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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Blackberry Crumble Bars

We have had an exceptionally warm summer here in the Pacific Northwest.  As a result, most fruits are ready a good month before the usual time.  Today I was able to pick blackberries in my yard.  This is a usual late August/September activity.  What to do with a couple cups of fresh blackberries?
I had pinned this recipe last year and made them today for a yummy dessert.  They would be delicious with some vanilla ice cream.

  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1  small egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • cooking spray
  • For the blackberry filling:
  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch
  • pinch of cinnamon
In a small bowl mix together the sugar, baking powder, and flour.   In a food processor beat the egg and vanilla but just pulsing several times.  Add in the salt and lemon zest and all of the flour mixture.  Cube the butter and add that also.  Pulse the mixture until the butter is in small tiny pieces.

Spray a 8" square pan and press half the dough onto the bottom of the pan.
Now mix the blackberries, sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch together.  Pour over the dough in the pan.
Sprinkle the remaining half of the dough mixture over the top of the blackberries.  Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. 

Lemon Zucchini Bread

It's that time of year again when zucchini becomes very prolific in the garden.  If you don't have zucchini growing in a garden just find someone who does and you will find yourself going home with a bag of them.  This recipe comes to you from a blog, "Like Mother, Like Daughter."  I doubled the recipe so I could keep a loaf and give one away.  Plus it used up just that much more zucchini!

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
For the Lemon Glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 to 2 TBSP of half and half - as needed to thin glaze
Put eggs in a mixing bowl and beat well.  Add the sugar and beat again.  Add in the oil, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Beat well.  Add in the milk.  MIx well then add in the zucchini.  Put the flour, baking powder and salt into the batter and mix just until well incorporated.  Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake at 375 for 60-65 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Mix up glazed ingredients and spread on top.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Garlic Herb Cheese Pull Apart Bread

  • 4 c.  white or bread flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon yeast
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/3 c. water at room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 c.  grated parmesan

Pour water into large bowl and add the yeast.  Whisk well until yeast dissolves.  Whisk in sugar, salt and olive oil.  Add flour one cup at a time.  When the last cup has been mixed in turn out onto floured board and knead for 5 minutes.  Form into a ball and put into a oiled bowl.  Cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down down. Roll out into a large rectangle.  Spread butter over the dough.  Sprinkle with garlic, herbs and parmesan.  Cut the dough into 3" strips in one direction then the other.  The result will be squares.

 Grease 2 loaf pans.  Pile 4 squares on top of one another

and place sideways into a loaf pan.  Continue until pan is full.

 Let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.  Bake for 50 minutes.  Let rest for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.


Tabbouli is one of those simple salads that is perfect for the summer time.   I admit I have had multiple problems getting the bulghur to the correct consistency.   Original recipes always tell you to add boiling water to the bulghhur and let it set for 15 minutes.  Then I always have half cooked bulghur sitting in water.  I have adapted this recipe to show how I get the bulghur cooked.

  • ½ c. fine bulghur wheat
  • 1 c. boiling water
  • 3 bunches flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • Put bulghur in a bowl and pour boiling water over.  Cover and let sit for 15-20 minutes.  If your bulghur is still hard ad sitting in water put it into the microwave and cook for 2 minutes.  Check consistency and continue this method until bulgur is fluffy and water is gone.  Cool.  Chop herbs finely.  MIx herbs, bulghur, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions in a bowl.  Drizzled on olive oil and lemon juice.  Mix well.  Sprinkle in salt and mix again.  Cool in refrigerator until serving.

Steak Marinade

Tonight my son is coming for dinner so we are going to have a little steak BBQ.  This is a simple marinade you can use with any type of steak you like.  I used it with sirloin and let it marinade all day long.  The great thing about this marinade is you probably have all the ingredients in your pantry already! 

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
Combine all ingredients.  Whisk well.  Add steak and marinade for as long as you like-up to 24 hours.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Lemon Shortbread Bars

A delightful recipe from the blog,  Willowbird Baking.  It features a light shortbread crust covered with a lemon cheesecake topping and then a crumb cake type streusel to top it off.  It makes a 8" square pan--not too much to feel guilty about.  This is a perfect summer time dessert.

Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup Plugrá butter
Cheesecake Ingredients:
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • zest of 1 lemon (reserve a little for topping)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 egg, room temperature
White Sugar Streusel Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold Plugrá butter, cubed
  • lemon zest for topping
Combine crust ingredients in a food processor until the butter is in small pea sized pieces.  Press into a 8" square pan that has been sprayed with Pam.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

While the crust is baking, put all ingredients in a mixer bowl and beat until smooth.  When the crust comes out of the oven, pour the cheesecake layer over the crust .

Mix the streusel ingredients in the food processor.  Cover the top of the cheesecake layer with the streusel.

Put oven on 375 and bake for 25 minutes.  Keep in refrigerator.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Lemon cream pasta with veggies

This is a little something I put together tonight for dinner.  We have been on vacation and just needed a good home cooked dinner with some vegetables.  So served up with a salad and bread this really hit the spot.

1# asparagus, cut into pieces about 2" long
2 boneless chicken tenders, cubed
1 small zucchini, sliced
3 oz. cream cheese
1 c. half and half
1 c. parmesan cheese
1/4 t. nutmeg
zest of one lemon
juice from one lemon
cooked pasta of your choice-I used spaghetti noodles

Put about 2 T. olive oil in a skillet.  Add zucchini and asparagus and chicken.  Cook until the chicken is no longer pink.  Add zest and lemon juice.  Add cream cheese and cook over medium heat.  As cream cheese "melts" stir in half and half and parmesan cheese.  Cook over medium low heat.  Combine with cooked pasta.

Homemade Pesto

I love the scent of fresh basil.  This time of year it is a delight to walk out to the garden and pick basil and turn it into fresh pesto.  If you have a basil plant,  or if you just buy some fresh basil this is an easy recipe to make.

2 c. fresh basil
 2/3 c. olive oil
  1/4 c. pine nuts
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
pinch of salt
1-2 garlic cloves

Just put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

This is a light and refreshing salad...another mayo/dressing free alternative for potlucks, picnics and outside eating.  It has a tangy olive oil and vinegar dressing.

1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced
 1/4 onion, cut into thin slices
3 tomatoes, cut into slices

{For the dressing}
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. salt

Combine dressing.  Put all ingredients into a bowl.  Toss with dressing.  Refrigerate for one hour.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Pie

My son emailed me this recipe begging me to make it for him.  It is so simple to make I made it right up.  This pie requires no special cooking skills or even the use of an oven!  Anyone can make this!

1 Oreo cookie pie crust (yes they sell them at the grocery store in the baking aisle
1 heaping cup or 6 oz. peanut butter chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
1 heaping cup or6 oz chocolate chips
12-15 mini Reese's, chopped
Take the plastic lid off the crust.  Place the peanut butter chips and 1/2 cup of the cream in a glass bowl or measuring cup.  Heat on high 30 seconds.  Heat on high for another 30 seconds.  Stir, stir, stir, until the milk and chips mix together.  Pour into the pie crust.

 Put in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.  Put the chocolate chips and remaining 1/2 c. cream in a glass bowl or the previously used measuring cup.  Heat on high for 30 seconds.  Stir.  Heat on high for another 30 seconds.  Stir, stir, stir, until the chocolate melts and mixes with the cream.  Pour this over the peanut butter layer.
Sprinkle chopped Reese's peanut butter cups on top.  Put on plastic lid and refrigerate until firm.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Red Robin Chicken BBQ Salad

This recipe comes from the cookbook, "Top Secret Recipes."  I don't recall this item on Red Robin's menu, but the book is from probably was on the menu then.  It is a nice little salad to put together for dinner.  I left out the cabbage, just because my body still is not tolerating it.  YOu could definitely mix up the greens with whatever kind you have.

2 c. romaine lettuce, chopped
2 c. green leaf or iceberg lettuce
1/c c. chopped red cabbage
1 small tomato, chopped
1 boneless skinless chicken breast
1/3 c. barbeque sauce-your choice
1/2 c. black beans, warmed
1/2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 c. French's French fried onions
1 avocado, sliced
1/4 c. ranch dressing

Grill the chicken on the BBQ, basting with barbeque sauce.  Cut chicken into strips.

Arrange lettuces, and cabbage in salad bowls.  Top with beans, tomato, and chicken.  Sprinkle on cheese and onions.  Arrange slice of avocado on top.  Serve with ranch dressing.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

New Potato and Green Bean Salad

This is a recipe I clipped out of Bon Appetite many years ago.  It is great for a day like today when it is hot and you are going to a picnic or mayo in this recipe.  It's tangy balsamic/olive oil dressing is a nice change from a mayo based potato salad.  The fresh basil adds a delightful twist.

1 1/2# small red potatoes
3/4# haricot verts or fresh green beans
1/4 red onion, diced
1/4 c. chopped basil

Put potatoes in water and bring to a boil.  Add green beans into the water.  Boil for 10-12 minutes.
Drain and cool.  Chop potatoes into quarters and beans in 1/2s. Combine green beans, potatoes, onions and basil in a bowl.  Add dressing:

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 . olive oi
2 T. dijon mustard
dash Worcestershire sauce
2 T. lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced

Monday, June 29, 2015

Vietnamese Shrimp Rolls in Rice Paper

If you have never made spring rolls with rice paper you should definitely give it a try.  For a hot summer day, it requires no stove or grilling.  Here is how you work with rice papers:
To start they look like this:  all hard like plastic

Place the paper into a container of very warm water for about 5-10 seconds. Now it will look like this:

Place on a damp towel.  Put your filling ingredients on the bottom third of the paper:

Roll up by pulling up the bottom to cover the ingredients, fold in the sides and roll up:

Filling ingredients:
cooked shrimp, chicken or tofu
sprigs of cilantro and or mint
cold rice noodles
thinly sliced or spiralized carrot
thinly sliced cabbage and or lettuce leaves
thinly sliced radish
thinly slices or spiralized cucumber

Serve with a nice peanut, sweet and sour or gyoza dipping sauce.

Crunchy Asian Salad with Peanut Sauce

The hot weather continues and so do my offerings of cool meals with salad.  This is a wonderful crunchy veggie filled salad that is serve with a peanut sauce.  I will be serving it with spring rolls made with rice papers.   More on that in another post.  If peanut sauce is not your thing, this could be served with a purchased asian sesame dressing.  Your choice.

  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves or other greens, washed, and dried
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly slicedor diced
  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas
  • 1/2 large cucumber or 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped in half
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted
Combine all ingredients.  Toss with purchased Asian dressing or try this peanut dressing:
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (use gluten free Tamari soy sauce for gluten free version)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or more, if you like it sweeter)
  • 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted 
Combine all ingredients, whisking well or shaking in a bottle or jar.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

  • Need something light for a hot day dinner?  The temperatures are rising here in the Pacific NW and it's time to keep the kitchen cool.

  • 6 oz penne pasta, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups grilled, chopped chicken
  • 4 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 (medium size) cucumber, chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup croutons (optional)
  • Caesar salad dressing, to taste
combine all ingredients.  Toss and serve.  So easy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cuban Mojo Marinated Pork

This recipe comes from the blog, The Charlatan.  It needs to marinate so give yourself overnight or at least 2 hours for this step.  Now I know it's hot.  This recipe calls for the meat to be cooked in a very hot oven.  To turn down the heat factor, you could cook it overnight at 250.  Then just reheat before serving.  You could use a crock pot, but you won't get the yummy crust on the roast.  Or you could bake it early in the morning, and heat it up later.  Just some ideas.  Leftovers make fabulous cuban sandwiches.

  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced oregano (2 teaspoons dried oregano)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 3 and 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, in one piece*
Marinade for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.  Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.  Reduce heat to 375 and cook another hour and thirty minutes.  Let rest 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Tiny Lemon Raspberry Tarts

Ok, I had some leftover lemon curd, and some leftover pie dough and a little basket of raspberries...instant delicious dessert!

If you don't have these things leftover in your fridge and you want to do this oh-so-easy,  run to your local grocery store and buy
1 jar lemon curd
1 box fresh raspberries
1 pre-made pie crust

Roll out the pie crust.  Cut in small circles that will fit into a  mini muffin tin.  Put in tin and bake at 400 for about 10 minutes.  cool and fill with lemon curd.  Place a raspberry on top.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

3 Berry Pie

Tomorrow is Father's Day and I am in charge of desserts at the family BBQ.  I made up this pie with some frozen berries I am trying to use up from last summer's harvest, but you could use fresh berries too.

6 cups of 3 kinds of berries:  I used raspberries, blackberries and strawberries
1 c. sugar
3 T. flour

Combine well. 

Make up a two crust pie crust.  Put one in the pan. Top with berries then the remaining pie crust.  Cut slits.  Bake at 425 for 50 minutes.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Slow Cooker Carne Asada with Peppers and Onions

Yesterday I made the 5 minute Layered Southwest Salad posted earlier this week on the blog for a potluck at my sweetheart's work.  I came home with about half the salad.  So tonight I stuck this in the crock pot and plan to serve it with the leftover salad.  Yum!   This is a great recipe for a hot summer night or for one of those days you are not going to have a lot of time to cook in the evening.  Just stick it in the crock pot and dinner is almost ready when you come home.  So nice to walk into the house and smell dinner almost ready to serve.

1 3-4# beef roast
1 T. oregano
1 T. cumin
1 T. chili powder
2 T. olive oil
2 C. beef or vegetable broth
2 red pepppers, quartered
1/2 onion, sliced

Place all ingredients into the crockpot and cook 7-9 hours on low.  Serve in flour tortillas with sour cream and cilantro.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Lemon Thumbprint Cookies

Today is the end of the school year BBQ at my sweetheart's work.  I have a reputation as a good cook to uphold at this event every year.  So I need to make something delicious.  To celebrate the start of summer vacation, I chose these cookies.  The original recipe came from Redbook magazine and calls for store-bought lemon curd.  I did make my own lemon curd, but I am sure store bought would work just as well.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup lemon curd, store bought
Cream butter and sugar well.   Beat in egg yolks,  one at a time.  Add lemon zest and juice and beat well.  Add salt and flour.  Roll into balls and place on a parchment covered cooky sheet. Press a fingertip into the top of each cooky making a well for the lemon curd.   Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.  Remove from oven, fill wells with lemon curd.  Return to oven and bake for 2 more minutes to set the curd.  Allow to cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.