Monday, June 30, 2008


This recipe is an adaptation of an adaptation. Cookie Madness adapted "Back to School Cookies" from an old issue of Taste of Home magazine. And I was searching for a recipe that would use up some of the peanut butter, coconut, oats and Rice Krispies in my pantry. The changes I made were to use what I had on hand rather than purchase new ingredients, but I did add cinnamon and creme de cocoa because the recipe looked like it needed some additional flavor. If I make these again, I'll add even more flavoring and the new amounts are noted below. (I wonder how they would taste with some cayenne pepper. hmmm.) I really, really liked these cookies. The texture is very different -- very crispy on the edges, with a nice crunch all the way through. I rate these an 8 out of 10 and would definitely make them again (that is, if I ever run out of new peanut butter cookie recipes; I have 8 waiting in the wings). The other matter worth mentioning is peanut butter brands. I'm not really into sweetened peanut butter. I use natural peanut butter, except when I bake cookies. Anna of Cookie Madness says she has tested Jif against other brands, and Jif always comes up the winner for taste. My cookies were made with the remainder of a jar of Skippy crunchy and some Jif creamy. One last note: No need to get the mixer out for these -- I've found that better results are obtained when cookie batters are mixed by hand, using a whisk and/or spatula.

Peanut Butter Coconut Krispie Cookies, half recipe, adapted
Rating: 8 out of 10
1/4 cup self-rising flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 +1/8 tsp. sea salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter + 2 Tbsp. Crisco (both softened)
3/4 cup peanut butter (I used part crunchy to empty a container, then part smooth)
1 cup brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup white sugar+2 tsp. molasses+1-1/2 tsp. stevia)
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. creme de cocoa (or strong coffee or chocolate syrup)
1 cup crisp rice cereal
3/4 cup chopped salted peanuts
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup quick oats

Preheat oven to 375F. Whisk flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small mixing bowl; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the softened butter and shortening with the peanut butter and brown sugar until throughly combined and smooth. Add egg and flavorings and whisk again till very smooth. Stir in flour mixture with spatula, then the remaining ingredients.

Drop by generously rounded teaspoonfuls 2" apart onto ungreased baking sheets. (I lined mine with parchment paper.) A small cookie scoop is perfect for this.
Flatten the dough balls with a fork, forming a criscoss pattern.
Bake 9-12 minutes, depending on how hot your oven runs and how big you make your dough balls. I used a toothpick inserted in center to test for doneness, just like for a cake. Two of my batches took 11 minutes, and one batch took 12 minutes. The batch that took 12 minutes had slightly larger cookies. My yield on the half batch was 40 cookies.

Here's the recipe as adapted by Cookie Madness:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt (original recipe had none)
8 oz butter flavored shortening
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups crisp rice cereal
1-1/2 cups chopped nuts or 1 ¼ cup chopped peanuts
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup quick-cooking oats

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.Cream the shortening, peanut butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg whites and vanilla.
Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until mixed, then stir in the cereal, nuts, coconut and oats.
Drop by generously rounded teaspoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with a fork, forming a crisscross pattern. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes. Remove to wire racks.
Makes about 8 dozen

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Carolyn Hayes, Elba, New York, says this is her own cookie that she adapted from a secret recipe. It took her two weeks to perfect it -- and according to Carolyn, hers is better. This recipe is eerily like Jacques Torres' Secret Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, and the texture of the cookie is similar. I halved the recipe and made some changes. I don't know if the baking temperature listed in the recipe was a mistake, but 325F didn't work for me. I changed it to 350F and got better results. Most of my other changes reflect the sign of the times -- with the present price of groceries, I'm trying to bake with what's on hand instead of buying new ingredients. So, with that in mind, I finally used up the rest of my dried cherries that were soaking in creme de cocoa, along with some white chocolate chips and part of a Hershey's Milk Chocolate with Almonds bar. I also got to use some more of the self-rising flour (it's now down to 1/2 bag), and some whole wheat flour. So thanks to American Profile for printing this recipe which I'm going to give a rating of 8 out 10. My cookies didn't come out as puffy as Carolyn's did in the magazine photo, (probably because I didn't chill the dough) but they still are sturdy and quite good, especially with those dried drunken cherries. hic

Carolyn's Morsels (Chocolate Chip Cookies) adapted half batch
Rating: 8 out of 10
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup lite brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup white sugar + 1 tsp. molasses + 1/2 tsp. stevia)
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp. coffee syrup (1 powder dissolved in 3 Tbsp. coffee brandy; measure 1/2 tsp)
1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
3/4 cup dried cherries soaked in creme de cocoa overnight or longer
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (Use Sam's Choice in Wal-Mart for good quality, low price)
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips or chunks (I used Hershey's bar with almonds)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flours, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. No need to get the mixer out -- in large bowl, whisk softened butter, brown sugar and vanilla by hand until smooth and well mixed. Add egg and coffee syrup and whisk again till very smooth. Stir in flour mixture and remaining ingredients, mixing only till just combined. Chill 1 hour or till dough is firm. (I would definitely not skip the chilling of the dough. I did for the first batch, and I saw a difference in the second batch that had been chilled about 20 minutes. The cookies were higher and more solid after chilling.) Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking pans. Bake 10-12 minutes, until just lightly browned on the edges. Cool on wire racks. Yield: about 20 cookies

Saturday, June 28, 2008


This was the dessert I served on Father's Day for the 3 fathers who ate at our table. It was a success on a day when almost everything seemed to go wrong. I used several recipes for this cake and made changes to everything anyway, so it's pretty pointless to list a source. (But if you insist on knowing, I adapted a crust from a Food & Wine May 2003 recipe entitled "Lemon Ripple Cheesecake Bars," and I adapted a cheesecake filling from's Strawberry Cheesecake Recipe published Jan. 24, 2008.)
New York-Style Cheesecake with Mascarpone and Macerated Strawberries
Rating: 9 out of 10
CRUST: 1 cup white whole wheat (or regular whole wheat) flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 packs True Lemon (or 1 Tbsp. lemon juice)
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces and chilled

CHEESECAKE FILLING: 3 packages (8 oz. each) Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 container (8 oz.) Mascarpone cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups super-fine sugar
1 tsp. orange zest
2 packets True Lemon (or 1 Tbsp. lemon juice)
2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or regular vanilla extract)
2 large eggs
2 egg whites
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup lite sour cream
2 Tbsp. fat-free half and half

Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 325F and position a rack in the center. Butter a 9" springform pan. In a food processor, pulse all ingredients until a soft, crumbly dough forms. Press dough evenly over the bottom and a scant 1/2" up the sides of the pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and firm. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Make the cheesecake filling: Preheat oven to 450F. Place pan of hot water in bottom of oven. In food processor, pulse the cheeses and sugar until smooth and fluffy, scraping down sides as needed. Add flavorings and eggs, one at a time, and process till smooth after each addition. Add cornstarch, sour cream and half and half and pulse just till combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes. Without opening oven door, reduce heat to 250F and bake an additional 35-45 minutes, or till cheesecake is just slightly jiggly in center. (Mine took 45 minutes, and my oven runs "true.") Remove to a wire rack away from drafts to finish cooling. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight before cutting.
Make Macerated Strawberries: 15 minutes to 1 hour before serving, Slice 1 pint of strawberries into a medium bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4-1/3 cup Creme de Almond over the strawberries and stir to distribute. (In place of Creme de Almond, you can use any orange liqueur.) Grate some good-quality dark chocolate over each cheesecake slice and serve with macerated strawberries on the side.

This cheesecake will serve 10-12 people.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Better Homes & Gardens printed this recipe in their Summertime 2008 magazine, under the heading "Good and Healthy." I was intrigued. I love dried figs, but had never tasted a fresh one. Our local Harris Teeter had fresh figs. OK, I'm in. I bought 2 figs to experiment. (Sorry about the photos; I just can't get closeups with my camera, hard as I try.) This is a great recipe. The flavors of orange and honey with the thyme are unbelievable. I didn't have creme fraiche, so I subbed lite sour cream mixed with lite cream cheese, added a little honey, and it was perfect! If you want more fruit in your diet, here's your chance.

Oven-Roasted Figs with Raspberries
Rating: 9 out of 10
12 medium-size ripe but firm figs
1 orange + zest (zest is my addition)
1/4 cup honey
2-1/2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. snipped fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. butter, cut in very small pieces
1-1/2 cups fresh raspberries
Creme fraiche, (or plain sour cream, or sour cream mixed with cream cheese and sweetened with a little honey)

Preheat oven to 450F. Spray a large shallow baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Cut figs in half and place them in the dish, cut side up, in a single layer Squeeze the juice of 1 orange over figs. In a small cup, whisk or mix the zest, honey, sugar and thyme. Drizzle over figs. Dot the top of each fig with butter.

Bake for 8 minutes; baste the figs with any accumulated pan juice. Place pan back in oven and bake additional 5 minutes, till figs just start to caramelize. Add the raspberries to the pan and bake an additional 2-3 minutes, just to heat the raspberries through. Serve warm with creme fraiche. Serves 6 (These are also good cold.)

Ea. serving: 247 calories, 10 g fat (6 g sat. fat), 30 mg chol, 34 mg sodium, 42 g carbo, 5 g fiber, 1 g pro. Daily Values: 14% vit.A, 37% vit.C, 5% calcium, 4% iron

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


This is my week for tortelloni. In my fridge, I had chicken, broth and a package of tortelloni, and this recipe used it all and was delicious to boot. Fussy Guy had a second helping. This is really chicken tetrazzini in a slightly different format -- what's not to like? Serve it with a nice green salad and some corn on the cob.

Comfort Food: Chicken Tortelloni
Rating: 9 out of 10
9 oz. pkg. tortelloni, your favorite flavor
4 Tbsp. Smart Balance Buttery Spread (or extra-virgin olive oil), divided use
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced thin (or use white mushrooms if you prefer)
1/2 cup sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup drinking-quality white wine (optional)
1/2 cup fat-free half and half (Land o' Lakes, only)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 cups cooked shredded or chopped chicken

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 1-1/2 to 2-quart baking dish or spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; set aside. While pasta is cooking, heat a large, heavy fry pan or saute pan using medium heat. When the pan is hot, add 1 Tbsp. Smart Balance and the mushrooms and onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or till veggies are wilted, turning down heat if necessary to keep from burning. Add the garlic and saute for another minute. Combine veggies with pasta. Melt remaining 3 Tbsp. Smart Balance in the pan that cooked the veggies. Stir in flour until smooth, then add the wine, whisking as it goes in, then the chicken broth slowly, whisking while you add it. Continue to stir and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the half and half, cheese, seasonings and chicken. Combine the pasta and veggies with the sauce and spoon into the prepared baking dish. Bake 25-30 minutes, or till top is lightly browned and bubbly. Yield: 3-4 servings

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Here's an easy soup recipe when you want something homemade, delicious and comforting but don't want to spend a lot of time getting it. The refrigerated pastas are wonderful for this sort of thing. Buitoni and Monterey Pasta Company and others have done a good job of packaging filled pastas that can be used in so many different ways -- salads, soups, entrees and even appetizers.
This soup is so easy, you don't even need a recipe, but I'll attempt to write one for you.

Judy's Quick and Easy Chicken-Tortelloni Soup
Rating: 9 out of 10

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup sliced or chopped celery
1/4 cup sliced or chopped carrot
2-3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 cup chopped or shredded cooked chicken
1/2 tsp. sea salt
dash black pepper
1/2 of a 9-oz. package of tortelloni (use your favorite flavor)

Place all ingredients in a 2-quart heavy pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover pot and simmer for 10 minutes, or till everything is cooked through. Add additional seasonings, as desired. Garnish with fresh parsley and/or Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Monday, June 23, 2008


I know tuna has fallen out of favor recently because of mercury scares. I take chlorella every day to help with that, so I think I can enjoy this wonderful fish now and then. Our local Harris Teeter had beautiful, fresh sashimi-grade tuna and I grabbed a little one for dinner. Grilling tuna only to medium-rare makes for a flavorful, moist entree. The marinade, my concoction, was excellent.
Grilled Tuna with Lime-Orange Marinade
Rating: 10 out of 10
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. orange juice
2 Tbsp. finely chopped lime pulp and rind
2 Tbsp. finely chopped orange pulp and rind
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
1/8 tsp. sea salt
dash black pepper
4 tuna steaks (about 4 oz. each)
1/3 cup chopped green onions
4 orange slices

In a plastic resealable bag, combine all ingredients except green onions and orange slices; seal bag; massage to distribute ingredients. Refrigerate 1/2 hour or up to 8 hours. Grill tuna on a hot grill (400-425F) for about 3 minutes each side, or till medium rare. Sprinkle green onions over each tuna steak and garnish with orange slices. Yield: 4 servings

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Betty Crocker is not just about desserts. They have some good meal recipes on their website. For instance, this one. It was very tasty, and both fussy Guy and I enjoyed it. Since I didn't have peaches but I did have pineapple, I subbed the pineapple in place of the peaches. I love grilled pineapple. But I also love grilled peaches, just didn't have any at the time. I also used skin-on and bone-in chicken instead of the boneless that the recipe called for. And, lastly, I cut the recipe to serve two, instead of eight.

Betty Crocker's Grilled Chicken with Chipotle-Peach Glaze, adapted for two
Ratiing: 9 out of 10

2 Tbsp. peach or apricot preserves
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 chipotle chile in adobo sauce + 1/4 tsp. adobo sauce
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 chicken breasts with skin on and bone in (or boneless if you prefer)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder (I used McCormick California Style Garlic with Parsley)
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Fresh pineapple or peaches

Heat gas or charcoal grill. In 1-quart saucepan, mix preserves, lime juice, chile and adobo sauce. Heat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until preserves are melted. Stir in chopped cilantro; set aside. Sprinkle chicken with garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.

Place chicken on grill. Cover; cook over medium heat 20-25 minutes, turning once or twice and brushing with preserves mixture during last 5 minutes of grilling, until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170F). Add pineapple or peach halves to grill for last 5 minutes of grilling, just till heated. Heat any remaining preserves mixture to boiling; boil and stir 1 minute. Serve with chicken and fruit. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

(Or do what I did: Skewer veggies and fruit and grill alongside chicken during the last 10 minutes, basting with the sauce.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I know you've heard of Chicken Parmesan -- well, this is Parmesan Chicken. It's an easy, go-to recipe when you don't want to think too much about how to cook chicken. I like it a lot when it's hot and even better the next day when it's cold, cut up on a salad or just eaten plain out of the fridge as a snack. I had leftover mashed potatoes that I coated in some of the same breadcrumbs and baked next to the chicken. This may not have been a gourmet meal, but it was delicious and satisfied both of us.
Parmesan Chicken
Rating: 9 out of 10
3/4 cup Plain or Parmesan breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. paprika
1 egg
1/4 cup fat-free half and half, or milk
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Louisiana hot sauce
2 boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a 10x14 (or similar size) baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a paper plate, combine first 3 ingredients, mixing well to distribute ingredients evenly. In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg with the half and half, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Slice the chicken in half horizontally, making 2-3 cutlets for each breast. Lay the breasts, one at a time, between waxed paper sheets and pound them thin with a mallet (Meat mallets can be purchased at Wal-Mart for a few dollars, and are an invaluable kitchen tool. In 3 smacks, you can have a thin cutlet.) Dip each cutlet in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs; lay the breaded cutlet in the prepared baking pan. Repeat till all the cutlets are in the pan. Drizzle with the oil and bake for 20-25 minutes, or till done, turning cutlets over halfway through cooking time.

Friday, June 20, 2008


This has been the week from hell. My obsessive-compulsive nature has caught up with me, and I'm dealing with a repetitive stress injury from too much computer work. I'll try to get as many posts in as I can, but my shoulder really, really hurts.

I found this recipe on Recipe Zaar, and the reviews were excellent from everyone who tried it. I was a little disappointed in the taste. It seemed flat to me. So I added cumin and crushed chile pepper, and increased the salt. It's still not my favorite hummus, but it tastes better with the the added flavors.

Creamy Roasted Garlic Hummus, adapted
Rating: 6 out of 10
1 large head of garlic
4 Tbsp. +1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided use
2 cups canned chickpeas
2 Tbsp. tahini
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. crushed chile pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
About 1/4 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 375F. Cut a head of garlic in half.
Brust both exposed sides with the 1 tsp. of oil. Close the head back up, putting the two exposed sides back together, and wrap in tinfoil.
Roast in oven for 1 hour. Remove and allow to cool. Squeeze the soft, roasted garlic out of each clove into the work bowl of a food processor. Rinse and drain chickpeas and add them to the food processor. Pulse till completely smooth. Add remaining ingredients, except water, and pulse again till smooth. Add water slowly while pulsing until you get the hummus to the texture you want. Yield: About 2-1/2 cups of hummus

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Guy has started his own blog, titled "The Crab Guy." It will have everything about crabs, including his crab boards (see my post under "items for sale"). There's an adorable U-tube video that a friend of ours made of his kids using Guy's crab boards; really, go see it, it's cute as heck. And he'll be adding stuff all the time on this new website, so check it out.

And I've started a new blog titled "Crab Recipes." It will have lots of crab recipes eventually, so check me out, also.


Corn muffins just go so well with BBQ ribs, chicken or pork. But most corn muffins are dry and tasteless, IMHO. I searched the internet and couldn't quite find the recipe I wanted. So I put together my own. Since I was using self-rising cornmeal, there are fewer ingredients involved, and these mixed up quickly. I actually mixed the batter several hours ahead so I wouldn't have to do it at the last minute. Then about 20 minutes before we ate, I put the batter in the muffin tins and in the oven. These muffins were moist, with really good flavor and I loved the corn kernels inside. This is my go-to corn muffin recipe from now on.

Judy's Low-Fat Corny Corn Muffins
Source: Judy's Kitchen
Rating: 9 out of 10
1 ear of fresh corn, cooked
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. molasses
1/2 cup sugar (I used 1/4 cup sugar + 1 tsp. Stevia)
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup lite sour cream
1/2 cup fat-free half and half
1 cup self-rising cornmeal (I used Tenda-Bake white)
Place the ear of corn on the center post of a tube pan or bundt pan (see below) and cut the kernels off. After the kernels are scraped off, use the back of the knife to scrape up and down against the cob to get all the cornstarch out -- there will be quite a bit. When you are done, the cob should be picked clean. Set aside.Preheat oven to 425F. Combine the sour cream and half and half together; set aside. In a medium microwaveable bowl, melt the butter. With a whisk, stir in the molasses and sugar and beat well. Beat in the egg, sour cream, half and half and applesauce, combining well. Stir in the cornmeal and corn and mix just till barely combined. Fill 10 muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 13-16 minutes, or till muffins test done with a wooden pick.

Monday, June 16, 2008


My plan for Father's Day was to have a nice, relaxed meal -- no fuss. The menu was ribs and chicken, baked beans, coleslaw and corn muffins, with a NY style cheesecake and macerated strawberries for dessert. Not hard. We invited two dads whose wives and families were away to eat with us. Then I made a big mistake. I decided, since there would be four of us, that I could slip in another BBQ rib recipe. So instead of making one simple rack of ribs, I opted to make two separate and different racks of ribs, along with everything else. My normal rib recipe is quite simple,(see previous post for recipe) so I thought I could pull it off. After I started the New Orleans-style rib sauce, I remembered that Tom (one of the invitees) can't eat anything hot. So I decided to make the chicken and a half rack of ribs with a plain BBQ sauce, not hot. So now I was making 3 kinds of ribs. I still thought I could do it. First of all, this recipe is enough work without adding more. There is a lot involved making Jan Birnbaum's New Orleans-Style Babyback Beer Ribs....more than I a lot of dirty dishes, pots and utensils. Bottom line: Because I was trying to do too much, I overbaked the beans, drying them out, burned the chicken and overcooked it, and the ribs were dry for whatever reason. It was not my best day. A lesson learned. KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid.

Now my critique of Jan's recipe. The sauce is interesting; the rub is salty; the ribs are good when they are more on the charred side -- more well done, i.e., the sauce tastes better when it has cooked on the ribs and kind of blackened. Whether you will like it will depend on your individual taste. But for the amount of work involved, I like my basic rib recipe better; a. it's a lot less work and b. it tastes better than Jan's. This made Guy very happy since he loves John Boy and Billy's Grillin' Sauce, which is what I mainly use when I make ribs (besides my rub).

More info: I made 1/3 of the recipe, since I was using 1 rack of ribs, but I still have more than a quart of sauce left over -- it makes a lot; so 1/3 of the recipe would take care of 2-3 racks of ribs. I didn't have achiote (one of the ingredients called for), so I subbed chipotle chile powder (you can buy achiote from And if you want the full recipe for this masochistic meal, you can find it at
the Food Network along with a lot of reviews that will help you decide on how to proceed. The reviews are mixed -- some people raved over the ribs and others didn't like them.

Jan Birnbaum's New Orleans-Style Babyback Beer Ribs, adapted small batch
Rating: 3 out of 10
Spice Rub Mix:
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 tsp. lime zest
1 tsp. crumbled achiote (I used chipotle chile powder)

1-2 racks babyback ribs
1-1/3 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
21 oz. beer (I used 2 cans -- 24 oz.)
1-2 bay leaves

1-1/3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 poblano chile, seeded & chopped
1 carrot, rough chopped
1 medium onion, rough chopped
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
13 oz. canned Roma tomatoes (I used a 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes)
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup honey
1/3 of a 2-oz. can chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1/3 orange, peeled with pith removed
salt & pepper (use sparingly, and be sure to taste)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lime juice

Spice Rub Mix: Mix together all ingredients.

Ribs: Preheat the gas grill on low (275-300F) for 1/2 hour. If using charcoal, let the coals burn to embers, also about 1/2 hour after lighting.

Cut the rib racks in half horizontally along the bone. Season the ribs with half of the spice rub mix. In a large roasting pan or saute pan, add chicken stock, beer, and the bay leaves. Lower the ribs into the liquid. Bring up to a simmer and poach the ribs for 15 minutes. Take the ribs out of the liquid and season them with the other half of the spice rub on both sides. (Note: I did not use all the spice rub mix -- use your own discretion on this -- I sprinkled lightly on both sides, both times.) While re-spicing the ribs, bring the liquid up to a boil over low heat to reduce.

Place ribs on grill and cover to smoke for 2 hours. While ribs are cooking, sauce can be finished.

Chop your veggies. Here's the first batch -- onions and poblano -- and I put a little bit of sweet red pepper in:
Next, chop the carrot, jalapeno and garlic:
Add oil to a large, preheated saute pan or stockpot. Add the poblanos and onions, and saute for about 10 minutes, until caramelized. Add the garlic, carrots and jalapenos and saute another 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and let it simmer 20 minutes. Add molasses, honey and chipotle with adobo sauce. Add the orange, salt and pepper. When the initial braising liquid has reduced by half, add this to the sauce mixture. Let everything simmer for 20 minutes. Everything is very chunky looking, especially before you add the braising liquid --
Blend the sauce mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in red wine vinegar and lime juice.

Bring sauce to grill and brush or mop on ribs for the last half hour of grilling. This recipe will make several quarts of sauce, enough for 2-3 racks of ribs.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


It's amazing how many chocolate chip cookie recipes are out there. Not everyone agrees on what makes a cookie great, but the note on this recipe said, "Crisp edges, chewy middles," and it was rated 5 out of 5 by 1713 members. Sounded good to me. The recipe title is "Best Chocolate Chip Cookies," and I renamed them because IMHO, they are not the best, although they are very good. Instead of using 2 tsp. hot water as the recipe called for, I used coffee syrup (coffee brandy in which instant coffee is dissolved). I had to eliminate the 1 cup chopped walnuts, because my friend doesn't like nuts, and these cookies were for him. I personally really like nuts in CC cookies and I'm sure they would have made the cookie a little crunchy. With my coffee syrup added, these cookies have a very good flavor, nice texture; and, yes, they are chewy but only very slightly crispy on the edges. The dough is unbelievably delicious with a strong caramel flavor and there really is a chance you might not get these to the oven! Also worth mentioning: I obviously made the cookies too small, because I got 58 cookies using a tablespoonful of dough; 2 tablespoonfuls would yield 29; and Dora says she gets 24. If you like big, puffy cookies, these are not, but they have a good amount of chocolate chips and they will take care of your chocolate craving.

Dora's Chocolate Chip Cookies
Rating: 8 out of 10
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar (I used superfine)
1 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark brown)
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. hot water (I used coffee syrup)
1/2 tsp. salt (I used sea salt)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (I used 1 cup Old-Fashioned Oats instead)

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream together the butter and sugars till smooth. (I did this by hand with a wire whisk.) Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water (or coffee syrup). Add to batter along with salt. Stir in flour, chocolate chips, and nuts (or oatmeal). Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased (or parchment-lined) pans. Bake about 10 minutes or till edges are nicely browned.*

*I think this is where the crispy edges come in. I slightly underbaked the cookies, because that's how I prefer them. They did not brown on the edges. This is personal preference; if you like crisp but well-baked cookies, go for it.

Friday, June 13, 2008


This is it -- this tiny nondescript exterior right on the beach at Atlantic Beach houses a bar/restaurant in a touristy area. It's rated #1 on Trip Advisor, so we had to try it. In East Carolina, there aren't very many excellent restaurants. Could this be one?
We got there at opening time, 5:00PM, and had the place to ourselves. Our menu went like this:

1. Crusty Italian bread served at the table with dipping oil.
Bread was so-so, oil was really good.
2. Salads
Caesar: Guy said it was good
Garden: Large leafy greens, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots
I prefer Mesculin Mix to large leafy greens. Dressing was Balsamic vinaigrette, and it was very good, but then, what's hard about that?
3. Entrees: Guy -- Pork Chops with Coffee Rub, Yukon Gold Potatoes, Sugar Snap Peas
Guy liked the chop and potatoes; it was one large chop, about 1-1/2" thick, pan seared; you could taste the coffee rub and it was nice; chop was tender and juicy partway through, a little dry around the edges; potatoes were good.
Judy -- I got an appetizer as a main dish: pan-seared scallops over creamy grits with a raspberry sauce, bacon bits and scallions. This was to die for -- best scallop dish I've had in years -- I would go back just to get this again. And the appetizer filled me up; it was plenty.
4. Service: Good. (However, I specified to the server that we are small eaters and were thinking of splitting a salad. She insisted the salads were very small and we shouldn't do that. As a result of ordering 2 salads, we each turned back half of our salads. Was she saying to order 2 salads so she could jack up the bill and get a bigger tip? I don't know, but I learned from now on we will order 1 salad. If it isn't enough, we'll order a 2nd one.)
5. Ambience: OK, nothing special. They advertise that they have ocean views. They do, but not that easy to see. Windows are small-ish, room is very tight with extremely small tables, not much elbow room.
6. Prices: High-average. With 2 salads, 1 entree, 1 appetizer and 1 beer, the bill came to $50.
Over-all rating: 4 out of 5 stars (salad and bread brought it down)


First Flight Photography is located on Cherry Point MAC Base, Havelock, NC. Their studio is small, just 2 rooms and a bathroom, but it's big enough to do some serious work. They have a cozy anteroom when you come in.
And Tom and Emma, the principal partners of First Flight, are here every day to take calls and service walk-ins.

Tom is a retired Marine who has enjoyed photography since he was in grade school. It's his best favorite thing to do. Emma, his partner, has a long history with photography also, and she is an artist to boot. They make a good team.
Here, at the front desk, is where they put my cookies, though you can't see them in this photo. Guess which ones went first? The Berger Cookies -- Baltimore's Finest.
If you live in the New Bern/Havelock area, give them a call. They work off-base also.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


If you'ver never lived in or visited Baltimore, you may not have heard of or tasted Berger cookies. They're a product of that city's DeBaufre Bakeries and are a close relation to New York City's Black and Whites (aka Half and Halfs). These cake-like, jumbo-sized cookies are piled with thick, rich chocolate icing -- the thicker the better, up to 1/2" of icing atop each 1/2" thick cookies. Note that the cookies themselves are rather dry, so the over-the-top amount of icing -- rather than being too much -- ends up being just right. At first -- tasting the freshly set iced cookies -- I disagreed. They just seemed too rich, too overly sweet chocolatey. But the next day was a different story. I gobbled down 3 of them and had to stop myself from eating more. Once that chocolate frosting sets, it thickens up and perfectly complements the cakey vanilla-flavored cookie. You can order Berger Cookies online, or you can make the King Arthur copykat version. They're not hard to make. At about $5/lb., it's worth it to make them.

King Arthur has covered these cookies both on their regular website, and on their blog, They call these cookies "Baltimore's Finest." This is one recipe that you can duplicate as is, with no changes, additions or deletions. It's perfect. Just don't eat them right away. They need to set.

P. S. The grand opening of my friend's photography studio is tomorrow, so I won't be posting a recipe tomorrow. Guy and I are heading to the opening, then on to Morehead City for a shopping day and a nice fish dinner at Atlantic Beach's top-rated Island Grille Restaurant.
King Arthur's Copykat Berger Cookies, aka Baltimore's Finest
Rating: 8 out of 10
Rich Chocolate Icing:
2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 Tbsp. (1 oz.) light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup (6 oz.) heavy cream
1-1/2 cups (6 oz.) confectioner's (10X) sugar, sifted

1/3 cup (5-1/3 Tbsp.) unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup milk

To make the icing: Place the chips, corn syrup, and cream into a large microwave-safe bowl, or into a large saucepan. Heat the mixture till it's very hot; the cream will start to form bubbles. Remove from the heat, and stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Beat in the 10X sugar. Let cool to warm room temperature while you make the cookies.

To make the cookies: Preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, salt and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and mix till smooth. Combine flour and baking powder and add to wet ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Do this gently; there's no need to beat the batter. Using a teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving 2" -
2-1/2" between cookies. Using wet fingers, slightly flatten each mound of dough to a circle about 1-1/2" across. The cookies will look ridiculously small; don't worry, they spread and puff up.
Bake cookies 9-12 minutes, or until they're a mottled brown on the bottom, but not colored on top. You may see the barest hint of browning around the edges, but these cookies are supposed to be soft and cake-like, so don't overbake them.
Carefully tilt one of the cookies up to look at the bottom -- see the mottled brown on the bottom? Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Using the now-cooled frosting, you're supposed to dip the flat bottom of each cookie into the icing, swirling the cookie around to really give it a good coating, then you put extra icing on top of that. You can see photos of how to do this on the KA blog. I decided to just use a spatula to put the icing on top of the flat side of the cookie, and found this much easier. Store airtight in a single layer. This frosting is soft and will not harden completely, so you can't set the cookies one on top of the other. Yield: 28 2-1/4" cookies. (I got 43 1-3/4" - 2" cookies, and mine took 9 minutes to bake.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


This recipe, from and submitted by Michele, was rated 5 out out 5 by 840 members. So I decided this would be my peanut butter cookie for my friends' grand opening. The recipe looked bland, so I added vanilla, cinnamon, and chopped salted peanuts on the top; and I used chunky peanut butter instead of smooth. I wasn't disappointed. These are not as good as Lalee's Peanut Butter Cookies (see my previous post for these, my #1 fave), but they run a close second. They're not as thick as Lalee's but they are chewy, and the texture and flavor are great. The chunky peanut butter and the salted peanuts on the top really set this cookie off. I only made a half recipe, and I got 2 dozen 3-1/2" cookies, which was more than I needed. I heartily recommend these.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies, adapted
Rating: 9 out of 10
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. molasses
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 large egg
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, lightly spooned and leveled
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup quick-cooking (1-minute, not instant) oatmeal
1/4 cup chopped salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, molasses and peanut butter until smooth. (I did this with a wire whisk, by hand.) Beat in the egg and vanilla until well blended. In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and oatmeal; stir into the creamed mixture; do not overmix. (You can switch to a spatula for this, as the whisk will have too much batter clumping. The finished dough will be kind of fluffy, and a small teaspoonful will do quite a bit of spreading.) Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle chopped peanuts on top of each mound of dough and slightly press in. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until just light brown. Don't overbake. Yield: 24 large cookies.

Monday, June 9, 2008


I'm back in the cookie business! Our friends, Tom and Sara, have opened a photography studio at the base (Cherry Point Naval Air Station, about 1/2 hour from New Bern). Their grand opening is this Thursday, June 12; and I offered to bring cookies. Tom asked for chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal. So I started with oatmeal; but what I should tell you right off is that I'm not an oatmeal cookie fan. Oatmeal cookies just don't excite me. This recipe is from a very old cookbook, one that I got when I was first married in 1963. I've used the recipe before and the cookies were great, for oatmeal cookies that is. This time, the first batch came out with a great flavor, but they were a little dry. I gave the first batch to Sara to take to her grandkids who can dunk them in milk. For the second batch, I reduced the flour from 2 cups to 1-1/2 cups, and eliminated the 2 Tbsp. of raisin water that the recipe called for. If I make them again, I'll use 1-3/4 cups flour. These cookies are crispy on the edges and nicely chewy inside with an excellent flavor. You'll get 2 dozen 3-1/2" cookies with this recipe. Oh, and the recipe calls for walnuts which I think would be really good, but Tom doesn't like nuts, so I kept them out. Even though these cookies are quite good, I'm still not an oatmeal cookie fan. I mean you'll never catch me saying, "I'm dying for an oatmeal cookie," yet I will enjoy eating one now and then.
Oatmeal Drop Cookies
Rating: 9 out of 10
1 cup seedless raisins (or 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts)
1/2 cup orange juice or water
1-3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)
2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar + 1-1/2 tsp. Stevia)
2 Tbsp. molasses
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups old-fashioned (not quick) oats

Grease baking sheets lightly, or line pans with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400F. Heat juice and raisins in small pot; simmer 3 minutes; drain.
Sift flour, then measure (spoon lightly and level) into a medium bowl. Add salt, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk together; set aside. (If at all possible, use whole nutmegs and grate them yourself. The flavor difference is remarkable.) (In a large microwaveable mixing bowl, melt the butter and let it cool slightly. Add the sugar and molasses and whisk till it's smooth and well combined.
Add egg and vanilla and whisk till smooth. Add flour mixture and just mix till barely combined.
Now fold in oats and drained raisins and and drop about 2 Tbsp. batter onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 10-11 minutes, or till light brown. (The molasses will make the cookies brown rather quickly.) Let stand on baking pan a minute, then remove to cake rack to finish cooling. Store in container with tight-fitting cover with waxed paper between layers, or freeze. Yield: 24 3-1/2" cookies.