Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

This is a thick and creamy chowder without all the added fat that chowders are usually prepared with.  Using a combination of chicken broth and low-fat milk lowers calories, and blending part of the soup helps thicken it.

Great flavor is achieved by sautéing lots of celery and onion in a small amount of butter till softened, then adding the flour and cooking to incorporate it.  Add the corn, diced potato, chicken broth and seasonings and cook until potatoes are tender.  Then about 1/3 of this mixture is blended in a blender and returned to the soup kettle along with the milk and shrimp.


To make this a gluten-free meal, omit the flour.  The soup may be a tiny bit less thick, but still deliciously seasoned and filling.  This makes four generous servings with calorie count only 394/serving, and fat at 8g.

We love this soup, and summertime is the perfect time to make it with summer corn at it’s sweetest.  However I made it recently because I ended up with an opened package of frozen corn to use up.  Mr. D. suggested I make corn chowder, so that’s the back story of why I made it now.  Although frozen corn is not ideal, it still gave thickness and corn flavor that was satisfying.


At serving time I added some chopped green onion, (green parts only) and chopped celery leaves for garnish.  A salty cheese would also be good sprinkled on top such as queso fresco, cojita or feta.  This will add calories and fat so be mindful of that if you are counting calories.


Yield:   Makes 4 servingsIMG_9182


  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 3 medium or 4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepperIMG_9184
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 bunch scallions, green parts only, chopped
  • celery leaves, chopped



1.  Melt the butter in a soup kettle or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Stir in the celery and onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until they begin to soften.

2.  Stir in the corn and potatoes, then stir in the flour until incorporated.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, thyme and bay leaves, plus 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Cook until potatoes test done.


3. Remove bay leaves;  transfer about 1/3 of this mixture to a blender and puree until smooth, then return to the pot.


IMG_9187 Return to a simmer, add the milk, and shrimp.  Reduce heat to low, and cook until shrimp are pink, about 4 minutes.  Season with additional salt if needed.  Soup may be thinned with additional chicken broth if it’s too thick.

4.  Divide among serving bowls and sprinkle with chopped scallions and celery leaves.

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Shrimp and Corn Chowder


SOURCE:  a major adaptation of a recipe from Cooking Light



Italian Lemon Almond Cake

Italian Lemon Almond Cake

Italian Lemon Almond Cake

Call me sentimental, folks, but I think there’s something downright romantic about the way all those bright oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and limes show up in the produce aisles just when we’re needing them most.  When the wind is whipping and we haven’t seen green grass since I don’t know when, who couldn’t use a little warm weather fling to reminder them of warm, sunnier times?


No matter if stirred into a salsa, or baked under a fluffy layer of meringue, these seasonal beauties remind me of how much I long for the sunshine, and so I do my best to incorporate citrus fruits into our diet and our lives whenever the opportunity presents itself.   I would never turn away from the kiss of citrus.

This grain-free lemon cake (also known as Torta Caprese Bianca) is just perfection in my mind.  I would like to say it is “to die for”, but that phrase is so over-worked, that I won’t use it, but you get my meaning, I’m sure.


The cake is made with almond flour and is full of lemon flavor!  It’s yellow, like a ray of sunshine, a happy color.  Just the thing to cheer you up as this winter weather drags on endlessly.  If you love lemon, this is a dessert you will love.  There are three sources of lemon flavor;  lots of lemon zest, lemon extract, and limoncello ( or lemon juice).

After baking it may look a bit underdone in the middle, that’s what gives the cake its dense texture.  When you remove it from the oven it will be puffed up, but slowly sinks as it cools. It that doesn’t suit you, you can bake it a tad longer.  I loved the edges of the cake–kind of crispy and kind of chewy!   The texture reminds me of marzipan, but with the flavor of lemon.   We loved this cake so much, Mr. D. is asking when I’m going to make it again (his favorite flavor is lemon.)



Yield:   Serves 8 – 10


  • 320 Gm (about 1 1/2 cups) almond flour, or blanched almonds ground into flour
  • 200 Gm ( a little over a cup) white chocolate, chopped ( I used white chocolate chips)IMG_9198
  • 2 Tbsp. cream or milk
  • 180 Gm butter, softened     1 stick + 4.5 Tbsp.
  • 130 Gm granulated sugar    about 1 cup
  • zest of 2-3 lemons,  2 Tbsp.
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 40 Gm (about 2 Tbsp.) limoncello or lemon juice
  • powdered sugar for garnish



1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease a 10-inch round pan ( a spring-form pan is good) and line it with parchment paper.

2.  Combine the white chocolate and cream/milk in a microwave-safe bowl.  Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool.

3.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and 100 Gm sugar (3/4 cup) until fluffy.

4.  Add egg yolks, lemon zest and extract and beat to combine.

Add eggs, zest and extract.

Add eggs, zest and extract.

5.  Add almond flour and melted chocolate.  Add limoncello and beat to combine.

6.  In a clean bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites to soft peaks,  slowly adding remaining 1/4 cup (30 Gm) sugar.  Fold into almond batter and combine gently.

Beat whites to soft peaks.

Beat whites to soft peaks.

Spoon into pan and bake for 40 – 45 minutes.


A toothpick is not a reliable test for doneness, as the center may still be moist.  The cake should be golden brown, puffed, and spring back when touched.  As it cools it will sink in the center a bit.

Baked when golden brown and springs back when touched.

Baked when golden brown and springs back when touched.

7.  When cool, invert onto a cake plate and dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.




Note:  This recipe can be halved easily.  What you see here in my photos is half a recipe.  To bake the smaller volume, use a 7-inch round cake pan and bake for 30 minutes.  Unfortunately I do not have a 7-inch round pan, so I used an 8-inch cake pan, thus my cake is thinner than it should be.  A 7-inch pan will give you a taller cake.

P.S.  I will love this cake in any size 🙂

SOURCE:  Texanerin Baking

Sauteed Mushrooms with Baked Eggs

Sautéed Mushrooms with Baked Eggs

Sautéed Mushrooms with Baked Eggs

Mushrooms and eggs are a classic combo, and with good reason–they compliment each other so well.  This vegetarian dinner stars beefy, juicy sautéed mushrooms along with baked eggs and toasty croutons.  If you enjoy mushrooms and eggs separately, you will certainly enjoy them when combined like this.IMG_9255

Toasted flatbreads such as pita or naan add some crunch to this dish and help round it into a full meal.  Add a green vegetable or salad, you’re ready to sit down to a meatless, but “meaty” entree.

Toasted flatbread adds crunch.

Toasted flatbread adds crunch. This is whole-wheat flour tortilla.

A variety of mushrooms may be used here.   Almost all mushrooms available at the supermarket are cultivated, not wild, and are available year round.  The most common ones are the white button, cremini, or earthy portobellos.  A combination of mushrooms adds variety and a more complex flavor, so if shiitake or oyster “shrooms” are available they can be added also.

Round out your meal with a salad.

Round out your meal with a salad.

Sauteed Mushrooms with Baked Eggs

Yield:  Makes 4 servings


  • 1 6-inch whole-wheat flatbread, such as naan, pocketless pita, or whole-wheat tortilla
  • 3 Tbsp. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

    Sliced mushrooms--any kind will do.

    Sliced mushrooms–any kind will do.

  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 small shallot, diced fine (optional)
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • coarse salt
  • red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature


1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.  Toast flatbread over the flame of a gas burner or under broiler.  Tear into 2-inch pieces; set aside.

2.  Heat oil and garlic in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, stirring, until garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute.

I added a little chopped shallot to mine.

I added a little chopped shallot to mine.

Increase heat to medium-high, add mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add mushrooms to skillet.

Add mushrooms to skillet.

Season with salt and red-pepper flakes, if using.  Add wine, scraping up browned bits.  Stir in flatbread and thyme;  remove from heat.

Add flatbread and thyme.

Add flatbread and thyme.

3.  Make 4 shallow depressions in mushroom mixture and crack 1 egg into each depression.

I used only 3 eggs.

I used only 3 eggs.

Transfer to oven and cook until egg whites have just set, about 4 minutes.  Season eggs with salt and pepper.


Note:  Try to keep the egg yolks runny.  When broken, they become an instant sauce that coats the crisp-edged flatbread and mushrooms.


I served it with a salad consisting of romaine, avocado, and orange sections with  a ginger-sesame dressing.



SOURCE:   Martha Stewart Living



Three’s Company, y’all

Guacamole Sauce

Guacamole Sauce

It’s a marinade, it’s a dressing, it’s Super-sauce!!

Who doesn’t love efficiency in the kitchen?  So if you could spend a few minutes making one thing that could be used all week in several different ways, wouldn’t you be all for it?     I sure am!

Amazing Dip

Amazing Dip

Take this sauce for example… it’s a guacamole you’re going to love dipping into,  it’s a sauce to dress up some roast or grilled chicken, it’s a marinade to flavor fish or tofu, and finally, if you thin it out a little, it’s a dressing to dress up salads, from greens to veggies.

Use on a salad to wake up some greens or veggies.

Use on a salad to wake up some greens or veggies.

As I am prone to say at times like this..”that’s a lot of bang for your buck”.  And speaking of bucks, avocados seem to be plentiful now and the price is right.   Seems like the situation is just begging you to make this sauce/dip/dressing right now.   What are you waiting for?



Yield:   Makes about 1 cup.  Adjust quantities to make more.


  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground cumin (according to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper, or dash hot sauce
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado, seeded and coarsely mashed



This couldn’t be easier…..put mashed avocado in a small bowl, add everything else to it, and stir to combine.


Flavors will blend if you make it about an hour ahead of use time.  Cover and refrigerate till needed.



SOURCE:   Carolyn’s Originals

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Ketchup Sauce

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Ketchup Sauce

Meatloaf, you got that right.  Meatloaf wrapped in bacon.  All the men I know love meatloaf,  and they love bacon.  Well, women do too.  This is another one of those times when bacon just makes it better.  Bacon that gets all crispy surrounding a thick, meaty meatloaf that’s been baked with a catsup sauce over it.  (Please excuse the drool, here.)

This is a recipe from The Pioneer Woman, of The Food Network.   It’s superb!  And it’s an equal opportunity dish;  equally comforting to both men and women–and kids, too.


This recipe is very easy to make, and takes very little time to put together.  You bake it on a broiler pan so the fat drips away into the pan below, allowing the loaf to bake faster, and gives the bacon a great crisp.  You can bake this in one big loaf, or divide it into two smaller ones and freeze one for a night when you need something quick.  If you have a big family you’ll need it all, and don’t count on leftovers.

Put some foil in the bottom pan to catch the drippings and make clean-up easier.

Put some foil in the bottom pan to catch the drippings and make clean-up easier.

When I made it I used a package of meatloaf mix that was about 1.25 lb. and halved the other ingredients so it stayed proportional.  For two people we ate about half of it,  and I promised Mr. D. a meatloaf sandwich on a hard roll for his lunch.  He just about swooned at that!  See, the psychology here, is that if I make one for him, then I can have one too, and not feel guilty.  🙂


Yield:  4 – 6 servings


  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 slices white bread ( any bread will do, even whole wheat)
  • 2 pounds ground beef (can also use 1 pound each ground pork and beef)
  • 1 heaping cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp. regular salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 10 slices bacon, thin, not thick cut.

For the sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • (reserve 1/3 of the sauce for serving)


1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Line the bottom of your broiler pan with foil and spray the top part with non-stick cooking spray.  Have it ready to go.

2.  Place bread slices in a large bowl.  Pour milk over bread.  Allow it to soak for a few minutes.

3.  Add ground beef, onion, Parmesan cheese, salts, pepper and parsley to the bowl with the bread.  Lightly beat the eggs and pour over all of this.

4.  With clean hands, dig in and start squishing and mixing it up until everything is well-blended.  Shape the meat mixture into a loaf, (or two smaller loaves) and place on the broiler pan.   Now lay the bacon slices over the loaf, tucking the ends underneath the loaf.  If you made two loaves, cut the bacon slices in half.  You may need to stretch them a little, but thinner bacon slices will become crispier.

Wrap meatloaf with bacon slices, stretched thin.

Wrap meatloaf with bacon slices, stretched thin.

Note, I didn’t have enough bacon to completely cover the loaf, so I wrapped lengthwise.  If you have enough bacon, wrap crosswise, so the meatloaf is completely covered by the bacon.

5.  Once the meatloaf is wrapped, take 2/3 of the ketchup sauce and spread it over the loaf with a spoon or spatula.

Spoon ketchup sauce over the meatloaf to cover.

Spoon ketchup sauce over the meatloaf to cover.

6.  Bake for about an hour and a half, if making the full recipe.   This is great served with mashed potatoes.

You won't be able to wait for dinner when this is on the menu.

You won’t be able to wait for dinner when this is on the menu.

SOURCE:  The Pioneer Woman via The Ranting Chef, then modified


Dutch Baby with Fruit Compote

Dutch Baby with Fruit Compote

Dutch Baby with Fruit Compote

Have you ever thought about how many different breakfast foods you can create using just milk, eggs, and flour?  This one is an interesting example.  Especially considering it’s name.


This baked, puffed egg dish is neither Dutch, nor does it have anything to do with babies.  Sometimes called a German pancake, it has very little to do with Germany, either.  Said to have been invented by German immigrants who settled in this country, and who were referred to as “Deutche”, this is most likely how it got it’s name.  But no matter,  it is delicious whatever name you may give it.

Dutch Baby

Dutch Baby

Another example of this same type of baked item is the pop-over.  Same ingredients, but baked individually in little cups, a popover is generally eaten with dinner, whereas a “dutch-baby” is usually served as a breakfast item with syrup or fruits spooned over it.

Trying to come up with something a little different for a weekend breakfast, I made this recently.  I served it with sliced strawberries and blueberries spooned over it.



Yield:  Serves  4

Milk, eggs, butter and flour, plus a blender makes this easy!!

Milk, eggs, butter and flour, plus a blender makes this easy!!


  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour,
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, or a mixture of blueberries and strawberries


1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.

2.  Blend milk, flour, eggs, vanilla and salt together in a blender until batter is smooth.

3.  Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or other heavy oven-proof skillet)until bubbling;


Pour batter into the center of the skillet.



4.  Bake in the oven until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and sift the confectioners’ sugar over the top and serve warm with fruit.


5.  Prepare fruit topping by washing and slicing the berries, picking over the blueberries.  Sprinkle with sugar to taste and add a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Stir to mix and let stand while Dutch Baby bakes.




SOURCE:   adapted from

Coconut Biscotti


Coconut Biscotti

Coconut Biscotti

When you serve biscotti, you’re styling’, did you know that?  These crunchy, nutty, hard cookies are custom-made for dunking in a frothy cappuccino, or nibbling on between sips of dark, thick, espresso.  Or maybe you’re having them at the end of the day with a glass of sweet dessert wine.  If it’s wine you’re having, make it a wine from Tuscany, the reputed home of biscotti.



A surprising fact to me is that biscotti were first developed for Lent, when all types of festive and fancy baking was curtailed. Their plain appearance is deceiving.  You may think that the cookie is plain and boring, but not so.  In going through my recipes recently, I noted that I have quite a number of recipes for biscotti, and they are all different.  The several characteristics they all share are the elongated shape, usually cut on a diagonal, the inclusion of toasted nuts, and the fact that they are twice baked, making them crisp and crunchy.


The name of these cookies, when translated, breaks down to bis (twice) and cottare (to cook).  Because they are a firm, sturdy cookie they are perfect for packing and shipping to someone far from home.


This recipe utilizes coconut in several forms;  toasted and finely ground in the dough, and coconut oil used for shortening in the dough; there is also coconut cream (liquid) and coconut flavoring in the glaze.  The basic cookie is not sweet, but the glaze they are dipped into adds a touch of sweetness at the end.  If you choose not to dip them into the glaze, they will still be a very enjoyable mildly sweet treat.


The nuts called for in the recipe are salted macadamia nuts, chopped; however I didn’t have any so I used a combination of hazelnuts and cashews from a jar of salted nuts, and they worked just fine.

If you have never made biscotti before this could be the recipe to get you started,  especially as we approach the start of Lent.  I have never given up sweets for Lent because I can’t survive without a goodie now and then, but I do try to abstain from rich decadent desserts.   With biscotti on hand, I know I can have my “goodie” without going overboard.




Yield:  Makes about 24 cookies


  • 1  1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

    Coconut oil, melted, is the shortening in this recipe.

    Coconut oil, melted, is the shortening in this recipe.

  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup salted macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut cream ( may use milk or cream instead)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. coconut extract
  • coarse sugar for decorating, if desired


1.  Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 350*F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Spread 1 cup coconut flakes on a baking sheet and bake until toasted, about 3 minutes.

Coconut flakes, toasted

Coconut flakes, toasted

Let cool completely.  Transfer to a food processor; add the granulated sugar and pulse until finely ground.

Pulse in processor with sugar.

Pulse in processor with sugar.

3.  Whisk the coconut-sugar mixture, the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

Mix all the dry ingredients together.

Mix all the dry ingredients together.

Melt the coconut oil in the microwave;  add to the flour mixture along with 1/3 cup water and the vanilla, and mix with a wooden spoon until a stiff dough forms.


Stir in the chopped nuts and the remaining 1/2 cup coconut flakes, gently knead until the dough comes together.


4.  Divide the dough in half and shape into two 9-by-2-inch logs;  place 1 log on each baking sheet.


Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the logs are firm and golden, about 25 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300*F.

I baked them both on one sheet and they spread into each other.

I baked them both on one sheet and they spread into each other.

5.  Let the logs cool 10 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board.  Slice diagonally, with a serrated knife, into 3/4-inch thick pieces.

Cut on the diagonal and lay flat on baking sheet to be re-baked.

Cut on the diagonal and lay flat on baking sheet to be re-baked.

Arrange the slices cut-side down on the baking sheets.  Bake, flipping halfway through, until just golden and centers still have a little give, 20 to 25 minutes.  (It has been my experience that over-baking can happen at this stage of the game, so I underbake a little to be cautious.)  With these cookies, I baked 8 minutes on the first side, turned them over and baked for 10 minutes more.  They were plenty crispy, and they continue to crisp up as they cool.  Cool completely on wire racks before glazing.


6.  Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, coconut cream, (or milk) and coconut extract in a small bowl until smooth.  Dip the biscotti in the glaze and sprinkle with decorative sugar if desired.

To store:   Allow the glaze to harden completely before storing in an air-tight container.  Separating the layers with wax paper will keep the cookies from sticking together.  They will keep “forever”, but we always eat them up way before then 🙂



SOURCE:   FoodNetwork Magazine

5 Reasons Why You Should Eat Avocados

Avocado and Egg on Toast

Avocado and Egg on Toast

Avocados will make you healthier right now!!  And here’s 5 good reasons why…..

1.  They protect your eyes from disease.  Avocados have a very high content (more than any other fruit) of the carotenoid lutein, which protects agains cataracts and macular degeneration–a leading cause of blindness.

2.  They will lower your cholesterol.   Avocados are high in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance that has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.  In one study, 45 people saw an average drop in cholesterol of 17% after eating avocados for just one week.


3.  They help regulate and reduce blood pressure.   Avocados are a great source of potassium, containing even more than bananas.  Studies confirm that eating foods high in potassium (and low in sodium) can lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke.

4.  They are a great source of vitamin E.  Avocados are the greatest fruit source of vitamin E,  an antioxidant that protects against many diseases and helps maintain overall health.

5.  They will moisturize your skin.  Avocado butter and oil, two deep-conditioning emollients, will soften skin, eliminate dry patches, and restore your skin’s elasticity.  Try some beauty products enriched with avocado butter and oil.


Now to get you started on the road to eating more avocados, here is one of my favorite ways to eat them.  Most mornings I grab my coffee, a hard boiled egg and some fruit, or a nutrient dense muffin, but when I’ve got a few extra minutes, this is the breakfast I love.  It starts with whole grain or rye toast with mashed avocado spread on it.  That is topped with a runny egg, either fried or poached.    There’s something about the combination of crispy toast, creamy avocado, and runny egg that is so satisfying.  It doesn’t get any better than that, and it keeps me going all morning.


Yield:   Serves one


  • 1 slice of whole grain bread, toastedIMG_9085
  • 1 oz, mashed avocado ( about 1/4 small avocado)
  • splash, fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1 large egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  •  hot sauce, optional


1.  Mash the avocado in a small bowl with a splash of lemon or lime juice and season with salt and pepper.

2.  Heat a small non-stick skillet, or egg poaching pan, over low heat.  Spray with cooking spray.  Crack the egg into the skillet or cup of poaching pan.  Cover and cook to your liking.

My old egg poaching pan still does the job!

My old egg poaching pan still does the job!

3.  Spread the avocado on the toast, top with the egg, and add a splash of hot sauce, if desired.


Love this breakfast!

Love this breakfast!


Mustard Chicken Thighs with Rosemary Potatoes

Mustard Chicken Thighs with Rosemary Potatoes

Mustard Chicken Thighs with Rosemary Potatoes

Man, was this ever good!

Perhaps I should back up and start at the beginning.    This is pretty much a pantry meal.  That is, with a couple of substitutions, I had everything on hand to make it.  And in spite of the substitutions, it was delicious.  Well, that’s what this blog is all about… as economically as possible, and making it taste fantastic.

First off, I discovered a package of chicken thighs getting dangerously close to their blast off date, ahem, I mean expiration date.  You can use any chicken pieces that you have available, but I happen to love thighs so I keep several packages of them in my freezer at all times.

Whole grain mustard is called for and also peppercorns, crushed.  However in a gift package I received a jar of whole grain mustard that also contained whole peppercorns, so I used that.  The mustard really wakes up the chicken, so be sure to use it.  The seasoning on the skin and underneath it, really allows the chicken to brown up nicely, and smells heavenly.


Instead of the fingerling potatoes, I used 2 medium-sized russets, cut into wedges, and I used dried chopped rosemary for the fresh.  If you do that, remember to use less of the dried, usually about 1/2 of the fresh herb that’s called for.


You know, I really like making dishes using whole pieces of chicken, especially the dark meat.  There’s just something about tender chicken falling off the bone, that’s so je ne sais qua.




Yield:  Serves 4


  • 1/4 cup whole grain mustard
  • 3 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp. mixed peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • kosher salt
  • 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise( ( used russet potatoes, cut into wedges)
  • 2 tsp, chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 red or green pepper, cut into strips, optional


1.  Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 450*F.

2.  Whisk 1/2 cup water, the mustard, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, the lemon juice, peppercorns, 1/2 the garlic and 1/4 tsp. salt in a large bowl.  Add the chicken and toss, loosen the skins and rub some of the mustard mixture underneath.  Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, skin-side up.  Roast on the upper rack until golden and crisp, 25 minutes.


2.  Meanwhile, put the potatoes and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap; pierce in several places with a knife to vent.  Microwave until just tender, 10 minutes.  Drain and pat dry.

3.  Combine the remaining garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the rosemary and 3/4 tsp. salt in a bowl.  Add the potatoes and bell pepper strips (if using), and toss.  Transfer to a separate rimmed baking sheet.  Roast on the lower rack until the vegetables are tender and golden, about 20 minutes.


4.  Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest.  Move the vegetables to the upper oven rack and continue roasting until browned, 5 more minutes.  Serve with the chicken and any pan juices.


Treat your sweetie to this meal for Valentine’s Day.


SOURCE:   Food Network Magazine

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Hi, folks,  How are you?  Are you doing all of those things that winter offers?   Snowball fights?  Mittens?  Ski Caps?  Building snow men?  Hot chocolate?

I’d like to tell you that I’m frolicking in the snow, but I’m afraid of flying ice balls, afraid of skiing, especially the lift part, and very afraid of falling down and breaking an important bone somewhere in my body.  So I’m indoors looking out, watching the icicles hanging from the roof grow longer and longer every day.  Since today is a Monday (as I write this), it’s snowing again.

This winter has become so predictable.  You know, like, “if it’s Monday it must be snowing”.  Schools are closed, Mr. D. home from work, and all appointments cancelled.  I’m getting used to it!

One thing I really like to do on a day like this, is make myself a cup of hot chocolate,  with a marshmallow, or cream on top and a sprinkle of shaved chocolate.    Mmmmmm, so warming, so good.   But that fits into the predictable routine, what I want is something unpredictable, like these cookies.


Let’s have our hot chocolate and eat it too!!

These cookies incorporate all the ingredients you expect to find in a cup of hot chocolate. They are rich, chocolaty and delicious.  They are great for any time of year, but I think wintertime is perfect, and especially for Valentine’s Day.  Change the colored sprinkles for any other holiday or special occasion.  They are always a hit.



Yield:   Makes about 50  cookies


For the cookies:

  • 1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butterIMG_9150
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1  1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 25 (aprox) large marshmallows

For the icing:

  • 2 cups powdered sugarIMG_9171
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • assorted sprinkles


1.  In a medium saucepan, or a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring frequently.


Choc. chips and butter in microwave safe bowl.

Choc. chips and butter in microwave safe bowl.

In the microwave, at 50% power, this takes approximately 1 1/2 minutes.  Heat for 1 minute, stir, and reheat for another 30 seconds if needed.  Stirring will help the chocolate to blend with the butter and become thick and smooth.  Once melted, set aside to cool slightly.


2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.


3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla on low speed until well combined.


4.  Add the cooled chocolate mixture and blend until just combined.


5.  While mixing, add the flour mixture slowly and blend until all is incorporated.


Scrape down the bowl, then cover and refrigerate about 1 hour.  If making the dough a day ahead, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before shaping.

6.  Preheat the oven to 325*F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat type liner.  Use a tablespoon (or a tablespoon sized scoop) to scoop the dough, then roll with your hands to create balls.  Arrange the balls about 2-inches apart on the baking sheets, then flatten slightly.   Bake cookies for about 12 minutes.


7.  While the cookies bake, cut the marshmallows in half crosswise.  This will be easier to do if you  dip the knife blade into a glass of hot water after every marshmallow.  Cuts easily, with no sticking.


When the cookies have baked, remove from oven and press one marshmallow half -cut side down- into the center of each cookie.

Cookies after baking.

Cookies after baking.



Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 2 – 3 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack.

After baking the marshmallows will puff a little but do not turn brown.

After baking the marshmallows will puff a little but do not turn brown.

8.  Make the icing:  combine melted butter, sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl add vanilla and gradually add the water, mixing as you go, until the icing reaches a smooth consistency and is thick but still able to drizzle.   Place wire cooling rack with cookies on it over a baking sheet–to catch any icing drips.  Spoon a small amount of icing onto the top of each marshmallow, and use the back of the spoon to spread it a bit.  Let the icing run over the edges of the marshmallow, onto the cookie.  After icing just a couple of cookies, top with sprinkles before the icing dries.  Continue icing the remainder of the cookies in the same way.



9.  Allow icing to set up about 30 minutes before serving, or storing in an airtight container.




SOURCE:   The basic cookie is an adaptation of a chocolate cookie from Rachael Ray