Monday, August 25, 2014


Have you ever been to a party and tasted someone's home made "something that was so scrumptious, so tasty, so wonderful that you just had to have the recipe? It happens to me every so often. You are very pleased by this creation so you approach this person who may be an acquaintance, family member or friend and comment on how delectable their home made concoction is.  Of course the next thing in the sequence would be asking them for the recipe.....only to find that they do not share recipes. WHAT? WHY? I DON'T GET IT. ARE NOT  RECIPES THERE TO SHARE? WHAT'S THE BIG SECRET? Will Grandma get mad if I make her potato salad? Will that ruin her day? Oh, I know.... a patent on this recipe, a trade secret to the family business? NO?.....THEN WHY?

Well, my recipes don't have a long family history....maybe one generation or two. They are good and proven reliable but haven't won blue ribbon contests or deserve a patent or a trade mark. They just stand the test of time and are liked by many people. I like sharing recipes and trying new ones. That is why there are numerous websites and blogs out share. So for all you recipe hoarders out there, give it up. Sharing is caring.

Hasn't won a contest....yet. But it's quick, tastes good and you pretty much have all the ingredients at your fingertips. Try it.


5 Tbs melted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1 large egg

3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x5 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt 5 Tbs of butter and let cool slightly in a large mixing bowl. Add the 1st set of Ingredients. Beat using a mixer until well blended. Add the second set of ingredients (baking soda and baking powder) in pinches. Mix well and then add the flour. Mix but do not over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into prepared loaf pan.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 - 45 minutes. Let cool. You can cover with vanilla or chocolate icing or serve it "au naturel" as I do.


Friday, August 15, 2014


Grilled sandwiches can be so simple at times and yet so complex. Paninis satisfy - breakfast, lunch or dinner. I bought a panini press a couple of summers ago and still use it. It is not one of those kitchen gadgets that you use every so often and have to dust and clean it when you break it out of its hiding place because you can't remember the last time you used it. panini press gets a lot of activity. Might actually be time to replace it but it still works....maybe I just need to give it a good scrubbing?

The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook by Kathy Strahs has more than 200 recipes that you can make using your panini press. There are so many different varieties, it is worth exploring and trying something unusual. You never know, you might find a new favorite sandwich.It also includes a chapter that instructs you how to make dessert on the panini press. I am not sure if I am that ambitious to make a cake using a ramekin on the press but the grilled Fluffernutter Panini with candied peanuts and cinnamon crust looks like something I might try on one of those stressful days when you need to "take the edge off."  Pure comfort!

This week I tried two of the recipes; the pepperoni  pizza panini because I knew that my kids would eat it and the prosciutto, mozzarella and arugula salad panini.(recipe to follow) I tweaked the following recipe a tad. Instead of a white balsamic vinaigrette, I just used a store bought balsamic dressing that I had handy. No worries. I am sure it was just as good because of the taste and because it took me less time to make!


2 Cups baby arugula
1 tablespoon White Balsamic Vinaigrette (I used regular balsamic salad dressing)
1 French baguette, cut into 4 portions
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

Heat the panini press to medium-high heat. Place the arugula in a medium sized bowl and toss it with about a tablespoon of vinaigrette or more depending on taste. For each sandwich: Slice off the domed top of a baguette portion to create a flat grilling surface. Split the baguette to create top and bottom halves. On the bottom baguette half, layer some arugula salad, a little bit of cheese, prosciutto and some more cheese. Close the sandwich with the top baguette half. Grill two panini at a time, with the lid closed, until the cheese is melted and the baguettes are toasted, 4 to 5 minutes.


3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallots, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. While still whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. You can keep any extra white balsamic vinaigrette in the refrigerator for up to a week. Allow the dressing to come to room temperature and give it a good stir before using it next.

There are so many recipes that I want to try. "Grilled Asparagus with Prosciutto and Mozzarella Panini", "Smoked Salmon, Goat Cheese and Fennel Slaw Panini" or better yet, "Grilled Shrimp, Mango and Avocado Panini with Pepper Jelly and Monterey Jack Cheese" - a little hot, a little sweet. Sounds like a winner to me!

Thursday, August 7, 2014


This summer has been quite comfortable, weather-wise that is. It seems that when it is hot and humid and you don't want to turn your oven on, salad is the way to go. It's refreshing, cool, crisp and it doesn't weigh you down like when you eat a winter stew, steak or pasta. Even though the weather is bearable, I tend to crave a salad every now and again. Maybe my body is telling me something like..."YOU NEED TO EAT SOMETHING BESIDES CARBS!" Now I'm not talking about the plain lettuce with tomato know....a good hearty salad with fresh produce from our local farmers market, grilled vegetables? Maybe with some chicken, shrimp, cheese, croutons? Healthy but satisfying. Salad doesn't have to be boring.

You can make a salad every day of the year with my next pick appropriately named SALAD OF THE DAY: 365 RECIPES FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR by Georgeanne Brennan. Talk about options. Calendars at the beginning of each chapter highlight the recipes with the ingredients best suited for that month. There are full color photos that give you a beautiful visual that make your mouth water. I wish I didn't skip lunch today because the photo of the BLT & Poached Egg Salad is making me hungry. I think I will try that one next!

SMOKED CHICKEN SALAD WITH ROASTED CHERRY TOMATOES:  This is a tasty, filling salad that could be eaten for lunch or dinner. I substituted the polenta croutons for home made cheese croutons using a rustic three cheese bread. That bread is so sinful. In my house it is a rare occasion that we have leftover three cheese bread going stale. But when it does, I make some croutons. I usually cut them into 1 inch cubes and toast them in the oven with a little olive oil (use the spray can version) some fresh or dried herbs; oregano, thyme, whatever flavor you like.

CHERRY TOMATO SALAD WITH BURRATA & PESTO: Tomatoes are so flavorful in the summer when they are fresh. I wish they were that good all year round! My new favorite cheese is Burrata. It is soft like fresh mozzarella but filled with curds and cream in the middle and melts in your mouth. I used jarred pesto even though I have fresh basil growing. Who has the time for that? I am sure it doesn't come close to fresh pesto but I definitely need to save extra time for other chores and making peanut butter ice cream? On a hot....or not summer day, all you need is this salad. Don't forget to pair it with sliced baguette. YUM.

Cherry Tomato Salad with Burrata & Pesto

3 Tbs. prepared basil pesto
1 1/2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
About 4 cups (1 1/2 lb./750 g) mixed red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes
1 burrata cheese
Small fresh basil leaves for garnish

In a bowl, whisk together the pesto and vinegar. Add the oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly until the dressing is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the tomatoes in half, add to the bowl, and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper and use a slotted spoon to mound them on a serving platter. Nestle the cheese in the center and drizzle with some pesto dressing from the bowl. Garnish with the basil leaves and serve. Serves 4-6.