Sunday, August 30, 2009


It has only taken all summer to finally get some good tomatoes, right? Fresh tomatoes has to be one of the best things ever invented. Last week we had BLTs and the #44 salad from Mark Bittman's 101 Simple Salads.

44. Make a crisp grilled cheese sandwich, with good bread and not too much good cheese. Let it cool, then cut into croutons. Put them on anything, but especially tomato and basil salad. This you will do forever.

Here's what I did. Made four grilled cheese sandwiches in the George Foreman (we have a panini attachment). Tossed basil leaves and tomatoes with balsamic vinaigrette, let it sit for 20 minutes or so. Sliced up the crispy grilled cheese and added to the salad. Yum. As Anthony said, its like bruschetta salad. My changes in the future: mozzarella cheese (I only had cheddar) and a lighter vinaigrette.

I'm planning on making Chicken Scampi this week, plus more BLTs. I can't refuse a BLT. Sometime soon I'd like to make this soup, but in the meantime, here are all of our food blog posts with tomatoes.

Bistro Sun-dried Tomato Pasta
BLT salad
Pork Chops and Rice
Mmmmm, Caprese!
Pastor Ryan's Mexican Lasagna
Spinach and Brie Chicken with Tomato Orzo
Favorite Pasta: Bucatini All'amatriciana
Roasted shrimp and orzo
Favorite Pasta - Salad Part 2
Lemon Fusilli pasta
Mother-in-law-to-be's Best Pasta!
Chicken-Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese
Salmon with Lemon, Spinach, and Tomatoes
Lica's Corn Salsa

Anyone have any other great tomato recipes? Photo from here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

I initially wanted to make Camby's chocolate zucchini bread, but didn't have unsweetened chocolate bars on hand. Unsure how to work around that essential ingredient, I turned to Google for similar recipes...and I found this from Penzeys Spices. Very, very delicious.

  • 1/2 Cup room temperature butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 Cup vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 Cups white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup milk mixed with 1/4 tsp. white vinegar (i.e., sour milk)
  • 2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 TB. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Cups peeled and finely grated zucchini - 3 small zucchini
  • 1 Cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 Cup chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°. Line 2 standard muffin pans with papers. In a large bowl, mix butter, oil and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla and sour milk. Blend well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir by hand to combine. Add grated zucchini and half the chocolate chips and stir well. Spoon the batter evenly into the pans, filling each paper 2/3 full. Sprinkle the other half of the chocolate chips and nuts on top and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

NOTES: I don't use cupcake papers; I just grease and flour the muffin wells. Extra chocolate chips makes these extra delicious.


Greek salad dressing and the salad, too

This salad dressing is the root cause of why practically half of the meals I consumed in August either involved Greek salads or had me wishing I had a Greek salad in front of me.

I found it at a random TV station's Web site that popped up during a Google search for "Panera greek salad dressing recipe." Their recipe makes two cups, but since I half it and only make one cup at a time, I'm posting my halfsies recipe along with my modifications and secret ingredient. The original recipe is available at the link above.

Jennifer's WBIR Panera Greek Salad Dressing
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced green onion
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil (I used dried, but you could do fresh, too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon or whole-grain mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon juice (Secret ingredient that MAKES this dressing. Not sure how much I actually squeeze in here. Maybe about a small wedge's worth)
  • 1/2 cup and 2 Tablespoons olive oil
Whisk together all ingredients except olive oil in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking.

For the salad itself, I go with romaine lettuce, kalamata olives, red onions, grape or cherry tomatoes and feta. If you like cucumbers, those would fit in nicely as well. The salad is best tossed with the dressing so everything is coated. Drizzling the dressing on top just doesn't cut it. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Prosciutto and Brie Sandwiches

This is an easy yet delicious recipe for the busy fall time that will take a few minutes to prepare!

We have a new cheese shop in our neighborhood and the one time I've been there, I had a great sandwich that I knew I had to duplicate at home since it was $8 at the cheese shop!

We've now done it a couple of times and it's super simple. Just get some good bread, (I've used both a sourdough baguette and fresh sourdough bread but whatever you choose is fine) put a some proscuttio and brie on it (no need to take the rind off) and put it under the broiler until it toasts up. No need for anything else because those three ingredients are so flavorful.

Mmmmm, it's good! Try it with some fresh fruit on the side since it's sort of a salty/creamy combination. Also, a neighbor friend used the same idea and made an appetizer using crackers rather than bread and she said they were a hit.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I need some inspiration to get through the next few weeks of busy nights, weekends, traveling and the beginning of football season. What have you ladies been making lately?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Home-made puppy treats!

Ok so this recipe submission is selfish- and for Amanda & Micky too :) Since McKenzie loves being in the kitchen with me I thought perhaps I should reward her by whipping up a little something special just for her! Plus her first birthday is coming up in a couple weeks so good timing to spoil her a bit more ;)

Frozen Strawberry Pupsicles
3 dozen Pupsicles
These Pupsicles are a great, refreshing way to give your dog that extra burst of energy!
• 4 cups yogurt, low-fat plain vanilla flavor
• 1 jar organic baby food, strawberry flavor
• 2 tablespoons of your favorite honey
• 2 tablespoons of organic peanut butter

Take all ingredients and mix thoroughly in a blender or food processor.
Pour into ice cube trays or paper cups and freeze for about an hour. It’s that easy!

Cheesy Bark’n Biscuits
4 dozen
• 2 cups whole-wheat flour
• 1 cup unbleached flour
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 4-5 slices fully cooked and crisp bacon (crumbled)
• 1 to 1 1/4 cup water (add more if needed)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix flour and cheese in a large bowl; add crumbled bacon, oil and water, mix well with hands. Form the dough into a ball and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
Using half of the dough at a time, place on a floured surface and roll to ¼" thick.
Cut into desired shapes and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes on middle rack or until lightly brown.

Turn oven off when done and leave biscuits in the oven to cool (about 20 minutes).
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Slab Pie

Why I have never, in all my life, heard of a slab pie until I saw this Sour Cherry Slab Pie recipe on Smitten Kitchen. I'm not a huge cherry fan (though I love the artificial flavor), but I'm quite interested in the idea of a slab pie.

A slab pie has double the crust and filling as a regular pie. Rectangular since it is baked in jelly roll or high sided baking sheet, they are easier to transport and hold onto. Now we are onto something.

For the last few weeks I've been thinking about doubling this recipe with the frozen rhubarb and strawberries I have in my freezer.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe
3 cups rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces (Trim outside stringy layer of large rhubarb stalks; make sure to trim away any and discard of the leaves which are poisonous; trim ends.)
1 cup strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons of quick cooking tapioca
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of grated orange peel
Unbaked pastry for two-crust 9 inch pie(If making a 10 inch pie, or just want more filling, use 4.5 cups of rhubarb, 1.5 cups strawberries, and 1 1/4 cup of sugar)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix the rhubarb and the strawberries with the sugar, tapioca, salt, and orange rind. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Turn into a pastry lined pan. Top with the pastry, trim the edge, and crimp the top and bottom edges together. Cut slits in the top for the steam to escape.

Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F, and bake an additional 30-40 minutes longer (40 to 50 minutes longer if doing a 10-inch pie). Cool on a rack. Serve warm or cold. If you do cool to room temperature, the juices will have more time to thicken.

Photos from Smitten Kitchen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Baby fennel

Does anyone know of any good recipes for baby fennel? I love fennel and have used it in salads alot but I was just at the farmers market and found baby fennel so I bought it. Doesn't have much of a root though so not sure how to use it- was thinking of baking it with some fish, lemon and capers?? Any ideas?!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread and Rhubarb Bread

I've been on a baking spree today baking breads for our camping trip next week. I made my mom's Chocolate Zucchini Bread for the first time. It's one of my childhood staples.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
2 sq. unsweetened chocolate 1 oz. each
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. sifted flour
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. each of baking soda, salt and cinnamon
2 c. grated zucchini

Beat the eggs until lemon colored. Beat in sugar and oil. Melt chocolate and stir into egg mixture along with vanilla and zucchini. Whisk flour with salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. With large spoon, stir in zucchini mixture. Mix and bake in two well greased loaf pans at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until done in center.

I also made Rhubarb Buttermilk Bread. The kids and I had to try them after lunch and I'm happy to say they are both fantastic!

Note: I didn't make the topping for the Rhubarb Buttermilk Bread and I followed the suggestion of adding a bit more flour to the batter.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Double Decker Brownies

These were brought in to work for the (Jennifer and myself) head of our team's birthday. His daughter made them, and I think I snuck at least 3 of them throughout the day. I loved the butterscotch layer best.

Double Decker Brownies

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Pinch salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup baking cocoa

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3 tbsp. milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1 tbsp. shortening

In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar, flour, walnuts, and salt. In another bowl, stir butter and cocoa until smooth; add to egg mixture and blend well with a wooden spoon.

Pour into a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.

Cream butter and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, salt, and walnuts. Spoon over the chocolate layer.

Bake at 350˚ for 30-35 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan; cool.

Combine brown sugar, butter, and milk in a small saucepan; bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in confectioners’ sugar until smooth.

Quickly spread over brownies. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and shortening, stirring frequently. Drizzle over frosting.

Makes 3 dozen brownies

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Inside-out Chocolate Bundt Cake

This recipe will never, ever fail you. It is from my mom, don't know where she got it, but if you bring it somewhere people will think you are a genius. It is incredible moist and flavorful. You could vary the some of the ingredients-I personally like chocolate mint combinations, so I often use mint chips and/or chocolate mint pudding. If you likes cherry and chocolate, you could add cherry chips, etc.

Inside-out Chocolate Bundt Cake

1 package instant chocolate pudding
1 chocolate cake mix (Devil's Food works well for this)
1 package chocolate chips
1 3/4 c milk
2 eggs

Mix all ingredients by hand (did you know mixes cakes by hand makes them fluffier?). Pour into greased and floured bundt pan (or angel food pan). Bake @ 350 for 55-60 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove.

Photo from here, which is a recipe for a most amazing looking Chocolate Whiskey Bundt Cake. Must bookmark now...

Sugar and Spice Cookies

Making Snickerdoodles made me realize this recipe would freeze well too. These cookies have never failed. So buttery and flavorful.

They also make an EXCELLENT graham cracker style pie crust. Last time I made them, one of the batches was overcooked so I froze them, then made a pie crust for a key lime pie. Yum.

Sugar and Spice Cookies

3/4 C butter
1 C sugar
1 egg
1/4 C molasses
2 C flour
2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ginger

cinnamon sugar (I often end up doubling)
1 T sugar
1 t cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar. Cream in egg and molasses. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, add to creamed mixture. Roll into balls and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake on ungreased pan, 7-10 minutes @ 350 degrees.

Picture from Simply Recipes.


I have been looking for a cookie recipe that will freeze well and I've also been looking for a good snickerdoodle recipe. Somehow, I didn't trust the recipe in my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. I made these yesterday and they are amazing. The 2 t.s of cream of tartar really give them a kick, in a good way.

In terms of freezing, I wanted a recipe that I could freeze in balls and pull out when people are coming over or we just wanted a sweet treat. I haven't cooked the ones I froze, but I think they will work. Couldn't find my paddle attachment, so I just mixed with my handmixer.


In mixer, with paddle attachment beat:
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. shortening

Meanwhile, in another bowl whisk together:
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
2 t. cream of tartar
1/2 t. salt

Once butter and shortening are mixed and fluffy, slowly add:
1 1/2 c. sugar

Mix until fluffy. Add:
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract

With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients. Mix just until combined. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour. Roll into small balls, coat in cinnamon sugar and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes (I cooked for about 8 since I like soft cookies, could have cooked another minute or so).