Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I am so happy about the miracle healing of our son's aneurysm that I that I decided to celebrate with a giveaway.  CSN Stores is helping me celebrate by sponsoring this event.  It was hard to pick two prizes from so many websites filled with great merchandise; but two valuable prizes stood out:  counter stools and cutting boards, both practical items that every kitchen needs.

The winner of this giveaway can select one prize from the following:

1. Winsome 24" counter stool in black finish OR

2.Totally Bamboo African Congo cutting board.  (Totally Bamboo African cutting boards received Cook's Illustrated highest rating, and this board is the largest size available.)

Click on the links above to see photos and description of products.

All you have to do to enter this giveaway is leave me any comment on this post.  PLEASE NOTE:  You do not need to have a blog to enter.  All you need is a Canadian or US mailing address to qualify. The comments must be on this post.  YOU CAN ENTER ONCE EACH DAY!

If you want an additional entry, click on one of the CSN links in the first paragraph above and leave a separate comment telling me which of their products is most interesting to you, including either the price or  identifying number of the item. You  can have as many additional entries as you want by making separate comments on other items that are interesting to you, including price or identifying number.

You can also have additional entries by visiting another blog  -- tell them about this giveaway, then leave me a comment telling me who you told (Name of blog and URL, please).  You can have as many additional entries as you want by making separate comments on blogs that you tell about the giveaway.  Be sure to list the name and URL of the blog when you leave your comment.

The more entries you have, the better your chance to win one of these great prizes. 

Contest will end March 31, and winner will be selected by random drawing.  Winner will be notified as soon thereafter as I can get to it. CSN will ship the selected prize to the winner -- only U. S. or Canadian addresses will qualify. 

Well, what are you waiting for?  Start entering now!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


San Diego is not one of my fave destinations, but on this trip we discovered Ocean Beach, and my perspective has changed.  This laid-back community has fiercely defended its right to boycott large chains, though 7-11 and Starbucks have managed to sneak in.  Restaurants and other stores are locally owned and operated, and OB'ers like it that way.  You can bike or walk your way around this beach area and, wherever you go, you'll meet friendly people, mostly dog owners, who will stop and chat.  Most of the restaurants are small and short on decor, with prices to match (at least for San Diego).  The streets always seem to be full of people, and it's fun to walk by the never-ending line outside of Hodad's, a long-time burger establishment that was listed as one of the top 5 burger places in the U.S. by CNN.  'Bohemian,' 'quaint,' 'quirky' -- you can use all these adjectives to describe OB.  I like to say, 'friendly,' 'unpretentious' and 'colorful.'  This is my new favorite place to be in San Diego. 

1.  The O'Bistro Cafe, (8.5 out of 10 stars) on Voltaire Street, is dog friendly.  Bowls of water are placed around and outside the restaurant, and dog biscuits are available.  If you want your pooch to dine with you, just order a doggie burger for $2.95.  The people menu doesn't change much here, and there's nothing haute cuisine, but the food is well prepared, well seasoned and delicious.  You can't go wrong with the fish tacos, whether you choose lobster, mahi mahi or shrimp.  A thin chipotle-ranch dressing with a sprinkle of finely grated Cotija cheese makes these special. Hot sauce, seasoned black beans and yellow rice on the side are perfect accompaniments. There's more than tacos to choose from.  The grilled salmon with dill sauce is offered with smashed garlic potatoes.  If you don't want potatoes, you can substitute mixed veggies.  Linguine with clam sauce comes with a dozen small clams, and the chef here knows how to make it to suit a die-hard italian food critic.  Pasta with pesto-gorgonzola sauce can be had with or without grilled chicken.   The menu also includes pork chops, steak, sandwiches, soups and desserts that we didn't try.  We would have eaten at this quaint, Bohemian restaurant every night, but we decided to move on to some other OB fave spots.

2. The Tilted Stick, (8.5 out of 10 stars) also on Voltaire, rather close to The O'Bistro, doesn't look too inviting from the outside.  It's a small sports-type dive bar/grill with a very limited menu.  Cheeseburgers with fries can be had for $5.50.  The wings are super crispy and popular, but the mahi tacos are one of the most popular menu items.  Two tacos, each with a palm-sized piece of grilled mahi mahi, sit on a bed of tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce and the usual taco stuff.  A double flour tortilla, grilled, is what holds each taco together, though you will feel like you need a bath when you get done eating.  These are my son's fave mahi tacos, and they are a super bargain at 2/$7.75.  No sides, but you don't need any with the amount of fish you're getting. Dogs are not allowed in because there is no outside patio, and the Board of Health nixes it.  There's not much ambience, either, but the bargain food prices more than make up for that.  And don't worry about food safety, because California food laws are strict.

3. Sapporo, (9 out of 10 stars) on Newport Avenue, is a small but popular Japanese restaurant with great sushi at very reasonable prices.  For about $20, you can order 3 rolls (enough for 2 people for dinner, or about 6 for appetizers).  The rolls come sliced into serving portions with a blob of wasabi paste, some pickled ginger strips and lite soy sauce.  You can request hot sauce, but the do-it-yourself mixture of soy and wasabi makes a perfect dipping medium for the sushi rolls.  The menu also mentions tempura, noodles and other typical Japanese fare, but who cares about those when all that great sushi is awaiting you.

4. Third Corner Wine Shop and Bistro, (9.5 out of 10 stars) on Bacon Street, brings that touch of sophistication that most OB restaurants lack.  You can still come in casual dress because this is OB, where everything is laid  back.  The menu, however, is seriously dressed up with some really good stuff.  The wait staff is friendly and accommodating.  The food is a bit pricier but still reasonable for San Diego. If you want wine, just pick a bottle from their store at regular retail prices and pay $5 to have it uncorked at the table.  The food is good.  So good that you had better make a reservation if you want to eat here because the secret is out and the lines get long.  

Pan-seared scallops with roasted potatoes and green beans in a white wine lemon sauce ($18) is so delicious, you will beg for more bread to sop up the yummy sauce. 

Grilled salmon, tomato and fennel confit and mashed potatoes ($16) is just as good as it sounds.

Mussels, topped with 3rd Corner fries and saffron aioli ($14) blew us away.  First off, it's a huge plate of mussels.  If the fries on top scare you (as it did us), you can skip them or get them on the side, or, as we did, sub a baguette that you can use to sop up the amazing sauce.  What's so great about this dish is the mussels.  We asked where they were from because they were unlike any mussels we've ever tasted.  Answer:  Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, where they are farmed, not wild.  Since they don't bury into the sand,   there's no grit, the flavor is sweet, mild and tender and we could eat these all day long.

Joao's Tin Fish Eatery and Pub, (8 out of 10 stars) located in Liberty Station, Point Loma, is a fairly new (1 year+) franchise restaurant in the Tin Fish chain.  Ocean Beach is a smaller neighborhood within Point Loma.  Just up the hill from OB, Point Loma is separated from it by more than distance.  It's an upscale historic area, with architecturally beautiful buildings, and the real estate and everything else is a bit pricier.  Joao's has a Portuguese bent, and I don't just mean the menu.  Films of Portuguese fishermen reeling in fish play on wide screens alongside regular TV.   The restaurant has caught on, kind of, with mixed reviews.  Some love it, some hate it.  It's reported to have THE best fish tacos anywhere.  It was the fish tacos we were after, till we got there and got sidetracked with the other menu items.  The bacon-wrapped crab-stuffed shrimp just sounded too good, as did the grilled salmon.  There were no disappointments here.  The ambience and food will be bringing us all back.  Expect to pay $15-$20 per entree and that will include two sides.  A delightful mesculin mix salad with house balsamic dressing counts as one side and you can have vegetables, potatoes, fries or coleslaw for the other.  Fish tacos are about $6 each and you can pick from cod, halibut, salmon, shrimp, eel and crab.  Though we didn't try any Portuguese dishes, we noticed several on the menu, and there's always next time.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Praise the Lord!  When the test was done today, the cath was inserted into Jim's artery, but couldn't go through.  It couldn't go through because the artery is totally clogged, and branch arteries had already formed to carry blood.  The aneurysm has disappeared on its own.  The doctor's words were, "Remarkable."  My words are "Miracle."  He needed no treatment and is being sent home.  He was told to have another MRI in 6 months in San Diego as a followup procedure.  No one has an answer for Jim's headaches, but the consensus of the Barrow neurosurgeons is that the headaches will dissipate in time. 

Many, many thanks to all of you who prayed.  Your prayers, and ours, were heard.  The answer was yes.

We're in the process of changing our flights.  Jim asked us to spend a few days in San Diego with him.  We should be back in New Bern by the end of this week or early next week, depending on what we can work out with airlines and hotels.  I'll try to find something interesting to report on while I'm out west. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Guy and Jim both arrived safely in Phoenix.  Today, Jim went through the usual pre-op tests -- blood work, x-rays, etc., followed by an appoinment with Dr. Spetzler.  Dr. Spetzler advised Jim that there is less than 50% probability that he can "clip" the artery.  Tomorrow morning, Jim  will be prepped for surgery and Dr. Spetzler will simulate clipping the artery to see if there will be sufficient blood flow.  If everything goes well, the procedure will be completed right then.  If there is not sufficient blood flow, a "wrap" will be done on Thursday.

The difference between the "clip" and the "wrap" is that the "clip" actually gets rid of the aneurysm, or, in Jim's case, at least part of the aneurysm.  His artery will be "clipped" in several places.  Since he needs the artery, it obviously can't be clipped at the bottom, or he would have no blood flow.  Instead, it will be clipped at the upper end probably above mid-point.  We're hoping that he has enough branch arteries developed to support blood flow, but we won't know until tomorrow.

In the meantime, Dad and son are having some good bonding time, while Mom played with food again.  I had a blast at the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation's Taste of Coastal Carolina tonight.  Andy Hopper, Chef of Chefs 105 Restaurant in Morehead City, won the Culinary Combat with his 3-course breakfast.  The mystery ingredients were ground pork, mushrooms, white hominy, and jicama.  Chef Hopper presented us with a delicious citrus-strawberry-jicama salad, followed by a perfectly cooked egg topped with perfectly seasoned sausage on a hominy biscuit accompanied by delectable creamed mushrooms.  All the chefs did a wonderful job, and I came away pleasantly filled.  Restaurant of the Year Award went to The Chelsea Restaurant.  Their barbecued shrimp and grits had everyone coming back for more, and they proudly took the 2010 trophy home. 

Tomorrow is a travel day for me.  I won't be getting into Phoenix till 7:15 EST (4:15 Phoenix time), so I'm not sure when I will post an update, but I will get to it as soon as I can.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Our son, Jim, called on Sunday to let us know that Ryan Westmoreland, a 19-year-old outfielder for the Boston Red Sox minors (and considered to be one of their best prospects), is scheduled to undergo brain surgery March 16 for an unusual congenital condition that carries significant risk of neurological damage and is potentially life-threatening.  After the Red Sox flew him around the country for consultations with three specialists, the decision was made to have surgery, which is to be performed by Dr. Robert Spetzler of  Barrow Neurosurgical Associates  in Phoenix, Ariz.  We were all heartened to hear that someone who could go anywhere in the world for treatment chose the same place that Jim is going to. Jim is having dreams about surgery: visions of doctors going into his brain with saws and saying that they have to go back in and do it again. Perfectly normal. He's actually handling it all quite well.

Ryan's condition, it should be noted, is different from Jim's.  Jim has a fusiform aneurysm, which means that the entire right branch of the main artery in the back of his head is widening.  A fusiform aneurysm is one of the most difficult to treat, and Jim's aneurysm is in a very sensitive part of his brain.  The neurosurgeon in San Diego told Jim his condition was untreatable and inoperable, since the artery is necessary.  Cutting it off would kill him.  Thankfully, Barrow has two options available for treatment and the method will be determined by a test that will be performed on Wednesday.

Guy left today and will meet up with Jim at the Phoenix airport.  They'll share a room tonight and tomorrow night before I arrive.  I'll fly to Phoenix on Wednesday. Guy brought the laptop with him, so I'll try to provide updates daily, if possible. (Tuesday night, I'll be one of the judges at a "Culinary Combat" event -- the main event at the annual Taste of Coastal Carolina, hosted by the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation.  There will be about 1,000 people in attendance and TV10, our local cable station, will be televising.  It should be fun, and I'm looking forward to it.  Last week, Larry Baldwin, the Neuse Riverkeeper and I were interviewed on the Phil Knight Show, a local talk show on Cable 10 TV and local radio.  Phil Knight was one of the judges last year.)  

Sunday, March 14, 2010



Peanut butter cookies are much like chocolate chip cookies, in that we never seem to tire of trying to find the perfect recipe.  There is no perfect recipe, I am convinced.  The foods we crave depend on our mood at the time.  My mood before making these cookies was pushing me towards change.  I have a favorite peanut butter cookie, a decadent, rich peanut butter cookie with crisp edges and a soft exterior full of deep flavor.  I also like Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies for their chewiness, Peanut Butter Coconut Krispie Cookies for their nicely crisp exteriors, and Take 5 Cookies for their  surprise ingredients.  017 This time

I wanted to use some maple syrup and cinnamon, and I’m so glad I did.  My favorite peanut butter cookies are still seated as the champ, but these cookies are definitely worth your  attention.  They’re slightly crisp on the edges and soft and tender inside without being cakey.  They’re also not  too sweet, even though they’re  rolled in cinnamon-sugar before baking.  Yep, I’ll eat these any day of the week, when my fave is not available.
Cinnamon-Maple Peanut Butter Cookies
Source:  Judy’s Kitchen
Rating:  9 out of 10
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/3 cup chopped salted peanuts
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

For rolling cookies:  1/2 tsp. cinnamon + 1/4 cup sugar

Heat oven  to 350F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In large bowl, beat peanut butter, sugar, and butter till well blended.  (I do this by hand so as not to overbeat the batter; but you may use an electric mixer on medium speed, if desired.)  Beat in syrup, vanilla and egg till well combined.  Gradually add dry ingredients, stirring by hand or on low speed of mixer.  Do not overmix.  Fold in peanuts and chips. 

Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough (about size of a golf ball) into hands, roll into ball, then into cinnamon-sugar.  (You can also use coarse sanding sugar for a nice effect.)009 Place on prepared pans and bake 12-14 minutes, or till toothpick inserted in center returns with just a few crumbs.  It is better to underbake rather than overbake these cookies. 
010 Let cookies cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to wire rack to finish cooling.  Do not eat for at least a half hour, because the nuts have to firm up. Yield:  about 20 (3”) cookies

Friday, March 12, 2010


Asparagus is great with Hollandaise sauce, or oven roasted, or just steamed; but I was very open to trying it in a different way.  Southern Living has again come to my rescue.  Get ready for spring with this wonderful new recipe from their March issue.
The pesto can be used for pasta, or as a spread on crostini.   And how about using it as a sandwich spread, in place of mayo?
It will definitely be at my next party as an appetizer, spooned onto crostini or baked pita wedges.
The original recipe is on the Southern Living website.  If you go there, be sure to also check out their recipe for Roasted Orange-Ginger Asparagus and Fresh Pistachio Vinaigrette.  The vinaigrette can be used as a drizzle over grilled asparagus, or over grilled salmon or other meat. 
I made a half-batch, to try the recipe out.  Since I didn’t have any pine nuts, I decided to use toasted walnuts.  Whole wheat pita was brushed lightly with olive oil and baked  at 400F for 5 minutes, till toasty, then cut into triangles.  My plan was to just taste one triangle.  A heaping tablespoonful of pesto went on top of one triangle, then some roasted red pepper pieces and about a tablespoonful of chopped cooked chicken.  It was so delicious that I decided to just have one more triangle…..till I ate it all.  Every bite was savored.  The flavors of this pesto are so balanced that there is no predominant flavor – it all just blends together into this fresh, light taste that screams, “Spring!”  
One last word:  I hope you have a small food processor for this.  My Braun has been indispensable, and though I get no compensation for saying this, I heartily recommend the Braun.  It’s not just an immersion blender.  The attachments, like the mini-food processor, have come in so very handy.  Easy to clean, easy to use, and one of my most-loved kitchen appliances.
Asparagus Pesto
Adapted Half-Batch, from Southern Living
Rating:  10 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  1/2 lb. fresh asparagus
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup toasted walnuts (or pine nuts, if preferred)
1/4 cup good-quality olive oil (I used Colavita Frutatto)
1/2 garlic clove
1-1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (not from a bottle, please)
1/4 tsp. sea salt, or to taste  (I used Celtic fine ground – excellent flavor)
Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus.  Cook asparagus in boiling water to cover 3-4 minutes or till crisp-tender; drain. 
Plunge asparagus into ice water to stop cooking process; drain again.  Coarsely chop.
Place all ingredients in work bowl of mini-food processor. 
Pulse 30 seconds to 1 minute, or till smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed.  Refrigerate till needed.  Yield:  about 1 cup

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


overnight oats (4)
Recently, I posted about cooking methods for steel-cut oats.  As much as I love steel-cut oats, sometimes the long cooking in the morning can be off-putting.  So I took some advice from the McCann website for a shortcut.  (They actually have several good tips worth reading.)  My mornings are less hectic now.  Setting up the oats the night before and briefly boiling them makes a huge difference.  And my oatmeal is creamier from the overnight soaking. 
There are a couple of things I do differently, though.  First, I add more water than what is normally called for.  This allows the oats to cook without drying out too much.  And secondly, I let the pot sit overnight on the burner (turned off, of course), instead of putting it in the fridge as McCann suggests. 
Overnight Steel-Cut Oats for One
Adapted from McCann’s Irish Oatmeal
Rating:  10 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  1/4 cup steel cut oats
1-1/2 cups water
Big pinch of sea salt

Bring oats, water and salt to a rolling boil in a 2-quart heavy pot over high heat.  Boil for several minutes, till oats start to thicken.  Turn heat off; cover pot; let sit overnight.  Next morning, stir pot; turn heat to high and bring oats to a boil; reduce heat to a low boil and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring as needed, or till oats are the consistency you like.  Double, triple or quadruple amounts for more servings.   
overnight oats (3)

Monday, March 8, 2010


Here’s an easy recipe for salmon.  You can cook it in the oven, but I prefer cooking mine on the grill.  The spices impart a smoky flavor with some heat; and the maple syrup adds that little touch of sweet. 

Mom and Dad’s Maple-Glazed Salmon
Adapted from Penzey’s
Rating:  8 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  4 (6 oz.) salmon fillets
1 tsp. Hungarian sweet paprika (Szeged, preferably)
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground ancho pepper (I used chipotle)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. brown sugar
About 1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. pure maple syrup (I used 1 Tbsp.)

Rinse fillets under cool running water; pat dry with paper towels.  Combine spices and sugar.  Sprinkle the fish with the sea salt; rub with the spice mixture.  Place salmon on broiler rack lined with tinfoil or coated with cooking spray.  Broil for 8-10 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.  Drizzle with maple syrup about 1 minute before fish is cooked. 

For grill:  Place salmon, skin side down, on hot grill (about 400-425F) over indirect heat.  Cook for about 8 minutes, or till fish is done.  (Note:  Salmon is best when it’s slightly undercooked, or red in the middle.  It will continue to cook as it sits.)

Saturday, March 6, 2010


 triple almond cookies (11)
If we’re honest, we’ll all admit to having fears.  One of mine was of almond butter.  I know it sounds silly, but every time I thought of trying it, I cringed at the thought of wasting almost $8 because I might not like it.  But, when I decided to conquer my fear, I discovered it was unfounded.  Almond butter rocks!  Right out of the jar, it’s wonderful.  But in these cookies, it’s even better.   

triple almond cookies
Now I must tell you that I’m not a big fan of thin cookies.  These cookies are not totally flat, but they are on the thin side.  And I love them.  They’re very crispy on the outside and soft and chewy inside if you underbake them slightly.  If you bake them longer, they’ll be crispy all the way through.  Either way, these are top-notch treats with a nice almond flavor (not too almondy, just right) and great texture.  The flavor of the almond butter gets bumped up with almond extract and chopped salted almonds or Dove Promise Hearts (dark chocolate almond).  If you make the cookies with the salted almonds, you’ll get slightly more almond flavor.  With the Dove Hearts, slightly less, but you’ll still taste almond.  And, though it’s not absolutely necessary, I recommend chilling the dough for 30 minutes to an hour before baking. 

If you’re like I was – fearful of almond butter – go ahead out and buy a jar and make these cookies.  You’ll be a regular customer, I promise you that. 

OR, make your own almond butter:  Put 1 cup or more almonds (whole, slivered, sliced or salted) in the work bowl of a food processor.  Pulse till it becomes a paste.  Measure out the required amount for your recipe and eat the rest like peanut butter.  So good!

Triple Almond Cookies
Source:  Judy’s Kitchen
Rating:  10 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour +1/2 cup bread flour (or just use 1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, if desired)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8  tsp. sea salt
1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup creamy almond butter, room temperature (I used Maranatha brand) 
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 tsp. almond extract
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup chopped salted almonds OR 1 cup Dove Promise Hearts (dark chocolate almond), chopped

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, whisk  butter and almond butter till well combined. 
triple almond cookies (2) 
Whisk  in sugar gradually.   
triple almond cookies (3) Whisk in egg and extracts, beating well.  
triple almond cookies (4) Switch to a spoon or spatula and stir in flour mixture.
triple almond cookies (5)
Stir in chopped salted almonds triple almond cookies (7) OR chopped Dove Hearts (they have almond chunks inside). 
triple almond cookies (6) 
Refrigerate dough 30 minutes to 1 hour.  If you're really rushed, go ahead and bake them without chilling.

When ready to bake cookies, heat oven to 350F.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup or ice cream scoop,
triple almond cookies (8) drop mounds of dough onto prepared pan, spacing each 3” to 4” apart, as they will spread. 

triple almond cookies (9) 
You can slightly push the mounds down with your fingers if you want, or leave them as is.  Bake 15-18 minutes.  To underbake, test with toothpick.  When it returns with some moist dough, remove cookies from oven and cool in pans about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Cookies will not look or feel done, but they will continue to cook when they are out of the oven.  Yield:  12 (4-1/2” to 5”) cookies.triple almond cookies (10)

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Years ago, I read that Jackie Kennedy always baked the President’s favorite dessert:  yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting.  At some point, I wondered if this is a guy’s dessert, because  I’ve never met a man who could resist a yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting. 

One of my web surfing excursions produced this recipe, made with strawberry buttercream.  I wanted to try the strawberry  buttercream, but had visions of all the cupcakes being uneaten.  My hubby is a yellow cupcake-chocolate frosting kind of guy.

First, let me say that these cupcakes were good.  They were all eaten with no regrets.  The problem is that Southern Living has trumped again with their outstanding Vanilla Cake Recipe.  When I want a really good vanilla cupcake, it’s the recipe I will go to, again and again.  SL’s cupcake is moister, sweeter, and has better flavor.  They use more butter, sugar and vanilla in relationship to flour; and they also use baking soda in addition to baking powder.  If you have sour cream you need to use up, go ahead and make these.  You’ll enjoy them.  But when you have milk or buttermilk, do yourself a favor and make Southern Living’s

Vanilla Sour Cream Cupcakes
Source:  Erin's Food Files and Perfect Cupcakes Rating:  7.5 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  1 cup low-protein flour (cake flour or White Lily All-Purpose)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup sour cream (regular or lite)

Heat oven to 350F.  Line a 6-cup muffin pan with liners. 

In small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together.  In a medium bowl, using a hand-held mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and sugar until light.  Beat in egg and vanilla till well blended.  Gradually beat half the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then half the sour cream; repeat with remaining dry ingredients and sour cream. 

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups.  Bake until tops spring back when lightly touched, or till toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs, about 19 minutes.  (Note that these won’t brown on top and will look undone.)  Cool in pan about 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.  Frost with Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Frosting or Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, or as desired.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


 pork sirloin roast (4)
There was a time when pork tasted like pork.  It is now so mass-produced and fat-reduced that there is no taste at all.  So why did I bother to buy this roast?  I wish I could intelligently answer that question.  One thing I can say:  My hubby and I are among the silent minority when it comes to meat.  We are very hard to please – which is why we age our own beef.  We want flavor in our meats.
Now that we have that out of the way, I can tell you that this is a good recipe.  I’ve said before that I don’t care for pork in the oven.  It tastes better when it’s done on the grill (to me).  But I did this in the oven.  We did not enjoy our dinner with this roast, but it did make some really good sandwiches the next few days.  I will not be buying another pork sirloin roast.
Honey, Garlic and Sage Pork Sirloin Roast
Adapted from
Rating:  8 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
1-1/2 Tbsp. fresh sage, minced
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 pork sirloin roast, about 1-1/2 lbs.
1 Tbsp. honey

Heat oven to 400F.  Combine oil, juice, garlic, sage and pepper and rub all over meat. 
pork sirloin roast (2)

Place meat in pie plate or foil-lined pan.  (I surrounded the meat with veggies, making this a one-pot meal.)  Roast for 30 minutes; remove meat from oven; brush meat with honey.  Return to oven and roast another 10-15 minutes, or till a meat thermometer registers 155F.  Let roast settle about 10-15 minutes before serving.  Refrigerate leftovers.  Yield:  4-6 servings

Slice cold pork thinly for sandwiches.  For each sandwich, combine about 1 Tbsp. pesto, 2 tsp. mayonnaise and 3 Tbsp. avocado, mixing well with spoon or fork.  Use as a thick sandwich spread.  Top pork slices with roasted red peppers and shredded lettuce or spinach.
pork sirloin roast