Monday, November 12, 2007

Dulce de Leche-Banana Pie


  • 1 pieshell (I always “cheat” and use store-bought crusts, but you do whatever suits you.)
  • 1 can (13.4 oz.) dulce de leche (Dulce de leche is like sweetened condensed milk, only caramel-flavored. It’s probably in the Hispanic section of the grocery store, although I found it next to all the other canned milks.)
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 C. whipping cream
  • ¼ C. powdered sugar
  • ½ C. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil.
1. Heat your oven to 450 degrees and bake your piecrust for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Once your crust is done, let it cool for thirty minutes (according to the recipe), but less than that if you’re like me and are hyper-impatient.

2. Spread your can of dulce de leche onto the crust with a spatula. Rinse the can & recycle it, or let your kids have a field day with the sticky stuff left inside.

3. Slice your bananas and arrange neatly (not that it matters) onto the dulce de leche.

4. Beat your whipping cream and powdered sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Spread it over the bananas.

5. Put your chocolate chip & oil in a small resealable freezer bag; seal the bag. Microwave on high for 30 seconds and give the bag a few good squeezes. Microwave for another 30 seconds or so until everything is melted. Snip off a teensy tiny corner of the bag and pipe your melted chocolate over whipped cream.

6. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it. Good luck actually getting it unharmed and uneaten to the table.

*This recipe is adapted from Betty Crocker's Fall Baking (2007) cookbook.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hitching a Ride on the A-Train

A for Autumn, of course!

First of all, lest you think that I was so clever as to come up with this A+ idea for an Apple pie, I most Assuredly did not. Kudos go to Katherine, an alphabeterian extraordinaire and from the looks of it, an excellent chef as well. (Save me a d-d-donut, please.)


As I was saying, A is for all things autumn and in the fall I love apple pie. I also love Kristen at Small Treasures, very much, and when I found out she was hosting a Fall Festival at her cooking blog, A Virtual Kitchen, well, I wiped my smudgy hands on my apron and scratched my head.

And came up with...nuthin'.

Oh, the recipes are all there on the shelf of course, just waiting to be dusted off. To tell you the truth, though, dear reader, we've been just a wee bit too busy to come up with anything original.

The above is a photo of a plain old apple pie, made with store-bought crust and the teensy tiny apples from my mom & dad's one apple tree. (An apple tree that's been there since my youth, I might add--a fighter of a tree if ever I've seen one, and a fond reminder of my childhood.) A plain old apple pie, but the "A's" on top delighted the children, and these days, that's what I'm Aiming for.

That and learning one's letters, of course.

For my all-time favorite apple pie recipe, I defer you to this yester-post of days' past.

And I wish you a happy, healthy, crazy-busy-but-delicious Fall!

PS. Love you, Kristen!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Triple Berry Muffins

This recipe makes 16 to 24 muffins, depending on how huge you like your muffin.

  • 3 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1-2 tsp. cinnamon (depending on how cinnamon-y you like things)
  • 1 ¼ C. milk
  • 2 extra-large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 ½ sticks (3/4 C) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 C. fresh blueberries
  • ½ C. fresh raspberries
  • ½ C. diced fresh strawberries
  • 1 ¼ C. sugar
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line your muffin tins with little paper liners if you have them. If not, spray generously with non-stick cooking oil.

Sift your flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & cinnamon into a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the milk, eggs & melted butter. Do try to cool your butter before you add it, unless you like to cook your eggs before adding them to the batter.

Coat your berries with the sugar and set aside.

Make a nice big well in the middle of your dry stuff and pour in the wet stuff. You know what’s coming: stir gently until just combined. Do not overmix, lest the fluffy muffin police come knocking. Add your berries and gently, gently, gently fold into the batter. Murmur “slow and steady wins the race” to yourself as you are folding. You don’t want pink or blue or pinkish-blue muffins when you’re done. You want golden brown muffins with all their berries intact.

Spoon the batter into your muffin tin; the more you put in, the bigger the muffin. (naturally)

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and your kitchen smells delicious.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Crock-Pot Chicken Indonesian

In honor of Barbara's Crock Pot Festival, I have dug out one of my favorite Fall entrées: this crock pot dish that came with one of Leanne Ely’s Saving Dinner menu mailers.

It was one of her “recipe raves”, for good reason. I make this dish often, especially on school nights when I need supper to be fast & easy. How about you, friend? Do you like supper to be fast & easy on a school night?

Then this crock pot recipe is your friend.

I like cooking with chicken thighs now & then; they’re moist, meaty and a pleasant change from the ubiquitous boneless, skinless breast.

Trust me, this dish is delicious. Thank you, LeAnn! And thank you, Barbara, for hosting!
  • 12 skinless chicken thighs
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ T. grated fresh ginger root
  • 3 tsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 C. peanut butter
In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil and cayenne. Place your chicken in the crockpot and spoon sauce over the top of it. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or until chicken is tender and fully cooked. Remove chicken from the crock pot and stir peanut butter into the juices until smooth. Spoon sauce over chicken to serve.

Serve with rice and a side of veggies.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Blueberry Coffee Cake

In honor of Suzanne’s Blueberry Bash, here is a yummy recipe using one of the world’s most perfect fruits. I’m with Kristen; I can eat blueberries by the handful right out of the colander. Should I be disciplined enough to actually bake with them, then a coffee cake’s the way to go. I love the way the blueberries hang onto their shape and then burst open with flavor when you bite into them.

Don’t be put off by the olive oil in this recipe, by the way. It makes for a very moist and tender cake.
  • 11/4 C. flour
  • ½ tsp. soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¾ C.sugar, divided
  • ½ C. buttermilk
  • ¼ C. light olive oil
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 T. grated orange zest
  • 1 T. orange juice
  • 1 ½ C. fresh blueberries, washed & drained
  • 1 tsp. flour
  • 2 T. sliced almonds
  • 1 T. sugar
Grease side and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with olive oil (use a mister if you’ve got one) and dust with sugar. Combine first 3 ingredients with ½ C. sugar in a large mixing bowl; set aside.

Whisk together buttermilk, olive oil and egg yolks. Add to dry ingredients and blend until smooth. Stir in orange zest and juice.

In another large mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form (about 1 minute). Gradually add ¼ C. sugar. Beat at high speed until stiff (2-3 minutes). Using a few strokes, whisk one half of cake batter into egg mixture. Gently whisk in remaining cake batter until no white streaks remain. Pour into prepared pan.

Toss blueberries with 1 tsp. flour and sprinkle over batter. Sprinkle the almonds and 1 T. sugar on top of it all. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (55-60 minutes). Cool 10 minutes; remove side from pan. Cool 5 minutes; invert; remove bottom of pan. Invert again onto pretty serving plate and dig in.

Recipe adapted from The Byerly Bag magazine

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Southwestern Black Bean, Corn and Tomato Salsa

For Alicia with Love

  • 2 C. sweet corn kernels (canned is fine)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (or you substitute a can of diced tomatoes; however, there’s just no excuse for using canned tomatoes in the summer!)
  • ½ avocado, cubed (Except if your kids really love avocado. Right, Alicia?)
  • ¼ C. diced red onion, if desired
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (Or you may substitute a milder pepper, such as serrano)
  • 2 T. fresh lime juice
  • ¼ C. chopped cilantro (because you can never have too much cilantro)
Sprinkle salt over minced garlic on a cutting board and mash with the flat side of a large knife to make a paste.

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive serving bowl; toss lightly. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving to blend flavors.

Serve with lots of your favorite tortilla chips. (We like the little scoopy ones.)

Image from

Monday, June 25, 2007

Strawberry Rhubard Cobbler

They're smart, they're sweet and they can cook like nobody's business.

I'm talking about Suzanne and Kristen, of course, and in honor of their Strawberry Festival 2007 (the first of many?) I am posting one of my favorite summertime treats:

Strawberry Rhubard Cobbler

Mind, this is a comfort dish and not haute cuisine. You'll be serving this to your bosom friends as you sit out on the deck at dusk...chatting and laughing and slapping away all the mosquitos.

Or you can have it inside in air-conditioned comfort. It'll still be just as good.

Crumb Topping

1 C. flour
1 C. oats
1 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. butter, melted
1 generous tsp. cinnamon (I like this kind)

Fruit Mixture

4-5 C. diced rhubarb
1 C. sliced strawberries
3/4 C. sugar
4 tsp. cornstarch
3/4 C. water
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together crumb topping, cutting in butter. Press 3/4 of the topping into a 9x13 pan.* Cover with rhubarb/strawberry blend. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add water. Cook, stirring until thick and clear. Add vanilla.

Pour syrup over fruit. Top with remaining crumb topping.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until topping is browned. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream or a side of vanilla ice cream.

Bug spray is optional.

*The smaller the pan, the taller the dessert. You decide.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Homemade Orange Smoothies

These get bonus points for being both healthy and delicious! They taste like a drink from Orange Julius.

1 C. plain yogurt
½ C. orange juice (I like the Minute Maid Kids brand for the extra vitamins)
¼ C. Splenda
½ scoop whey protein powder
crushed ice

You may adjust ingredients to taste, of course, and then blend away. Throw in some frozen banana or strawberries and skip the ice.

image courtesy of

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole

This delicious, family-friendly casserole was first made for us by my friend Tina.

I asked for the recipe the next day.

3-4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
16 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup (cream of mushroom will work in a pinch, of course, or cream of onion)
chicken broth
1 sleeve Ritz crackers
1-2 T. poppy seeds
1 stick butter

Cook your chicken and cut into bite-size pieces. Place it in the bottom of a lightly-sprayed 9x13 casserole dish. Mix sour cream, soup, 1 T. poppy seeds and enough chicken broth to make it soupy. Season generously with salt, white pepper, garlic powder, Adobo seasoning…whatever you fancy. Pour this mixture over the chicken.

Crush the crackers and sprinkle over the chicken mixture. Melt your butter and pour over the crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Take out 5 minutes early and sprinkle with additional tablespoon of poppy seeds. Finish baking and serve with rice, a green veggie and a loaf of crusty bread.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Authentic French Vinaigrette

“Authentic” because my host family in France made this twice a day nearly every day during the six months that I stayed there.

For Tina and Tanya

  • 1 generous tablespoon of Dijon mustard with
  • 1 generous tablespoon of vinegar. (I like the red wine and balsamic varieties.)
  • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil &
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil; stir until emulsified.
Add salt & freshly ground pepper to taste. Sometimes when the mood strikes me I like to add a generous shake of sweet curry powder.

That’s it! This little recipe has served me well over the years. It’s great with shredded carrots or—if you sweeten it up considerably—as a dressing for spinach salad.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sour Cream Muffins

This recipe was given to me as part of a wedding gift (along with a muffin tin and scraper). The card is splattered, stained and faded, I have made these so often!

They are not the healthiest of muffins but they are delicious.

Play around with the recipe if you want to decrease the fat and calories, e.g. substitute plain yogurt for the sour cream and Splenda for the sugar.

This recipe makes 2 dozen muffins.

½ C. butter
1 ½ C. sugar
½ tsp. Salt
4 eggs
2 ¾ C. flour
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 ½ C. sour cream

Mix butter, sugar and salt until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add dry ingredients and beat until well-mixed; blend in sour cream.

Your batter will be very thick.

Spoon into prepared muffin tins and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and nuts. Or, if you prefer, leave off the toppings and add chocolate chips to the batter.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.


Ed. note: Each muffin is worth 4 Weight Watchers points.

*Photo from

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Five Flavor Cake (from Watkins)

This cake is totally true to its name, as flavor-packed as you could possibly get in what is basically a pound cake. I like to bake it for birthdays and at Christmas; it’s just that good.


2 sticks butter, softened
½ C. vegetable shortening
3 C. sugar
5 eggs, well beaten
3 C. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. Baking powder
1 C. milk
1 tsp. Coconut flavor
1 tsp. Rum extract
1 tsp. Butter flavor
1 tsp. Lemon extract
1 tsp. Vanilla extract

Cream butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, which have been beaten until lemon colored. Combine flour and baking powder and add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in flavorings. Spoon mixture into a 12-C. bundt pan (If your bundt pan is smaller than this, you will want to divide the batter and maybe make a mini-loaf or some such thing.)

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 ½ hours or until cake tests done. Add glaze if desired. (See recipe below.) Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove and coat with the rest of the glaze.

Six Flavor Glaze

¾ C. sugar
1/3 C. water
¾ tsp. Each of coconut, rum, butter, lemon, vanilla and almond extracts.

Combine ingredients in your saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is melted. Pour half of the glaze on the cake when it is still in the Bundt pan, and add the other half once the cake is removed.

*You may sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar instead of glazing it, but trust me, the glaze is really good!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

From the Heart of Minnesota! Wild Rice Soup

A thick and creamy soup that’s just perfect for a cold Winter’s night, this recipe comes your way via my dear friend & neighbor, Ale (pronounced “Allie”).

I love that she uses short-cuts like the store-bought cream of chicken soup. If anything, it makes the soup even creamier.

2 big cans of cream of chicken soup
1 big can of chicken broth
Half and half to taste
2 or 3 onions, diced
2 or 3 carrots, diced
1 stick of butter (cut back on this if this amount frightens you)
One bag of wild rice
Salt & pepper to taste

*small can of cream of onion soup (optional)
* small chunks of cooked chicken (optional)

Cook the wild rice according to the directions on the package.

Meanwhile, sauté the onions and carrots in the butter. Add the cream of chicken soup, broth and a can or so of water. Add as much half and half as you’d like to get the level of creamiest you desire. Really, the amount of thinning out of the soup that you do is up to you.

You can also add a small can of cream of onion soup for extra flavor, as well as a handful of cooked chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fold in the wild rice and cover your pot. Let the soup cook on low until heated through and the rice is puffed up nicely.

Enjoy! And say a prayer for your friends in Minnesota when you do so. : )