Archive | June 2013

Chocolate Cherry Cake




Super-easy cake. I’m sure once I start pastry school this fall I won’t be using box mixes anymore… sigh. They really are so easy. This has a spongy texture, but super-moist.

1 box chocolate cake mix

1 can cherry pie filling

2 eggs

1 tsp extract. I used 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. raspberry. Hey I didn’t have strawberry, close enough. I also use it with the vanilla because I think the vanilla helps round out the flavor and it isn’t too berry-ish. Is that a word? LOL  🙂

Beat eggs with fork and then mix in the other ingredients. Don’t over-stir, just until mixed. Pour into a greased bundt pan and bake @350 for 35 minutes or until done. I topped with a chocolate glaze, but you can use frosting if desired. Glazes are easy and can be made with chocolate chips and heavy cream or butter, and about 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract. Make sure if you use a glaze to pour it on while cake is still warm.

Asian Salad


This salad is so delicious. It was a huge hit in our home. It’s probably not the healthiest as it uses ramen noodles, but considering it serves 10 I’m not so concerned about it. It is an awesome dish to make for a summer gathering. I modified it somewhat in that I used 1/2 cup oil instead of 3/4 cup. I also roasted the slivered almonds in the oven @350 for about 8 minutes, but be sure to watch as they can go from golden to burnt very quickly. I also cooked the dry noodles up in a pan with 2 TBL of butter until golden, too. I used one of the chicken flavor packets that came with the ramen, but go by what tastes good to you.

Kohlrabi, Red Potatoes and Garlic Scape Bake

Don’t be snobby, try kohlrabi… LOL. Kohlrabi, red potatoes and garlic scapes baked with a bit of parmesan. Each week I come home with so many yummy veggies from a local farm where we purchased a CSA share. If you don’t know what that is it is basically where you pay, up front, a set amount of money, depending on what size you determine is right for your family, and then you get to pick up fresh veggies from usually June until about the beginning of November. This week we got a vegetable I had never heard of before… the kohlrabi, which is a member of the cabbage family. I also was able to try garlic scapes, which are the tops of the garlic bulbs. I’m 47 and there are vegetables I’ve never tried, let alone even heard of. After peeling the kohlrabi (1 the size of an onion) and the red potatoes (6) and cutting up the scapes (about 1/2 cup), I threw them into a pot of boiling water for about 15 minutes. After draining I mashed them using a handheld masher and mixed in sea salt, pepper and onion powder. Put into an oven safe dish and top with some shredded parmesan and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, and garnish with parsley when done. It is an awesome way to have mashed potatoes. Enjoy  🙂

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Baby Spinach and Peppers with Alfredo Sauce


This idea struck me out of the blue. I LOVE big, juicy portobello mushrooms. A lot. First, I marinated them for a few hours, sans stems, in olive oil, oregano, garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Save the stems, cut, and sauté; they’re awesome and shouldn’t be wasted. Next, I grilled the mushroom concave side up, and then flipping them, I dumped the liquid on the ones I already flipped over. I used the indirect-grilling method so as not to have flare-ups from the olive oil. Then, I spooned in a small amount of Alfredo sauce. You can use homemade or store-bought, your choice. Finally, I topped with a mixture of baby spinach and diced bell peppers. You can just load everything, and grill if you want, or bake, or broil, whatever. I just prefer grilling the mushrooms first; but that’s just one of my little quirks. They taste awesome and make such a pretty and colorful presentation. Marinating the mushrooms really makes this dish though 🙂

Chicken Cordon Bleu


There I was pounding the chicken breasts in the kitchen when my 20-yr-old son asks what I was doing because he couldn’t hear the TV. Gasp. Heaven forbid. I don’t really care because I haven’t watched TV in over two-years, seriously. However, when I said I was beating the meat there was instant silence, not a word, nada. I have finally found a way to shut an older child up… LOL.

After flattening the breasts I put in one slice of Boar’s Head Black Forest ham, some Monterey Jack cheese because I was out of Swiss, and then rolled them up and tied with kitchen twine. You can use toothpicks, but I prefer to tie them up. Besides, the kitchen twine only gets used at Thanksgiving. Coat in flour to which I added a package of Good Seasonings Italian dry dressing mix. After browning in butter on both sides on medium-high heat I added 3/4 cup white wine. I used a Sauvignon Blanc because that is what white wine I happened to have on hand. I also added about a tsp of chicken base paste. I suppose you could use granules. Cover and cook on low for about 20-minutes. Remove chicken and add 1 cup of heavy cream to which 1 TBL of cornstarch was previously added and stirred together. Bring it to a boil and remove from heat. I also tossed in some minced garlic and parsley before spooning over the little golden chicken pockets. Mmm, mmm, good 🙂

My Kids are Food Snobs


I can’t remember the last time I bought a fast-food meal for my kids. I pride myself on making almost everything homemade. I even make homemade cream of mushroom/celery/chicken in concentrate instead of using the canned stuff. My kids, ages 16, 20, and 21 have eaten almost every type of meat available, every herb and almost every spice. They’ve tasted pretty much most cuisines and don’t shy away from new things. I don’t make them eat something they don’t like, but I do insist that they at least try it. Tonight, it has all come back to bite me in the ass. Someone posted a recipe on Facebook that used the refrigerated crescent rolls (I usually make my own potato crescent rolls) and a mixture of shredded chicken, shredded cheese, cream cheese, green onions and bacon. I rarely, and I mean like twice a year, use bacon. I drove to the market and schlepped into the store, loaded up the few ingredients to make a simple dinner tonight so that I could go home and take a super-hot, epsom-salt bath, and read the end of my steamy novel. It’s okay taking the “easy way” and using shortcuts, right? I bought a rotisserie chicken, which I must say was really good by itself. As I’m mixing up everything in a bowl one son walked in and asked what kind of cheese I was using. SCREECHING STOP… what? “Well, I think swiss and cheddar would be good, but please don’t use American. I’m not fond of it, and I don’t think it will be good in it.” Well okay, sounds like good advice, but I already had some American cheese shredded, and surely he wouldn’t notice it, right? <biting nails>.  A second son strolls into the kitchen and asks why I’m putting cream cheese in it. Reasonable question, but I don’t know, the recipe says so and that’s the story I’m sticking with. The kitchen is starting to smell really good at this point, really good. Damn good, actually.

The results: My kids are FOOD SNOBS.

They didn’t like it. It was too cheesy, too creamy. “Why does it all taste the same.” “What herbs are in here?” one son asks. Um, none, I reply. I hear a snort as feet shuffle out of the kitchen. This is a meal that they all would have loved a couple years ago. Every single one of them. But NOOOOOO, these are kids that are used to stuffed portobello mushrooms, prime rib, rack of lamb, stir-fried local veggies, roasted asparagus and cauliflower, and fiddleheads picked from a friend’s property. Next time they can make a peanut butter sandwich when I feel the need for a quick and easy dinner. All in all, I’m glad my kids have good taste in food and know the difference in quality of things. So, if I have to skip some of the great looking quick recipes I find on Pinterest, well, so be it. Here is the original recipe that I used. I’m sure it’s fine, but not for my budding Julia Child and Emeril Legasses.

Avocado Massaged Salad


Oh yes I did say that. I massaged my lettuce.  This salad is delicious and doesn’t need any dressing because the avocado is dressing enough. I had some fantastic lettuce that I got from our local farm as part of a CSA share I purchased. It is pesticide and GMO free. Can’t get much better than that. Cut one or two avocados in half and then using clean hands simply squeeze the fleshy avocado part, minus pit and peel, over the bowl of lettuce. Use your hands to massage it into all the lettuce. Time to roll up your sleeves and get messy. Totally brings back memories of playing with my food as a kid. A spoon simply will not do. Add whatever other salad-fixins you want. I usually squeeze a bit of lemon over it, too, and toss in some coarsely-ground pepper. If you add some chopped up onions and tomatoes then it’s almost like guacamole on your salad. Add nuts, seeds, croutons, whatever. Simple, yet really, really tasty 🙂

Baked Tortilla Bowls (no oil)


So, I found a set of tortilla bowl molds, and knew that I had to pick them up. I think it was $10 for the set. What is awesome about these is that you put tortillas in them, bake at 375 for about 15 minutes and you get a hard taco-shell bowl to fill to your hearts content. No oil. None. You can use any kind of tortilla that you want… white or whole wheat flour both work fine. I would recommend bringing them to room temp first or they will crack. You can do this quickly by wrapping in a damp towel and microwaving for a few seconds, but not too long or they’ll dry out. Yes, you can use corn tortillas too. I know, it’s EXCITING!!!! You can also use any size tortilla you want. I went with a 6″ flour and you can see the size it made. You can also use an 8″ or 10″ tortillas for much bigger bowl all from the same mold. This is wonderful. I happened to have lentils that were in my fridge and I spiced them up Mexican-style with taco seasoning and the kids were none the wiser, but to be fair, my kids like pretty much everything so… I bought my set locally, but you can get them on Amazon. Here is the link 🙂

Double Chocolate Brownie Cake

Double Chocolate Brownie Cake

I made an incredibly yummy, and oh so super-moist, brownie cake in a bundt pan. Unfortunately, my iPhone camera left much to be desired and the colors just came out… wrong. So, I’m sharing the link with amazing pictures on it. I substituted Kahlua for the water and it came out great, still mildly flavored, but yummy nevertheless. You can sub any liquor or even milk for the water. Mix and match and have fun. This is an extremely moist and very gooey brownie cake. It is more dense than a typical cake. It’s, well, brownie-like just ramped up a bit  🙂

Fiddleheads – Spring is in the air


Oh, I love this time of year so much. Why? Because fiddleheads are available for roughly a two-week window. If you’ve never had fiddleheads then you simply must try them. If you like vegetables, you’ll love them. Fiddleheads are the tightly-furled frond of a fern leaf before it, well, before it unfurls. I’d describe them as having a very mild asparagus or green bean taste; very mild, mind you. First, I soaked them to get all the bits of dirt out of them, and then boiled for about 7 minutes. Afterwards, I drained and sautéed in olive oil, butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Mmmm, delicious. I’ve heard that if you don’t steam/boil them first that you can get stomach cramps as they might be too hard to digest. I don’t know if that’s true or not; I just continue to do it the way I was taught. Next time I might try roasting them. Roasting is my favorite way of preparing most veggies. I served them with sausage stuffed Portobello mushrooms and crispy chicken cutlets, my husband’s favorite chicken EVER 🙂 Have a BEAUTIFUL evening 🙂