August 19, 2017

Strawberry Confetti Whipped Cream

1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup freeze-dried strawberries
1/4 cup jumbo sized confetti sprinkles
1 drop red liquid food coloring


Place the freeze-dried strawberries in a  powerful mixer, mortar and pestle or food processor and grind until it forms a powder. Whisk the powder through a fine sieve into a bowl. Discard the seeds. Measure out 2 tablespoons of strawberry powder. Discard or store for future use any leftover strawberry powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a mixing bowl using a hand mixer beat the cream, strawberry powder, food coloring, and sugar together until soft peaks form.

When the peaks have formed, remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large spoon to gently fold in the sprinkles without deflating the cream. Spoon into a bowl or directly onto cake.

Serve immediately and refrigerate leftovers. Best eaten the day it is made.

My thoughts:
Today is my birthday! Woohoo! I'm celebrating by walking the boardwalk, eating crabs and playing skeeball but I am leaving you with this festive recipe.

I was at the store the other day and I spotted a Hello Kitty ice cream cake. I already had quite an assortment of Hello Kitty paperware on hand so having a pre-birthday Hello Kitty party for me seemed perfect. (Fun fact: When I turned 25 my now-husband threw me a little dinner party and everyone who came brought me at least one Hello Kitty themed present--without coordinating or asking what I'd want.) It was a fun way to kick off my "birthday week".

Being me, I wanted to make something to go with the ice cream cake.  Whipped cream seemed like the obvious solution: who doesn't like whipped cream? I love working with freeze-dried fruit so I flavored it with homemade strawberry powder and colored it with just a drop of red food dye to enhance the pink color. Then I stirred in some jumbo confetti for an extra bit of fun and pop of color. It went great with the vanilla confetti cake, it was fresh and fruity tasting yet light.

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August 14, 2017

"Everything" Popcorn


4 cups air-popped popcorn
1/2 teaspoon dehydrated minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon popcorn salt
2-3 tablespoons melted butter


Place the popcorn in a large bowl. Drizzle with butter and toss to coat. Sprinkle with spices, toss to distribute.

My thoughts:
Matt's away for a few days being the volunteer coordinator for a Jewish deaf event so I've been left to my own devices. I'm not used to cooking for one anymore! Today I did a sort of snackies meal for one and made this everything bagel inspired popcorn, sliced tomatoes from the garden, and my new obsession: baby cucumbers dipped in hummus.

To make it more festive, I served it on this cute tray I received in my August PopSugar Must Have Box and put the popcorn in a vintage school lunch bowl my Grandpop got when he worked for the Board of Ed in the '70s.

You can get $10 off your first PopSugar Box with the code PARTY until 8/31. My birthday is this week so I loved that the theme for August (the 5th "birthday" of the PopSugar box) was celebrations and birthdays!

To celebrate their fifth birthday, Popsugar is giving away some prizes if you sign up for a PopSugar Box before the end of August.

Week 1: Limited # of lucky subscribers will win something from Pehr Designs

Week 2: Limited # of lucky subscribers will win something from First Aid

Beauty Week 3: Limited # of lucky subscribers will win something from Kendra Scott

Week 4: Limited # of lucky subscribers will win something from Tarte cosmetics

Week 5 (8/31): 5 Grand Prize! Limited # of subscribers something from Cambridge Satchel Co + 1 year Must Have

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August 11, 2017

Masala Chai Spiced Pickled Peaches

8-10 large peaches, pitted, peeled and sliced
2 cups water
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 inch knob ginger, sliced
8 whole cloves
1/8 cup green cardamom pods
12 black peppercorns
12 allspice berries
2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
2 tablespoons loose black tea, in a tea ball

Prep your jars/lids. Evenly divide the spices and peach slices between 2 quart-sized jars. Set aside.

Combine the water, vinegar, ginger, tea ball, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Remove ginger slices and discard. Pour brine over the peach slices, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove any bubbles. Seal and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Yield: 2 quarts

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can.

My thoughts:

Sweet Preservation asked me to be a Canbassador again this year, tasked with spreading the canning word, so of course, I said yes.The Washington State Fruit Commission sent me a huge box of gigantic peaches and nectarines. I didn't feel like jam so I thought I'd make a batch of fruit pickles. I haven't made any in about 4 years and I miss the bright sweet-tartness they add to a cheese plate, salad, sandwiches and even savory meat dishes. The inspiration for these came from the masala chai my husband learned to make when he lived in Texas of all places. We had all of the ingredients on hand but if you don't, any Indian or Nepalese market should have them. The peaches have a great spicy-sweet flavor going on and a pleasant warmness from the spice mix.

August 09, 2017

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chips and coconut. Form cookies by dropping 1 heaping teaspoon of dough two inches apart. Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 14 minutes. Slide them out on the parchment paper on to a wire rack and allow them to cool 1-2 minutes on the parchment on the wire rack before removing the parchment and allowing them to cool directly on the wire rack.

Yield: about 1 1/2-2 dozen cookies

My thoughts:
Matt's been busy volunteering at the National Black Deaf Advocates conference that is being held here in Baltimore this week so I've been trying to keep busy! I had a big craving for chocolate chip cookies and it turns out today (8/4) is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! It is all silly and made up but it seemed like a sign so I went ahead and whipped up these cookies while I caught up on various Australian dramas. I don't know why I don't make cookies more often; I mixed these up, baked them and ate one all during a single episode of Janet King. Admittedly, this isn't a huge batch but still, that's pretty speedy! Then I had two more while catching up on Insecure because they were that good.

The coconut adds a touch of a tropical note, of course, but it also adds a subtle yet pleasant chewiness to the cookie that I liked a lot. I think the extra moisture will keep them soft and fresh longer than regular chocolate chip cookies too which is always a plus when there are only two of you eating them! The perfect cookie for chocolate and coconut lovers.

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August 07, 2017

Chicken Spiedies

for the chicken:
1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup olive oil
juice of 3 lemons
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon dried mint leaves
4 cloves garlic, sliced
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

to serve:
soft Italian or "deli" rolls

Place all of the chicken ingredients in a marinating container or resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on (soaked if bamboo) skewers. Place on a platter and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare a charcoal grill. When ready, place the skewers on the grill and cook, 3-5 minutes on each side or until fully cooked.

Lightly grill the insides of the bread (brush with oil first if desired). Remove the skewers from the chicken, place inside the roll. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
I've seen Spiedie marinade at a few stores (mostly NY and NJ based chains) and was intrigued so I googled it and it turns out that speidies are Binghamton, NY's specialty. There is even a speidie festival! The origins are a bit murky but it seems like it was brought to central NY state by Italian immigrants and soon became a bar and street fair favorite. Sort of like central NY's answer to barbecue.

Originally they were made with lamb but there are also variations that use beef, pork, and chicken. Chicken is always super popular (and cheap!) so that seems to be the most common variety now. Chicken breast seems to be the most popular but chicken thighs are so much more flavorful and grill so nicely, I used them instead. The marinade is easy, you take your basic Italian spices (parsley, oregano, basil), vinegar, garlic, lemon juice and interestingly, mint and toss it all together. So easy! You could use all fresh herbs but I don't have much of an herb garden this year and I find that dry herbs work just as well in a marinate if not even better because they distribute more evenly in the liquid. You don't want to marinate the chicken too long since the mix is so acidic so about 4 hours will do it. The marinade makes the meat so super flavor and tender it doesn't need anything else. A bit of mayo can be good, though. Try these sandwiches the next time you grill, it is just as easy as kabobs but a bit more fun!

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August 02, 2017

Deviled Egg Shrimp Salad

5 hard-boiled eggs
1 lb peeled, cooked shrimp
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons dillweed
1 1/2 teaspoon dill relish
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
freshly ground black pepper

to serve:
rolls or sliced bread
tomato slices (optional)
additional paprika (optional)

Halve the eggs. Remove the yolks to a large bowl. Set aside.

Coarsely chop the egg whites and shrimp. Place in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Mash together the spices, mayo and mustard into the yolks until smooth. Add the shrimp and egg whites. Stir to evenly combine all ingredients.

Spoon on to rolls/bread, garnish with tomato slice, sprinkle with paprika and serve. Alternatively, refrigerate the salad until ready to eat, up to 24 hours.
My thoughts:
I came up with the idea for this while reading The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South by John T. Edge (read my thoughts on my book blog). In it he describes a truly dreadful sounding dish consisting of a bed of deviled eggs topped with a creamy, cheesy gravy, shrimp and served over those awful "Chinese" crunchy noodles. I shuddered. Then I got to thinking.  I like shrimp salad. I like deviled eggs. I've even made shrimp deviled eggs! What if I made something that combined the two and made something actually tasty (no offense to people who actually like the casserole, I found recipes for it online so someone must still be making it) and probably a whole lot easier?  I'm glad I did. This shrimp salad-egg salad hybrid is awesome. It is like the creamiest deviled eggs ever mixed with tasty, sweet shrimp. What's not to love?

I had mine on a long roll because we happen to have them for a dish I was planning to make tomorrow for dinner but Matt had his on potato bread and said it was just as good. I also got to break out my faux paper plates with an ant print so win-win.

Note: look for dill relish near regular sweet pickle relish in the condiment aisle or near pickles. If you can't find it, finely chop up half of a dill pickle spear.

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July 31, 2017

Backyard Garden Salad with Burrata

2 zucchini, spiralized into ribbons*
1 "baby" cucumber, spiralized into thin "noodles"
4 red radish, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used Black Krim tomatoes from my garden)
2 balls burrata
1 spring onion bulb, cut into half moons
Himalayan sea salt (or regular)
balsamic vinegar
extra virgin olive oil

Arrange the zucchini, cucumber, tomato, radish and onion on two plates. Top each with burrata. Slice the burrata through the middle but not cutting all the way through. Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to taste. Serve immediately.
My thoughts:
Are you ready for another salad? This one is super simple and is made using only ingredients that should be readily available in your garden (or farmers market) right now. I have lived in my house since 2005 (one year after I started this blog almost to the day!) and never have I had success with tomatoes. We have tons of fruit (blackberries, red and gold raspberries, figs, plums, beach plums, apples, pawpaws, and serviceberries-check out my #baltimorebackyard on Instagram for pictures) but gave up on vegetables after one year we planted 10 varieties of tomatoes and didn't get one. Our yard it pretty shady, so I think that probably is the issue. Anyway, we went to the Annapolis garden sale back in May at the William Paca House (totally worth the drive if you are local) and on impulse picked up two plants. We picked a tiny, sunny spot near the steps and they have thrived! The plants are taller than I am. So far, I have only had 2 ripe, these Black Krim (this explains why they are purple-y and not red in the picture) so I had to make a quick salad! I've been wanting to try out my new spiralizer so I used that but you could just thinly slice all of the vegetables yourself or use a mandoline. I hope you enjoy this salad as much as we did! I served it with steak and a grilled baked potato.

*I used one I bought at Aldi, it is nearly identical to this one (if not actually identical).

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July 28, 2017

Mediterranean Beet Salad


10 oz cooked beets*, diced
2 "baby" cucumbers, diced
3 oz crumbled feta
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 bulb spring onion, cut into half moons

for the dressing:
juice of  1/2 lemon
3 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Toss together the beet ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside. Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Drizzle over the salad, toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*I used  Love Beets brand cooked beets I bought at Costco. Alternatively, you can roast your beets.

My thoughts:
Tonight we are having my favorite kind of meal. I call it snackies and it is basically meat, cheese and bread for dinner. It is perfect for hot summer nights but we do have it year round (in the colder months we normally have some hot apps). So we aren't totally unhealthy hedonists, I try and throw some fruit in there or something. Today I was feeling peppy so I tossed together this salad using some staples and odds and ends from the fridge. I was really pleased with how it turned out! It is light and refreshing with a nice mix of textures: tender beets, crisp cucumber, and crumbly cheese.

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July 21, 2017

Summery Spaghetti and Meatballs

for the meatballs:
2 lb 90% lean ground beef
1 medium zucchini, grated and squeezed dry
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 cup finely grated pecorino romano
1/3 cup bread crumbs
pinch nutmeg
1 egg

for the sauce:
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz petite diced tomatoes
28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 cup red wine (optional)
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced basil
1 tablespoon minced oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil

to serve:
1 lb spaghetti, cooked to package instructions

Start the sauce first. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan. Add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onions are softened. Add the remaining sauce ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally.

In a medium sized bowl, add all of the meatball ingredients. With a gentle hand, combine all ingredients and form into 1 to 2-inch meatballs. Place on an (oiled or nonstick) broiler pan and broil for about 5 minutes or until just starting to brown.

Add to the sauce. Continue to cook until the meatballs are fully cooked and most of the liquid has been cooked out of the sauce. Serve over hot spaghetti.

Pro tip: Leftover meatballs in sauce freeze remarkably well.

My thoughts:
Just because it is summer doesn't mean one can't crave spaghetti and meatballs! As a nod to the season, I added some grated (and squeezed dry using a paper towel) zucchini which pretty much everyone has on hand right now. It isn't quite tomato season here yet (all I've seen are cherry tomatoes and puny ones at that and the ones on my plant are still super green) so I went with canned tomatoes but if you have fresh, by all means, use that! Just peel and hand crush/chop them to equal the appropriate amounts. Either way, the dish was a fresher, more summer take on the traditonal favorite and only heated up the house a little bit.

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July 12, 2017

Elotes Inspired Hamburgers

1 lb 93% lean ground beef
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/3 cup grated cotija cheese
1 ear's worth of corn kernels

spicy mayo:
1/2-1 teaspoon Tajín Clásico seasoning (chile lime seasoning)
1/2 cup mayonnaise

to serve:


In a medium bowl, combine all of the burger ingredients until evenly distributed. Form into 4 even patties. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the spicy mayo ingredients. Set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare grill according to manufacturer's instructions. Grill the burgers, flipping once until desired doneness. Place on buns, top with spicy mayo. Serve immediately.

Warning! You might hear some of the corn "pop" as it cooks!

My thoughts:
I am sure this recipe is somehow blasphemous. I admit is it is a bit of a stretch but when I realized I had all the ingredients for elotes and ground beef, I couldn't resist. It is kind of wacky but it works, I promise! Think of it as fusion if that helps. You get bursts of sweet corn and that lovely cheese flavor in every bite of burger and the spicy mayo sets it off perfectly. I served it with mango with Tajín sprinkled on, chips and guacamole. It was a great summer meal and a wonderful way to use up that last ear of corn. The burgers were so good, my husband gave an audible "Mmmm" and a thumbs up after one bite and raved about them all night.

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July 10, 2017

Cauliflower Salad with Marinated Artichokes and Olives

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives (in brine)
1 jarred marinated artichoke, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cubanelle pepper, diced
1 large handful curly parsley, chopped
1/4 cup marinade from the artichoke jar
juice of 1 lemon


Bring a few inches of water to boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and steam 5-8 minutes or until tender. Drain and allow to cool. Place in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss to evenly distribute all ingredients. Chill 1 hour prior to serving for best flavor.

My thoughts:
I know, another cauliflower salad. I can't help it! I really enjoy them this time of year when cauliflower is in season. It just tastes so fresh! Of course, I couldn't resist using a bit of pickle-y, marinated flavor. Plus you can use the marinade from the artichoke jar totally eliminating the need to make a vinegarette. The lemon juice brightens it up and keeps it all from being too heavy. The cubanelle adds a light pepperiness and crunch as well. A refreshing salad for a hot day.

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June 29, 2017

Dill Sun-dried Tomato Kofta Sandwiches


for the kofta:
1 lb 93% lean ground beef
3 tablespoons minced dill
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dry, not packed in oil), minced
1/2 small onions, minced
freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup thinly sliced, seeded cucumber
1 tablespoon minced dill
freshly ground black pepper

to serve:
small flatbread/pocketless pita, warmed
sliced tomato
sliced cucumber


Mix together all of the kofta ingredients until well combined. Form into 12 small flat patties (think slider sized). Heat canola oil in a large skillet, cook the kofta until cooked through, flipping once, about 5 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towel-lined plates.

Meanwhile, stir together all of the tzatziki ingredients until well distributed. Set aside.

Spread the bread with tzatziki, top with two kofta, tomato, and cucumber. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
The idea for these came to me when I was visiting the new location of Trader Joe's out in the suburbs. I have a love/hate relationship with Trader Joe's but I do love their sundried tomatoes because they are not packed in oil. Oil-packed is good for some recipes but when I'm using it with other heavy ingredients like meat, I really prefer the dry kind. Anyway, their ground beef isn't as overpriced as most of their meat so I picked that up and voila, Dill-Sundried Tomato Kofta Sandwiches were born. I made these for lunch because Matt is working from home today but they are definitely hearty enough for dinner when served with some veggies or a salad. We were both surprised at how well the dill came across in the burgers. It really lightened the flavor of the kofta and pulled together the whole sandwich. Plus it was super quick to make, I slept in and was only half awake when I made this and it still came out awesome and in under about 25 minutes.

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June 26, 2017

Raspberry Eton Mess

1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cup fresh raspberries (I used a mix of golden and red raspberries)
1 1/4 cup (whole) raspberry meringues


In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a mixing bowl using a hand mixer beat the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form. Meanwhile, lightly crush 1/2 of the raspberries (I did this by hand but the back of a spoon will do) and set aside. When the peaks have formed, remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large spoon to gently fold in the crushed raspberries (do not thoroughly incorporate) without deflating the cream. Crumble the meringues over the mixture and gently fold them in. Divide into bowls. Top with remaining berries. Serve immediately or refrigerate 1/2 hour. Best eaten the day it is made.

Serves: about 4
My thoughts:
One of the biggest disappointments of my trip to England last year is that when we were in Windsor, a mere footbridge away from Eton during strawberry season, we did not get a single chance to eat Eton Mess. It was a major goal of mine for the trip. At least I got to see the castle.

There is a popular story that when at Eton cricket match a dog knocked over the prepared dessert, meringue and strawberries (I'm assuming a pavlova) crushing it and to salvage it, an enterprising chef tossed it with some whipped cream and served it anyway. The truth seems to be that some chef started selling it in the Eton snack/sweets shop in the 1930s but I like the dog story better.

Traditionally it is made with strawberries but our yard is overflowing with golden and red raspberries so I thought I'd make it using raspberries instead. The raspberries crushed much more easily than strawberries that made the dessert (pudding!) even quicker to make.

OMG is so good! Simple, even though I did make the meringues from scratch so that took some time, but surprisingly light tasting and full of fresh raspberry flavor. I loved the pockets of chewy meringue in the fluffy, creamy, fruity whipped cream.  I can't wait to make it again.

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June 23, 2017

Free Form Raspberry Meringues


3 egg whites, at room temperature
pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 oz freeze dried raspberries


Preheat oven to 250. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Place the raspberries in a Vitamix, mortar and pestle or food processor and grind until it forms a powder. Whisk the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any seeds/chunks into a bowl. Measure out 3 1/2 tablespoons of powder. Place in a bowl and whisk in the sugar.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer or a regular bowl and using a hand mixer, beat the eggs, salt, and cream of tartar together until soft peaks form. While the mixer is still running, slowly stream in the raspberry/sugar mixture. Beat until stiff peaks form. Using a regular dining teaspoon and your fingers or a second spoon, place heaping spoonfuls of meringue on the lined baking sheet. They can be close together as they will not spread. When all of the meringue is on the baking sheet, place it in the oven for 1 1/2 hrs. After the time is up, turn off the oven, leaving the meringues inside, and let them hang out for one hour.

Yield: about 30 meringues

My thoughts:

As you may have guessed, I am not one for fussy details. I piped exactly 3 meringues before the bag started to leak so I thought I'd go rustic. You can, of course, pipe your meringues if you want them extra cute but it really isn't necessary. I get a lot of emails from people who say they don't bake because they don't know how to make swirly icing or they don't have piping bags and I am here to say you really don't need them. These meringues are just as tasty and for what I am ultimately doing with them (Raspberry Eton Mess), their appearance doesn't matter. Frankly, even if you were serving these as-is they are tasty and pretty and people will be so impressed you made them yourself vs. buying them at the store (which I was tempted to do) they won't care what they look like.

I was really excited to remember that I had some leftover freeze-dried raspberries from making my Very Berry Rice Krispies Treats so rather than boring vanilla meringues I could make raspberry ones! Any freeze-dried fruit should work. The flavor is light (as are meringues!) but very raspberry-y and it turned them into a very pretty pink color.

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June 21, 2017

Top Drawer Crab Cakes


1 lb jumbo lump blue crab meat
1 slice of loaf brioche, torn into tiny pieces
1/2 teaspoon good quality dry mustard (like Colman's)
1-2 tablespoons Old Bay (depends on how Baltimore you are)
1 egg
1/4 cup mayonnaise


Heat 1/2-inch canola oil in a large skillet. In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, Old Bay, egg and mayo until smooth. Add the crab and bread. Form the mixture into 5-6, 3-4-inch, 1/2 inch thick patties. Place in the pan and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and heated through (about 5 minutes on each side). They are a little more fragile than some so take care to only flip them once. Drain on paper towel-lined plates and serve.

My thoughts:
I've made Baltimore (or Maryland if you prefer) crab cakes a lot. I've posted the method I personally use most frequently which is similar to what I grew up eating and the another method that I didn't grow up with but that is also very popular which uses crushed saltines as the binder. I haven't posted one using bread crumbs yet (another popular method) but maybe one day.

This recipe is basically a richer version of what I grew up eating. It uses eggy, slightly sweet brioche (I buy the sandwich loaf brioche at Aldi) to bind, mayonnaise for a really creamy texture, and straight jumbo lump (no backfin). The result is a  more decadent crab cake that is just as simple to make as "normal" crab cakes. Perfect for making a weeknight special.

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June 19, 2017

Chipotle Summer Squash and Sirloin Chili

1 lb cubed sirloin or stew meat
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 small zucchini or yellow squash, sliced into coins
1 onion, diced
7 oz chipotles in adobe, minced (with sauce)
20 oz (2 cans) diced tomatoes with chopped chiles, drained
30 oz (2 cans) dark red kidney beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 1/2 tablespoons New Mexican chili powder
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Spray a skillet with nonstick spray. Quickly saute the meat until the meat is just barely cooked on all sides. Add to a 4-quart slow cooker. Stir. In a small bowl, stir together the chipotles in adobe, tomatoes, beans, vegatables, and spices. Pour over the meat mixture. Stir to evenly combine. Cook on low 7-8 hrs and then high until ready to serve (up to 2 hours). Stir prior to serving.

Note: if the chili looks watery then turn up to high and leave the lid ajar for 30 minutes or until thickened.

My thoughts:
A rainy summer day calls for a slightly summery take on the usual slow cooker chili. I say this every year but it is true, I like using my slow cooker way more in the summer than I do in the winter. In the winter, I don't mind the stove and oven heating up the house but in the summer, in my 1930s house with only a window unit to cool the whole first floor, baking and boiling hold little interest. It isn't as if every summer meal is going to be a salad or sandwich or made on the grill (although we do a lot of all that) some are going to be hot and made indoors! Might as well make use of the slow cooker! This chili is on the spicy side and quite hearty. I like it with some sour cream on top to take the edge off. It also makes great use of summer squash--something I am already seeing in abundance. Perfect for a hot, steamy rainy summer evening.

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June 07, 2017

Greek-esque Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad


1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 cup halved kalamata olives
1/2 crumbed feta
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning
freshly ground black pepper
red pepper flakes

Lightly steam the caulflower and broccoli. Drain and allow to cool. Place in a large bowl and toss with olive, onion and feta. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and spices. Drizzle over vegetable mixture. Toss to evenly distribute. Refrigerate and serve within 24 hrs.
My thoughts:

I've never been to Greece so I'm not even sure they are big cauliflower or broccoli eaters but my favorite flavors from Greek cuisine inspired this simple salad. Cauliflower and broccoli can be a bit blah so I am always trying to think of new ways to dress them up. This salad is full of flavor from the vinaigrette, olives and cheese yet it takes like 10 minutes to pull together which is about where my attention span is right now. I say work smarter, not harder.

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June 05, 2017

Coconut Mini Layer Cake


for the cake:

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup flour
pinch of salt

for the icing:

4 oz brick cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1-2 teaspoons dark rum or vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut


for the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

In a separate small bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and coconut milk alternately, beginning and ending with the coconut milk. Pour evenly into two buttered and floured four-inch pans. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool 5 mins in the pan. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a rack. If the tops are very domed, slice the top off one to make it flat and use it to make the bottom layer of the cake.

for the icing:

In a large bowl, beat together the vanilla/rum, cream cheese, and confectioners sugar until smooth. Add more confectioners sugar in 2 tablespoon increments if you want or need a stiffer or sweeter frosting. Take out 1/3 of the frosting and mix with 1/3 of the coconut flakes. Spread top of one cake and place the second cake on top. Spread the remaining frosting over the cake and coat with coconut.

My thoughts:

We were going to buy Matt's birthday cake at a bakery this year so we could focus on picking crabs and not baking but we realized that since his birthday is Memorial Day this year and the day before is a Sunday, both bakeries we thought about ordering from would be closed. Since it is just the two of us, I ordered this set of tiny cake pans and made a teeny-tiny layer cake. It was a little tricky to figure out the proportions (and you might find you have a bit of icing leftover but better too much than too little right?) but basically it is a regular cake scaled down by nearly 3/4.

This cake would also be perfect for a child's birthday (they could have their own cake all to themselves!) or even made in multiples for an event. I'm kind of looking forward to making more tiny layer cakes down the line. It is just too cute!

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May 27, 2017

Spicy Kohl Slaw


2 medium-large bulbs kohlrabi, cut into matchsticks
1 baby cucumber, spiralized
1 baby yellow squash, spiralized
1 baby zucchini, spiralized
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2-3 tablespoons shichimi togarashi
sea salt


Place all ingredients in a medium bowl, toss to evenly distribute all ingredients. Refrigerate at least 1 hour prior to serving.

My thoughts:
I guess technically this is more of a raw salad than a slaw (but what's the difference really? kohlrabi is in the cabbage family after all) but the name kohl slaw is too good not to use. I love kohlrabi so I was excited to see it in my produce box last week. I think it is so good raw so I thought I'd use it in some sort of salad. I was going to use my mandoline to make it into thin strips but it kept sticking on the blades so I chopped it up into matchsticks the best I could. I spiralized the rest of veggies with my decidedly not fancy spiralizer which made them not only pretty but a great size to suck up the vinegar and flavor from the shichimi togarashi while it marinates in the fridge. This is a wonderful salad to bring to a cookout or picnic because not only does it take like 10 minutes to make, it is full of flavor (thanks, 7-spice powder!), can be made ahead of time and is perfectly safe to sit outside in the heat (I know how people are about mayo-based salads even if I disagree with them) and is vegan and gluten-free.

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May 22, 2017

Pickle-Spiked Cheeseburgers


for the burger:
1 1/4 lb 90% lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped "Hamburger" dill pickle chips*
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons horseradish deli mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 slices Butterkäse cheese**
freshly ground black pepper.

to serve:
4 pretzel rolls
horseradish deli mustard
"Hamburger" dill pickle chips


In a medium bowl, mix together all burger ingredients until they are evenly distributed. Firmly form into 4 even patties. Set aside.

Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Cook the patties, flipping once, until cooked to desired doneness over medium heat. Drain, if needed, on a paper towel-lined plate. Place burgers on buns, top with additional mustard and pickles if desired. Serve immediately.

*find these pickle slices near other shelf-stable pickles on the grocery store shelf, these pickles give the burgers that classic burger taste so don't substitute fancy dill pickles or kosher dills.

**Find this German, smooth melting cheese at stores with a well-stocked cheese section or it is frequently available at Aldi. Gouda would make a good substitute in a pinch.

My thoughts:
I've been on sort of a burger kick lately as you may have noticed. I bought the ground beef hoping that we would get a chance to grill but we were in Washington all day yesterday visiting the amazing NMAAHC and came home too tired to cook and today it is rainy so no grilling for us! Luckily, I think they were still very good even without the benefits of charcoal. I love, love, love pickles and even though I make my own I always keep a jar of hamburger chips in my fridge. It is like $1 at Aldi for a vat and they are really what gives burgers that classic diner/fast food burger taste. These burgers are loaded with pickle flavor (and lots of chunks so you really have to a firm hand with the patties or they will crack) and just a hint of onion. Super savory, super delicious and super easy to throw together--I made these for our lunch in about 20 minutes start to finish. The pretzel roll held up well to the juicy burger and the flavor really complimented the vaguely German flavors of the sandwich. Luckily pretzel rolls are pretty easy to find these days! I remember having to make my own not too long ago and now even regular supermarkets have bags of them.

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May 15, 2017

Kimchi Burgers


for the burger:
1 lb 90% lean ground beef
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 tablespoon gochujang
2 tablespoons soy sauce

to serve:
4 brioche rolls
gochujang mayonnaise*
3/4 cup chopped kimchi

In a medium bowl, mix together all burger ingredients until they are evenly distributed. Form into 3 or 4 patties. Set aside.

Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Cook the patties, flipping once, until cooked to desired doneness over medium heat. Place on buns, top with mayo and kimchi. Serve immediately.

*I bought some at Target but you can make it yourself by mixing mayo and a small amount of gochujang together.
My thoughts:
Matt has been studying sign language for a while now and goes to a ton of events about ASL. I think the most exciting one he went to was a kimchi making class in ASL where he not only came home with a jar of homemade kimchi but had learned a few words of Korean sign language!

The kimchi was great on its own but we thought we'd make something fun incorporating it. Matt found gochujang mayo at Target (who knew?), we already had gochujang, sesame oil and Korean soy sauce in the fridge (if you don't, a quick trip the Korean or other well-stocked grocery store will get you all set) so burgers seemed to be the obvious choice. The burgers are not quite as hot (unless you use extra hot gochujang!) as one might think but they are very flavorful. A great change from the typical burger.

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May 10, 2017

Very Berry Rice Krispies Treats

2 tablespoons butter
6 oz large marshmallows
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups crisped rice cereal (AKA Rice Krispies)
scant 1/4 cup freeze-dried strawberries*
scant 1/4 cup freeze-dried raspberries
scant 1/4 cup freeze-dried blueberries


Coat 8-inch pan with cooking spray or brush with oil. Set aside.

Place all of the freeze-dried fruit into a small bowl. Lightly crush using your hands or the back of a spoon. In a large bowl, stir together the cereal and freeze-dried fruit. Set aside.

Melt butter over low heat in a large, tall pot. Add marshmallows and vanilla and stir until nearly completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in cereal/fruit mix. Use a greased spoon or spatula the cereal into the pan. Use the back of the spoon to press it firmly into the pan in an even layer. Cool, cut into 9 squares and eat.

*I used Crunchies brand fruit (if you have a bag, you can trace it back to where the fruit was grown!)

Note: Double this recipe to make in a 9x13 inch pan.

My thoughts:
Am I the only one who thinks of the '80s commercial of the mom making the Rice Krispies Treats and then tossing flour on her face before taking them out to her family to imply that they were so difficult and time-consuming to make? I swear I just saw it again this past Christmas. Anyway! Rice Krispies Treats are an even better treat to make during the warmer weather than the holiday season, they are quick, don't heat up the house and are lighter than a lot of desserts. This time of year my mind turns to berries but they are not really ripe here yet beyond strawberries so I subbed in freeze-dried fruit to provide that berry flavor. The great thing about freeze-dried fruit in something like this is that if you lightly crush it, it gives off some dust that helps spread the flavor throughout the whole bar. Really yummy and perfect for summer. These would be great at a cookout, especially for Memorial Day or 4th of July as they are red, white and blue!

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May 08, 2017

Cincinnati Chili Mac

1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 lb ground chicken (or sub in lean ground beef)
28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
15 oz canned dark red kidney beans, drained
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 oz hot, cooked, elbow macaroni

to serve:
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
chopped onion


Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion and garlic until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken (or beef!). Brown, breaking up large chunks until nearly fully cooked, about 8-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, spices, and beans. Simmer until warmed through and the liquid is nearly completely evaporated, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the pasta, cook 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and onions. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
I was planning to make chicken chili mac tonight for dinner as it is oddly chilly for May and was trying to think of a way to make it more exciting when it hit me, Cinncinati Chili is basically chili mac but layered rather than all mixed together. There are several ways to eat Cincinnati style chili:
3-way: Spaghetti topped with chili, covered with shredded cheddar cheese
4-way: Spaghetti topped with chili, cheese, onions
5-way: Spaghetti topped with beans, chili, cheese & onions
I just swapped out the spaghetti for macaroni noodles and stirred the kidney beans into the chili rather than layering them on top. The result was a super comforting dinner. I used ground chicken so it would be a bit lighter but feel free to use the more traditional beef.

Can't get enough? Make traditional Cincinnati Chili, this slow cooker version, and even Cincinnati Chili Dogs.

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April 17, 2017

Ham & Spring Vegetable Pasta Salad

1 1/2 cups cubed ham
1/2 lb asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
12 oz small pasta, cooked and cooled
1 cup fresh or frozen peas*
1/2 red onion, diced
1 baby cucumber, diced
1 (loose) cup baby arugula

1 teaspoon paprika
1/4-1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Dijon

Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Saute the ham and asparagus until the ham is lightly browned and the asparagus is tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the peas, onion, cucumber and arugula. Add the pasta, ham, and asparagus. Stir to evenly distribute. Gently stir in the dressing until the ingredients are evenly coated. Refrigerate up to one day or serve immediately.

*if frozen add the peas to the pasta while it cooks for the last 5 minutes

My thoughts:
Matt's been off on spring break so I haven't had to make my usual cold dinner for him to take on the night he goes directly from work to class. He goes back tomorrow so I thought why not kill two birds with one stone and use up the ham we bought on sale (my mom hosts holidays so we never have leftovers) and some vegetables we had on hand and make a packable dinner? I love getting my farm box delivery (although I don't get it every week until the growing season really picks up), the arugula from last Tuesday was still super fresh! I tossed that in along with some asparagus, peas, cucumbers (which aren't quite in season here yet) and red onion for crunch and bite. I wasn't sure about ham in pasta salad but it was actually really good; just resist any temptation to add salt. I'm adding this to the rotation for next spring, it is a great way to use up spring and Easter odds and ends.

We also made a great spring vegetable matzo ball soup for Passover this year if you are interested!

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April 14, 2017

Egg Salad with Ham and Watercress

6 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons Dijon
2/3 (loose) cup watercress
4 oz cubed ham
3 scallions/green onions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
freshly ground black pepper


Slice eggs in half and remove the yolks. Place the yolks in a small bowl. Set aside.

Chop up the egg whites. Place in a medium-sized bowl. Add the ham, greens and scallions. Stir.

Place the mayonnaise, mustard and spices in the small bowl with the yolks. Mash with a fork until smooth. Pour over the chopped egg mixture. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

My thoughts:
I love watercress. I don't know why it isn't more popular here in the US. When we were in England nearly every grocery store (we went to a lot) and sandwich shop had something with watercress (or its cousin "cress" aka "garden cress") for sale (or as they said "on offer"). It is light, crispy and has a pleasant peppery-mustardy bite that complements creamy dishes like this one quite well. I am not a huge lettuce on sandwiches person (I always remove half of the "spring mix" that is on my beloved smoked salmon BLT) but the leaves of watercress are so small that they can be left whole and mixed into the egg salad rather than lining the bread. Adding the ham made the sandwich more satisfying and filling than egg salad normally is and added a smoky note. This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover ham or egg you might have hanging about in a satisfying (packable!) lunch.

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