August 20, 2018

Zucchini-Potato Latkes

4 cups finely grated Russet potatoes (about 4 medium potatoes)
2 small-medium zucchini, finely grated
1 small onion, grated
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup matzo meal
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
canola oil


In a large cast iron skillet or another heavy bottomed pan, heat about 1/4 inch oil.

Place the potato into a metal sieve over a large bowl. Press out any liquid. Pour out the liquid and place the potatoes in the bowl on top of the remaining starch. Use the same sieve to drain the zucchini and onion over the sink. Add to the potato. Stir in spices, and the matzo meal. Form into flat patties. If they will not hold their shape, stir in additional matzo meal until they do. Fry in hot oil, flipping halfway through, until just golden.

Drain on paper towel lined plates.

Yield: about 10 latkes, depending on size.

Note: Make sure you use the finer grater on a box grater, not the large, coarse side for best results.

My thoughts:
I had made zucchini fritters a couple of weeks ago and my husband expressed disappointment they were not more like latkes (they were batter-based) so I thought I'd remedy that and make something closer to a straight-up latke. I'm glad I did! They were super crispy, had a nice subtle zucchini flavor and made us feel like we were eating something very slightly better for us than straight up fried potatoes. I was out of sour cream so I served them with onion dip(!) and it was so good, I think I'm going to do that on purpose come Hanukkah. 

To round out the "Jewish food in the summer" theme, I served with some Alaskan sockeye salmon with "everything" seasoning on it. 

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August 16, 2018

Cocoanuts Bars


1 3/4 cups (honey or cinnamon*) graham cracker crumbs (about 8 graham crackers' worth)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup semi or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 inch baking pan. Set aside.

Melt butter in a small pan. Remove from heat and stir in graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press, using the back of a spoon or the bottom of a measuring cup into the bottom of the buttered pan taking care to reach all corners.

Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips, then the butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, coconut, and peanut over the graham cracker layer. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top, and spread with the back of a spoon or spatula until the mixture is evenly coated.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until edges are golden brown and the bars look "set".

Allow to cool on a wire rack completely before slicing. This seems to take forever but resist the urge to cut them when they are even remotely still warm. You can refrigerate them before slicing if you are a clean lines fanatic. Store in the refrigerator or on a cool counter in an air-tight container. Freeze leftovers up to 6 months if desired.

*I like honey best but either work.

My thoughts:
Bars like these have a lot of different names. 7-Layer Bars (for those, the butter is normally melted in the baking pan while preheating and then sprinkled with the graham cracker crumbs to form the first and second layers), Magic Bars (I guess because it is a bunch of layered stuff that "magically" makes a bar cookie?) and oddly, Hello Dolly Bars after the Broadway play. I also heard "dream bars" from a reader commenting on my Instagram story when I was making them, upon googling they look like perhaps a precursor to the 7-layer bar because they require you to actually make a shortbread cookie vs. using graham crackers which also sounds really good. The recipes are all pretty similar although can vary in what kind of chips to use and when to put in the sweetened condensed milk. A lot of recipes call for it on the graham cracker layer then everything else is plopped on top but I opted to put it on last with the hope it would help the coconut brown while still holding everything together and "protecting" the chips from direct heat.

I did not grow up eating these, I think they are much more of a midwest thing, the parties I went to all had black bottoms, drop cookies and brownies (and birthday cake if applicable) not bar cookies but I've read about them so many times I felt like I've had them. I can see why they are popular, they are very simple and can be made with ingredients that most people probably have on hand or at the very least pick up easily at any store. They would be so quick to make for a last minute occasion or weeknight treat.

I took my inspiration from the classic back of the can recipe but really made it my own--a bit more graham cracker crumbs so the pan is easier to coat, a mix of butterscotch and peanut butter chips, using bittersweet chocolate chips instead of milk, honey roasted peanuts instead of walnuts and I think the most genius switch up: using unsweetened shredded coconut instead of sweetened flaked coconut. The bars are so sweet thanks to all the chips and the sweetened condensed milk, the coconut really doesn't need to be sweetened too! I'm happy too that unsweetened coconut is so much easier to find now (Harris Teater actually had a store brand version!), I remember back when I started Coconut & Lime I had to track it down at health food stores and South Asian groceries. Coconut is naturally sweet and a lot of recipes that call for sweetened are so sweet already, they don't really need extra sugar.

The result is a bar that is a solid nod to the classic but that is much more appealing to a more "adult" tastes than the super sweet ooey-gooey original. Personally, I prefer desserts that aren't described as "tooth-achingly sweet"; a descriptor I saw more than once in conjunction to the original bars but to each there own! It might be fun to take a batch of these and a batch of the originals to a party and do a taste test. These are still sweet of course but with a deeper, darker flavor than the usual.

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August 14, 2018

Oysters au Gratin

4 pieces bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 onion, small dice
1 lb "baby" spinach
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
hot sauce
freshly ground black pepper
1 pint shucked oysters, drained
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (I used cheese bread)
1/2 cup shredded gouda


Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 1-quart baking dish. Set aside. 

In a large skillet, saute the bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 1-2 tablespoons of bacon grease (if needed). Saute the onion until translucent. Add the spinach and saute until wilted. Cook over low heat until most the liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat. Stir in the bacon bits, spices, hot sauce, and oysters. Pour into the prepared baking dish. 

Sprinkle with bread crumbs and cheese in alternating handfuls. Bake for 20 minutes or until the oysters are just cooked and the top is browned and bubbly. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
This recipe is a bit of an odd one. I don't know if oysters au gratin is a thing (if it's not, it should be!) but I had picked up two pints of oysters a while back. One pint I made into oyster po'boys for the second time in about two months and I didn't have any idea what to do with the second jar. Finally, I had to make them or risk spoilage so I came up with this dish. It ended up being really good! Who knew? I served it as a side but it definitely could be a main dish, it is rather filling.

It isn't as rich as it could be as I didn't add anything but spinach, a small amount of bacon and oysters in the filling--no dairy at all, and topped it with a modest amount of cheese. The result was a fresh tasty, briny dish that seemed really festive despite me whipping it up on a random weeknight on a whim.

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August 08, 2018

Summer Vegetable Pearl Couscous with Andouille


1 cup pearl couscous
1 lb turkey or regular andouille sausage, sliced into coins
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 Serrano pepper, minced
2 ears' worth of corn kernels
2 zucchini, cubed
2 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 tablespoon Creole seasoning
pinch celery seed
pinch cayenne

fried eggs, optional

Bring 1 1/4 cup of water to a boil. Add couscous, cover and simmer 8 minutes or until covered.

Meanwhile, heat a small amount of oil in a skillet. Saute the sausage until browned. Add the onion and pepper and saute until the onion is softened. Add remaining vegetables and spices. Saute until the vegetables are soft. Remove from heat. Stir in the couscous. Serve.

Yield: 4 servings.
My thoughts:
It has been a trying few weeks here lately. Not the least which is that our porch roof leaked so we had to take care of that which was an unexpected and unwelcome surprise!

The weather has be awful, alternately very rainy or very very humid and sunny and nothing in-between. The local produce has really suffered. We've barely had one good peach, nectarine, tomato or plum. This is the only time of the year we eat any of those things of course so this is extra disappointing! I wait all year for them! The corn has been okay though and these zucchini are from my mother's garden and were quite good so I made this sort of couscous meets hash thing. Originally I didn't put an egg on it but I realized that my camera lens had fogged up when I took the initial picture so I took the picture this morning when I had some leftovers for breakfast. I think the egg added something though! The dish is very simple but flavorful thanks to the in-season produce, Creole seasoning, the Serrano pepper (mine were very spicy but feel free to add more if your's are not) and of course the andouille, one of my favorite kinds of sausage. I used turkey andouille so it was a little lighter but regular would probably be even better! It's a great meal for a hot summer night.

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July 23, 2018

Roasted Sugar Snap Peas & Tomato Salad


1 small-medium tomato, cut into wedges
1 lb sugar snap peas
3 sprigs' worth of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon (coarse) Herbs de Provence
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 oz crumbled fresh goat cheese
zest and juice of one lemon


Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set aside.

Place all the peas, thyme, spices and tomato in a medium bowl and toss to evenly distribute all ingredients. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake 15 minutes or until the tomato and snap peas are just browned around the edges. Allow to cool to room temperature. Toss with lemon zest, juice, and cheese.

My thoughts:
It's sugar snap pea season again! I've found I really enjoy them briefly roasted vs raw or steamed. They seem to caramelize a bit yet stay crisp. Tomatoes are (finally!) coming into season here but they aren't always quite as great as they will be in a week or so. Roasting them really brings out the sweetness and deepens the flavor. I added some lemon, soft goat cheese and Herbs de Provence for a faint French flair that I think complemented them very nicely. A super easy, flavor-packed side dish for summer.

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July 20, 2018

American Taco Pie


3/4 lb 93% lean ground beef*
1 1/2-2 tablespoons taco seasoning*
1/2 onion, chopped*
15 oz canned diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup shredded quesadilla cheese
1/4 cup grated cotija cheese

Heat oven to 400. Grease 9-inch pie plate. Set aside.

Cook ground beef and onion in large skillet, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces until beef is cooked through. Drain off fat if needed. Stir in seasoning mix and canned tomatoes.

Spoon into the prepared pie plate and smooth to cover the entire bottom of the pie plate.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, flour, baking power, milk and canola oil until smooth. Pour over the beef mixture.

Bake about 25-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with cheese.

Return to the oven and bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes prior to serving.

*I actually just used leftover, cooked and seasoned taco meat vs making it fresh. Either works!

My thoughts:
Last year I was into making international-fusion taco recipes for some reason. I made Takoraisu (Okinawan Taco Rice) and Tacopaj (Swedish taco pie), both of which combine American style ground beef tacos with their own traditional cuisine. Somehow, I never made the very American version of this, Impossible Taco Pie, a popular '70s era Betty Crocker recipe using Bisquick. Basically. it's "impossible" because you creates the crust by just pouring it over the meat and it "magically" forms a cohesive, sliceable pie.

It's a little silly but it's fun. I don't keep Bisquick on hand so I made my own batter and jazzed the filling up with some spicy tomatoes and some quesadilla and cotija cheese instead of the cheddar normally used in the pie. The result is an interesting mashup of tacos and almost quiche if quiche wasn't quite so eggy. It's easy to make, very flavorful and a neat change for a weekday dinner.

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July 17, 2018

S'mores Marble Cake


for the cake:

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (2 crackers, smashed) graham cracker crumbs, divided use
pinch salt
1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1/4 cup hot water

for the glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract



for the cake:

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a standard (9x5) loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter, vanilla, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add it to the egg mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with milk. Pour roughly 1/3 of the batter into a second bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the hot water and cocoa until smooth. Whisk into the smaller bowl of batter until fully incorporated. Set aside.

Stir half of the graham cracker crumbs into the vanilla batter. Spoon the batter into the pan, alternating spoonfuls (forming a sort of checkerboard pattern) until both batters are gone. Run a thin knife through it to marbelize once or twice.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick or thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

to decorate:

Whisk together the glaze ingredients. Drizzle over cake. Top with remaining graham cracker crumbs and mini marshmallows.

My thoughts:
We've been watching the Great British Bake-off lately. What's airing here in the US right now is about 6 years old so that's a bit odd but luckily it is not a show that depends on fads. PBS has the "new" episodes but Netflix has what they call the GBBO Masterclass which just has Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry making versions of what were challenges for the contestants. It's a little odd (they flash to the competition occasionally but it isn't really worked into the baking "class" very much) and I wonder if maybe it was a web-only special? Anyway, all of this watching baking has made us really want cake!

The problem is that we are only a family of two so making a huge cake is tricky--there is no way the two of us can finish it! A few years ago I made a few loaf cakes and they are a pretty good solution. Much less final product for us to eat or have to giveaway. They seem to be popular with afternoon tea in England as well. I can see why you get a good number of servings out of it (about 8 slices) but they are modest slices and not quite as overwhelming as a whole bundt or layer cake.

For some reason, I've been obsessed with s'mores this summer so I thought I'd put a twist on an old favorite, the marble cake and s'mores-ify it . I added graham crackers to the vanilla batter to give it that distinctive flavor and sprinkled more onto the top of a chocolate glaze. Mini marshmallows complete the look. It really is a show stopper if I do say myself! Very tasty, good chocolate and graham cracker flavor throughout, fairly simple to make yet very impressive and fun to look at.

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July 12, 2018

Cornmeal Battered Soft Crabs with Old Bay Corn Grits


for the crabs:
4 soft crabs, cleaned
2 cups milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
2-3 tablespoons Old Bay, divided use
freshly ground black pepper

for the grits:
1 cup yellow stone-ground grits
3 cup water or chicken stock
1/3 cup grated Gouda
1 tablespoon Old Bay
4 ears' worth of (cooked) corn kernels
freshly ground black pepper


for the crabs:

Whisk together the milk, egg and half of the Old Bay in a medium bowl. Pour into a resealable bag, add the crabs. Seal and refrigerate 1 hour.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour, cornmeal, and remaining spices together in a bowl. Dredge both sides of each crab in the seasoned flour. Place on a platter until ready to fry.

Heat 1/4 inch oil in a large pan. Fry the crabs for 3-5 minutes on each side or until crisp and fully cooked. Drain on paper towel-lined plates.

for the grits:

In a medium pot, bring the water or stock and Old Bay to a boil. Add the grits and stir continually for about 10 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and corn. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
We had such a seafood weekend! We had a clambake in the Inner Harbor that had clam, mussels, crabs, lobster, and sausage then the next day we had steamed crabs and corn at home in the backyard. The only thing we didn't have was soft crabs. Soft crabs are possibly my most favorite food so this clearly needed to be rectified.

I purchased live soft crabs and stored them in my fridge until I was ready to make them then I cleaned them. You can use defrosted, previously frozen, cleaned soft crabs but you do not want to buy dead nonfrozen soft crabs as they spoil really quickly and you have no way of knowing how long they were dead! It is okay to buy them alive and have the store clean them for you as long as you make them quickly and keep them cool.  If you live in a blue crab area, seafood markets and locally owned grocery stores are your best bet, although I will be honest and say I have also bought them at stands on the side of the road. They're alive and if they were spoiled, I'd know so I feel safe doing that. But that's pro-level crab procurement.  If you are local, feel free to email me and I will tell you where I get my crabs. I always bring a cooler and huge ice pack to transport my crabs home in since it is summer and I don't want to poison us.

Anyway, I normally do a flour coat for my soft crabs and make sandwiches but I got fancy this time and busted out the cornmeal and made grits on the side using up the extra corn on the cob the steamed crab place gave us for some reason. It was such a good meal! I also made another vegetable dish but honestly, the grits and the soft crabs were enough. The crabs were super juicy and flavorful (the batter and the fact that you eat them shell and all really keeps the flavor in) and the creamy grits tied in perfectly. I really want to make this same meal again, right now.

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July 09, 2018

Golden Flannel Hash

1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
2 lbs Russet potatoes, cubed
3/4 lb corned beef, cubed
2 "baby" or "spring" Vidalia onions, greens and white parts chopped
2 yellow beets with greens*
1 bunch lacinato kale, chopped
fresh thyme
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

fried eggs to serve


Cube the beets (chop and reserve the greens) and parboil with the potatoes. Drain thoroughly.

Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion, potatoes, and beets until the onion is translucent. Add the corned beef, greens, herbs and spices. Saute until the corned beef is heated through. Plate and top with fried egg(s).

*I used yellow cylindra beets which are so pale they are almost white.

My thoughts:
Red flannel hash is a classic New England breakfast dish that adds red beets to corned beef hash. The story behind the name varies depending on who telling it (I've heard everything from laundry mishaps to vengeful wives serving actual flannel to bizarre war stories) but the most common explanation is that the finished dish looks like a red flannel shirt thanks to the beets dying the potatoes pink and the pinky corned beef.

Beets are in season so I thought it was a perfect excuse to make it! I also bought corned beef and froze it back near St Patrick's day and my freezer is bursting at the seams so it's a win-win for me. My beets turned out to be yellow so I changed the name to golden flannel hash and added the beet greens and (also in season) kale for some extra flavor and vitamins(!) which is not strictly traditional but I think it makes a great addition. This would be a good use of leftover greens or cabbage if you had some too. While hash seems breakfasty, it is so hearty, I like to serve it for dinner. I parboil the potatoes ahead of time so it comes together more quickly, they keep just fine in the fridge for a day or two.

So homey and satisfying, even if it is summer and it seems slightly better suited for winter! It's not like you stop eating hot food just because it is hot out and at least this only needs a brief fry to heat everything up. Plus all of the vegetables are in season right now so why not use them at their peak tastiness?

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July 06, 2018

Fresh Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies


5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 egg
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cherries
1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or non-stick silicone baking mats. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, vanilla, and sugar. Add the egg, beat until fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until well combined.

Fold in cherries and chips. Place heaping 1 tablespoon sized blobs of dough (I used this cookie scoop or size down for smaller cookies) on the prepared cookie sheet (about 1 inch apart, they spread) and bake for 14 minutes or until they look "set" and the bottoms are just brown. Cool in the pan 1-2 minutes then carefully remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: about 1 1/2-2 dozen cookies

My thoughts:
I made fresh cranberry cookies many years ago and thought I'd revisit the idea of making something that is normally made with dried fruit (a cookie) with fresh fruit again. I had a bunch of cherries left after making cherry butter and freezing some so I chopped some up to make cookies. I'm pleased with the results! The batter was a little on the oddly fluffy side so I was worried a bit but they came out great! Sort of chewy, full of cherry flavor and with the right hint of chocolate. Since they have oatmeal in them you can almost fool yourself into thinking they are good for you too!

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July 02, 2018

OLD BAY Party Mix

6 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon OLD BAY
4  cups corn squares cereal
4  cups rice squares cereal
1 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
1 1/4 cup mini-twist pretzels
2 cups oyster crackers


Preheat oven to 250°F.

Melt butter on the stovetop in a small pan, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and OLD BAY.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the cereals, peanuts, pretzels, and oyster crackers. Carefully pour into an ungreased jelly roll pan.

Drizzle with OLD BAY butter.

Gently stir the cereal mixture in until coated. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels until cooled. Store in an airtight container up to one week.

Yield: about 12 cups of mix

My thoughts:
You guys all know how much I love OLD BAY. Growing up in Baltimore, I don't think you have a choice. It is in our veins. I've posted 43(!) recipes using OLD BAY in everything from classics like crabcakes, crab dip and crab imperial to "popcorn" cauliflower and zucchini pickles. I'm not ashamed to say I buy it in bulk and only once have I actually steamed crabs at home. I just use it in everything!

So when OLD BAY approached me and asked me to develop a recipe to kick off their #OldBayOurWay Instagram contest, obviously I was in.

I thought a lot about what I could make with OLD BAY this time. I wanted something that I could make ahead and that would travel well. We not only have a lot of fun outdoor events planned, we're road-tripping it to a family wedding this year and clearly we needed to bring a snack to share. Can you believe some of my in-laws claim not to know what OLD BAY is? They might be from NYC but they are going to learn this year!

I love any sort of party mix. I love the mix of textures and flavors from the add-ins and I especially love getting that one piece that is super loaded with flavor. What better flavor than OLD BAY? That's a trick question, obviously, there isn't one. It was hard to pick what to mix in but I went pretty classic. I've made OLD BAY peanuts before so they were an easy pick and as a nod to the Chesapeake Bay, I used oyster crackers vs cheesy crackers or bagel chips which ended up being a great choice; they are like crunchy pillows! Pretzels are always a welcome addition and I find the mini-twists are less salty than sticks so they are great in party mix.

Make this today and spice up a trip to the beach, a party, a picnic, a cook-out or even a road trip. It lasts about a week in an air-tight container. Just be sure it is 100% cool before you pack it up.

Take a minute, have some OLD BAY and enter their #OldBayOurWay Instagram contest. It's a summer-long local contest for OLD BAY fans in Baltimore and D.C. to showcase how they’re celebrating summer together with OLD BAY. To enter,  upload your favorite moments of summer with OLD BAY, using the hashtag #OldBayOurWay, for a chance to win a season’s supply of OLD BAY seasoning and swag.

Follow OLD BAY online:

Instagram: @oldbay_seasoning
Pinterest: @oldbayseasoning
Facebook: @oldbay
Twitter: @OLDBAYSeasoning

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June 29, 2018

Overnight Cherry Butter


6 lbs cherries, pitted
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar

Place all ingredients in a 4-quart slow cooker, pressing down to crush the cherries enough to be able to close the lid, if needed. Cook on high 2 hours. Mash with a potato masher.

Continue to cook on low, with the lid slightly ajar, overnight or until it has reduced by half. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. I then whisked it through a sieve to make it extra smooth but that is optional.

Ladle the butter into prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in the hot water bath for 10 minutes. I used my electric canner which takes the same amount of time as processing on the stove but without heating up the house. If you don't want to can, just refrigerate it and use it within 2-3 weeks.

Yield: about 2 pints

My thoughts:
I've always thought it was cruel that canning season and summer coincide. I mean, it obviously makes sense, you are preserving the harvest but why does it have to be so hot? We don't have central air conditioning, only one room unit for the first floor, and it gets hot!

Luckily, I have the advantage of modern technology. As it turns out, it is easy to make fruit butter in my slow cooker and then use my electric canner to can it without heating up the house. Of course, you can do both (using this same recipe) on the stove top and the traditional canning pot as well.

Northwest Cherry Growers contacted me about being a canbassader again this year and I had a minute of panic when I realized I was called for jury duty and had to go out of town for a wedding directly after the cherries were to arrive. To make things easier for me, I pitted the cherries (use a pitter, save yourself) while watching tv and made this cherry butter slow cooker butter vs a more complicated, hands-on recipe while pitting even more cherries. The flavor is still there but the hands-on time is seriously diminished, a major plus when it comes to cherries which are one of the more labor-intensive fruits to prep and can. The balsamic seems odd but it deepens the flavor and keeps the butter from being overwhelmingly sweet. It also helps the acidity so it is safe to can.

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June 27, 2018

Cocoa Chocolate Chip Brownies

2/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/3 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
pinch salt

sprinkles if desired


Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour an 8x8 inch pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer, using an electric mixer, beat the oil, cocoa and brown sugar until a smooth, cohesive mixture forms. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until fluffy and well-combined.

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Slowly stream into the bowl as the mixer runs and beat until smooth, glossy batter forms. Fold in 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan. Scatter the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips across the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges come across from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out with moist (but not drippy!)  crumbs. Sprinkle with sprinkles if desired.

Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

My thoughts:
I know I make brownies year round but honestly, I think of them as a summer dessert most of all. They don't take long to bake (so they don't heat up the house much!), depending on the recipe you can make them with pantry staples, they don't melt, they don't need to be iced and they transport well to get-togethers and cookouts. And who doesn't love a brownie?

This recipe is so quick and easy you can whip a batch in a flash. It only contains ingredients that any baker would have on had, no stove use, no melting chocolate just a bit of mixing and they are oven-ready. They are moist, super chocolatey and slightly chewy.

The perfect dessert addition to #cookoutweek!

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June 25, 2018

Smoked Duck Spicy Sesame Noodles with Zucchini


for the sauce:
1/4 cup "pure" sesame paste*
1/4-1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons chile-garlic sauce
1/2 tablespoon hot sesame oil

for the duck:
1 1/2 cold, roasted duck (I used Maple Leaf Farm's Roast Half Duck with Orange Sauce -discarded the sauce packet)
green tea leaves

to serve:
10 oz egg noodles (fresh if possible)
1 zucchini, julienned (or zoodle-d)
slightly crushed Sichuan peppercorns
chopped peanuts (optional)
sesame seeds


for the sauce: (can be made a few hours ahead of time)

Place all ingredients in a blender, blend until a smooth, pourable sauce forms, adding additional water if needed.

For the duck:

Prepare grill according to manufacturer's instructions. Toss a handful of green tea leaves on to the coals. Grill the duck to heat it through, about 10 minutes on each side. Cool to around room temperature.


for the noodles:

Cook according to package instructions, add a couple drops of hot sesame oil to keep them from sticking and allow to cool.

for the salad: (minutes before serving)

In a large bowl, toss together the noodles, zucchini, and sauce. Top with shredded duck and a mix of other toppings.

* Not tahini, this is made from the whole sesame seed, but you can sub that if needed
My thoughts:
Okay, I really can't claim this recipe is super authentic but it is very good! I wanted to make it with ingredients that were pretty easy to find at any well-stocked grocery store so anyone could make it. Amazon also has a ton of these ingredients very reasonably priced as well which is awesome if you truly are in the middle of nowhere. 

Since it's cookout week, I grilled the duck (using already roasted duck speeds the process up so much and it is so easy to add a smoky flavor) and combined it with a creamy, spicy dressed noodle salad. A little unexpected but very good! Cookouts don't just have to be about sandwiches and hot dogs and steaks! Since the duck cooks so quickly, it is easy to make on a weeknight. It's really the perfect dish for someone who likes takeout sesame noodles but who also loves bold flavors. 

I admit, I was a little skeptical of heating up the duck on the grill but it was so good! The duck was still incredibly juicy and infused with this amazing tea-smoke flavor. This was one of our favorite dinners in seriously months. I can't wait to make it again!

Maple Leaf Farm is a sponsor of #cookoutweek and you can win this prize pack!

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June 21, 2018

BLT Tuna Salad, Salad

2 5-oz cans solid white tuna packed in water, drained
2-3 tablespoons dill pickle relish
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 tablespoon tahini paste*
1/2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
3-4 tablespoons mayonnaise

to serve:
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced into wedges
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced
2-3 tomatoes, sliced
4-6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
flatbread or pita,  warmed (optional)

In a medium bowl, flake the tuna with a fork. Add the relish, celery, and red onion. Stir. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, mayo and lemon pepper until smooth. Pour over the tuna mixture and stir to evenly distribute all ingredients.

Place sliced tomatoes on a plate. Top with bacon, lettuce and hardboiled egg wedges. Seve with flatbread or pita if desired.

Serves 4

*A good alternative to tahini in this that I love is sesame Goddess dressing. Annie's Naturals makes it but I buy the knock-off at Aldi. Use it to taste (I use about 2-3 tablespoons and slightly less mayo). Then I can also use it on salad vs just buying tahini to make this with.

My thoughts:
I ate a lot of  very simple, classic tuna salad growing up (my mom loooves making and packing lunches) but as an adult, I generally go for a slightly Mediterranean vibe with sesame and lemon, if I don't have lemons I use lemon pepper which I buy in bulk at Costco for a quick zip of flavor. The beauty of tuna salad is that you can make it with ingredients you have on hand, in my option so even though I dress up the flavor a bit I try to keep to pantry ingredients honestly unless I'm feeling really posh.

I love stuffed tomatoes but it is a little early for tomatoes in Maryland so I've been making do with some from warmer states and they have been fairly tasty but too small to stuff. In the meantime, I've been making an unstuffed tuna type thing for lunch when I don't have leftovers.

To make this dinner-worthy I added bacon and hard-boiled eggs to make it a bit more filling and some flatbread on the side. I made the tuna and eggs ahead of time and all I had to do was fry the bacon (pre-cooked bacon is sad) and assemble. I know people hate on iceberg but it has a great crunch, actually does have some nutrition to it and unlike romaine, hasn't killed anyone lately.

This was so refreshing on a hot almost-summer day! And who doesn't love a meal that comes together in just a few minutes on a weeknight?

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June 14, 2018

Zucchini Slice with Turkey and Chorizo

2 cups finely shredded zucchini, drained
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 1/4 cup cooked, cubed turkey breast (can sub chicken)
2 oz thinly sliced Spanish chorizo, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 oz crumbled goat cheese
5 eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
freshly ground black pepper


Note: this part can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

Squeeze dry zucchini if needed. Saute the onion and zucchini in a skillet using a small amount of olive oil until the onion is translucent and any water has evaporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  (I actually did this step, cooled it and added the cut up meat and cheese to the container earlier then did the batter-making, adding the meat/veggie mixture part at dinnertime)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray with cooking spray or grease an 8x8 inch pan.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, flour and baking powder until pancake-like batter forms. Fold in the zucchini, onion, turkey, chorizo, cheese, and spices.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes or until fully cooked (just few dry crumbs when a toothpick is inserted in the center) and golden brown on the bottom. Allow to sit in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

My thoughts:
This recipe is great for using up leftovers (I just used leftover marinated boneless, skinless turkey breast but rotisserie chicken would work too), summer vegetables (I have a ton of Vidalia onions and zucchini right now) and some chorizo for oompf in a reasonably quick way. I bought the chorizo when I was trying out Amazon Fresh awhile back but any store or deli that sells fancy Spanish or Italian meats should have it. Capicola would also make a good choice.

It's sort of based on the old school Betty Crocker/Bisquick "Impossible Pie" where you mix a bunch of ingredients (ground beef and some spice packet generally) and Bisquick to make an "impossible" pie where it magically forms a crust and topping. It's also similar to zucchini slice which I came across when reading an Australian book which is a sliced zucchini pie/bread type thing*.

Anyway, after adding turkey and chorizo it is basically a whole sandwich in square form. It's just as simple as a baked frittata but a little more substantial and different. I think it would be great as a brunch dish or a light lunch or dinner. We had it for dinner (I prepped some during the day to speed up dinner making) with just some veggies/fruit for a side as it is practically a whole meal unto itself.

The texture of this dish is surprising and very, very good. It is light and fluffy like a souffle yet still moist and tender.

*I made a version of zucchini slice with Old Bay a couple of years ago if you are interested

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June 04, 2018

Baltimore-style Fried Oyster Po'Boys


for the oysters:
2 pints oysters
1 1/3 cup self-rising cornmeal mix
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup Old Bay (low sodium okay)
canola oil for frying

for the Old Bay remoulade:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons dill relish
1 teaspoon Old Bay
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard (powder)
juice of 1/2 lemon

to serve:
sub rolls (I used  Amoroso’s club sized rolls)
sliced tomato
shredded iceberg lettuce


For the oysters:

Heat 1-2 inches of canola oil in large, heavy-bottomed skillet. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the cornmeal mix and Old Bay. Do not add extra salt! Dredge the oysters in the mixture to thoroughly coat. Fry oysters in the oil, for about 4 minutes on each side, depending on size. Drain on paper towel-lined plates

For the remoulade: (can be made a day ahead)

Place all ingredients in a small bowl, mix together with a fork.


Spread the remoulade on both sides of each roll, top with lettuce. Line the roll with tomato slices and fill with oysters.

Serves: 4-6
My thoughts:
Oysters have always been a huge part of Baltimore, we had a ton of canneries in the harbor and there were even oyster pirates in the Chesapeake Bay! Local oysters (these were from Virginia) are easy to find locally and are quite affordable.

I love po'boys, especially oyster ones so I thought I'd Baltimore-fy it a bit and add Old Bay because in Baltimore, you just have to add Old Bay to anything to make it "Baltimore-style". It's true. We have Old Bay ice cream and candy here.

To make the sandwiches a little easier to eat, I used "club" rolls but you could use a full sized roll. I also used self-rising cornmeal mix which I feel gives the breading a lighter feel somehow. I don't question it. Between the Old Bay remoulade and the Old Bay batter, these po'boys are super flavorful and dare I say---slightly better than the oyster po'boys that don't have Old Bay? Sorry, New Orleans! We did give you the snowball so let's call it even.

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June 01, 2018

Knackwurst & Summer Squash Sheet Pan Supper


1 lb white or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch thick coins
1 Vidalia onion, cut into half-moon slices
1 1/2 teaspoons hot or sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 lb knackwurst, sliced into 1/2 inch thick coins
1 lb yellow squash, sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch thick half-moons
freshly ground black pepper
canola oil

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the potatoes, onions, and carrots in a single layer. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with spices. Roast 10 minutes or until the potatoes are softened. Add the sausage and squash and stir to coat in spices/oil. Arrange all ingredients so they are in a single layer. Return to the oven and continue to roast 10-20 minutes or until the sausages are browned and all vegetables are fork-tender. You can briefly broil to help brown if desired, prior to serving.

My thoughts:

Late spring has been exceedingly rainy and we haven't had a chance to break out the grill once! I keep buying things to grill and then having to freeze them or think of other ways to use them up. I had bought some knackwurst at Aldi and they just sat in my fridge for ages (luckily sausages have great expiration dates!). The rain doesn't seem to be going away any time soon so one night when I was trying to put off grocery shopping I thought I'd finally make them.

I'm glad I did! Not only were the sausages tasty, this is a super simple dinner that really tasted summery despite being made entirely indoors. In-season yellow squash and Vidalia onions really helped turn it into a complete meal. The paprika and celery seed tied the flavors together and the whole thing took about half an hour. Can't beat that!

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May 30, 2018

Steak & Greens Quiche


for the crust:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used cheese bread)

for the filling:
4 cups (loose) bite-sized pieces of red and green kale
1 bunch leeks, sliced (tender parts only)
1 spring onion, chopped
1 large portobello mushroom, cubed
7 oz leftover steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
6 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 lb
3/4 cup shredded Gruyère
freshly ground black pepper

spring onion greens for garnish (optional)


Preheat oven to 400.

In a medium bowl, stir together the crumbs and oil until the mixture sticks together

Press the mixture to form a crust in a pie plate or quiche pan or tart pan (I just use a Pyrex pie plate). Bake 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Cool on wire rack.

Reduce oven to 325.

Meanwhile, saute the leek, spring onion, kale, and mushroom in a small amount of oil, bacon grease or butter until the greens are wilted and the mushroom is softened. Allow to cool to room temperature. Stir in the steak. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together (I used my hand egg beater) the milk and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into the prepared pan.

 Bake 45-50 minutes or until fully cooked. If there is water on the surface of the quiche when it is fully cooked, carefully blot it with a cloth or paper towel. Cool on wire rack.

My thoughts:
I've been on a bit of a quiche kick lately and this is one of the good ones. Quiche is traditionally a good way to use up leftovers and this one is no exception! I had an odd amount of steaks the other day for dinner and ended up with one leftover. Normally I'd just make a sandwich or something but I had some kale I didn't know what to do with so why not combine the two? This is definitely a heartier quiche thanks to the steak and bold greens but I think it makes it a better fit for dinner than a lot of the lighter quiches out there. I made a breadcrumb crust again and I still love it better than a traditional crust. It's so quick and easy yet super flavorful. You really can't ask for more and it takes quiche from being something I really need to plan for to something I can pull together in just a few minutes before baking.

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May 24, 2018

Chicken Schnitzel Burgers


1 lb ground chicken breast
1  1/2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 teaspoon paprika
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons nonpareil capers
3/4 cup breadcrumbs

to serve:
pretzel rolls
sliced red onion
hamburger dill pickle chips
sliced tomato
mayo + mustard (I used this German mustard)


Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl or plate. Set aside.
Mix together the chicken, lemon pepper, zest, paprika and capers together in a medium bowl until all ingredients are evenly divided. Divide into 4 patties.

Dredge the patties in the breadcrumbs. Panfry, turning once, until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towel-lined plates Serve immediately on pretzel rolls with toppings of your choice.
My thoughts:
This burger was the idea of my husband who wondered if we breaded chicken burgers, would it taste like chicken schnitzel. Since we had ground chicken on hand, I thought I'd give it a try. Chicken schnitzel is often served with lemon slices and even a lemon-caper sauce so I thought I'd add those flavors directly into the burger. Ground chicken is pretty bland so it really takes well to the addition of virtually any flavor. Lemon pepper is a great shortcut because not only it has lemon and pepper (obvi) but it also has salt, granulated onion, and garlic powder in it eliminating the need for a lot of spices. I added some zest to give it a fresher taste but in a pinch, you could leave it out. I love capers so of course, I loved them in this too.

I don't know if the breadcrumbs really gave it too much schnitzel flare but it really helped the burgers brown evenly and hold their shape. Ground chicken is much "wetter" than ground beef or pork so it has a tendency to be a little trickier to mold and to flip in the pan but these stayed perfectly formed. I'm definitely trying this trick again.

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