I have always shown my love through the preparation and sharing of food. There are a number of reasons and choices for this expression of love, and each time I embark on cooking there is a story to tell.
This site will share recipes I’ve created or explored; my trials and triumphs. This will also curb my tendency to post everything I cook on social media, abusing the patience of friends and family 🙂
The need may arise to use up fresh ingredients, and no specific recipe comes to mind. Sometimes, I come across an ingredient to try, or a technique not yet explored. Or…in the middle of cooking I realize I’ve forgotten a key ingredient, and don’t have it on hand. These are the invitations to create, invent, improvise.
My grandmother, Rua, made the best ham and beans. She used smoked hocks, onion and Great Northern Beans. After soaking the beans overnight and picking them over, she’d put these three ingredients in a stock pot and cover with water. She’d get it up to a good simmer and let it simmer all day. At the end of a cold fall day, a hot bowl of ham and beans was just the way to settle in at Grandma Rua’s table. Usually we’d have cornbread or hot rolls and a salad to make it a full meal.
Grandma always liked to add splash of white vinegar to her bowl, but the rest of us typically ate it as it was. As I’ve grown older, I find I enjoy a quick grate of parmesan cheese in my bowl. My husband likes it Grandma’s way, with a splash of vinegar. As with all these recipes, do what you like to make it your own.
I love this soup with a salad, or a nice grilled cheese. Cornbread with honey-butter is a great accompaniment. A platter of crudites or pickled vegetables pairs well too.
3lbsSmoked Pork Hocks or Shanks, or a combo of bothCan substitute bone-in ham.
2-3cupsOnion, small dice
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pick-over beans, then soak in cold water for 12 hours, or overnight.
After soaking, remove any floating skins or discolored beans.
Place soaked beans, diced onions and smoked pork hocks and/or shanks in a large stock pot or slow cooker.
Add 8 cups of water to crock pot, will mostly cover the smoked pork and beans, onions will float initially.
If using a stock pot, bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 8 hours or until beans are soft and liquid is reduced. if using a crock pot, cook on high for 2 hours and then reduce to low and cook for 8-10 hours until beans are soft and liquid is reduced.
Remove hocks or shanks from the soup and allow them to cool until comfortable to handle. Keep soup warm.
Remove meat from the bones, discarding excess fat, bones and rind from the meat. Return meat pieces to the soup and allow it to reheat.
Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. This soup rarely needs salt, as the smoked meat has enough salt, so make sure to taste before adjusting the seasoning.
Smoked pork hocks and shanks can be found near smoked ham in most grocery stores. I prefer a combination as shanks are meatier, but the hocks have more fat and flavor. Alternatively, smoked bone-in ham can be substituted.
If using a crock pot, it may take longer to cook the beans until they are fully softened.
I typically use the crock pot on days I have to work, and start the soup while I am getting ready for work, and cook it on high until I leave for the office. Then I turn it down to low and let it go all day. Typically 10 hours.
Salad, cornbread, fresh rolls or a crudite platter are all great accompaniments for this dish. Alternatively, a grilled cheese is a wonderful pairing.
A splash of vinegar to the finished soup (about a teaspoon) brings a nice acid and brightness to the soup.
A grating of parmesan compliments the white beans and results in a more Italian style bean dish.
Keyword beans, ham, ham and bean soup, ham hocks, ham shank, onion, soup
This pizza dough works great for those days when you suddenly decide pizza for dinner sounds good, but you don’t have a lot of time to pull together a homemade dough. It is made using instant yeast. If you don’t have that on hand, you can use regular yeast, but it will take additional time to rise.
This recipe will make 1.5 pounds of dough. This will be 2 thin and crispy pizza crusts (3/4 pound each), or 1 thick and bread like crust of about 12-14″. Thin crust will cook faster and the thicker crust will need more time so adjust according to your favorite recipe.
I recommend a 450 degree oven, but you can adjust higher or lower based on your favorite pizza recipe.
This dough freezes well. When I make thin crust pizza, if I am not using the second crust, I freeze the other dough ball after the rise. To use it, I thaw it in a bowl that has been greased with olive oil and covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap. When dough is fully thawed and stretchy, shape and prepare.
I prefer to use extra-virgin olive oil, but you can use any high quality vegetable oil if you do not like olive. Avocado oil has a lighter flavor profile and holds up to heat well and I suggest either.
I strongly recommend using an instant read thermometer to ensure your water is the right temperature before adding the yeast and sugar.
1/8cupOlive Oil or Avocado Oilplus extra for greasing bowl
3cupsbread flourcan substitute all-purpose
Combine warm water, sugar and yeast in a glass measuring cup. Allow it to rest undisturbed for a few minutes until the yeast becomes bubbly. If you do not see the yeast frothing or bubbling after 2-3 minutes, you may have to start over as your yeast is not active.
Add olive oil or avocado oil into yeast mixture.
Pour yeast mixture in to the bowl of a stand mixer or mixing bowl if you are using a hand-mixer.
Sift together flour and salt in a separate bowl. Make sure the salt is evenly distributed in the flour.
Add the flour and salt mixture to the yeast mixture 1/2 half a cup at at time mixing well between additions. Continue adding the flour until the mixture can be pulled away from the bowl with a dough scraper. The dough will be very sticky, this is the correct consistency. You may need to add a bit more flour if it feels wet, but you do want it to stick to your fingers. Stop mixing at this point and scrap the dough into a loose ball.
Use olive oil to grease a bowl that is at least twice the size of the dough ball. Using a dough scraper, transfer the dough ball into the greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Leave it at room temperature to rise for about 1 hour. If your room is warm it may rise faster, or cool a bit slower so check your dough around the 45 minute mark and adjust time from there.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. I use a silicone mat that is for bread and pie dough making. Pull the dough from the bottom up over the top, working in a circle until you have it pulled into a rough ball shape. Flip it over so it is a smooth ball.
For 2 thin crust pizzas (12 – 14")cut the dough in 1/2 (each half will be roughly 3/4 of a pound) or for a thick more bread like crust use the entire dough ball for one 14" thick crust pizza. Roll the dough into a round or rectangle shape to fit your pizza pan.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place rolled dough on prepared pizza pan, and top with favorite sauce and toppings. Bake for 15 minutes if thin crust, or longer for thicker crust pizza.
This is one of our favorite dishes. It works great for a quick weeknight meal, as it assembles quickly, but is also good for entertaining. The recipe is easily cut in half for just two people or doubled for a party of eight.
I like to make extra pan sauce, so this recipe its extra saucy. This dish serves well with pasta, rice or polenta and a vegetable side.
8oz.Fresh mushrooms, cleaned and slicedCremini are my favorite in this dish, but regular white mushrooms work well too.
1cloveGarlic, finely minced
1/4cupFlat-leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
Place each chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap on a cutting board. Using the flat side of a meat mallet (not the sharp pointed side), or a rolling pin, pound the breasts to about 1/2 inch thick.
In a large skillet, add the tablespoon of olive oil and heat to medium heat.
Add prosciutto ribbons and cook until crispy, stirring constantly. Remove from pan when brown and fat has rendered. Reserve crispy prosciutto in a small dish.
Put the flour in a shallow plate and season with the salt and pepper. Mix the seasonings in with a fork to evenly distribute.
In the same skillet used to cook the prosciutto, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, dredge the chicken breasts in the seasoned flour. Shake off the excess.
Slip the chicken breasts into the pan and fry for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until golden. You can do this in batches if all the chicken doesn't fit comfortably in the one pan. Remove the chicken to a large platter in a single layer, and cover with foil to keep warm while preparing the pan sauce.
Lower the heat to medium and add the mushrooms to the remaining oils in the pan. If there is not enough oil, add another drizzle of olive oil to coat the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until they are nicely browned and their moisture has evaporated.
During the last minute of cooking the mushrooms, add the minced garlic to the pan and cook for 30-60 seconds.
Pour the Marsala wine into the pan, deglazing the pan and scrapping up any browned bits. Let the Marsala come to a boil for a few seconds to release the alcohol.
Add the chicken stock and simmer for a few minutes to reduce the sauce slightly.
Stir in the remaining butter and return the chicken breasts to the pan. Simmer the chicken gently to heat the chicken through. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary.
Garnish with chopped parsley and reserved crisped Prosciutto before serving.
30ozLobster tailsFrozen are fine if fresh is not available
2 cupsDry White WineA buttery chardonnay works well here.
1/4 cupUnsalted Butter
1 1/2cupFennel Bulb, Roughly ChoppedUse the white part only
1 cupDiced Tomatoes, CannedCan use fresh, but peel and seed
3 tbspRaw White Rice
1tspHungarian PaprikaDo not use smoked paprika
2each Bay Leaf
2tspThyme leaves, freshRemove from stalks
2tspLemon Juice, fresh squeezed
Thaw lobster tails completely if frozen.
Using a sharp knife or poultry shears, cut through the top side of the lobster tail, splitting from end that is closest to the body all the way to the tail.
Pry the shell apart to allow access to devein the tail. Look for the vein along the edge of the shell, it will be a dark gray vein between the shell and the meat. Remove the vein.
Bring 4 cups of water with 1 Tablespoon of salt to a brisk boil in a large stock pot.
Add the deveined lobster tails to a steamer basket, shell side down (shell protects the meat from intense heat of the steam) and place over the boiling water in the stock pot. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and steam the lobster for 5-7 minutes. Reserve the steaming water for the stock.
Immediately remove the tails when the lobster turns bright red and the tails are opaque. Do not over cook at this stage.
When cool enough to handle, remove the tail meat from the shells with a fork. Try to get it all in one piece if possible. Chill the lobster meat until ready to use.
In a large stock pot or dutch oven (6 – 7 quart size) saute lobster shell in olive oil over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes to release flavors.
Deglaze the pan with the sherry. Scraping up any bits off the bottom of the pan.
Add 2 cups white wine, chicken stock, and reserved salted water from steaming the lobster tails. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer until reduced to about 6 cups of stock. This takes approximately 45 minutes.
While the stock is cooking, chop the vegetables and measure out the remaining ingredients.
When stock is reduced, strain shells from the stock. If the stock is less than 6 cups add a bit of water to bring to 6 cups of lobster stock. Reserve stock an proceed to next steps.
In a large stock pot or dutch oven,saute the fenne, celeryl and shallot in 1/4 cup unsalted butter, until soft and starting to brown.
Add in the reserved stock, diced tomatoe, brandy, raw white rice, tomato paste, paprika, cayenne, bay leaf and thyme; simmer for 45 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the final liquid. If using a regular blender, use care in handling hot liquid and do it in small batches as steam from the hot liquid can cause pressure to build inside the blender. Return all liquid to the pot.
Stir in the heavy cream, fresh lemon juice and Maderia to finish off the bisque.
When you are ready to serve the bisque, slice the lobster meat into serving size pieces and saute in a tablespoon of unsalted butter over medium-high heat, just until warmed through to prevent overcooking meat.
Spoon bisque into bowls and top with the warmed, buttery lobster meat. Enjoy!
Cook with a wine you would drink. Don’t skimp on the wine, it should not be too acid, or too sweet in this dish. Recipe can be made up to step 12 a day in advance to save time on the day you wish to serve.
I usually make this recipe at Christmas time. Something about shortbread, rosemary and the lovely citrus fruits that are in season this time of year call to mind the holidays. Changing the citrus used actually can make this more seasonal. I typically use grapefruit during the holiday; something about it really goes with the salt, rosemary and buttery shortbread. But orange will work in a pinch, and lemon is great in the summer. Recently, I used a tangerine and it was delightful. Avoid lime – lime does not pair well with rosemary in this cookie.
Salted Rosemary Citrus Shortbread
Savory Sweet Shortbread with a herbacous, citrus twist
1/3 cupRice FlourYou can substitute Cake Flour but it changes the texture.
2tbspFresh Rosemary, fine chopped
1cupUnsalted Butter, room temperature
1tbpCitrus ZestGrapefruit, Orange or Lemon, omit Lime
Flakey Sea SaltRecommend Maldon brand
Zest citrus of choice, finely chop fresh rosemary. Measure out ingredients.
Line a 8 X 8 inch baking dish (preferrably glass) with parchment paper, leaving a bit of overhang for easy handling.
Whisk together flour, cake flour, rosemary, and salt, set aside.
In a stand mixer, or a bowl with a hand mixer, combine the butter, granulated sugar and citrus zest and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl as needed.
Add flours, rosemary and salt mixture. Beat on low speed until crumbly, then increase speed and mix until well combined.
Transfer dough to the prepared pan. I do this in scoops, using an ice cream scoop and placing them strategically in the pan to evenly distribute. Use a spatula, or your hands 🙂 to press dough evenly into the pan. Smooth the top with a spatula, and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill 1 hour until firm.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove shortbread from the refridgerator and prick with a fork all over. Sprinkle evenly with the turbinado sugar adn then sprinkle on the flakey sea salt to taste. Go easy on the sea salt to prevent over salting, but let it shine.
Bake @ 375 degreees for 30 -35 mjutes until golden brown around the edges and the surface is lightly golden brown.
Remove from oven and cut into 1 X 2 inch pieces while the short bread is still in the pan. Let rest for approximately 10 minutes, and then lift the shortbread out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang as handles, and place on a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Separate cookies when completely cooled. Use a sharp knife to retrace cut marks if necessary.
Cookies can be baked and cut, and stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. Suggest refrigeration if storing for more than 3 days. You can also freeze cookies for up to 3 months if desired.
A Wassail is mulled punch, made from a variety of fruits and juices. There is much tradition and history around wassailing, as a ritual to chase evil spirits from cider trees, ensuring a fruitful harvest the following season.
It has become a tradition in our home to have a Wassail simmering on the stove during holiday gatherings or visits from family during the late fall and winter months. We also make it anytime someone has a cold – it packs a Vitamin C punch and chases away the chill. All the best scents of the holiday season simmering on the stove…
Warm and spicy cider based wassail with citrus, cranberry and pineapple.
Large Tea Ball or Cheese cloth, recommended but optional
1/2gallonApple CiderOrganic, Fresh Pressed is best
1cupCranberry-Pineapple Juiceor 1/2 cup of each
1cupCranberriesFresh or Frozen Whole
1eachOrange, sliced in ringsseeds removed
1eachRed Apple, sliced in ringsseeds removed
1each Lemon, sliced in ringsseeds removed
3tbspMulling spicesuse your favorite blend, or see recipe notes
Wash all fruits thoroughly, slice and seed.
Combine all juices and fruits in a 6 quart stock pot.
Place mulling spices in a large tea ball or wrap in cheese cloth tied with a string.
Add mulling spices to stock pot with fruits and juices.
Over medium heat, bring to a low boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
Allow wassail to simmer for 30-45 minutes.
Serve piping hot in mugs or Irish Coffee glasses. Garnish with cinnamon stick and additional fruit if desired.
If you do not have a favorite mulling spice, you can replace the mulling spices 3-4 cinnamon sticks, a teaspoon of whole cloves, a 1/2 teaspoon of allspice and a slice of fresh ginger. Use of a tea ball or cheese cloth is optional. Spices can be added directly to the juices if these are not on hand. Recipe can easily be doubled for larger gatherings, use an 8 quart stock pot if doubling the recipe. Leftover Wassail can be strained of fruits and spices and stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator for several days. Reheat individual servings as desired.
I grow lots of zucchini and culinary lavender in the garden. A little tired of traditional zucchini recipes and not really in the mood for chocolate, I decided to try one of my favorite flavor combinations and craft it into a “not too sweet” zucchini bread. The results are good enough to share. This is not as sweet as you would think. Not just a breakfast bread, or snack with tea, this little loaf serves well with a dollop of whip cream or scoop of vanilla bean ice cream as a late summer dessert.
Lavender Lemon Zucchini Bread
Lavender and lemon zucchini quick bread with a lemony glaze
2-4stemsCulinary lavendar, fresh cutoptional for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour two 9 X 5 inch loaf pans, or coat with baking spray.
In a large bowl, beat eggs, then add the oil and sugar until well blended and oil is fully incorporated. Add the sourcream, milk, zucchini, lemon zest and juice and mix well.
Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the batter and mix well to combine.
Stir in lavender buds.
Divide the batter between the two prepared loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
During last 15 minutes of cooking, prepare the glaze by mixing all ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
While still warm, remove bread from loaf pans to a cooling rack placed over a piece of parchment paper or a cookie sheet and drizzle with the glaze. The paper or cookie sheet will catch the drips and make clean up easier.
If desired, garnish the loaves with fresh cut culinary lavender flowers.
Allow the bread to cool and the glaze to set before cutting.
NOTE: If batter seems to wet after initial mixing, or if you live in a higher elevation, mix in 1/4 cup all purpose flour to the batter before pouring into loaf pans.
I love corn fritters. This recipe will share how to make them two different ways from the same basic batter. In the fall, when corn is plentiful and sweet, and I need to use up the abundance of herbs in the garden, I turn to griddle cakes and fritters to make fast side dishes to accompany a simple soup or salad for a healthy evening meal after a day of hiking, working in the garden or playing with the animals. This recipe is easily multiplied or reduced by half depending on your needs.
Corn Fritters made two ways – Parmesan and Basil or Cheddar and Jalapeno
4earsCorn on the cob, shucked and silk removedAlternately, use 4 cups frozen corn that has been completely thawed.
1/2 cupAll-Purpose Flour
2clovesGarlic, mincedSubstitute a teaspoon of granulated garlic if you don't have fresh.
1-2tbspOlive Oil or Avocado OilTo Coat Skillet, does not get mixed into batter
Parmesan Basil Version
1/2cupBasil, choppedloosely pack in measuring cup after chopping
2tbspFlat leaf Italian Parsely, finely chopped
Jalapeno Cheddar Version
1/2cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1/2cupJalapeno Pepper, finely choppedremove seeds and ribs to reduce heat, or used them to make fritters hotter.
2tbspCilantor, finely chopped
Cut the kernels off the corn using a sharp knife, or thaw frozen corn.
Pulse 2 cups of corn with the eggs in a food processor or blender until fairly smooth and eggs and corn are completely incorporated. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Mix in the remaining corn, flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper.
After batter is mixed, fold in the cheese and greens from the chosen version.
Coat a large skillet or fry pan with oil and heat over medium heat.
Using a heaping tablespoon, drop by spoonfuls into the skillet, slightly spreading each fritter with the back of the spoon.
Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden and beginning to brown. Adjust heat to prevent scortching.
Note: I like to use a large cookie scoop to scoop the batter into the skillet, it makes the fritters more uniform in size.You can use just about any combo of cheese and herbs that you prefer. I think a roasted garlic, rosemary and Romano cheese sounds great, and will have to give that a try one of these days.
One of my favorite fall recipes! This is actually classified as a “sponge cake” as it gets its “lift” from the eggs and baking soda. It sounds more complicated than it is, and only takes 15 minutes of oven time.
Pictures will follow and I will update this post when I make this cake over the holidays, but a a very dear young lady, who made this cake with me once requested the recipe, and I have not yet taken pictures.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cake Roll
Rolled pumpkin sponge cake with cream cheese filling
Jelly Roll Pan 15" X 10" – if using a slightly larger pan, cake will be thinner and you must reduce cooking time.
Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer
Large Mixing Bowl or bowl of stand mixer
Medium Mixing Bowl, or bowl of stand mixer
Clean dish towel for rolling cake
1tbspShorteningFor greasing pan, may substitue baking spray
1tbspAll Purpose FlourFor dusting pan, may substitute baking spray
2/3 cupCooked Pumpkin
3/4cupPecans, finely choppedOptional
2tbspPowdered SugarFor dusting dish towel after baking
Cream Cheese Filling
1 cupPowdered Sugar
8ozCream Cheese, softened
1tspMilkoptional, use only if needed
2tbspPowdered SugarFor dusting before serving
Pumpkin Cake Instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Line jelly roll pan with waxed paper. Grease the wax paper and pan edges with shortening or spray with baking spray.
Dry ingredients: Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the 3 eggs on high speed for 3 minutes.
Add sugar and beat on medium speed until fully incorporated.
Add cooked pumpkin and lemon juice and mix in on low speed until completely blended into the eggs and sugar.
Add dry ingredients into wet and mix in on low speed.
Spread cake mixture into prepared jelly roll pan. Make sure batter is evenly distributed in the pan.
Top with chopped pecans if using.
Place pan in oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Invert pan onto a clean dish towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. This step is crucial. Do it right when you take the cake from the oven and immediately proceed to the next step for best results.
Leave wax paper in place and gently roll the cake up in the towel carefully starting with the short side of the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely in the rolled towel so when it is time to add the filling it is already comfortable with the rolled up shape.
Cream Cheese Filling
While cake is cooling, place powdered sugar, softened cream cheese, softened butter and vanilla in the bowl of the stand mixer or medium bowl if using hand mixer. Blend on medium speed until all ingredients are incorporated and a smooth and spreadable consistency. If too thick add a teaspoon or two of milke (one at a time )to achieve desired spreading consistency.
Unroll cake and remove wax paper.
Spread cream cheese filling across the cake carefully in an even layer, going to the edges of the roll.
Using clean hands, re-roll the cake on top of the towel (do not roll up in the towel again). Transfer finished roll to a cutting board and trim off edges of roll.
Wrap roll tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until serving.
To serve, remove plastic wrap, and dust with additional powdered sugar. Slice into 2-3 inch slices for individual servings.
This is one of the most basic things I cook, and I do it often for several reasons:
Whole chickens often go on sale for less than a dollar a pound. Offers are so attractive, many stores place limits on the number you can purchase at one visit.
Left over roasted chicken can be used in all those great rotisserie chicken recipes for fast weeknight meals. Roast a chicken on Sunday night, and use leftovers for another meal during the week when you are in a rush.
Bones can be used to make a lovely bone broth or chicken stock. Homemade stocks and broths freeze easily and are great to have on hand for soup bases.
Roast chicken can be served with potato, rice and/or vegetable sides. Soups and salads are also great accompaniments to round out a fabulous meal. This recipe is very simple, easy to prepare and no fuss.