining meat sauce
remaining spinach
1/3 shredded cheese
remaining meat sauce
remaining shredded cheese

I baked it at 400 degrees covered with foil for 20 minutes and uncovered for 20 minutes.

This was a really tasty lasagna that held its shape when sliced.  If I had more prep time, I might throw in some olives or freshly grated parm.  As is, I was pleased with this lasagna.  I hope you'll give it a try!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Chicken Ritz

I picked this recipe up from my friend Mako, when she served it to us for dinner a few years ago. She doesn't have a name for it, but apparently it's a popular one at Covenant Seminary, where she discovered it. We call this casserole Chicken Ritz, because our friend Eric Hausler informed us that his wife Donna makes something similar to it and that's what she calls it. Chicken Ritz it is. I've tweaked it just a tiny bit. Matt and I like it and the kids eat it as well as they eat any casserole. What kid likes casseroles? Well, Clara Joy does, but she eats like a 30 year old with very good taste. :)

1 lb. chicken breasts (chicken thighs or leftover chicken will do)
2T olive oil (or more if you skillet stinks)
1 pkg. frozen broccoli florets
2 tomatoes, diced
1 sm. pkg. mushrooms, sliced
1 can crm. mush. soup
1 c. mayonaise
1-2c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tube of ritz crackers, crushed
salt and pepper
white rice (I prefer jasmine)

First, season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook it in the skillet until the center is no longer pink. While chicken is cooking, prepare rice according to package directions and cut up the veggies. Dump broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, mayo, and soup into a large casserole dish. If you like your food salty, you may want to add a bit of salt and pepper to this, but not too much. When chicken is done, dice it and add it to the mix in the dish. Then mix it well and top it first with cheese and then crushed crackers. Bake in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes or more. Serve with hot rice.

Sorry, I don't have a picture of it after baking. My ravenous beasts needed dinner and I had no time to snap a photo. Hope you enjoy this one.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quick Shrimp Pasta

I was sitting in church this morning and (keeping it real here) my mind wandered to lunch.  Uh-oh.  Nothing to eat in the house.  I made a mental note to stop by the grocery store on the way home and resumed worship.  :-)  

I grabbed things pretty quickly at the store, but I managed to get enough odds and ends to throw together this quick and delicious pasta dish.  I used shrimp (which I love), but I think this would be equally as good with chicken. 

Quick Shrimp Pasta

Ingredients:  (All approximate here.  Sorry!)

1/2 lb fresh pasta [I used spinach tagellini (skinny tagliatelli)]
2 T butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 a medium sized zucchini, cut into large chunks
1 cup pre-cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp
a glug of white wine
salt and pepper
a handful of cherry tomatoes
5 or 6 big basil leaves


Boil a pot of salted water for the pasta.  Saute onion and garlic in the EVOO until translucent.  Add in the shrimp and zucchini. Drop the fresh pasta into the pasta water.  While the pasta water cooks, glug the wine into the shrimp mixture. Slice the cherry tomatoes and add those also.  When the pasta is cooked (4 to 5 minutes), drain it and drop it into the skillet with the shrimp and veggies.  Toss all to combine, S & P to taste and tear basil leaves over the top.  

This was a really tasty lunch.  I hope you'll give it a try!



Recently, I went to dinner with friends to a Greek restaurant.  All of the food was good, but I especially loved the tzatziki.  For those of you who are uninitiated, tzatziki is a cucumber yoghurt sauce native to Greece (like Raitha in Indian cuisine).  It has a cooling effect that is great with highly seasoned food.  It's just delicious.

Also, and I am just being real here, it reminds me of the cucumber salad dressing my mom bought when we were kids.  Do you remember cucumber dressing?  This was before the days of Ranch.  Cucumber dressing was creamy and tasted like... cucumber.  Kraft makes a Cucumber Ranch dressing that is pretty close if you are interested.  

So, the same friends that I went to dinner with asked me to come and play cards last night.  It was to be one of those nights where everyone brings something snacky and  we all stay up too late playing cards.  It was just that!  (Side note-- have you ever played the card game "president"?)  Naturally, I decided to make a tzatziki as it was still fresh in my mind.  I found what looked like a good recipe here.  I didn't make any ingredient changes other than upping the garlic (duh!), but due to equipment (and lack thereof), I changed the procedure slightly.


3 cups greek yoghurt (the really thick stuff)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves finely chopped (or mashed into a paste)
2 medium cucumbers seeded and finely grated
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle the grated cucumber with the tablespoon of salt.  Let sit for 20-30 minutes then drain off the liquid.  Squeeze the cucumber to get out most of the excess liquid.  Stir cucumber into yoghurt. Add lemon juice, garlic, dill salt and pepper.  Let the tzatziki chill for several hours (4 or 5 is great) for the flavors to develop. 

I served this with homemade pita chips, baby carrots and organic radishes.  It was really yummy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Quiche-- oo la la!

Karen, I promise my blogging spurt will end soon! This morning, while looking through my iphoto library, I found these pictures I had taken of a quiche that I made a few times. The recipe is one I saw on Martha Stewart.  You can find it here. It's actually the recipe from the famous Tartine bakery in San Fransisco.  The important thing is that it is delicious and super easy.  Quiche is popular with adults and kiddos alike.  You can vary the flavors and add-ins quite easily.  The recipe calls for creme fraiche, but you can use sour cream if you can't find it. It also calls for thyme, and I have made it that way, but I think dried basil would also be great.

This quiche has a decadent texture and freezes beautifully.  I let it cool, cut it in slices and freeze them individually.  In the morning, I take a slice of quiche out of the freezer and bring it to work where I place it in the fridge.  By the time I am ready to have lunch, it is still pretty frozen, but after a couple of minutes in the microwave, it is perfect. The crust is still flaky, the filling is tender and creamy.  It is perfect.

6 tablespoons AP flour
1 pie crust (store bought or whatever recipe you like. I like this one.)
10 large eggs
2 cups creme fraiche
2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme (or basil, or...)

Crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, sauteed veggies, olives, etc.


Blind bake the pie crust in a 9 inch pie plate or tart pan.  To do this, press the pie crust into the pie plate or tart pan you want to use. Lay a piece of parchment over the crust and fill it with uncooked rice or beans (or pie weights if you have them).  Bake the crust at 375 for 25 minutes.

Cool the crust completely while you mix the filling.  

Stir the flour together with one egg.  Add the remaining 9 eggs and the rest of the filling ingredients.  If you are going to use bacon, cheese, etc, don't stir it into the eggs.  Instead, sprinkle those toppings on the bottom of the crust, then pour the egg mixture into the crust.

Bake the quiche at 375 for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 325 and bake for about 35 more minutes-- until the filling is no longer liquid.  

Sometimes I have too much egg mixture to fit in the quiche.  If that happens to you, use some pie crust scraps to make smaller quiches in custard cups.  It's a real cook's treat!

Jessie & Lynn's Ribs

Last year I was working part time in the Elementary division of the school where I work. There is a kitchen across from the office where I had a desk.  It made life pretty convenient.  It was easy to store cold drinks in the fridge and heat up my lunch in a hurry.  My fondest memory of that kitchen, though, is smelling these unbelievable ribs cooking one day.  My friend Rachel and I kept smelling this fantastic scent and we couldn't figure out what it was.  Finally, we peeked in the oven and discovered that someone was baking ribs.  We were really good and didn't steal any, but when our director of external relations showed up to take them out of the oven, I begged for the recipe.  She told me it was very simple, and that she had gotten the recipe from an African-American friend of hers in Berkley during the 60's. I was so looking forward to making her ribs, but she never sent the recipe!  

This morning I was in her office chatting and I remembered the ribs.  She had completely forgotten, and 5 minutes later the recipe was mine.  

I don't know why I have never made ribs.  They always seemed like something that would need to cook for a long time-- like something easy to screw up.  

After making these ribs, I have to say that they would be impossible to screw up.  I would play with the sauce next time because I like things a bit tangier, but over all these are some of the best ribs I have ever had.  The meat is fall apart tender, the glaze is sticky and sweet, and they come together in just under an hour.  I hope you'll try them and let us know what you think!

Jessie & Lynn's BBQ Spareribs

Pre-cook 2 lbs of spareribs in the microwave.  Stop the microwave several times to rotate the ribs.  Make sure all of the ribs have gone from pink to beige. Drain off fat.

Make Sauce by combining the following in a saucepan:

½ cup light molasses

½ cup ketchup

½ onion finely chopped

1 large clove garlic minced

4 narrow slices of orange (peel & flesh), diced, or 1 T. orange zest

Juice of one orange – about ½ cup if using regular orange juice

4 whole cloves  

1 teaspoon mustard

1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon vinegar

salt & pepper to taste

1 tablespoon A-1 Sauce

1 teaspoon Worchestershire Sauce

¼+ teaspoon Tobasco Sauce

1 tablespoon butter


Bring to a boil, stirring occassionally.  Boil for 5 minutes

Pour sauce over ribs and bake uncovered at 400 degrees [almost 200 C ] for 45 or more minutes basting 2-3 times, every 15-20 minutes.  Sauce should thicken and begin to carmelize.  I usually cook them an hour and baste every 20 minutes.

Enjoy the ribs.  They are killer!

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

I got this recipe from the More With Less Cookbook. This is sweet, hearty bread, that's pretty easy to make, even if you're not good at making bread.

First, combine in a mixer bowl:
3c. whole wheat flour (King Arthur's is best)
1/2c. nonfat dry milk
1T. salt
2 pkg. dry yeast (about 2T.)

Then, heat in a saucepan until warm (at or close to 100 degrees):
3c. water or potato water
1/2c. honey
2T. oil (olive is the best)

Pour warm (not hot) liquid over flour mixture. Beat with electric mixer for 3 minutes. Don't skimp on this. Watch the clock.

Stir in:
1 additional c. whole wheat flour
*4-4 1/2c. white flour (unbleached bread flour is best)

Knead 5 minutes, using additional white flour if necessary. *I usually add a 3 1/2c. of white flour initially and save 1c. to knead in during the kneading phase. This makes kneading easier and keeps the dough from getting stiff.

Place in a greased bowl, turn, cover the bowl with a cloth, and let rise until double in bulk. Dough will rise best in a sunny window or in an oven that has been warmed. Turn the oven off, before placing dough inside to rise.

After dough has doubled, punch down center. Divide dough in half and shape into loaves. Place each loaf into 9x5" loaf pans. In my experience, it's best to gently pick up each half and place it carefully into the pan, disturbing it as little as possible. I've rolled it up to make it pretty and that's how I get air pockets in the middle of the loaf.

Cover and let rise 40-45 minutes. Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes.

Immediately remove from the pan and let cool before slicing. We usually cut it warm, because we can't wait to eat it :).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Guacamole Variation (and our first challenge!)

This time of year avocados are plentiful and cheap, so I like to make guacamole for a quick snack. It's great to have containers of this stuff in the fridge.  When I come home from a long day at work, I can pop open the tupperware, take off the chip clip and DIG IN.  

There are many schools of thought on guac. I'm a fan of most styles.  Most of the time, my recipe is really simple-- just avocado, garlic, lime, salt and pepper.  Sometimes I mix it up and throw in chopped onion, cilantro, jalepeno, etc.  

This is a version I threw together at a friends and then recreated at my house.  The avocados here are plentiful but not super flavorful, so I threw in some yoghurt for texture and tang.  It worked for me, but you could also use sour cream or nothing at all.  

Guacamole Version five hundred and twelve

1 Avocado, mashed
Juice of 1 lime
half a small white onion
1 large clove of garlic
salt & pepper to taste
cayenne pepper or pepper sauce
bunch cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons plain yoghurt or sour cream
2 cherry or grape tomatoes

I put all of this in my mini-food chopper and blitz away.  You may need to adjust for salt, acidity and spice.  The yoghurt makes this really creamy (and it also stretches the yield, which is nice for those of us who are money conscious).  

This version of guac is zesty but not too spicy.  I think it would be a hit with kids or at a party where you don't know everyone's palate.  



P.S.  Karen-- I challenge you to post a recipe and a photo on this blog within the next 7 days.  If you fail, I will have to punish you!  Readers, take note, you are free to suggest Karen' punishment-- culinary or otherwise!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Keilbasa Skillet Supper

This is a little bit of a last minute, emergency invention, based on my family's German roots. This is super inexpensive and really easy to make. Our kids like it too, so it's a great family dinner. Now that Aldi sells all-beef kielbasa for 2.29, it's become a staple at our house. I had high hopes to get a picture posted, but last night I was worn thin and multi-tasking the whole way. I'll try to post a picture soon.

This feeds a family of 6 with enough for Daddy to take to work for lunch the next day.

1 large onion, halved and sliced into wedges
1/2 5lb. bag of potatoes, peeled and cut into medium sized chunks
1 lb. kielbasa sausage (smoked sausage ring), sliced
3 T. olive oil (or more)
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. water (if needed)
1 can bavarian style sauerkraut (opt.)

Peel and cut all veggies. Heat oil in large skillet or comparably sized pot. Sautee the onions and potatoes until the potatoes are mostly tender. Season with salt and pepper. Don't overdo the salt as the sausage is salty. Add water (if dry and sticking to the pan) and add the sausage. Cover the pot and let simmer until potatoes are tender. Serve with warm sauerkraut and a tossed salad.

Okay, so here's A picture. Of course, it's me making dinner and there isn't a picture of the actual dinner... I think it's enough to say that I was able to make dinner while managing a 6 month old and three other children. Notice Jonathan's head? I strapped him on my back with my new Mei Tai Baby sling and he passed out while watching the light on the ceiling. He loves to crane his neck back. Poor thing. Anyway, here's to more posts and more fun with this blog! :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mango Sauce

I made this mango sauce for a dinner Dad and I had the other night. We had the Anglican priest and his wife over, and so I needed to be conscious of the priest's dietary needs.  He can't eat sugar or bread, so I knew I would need to be creative.  What we came up with was this menu:


Guacamole with corn chips & sliced cucumbers
Assorted olives from the Turkish market

Roasted sweet potato with ginger and cinnamon
Pan roasted zucchini with garlic
Grilled adobo spiced chicken with mango sauce

For the mango sauce, I used:

1/2 a small onion, finely diced
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ginger puree (or equivalent grated fresh)
1 nearly over ripe Mango
1 lime
cayenne pepper
handful fresh cilantro leaves

Like many sweet and sour recipes, this one will be made according to your tastes and the sweetness of your produce.  You may need to add a tablespoon full of honey or brown sugar if your mango isn't sweet enough.  

Start by sauteing the onion, garlic and ginger over medium heat with a bit of neutral oil (canola is great).  When the veggies are translucent, pull it of the heat while you prepare the mango.  

Get as much pulp off the mango as you are able to.  Add it to the pan.  Once I have the majority of the flesh removed, I often squeeze the pit (with my impeccably clean hands) over the pan to get any remaining fruit and juice.  

Put the pan back on the heat and add the lime juice and seasonings.  Let it all cook together until the mango breaks down and you have a sauce.  If the mango isn't ripe enough, you may need to run the sauce through the food processor after taking it off the heat.

Chop the cilantro and stir it into the finished sauce.  

This sauce is great over chicken (I grilled mine with some Goya adobo seasoning), but I think it would also be nice with shrimp or pork.  It was a hit with our dinner guests.  They took home the leftover and asked for the recipe.  I hope you enjoy it, too!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Well, I am not sure how much of a fist post this will be, but I am looking forward to getting this blog up and running, so I might as well start somewhere! As you know, Karen, Dad is visiting me in the Netherlands. We were invited to a party last night for one of my graduation Seniors. It was supposed to be a vegetarian buffet, so I made some Samosas. last week, I went to dinner at my friend Kim's, and her husband Aaron made samosas that were to die for.  I wanted to clone them (and make them a bit spicier), so Dad and I went shopping for phyllo dough and I got busy with experimenting!  What follows is mostly approximate.  I am hoping that this blog will make me measure things a bit more.  I'm pretty bad about that.

Chickpea Samosas:

2 packages of phyllo dough (thawed)
2 big cans of chick peas, drained (3 or 4 cups)
1 small onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 bunch cilantro
curry powder
cayenne pepper
chili-garlic oil

fresh Mint

chopped red onion

Make the sauce. Chop lots of fresh mint and mix with plain yoghurt.  Chill.

Put the chickpeas in the food processor with some of the chili-garlic oil (enough to help it run smoothly-- a couple of Tablespoons, probably). Leave some chunks in for texture. Dump this mixture into a big mixing bowl.

Chop the onion and garlic finely in the food processor.  Transfer to a skillet over medium heat and saute in olive oil.  When translucent, add to the bean mixture and combine.

Add curry powder, cayenne and cumin to taste.  I probably used 2 tablespoons of curry, 1 teaspoon of cayenne and 1/2 tsp of cumin.  Just keep tasting it.  Alternately, you could use finely chopped fresh chilis instead of the cayenne.  It's up to you.

Finely chop the cilantro (I used the same food processor I used for the chickpeas and the onion mixture-- no need to wash it out.)  Stir into mixture.

At this point, you can let the mixture sit for a few hours or over night.  The heat will develop as it sits, so keep that in mind.

When you are ready put the samosas together, lay out your sheets of thawed phyllo dough.  Mine comes in sheets that are about 12x12 inches.  Brush one side of the sheet with chili-garlic oil (or whatever you like-- my chili-garlic oil isn't very spicy so it works here).  Fold the sheet over.  You now have a rectangle of phyllo with a layer of oil sandwiched inside it.  Turn the rectangle so that it is facing away from you (the long way).  Place a big spoonful of the bean mixture at the end closest to you.  Turn the end of the phyllo up in a triangle shape by grasping the bottom left corner and pulling it to meet the right side of the dough.  Then, just keep flipping the triangle up until you get to the top.  If there is a tab of phyllo left, just brush it with some more oil and flip the triangle on top of it.  If this sounds complicated, its not!  Just play with it-- you'll get the hang in a hurry.

Lightly brush the tops of the samosas with more chili-garlic oil and bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. 

Sprinkle with garnish (if desired) and serve with yoghurt sauce.  These are also nice with some chutney on the side.

These were a big hit and so yummy!  The filling was really savory and spicy, the phyllo was crispy, and the yoghurt mint sauce is the perfect accompaniment.