Category Archives: Recipe

Lazy Days of Summer

It’s been hot and humid on the East Coast this week and I haven’t been doing much cooking but I had planned on having company this evening so I bought stuff to cook. The company that was coming over couldn’t make it, so I invited my sister and her family and asked them to travel the great distance of a street-width to eat some food. As she hadn’t planned anything (it’s 100 degrees, who’s thinking about cooking?), she happily accepted the invite!

I wanted to make a beautiful meal of enchiladas and a blueberry buckle for dessert (original recipe here), but I was feeling lazy and didn’t have enough blueberries. I made some modifications. I did have enough berries when I mixed up the blueberries and cherries I had in the fridge. I also didn’t follow the procedure. I threw the dry ingredients in the kitchen-aid, then the wet and added the eggs last. It worked and tastes delicious. The only downside is that it isn’t going last forever (or even the morning).

As for enchiladas, well, today is the sort of day where nothing goes as planned. Ever have those? Yeah, I thought so. My tortillas didn’t roll, so we ended up with quesadillas in enchilada sauce. Still tasted delicious. I make my enchiladas super simple, and they are crazy delicious. I reconstitute a dried ancho chile (sometime two or three, depending on what I have and who’s coming over) in hot water and add a can of diced tomatoes, a little tomato paste, a touch of salt and sugar and hit it with a stick blender until smooth. Generally, I fill the tortillas with chicken and cheese (leftover chicken), cover with sauce and more cheese and baked until the cheese is melty. Today, I used queso blanco, but you can use cheddar, the “Mexican” mix or quesadilla cheese. If you like more heat, use a can of diced tomatoes with jalapenos or add any other hot pepper you like.

I’m about to post some pictures that MIGHT make you hungry. If it’s not 100 degrees out, get cooking! If it is, call for take-out ūüėČ

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Greens, greens nothing but greens!

Actually, a lot more than greens. We joined Purple Dragon Co-Op about 2 months ago and have enjoyed fresh, organic and as local as possible fruits and veggies ever since. Every week, there are lettuces and delicious, leafy dark greens.

John and I love our greens any way we can get them. I used to always saute them with garlic, and then I discovered panade through this recipe. I’ve been making nearly every week since May. Tonight, though, I was looking to use more veggies than just my greens. We’ve been having a lot of burgers and dogs and other summery meats, so we both were feeling like having a hearty vegetable dish. I thought this recipe looked swell. The only problem was I didn’t have the veggies it called for. Oh, and I don’t use mustard anything anywhere.

So, I cooked my greens (overcooked perhaps, but it was my first experience with Callalou greens), and sauteed my zahara squash with mushrooms and carrots (all from the CoOp). I made the cheesy sauce (equal parts cheddar and gouda because that’s what I had), and topped with potatoes. Instead of the mustard, I used a pinch of nutmeg in my cheese sauce – not only does it add something to the cheese sauce, but nutmeg goes really great with dark, leafy greens.

It smells amazing already and I’m not sure I can wait for my husband to get home to eat it!

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(PS – I did, in fact, wait for him, but not by choice. The three year old decided she wasn’t sleepy so I had to deal with that…)

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Big Day in the Kitchen

John’s birthday is May 31st so it falls on Memorial Day frequently, or that ends up being the weekend we can celebrate. This is a good and bad thing. Good, because he sometimes has off on his birthday. Bad, because most people have long standing traditions for ¬†Memorial Day and we can’t often have large gatherings for him. Also, John’s childhood was not filled with over the top fun filled friend laden birthdays, so I do everything I can to make it special each year for him. Since I’m now in my ninth month of pregnancy, though, it had to be small this year, and pretty much just immediately family.

By small, did you think I wasn’t cooking a lot? Hahaha – fooled you! While I did (am) make(ing) quite a bit of food, it really is less than I would normally prepare.

Here’s the menu:

Sausage & Peppers

Hot Dogs

Burgers (Beef & Turkey)

Baked Potato Salad

Black Bean Salad

Zucchini Pie


M&M Cookies

Banana Pudding

Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Are you surprised that the dessert menu is almost as long as the dinner menu? You shouldn’t be! It doesn’t matter if John is cooking or not, (and he didn’t for his birthday) we can’t help trying out different recipes.

The sausage and peppers recipe is one my sister and I have cultivated and perfected, and I’m not quite willing to share that. Also, there really isn’t a recipe so much as a feeling, so without you standing next to me, I’m not sure I could explain it!

The Baked Potato Salad was inspired by the recipe from Wegmans, but of course, I made changes. I combined the new recipe with the way that I usually make potato salad. The things I kept from the new recipe: roasting the spuds, bacon and sour cream. What I didn’t use: Cheese. John and I thought cheese would make the salad be full of weird in the end. What I added: Celery, Lovage, and Parsley for color, that classic potato salad flavor and crunch.

The black bean salad is something I threw together one day when I didn’t know what to make as a side dish. I took inspiration from a bunch of different recipes and adapted them to what I had.

Black Bean Salad


2 cans black beans

2 ears of corn (or one larger can if its not in season)

1-2 tomatoes, depending on the size and how much you like tomatoes

1/2 red onion or 3 scallions

Juice of 1 lime

Olive Oil


Cilantro (if you like it; we don’t, so I don’t put it in)

Salt and Pepper to taste


If using fresh corn, cut it from the cob and roast it in a hot pan for a few minutes to bring the flavor out.

Chop tomatoes and avocado into bite sized pieces.

Combine all ingredients except the lime, avocado and oil.

If serving right away, add the avocado. If making ahead, reserve the avocado until just before serving.

Toss with about 1/4 cup olive oil and the lime juice. Serve right away if avocado is involved. Can be made a day ahead without it.

A note on the M&M cookies – we didn’t make them XXL size. We made them regular, and they were awesome. We like chewy cookies and this recipe achieved it perfectly, when the cookies are just hardly brown on the bottom. As for the banana pudding, if you like banana pudding, just make this recipe and your life will change. That’s all there is to it.

And the piece de resistance – Salted Caramel Buttercream

It’s as easy as – Start with your favorite buttercream recipe, cutting back on the sugar. Add about 1/2 cup caramel sauce and 1 tsp salt. When you frost your cupcakes, top with a little fleur de sel. And it might change your life again.

Due to all the excitement of the day, I forgot to take photos of some of the food, but I will share with you what I’ve got:


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The Joys of CSA

John and I joined a CSA this year, in Asbury, NJ. We signed up for a work share (John does the work; he likes to mess about with all the plants and dirt – I like to eat them), and have been getting our first few shares since the beginning of May. Living in a colder zone, our shares right now are all greenhouse and cool weather greens. We have a spicy lettuce mix, big red leafy lettuce, kale and lots and lots of spinach.

So, today I’m going to make my two favorite leafy green recipes: Vegetable Lasagna with a¬†B√©chamel Sauce and Spinach Pie. The Lasagna is my own recipe (and dead easy) but the Spinach Pie comes courtesy of Kraft’s recipe site.¬†I usually don’t have a puff pastry shell hanging around, so I whip up a “crust” of breadcrumbs and butter that I parbake for about 15 minutes and let cool a little before filling. However, I was cleaning out the fridge and found some miscellaneous dough, which I vaguely remembered being this easy puff pastry, so I thought I’d give that a try. I also should note that I do NOT serve it with tomato sauce. I think that would be very icky.

While I’m not cutting into either right now, I can show you the finished project! The plan is to freeze these and reheat them when I have no time to cook (presumably when the new baby arrives.) So when we cut into them, I’ll update with photos.

For the lasagna, I don’t really use a recipe, but I chop and prep whatever veggies I have on hand, make a b√©chamel¬†sauce, and use no boil noodles. I layer sauce, noodles, veg, mozzarella cheese, sauce, noodles, sauce and cheese. I also had a few tomatoes that needed to be used, so I chopped and cooked the greens and then layered them with the tomatoes. Since there were leftover tomatoes, I stuck some on top, too. See:


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Making Good Choices

When my toddler looks like she’s about get into trouble, I give her choices, both of which end up being what I want her to do, usually. When she makes a bad choice, it’s because she has ignored the others. Tonight, I was faced with a choice. What to make for dinner? We have a ton of food in the fridge/pantry/freezer, most of it healthy but there is a barbeque chicken frozen California Pizza Kitchen Pizza in there, too.

And, although I wanted to heat that sucker up and chow down, I made a good choice. And, I think, a good meal: Pan Fried Trout, Spiced Lentils and sauteed Bok Choy.

I got recipe for the lentils from a British Food Magazine I picked up a while ago called Good Food:

Fish with Spiced Lentils

I’ve been having a conscience issue with fish lately, ever since hearing an interview on NPR about how our seas are being overfished. This is tough because John and I try to eat healthy and fish is pretty important in a healthy diet. So, when I saw some great looking farm raised trout, I knew it was the way to go. I followed the instructions for cooking the fish, starting with a super hot pan and cooking it skin side down most of the way, then a flip just to cook the non skin side. It took about 8 minutes for a fairly large fillet.

For the Bok Choy, I sauteed a small onion with young garlic that we got from our CSG (our second share of the year was lettuce, spinach, young garlic, spicy greens, swiss chard and kale) and added the bok choy, sauteed until almost done, then tossed in a splash of soy sauce, a bit of lime zest and a pinch of salt.

Here are some photos:

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Vanilla Recipe by Reader Request!

Hey Julie!

Here is the Vanilla recipe you requested.

Also available for everyone!

Vanilla Recipe:
  • Vanilla beans ¬† ¬† 8
  • Light rum ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†750ml bottle
Simple syrup:
  • Sugar ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†3/4 ¬†cup
  • Water ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†1 cup
  • Light Karo ¬† ¬† 2 Tbsp
Place sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
Split all vanilla beans and scrape out seeds inside.
Reserve all in a 1 quart container.
Pour 3 cups rum over vanilla, then pour in 1/2 cup syrup(can be hot, or reserved warm.) then top off with 1/2 cup water.
Cover with a tight fitting lid and store in pantry for at least a week. the longer the better. When you run out, simply repeat the process. The same beans can be used over and over for quite a while!
The remainder of the syrup can be used to sweeten beverages!
The remainder of the rum can be saved for next batch,  if it lasts that long:)
Or make some terrific mojitos using all the leftovers!

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Touring exotic places… from the kitchen

This week, John did a lot of the cooking as I was sick and/or working. So, I didn’t get the full benefit of all this food, but in the first three days of the week, John cooked up a culinary tour!
First up was my favorite Chinese restaurant staple: Chicken with Broccoli. John’s the stir-fry king in our household, so I couldn’t be happier to come home to a hot plate of this take out dinner made yummier, healthier and (can it be?) faster than delivery. In our neck of the woods (and farms), decent Chinese food is just not available, so we have come to rely on John’s prowess with sauces. While there is no exact recipe, there is a procedure and ingredients list. We had it with some nice brown rice (definitely not something that’s available in our area from take out places!) Just a warning, when you don’t buy the instant brown rice, it does take a while to cook, so you’ll want to get that going first.

Chicken and Broccoli ala Johnny

For the rice:

I used Texmati Brown Rice

Follow instructions on package, but i usually use a 3:1 water to rice ratio for this one. I also added a few items to amplify the flavor of otherwise plain rice.

  • Rice 1 cup
  • Water 2 cups
  • Chicken stock 1 cup
  • Soy Sauce ¬† ¬† 1/4 cup
  • Salt ¬†1/2 tsp
  • Orange peel 3 pcs
  • Fresh grated ginger 1 Tbsp

Combine all items in a sauce pan. Bring to boil, then reduce to light simmer for about 30-40 minutes, covered.

Prepare the sauce:

  • Orange pineapple juice ¬† ¬† ¬† 1 cup
  • Rice vinegar ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 2 Tbsp
  • soy sauce ¬† ¬† ¬† 2 Tbsp
  • honey ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†2 Tbsp
  • ground ginger ¬†1 tsp
  • fresh ginger ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†1 Tbsp
  • sesame seed ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†1/4 cup
  • xanthan gum ¬† ¬† ¬† 1/2 tsp
  • Veg oil ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 2 Tbsp

Combine all in a Tupperware quick shake, and shake, or use an immersion blender in a container to blend together. The xanthan gum will help emulsify everything, though it can be simply combined without it. Reserve.

In a microwave safe bowl, steam about six cups of broccoli with about 1/4 cup of water, a tsp. salt, cover loosely with plastic wrap for about three minutes. Remove plastic and reserve.

Heat a skillet to medium heat, add vegetable oil. Slice one chicken breast per two people thin, toss with seasoned flour (salt and pepper). Sear in hot pan. Add sauce to combine, then broccoli. Simmer about five minutes and you’re done! Serve over rice.

The second night was Mexican, and it was delicious! John got the inspiration from Rick Bayless on a local channel. So, on Tuesday I was treated to Warm Chorizo Spinach Salad. It was delicious and it seemed pretty easy (keep in mind, I had nothing to do with it!)

Wednesday’s dinner, which I have yet to sample (being under the weather) was Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup (really more of a stew) that he’s been wanting to make for so long he doesn’t remember where the recipe came from. What I can tell you is that it looked and smelled delicious.

  • Red split lentils, soaked ¬† ¬† ¬†1 cup
  • Finely chopped onion
  • Olive oil ¬† ¬† ¬†2 tsp
  • Finely chopped garlic clove
  • Curry powder ¬† ¬† ¬†1 tbs
  • Sweet potatoes, cubed ¬† ¬† ¬†500 grams
  • Vegetable bouillon powder ¬† ¬†2 tsp
  • Miso ¬† ¬† ¬†2 tsp
  • Chopped coriander


Put lentils in a pan with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Skim , turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the onion in the olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook for a few more minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the saute mix to the lentils with the bouillon and cooked for 5 minutes until potatoes are cooked through.

We didn’t have miso or coriander, so we left them out and it was still delicious!

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