An indulgent dessert from last year’s sunnier holiday!
Happy Fourth of July weekend!
want details? click here
An indulgent dessert from last year’s sunnier holiday!
Happy Fourth of July weekend!
want details? click here
I have emerged from a semester of researching my thesis and as I reflect back on my spring of research and very little cooking, one day stands out for me…(in Massachusetts this day is three holidays in one)
1. “Patriots’ Day” – A day commemorating the first battles of the American Revolution (battles of Lexington & Concord)
or perhaps it was a day of meaning for you as…
2. “Easter Monday” – The second day of the octave of Easter Week and/or second day of bright week. (not quite sure what all this means but wikipedia says it true, so it must be, right?)
or perhaps for you it was…
3. “marathon monday” – This is the day that the Boston Marathon is run and of course a Red Sox game is always scheduled around 11am.
Or maybe it was simply….just a Monday.
For me it meant a rare whole day off without having to report into work or attend a class. And that gave me a day to actually cook. Since my husband and I both worked the day before on Easter, I decided to make a delayed Easter dinner.
And what’s more delicious than a leg of lamb? Plus my local butcher was having a sale on lamb. Of course when I arrived at the store I forgot that a “leg of lamb” is actually quite big – like “feed 20 people big.” So I had to settle on a 4 lb de-boned top portion of a leg that the butcher mercifully had for me.
I took it home, rinsed it and patted it dry and ended up flapping it out flat, coating on all sides with the wonderful lamb seasoning from Penzey’s and rolling it back up and tying it with string. (kinda like a porchetta)
I stuck to the classics and roasted cut potatoes and onions with fresh rosemary and sage and served sautéed asparagus along side. No mint jelly here but if you need it, serve it.
Late update: Apparently May 7th is “National Leg of Lamb” Day so next year I will cook my leg and do homework on that day instead!
Happy Easter and Happy “National Pineapple Upside Down Cake” Day!
yup its a real day and you can read all about it here.
While I didn’t make cake, I did make muffins. With one simple substitution to basic corn muffin mix I was able to turn something ordinary into something special.
Simply substitute the oil called for in your cornbread recipe/mix with equal amounts of pureed pineapple. This gives a nice citrus zing to the muffins. If you want it a little sweeter, add in some honey or brown sugar to the batter – or better yet serve with honey butter!
Please forgive my lack of blogging/cooking lately as I am finishing up a crucial semester in grad school and thesis deadlines are making it almost impossible to cook at all! Be done soon and looking forward to more cooking!
A popular question right now and also a very beautiful song by Ella Fitzgerald.
Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFdfzNMV52Q
In past years I have celebrated big and small. Warm and cold. Quiet and loud. These days my celebrations tend to be more quiet than loud but always include some reflection on the year behind and some consideration of the year ahead.
I also use the New Year as a catalyst to de-clutter my house and usually spend January/February cleaning out forgotten drawers and closets. There is something about February with its brighter days and lighter snows that always puts a little spring in my step. Perhaps even more than the month of April which for most New Englanders marks the hope of spring.
I would like to say thanks to all my visitors and readers this year, old and new, who took a moment from their busy lives to read about my latest cooking creations. A special thanks to new friend Rachelle !!
So whether you celebrate big and loud….
Or small and quiet…
Make it great and safe and…
Veggies not money!
Holiday dinners like Christmas can be so full of heavy, rich dishes that I decided to take a really “light” approach with the salad course. Just fresh shaved greens – 3 kinds, all raw and lots of them! Plus some fresh grated raw turnip for a sweet-spicy crunch and some dried cranberries for a little color and sweetness.
Green Number one….
Green number two plus some orange…
Green Number three…
All together now…
Dress this with a light lemon-garlic vinaigrette and enjoy a fresh start to a holiday feast!
The “cake mix cookies” went so well that I felt kind of confidant and decided to experiment. What if I used chocolate cake mix? What if instead of peanut butter I used marshmallow Fluff? This seemed logical – after all both peanut butter and Fluff are gooey? That has to count for something when substituting in baking, right?
They looked really promising as I mixed it together – the white marshmallow Fluff giving the chocolate cake batter a kind of “designer grey” color! Once I started to portion them out on the cookie sheet, I really started feeling confidant and dug up some candy canes that I thought would be great all smashed up as a topping! They looked really promising as they went into the oven!
But when they came out…..
They seem to spread a lot more than I thought they would. In fact they spread a lot! And they had to be cut away from each other. But that wasn’t even the worst part.
They deflated too. While they were baking they had puffed up nicely and I was deceived into thinking I would have a nice puffy, chewy cookie. Instead they deflated to a flat, really flat cookie. And as a result I had really thin, crispy cookies. Maybe not the kind you want. I forged on anyway, making small dough balls and placing them further apart so at least I wouldn’t have to cut them away from each other, but I still had flat crisp little rounds.
They were still kinda tasty, despite the flat crispness. And it didn’t stop me from eating too many. But if any baker out there can tell me what to add (I suspect it is either baking soda or powder) I would love to get these a little “Fluffier.” (Pun intended!)
P.S. probably not going to take these versions to the cookie swap!
I thought I was on the cutting edge by adding pumpkin to my macaroni and cheese – after a quick check of google – I realized this was not a new idea!
That’s okay, it was new to my Thanksgiving table and that is all that counts right?
I was craving mac-n-cheese AND wanted to add seasonality to the dish so I could serve it at the holiday table, so that is how my “mash-up” came about. I simply started with my usual mac-n-cheese white sauce and added a little extra nutmeg and the tiniest pinch of ground cinnamon. For the cheese I decided to keep it kinda plain with a medium cheddar and lots of salty grated Romano. (You could use Parmesan, I just happen to have Romano) Next I stirred in 1 can of pure pumpkin. (Do I need to say.. “not pie filling, just pumpkin?”)
Next I combined it with al dente cooked penne pasta and topped it with some more cheese. You can stop here and let it cool and put it in the fridge till you are ready to bake it or even freeze it until then. Don’t you just love a good make-ahead-freezer dish? I sure do!
When you are ready, bake in a 350 degree preheated oven of for 30 mins (longer if frozen) until it is bubbly and brown on top!
This recipe is based on 1 regular box of pasta and 1 14oz +/- can of pumpkin. The basic white sauce recipe can vary for me depending on what’s on hand and how “saucy” I want the dish. But generally I start with 4oz butter and flour for the roux and add in 2 cups of whole milk. I probably used 8oz of grated cheddar and at least a cup of grated Parmesan and/or Romano. Don’t forget to season with S&P and what ever flavorings you like…dry mustard, smoked paprika, nutmeg etc.
This portions out beautifully for lunch leftovers….if there is any leftover!
Recently I was invited by my neighbor to a cookie swap. Of course she knows I love to cook – but I am not sure she knows about my lack of baking skills. On top of that she and her daughter are practically professionals in the baking department. So there is a fair amount of pressure here to make some good cookies! I have never been to a cookie swap but I am pretty sure the concept is arrive with a bunch of cookies you made and leave with a similar amount of cookies, except they will all be the different kinds that everybody brought. i.e “the swap!”
So just as I was thinking about whether or not I wanted to accept this
challenge invitation, fate inserted itself in the form of a recipe posting on Facebook! 4 ingredients! One of them from a box! It seemed easy enough for even me!
Yup – I know the baking purists are gasping out there, never mind the anti-processed food crowd! I like to think I am just as organic, healthy and veggie eating as the next but sometimes you just gotta break down and go with it.
Simply mix 1 box of yellow cake mix (no I didn’t worry about box size or ounces, just grabbed one, off the shelf) and 1/2 cup canola oil, 2 large eggs and 1 cup of peanut butter. (and for some reason I had 3 open jars of 3 different kinds of peanut butter and I used up 2 to consolidate – yay!)
Now simply form small balls – about golf ball shape – and place on the cookie sheet. No spraying of the sheet needed (I guess) but I did use parchment paper. (not sure if it needed it – just seemed like the thing to do.) Squish each twice (opposite directions) with a fork to form the classic peanut butter cookie look.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes until browned perfectly. Watch them in last couple of minutes because they can turn on you quickly. Makes 2 dozen cookies.
Easy and delicious – these not-to-sweet cookies came out perfect! hmm…What would happen if I used chocolate cake mix? Watch out neighbors – here I come with cookies!
What is more American than apple pie?
A “red, white and blue” berry dessert of course!
Served in a little mason jar for fun and enjoyed in the most beautiful dining room!
or if you want to be a little fancier you can break out a pretty dessert bowl…
…and yes that is a bit of cubed pound cake you spy. Think “trifle” in a personal size.
Strawberries were lightly sweetened with honey and mashed just a bit to get them nice and juicy. The whipped cream (homemade) is sweetened with a bit of vanilla and agave. The blueberries didn’t need a thing. The pound cake was purchased and cubed up. The mason jar version could be made ahead ( not too far – but like a couple of hours) and stored with lids on, in the refrigerator till party time.
Or what about using ice cream instead of pound cake?
On this very special day in America and in the wake of the marathon bombings I thought it would be nice to showcase some wonderful images from Boston. These pictures are from a previous year spent on the water in Boston Harbor. If you have never been to see the U.S.S Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, you should plan a trip. I am lucky enough to work in Boston everyday and be surrounded by this and lots of other history, along some strong, proud people.
Have a wonderful day with lots of great food, family and friends on this simple but special holiday!
They “turn” the Constitution a couple of times a year and sail it at least 1 nautical mile to keep its current status as a “commissioned warship.” It sails through the harbor each 4th of July with much fanfare and blows off its cannons at Castle Island Park (South Boston) which returns fire on the cannons located there.
May 18th marked the 3 year (triennial) Anniversary of Cabinet Stew.
In the 1st Anniversary post I was just excited to be here in the blog-o-sphere and “cutie” the cat was my faithful cooking partner. I spoke about my journey to starting the blog and things I have learned along the way.
In the 2nd Anniversary post I showed my love of statistics and of course asked everybody to read a recap of the year before! (not very original!)
This year I decided not to force everybody to read the recap of the first year yet again. I also decided that while the blog statistics might be interesting to me – maybe not everyone wants to read about those again either!
In a sad moment this past year, I also lost my faithful cooking companion of 20 years; “cutie” the cat. She lived a great life, tasting almost everything I cooked. (her favorite food was french fries!) She is missed but remains the official mascot of the blog. The only bright spot is I have regained the use of the kitchen island as a usable surface instead of dedicating it to a cat perch!
I am. I am extremely glad for all of my now over 50 “not-actually-related-to-me” followers!
Thanks for coming back more than once! Thanks for signing up to follow me! Thanks for leaving comments and hitting “like!” Thanks for being patient when I leave a post up for few too many days because I got a little busy!
I am looking forward to another year full of cooking and eating – hope you are too!
When there are no little kids in the family to hunt for eggs and the Easter bunny ( A.K.A mom and dad) doesn’t leave chocolate for you anymore, (mostly because you live in another state) all you have left on this holiday is a great meal and maybe some church if you are inclined.
For me it is about a great meal and this is how I prefer my Easter eggs…
With some great sautéed asparagus, ham and toast. Happy Easter!!
And impossibly EASY.
In fact that is the name of the recipe: Impossibly Easy Coconut Pie. Which I got here.
Thank you Betty!
This mixes up in about 4 minutes and bakes up perfectly in a glass pie dish. You can just serve warm slices from that.
However, I made it a day ahead and let it cool completely and was able to flip it out and onto a nice plate/platter for presentation, garnish and refrigerate until serving time. If you make ahead and platter it like I did, I would bring it out of the fridge about 20-30 mins before serving so it will be cool but not cold. Cover with plastic wrap while hanging in the fridge so it stays moist.
Although delicious plain, just as is, I added extra shredded coconut on top for garnish and heated some frozen mixed berries with a little honey to serve warm on top. But this would also be very delicious with chocolate sauce. Or maybe pineapple sauce. The combinations are endless.
Just try it. You will love this EASY dessert!
(Betty – you can feel free to contact me via email to “thank me” for endorsing your recipe/product! ;-) )
There are a lot of lucky “food traditions” surrounding New Year’s Day. Across the world certain lucky foods are eaten on the first day of the year (Hoppin’ John) or at the stroke of midnight. (12 grapes)
But chicken wouldn’t be one of them. And a surprise to many New Englanders… Lobster! Lobster is considered a poor choice because lobsters move backwards and could lead to setbacks, regrets, and dwelling on the past. Chickens also scratch and move backwards too and could lead to the same kind of year!
Oh! And chickens also have the added bonus of taking all your luck as they fly away. Basically any “winged” food is off-limits on New Years Day.
Phew! Good thing I made this chicken dish well before New Year’s Eve!
This is just seared chicken breast that I cut down and dusted with some basic seasoning blend before browning in a hot skillet. (Because everything needs to be “browned” in this house.)
After that I combined the chicken with cooked al dente pasta, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fresh green onions and put it all into an oiled baking dish. I whipped up a quick basic white sauce (flour,butter roux – add warm milk) and then emptied the cheese drawer of its bits-n-pieces. Pour this cheese sauce over all, toss to combine and at this point you can either bake it for 30 mins at 350 degrees or refrigerate and bake-off for a later dinner time or even freeze it for another day altogether.
Just don’t eat it on New Year’s Eve or Day!
..old and new, here is a little something I put together for you.(be sure to turn on the speakers!)
I never met a cheese I didn’t like and of course we all know my obsession with Robusto. So it seems shocking that I would consider any other cheese. However, just before Christmas, when I was perusing the Whole Foods cheese department (okay you got me…I was actually eating them out of all their samples)- I was inspired to set up a little cheese board.
Anybody who has shopped there and spent any time in the cheese department may have seen a little basket tucked away by the olive bar full of cheese odds and ends. I love it because it is a great way to sample some pretty fancy cheeses without committing to a big expensive piece. On this day I struck gold with some fairly decent size pieces. I saw a plan for a forming.
I got a little fancy on the cheese board and offered the fig spread that is so good with cheese and crackers. And when I was over in produce they had the most beautiful little Satsuma Mandarins, so I peeled a few of those into a pretty dish and used some whole ones with their wonderful greens.
I didn’t worry about “pairing” my cheeses or complimenting flavors, I just went with what was in the basket of odds and ends. Oh, but I must confess, after eating an embarrassing amount of samples I did buy a full size wedge of the Parrano Gouda. It was the least I could do. But no need to worry Robusto – you remain my first and true love!
Since I was only hosting a couple of folks – this and some homemade cheese straws were all that was needed to kick off dinner!
Well at least my mom and I do. My husband…um… well… he does love spinach, does that count?
But he did admit to liking the incredibly healthy salad that I served at Thanksgiving this year.
(Yes, I am still talking about Thanksgiving recipes – lots of food equals lots of blog post opportunities!)
Thank you Giada for that delicious recipe and the salad dressing – so simple and seasonal!
But as soon as the holiday was over I found myself with lots of fresh chopped kale on hand.
So I did what I always do..
“Just add pasta!” And some crumbled sausage and tomato sauce! And of course some cheese on top, because everything is better with cheese.
This turned out to be an easy, healthy, delicious way to get those greens in for a second round. And you can freeze individual portions for lunches later on.
Just use your favorite sweet or hot Italian sausage – crumbled and browned in a skillet. You don’t need much as a little goes a long way to flavoring the whole thing. I used about 1/3 of a lb of sausage to a 12oz box of tricolor penne and I mixed in a “big can” can of chopped tomatoes. Mix the kale in while the mixture is hot from the skillet, along with some Italian seasoning. Throw in a pinch of crushed fennel seed and some red chili flakes to bump up the flavor. Add the cheese on top and bake in a 350 degree oven till hot and toasty. (20 mins+/-) or cool, cover and freeze.
I have never met Sadie but she gave me something special once a long time ago…
…Her banana nut bread recipe via my 1982 edition of “Just For You…A Cookbook” published by the First Baptist Church of Weston, Massachusetts.
I can’t even remember how I acquired this cookbook. Perhaps we randomly stopped in at the church fund-raiser/rummage sale as we were passing through? More likely I picked it up at a yard sale in New Hampshire where one of the former church members must have relocated. No matter how I got it – I love it. From Janet Yurkus’ spinach dip to Sylvia Akers’ sweet-n-sour pork to Mary D’s lemon squares.
And of course the banana nut bread. Sadie’s recipe.
There isn’t any crazy ingredients or techniques – just a simple, reliable recipe. Sometimes I add the nuts and sometimes I don’t. When I want it to stand in as the dessert I add a dash of vanilla and a generous shake of cinnamon. Other times I cut back on the sugar just a tad and let the natural sweetness of the fruit do the talking. That is the thing about recipes – they are personal.
As for Sadie, a quick check on the internet, indicated she might still be alive at the ripe old age of 99 years old, right there in her same hometown. Probably still cooking banana nut bread for the church fund-raisers every year.
1/2 cup Salted butter, fully softened
1 cup Regular white sugar
2 Eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups AP flour, sifted
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
2 Large Ripe Bananas, mashed
1 Large Banana, split length-wise
Tablespoon of brown sugar to sprinkle on top
Nuts optional – 1/2 cup chopped walnuts is always nice.
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and mix 30 secs more. Sift together the flour, soda, powder and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and stir well. Add 2 mashed bananas and nuts if using. Turn into a greased loaf pan. Place the split banana on top and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour. (Keep an eye, depending on whether you are using glass or metal pans you may want to pull out at 50 mins.) I like to turn mine out to cool a bit and then you can return to the baking dish for storage or wrap tightly for transport and gift giving. Best served slightly warm, slathered with butter.
This year I decided to try my hand at soup. Not just any soup but “pumpkin bisque.”
Now I would love to tell you that I used a pumpkin grown right in my yard. All organic and local and freshly roasted in my oven the day before.
But the truth of the matter is that even though I did actually grow a little sugar pumpkin this year in my front yard. (This picture is really from my front yard!!) It was just too cute (and too small!) to really be cooked. Plus I really liked admiring my handiwork once I picked it and put it on the front steps for fall!
So I did what anybody in their right mind would do. I bought organic, 100% pure pumpkin in a can. And you know what…it was delicious!
In fact it was “Soup-er!”
After doing a little research on soups, I settled on a simple approach. Apples for sweetness and whole milk for creaminess. A little roasted garlic goes a long way towards giving a warm “undertone.” I also decided to get fancy and make my own little brown-butter croutons and some fried sage. (Which by the way was harvested from my back yard herb garden!) I served it with wedges of Parmesan-sage cornbread.
2 cans (15oz) 100% pumpkin puree
1 box (32oz) low-sodium vegetable broth
1 apple peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 tb butter
2 cups +/-whole milk (depends on how creamy you want it)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tb fresh sage, finely minced
1 or 2 small cloves of roasted garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Saute the apple, sage and ginger in the butter until the apples are soft and slightly caramelized. Maybe 4-5 mins. Add the pumpkin and kinda ‘toast” it for another minute or two. De-glaze the pan with the broth. Puree the soup in the pan with one of those immersible stick blenders. ( If you don’t have one – get one – they are worth it! or I suppose you could use a blender and transfer it back to the pot.) At this point I taste for seasoning adding salt/pepper and if you want it sweeter, add some apple sauce or apple cider. I also judge at this point if I want to serve this quantity. Since I was serving a small crowd, I actually removed half of this from the pan, cooled and froze it as a “soup starter” for another day. THEN I added the whole milk (1 to 2 cups) to the remainder of the soup to create a creamy bisque. I just added and stirred until it got to the consistency that was right for me. Now I let this simmer on very low, covered until time to serve. The soup starter in the freezer can just be defrosted another day, heated up and have the milk added at that time.
When I was little the fanciest things always came from France.
That meant when your parents took you out to dinner on your birthday, of course you ordered the “chocolate mousse” right? Because it was fancy and from France! Now that I am all grown up I realize that fancy can be from anywhere and French food doesn’t have to be complicated!
August 15th was the 100th birthday of Julia Child. A person who demystified all that fancy, french food for home cooks everywhere. And through the magic of reruns, YouTube and food blogs – she’s still doing it!
I thought I would join in with other food bloggers (read more about her and this at PBS Food) and make something from my 1961 edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Who doesn’t like chocolate on their birthday? It had to be “mousseline au chocolat!”
I put some chocolate on to melt and got started! Not being much a dessert-maker, never mind a direction-follower, I really had to focus on this! But I followed the directions exactly and made only one minor alteration… I left out the orange liquor because I am not a big fan of that combination. I did splurge and made real whipped cream!
local celebrations. If you visit Cambridge you can stop in and read all about her at the Schlesinger Library.
Bon Appétit & Bon Anniversaire!
(Cue heavenly angel music)
You can read about this annual event here.
In the meantime I will be taking a few minutes out to savor my peaches.
(Shhh I took two this year because it is my last year!)
… “The Day of the Battle of Puebla” … Also Known As …. “Cinco De Mayo”
Not unlike our Evacuation Day here in Boston, Cinco De Mayo celebrates the defeat of a well-equipped, large French army by a small, tired Mexican army. They effectively kicked the French out – just as we kicked the British out!
And how fitting that yesterday a Mexican jockey road to victory on “I’ll Have another!” at The Kentucky Derby.
There was some heavy decision-making in terms of food choice in our house yesterday… go Mexican or go Kentucky Derb-ian? Go all chilli pepper or go all bourbon-pecans?
In the end it was Lydia’s recipe that made the decision easy. Her recipe for slow-cooked beef and green chili stew just immediately spoke to me!
So with a few adaptations, because I have trouble following directions, we were off and running to a day of Mexican victories!
- I omitted some things from the original. I substituted and I increased amounts on others.
3 lbs +/- stew beef – I used a pot roast & cut it up and trimmed it myself
3 Tbsp margarine
1 medium onion, diced
2 4-oz cans green chiles, mild “diced”
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1 chipotle chili in adobo, chopped. WOO HOO it was still too hot for us – use your own judgement here!
1/4 cup barbecue sauce, homemade or store-bought – Emeril’s original rocks!
2 cups homemade or canned low-sodium beef broth
2 tsp cumin
1 14 oz can of black beans drained (low sodium) optional
1/4 cup Masa dissolved into 1/2 cup of warm water – a “slurry”
Brown the beef in batches in the melted margarine. Set beef aside, turn heat down and add onions, brown for a few mins. Add cumin and chipotle chili to kinda “toast” for a minute. Add both cans of diced green chili – pan will start to de-glaze. Add the diced tomatoes and finish de-glazing the pan. Add back in the beef and any juices. Add the BBQ sauce and broth – liquid shouldn’t quite cover meat. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for two hours. I cooked mine in a heavy enameled cast iron pot – you know the one with the fancy French name – you could use any heavy bottom pot with a lid or your slow-cooker but double the time if you use a slow-cooker. Check the meat – if it is falling apart tender, then add the Masa slurry, stir and cook another hour on a slightly lower setting. If after two hours the meat is not meltingly tender cook another hour before adding the Masa slurry. Check for seasoning level, add salt and pepper to taste. Hot sauce too if you don’t have “baby mouths” like us! Add the drained can of black beans about a 1/2 hour before serving.
Makes a ridiculously large amount. Serve over rice with warm corn tortillas and cold sour cream – or better yet Mexican Crema!
That is what I served up for a light, healthy Easter lunch this year! I know it doesn’t sound possible that “light” & “healthy” could be part of an “all-you-can-eat-buffet” but it was…
I gave everybody a plate of clean, dry, organic spinach and then they could top it with some or all of their favorites:
Shredded carrot, sliced beets, toasted garbanzo beans, roasted asparagus with lemon & butter, crumbled blue cheese, diced red pepper, baby peas, hard-cooked eggs, sautéed mushrooms & onions, crispy bacon (who can resist?), Dijon vinaigrette dressing.
And some sweet potato biscuits just to add a little home-baked goodness!
But of course no Easter would be complete without one of these…
I put together a little “scrapbook” of sorts.. A year in review if you will.
A year of family, friends, good food and about 10 extra pounds.
Some of the pictures are iffy (cellphone) some of the meals weren’t great (not shown) but all of it is genuine.
…oh and be sure to turn your earbuds on… ’cause there’s music!