Monday, October 24, 2011

Oatmeal Peach Cobbler: rediscovery

oatmeal peach cobbler

I recently had a large box of peaches on my kitchen counter that needed to be eaten (they’re gone now…. and oh how I miss them.)  I flipped through some of my recipe notebooks and rediscovered this recipe for Oatmeal Peach Cobbler.  I had forgotten how much I loved it.  Especially when it is piping-hot from the oven. 

Now I have a large box of apples, and I’m wondering if an Oatmeal Apple Cobbler would be just as lovely.  hm…..

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pesto Panini

Come to find out that this bread makes a mean panini.  So. Very. Good.  Add a little pesto, some fresh mozzarella and a few slices of tomatoes from your garden and you have an easy dinner.

Another version we had was with pesto and some leftover grilled vegetables (zucchini, onions, red peppers.)  They were amazing. 

pesto panini

For the kids I use the same bread, spread it with a little (usually leftover) spaghetti sauce, add some fresh mozzarella and call them “pizza paninis.”  They love them.

panini grill

P.S.  I love my panini press.  It is one of my most-used kitchen tools in the summer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Favorite New Treat (that won’t make me sick)

raw chocolate shake

I don’t eat a lot of dairy.  I can’t eat it.  It makes me quite sick. 

Not many years ago I had no such problem, and enjoyed a daily (oh yeah) bowl of ice cream.  I miss my daily bowl of ice cream. 

Last week I was perusing my friend’s raw food blog and came across her recipe for a dessert chocolate shake.   I had all of the ingredients so I thought I’d try it out.  (Well, I didn’t have the raw cocoa powder so I subbed in the regular stuff.)  I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical so I only made a half-recipe at first.  It was delicious!  Amazingly creamy.  I’m a big fan now and since last week I’ve made four or five more.  It’s hard to share, but I do – and everyone else loves this shake too.

Angela recently gave a mini class about raw food.  Here’s a link to some notes from her presentation.  She also brought yummy samples for Raw Milk Chocolate Fudge and a creamy Apple Salad.  Really, really good.

Want to know more about eating raw?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cheesy Enchilada Stack

My local grocery store has started doing something which I think is akin to brilliance.  Each week they feature two recipes, and in a certain section of the store they have stacked everything you need to create the recipe – including a paper bag w/ handles to tote it all away in. 

Just today as I was bagging some onions, I saw two shoppers stop and grab that brown bag and a copy of the recipe.  Now, the recipes they feature are often not much my style, but I think the idea is a great one, and a much-needed one.  Even when I am on my A-game with meal planning  I still have days – maybe once each month - when I have to make a quick dash to the store to get something for dinner.  And of course there are always those that wander the aisles of the grocery store searching for some inspiration as to what to make for dinner all week. 

enchilada stacker 1

This recipe was one that was featured a couple of weeks ago.  When I saw it I thought my kids would like it, but that I probably wouldn’t.  Some dinners are like that you know.  Anyway…  I loved it.  Kids loved it.  Grandparents loved it.  I made it once more the next week, tweaking a few things and we liked it even more. 

What I loved:  It’s a quick meal using things I usually have around the house.  It’s a great substitute for taco-night (which my toddler is NOT a fan of.)  The leftovers are great the next day for lunch.  It’s flexible ( try subbing in red enchilada sauce, use ground turkey or shredded chicken, add in some diced green peppers & tomatoes, swap the refried beans for some mashed up black beans….) 

There’s a version here and here

Here’s the original recipe that I used

This is MY favorite version:

Cheesy Enchilada Stack

1 lb lean ground beef (as lean as I can find)
1 (10 oz) can green enchilada sauce
6 (10-inch) flour tortillas
8 oz shredded Monterrey Jack cheese (cheddar is fine if that’s what you have)
1 (16 oz) can refried beans
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles (mild)

preheat oven to 400 degrees

Brown ground beef in a skillet.  Remove from heat and drain off any fat.  Add 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce to the ground beef and stir.  Set aside. 

Layer 1:  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  Place one tortilla on baking sheet.  Top with 1/3 of the beef mixture and 1/4 cup of the cheese. 

Layer 2:  add a tortilla to the stack and spread with half of the refried beans, half of the diced green chiles, 1/4 cup of cheese about 3 Tablespoons of enchilada sauce.  Spread evenly.

Layer 3:  add a tortilla, 1/3 of the beef mixture and 1/4 cup of cheese.

Layer 4:  add a tortilla and spread with remaining refried beans, remaining green chiles, 1/4 cup cheese and 3 –4  Tablespoons enchilada sauce.  Spread evenly.

Layer 5:  add a tortilla, remaining beef mixture and 1/4 cup cheese. 

Top with last tortilla.

Cover entire stack with foil.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until filling is hot.  Remove foil.  Top with 3-4 Tablespoons enchilada sauce and remaining cheese.  Bake for another 5 minutes until cheese is melted.

To serve, cut the stack into wedges.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Baked Lemon Chicken with New Potatoes and Vegetables

lemon chicken 2

This recipe is one of our family’s newest Sunday favorites:  Baked Lemon Chicken with New Potatoes and Vegetables.  For me, it is a perfect Sunday dinner.  It’s easy, it is flexible AND it’s delicious (the kids love it!)  Good combo. 

Even if you’re not a big fan of lemon, there’s a good chance you’ll like this one.  It’s not overly-lemony.  In fact, you are in control of just how lemony this meal will be.  I prefer to include every.  last.  bit.  of the lemon/olive oil mixture  - once everything is in the pan I pour the remaining sauce over the top.  This last time I also added some fresh thyme right as it came out of the oven.  Delightful!

lemon chicken 1

The recipe calls for new potatoes, carrots and green beans.  Don’t have new potatoes?  You can substitute whatever you have.  The red skins on the new potatoes are lovely in the finished dish, but don’t make a special trip to the grocery store just for cute little red-skinned potatoes.  I also don’t usually have baby carrots on hand.  No biggie – cut up regular carrots.  This last week I also didn’t have green beans, so instead we opted for a spinach salad and roasted asparagus on the side. 

spinach salad

The asparagus was a quick add-on….  rinse and trim the asparagus.  put a square of foil on a baking sheet.  Add asparagus, add 2 tsp or so of olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Put the asparagus in the oven right along with the Lemon Chicken – just for the last 8-10 minutes or so.  Set the table, make the spinach salad, pull everything from the oven and voila!  Dinner is served.

asparagus 1

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rustic Pan Bread (part 2)

rustic pan bread 2

My current favorite:  Rustic Pan Bread.  The recipe can be found here, although there are no “after” pics on that post.  I love, love love this bread.  So fast.  So easy.  No kneading. 

rustic pan bread 1

In these photos I topped the bread with some melted butter, rosemary, garlic powder and a pinch of kosher salt.  Next time I’m trying some thinly sliced tomatoes before baking, and a sprinkle of fresh basil when it comes out of the oven.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Heavenly Chocolate Mousse

choc mousse 1

This stuff is amazing.  Rich.  Very rich.  But oh so good.  It doesn’t make a lot, so if you’re needing to serve more than 5 or 6 people then make a double batch.  I made the recipe as-is, and I would recommend reading some of the reviews – there’s a lot of great tips in there (for instance, how to properly whip cream without over-beating.) 

link to recipe for Heavenly Chocolate Mousse

choc mousse 2

Friday, February 11, 2011

Have You Tried Barley?

As I mentioned a few days ago, I love barley.  Love.  I thought you might like to know more about this under utilized grain.

  • Barley is the fourth largest grain crop after wheat, rice and corn. It is grown all over the world
  • Barley is a great source of dietary fiber and contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.
  • Barley is naturally cholesterol-free and low in fat.  A 1/2-cup serving of cooked pearl barley, a typical grain serving, contains less than 1/2 gram of fat and only 100 calories
  • Barley is generally available in its pearled, hulled and flaked form (pearled barley is probably the easiest to find – any grocery store should carry it)
  • Store barley in a tightly covered container in a cool, dry place

I read somewhere that you can grind the barley to make barley flour.  It has a weaker gluten than wheat flour, so you can only use barley flour to replace one quarter (or less) of the regular flour in yeast bread recipes.  In other recipes (like pancakes, muffins or banana bread) it can replace up to half of the regular flour.  One of the things I love the most about barley is the wonderfully, nutty flavor so I can imagine that I would love it in some banana muffins or some Sunday afternoon waffles.   

Want to try barley?  These soups are on my “recipe testing” list:




Want to read more?

Why Barley Makes the Best Breakfast

The World’s Healthiest Foods: Barley

Barley Foods: Heath and Nutrition

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Spy…

vday suckers
[photo from Pleasant Home]

Jodi over at Pleasant Home has some great Valentine’s Day treat ideas.  I just love these candy cane lollipops!

v day treats in creamer
[photo from Pleasant Home]

On a side note:  sometimes I think it’s unfortunate that our kids can’t take homemade treats to school anymore.  I really do understand the reason for the policy, but when Valentine’s Day rolls around it seems quite lamentable.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Vegetable Beef Soup with Barley

When I think about all of the Sunday afternoons of my childhood, what comes to mind is our lunches:  soup and sandwiches.  I’m not sure just how often we actually ate it, but from where I stand now it seems like it was pretty much every week.  It was always the perfect just-home-from-church meal.  Having soup and sandwiches for lunch meant a can or two of some variety of Campbell’s soup and grilled cheese sandwiches slathered with honey.  Yes, I said honey.  Not just any honey.  Raw honey from Wyoming.  Amazing.  Ah but I digress.  This post is about soup.

As a kid, there were only one or two soups that I cared for.  I was never a big fan of chicken noodle, unless it was mom’s homemade soup with dad’s noodles from scratch.  Over the years my tastes would change, but for most of that time my favorite soup was Campbell’s Vegetable Beef.  I loved the soft chunks of carrots and bits of potato, but mostly I loved, loved, loved the barley.  I would try to scoop out as much barley as I could without being obvious about it.

Over the past few years I’ve made my own version of Vegetable Beef soup, changing the ingredients depending on what was in the pantry.  The only “recipe” that I had was a scribbling of what herbs to add and what the barley-to-broth ratio should be.  When I got a few requests for the recipe I decided to write it down and make it official.

One of the things I do love about this soup is how flexible it is.  I’ve tried different combinations of vegetables (see the notes section at the end of the recipe) and it’s always great.  If I’m wanting more of a stew I’ll only add in two cans of beef broth (plus the one cup of water.)  The barley soaks up the liquids and makes a lovely thick and hearty soup.  To stretch the soup (or if I’m serving a crusty loaf of bread along side) I’ll add in the third or even a fourth can of beef broth – perfect for sopping up with the bread!

Vegetable Beef Soup with Barley

1 lb stew meat **
2-3 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
2 or 3 (14.5 oz) cans beef broth (total about 5 to 6 cups)
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
4 carrots, sliced
1 small onion, large dice/small chop
1-2 stalks of celery, large dice/small chop
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup pearl barley (use 3/4 cup if you LOVE barley)
1 small zuchinni, large dice/small chop
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Cut meat into 2-inch chunks.  Place flour in a large ziplock bag.  Add in beef chunks and shake to coat with flour.  Heat oil in large dutch oven or soup pot, over medium high heat.  Remove beef chunks from ziplock (shaking gently to remove excess flour) and place in hot pot.  Brown beef on one or two sides.  (What you’re doing here is developing flavors, NOT cooking the beef.)  Add 1 cup of beef broth to the pot, and use a spoon to scrape up bits on bottom of pan (that’s called fond and it adds wonderful depth of flavor to your soup.)  Add the canned tomatoes and the rest of the beef broth.  Cover and simmer (not boil!) on medium-low for 1 hour. 
Add onion, carrots, celery, barley, zucchini, thyme, and bay leaf (all remaining ingredients except peas) and 1 cup of water.  Simmer on medium-low for 1 hour or until beef and barley are tender.  Taste soup and add salt and pepper to your liking.  Add peas and simmer for 5 additional minutes to heat through.


I rarely buy meat that is cut and marked as “stew meat.”  It is usually more expensive because you are paying for the butcher to cut it up for you into nice little pieces.  I watch for large roasts to go on sale and then I buy several.  I cut them up myself and then freeze them into 1 lb packages – perfect for soups and stews!

For the vegetables in this soup you can really use anything.  Try adding small potato chunks, frozen/canned corn, frozen/canned green beans and even mushrooms.  My favorite though is the combination I used in the recipe above.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Orange / Lemon Brownies

I tried this recipe for Orange Brownies a couple of weeks ago.  Of course I can’t leave a recipe alone, so I tried them with lemon instead of orange.  The lemon version was just okay – I found myself wishing they were just regular (and delicious) lemon bars.  Next time I’m sticking with the original orange version. 

Here is a link to a gluten free version of orange brownies.  I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t comment on this recipe.

By the way, I saw them first here.  Thanks Jodi!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Menu No. 115

MondayRobyn’s Roast, brown rice
Tuesday -  Sloppy Joe Sliders, fruit salad, oven fries
Wednesday – Taco Bar! (Chicken or beef tacos with all of the topping options)
ThursdayFajita Chicken Quesadillas
Friday – eat out
Saturday – let’s be honest.  We’ll probably eat out. 
Sunday – Chicken Piccata (I’ll make this version, although there’s a alternative version here.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Speaking of Spices...

There's an interesting article over on the Jacob's Cove blog.  Even though it mentions specific stores here in our local area, I'm sure with a little bit of investigation you could find bulk spices where you live as well.  Some friends of mine have also gone in together to purchase bulk spices and herbs from the San Fransisco Herb Co.

Have a great weekend everyone!


Friday, January 7, 2011

In my opinion…

Isn’t there a Seinfeld quote to go with pretty much every situation? 

Kramer: “A hot bowl of mulligatawny would hit the spot.”
Elaine: “Mulligatawny?”
Kramer: “Yes, it’s a delightful Hindu concoction simmered to perfection by one of the great soup artisans in the modern era.”

That has to be one of my all-time favorite episodes.  Ever.

Last year on a visit to one of our favorite local eateries I decided to try a bowl of Mulligatawny.  It immediately became one of my favorite soups.  It’s thick and hearty, filled with chunks of vegetables, and has just enough kick to warm you up.

I’m currently on the hunt for a perfect mulligatawny.  This recipe comes close – it has a lot of nice qualities.  First of all, I love the flavor – all of those amazing spices- oh so yummy.  I also love the creaminess of the soup.  That comes from the cream of course, but also the rice and the potato.  As the soup simmers some of the potato chunks dissolve a little and the rice continues to soften until it all blends together into creamy goodness.  In fact, I think next time I’ll try omitting the cream and adding another potato (diced small) to see if that will do the trick.  A dairy-free soup is a good thing around here.

One more thing I love about this recipe is the fact that it uses cooked chicken.  I tossed some boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the crockpot last night and left them alone for about 2 1/2 hours.  I pulled them out, cut them into chunks and then put all of that in the fridge – ready for today’s soup.  Another option is to use up the leftovers from that roast chicken you had on Sunday.  The amount of chicken in this soup can be flexible – it calls for 3 lbs, but you could do less.  I really wouldn’t add more than 3 lbs or you’ll just end up with more of a casserole consistency.

This mulligatawny recipe was originally found here, but I’ve made some tweaks so I’ll type it up below.

Mulligatawny Soup
(12 servings)

2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp garam masala
pinch of cayenne pepper (add up to 1/4 tsp if you like the heat)
3 lbs cooked chicken, chopped
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 large onions, chopped
3-4 carrots, diced
2 leeks, thinly sliced (white part only)
11 cups chicken stock (stock is best, but I used canned broth and it was great)
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup long grain rice (uncooked)
1 large (or 2 medium) potato, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup heavy cream
chopped cilantro (for garnish)

Combine minced garlic with all of the spices (cumin, cloves, curry powder, ginger, cayenne pepper, garam masala) and set aside.  In a large pot (and I mean LARGE) heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat.  Add celery, onions, carrots and leeks and saute until veggies are crisp-tender (about 5-8 minutes).  Add garlic and spices and stir to coat the vegetables.  Continue to saute for another 2 or 3 minutes – the garlic and spices will become fragrant.

Add in all 11 cups of chicken stock and rice.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add potato chunks.  Simmer for another 10 minutes or until potatoes and rice are softened.  Add lemon juice and cream and heat through over medium-low heat.  Taste soup and add salt and pepper and additional curry powder and cayenne pepper if you would like. 
Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Orange, Walnut & Feta salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

Oranges are just so lovely and delicious right now.  I saw them all heaped up at the grocery store yesterday,  just calling my name.

Today for lunch I combined some orange segments with romaine, thinly sliced red onions, toasted walnuts and crumbled feta.  I tossed it all in a fresh citrusy vinaigrette.  It brought just a bit of sunshine to an otherwise cold and wintery day. 

Citrus Vinaigrette

2/3 cup fresh orange juice
2-3 Tablespoons granulated sugar (depending on the sweetness of the oranges)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
salt & pepper

In a bowl or a jar with a lid (I use a mason jar) add all ingredients except salt & pepper.
Shake (or whisk) to combine.  Taste, and add salt and pepper.