Saturday, August 30, 2008


We had no luck with tomatoes this year -- at least not yet.
After Guy pulled out the first plants that were plagued
with blossom end rot, he planted two more that haven't
given us any fruit yet. Peppers are another story. Our paprika and hot pepper plants have been producing right along. So, when the September 2008 issue of Southern Living Magazine had a recipe for homemade hot pepper sauce, I cut it out for Guy. He was way ahead of me. He had already seen it and made plans with our friend/neighbor Sara, who is Thai, to put up hot pepper sauce. Only difference is, he decided to use Sara's Thai peppers which he says are even hotter than ours. He brought home the jar which we placed in our fridge for 3 weeks. This wasn't hard to make, so if you find yourself with a lot of hot peppers, give it a try.

Southern Living's Hot Pepper Sauce
Fill 1 (14-oz.) glass jar with 1 cup red and green Thai chile peppers, stemmed, filling to about 1" from top of jar. Bring 1 cup cider vinegar, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved (about 2-3 minutes). Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Pour hot mixture over peppers in jar. Cover and chill 3 weeks. Store in refrigerator up to 6 months Prep: 10 min., Cook: 5 min., Stand: 5 min., Chill: 3 weeks.
Note: Chilling for 2 weeks allows the peppers to fire up the vinegar mixture. The longer it sits, the spicier it becomes. Remember to wear rubber gloves when filling the jars with peppers.

Friday, August 29, 2008


RecipeZaar gave me this nice recipe, and I made some changes which I think brought it up a notch. These are really good, especially when you bite into the peaches which are nice and soft and, well, peachy. The muffins are moist, and the crumb-nut topping finishes them off beautifully. These would have to be pretty bland without the spices I added, since there were none in the original recipe.

Low-Fat Peach Cobbler Muffins, adapted
Rating: 8 out of 10

3 cups ripe, juicy peaches, peeled and diced or chopped
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 large egg
2/3 cup brown sugar (I subbed Stevia for part of the sugar)
1/2 cup lite sour cream
1/2 cup fat-free half and half or milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1-1/2 tsp. fresh-grated ginger
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. fresh-grated nutmeg
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cut toasted walnuts or pecans
3 Tbsp. cold butter, cut in chunks

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 12-count muffin pan. Make topping. Toss peaches with lemon juice in medium bowl and let stand. Combine egg, sour cream, milk, flavorings and applesauce in medium bowl, mixing well. Stir in peaches. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mixing well. Add peach mixture all at once and stir lightly, just till moistened, leaving lumps, if any. Place about 2 Tbsp. batter into each muffin cup; sprinkle about 2 tsp. topping over batter; top each muffin cup with remaining batter and topping, dividing equally. Bake 17-20 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted in center of muffins returns with just a few crumbs. Cool in pan 2-3 minutes, then transfer muffins to wire rack to finish cooling. Makes 12 standard-size muffins. These can be frozen.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Tired of plain rice? Try this pilaf for a change. It's not hard at all and tastes so good.

Spinach-Mushroom Rice Pilaf
2 Tbsp. Smart Balance (or butter or olive oil)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 large garlic clove, grated or minced
1/3 cup Jasmine rice (or other rice of choice)
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 tsp. sea salt
big pinch black pepper
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In 1-quart saucepan, heat Smart Balance till it sizzles; add onion and mushrooms; cook over medium heat till onions are transparent. Add garlic, rice, spinach, salt and pepper and stir; cook about 1 minute, then add broth. Bring to a boil and cover; reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, or till rice is tender. Turn heat off; add cheese to pot without stirring; replace lid and let rice settle for about 5-10 minutes. Stir rice and serve. Yield: 2 servings
Double ingredients for 4 servings; triple for 6 servings; etc.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


These wings were a nice change from our usual barbecued wings with John Boy & Billy's sauce. They're a little sweet, a little hot and have a subtle flavor. Guy and I both enjoyed them. We had a mushroom-spinach rice pilaf and a cucumber-green pepper-tomato salad as accompaniments.
My thanks to Southern Living for a great recipe.

Sweet-and-Hot Orange Wings
(Southern Living)
Rating: 9 out of 10

1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup lite soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. grated or minced garlic
3 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
1 Tbsp. hot sauce
4 lbs. chicken wings
4 green onions, chopped (optional)

Combine orange juice and next 6 ingredients in small saucepan. Remove 1 cup of mixture to a gallon-size resealable plastic bag; add wings; seal bag and refrigerate at least one hour, or up to 8 hours. Heat remaining mixture in saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil; reduce heat; simmer about 20 minutes, or till mixture is reduced by half; set aside.
Preheat gas grill to medium-high (350-400F); remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill wings, covered with grill lid, 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally till chicken is thoroughly cooked. Transfer wings to a serving platter, and drizzle sauce over wings; sprinkle with chopped green onions. Serves 6 (or 12 appetizer servings)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Fresh ginger is so much better than dried. But storing it is a problem. It dries out and even turns moldy, whether it's stored in the fridge or left out. The solution: store it in the freezer, and it will keep for months.
Here's how to do it.

First, peel the ginger completely.
I used a peeler, but later learned that a kitchen spoon does a better job getting into the nooks and crannies.

Then wrap it in plastic wrap tightly.

Put it in a freezer bag; press the air out before sealing. Write the date on the bag.
When you want ginger, remove the bag from the freezer; take the ginger out of the plastic wrap. Grate the ginger, using a microplane grater. Return the unused portion of ginger to the freezer, as before.

Monday, August 25, 2008


My fridge is loaded with peaches but, thankfully, we had company for dinner last night so I used some of them for this peach pie. This recipe is old; I don't remember the source, but I have made it a few times, and it's a winner. Everyone loves it; the flavors are perfect. This time, though, I served it with a berry sauce instead of whipped cream or ice cream, and it was even better, if that could be possible. I had exactly one pie crust left in the freezer (my favorite recipe makes 4 crusts), so it got used. Instead of rolling it in flour, I rolled it in self-rising cornmeal, and the result was very nice; it made the crust a little firmer while not interfering with the tenderness and flakiness. I will definitely do that again when I make another fruit pie.
The first photo of a pie slice was taken when the pie was room temperature. It kind of drooped on the plate and wasn't anything beautiful to behold. The bottom photo was taken after a night in the fridge. It definitely sits up better after being chilled. This pie tastes great when it's first made and tastes wonderful the next day after chilling out. It's just a great pie! Oh, and if the heavy cream bothers you, consider this: there's only one crust, so remember that you are losing the fat that would have been in the top crust; there's no butter in the peach filling; and, a berry sauce instead of ice cream or whipped cream will eliminate even more fat. All in all, it's pretty much a washout; and this pie is no more fat-laden than any other.

Old-Fashioned Peach Pie with Berry Sauce

1 pie crust for a 9" pie plate
5-1/2 to 6 cups fresh sliced peaches
2 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. quick-cooking tapioca
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking pan with tinfoil. Roll out pie pastry to fit a 9" pie plate; make a high-standing rim around edge; set aside. Peel and slice peaches into a large bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Heat cream and tapioca in small saucepan to boiling point; remove from heat and stir in sugar, salt and cinnamon. Arrange peaches in pie shell. Pour cream mixture over peaches. Place pie on lined baking pan and bake 50 - 55 minutes, or until crust is browned and peach filling is bubbling. (Note: I covered my crust with a pie shield after the first 20 minutes, so it wouldn't burn.) Serve pie with ice cream, whipped cream, creme fraiche or berry sauce. Yield: 8 servings.


Berry sauce is wonderful over peach pie, cheesecake, ice cream or cake. And it's so easy to make. You can use whatever berries you like, or you can mix them like I did. I had some frozen strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, so I just threw them all in the pot. This is absolutely delicious and is easy to pour whether it's room temperature or cold. Don't be afraid to try this.

Berry Sauce
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam (or other jam of your choice)
1 cup frozen or fresh berries of choice
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. rum (optional, but nice)

Place all ingredients except rum in small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir and cook for about 3 minutes, then remove from heat and press through a sieve so that seeds are removed. This will take a few minutes. Of course, if seeds don't bother you, then skip this step and have a chunky sauce. Stir rum into finished sauce. Serve room temperature or cold.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Our local Harris Teeter had beautiful wild-caught sea scallops for $10.99/lb this week, and they were nice enough to email me a recipe for the scallops with my weekly fresh-catch newsletter. Can you believe they even included a short video showing me how to make this dish? I love Harris Teeter, and I love scallops, so I couldn't wait to try this. MyThai friend, Sara, had given me a bottle of sweet chili sauce, so I was ready. This recipe is fast and very good. How I think it could be better: serve the scallops over grits or rice, and just drizzle the sauce lightly over top. There's enough sauce in this halved recipe to adequately take care of 1 lb. of scallops. Since the sauce is sweet -- very sweet -- drizzling it would be nicer than covering the scallops in it. Guy's not a big scallop fan, but he liked these. I made a few changes to the recipe: I added a pinch of ground red pepper and added salt and pepper to the flour instead of seasoning the scallops after they browned, as the recipe suggested. Other than that, I followed it closely.

Ginger-Chili Scallops
Rating 9 out of 10
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. sea scallops
1-1/2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 oz. Thai sweet chili sauce
1/3 tsp. honey or brown sugar
pinch of ground red pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

In a small heavy skillet, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Measure the flour, salt and pepper into a resealable sandwich bag and mix to distribute ingredients. Add scallops and shake well to coat scallops in flour mixture. Add floured scallops to hot oil and cook about 2 minutes, or till nicely browned on underside.
Turn scallops over and cook another 2 minutes, then add remaining ingredients. Reduce heat and cover; cook about 3 minutes, or till scallops are tender and cooked through. Serve scallops over rice or grits, if desired, and lightly drizzle some of the sauce over top. Serves 2.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I've been saving this recipe that was printed in our local paper some time ago. Since I have salt pork left from making clam chowder, I thought this would be a good way to use some of it, although the recipe calls for bacon. This soup turned out great -- Guy and I love soup, and this didn't disappoint. Instead of heavy cream, I used fat-free half and half, so it wasn't as rich, but we enjoyed it any way, because the flavors are good. I also didn't thicken the broth with flour as the recipe calls for, because we don't like flour-thickened soups. You can certainly use heavy cream if you want, and you can thicken the broth with flour if that appeals to you. Oh, and I used roasted red pepper for the red bell pepper, because that's what I had. I reduced the original recipe to make it more size-appropriate for just the two of us. So you will get 2-3 servings out of this recipe, depending on how large your servings are. We're not very big eaters here, because we're small people.

Southern Corn Chowder
Rating: 8 out of 10
1 oz. salt pork or bacon, chopped (remove rind from salt pork before rendering & chopping)
1/2 cup chopped onions
3 Tbsp. finely chopped carrots
3 Tbsp. finely chopped celery
1-1/2 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. chopped red bell peppers or roasted red bells
1-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels + cream (scrape the corn cob dry with back of knife)
1 Tbsp. flour (optional -- I didn't use it)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup peeled, cubed potatoes
sea salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fat-free or regular half and half or heavy cream
1/8 tsp. or less cayenne or ground red pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley + additional parsley for garnish

In a 2-3 quart heavy pot, render the salt pork (or bacon) over medium heat till meat pieces are crisp. Remove meat pieces from pot to a paper towel; reserve. If there is not enough fat rendered, add some extra-virgin olive oil to the pot, then add onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring as needed, until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add broth, peppers, corn, potatoes, salt and pepper; up heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer soup about 20-30 minutes, till vegetables are tender and flavors have married. Adjust seasonings, adding ground hot pepper and more salt and pepper if needed. Off heat; stir in half and half or cream, the reserved salt pork or bacon and the parsley.
Serve with additional parsley as garnish, if desired. Yield: 2-3 servings

Friday, August 22, 2008


I love summer's fresh vegetable and fruit bounty. Problem is I keep buying and buying until I have way too much in my fridge. For just 2 people, it's impossible to use it all before it goes bad. Even Debbie Meyer Green Bags can't keep produce good indefinitely. And so, a few days ago, I saw that my zucchini was not going to last much longer. I was using it in omelets for breakfast, but I needed to do something else fast. Zucchini Brownies sounded like a good idea, and there are lots of recipes for them. The one I found on had good ratings; I liked the easy frosting -- just mix chocolate chips with peanut butter. It sounded like a chocolate-peanut butter ganache -- yummm. It was supposed to be a cake-like brownie. So I thought, why not just make cupcakes? Of course, I made other changes to try to lower the fat content and get some more nutrients into the cupcake. I won't call these a healthful dessert because, really, isn't that an oxymoron? How can a dessert be healthful? We still need to learn to eat desserts in moderation, no matter how healthful we make them. It's going to be hard to do that with these, though. I added chocolate chips to the batter, and it really made these over-the-top good. Especially when you eat them within an hour of baking them, when the chips are melted and gooey inside. It took all my willpower to eat just one. They are really good, and not overly sweet. They're chocolatey, moist, decadent, and -- hey, where did the zucchini go? I couldn't find the taste or even the sight of it. Really, make these soon, while zucchini is plentiful and cheap.
I halved the Taste of Home recipe. The halved recipe makes 8 standard-size cupcakes, or 6 standard-sized and 1 dozen mini-cupcakes. The minis are nice to freeze -- when you get a chocolate attack, one mini should satisfy your craving. Let me know if you try these -- I'd be interested to hear what you think of them.

Zucchini Brownie Cupcakes with Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache
Rating: 9 out of 10
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, very soft
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar + 3/4 tsp. Stevia -- you could use any sugar substitute)
1 large egg
1/4 cup yogurt (I used Stonyfield Farms nonfat vanilla)
1 tsp. vanilla (I used pure vanilla extract)
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used 3/4 cup white whole wheat + 1/2 cup all-purpose)
2 Tbsp. natural cocoa + 2 Tbsp. for dusting pans (I used Hershey's)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt (I used sea salt)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup shredded zucchini (I grated it on the large holes of my box grater, gave it some more chops to get ride of the long strands, measured a heaping cupful, then laid it in paper towels, wrapped it up tightly and let it drain a few minutes.)

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 6-cup standard muffin tin and a 12-cup mini-muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and dust with cocoa powder; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and egg until light and fluffy. Beat in yogurt and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips; gradually add to creamed mixture by hand. (A spatula works well for this.) Stir in applesauce and zucchini, being careful not to overmix.

Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each
of the standard-size muffin cups; and
about 1 heaping Tbsp. into each of the mini-muffin cups, filling each cup almost to the top. Bake mini cupcakes 14-16 minutes; standard cupcakes 21-24 minutes, or till toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs. They will continue to bake when removed from the oven. Cool in pans about 5 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on wire rack. When cooled, frost with Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache
(The easy recipe is 1/2 cup chocolate pieces and 1/3 cup national brand peanut butter, melted over double boiler and stirred together. Below is my recipe, using part natural peanut butter.)

1/2 cup chocolate pieces (Use the best quality you can afford, dark or milk)
3 Tbsp. natural peanut butter (no sugar added)
2 Tbsp. smooth or chunky national brand peanut butter (I used Skippy super chunk)
1 tsp. honey + 1 Tbsp. butter

Make a double boiler by placing a bowl over a pan of hot water. Put all ingredients into the bowl and heat on high. When ingredients melt, stir them together with a spatula till smooth and well combined. Frost cupcakes with warm ganache.

(For the chocolate, I used some Lindt milk chocolate + Nestle Chocolatier 62% cacao dark chocolate.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008


There is nothing like a fresh, flavorful summer tomato. Guy's cousin, Dominic, grew the tomato we ate tonight. New Jersey is known for its wonderful tomatoes -- thanks to the cool nights and hot days. North Carolina summer nights are too warm for tomatoes to really develop properly. We've been eating North Carolina tomatoes for 15 years and enjoying them. But every once in a while, like last week, we experienced tomato nirvana again with a Jersey beauty. A fruit this fresh and flavorful deserves a simple treatment.
Here's how: Cut the tomato in pieces and place in a dish. Salt and pepper them to taste. Mince some garlic; finely chop some scallions, fresh basil and parsley and scatter them over the tomatoes. Toss with extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar of your choice. (I used Tarragon vinegar this time.)
Do this about 1/2 hour before you eat, so the flavors have time to develop. The tomatoes will start to give off their juices. While you prepare the rest of your dinner, occasionally, tilt the dish, and spoon the vinaigrette over the tomatoes. Refrigerate any
leftover tomatoes. Dee-lish.

The big one pictured to the right forefront is now gone. Only 3 left.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


We have a crab trap at our friend's dock in Pamlico County. When Guy went to check it yesterday, there were a bunch of blue claws, a soft shell crab and a flounder. We ate the flounder for dinner tonight, along with some steamed green beans, eggplant parmesan from Prevario's, and a simple tomato salad made with his cousin's tomatoes. Everything was delicious.

For the flounder, Guy skinned it on both sides. Since I was using the oven to heat the eggplant parmesan, I put the flounder in a large glass pie plate
that I had sprayed with non-stick
cooking spray. I dotted the fish pieces with little bits of garlic-herb butter that I had left over from my last batch of garlic bread. (I actually used Smart Balance Lite, not butter.) The fish baked at 375F for about 15 minutes, and was perfectly done. This is about as good as it gets.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


My son, David, has been baking again. This is his muffin recipe, and he says they're delicious! These are made with mini-chocolate chips, but you can use any kind of chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate that you want. Of course, the quality of chocolate used makes the biggest difference in the finished product, so go for the best you can afford. If I make these muffins, I'll sub applesauce for most of the butter, and fat-free half and half for the full-fat stuff. And I might switch out some of the flour for white whole wheat, trying to make the most nutritious and low-fat dessert possible. I can't rate these until/unless I taste them, and David lives almost 4 hours away; but they do look good, and I will tell you that David is pretty picky. Please leave a comment if you make them. We'd love to have your rating on this recipe.

David's Chocolate Chip Muffins
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/3 Cup light brown sugar
1/3 Cup white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
2/3 cup half and half
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 eggs (beaten)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 12oz. package chocolate chips

Melt butter in large microwaveable mixing bowl; add both sugars, mix until combined.
Add eggs and H&H, mixing well. In separate bowl, combine flour, chocolate chips, baking powder, and salt, making sure they are mixed well. Pour flour mix into liquids, stirring to barely combine ingredients. Batter can be lumpy. DO NOT OVERMIX. Spoon in muffin tins to top rim. Bake @400F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center returns with a few crumbs. Makes 12 standard muffins with beautiful tops.

David's Tips: I usually have to add extra liquid to get the consistency I like for the muffins.
The type of chocolate chip will make your muffin. Experiment with semi-sweet, and milk chocolate. When you figure out which type of chocolate to use, then experiment with brands of chocolate. I prefer Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips. For good baking, it is recomended that you do not use anything that is no stick.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Last Wednesday, Guy and I left North Carolina to trek northward for our brother-in-law's funeral. Since both of us hate driving and particularly hate I-95, we tried an alternate route. Normally, the trip to New Jersey takes about 7-1/2 to 8 hours. With the alternate route, it was 10 hours and a lot of traffic lights. We made the viewing by the skin of our collective teeth. I was hoping things would smooth out; but, unfortunately, at the funeral the next day, one of our good friends took a nasty fall and wound up in the emergency room with 5 stitches. She's ok, but missed the four-course funeral luncheon at the legendary Washington Crossing Inn. I was going to skip dessert until I saw it: dark chocolate raspberry truffle cake with dark chocolate ganache and raspberry sauce.
Even though the mood of the trip was
somber, we enjoyed ourselves. It's been a long time since I returned to New Jersey -- 7 years, in fact -- and we were surprised at what we found. The Chambersburg section of Trenton (Italian section) is totally changed; many of the businesses have moved out, or are ready to. The Italians are mostly gone. Neither of us was ready for that. We spent a lot of time in Chambersburg in our younger years. When I told my sister, who lives in Knoxville, TN now, she couldn't believe it either. Somehow, we expected Chambersburg to always stay as a tight-knit Italian community.
More changes: Friends and relatives attending the funeral who used to be kids, are now grown with families of their own.
One thing that hasn't changed is the wonderful produce from the Garden State. I had forgotten how good a Jersey tomato tasted. I mean it actually has flavor. And the corn. We visited the Farmer's Market and bought tomatoes, corn, beets and peaches. I'm using Debbie Meyer Green Bags for all the produce because the green bags keep vegetables and fruits fresher longer. We bought Italian sausage from Prevario's, rolls from Italian People's Bakery, and Red Pack tomatoes for sauce. And I was able to find coconut flour, almond meal and whole wheat pastry flour at reasonable prices. How I love bigger cities where there are so many more choices for everything from clothing to produce and flours. Our little town of New Bern has a limited selection for foodies like me.
We both decided that the return trip should be via I-95, much as we dislike that route. Wouldn't you know -- there was a disabled vehicle and traffic was backed up from just below Washington, D. C. almost to Richmond, VA. We lost 2 hours. So the trip home took 9 hours.
I don't know what it is about returning home, but it takes me a little time to readjust. Maybe I went into vacation mode and can't get back into work mode. Whatever. I'll try to get back to recipes soon, I promise.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Here's another great broccoli salad from my friend, Connie MacLean. She brought this to our 3rd of July picnic and everyone loved it! It's a fairly straightforward recipe with minimum ingredients, but maximum flavor. I particularly like the way the veggies are cut small.

Connie MacLean's Broccoli Salad
Rating: 9 out of 10
1 head of broccoli, cut bite size
1 red onion, diced
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup raisins (Connie used Craisins)
4 sliced cooked bacon, chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
4 Tbsp. sugar or sugar substitute

In large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients. In small bowl, whisk together remaining 3 ingredients and add to broccoli mixture, mixing well. Refrigerate before serving.
I don't have a yield on this recipe, but it's very appropriate for a pot-luck.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Many years ago, this recipe came my way -- how I don't exactly remember. I'm going to post it exactly as it is written, and then how I interpreted it for this soup. Everyone raves over this soup. I'm not much of a clam chowder person, so I'm as neutral on this as I am on crabs. But if you like clam chowder, then you really must try this one.

"Reggie's Recipe by Chef Reggie Dow
The recipe for our Rhode Island Clam Chowder dates back to the earliest settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. We found it pasted to a wall while removing wallpaper in the kitchen during remodeling last year.
Recipe: In heavy pot render 4 oz. salt pork, add 1-1/2 lbs. diced onions, sautee (sic) till transparent. To this mixture add 1/2 tsp. white pepper and 1-1/2 lbs. thinly sliced potatoes. In a separate pot, cook 1/2 gal. clams (chopped) and 1/2 gal. water. Strain and cool, saving broth. Add broth to potato and onion mixture. Cook till reduced one-half and add sachet of thyme. Add 1-1/2 lbs. raw diced potatoes. Cook till al dente. Add clams, bring to boil, season and serve as you like (perhaps add cream and butter at serving time)."

And here's what I did to get the absolute best clam chowder (rating 10 out of 10):

Clam Chowder (Judy's version of Reggie's Recipe)
Rating 10 out of 10
5 dozen medium clams, scrubbed well, discard broken or open clams
2 quarts water
2 oz. salt pork (not bacon)
2 cups chopped onions
1/4 tsp. white or black pepper
3/4 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, thin sliced (about 2 cups)
3/4 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, cubed (about 2 cups)
2 cups Land o'Lakes fat-free half and half (or heavy cream if preferred)

Steam the clams in the water till they open. Remove the clams and chop the meat, discarding shells. Set aside. Strain the broth through a cheesecloth to remove sand particles.
In the meantime, render the salt pork in a very large saute` pan over medium heat. (This takes patience. It's not like bacon, in that the fat doesn't melt right away. Don't give up, it looks like it will just burn in the pan, but it won't; it will start to give off its fat and after about 5-10 minutes, you'll have something to put the onions into.) Add the onions and saute` till transparent, lowering the heat if necessary to avoid burning them. Add the thinly sliced potatoes and pepper (no salt please, the clams and salt pork add enough), and saute lightly for a few more minutes. Add the strained broth and about 2 cups water to the onion-potato mixture and bring to a boil. Cook at a very slow boil, uncovered, until mixture reduces by almost half, about 20 minutes. Cover and continue to cook on low for anothr 20 minutes. Taste it. It should be somewhat salty, but not too salty. Adding the half and half (or cream) will reduce the saltiness. Adust seasonings, adding more pepper, if needed. When ready to serve, add the chopped clams and half and half and just heat through, but do not boil. Yield: 6-8 servings

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I watched Tyler Florence recently, on one of his "ultimate" shows on the Food Network. This salad was not what the show was about, but it was part of what he served. We haven't been eating iceberg lettuce lately. It's not supposed to be nutritious. So we've been sticking to the darker greens. What a treat it was to serve this crisp iceberg wedge salad for company the other night. We all enjoyed getting reaquainted with an old friend. The iceberg was cut into small wedges and placed on a platter; grape tomatoes were scattered on the salad; then the dressing was drizzled over the top with extra
dressing served in a bowl.

Bleu cheese dressing is very easy to make, so why buy it?

Bleu Cheese Salad Dressing
2 Tbsp. Tarragon vinegar (or white
wine vinegar)
3 Tbsp. Bleu cheese
1 cup lite sour cream
1/2 cup fat-free half and half
2 Tbsp.Smart Balance lite mayonnaise
1 garlic clove,grated or minced
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
Extra bleu cheese for garnish

In a bowl set in a pan of hot water, whisk the vinegar and 3 Tbsp. bleu cheese till cheese melts. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Add remaining ingredients and whisk till well blended. Refrigerate. Add extra bleu cheese as a garnish when serving. Yield: about 1-1/2 cups

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Company for dinner on Sunday gave me an excuse to make a dessert. Our dinner was so very good. We had clam chowder followed by Tyler Florence's iceberg lettuce wedges and cherry tomatoes with bleu cheese dressing (recipes coming), herbed garlic bread,crabs and spaghetti, and steamed crabs. Dessert was this fabulous peach cobbler that I found on Williams Sonoma's website. Honestly, this is the one. The crust is tender, yet has the texture you want for a cobbler -- crisp but tender -- and the flavor
is wonderful. The peaches have just
enough juice and there is no overbearing sweetness -- instead you get the full flavor of the fruit. This is a great recipe. But then, it's just what you would expect from Williams Sonoma. I did make a few changes: In an effort to use up my homemade peach preserves, I subbed them for the white sugar in the recipe. The topping was also my idea, instead of vanilla ice cream, trying to save some calories, and it also tasted good.
All in all, a perfect night -- great friends, good food and good conversation.

Summer Fresh Peach Cobbler, adapted
--Williams Sonoma Kitchen
Rating: 10 out of 10
4 cups peeled, sliced peaches
1/3 cup white sugar (or peach preserves
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1-1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. lemon juice
dash fresh-grated nutmeg or mace
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/2 batch cobbler dough (see recipe)
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425F. In a large bowl, stir together the peaches, preserves (or sugar), brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and nutmeg. Transfer to a 1-1/2 quart baking dish and scatter the butter pieces on top.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the cobbler dough 1/4" thick. Place on top of the peach filling. Brush the dough with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with 1 tsp. sugar. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 350F and bake until the topping is nicely browned and filling is bubbly, 50 - 60 minutes more. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool about 30 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or topping recipe below. Yield: 4-6 servings

Cobbler Dough
1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
7 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" cubes
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. very cold water (you may need a little more)

In food processor, combine first 4 ingredients and pulse till mixture resembles cornmeal, with the butter in very small pieces, no larger than small peas. In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolk, vanilla and cold water. Add the liquid all at once to the flour mixture and pulse just till dough pulls together. If it seems too dry, add more cold water, 1 tsp. at a time; try not to overmix.

Transfer dough to a work surface; pat into a ball and flatten into a dish. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Yield: enough for 2 cobblers (freeze one half)

Low-Calorie Mock Creme Fraiche Topping
1/2 cup Cool Whip Lite or Non-Fat Frozen and Thawed Whipped Topping
1/4 cup Lite Sour Cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together. Spoon a dollop on each serving of peach cobbler.

Monday, August 11, 2008


After I made

Fantastic Fennel-Pumpkin Soup
,I was left with half a fennel bulb. I really like fennel, but I don't use it every day, and I kind of have to think about how to use it. I also had mushrooms that needed to be used up. So I searched the internet for a mushroom-fennel soup, and couldn't believe there were no recipes. How hard can it be to combine fennel and mushrooms, I thought. And I was right. It's not hard at all, and this soup was dee-lish. The photo looks pretty yukky. I understand there's quite an art to food photography, and a lot of the photos that we admire of food are not really the finished product at all, but something staged to look good. Well the above photo is the real lthing and it tasted a lot better than it looks up there. We both enjoyed this, and I didn't tell fussy Guy that there was fennel in the soup because he thinks he doesn't like it, though he never (until this soup) tasted it. Fennel is great stuff and I'm going to continue to look for new ways to use it.

Mushroom Fennel Soup
Rating: 9 out of 10
2 Tbsp, Smart Balance buttery spread
heaping 1/2 cup chopped fennel (about 1/4 of a large bulb, trimmed)
1/2 cup chopped shallots (1 large bulb)
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used Baby Bella -- they have deeper flavor than white)
sea salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup drinking-quality white wine
1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or more, if preferred)
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. lite sour cream
2 Tbsp. fat-free half and half
Garnish: 2 Tbsp. lite sour cream + 1 Tbsp. chopped chives

In 3-quart heavy saute` pan, using medium heat, heat Smart Balance till it sizzles. Add fennel and shallots. Cook about 2 minutes; cover pan, reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes till fennel gets soft. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook another 2-3 minutes, stirring as needed to prevent burning. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper -- try adding about 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Turn heat to high and add wine. Let it bubble for 30 seconds or so, then add the broth and thyme. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste the soup and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Puree soup in blender or right in the pot with immersion blender. Reheat over medium-low heat and add Parmesan cheese, sour cream and half and half, stirring to blend well. Do not boil. Serve in bowls with 1 Tbsp. sour cream and 1/2 Tbsp. chives as a garnish for each bowl. Yield: 2 large servings.

Friday, August 8, 2008


This is about as easy as it gets. All I did for this piece of wild-caught salmon fillet was mix equal parts of Lawry's Louisiana Pepper Marinade with honey. I marinated the salmon in the mixture while the grill was heating, then grilled it, skin-side down, for about 8 minutes on a very hot grill (about 425F), till fish was just a little red inside. Served on a bed of fresh baby spinach, this was delicious. I had some left over, so I mixed it with leftover
seafood salad
for lunch the next day and enjoyed it again. Can't go wrong with salmon. It's so satisfying, so good for you and so yumm-o.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Last night, we had Paula Deen's crab cakes with lemon dill sauce, roasted cherry tomatoes and coleslaw. And I made some delicious sour cream corn muffins.

The roasted tomatoes were easy: just wash & cut cherry or grape tomatoes in half, toss lightly with salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Roast at 400F for about 15 minutes.

The corn muffins mix up quickly -- you don't even need to get the mixer out for these. They have a touch of sweetness to them -- it's like having dessert with your dinner. And whole grain cornmeal adds unbelievable flavor to these corn muffins. Starting the muffins off at 475F, then lowering the temp right away to 400F, puffs the muffins up and creates a nice crown. Try these -- you won't
be disappointed. Moist, flavorful and delicious -- a great recipe.

Sour Cream Corn Muffins
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1/4 cup self-rising cornmeal
1/2 cup whole-grain cornmeal (read the labels -- most are degerminated)
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 + 2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. lite sour cream
1/4 cup fat-free half and half
1 jumbo egg

Preheat oven to 475F. Lightly spray a 6-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and cornmeals. In a medium microwaveable bowl, melt butter. Cool slightly; whisk in sugar, sour cream, half and half and egg. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir with spatula just till barely combined. Don't overbeat and don't make it absolutely smooth. Leave some lumps and even a little flour showing. Batter will be thick. Spoon batter evenly into 6 muffin cups. Place in oven and immediately reduce heat to 400F. Bake about 14-17 minutes (Mine took 15 minutes), or till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs. Serve hot with butter or your favorite spread. Yield: 6 standard-size muffins

Monday, August 4, 2008


Joy of had this recipe on its website, and they looked pretty good. I love coffee and chocolate together, so I thought I would give them a try. The photo they showed was more of a milk-chocolate look, but in actuality, the muffins were very dark, not that it mattered. I like these a lot. They're not too sweet and they have a nice flavor. Like all muffins, they're quick and easy, and you don't even have to get out your mixer. While they're not my top fave, they're a good muffin recipe and a little
different with the chips and nuts.
The only disappointment I had was
with the white chips. I couldn't really
taste them. I think the other flavors just overpowered the delicate white chips. So, if I made these again, I would just use all semi-sweet chocolate chips and save my white chips for a recipe were they could shine. I made some changes to reduce the fat and sugar content, as usual. If you make these, watch the time closely because they get done more quickly than you think they will.

Mocha Muffins, Adapted
Rating: 8 out of 10
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk (I used what I had: 3/4 cup fat-free half & half + 1/4 cup lite sour cream)
3/4 cup safflower or canola oil (I used 1/4 cup melted butter+1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
1/2 cup strong black coffee (I used 2 Tbsp. coffee essence* + enough FF half&half to equal 1/2 cup)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder)
1 cup light brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup dark brown sugar + 1-1/4 tsp. Stevia)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 ts. sea salt
1 cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
(I used walnuts and did not toast them; should have)
1 cup semi-sweet and/or white chocolate chips (I used half of each, but better choice is all semi-sweet, since the white chips do not stand out in this recipe.)
Extra chocolate chips for tops of muffins
2 Tbsp. sugar for tops of muffins

Preheat oven to 475F. Position rack in center of oven. Spray 18 muffin wells with non-stick cooking spray; set aside. Have all ingredients at room temperature before mixing.
In large measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil (or melted butter and applesauce) coffee and vanilla extract.
In another large bowl, combine the flours, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until everything is just barely combined. Do not overmix -- don't look for a perfect batter, lumps and some flour showing are ok. Too much mixing makes a tough muffin.
Evenly fill the muffin wells with the batter, using about 1/4 cup for each. Sprinkle extra chocolate chips on top of muffins and top each with a sprinkle of white sugar. Place in the oven and immediately reduce heat to 350F. Bake 15-18 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted almost at center returns with just a few crumbs. (Mine took 16 minutes.) Let muffins sit in muffin tins for about 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Makes 18 regular-sized muffins.

Friday, August 1, 2008


I will continue to experiment with
pumpkin soup recipes simply because
it's what I do. But I doubt that I will ever find a recipe that tops this one. This is total pumpkin nirvana. And there's no need for cream in the soup. It can stand on its own. It's thick and creamy, and the mushrooms and Parmesan cheese are perfect complements. For dinner, we also had a rotisserie chicken (our own, not store bought) and grilled asparagus; but, honestly, all I wanted was this soup. And it's a breeze to make. Since I've still got about 5 packages of frozen butternut squash from last year, I didn't use fresh. You can use fresh or frozen cooked squash, or canned pumpkin. Really, try this soon.

Fantastic Fennel Pumpkin Soup
(by Margee Berry, Trout Lake, Washington)
Rating: 10 out of 10
3 tsp. olive oil, divided (I used more)
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced (I used more)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth, divided
1 (16-oz.) can pumpkin, or 2 cups
fresh or frozen butternut squash
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt to taste
2 cups chopped fresh shitake mushroom caps (I used cremini mushrooms and sliced them thin before frying)
2 oz. Parmesan cheese

1. Heat 2 tsp. (or more) olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add fennel and onion; cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 15 minutes. (I cooked the fennel & onion about 2 minutes, then covered and turned the heat to low. I cooked them on low for 15 minutes, but remember to check them still and possibly stir them.) Add garlic and cook 15-30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

2. Combine fennel mixture, 1 cup chicken broth and pumpkin in a blender. Puree until smooth, scraping down sides occasionally with a spatula.

3. Return fennel mixture to pan and add remaining 2 cups broth and thyme. Cook over medium-low heat 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt.

4. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon (or more) of oil and tilt skillet to coat bottom. Add mushroom caps and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

5. To serve, spoon soup into individual bowls and sprinkle with mushrooms. Using a vegetable peeler, shave cheese over each serving. Serves 6.