Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

I made these mushrooms as a side dish to go with grilled steak and wow! were they good.  They would also be great as an appetizer, especially if you use small mushrooms that can be eaten with the fingers.  My package of mushrooms contained 15 ranging in size from large to medium and two of us ate them all.

I took the liberty of adding 1/2 cup canned crab meat to the filling for no good reason except that I wanted to.  On second thought I think that was a good reason!. For a strictly vegetarian version omit the crab meat.   I have made this recipe in the past exactly as written and it is very good, so either way you prepare them I’m sure you will like mushrooms this way.


Serves  3-4

  • 12 large fresh mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, minced  (I used scallions, about 2 tablespoons, chopped)
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons dry sherry  ( I used white wine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded crab meat,  optional

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a pie plate or other shallow baking pan.  Select one  that will hold all your mushrooms in a snug fit, so they support each other.  They will shrink some as they bake.

2.  Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel.  Snap off the stems and mince them.

3.  Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and onion and sauté  briefly, stirring.  Add the minced mushroom stems and sauté  5 minutes more.  Remove pan from the heat.

4.  Stir in the bread crumbs, and all remaining ingredients, including crab meat, if using.

5.  Place mushroom caps in the prepared baking dish.  Place a dab of the remaining tablespoon of butter inside each mushroom cap.  Mound some stuffing in the caps, pressing it in with your fingers.

6.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until the mushrooms are brown, tender and juicy.

I served the mushrooms with sirloin tip steak, and steamed broccoli.

SOURCE:    Quick Vegetarian Pleasures,  Jeanne Lemlin


Pie For Dinner

I’m Stressed!  I’m experiencing two things that are not compatible with each other.  One is writing this blog where I want to include baked goods, and more importantly reading other blogs where there is all kinds of wonderful baking going on; and two is trying to follow a low carbohydrate diet plan.  Baked goods, generally speaking, have no place on a strict low carb diet.  I need to bake something to bring my stress level down.  I want to stir something or roll out something like pie dough or cookie dough.  Yeah, that would help out a lot!  I don’t need to eat it, just make it.  What to do?

Well after giving this situation a lot of thought,  I decided to make a pie.  Not a dessert pie, no sireee; a dinner pie.  My analysis of the standard pie crust shows that 1/8th of a 9-inch pie contains 13 Gms. carbohydrate, none of which comes from sugar.  This is well under the 20 Gms. I’m limiting myself to per day.  So then I needed to figure out what the filling should be.  I decided on cheeses and fresh tomatoes flavored up with pesto.  With the creative juices flowing, and the stress level coming down, I set to work mixing up the pie dough. Cutting in that shortening and rolling out that dough takes muscle, but I was up for it!

Here then,  ladies and gentlemen, I present to you for the first time, my newest creation:  Fresh Tomato and Ricotta Cheese Pie


Makes 8 servings

  • pie dough for a single crust 9-inch pie, either home made or store-bought
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 large tomatoes, and 4-5 grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil


1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Fit pie dough into a 9-inch pie pan.  Do not prick.  Line with heavy-duty foil.

2.  Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for 8 more minutes.  Remove from oven.  Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

3.   In a medium bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, salt and pepper to taste, and egg.

4.  Spread the cheese mixture in the partially cooked pie crust.

5.  Slice each large tomato into wedges, small tomatoes in half.  Remove as many seeds as possible.   Arrange attractively  on top of cheese layer.  Heirloom tomatoes produce vibrant colors ranging from pale yellow, pale pink,   purplish red,  even striped.  No two taste alike.  A tomato is a beautiful thing!  Mixing 2-3 varieties together makes a pretty presentation.

6.  In a food processor, process basil, garlic and olive oil until coarsely chopped.  Drizzle over the tomatoes.  I used my own previously made basil pesto, or you could use commercially prepared pesto here.

7.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  The filling will firm up a little more as it cools, so allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting.

8.  The finished product!  I served this pie with chicken salad on a bed of greens and a cucumber salad with a vinaigrette dressing.  I would also serve this dish as an entree for brunch along with some bacon or ham.  Oh, Yum!  The best part of all folks,  I didn’t just make it —-I got to eat it, too.  I am no longer stressed!

SOURCE:   a Carolyn Original

Roast Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

OK, so Brussels Sprouts may not be the most favorite vegetable of the year, but it is one vegetable I try to cycle through our meals once in a while because—–they’re good for you, and are low in calories and carbohydrates.  But up until several years ago I wouldn’t eat them,  I think because they were too strong in their cabbagy flavor.  Then I was having dinner out somewhere  –don’t remember where–and I was served these vegetables.  Not wanting to be rude I ate them and  SURPRISE,   I liked them because they had been cooked with bacon.  Now we know that bacon does wonders for most things, and Brussels Sprouts are no exception.  Therefore this recipe was a no-brainer for me when I first came across it.

This is a wonderful one-pan dinner that tastes like you cooked all day, but only takes a short while to get it ready for the oven.  The flavors meld together, and the sprouts are so good that next time I make this I will double the amount.  Did I really just say that?  The only adjustment I made was to leave out the potatoes because of our current low-carb diet plan.



  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 5 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 8 small red-skinned potatoes, quartered
  • 4 -5 pieces chicken (thighs with bone, or leg quarters work best)


1.  Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium -high heat, turning occasionally, until lightly browned but not crisp.  Drain the bacon on a paper-towel lined plate.  Save the drippings.

2.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Coat a large baking dish or cast iron skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. ( My approach was to cook the bacon in a cast-iron skillet, save the drippings, and omit that 1 Tablespoon olive oil.)

3.  Arrange lemon slices in a single layer on the bottom of the baking dish.

4.  Stir remaining 5 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, kosher salt, and black pepper together in a large bowl.


5.  Toss the Brussels sprouts in lemon juice mixture to coat; transfer to the prepared baking dish with a slotted spoon, draining excess liquid back into the bowl.

6.   Place bacon on top of the Brussels sprouts.

7.  Toss potatoes in the same lemon juice mixture, remove with a slotted spoon and place around the inside edges of the baking dish.

8.  Coat chicken pieces thoroughly in the remaining lemon mixture, and place skin-side up on top of the vegetables in the skillet.  Pour any remaining lemon juice mixture over the chicken.

9.  Bake in the preheated oven until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear, about 60 minutes.  Chicken should be nicely browned and crisp.


Peach Liqueur

The time is NOW!   Tis the season and that’s the reason for making……Peach Liqueur.  Get the ripest peaches you can find, and a bottle of spirits, and you have the makings for a liqueur, that will knock your socks off.  It’s that good, honestly!


750-ml bottle of brandy, vodka, rum, tequila, or Cognac

12 peaches

Simple sugar syrup made from 2 cups sugar, and 1 cup water.


1.  Pour the spirits into a clean 2-quart (or larger) glass container with a tight fitting lid.

2.  Cut the peaches in half and thinly slice.  Add the peaches and their pits to the spirits. Cover tightly and put away in a dark, cool place, to infuse for 3 weeks to a month.  Shake the container a few times each week.

3.  When you’re satisfied with the intensity of the flavor, strain the liqueur through a metal sieve into a large bowl.  Discard the solids.  Add the sugar syrup to taste.

4.  To make sugar syrup:  Place the 1 cup water in a saucepan.  Add the 2 cups sugar and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce the heat and continue to stir until the sugar dissolves.  Cool to room temperature.  Select a clean container that will hold at least 1 1/2 cups.  Pour the sugar syrup into the container, seal, and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

For more information on the infusion process, see my post  for Rhubarb Liqueur.

Hints:  My preference is vodka for making infusions, because it is colorless and  doesn’t have a strong flavor of its own.   Keep the original spirits bottle.  Soak and remove label.  Use this to store the finished liqueur, properly labeled and dated.  The finished liqueur should be aged for about 1 month away from heat and light to allow flavors to mellow.  I know, I know—-it’s hard; but all good things are worth the wait!

Variations:   Use honey in place of sugar syrup and add to taste.   Add 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise,  or  6 whole cloves in with the peaches.

SOURCE:  Infused  by Susan Elia MacNeil

Caprese Salad

Caprese salad; one of the simplest, most beautiful and delicious salads I make.  Every summer when tomatoes of all kinds are at their finest, and my pot of basil is full and lush, I scout out the best mozzarella cheese I can find and we have this salad over and over.

The people of the Isle of Capri,  (thus it’s name)  created this tri-color salad, using tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil, the colors of the Italian flag.  We are so lucky they did.  It is so simple to make you really don’t need a recipe, and I expect many of you know how to make it.  But for those of you who have never had it, you might want to try it.   This is how I make it.

This makes enough for a first-course, or side salad for 4.

  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Whisk all of the above together to blend.  Set dressing aside.

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes.  An assortment makes a pretty presentation, such as regular vine-ripened tomatoes, plum tomatoes, red or yellow cherry tomatoes, or heirloom tomatoes of any color.  The ones in my photo are dark skinned heirloom tomatoes, very meaty and sweet.
  • a ball of mozzarella cheese, about 6 ounces, thinly sliced
  • several sprigs of basil, torn into small pieces

Slice the large tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices,  cut smaller tomatoes into wedges, and grape or cherry tomatoes  in half.  Arrange on a platter with the cheese.  Drizzle the dressing over the top.  Sprinkle with the basil and any additional salt and pepper.


A loaf of crusty Italian bread is the perfect accompaniment .


Italian Style Stuffed Zucchini

At this point in the summer season there is an abundance of zucchini, with many gardeners looking for ways to prepare it, or friends and neighbors to share with.  I am fortunate in being a neighbor to a gardener, and he is kind in sharing his over-flow with us. Soooo, zucchini is on the menu!  I spent some time on a recent afternoon browsing through cookbooks looking for some different ways to prepare it. I had a secondary reason to look at recipes; my husband and I are starting a low-carbohydrate eating plan, and so low-carb. recipes was the second objective.  Zucchini fits the bill on this count:  low calorie and low carbohydrate.  I reasoned that by stuffing it with a meat mixture, I could maintain that low carbohydrate profile.

Italian Style Stuffed Zucchini

My search turned up a recipe for meatballs using Italian sausage and ground pork. Since I did not have any ground pork readily available, I substituted ground turkey instead and paired it with hot Italian sausage.  I mixed up the whole recipe which was more than what was needed to stuff my zucchini, so I formed the  remainder into meatballs and froze them, ready for another dish in the future.  Once I had the zucchini stuffed, I put them into a baking dish, poured some of my fresh tomato marinara sauce over them and baked till the squash was tender. The final step was to sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, let it melt in the hot oven, and serve this dish with a salad.

On a more personal note,  my motivation for starting a low-carbohydrate diet is obviously to loose a few pounds.   I’m clearly not overweight, but there are a few extra bulges here and there, and since  I am planning on competing in November in a Ballroom Dance Competition,  the time to begin a weight loss program is now when there are so many vegetables available.  I have followed a low carbohydrate plan in the past and it has proven to be a good one for me,  because once I go a few days without carbs, I no longer have a desire for them and I am perfectly satisfied with all the other foods I can have.   After about two weeks of eating like this you can start to add carbs back into your diet slowly, in small amounts so you do not feel totally deprived.  My goal is to lose 5 pounds.  I’ll keep you posted on how I do.




  • 2 medium sized zucchini, halved lengthwise.   (If you use large zucchini, you will need to pre bake them a little in advance of stuffing them.
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 large shallots, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese  (This helps keep the meat mixture moist)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces lean ground pork, or ground turkey
  • 2 ( 4 oz. ) links hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large jar prepared spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Prepare a shallow baking dish by spraying with non-stick spray.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour a small amount of spaghetti sauce in the baking dish as a base for the zucchini.

2.  Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat;  swirl to coat.  Add garlic and shallots to pan; sauté  3 minutes or until shallots are softened, stirring frequently .

3.  Combine shallot mixture, ricotta, and next 8 ingredients (through egg) in a medium bowl.

4.  Prepare zucchini for filling by creating a “boat”;  i.e., scoop out seeds and some of the flesh.  I used a melon-baller, and  it was easy to do.  Leave enough flesh, so zucchini will support itself, and maintain its shape.

5.  Fill each zucchini half with a generous portion of the meat filling.  Arrange in baking dish, and pour marinara sauce over the top.  If you have extra meat filling, either make more zucchini, or freeze for later use.

6.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.  Pierce zucchini for doneness: they should pierce easily and be tender.

7.  Remove foil, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Return to hot oven just to melt the cheese.

I found that the juices from the zucchini and meat added to the volume of sauce,  so I think this dish would go well with some pasta to put all that sauce over.   If I were eating carbohydrates now, that’s what I would do. 😦    Instead we had this dish with a  spinach salad, and it was very satisfying.

SOURCE:  adapted from a  recipe from Cooking Light Annual, 2008

Rustic Plum Tart

A rustic tart, also known as a Galette, is a very easy fruit filled pastry.  Really, just a single crust pie with the outside edges of the pie-crust folded up over the edges of the fruit, leaving the center open.  I like making these for a couple of reasons: they are quicker to make than regular pie,  one crust means less fat and calories,  they are not as apt to go over in the oven and make a mess, and it looks rustic, casual and free-form, so it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect.   Another reason to love it:  it’s satisfying as a dessert, but not too sweet.  In fact it is low in sugar–only what’s in the jam and the little you sprinkle on the crust.

This is a great dessert to serve to guests when you need something rather quickly, and it is impressive; i.e., looks like more work than it is.  You can mix and match your favorite stone fruits, or berries with appropriate jams.  Serve warm with a little ice cream or whipped cream.  YUM!


Serves:   6

  • 1 sheet of refrigerated pie crust from a 14.1-ounce box
  • 1/4 cup jam  (with plums I used plum jam )
  • 1 pound or about 2 cups pitted plums, cut into 1/4″ wedges ( don’t be too fussy here)
  • 1 egg, or 2-3 tablespoons egg beater product
  • 1/4 cup raw cane sugar (demerera sugar)
  • ice cream or whipped cream for serving

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Unroll pie crust onto the parchment paper.  Spread jam on the crust, leaving a 2 inch clean border around the edges.

3.  Arrange the plums on top of the jam.

4.  Fold the crust’s edges inward, pleating as needed;  leave the center of the tart exposed.  Press the dough lightly to seal.

5.  Whisk the egg with a little water in a small dish,  or use egg beater product;  brush the egg wash on the dough and sprinkle with the sugar.  Bake until the crust is cooked through and golden brown, about 35 minutes.

6.  Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

SOURCE:   Adapted from a recipe by   Sonny Anderson,  The Food Network.

Pineapple Jerk Chicken and Rice

I made this dish for the very first time just a few days ago, and it came out so good I must tell you about it.  Normally I steer clear of dishes that I think will be very spicy.  From what I know about jerk seasoning, it is quite “hot”  since Scotch Bonnet peppers are usually  amongst the ingredients.  But on reviewing the ingredient list on the bottle of jerk seasoning marinade I became convinced that it would be OK.  So I purchased the suggested brand:  Lawrys Jerk Marinade, and proceeded with the recipe.

This is a one-dish meal featuring chicken breasts, pineapple, black beans, cilantro, onions and the jerk marinade served over brown rice.  It goes together quickly once you have everything prepped.   Mr. D.,  a person who likes spicy foods, was very complimentary when he tasted it.   It does have some heat to it especially with the jalapeño  chile in it, but I could tolerate and even enjoy it, so I know I will be making this dish again.



  • 2 cups brown rice,  or 2 bags Boil-in-Bag brown rice, such as Uncle Ben’s
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chile–stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 fresh pineapple cut into 3/4 inch pieces  (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup jerk marinade, such as Lawry’s
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1.  In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the rice, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes;  drain.  If using bagged rice, cook in boiling water 10-12 minutes, as package directs.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and jalapeño and cook until the onion is browned, 7 minutes;  transfer to a bowl.

3.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the same skillet and increase the heat to medium-high.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add to the pan and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the pineapple and jerk marinade and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, another 2-3 minutes.

4.  Stir in the onion mixture, black beans and cilantro; cook until the beans are heated through, about 1 minute.  Season with salt and pepper and serve over the rice.

SOURCE:   Every Day with Rachael Ray

Noank, a New England Fishing Village

Me with my camera!

So far we’ve been spending our summer close to home as Mr. D. has had a number of projects to complete and needed his weekends to accomplish this.  Finally, a major one has been crossed off his “to-do” list, so we decided to celebrate by taking a day-trip to the Conn. shore and treat ourselves to a lobster dinner.  Our destination was the little village of Noank, which is part of the larger town of Groton.  As always when I travel my camera is along for the ride, ready to capture points of interest, quaint and scenic nooks, or anything that I find delightful.

Noank is located at the mouth of the Mystic River at the point where the river empties into Long Island Sound.  Historically, it has always been a fishing village and that has not changed.  It’s streets are lined with old homes with much charm and character, and the businesses center around the fishing industry, and  associated eating places.

One such place, which is well-known, is Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough.  We have eaten there in the past, but not today.  Its very casual where you order at a counter, receive a number, pick up your food when your number is called and find a picnic table on the wharf to dig into some mighty tasty seafood.

Today we had our dinner at another less well-known lobster pound called Ford’s Lobster Co.

Ford’s mainly sells live lobsters to take home and cook, but there is a small outdoor dining area with umbrella-shaded tables and food prepared in a small compact little kitchen under a canopy.    It offers the same casual atmosphere you would expect in any of these outdoor dining places, but oh my, the food was wonderful. There was table side waitress service, so there is no need to juggle plates of food while you find a table.  Our meal consisted of  their clear broth clam chowder, just chock full of clams and potatoes and seasoned just right,  followed by the Lobster Dinner, which included a steamed lobster and melted butter,  french fries and coleslaw.  Served with frosty lemonade,  this meal was summertime shore dining at its best!

This was my big guy!

This is Ford’s dock where their lobster boats come in and unload the day’s catch.

While we ate our dinner a LARGE yacht came motoring by.  This area is very popular with boaters, with many sailboats but also motor boats too.


After dinner we drove up and down the few streets that make up the whole town taking in one stunning view after another.

The typical steepled church on the town Green.


Some lovely homes with shore views.

The little General Store where you can purchase  ice-cream, souveniers, and various necessities.

The village market, with a “bottle” shop next door.

A beautiful old Victorian home.

The decorative trim on the porch looks like paper cuttings.

A plaque on this house tells us it was once the town jail

I hope the few photos I have been able to include here give you some idea of how charming this little village is. You can see just about all you would want to in one day here, but this part of the Conn. shoreline is very popular with vacationers, and not far from Mystic with all its attractions.  As a vacation destination there is so much to see and do in this area,  I invite you to visit sometime.

Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Bars

I made these bar cookies this week for my husband to take to a meeting.  (He always signs up to bring a dessert.  I wonder why? ) Anyway, these can be put together pretty easily and the recipe makes a 13″ x 9″ pan full.  That way I get to keep about 6 squares for us at home and he takes the rest.  Any dessert with chocolate in it seems to call me repeatedly until its gone, so I have to protect myself from such temptation.

The basis of the cookie dough is a boxed yellow  cake mix to which butter, egg, and oatmeal is added to make a crumbly mixture.  Press half of it in the baking pan,  partially bake it, then layer chocolate chips and walnuts on top, drizzle with caramel syrup, and cover with the remaining crumb mixture.  Finish baking and Voila!  you have delicious, chewy, chocolaty bars.  Whenever I bring these somewhere, or serve them, I get asked for the recipe.


Yield:  24 bars  Cut 6 rows x 4 rows

  • 1 boxed yellow cake mix
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups Quick Oats
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup caramel ice cream topping
  • 1 Tablespoon flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 13″ x 9″ pan.
  2. With electric mixer beat cake mix with the butter and egg till crumbly.  Stir in oats. Reserve 1 1/2 cup oat mixture.
  3. Press remaining crumbs into baking pan.   Bake  14 – 18 minutes until light golden brown.  Do not over bake.
  4. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over hot crust.
  5. Mix caramel syrup with the 1 T. flour.  Drizzle over chips and nuts.
  6. Use the reserved crumb mixture to sprinkle over the top.  Pat down lightly.
  7. Bake for another 20 – 25 minutes till golden brown.  Its best not to over bake these as they will get very firm and hard to remove from the pan.  Allow to cool slightly, and run a knife around the edges to loosen caramel from pan while still warm.  When cooled completely, cut into bars.    Makes about 24 bars.

SOURCE:    Taste of Home Annual Recipes, 2000