Monday, August 30, 2010


Taste of Home’s August/September 2009 issue heralded the first-place Great American Pie Show winner as “a slice of heaven.”  I was a semi-finalist in this bakeoff, and didn’t get to taste Sherrell Dikes’ Sour Cream Peach Pecan Pie, but I figured if it won $2,500 and beat 11 other pies, then it must be good.  What I didn’t count on was the collective sweet tooth of the judges.  This pie is more like a Southern sugar cream pie.  There actually is such a thing.  To each his own, but I prefer my fruit pies to taste like fruit, not sugar.  I did not like this pie and will not be making it again.  I made it exactly as the recipe was written, no changes, and took it to a crab party.  Two of the people went crazy over it, and the rest of us were underwhelmed.  Some people like ultra-sweet desserts.  If you’re in that category, then this pie is definitely for you.

Source:  Sherrell Dikes, Holiday Island, Arkansas
Rating:  5 out of 10


  • Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)
  • 4 cups sliced peeled peaches
  • 2 tablespoons peach preserves
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed


  • Line a 9-in. pie plate with pastry; trim and flute edges. In a large bowl, combine peaches and preserves.  Transfer to pastry.
In a small bowl, whisk the sugar, sour cream, egg yolks, flour and vanilla.
Pour over peaches.
  • Bake at 425° for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the flour, sugars, pecans and cinnamon.  
  • Cut in butter until crumbly.
  • Sprinkle over pie.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and topping is golden brown. Cover edges with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning if necessary. Cool completely on a wire rack for 3 hours before serving. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 8 servings.

Friday, August 27, 2010


With just one large peach and a handful of raspberries, you can make this delightful dessert for two.  The best part is there are no leftovers to seduce you into eating more of it than you should.  A crumble is so much easier than a pie, and just as satisfying.  Crumble toppings are perfect for slipping in good-for-you whole grains and nuts without making a dessert taste “healthful.” 
The extra step of cooking the peaches first reduces the liquid so you don’t have to use a thickener in the filling.  It also intensifies the peach flavor.  You can cook the peaches in the morning and finish the crumble before dinner.  Six-ounce ramekins are perfect for this little dessert which makes a great ending to any meal.
Peach-Raspberry Crumble for Two
Source: Judy’s Kitchen
Rating:  8 out of 10
1 large peach, peeled, pitted, sliced
3 Tbsp. peach or apricot preserves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. + 2 Tbsp. butter, softened, divided use
about 14 raspberries
3 Tbsp. sliced almonds
2 Tbsp. rolled oats
3 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
ice cream or sweetened whipped cream

In 8- or 10-inch skillet, sauté sliced peaches, preserves and cinnamon over medium heat till mixture bubbles and peaches give off their juices.  Reduce heat if necessary to prevent peaches from burning. 
Cook peaches till just barely tender, about 3-4 minutes.  In the meantime, spread bottoms and sides of each of two 6-oz. ramekins with 1 tsp. butter. 
Transfer cooked peaches to ramekins.  Cook down remaining liquid in skillet till syrupy, about 1-2 minutes more.  Pour syrup over peaches, dividing equally.   Set aside to cool completely.
In small bowl, combine almonds, oats, flour and sugar.  With fingers, work in 2 Tbsp. butter till mixture is crumbly.  Top cooled peaches with raspberries.
Spread crumble topping over all. 
Heat oven to 375F.  Place ramekins on foil lined baking pan and bake about 20 minutes, or till filling bubbles and topping is nicely browned.  (Cover ramekins with foil,  if needed, to prevent burning.)  Turn oven off but leave ramekins inside oven for 10 more minutes.  Transfer  to rack to cool before serving. 
Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Recently, my hubby and I, and two of our friends, ate at a fabulous Meditteranean restaurant  in New Bern.  We went ga-ga over the salad, served with a champagne vinaigrette.  The owner/chef chatted with us at our table, and I boldly asked her for the recipe, which she graciously declined to share.  So the four of us tried to recall the flavors, and I spent the next two weeks experimenting to come up with the recipe for champagne vinaigrette. 
I tried infusing my Colavita extra-virgin olive oil with lemon peel and garlic, and used a good grade of white wine vinegar, and just about nailed it.  Then I decided to buy some champagne vinegar just to see the difference.  Our local Harris Teeter carries several champagne vinegars, but I finally decided to go for O, a California-made champagne vinegar infused with lemon.  Quite by accident, I saw that O also makes a lemon-infused extra-virgin olive oil.  So I bought them both (almost $20 for the two).  

The salad in the photo below has some leftover grilled chicken that I shredded.  I sprinkled it with sea salt and drizzled it with the lemon-infused oil and champagne vinegar.
Here’s a simple green salad with champagne vinaigrette that I made and poured over the salad.  The key ingredient in the vinaigrette is parsley, lots of fresh chopped parsley. 
champagne vinaigrette (6)
Instead of making tuna salad with mayonnaise, try drizzling  some O oil and vinegar on a  dish of tuna fish, cooked and cooled green beans, olives and sliced scallions for a refreshing change of pace.
Freshly cooked green beans come alive with a sprinkle of sea salt and a tiny drizzle of the lemon olive oil.
And don’t forget grilled broccoli – some sea salt, crushed garlic and lemon olive oil brings it over the top. 
Although I enjoyed all my experiments, I finally settled on a very simple way to make a champagne vinaigrette for a single salad.  It’s so simple, it’s ridiculous.  And it’s so delicious, it’s imperative to not not make it.

You don’t really need a recipe for this.  Toss your salad with a good sea salt (and, optionally, some freshly ground black pepper).  Chop some fresh parsley as small as you can.  Chop a lot, more than you think you will use.  You’ll be amazed at what it does for the salad.  Toss again.  Now drizzle your salad very lightly with the delicious lemon-infused oil and champagne vinegar.  Use as little as possible, hardly any.  For a single salad, try using 1/2 tsp. of each, adding more in drops. You just want to barely coat the greens, you don’t want any dressing laying in a pool at the bottom of the salad.  Toss the salad, taste, then add a little more if you need to.  This is a salad you will remember and yearn for.

While experimenting, I found that I’ve not only fallen in love with O, I’ve also fallen back in love with parsley, an underused and underappreciated herb.  It takes the dressing to the next level.

O, I love you, O.

Please note that I have not been compensated in any way for this endorsement.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


If you’re looking for a way to use up peaches, here’s an easy recipe, almost effortless actually.  You can roast the peaches with a few ingredients till the liquid is just about evaporated, then puree it for a delicious peach butter that can be used in so many ways.  Try topping a slice of plain cheesecake with this wonderful peach goodness, as the photo above shows. 
How about a spoonful or two on your morning oatmeal, as in the following photo.
You could also make these delicious roasted peach butter spice cupcakes
roasted peach butter spice cupcakes
Or you can spread some on a bagel, slice of toast or waffle. 
Then again, you could simply eat the peach butter off a spoon. So-o-o good.

Source:  Judy’s Kitchen
Rating:  10 out of 10
6 cups sliced fresh or frozen peaches, with juice
4-1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar 
3 Tbsp. dark corn syrup 
3 Tbsp.  frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
1 cinnamon stick

Heat oven to 375F.  Combine all ingredients in large roasting pan and bake 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or till peaches are beginning to caramelize and excess liquid evaporates.  Cool slightly.  Puree warm peaches in batches in blender or food processor.  Yield:  about 1-1/2 cups peach butter.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Last year, I made Coconut-Blueberry Muffins with Coconut Streusel Topping as an experiment, using coconut oil and coconut flour.  They were delicious.  This year, I experimented again, using more coconut flour, whole wheat flour and coconut oil.  Instead of making a coconut streusel topping, I tried pecans in the topping.  I liked both, but the pecan topping covers the muffin better after it’s baked.  The coconut streusel separated slightly as the muffin baked.  009
My only disappointment with this muffin is that some of the crumb topping falls off as you eat, making the muffins a bit messy.  The flavor, however, is wonderful, and the texture is moist, light and tender.  Considering that I increased the coconut flour and the whole wheat flour, this is pretty amazing.  If the crumb topping weren’t so messy, this muffin would rank as high as my current top-rated blueberry muffin by  America's Test Kitchen005
Blueberry-Coconut Muffins with Pecan Crumb Topping
Source:  Judy’s Kitchen
Rating:  9.5 out of 10
1/4 cup organic extra-virgin coconut oil
2/3 cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup sugar + 1-1/2 tsp. NuNaturals Stevia)
1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk (I used 1/4 cup 2% milk + 3/4 tsp. cider vinegar)
6 Tbsp. fat-free Greek yogurt (I used Yoplait honey vanilla)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used my homemade vanilla)
1 Tbsp. coconut-flavored rum (or regular rum)
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup coconut flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1-1/2 cups blueberries, divided use

Topping:  1/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar (I used 2 Tbsp. sugar + 3/4 tsp. NuNaturals Stevia)
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. butter, melted

Heat oven to 425F.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray, or line with paper cups.  In large bowl, whisk together oil and sugar till smooth.  Add egg, milk, yogurt, vanilla and rum and whisk till smooth.

In small bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir in 3/4 cup blueberries, then fold this mixture into the wet ingredients.  Do not over mix.  Spoon batter into prepared pan, using about 1/4 cup batter for each muffin.  Press remaining blueberries onto tops of muffins, pushing in slightly. 

In small bowl, combine  topping ingredients with fork or fingers.  Sprinkle over muffin tops.
Place muffins in oven.  Close door.  Reduce heat to 350F.  Bake about 20 minutes, or till a wooden pick inserted in center of muffins returns with just a few crumbs.  Cool in pans 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.  Yield:  12 standard-size muffins

Friday, August 13, 2010



Grilling out in the summertime is fun and easy.  It’s  great not to have a lot of pots and pans to clean up.  But we had a cool snap recently, and I couldn’t wait to make something different.  My mouth had been watering for this dish, made from a recipe I found on and adapted.  It’s one of those rare recipes that both hubby and I like.  So nice not to have to cook two separate meals.  There was just one extra pot for his peas, since he doesn’t eat broccoli or pea pods.  (I thought of cooking his peas with my broccoli, but just knew he would taste the broccoli, or at least he would think he tasted it.) 

011 (2)

Most Asian-inspired dishes have more sugar than I like.  This one, however, is different.  It’s not icky sweet.  Instead of preserves, I used Smucker’s Apricot Simply Fruit.


(If you prefer more sweetness, just use any apricot preserves.)  There are some subtle but nice flavor layers from the coriander mixed with the flour,  and from the ginger, soy sauce, apricot preserves, garlic and green onions in the sauce.   And, even though there are more pots and pans than I like, we get two meals out of this.  So the second night is just warming up the leftovers.)  This is a recipe that we will enjoy over and over.

Adapted from
Rating:  9 out of 10

3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
2 large chicken breast halves, halved and pounded thin
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. unsalted butter, divided use
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4-6 green onions (about 1/2 cup sliced)
1/2 tsp. garlic, finely chopped
1/2 – 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. no-sugar-added apricot preserves
1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1-1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
4-5 drops California hot sauce

In small resealable bag, combine flour and coriander.  

Pound cutlets between sheets of wax paper to an even thickness. 

Season with salt and pepper. 

Dip each cutlet in flour, one at a time, shaking off excess. 

Heat large heavy skillet on medium heat.  When pan is hot, add 1 Tbsp. butter and the oil.  Add chicken and saute till cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. 
Transfer chicken to platter and tent with foil to keep warm, or place in 200F oven. 

Add half of the green onions and garlic to drippings in skillet and stir over medium-high heat 1 minute, scraping up any browned bits.  Whisk 1/2 cup broth and cornstarch in small cup or bowl till smooth.  Add to skillet; bring to boil, stirring constantly. 

Add preserves, soy sauce, ginger and hot sauce. 

Boil till thickened to sauce consistency, about 1-2 minutes, adding more broth if necessary.  Pour over chicken.  Garnish with remaining green onions.  Yield:  4 servings
 010 (2)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


When it’s really, really hot, who feels like cooking?  Not me.  Just a simple grilled sandwich keeps me happy.   A boneless chicken breast, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, then grilled with onion slices and sweet green or red pepper, makes a delightful sandwich topped with lettuce and freshly sliced tomato.  Basil pesto-mayonnaise or mayo mixed with sundried tomato pesto are both nice on the bun.  Easy peasy.
Grilled Chicken and Peppers Sandwich
Source:  Judy’s Kitchen
Rating:  8 out of 10
1 boneless skinless chicken breast half
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1-1/2 tsp. sea salt, divided
1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
1 –2  (1/2”) sweet onion slices 
1/2 sweet green or red pepper cut into 2” strips
2 slices from a large tomato, 1/4” - 1/2” thick 
4 pieces of lettuce
pesto mayonnaise
2 Kaiser rolls, split, or other roll of choice
optional:  2 slices Asiago or mozzarrella cheese

Heat grill to medium-hot (about 400-425F).  Clean and season grill grates.  Pound the fat side of the chicken to make it a more uniform size (this will help it cook more evenly).  Rub chicken with 1 Tbsp. oil, 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Rub onion and pepper slices with 1 Tbsp. oil, 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. 
Place chicken and veggies on grill.  Close lid.  Cook about 5 minutes; open lid; turn veggies and chicken over. 
Close lid.  Cook additional 5 minutes, or till chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender.  (Veggies will probably be done before the chicken, and can be removed to a bowl, covered, to keep warm.)  About 1 minute before chicken is done, toast roll on coolest part of grill. 

Slice chicken on diagonal (like a London Broil); place slices on roll bottoms.  Top with cheese (if using), peppers and onions, then tomato and lettuce.  Spread tops of rolls with pesto mayonnaise (just mix some sundried tomato pesto or basil pesto into some mayo)
Yield:  2 sandwiches

Monday, August 9, 2010


I have to be honest.  Salt on cookies sounded too weird to me.  I mean, how could salt on a sweet cookie taste good?  But I decided to try it, and I'm converted.  These cookies would be perfect if they were just crispier -- they are a bit on the soft side.  But the salt keeps bringing you back for more.  You can make the cookies crispier if you bake them longer.  If I make these again, I think I'll take one egg out to crisp them up more.  No matter, they are delicious........Get the recipe here...

Friday, August 6, 2010


Beef has been on my taboo list for several years, though I do occasionally enjoy one of our delicious dry-aged rib steaks.  I'm trying to eat more seafood, always wild caught, but even that can be risky because of mercury and pollutants.  Imagine how thrilled I was to learn of the health benefits of eating grass-fed beef.  It's   actually good for you.  It lowers cholesterol and has less fat and calories than grain-fed beef.  Amazingly, it contains Omega 3 fats -- the good fats -- because they're in the grass that the cattle eat.  And because they graze freely instead of being penned up, they're healthier.  But I never expected to find grass-fed beef in our little Southeast coastal town of New Bern.

Get the recipe for Miracle-Marinated Grilled Flank Steak.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Do you start your grill just in time to throw some food on it?  What about all those bits of burned food left from the last several times you cooked?  Are they still there?  Does food stick to the grill grates, or does it come off as if it’s a nonstick surface?  Here’s a little tutorial on how to prepare your grill for cooking.  (Although I use a gas grill, these rules apply to charcoal grills as well.)
1.  Start your grill at least 1/2 hour before you need it.  Before you start it, lay a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil on the grill grates.  Start it up, then close the lid.  Let the grill heat for a good 20 minutes.  The aluminum foil will speed up the process of burning off the bits of food on the grates.  You can see in the photo below that my aluminum foil is in pieces.  Not to worry, it still works.  Eventually you have to throw the foil out, but you can reuse it many times.  (I keep it under the grill, folded.) 
2.  After 20 minutes at high heat, you should have ashes on top of your grill grates.
3. The grill should scrape clean easily now.  Use a stiff-wired brush, which you can find at Wal-Mart or Lowe’s, or any where grill supplies are sold.  Eventually, you’ll need to replace the brush as you wear down the bristles, but it will take a while, depending on how much you use your grill.
3.  Use old frying oil and a paper towel to season the grates.  Take a whole sheet of paper towel (Not one of those skinny choose-a-size sheets.  If you use those, you’ll need two, not one.) 
Fold in half.
Fold in half again.
Now fold the other way in half.
Fold in half again.
I hope you have some very long-handled tongs.  If not, use whatever tongs you have.  The tongs will hold the ends of the folded towel in place.  Dip it in oil.  Really saturate it.  (I use leftover used frying oil, rather than using fresh vegetable oil.) 
4.  Rub the grill grates with the oil-soaked towel, back and forth just twice.  (Any longer, and you’ll get pieces of shredded paper towel.)  If the grill is really hot, you may get some flareups, so be careful.  I like to use flame-proof mitts to protect my skin.  Your grates will probably smoke a little.
5.  Cover the grill while you get your food.  You now have an almost-nonstick cooking surface.
The bad news is that you have to do this every time you grill if you want a nonstick surface. 
The good news is that it is so much easier to grill.  You’ll have less and less food that sticks. 
And even better news is that you are recycling old frying oil that you didn’t want any way.