Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Apple Raspberry Mini Pies

341.  Fall has arrived and the harvest of summer fruits is winding down.  And, a pie is always a good idea!   So tonight, it is Mini Apple Raspberry Pies...a little taste of summer and a little taste of fall.  

Apple Raspberry Mini Pies

3 Apples peeled, cored and cut in chunks
1 cup of fresh red raspberries (never rinse)
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1 tsp of apple pie spices or cinnamon
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tblsp butter
1 recipe of pie dough

Prepare the apples and mix with the sugar, corn starch, spices and lemon juice.  Mix together and set aside.  Roll out the pie dough till 1/4" thick and cut out circles or squares large enough to fit into  each space in a muffin pan and trim to fit.  Fill each dough cup with the apples and juices from the bottom of the mixture.  Top each apple pile with 5 or so raspberries. 
Roll remaining dough out 1/4" thick and cut round, square or cookie cutter shapes for each mini pie top.  Dot the apples with butter and place the cut shape on top of the apples.  No need to seal.  Brush with milk or heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees till the liquid is bubbling, about 20 -25 minutes.  Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

I topped off the pie with an autumn leaf cut out from my pie dough.
 Go out and enjoy the fall by picking apples or pumpkins.  Try baking something for your family and enjoy the simple pleasures of homemade goodies.
All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope."
~ Winston Churchill

Friday, September 29, 2017

Pineapple Scones

340.  This morning I made a batch of scones for brunch and used a vegan recipe from my daughters vegan cookbook "Frugal Vegan" by the Katies.  Here is a great review for this cookbook at Well Vegan.  After major surgery six weeks ago I'm finding that eating vegan and vegetarian is agreeing with me in the healing process.

These scones are made with fresh pineapple.  The recipe calls for canned but the fresh fruit adds so much more flavor to this recipe.  You can find the full recipe on-line Here

Pineapple Scones 
(My version)

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp coconut oil, measure and place in freezer first

Cut a ripe pineapple and chop 8oz (1 cup) into small pieces, set aside

Preheat oven to 425 degrees  Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet

1/4 cup almonds, slivered or chopped coarsely, set aside
Brown sugar

In a large bowl mix together:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In small measuring cup combine:
3/4 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup nondairy milk (almond, coconut etc)
Allow the milk to sit and curdle, then add:
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Remove the frozen coconut oil from the freezer and cut it into small pieces. (I did this in the dry mixture bowl).  Place it into the dry mixture and cut the coconut oil into the dry mix till incorporated.  Be careful not to handle it too much so the coconut oil melts.
Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients a little at a time.  Then add the pineapple stirring till completely combined.

Carefully transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead gently to incorporate all the dry flour remaining.  Shape into a 12" x 12" square and cut in half, quarters then triangles.  Or use a cookie cutter to cut shapes.  Place each scone onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Spray with olive oil cooking spray, sprinkle each top with brown sugar and almonds.

Bake for 10 minutes or till the scones are high and lightly browned.

"Another name for vegan, fat-free, sugar-free brownies...compost."
~ Anonymous

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Lemon Blueberry Poundcake & Pink for Baby Girl

339.  I't's a Girl!  was our theme for a Baby Shower recently.  The mom and dad love succulents so I went with a rustic romantic theme with pink being the dominant color.  I spray painted these little clothespins, pencils and also spray painted mason jars with pink and gold.  
Cut slices of wood and handmade doilies added rustic romantic to each centerpiece with pink roses, terra cotta pots and candles.  The doilies are my collection from my grandmother, mother and mother-in-law's handiwork.  
Our meal was lite and so perfect for a summer afternoon:  Chicken Salad on King Hawaiian's mini rolls, Fresh Fruit Parfaits, Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake recipe Here which was amazing! Veggies and Dip, Crackers and Cheese and Cream Puffs.
Our favors were White Chocolates in a Brazilian handmade rosette.
And a special gift I decided to encourage was for the ladies, who crochet or knit, to make a small square 4" X 4" in any design using the yarn I provide.  They had a month to make as many squares as they desired and then to return them to me for construction of a baby blanket.  There were 12 ladies that participated and each and every square was so unique.  Some were very elaborate and others were perfectly plain.  
 I did a crochet boarder around each square to make each square the same size then attached them together.  Lastly, placed a cozy flannel fabric on the back and using a blanket embroidery stitch to attach to the blanket with little picots every so often to keep the blanket attached to the fabric at the center and sides.
Each lady wrote her name on a card with a note to identify the squares they made. I then attached the card on their square with a ribbon that could easily be removed.
The blanket was beautiful and a great collaborative project!!  Of course matching the theme as well.
It was an enjoyable day celebrating a very special baby-on-the-way!  (But we won't mention when we went to pick up the cake and the bakery said we never order it...till I spoke with the manager, who I left the order with and he then remembered!!!...giving us a full sheet cake for free!)
"'Tis love that makes the world go round, my baby."
~ Charles Dickens


338.  Cupcakes.  Wouldn't you just love one right now?  Chocolate, Vanilla or Carrot Cake Cupcake? No matter the flavor, a cupcake is always a delightful treat.  Satisfies me every time.  

My beautiful niece was engaged to be married and asked if I would whip up several batches of cupcakes for her Bridal Shower.  What an honor to be a part of her celebration in life.  The shower was held at a winery and our setting was on the back patio overlooking the vineyard.
So I chose to make three varieties:  Lemon Raspberry,  Salted Chocolate Caramel and Vanilla Blackberry.  
The Lemon Raspberry cupcakes were made from scratch with lemon cake, raspberry buttercream and raspberry jam filling topped with a fresh raspberry and lemon zest.

The Salted Chocolate Caramel cupcakes were made from scratch as well with a chocolate cake, caramel buttercream and fresh caramel placed in the center and drizzled across the top, then sprinkled with Flur d sal. 

The Vanilla Blackberry cupcakes were made from scratch with a vanilla cake, blackberry buttercream and blackberry jam filling topped with a fresh giant blackberry.

We had a lovely day and the beautiful bride-to-be was showered with love.
 My sweet sister was the hostess extraordinaire.  She designed all the flower arrangements and painted a masterful copy of their invitation.  Every detail was perfect...cupcakes included!
And, "They lived happily ever after."
"When you hold a cupcake, sorrow disappears."
~ Anonymous

Monday, September 25, 2017

Pan Roasted Chicken

 337.  Pan Oven Roasted Chicken is on the menu tonight.  It is simplistic and will always satisfy!
I chose to roast thighs because of their dark meat flavor and size.  I used bone-in chicken for flavor as well.
On a flat pan spray lightly with cooking spray or wipe olive oil over bottom and sides of pan.  Wash and pat chicken dry.  Place in the pan skin side up.  Sprinkle over the chicken coarse sea salt, pepper corn crushed and a whole garlic clove smashed.  From this point you could sprinkle over any flavor you prefer:  Paprika, dill, thyme, rosemary, parsley, herbs d'province, mixed italian herbs, sazon
Spanish seasoning.

Roast in a 350 degree oven for one hour.  Do not cover the pan.  The chicken will shrink as it bakes and will render fat.  Serve with any sides of your choosing or remove from pan, place in a bowl and then in the fridge till the next day.  Tear the chicken off the bone and place on a cold salad or make chicken salad.  It's delicious!
"Classics can be phenomenal when done right. A simple roast chicken dish could be the best thing you ever ate."
Author - Joe Bastianich

Friday, July 14, 2017

Strawberry Peach Jam

336. No breakfast is complete without fresh fruit jam to slather on toast, muffins or croissant.  Walking down the grocers' aisle you can find a large variety of jam fruit flavors.  They always look so appetizing and delicious.  But when compared with a home made fresh fruit jam, there is no comparison. Occasionally you can pick up a great quality jam at a farm market or specialty store, but I am addicted to made-in-my-kitchen fresh fruit jam.  And I have the ability to add a pinch of this or that to design it to my exact taste.
Traditionally, home cooks would cook fruit with sugar till it would reach a thickened state when it coated the back of a cold spoon.  Unfortunately, some fruits have less pectin and it would take so long that the fruit would loose its beautiful bright color, turn brown and have an over cooked taste.  
I simply follow the Certo brand pectin directions which come in every box. Here is a beautiful pdf booklet you can download or print out for all jam, jelly and marmalade recipes from Certo. Find your fruit and follow the directions.  You can mix fruits as well,  peach with strawberries,  fig with plum or rhubarb with strawberries or figs. It's your choice.  Often when I have mixed fresh fruit salad left overs, I will measure and place the fruit in a saucepan, add sugar to the same measurement of fruit, place a pat of butter and bring it to a boil.  Add my Certo packet and place in sanitized jars.  Mixed fruit jam!  And I've done this with pineapple, kiwi, oranges and the like.  They all make beautiful jam when mixed together.

This jam was made with 5 cups of peaches and 1 cup of strawberries all cleaned and coarsely chopped, 7 cups of sugar, Tablespoon of lemon, 1 Tablespoon of butter (cuts down on foaming), pinch of cinnamon.  Mix all till completely blended and place on high heat and bring to a boil.  Once the jam is at a rolling boil that does not stop when you mix it, add your packet of Certo quickly.  Stir and bring back to boil.  Boiling for a full minute.  Turn off heat and ladle hot jam into sanitized jam size jars.  Wipe the glass rim and side rim of the jar with a clean wet towel so any drips do not interfere with the seal.   Cover with sanitized sealing lids that you are heating in boiling water off to the side.  Tighten lid and place up-side-down on a towel in a safe place on counter.  Jars will be very hot.  After 15 minutes turn your jars up-right and wait to hear the lovely sound of the seals popping on every jar.  It's a symphony!
You can use any jar that has a rubber seal on the lid.  Be careful that it is sanitized in very hot water and I use a little bleach to be extra careful with bacteria and a very hot rinse.  Then I place them upside-down until ready to fill.
I recycle these jars over and over but always careful that there are no scratches or rust on the inside lids.  The great thing about canning lids is that you can purchase just the round seal without buying a new lid band.  These seem to never wear out...unless of course they are old from a yard sale or your grandma's collection.  Walmart carries canning jars and supplies as well as Ace Hardware.  

Making jam is not hard...just takes time and diligence to follow the steps.  
“I'm sure I'll take you with pleasure!" the Queen said. "Twopence a week, and jam every other day."
Alice couldn't help laughing, as she said, "I don't want you to hire me - and I don't care for jam."
"It's very good jam," said the Queen.
"Well, I don't want any today, at any rate."
"You couldn't have it if you did want it," the Queen said.
"The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never today."
"It must come sometimes to 'jam today'," Alice objected.
"No it can't," said the Queen. "It's jam every other day: today isn't any other day, you know.” 

― Lewis CarrollAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

“Jam on a winter day took away the blues. It was like tasting summer. ” 
― Sandra Dallas

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Seafood Cakes

335.  A light, fresh meal is always welcome at my table.  And seafood always seems to satisfy.  I have a delicious recipe for Salmon Cakes but you could substitute crab, shrimp or any fish including tuna.  This could be used as a main dish for a dinner meal or as appetizers if you form them small and bitesize.

Seafood Cakes

3 cups salmon, crab, shrimp or other fish, chopped fine.  (May use 2 8oz cans salmon, 3 6oz cans of   
            tuna or crab or shrimp.)
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 large egg or 2 small eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup scallion green onion sliced thinly
1/2 cup finely chopped celery & celery leaves
1 Tablespoon finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay Seasoning
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Blend with hands until all ingredients are incorporated and hold together (If mixture is too dry you may add water by teaspoon if necessary).  Form the mixture into patties making them as large or as small as desired.

Prepare a large frying pan or griddle with olive oil and bring to high heat then turn down to medium high. Fry the patties on each side till a light brown crust forms and seafood is cooked through.  Adjust your heat to medium if using fresh seafood after you turn them over to the second side.  If using canned product, once the patty is browned it is ready to serve.

Serve with Tartar Sauce or Cocktail Sauce and wedges of lemon.

Tartar Sauce

1 cup Mayonaise or Sour Cream
1 large dill pickle, chopped in small pieces
dill pickle juice, small amount at a time
salt and pepper
fresh dill chopped

Blend all ingredients together in small bowl adding a little pickle juice till desired consistency, not runny but not too thick.

These patties are always satisfying and hit the spot!

Pair these patties with rice, coleslaw, fresh salad or place on a fresh roll or lettuce wrap.

“Fish should smell like the ocean. 
If they smell like fish, it's too late.”

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Perfect Dinner Rolls

334.  Warning!  You are about to enter into the territory of fresh, home baked, soft and fluffy, delicious dinner rolls.  My favorite recipe that always turns out perfect.

Perfect Dinner Rolls

1 cup warm water 
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4-5 cups all-purpose flour

Combine the warm water and yeast in a large bowl.  Let the mixture stand until yeast is foamy, approximately 4 minutes.  Stir in the melted butter, sugar, eggs and salt.  Beat in flour, 1 cup at a time until dough is too stiff to mix.  Dough will be sticky with no kneading necessary.  Cover the bowl loosely and place in a warm draft-free place to rise.  

Grease a 13 x 9" baking dish.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Gently divid dough into 24 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a smooth round ball and place in even rows into the baking dish.  Cover and let rise until doubled in volume.  Approximately 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375∘  Bake until rolls are golden brown, 15-20 minutes.  Brush top of rolls with butter.  Break apart to serve.
"The sky is the daily bread of the eyes." 
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, March 6, 2017


333.  Here is a simply easy and great meal for any night, Rollatini.
My process is simple and easy to follow, and you can make a meatless variation with spinach, kale, broccoli rabe or any other veggie you choose.  I made a similar meal a while back with spinach and prosciutto.  You can find that post here


1 16 oz container of Ricotta Cheese
2 cups hand shredded Mozzarella Cheese or 1 16 oz bag of shredded
3 cups Marinara tomato sauce homemade or 1 16 oz bottle of prepared Marinara tomato sauce
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
Salt and Pepper
1 box Lasagna Noodles
1 lb ground pork or beef sautéd and drained, set aside to cool
options:   Spinach leaves, onion sautéed, Shredded cooked chicken, Kale leaves, Broccoli steamed

Boil a large pot of water and partially boil the Lasagna Noodles till flexible.  Drain and place in a cold water bath.

In a bowl place ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, egg and salt and pepper.  Mix till incorporated.  Set aside

In a large greased baking dish spoon about 1/2 cup sauce onto the bottom and spread around.  
Take one lasagna noodle, spread 2 Tablespoons of ricotta cheese mixture across the noodle, then place 2 Tablespoons of meat.  Take one end and roll the noodle up to form a rollatini.  Place flat side down in baking dish.  Repeat till all the noodles and filling has been used.

Spoon remaining sauce over the rollatini then sprinkle with parmesan cheese and remaining mozzarella cheese.  Cover with tin foil.

Bake in a 350∘ oven for approximately 1 hour or till bubbly and cheese is melted.  You may remove the tin foil in the last 10 minutes of baking to brown the top of the cheese.
Now...how hard was that?

"When your Italian mother asks, 'Do you want a piece of advice?' it is mere formality.
It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no.
You're going to get advice anyway."
- Anonymous


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