Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies


Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies

Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies

Good morning, world….I hope this is not too many sprinkles to start off the week.   Once in a while I get carried away with sprinkles.  They’re so joyful and happy looking, they lift my spirits.  And in this world of white that surrounds us here, we need a little (read, a lot) of color. IMG_9134

Here (pretend I’m pointing) you’ll find cookies.   Not just any cookies, but the most colorful and buttery delicious cookies I could come up with.

The cookie base is a traditional sugar cookie:  scoop-able dough, not the roll-out kind.

The flour gets whisked together with the baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.

Softened butter is beaten together with vanilla and granulated sugar.

Then an impossible number of sprinkles gets stirred in.  Isn’t this fun?  Like a party about to happen.

Add in those sprinkles!!

Add in those sprinkles!!

The dough needs some time in the refrigerator before the cookies are baked.  The butter needs time to re-chill and the egg needs time to moisten the dough.  A 2-hour chill is good although overnight is better.

The dough is portioned into 2 tablespoon balls and rolled into more rainbow sprinkles.   If it feels like too much, that’s absolutely right.


These cookies are chewy in the center, crisp at the edges, and packed with sprinkles and vanilla.  They’re the perfect way to get in the mood for whatever celebration lies ahead.


Yield:  makes about 18 cookies


  • 1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperatureIMG_9120
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles


1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.

2.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.    Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly combined.

Cream butter and sugar; add egg and vanilla.

Cream butter and sugar; add egg and vanilla.

3.  Reduce the mixer speed to low, and slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Adding in the dry ingredients.

Adding in the dry ingredients.

The dough will be thick ( you may have to finish incorporating the mixture with a wooden spoon).  Fold in 1/4 cup of the sprinkles.

Add in those sprinkles!!

Add in those sprinkles!!

4.  Place the remaining 1/4 cup sprinkles in a bowl.  Scoop up 2 tablespoon of dough and roll in a ball.  Dip the ball in the bowl of sprinkles to cover lightly.  Put the balls on a platter.  Repeat with the remaining sprinkles and dough.  Chill the dough balls for at least 2 hours.

Form balls of dough, roll in more sprinkles, then chill.

Form balls of dough, roll in more sprinkles, then chill.

5.  Place oven racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

6.  Transfer the chilled dough balls to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space in between each ball.

Leave space, cookies will flatten out and spread.

Leave space, cookies will flatten out and spread.

7.  Bake until the cookies have spread and are just beginning to brown aground the edges, but are mostly pale and soft, 8 to 10 minutes.  Let cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.  The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.



Beefy Bolognese Sauce


These are the days when I think a lot about comforts….and comfort foods.   Which brings me to the question:  just what is a comfort food?

If each of you were to give me an answer, I would probably get over 400 answers, so that means everyone has their own definition of what comfort food is to them.  For me, comfort foods take me back to my younger days, when Mom was doing the cooking.  There were so many dishes she made that I loved, so anything that reminds me of one of those meals is a comfort to me.  Comfort foods are tied up with memories….the family eating together around a big table with lots of talk and laughter going on, and enjoying favorite foods.

Bolognese Sauce with penne pasta

Bolognese Sauce with penne pasta

One of my most favorite memories is the meat sauce that Mom always made from scratch, and served over pasta with lots of grated cheese over the top.  I’m guessing that pasta in some form is considered a comfort food by many people all over the world.  Therefore a recipe for a good meat sauce (Bolognese Sauce) should be in every cook’s repertoire.  It’s so versatile, it can be served over anything;  rice, bread, potatoes, polenta, and pasta, of course.  It goes with any pasta shape.

So welcome to my kitchen today while I prepare my best Bolognese Sauce for you.  This is not a sauce that needs to cook slowly on the back burner for hours.  What helps to speed up the blending of flavors is cooking it in a Dutch oven.  The Dutch oven, even with the lid on, allows the sauce to reduce a little, thus concentrating the flavors.  This method of cooking it also lets the layers of flavor come through, as the bacon, ground meat and veggies all get browned in the same pot, which is then deglazed with the cooking liquid.


For anyone who might want to cook it in a slow cooker….I have done it that way, and find that the sauce is a little more liquid than I like it, so I would recommend using a little less broth, or omit the wine.  The end result will still be very good, but my first choice is the Dutch oven.

Also, since making this is so easy, I like to make double the amount, and freeze half of it, so it’s ready for a quick meal anytime…


Yield:  Makes about 4 cups, or enough for 1 pound of pasta


  • 3 slices center cut bacon, choppedIMG_9024
  • 8 oz. 90% lean ground beef
  • 4 oz. ground, lean pork, or sausage, casings removed
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup unsalted tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup red or white wine
  • 1 ( 14.5-oz) can unsalted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt


1.  Place bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; sauté 5 minutes or until beacon begins to crisp.  Add beef and pork to pan;  cook 6 minutes or until partly browned, stirring to crumble.  Remove mixture from pan.

Browning all the meat.

Browning all the meat.

2.  Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes.

Sautéing the veggies.

Sautéing the veggies.

Add tomato paste; saute 1 minute until it starts to darken.

Add tomato paste.

Add tomato paste.

Add chicken broth and wine; bring to a boil.  Cook 1 minute, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Return beef mixture to pan.

Add liquids, then return meats to the pan.

Add liquids, then return meats to the pan.

3.  Stir in tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Cover; reduce heat to low, and cook about 1 hour, stirring several times to prevent sticking.  Taste before serving and add more salt, if needed.

Serve over your choice of pasta.  In the photos here, I used penne pasta.  Grate some fresh parmesan or Romano cheese over each serving and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.    DEEElish!

Oops, in my haste to take the photos, I forgot the cheese.  How could I ?

Oops, in my haste to take the photos, I forgot the cheese. How could I ?

Lasagna Soup

IMG_9054       IMG_9053

Here in Ct. we’re having what has been predicted as “the Blizzard of the Century”, although at the half-way-point it seems to have lost some of its strength, at least where I live. The snow is no longer falling, but there is a lot of it out there.  On such a day as this I’m making soup for dinner.  That should come as no surprise, as my mind and taste buds turn to a good hot soup on a cold and wintery day, as many of you well know.

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

In my opinion there is no  better way to keep warm than with a bowl of steamy, hot soup!

Within the past few days two different recipes for Lasagna Soup have come to my attention, so I feel that I was destined to make this soup.  It’s so nice when you decide on the spur of the moment to make something and find everything that’s needed right in your refrigerator or cupboard.  Lucky me, since cars are forbidden on the roads, no trips to the grocery store are allowed.


In a bowl of this soup, you will find everything you love about lasagna….sausage, lasagna noodles, marinara and cheese.   It’s filling, easy to make, and hearty.  Everything you want in a soup and perfect for a cold winter’s night.  It’s also family friendly–kids will love it.  The dollop of cheese on top really makes it.  You can use regular Italian sausage, sweet or spicy, or chicken sausage, any of which will give it great flavor.


Two other benefits of this soup;  there are fewer calories than eating “for real” lasagna, and it’s all made in one pot.


Yield:  Makes about 8 servings


For the soup:

  • cooking sprayIMG_9049
  • 14 oz.- 1 lb. Italian sausage, pork or chicken, casings removed
  • 1/2 a large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  •  4 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 cups low-sodium, fat free chicken broth
  • 2  1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups jarred marinara sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • fresh black pepper
  • 6 oz. broken lasagna noodles, regular, whole wheat, or gluten free

For topping:

  • 6 Tbsp. part skim shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • basil leaves for garnish, if desired


1.  Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, spray with cooking spray and add the sausage.  Cook until browned, breaking it up as it cooks with a wooden spoon, about 4 to 5 minutes.


2.  Add the chopped onion and crushed garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes.


3.  Add the broth, water, marinara sauce, parsley, bay leaves and black pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes.


4.  Add the broken lasagna noodles and cook uncovered according the package directions.



While noodles cook, make topping:

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, and parsley and stir to mix well.

To serve:  Ladle soup in bowls, and top each serving with 2 Tbsp. ricotta cheese mixture, some mozzarella, and fresh basil on top.


SOURCE:  adapted from  Skinny Taste

Here’s  a selection of some other easy, healthy soup recipes that are in the recipe index:

Steak and Tomatoes with Roast Potatoes


Steak and  tomatoes with roast potatoes.

Steak and tomatoes with roast potatoes.


Despite what I might say, I do my best cooking on the weekends.  I get no special pleasure out of week night cooking.  Usually it consists of something I can put together in under an hour or it grows out of planned leftovers.

Ideally cooking should be relaxing, a way to unwind at the end of a busy day, with maybe someone in the kitchen with you who enjoys cooking too, and likes to help out, or who might offer to wash the dishes.  Is my end-of-day-cooking like that?   No way!

So in an attempt to find that place where cooking is a pleasure, and I have lots of time to devote to meal preparation, on the weekend I try to plan something a little extra special.  A meal that we can linger over and perhaps enjoy a glass of wine with.   Granted this doesn’t happen as often as I would like it to, but once in a while I can pull it off.


The post today includes a complete menu for just such a meal.  I prepared this on a weekend not long ago.  It took about an hour from when I started prepping the vegetables until it was ready to be served;  not a large investment in time, but a hugh payoff in pleasure.  The steak was perfectly rare, and the tomato topping was exactly right with it.  In addition I made seasoned roast potatoes, and broccoli rabé as side dishes.


If you know someone who loves a good meat and potatoes meal,  make this one for them and watch them swoon first, then praise you for your genius.   ” Oh, it was nothing,  I just threw it together”


Yield:  Serves 4


  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes, halved (Yukon Gold potatoes make a good substitute, cut into wedges.)IMG_8898
  • 2 Tbsp; olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, divided
  • 3 tsp. ground oregano, divided
  • 1  (1-pound flank steak)
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tsp.  minced garlic
  • 2 cups chopped tomato
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar


1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.

2.  Combine potatoes, 1 Tbsp; oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a baking sheet, tossing to coat.


Bake at 425*. for 25 minutes or until tender, stirring after 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with 2 tsp. oregano and toss to coat.

3.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Rub steak with 1 tsp. oil;  sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Add steak to pan, cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.  Place steak on a cutting board; let stand 5 minutes.  Cut across the grain into thin slices.  Cover with foil to keep warm.




4.  Return pan to medium-high heat.  Add remaining 2 tsp. oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add shallot and garlic to pan; sauté 30 seconds.


Stir in tomatoes, remaining 1 tsp. oregano and sugar.  Cook 1 minute.


Stir in vinegar.  Spoon tomato mixture evenly over steak.  Serve with potatoes.


For the Broccoli Rabé:

1.  Cut a 1 pound bunch of broccoli rabe into 1-inch pieces.


Add to a pot of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Drain.

2.  Combine the broccoli rabe,  2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper in a large bowl;  toss to coat.    Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. shaved Parmesan cheese.




Skillet Lasagna with Butternut Squash

Skillet Lasagna with Butternut Squash

Skillet Lasagna with Butternut Squash

Talk about being predictable…..during December we bloggers were all writing about cookie swaps, peppermint flavored this or that, drinks to cheer the season, pine cones, Santa hats, and jungle bells.  Well, all that sugar and spice is nice but…..

Come January and we’re talking about salad, diets, smoothies and working out.  I don’t think we’re allowed to mention fudge in January at all.  In fact it may even be against the law. (Let’s save that for V-tine’s Day).

With this recipe I’m breaking out of the mold of predictability.  What I have to share with you today is a one-dish meal that is so comforting, you’ll swear it’s baked lasagna.  Only it’s not baked.  Lasagna cooked on the stovetop?  I can see you shaking your head in disbelief.  But it’s true.

Lasagna cooked in a skillet.

Lasagna cooked in a skillet.

Layered up with sauce, noodles, cheeses and butternut squash just like the real thing, because it IS the real thing, and dang, is it ever good!   Now, making lasagna is pretty close to rocket science, so I want you to pay close attention here.

Remember to cut the squash into small cubes, or if unsure about size, use a package of frozen squash that’s been thawed.

Marinara sauce does not contain meat, so this will be a meatless meal!!!!


Pretend you don't see meatballs here.  Mr. D. wanted them!!

Pretend you don’t see meatballs here. Mr. D. wanted them!!    🙂



Yield:    Serves 4


  • 1  (12-ounce) package frozen chopped butternut squash. thawed.  (I used fresh butternut, cubed, and precooked in the microwave to soften)IMG_8734
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan and /or pecorino romano cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh chopped rosemary
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups jarred marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 6 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella (about 8 oz.)


1.  Combine the squash, ricotta, 3/4 cup parmesan, the rosemary and nutmeg in a medium bowl.


In another bowl, combine the marinara sauce and basil.  I took a shortcut here by using a marinara sauce that included basil, and added a little more dried basil to it.

2.  Spread 1/2 cup of the marinara in a large nonstick skillet.  Cover with 2 lasagna noodles.  Spread half of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles, then sprinkle with one-third of the mozzarella.  Add another layer of noodles the remaining ricotta mixture, 1 cup marinara and half of the remaining mozzarella.


3.  Top with remaining marinara and mozzarella.  Sprinkle with the remaining  1/4 cup parmesan.


4.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the pasta is tender and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.  (Check halfway through, if the edges seem dry, add up to 1/2 cup water.)  Let rest 5 minutes before serving.



SOURCE:  Food Network Magazine

Loaded Nachos

Loaded Nachos

Loaded Nachos

Around here we take our nachos very seriously.  Very, very seriously.

What this means is that we really do love nachos, and both Mr. D. and I agree we like them loaded with as much stuff as I can get my hands on.

When making nachos, it’s a little like building a house.  First you start with a good foundation (tortilla chips), then you build up the structure, a tower of multi layers of  seasoned beef, beans, crisp waffle fries, and cheeses.  Then you top it all off with some pico de gallo, that you made yourself; savory, colorful, and so delish.


When you look at the ingredient list for these nachos, it looks like a lot, but really it isn’t.  It all comes together when you experience that first perfect bite that contains a little bit of everything.  Yes, indeed!

I made these for New Year’s Eve.  They served as our supper, but you can serve them as an appetizer, or a snack.  (Think Super Bowl coming up.)  Once you start on them it’s hard to stop so take my advice and make a lot.


Yield:  Servings:  4


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 lb.  ground beef
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) pinto beans, chili beans, or ranch style beans
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • tortilla chips
  • frozen waffle potato fries
  • 1 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup Mexican Blend, Taco blend or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 – 4 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 whole jalapeño, finely diced (optional)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (or use parsley)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 avocado, pitted and diced
  • sour cream, (optional)


Start by cooking the waffle fries.  Follow package directions for oven temperature and length of time needed to get them  crispy on the edges.  Once cooked, remove from oven and set aside. If you prefer you may omit the waffle fries and use all tortilla chips throughout.  I prefer the fries because I like the texture contrasts in the finished nachos.


Next, dice up half the onion….


Heat up a non-stick skillet with a little olive oil….


and add in the chopped onion.


Cook the onions for a minute or two, then add in the ground beef.


Break it up and let it cook until the meat is browned.  Drain off any fat that has accumulated in the bottom of the pan.


Open the beans and add them to the pan along with the seasonings.    Stir it around to mix in the spices and blend the flavors.

Pour in the hot water to make it a little more saucy.  Reduce the heat to Low and let it simmer while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.


Next, chop up the rest of the onion, making a fine dice.


Next up,   chop up those tomatoes.  This is how I do it:  cut off the tops, then cut them into slices, then cut the slices into strips.  Now cross-cut the strips to dice them.  If you are using a jalapeño, use the same technique to dice it.


Peel and seed the avocado, cut into strips, then crosscut into cubes.

Now, throw the onions, tomatoes, avocado and jalapeño into a bowl.  Tell them to get acquainted, you’ll be right back.


Tear the leaves off half a bunch of cilantro (or parsley) and chop roughly.   Throw that into the bowl.

Cut a lime in half, and squeeze in the juice.  Add a little salt and pepper.


And  stir it all together.  That’s your Pico de Gallo!!

We like it a little chunky, but if your family likes it more finely chopped, that’s great.  It will all taste the same.

Finely, the cheese 🙂  I grated a yellow cheddar and used a package of Taco Blend.  I did not mix them together.  You’ll see why in a minute.


To assemble the nachos, make a single layer of chips on a platter or large plate.


Scoop up a big ole spoonful of the beef/bean mixture and sprinkle it all over the chips.  Messy is good, so let it be!


Sprinkle on a layer of cheddar,


This is where the goodness-level jumps up a notch:  Put on a layer of waffle fries….


And another layer of beef and beans…


Then a nice layer of Taco blend, and another layer of waffle fries.


Now use up the remainder of the beef/bean mixture to top it all,  and a final layer of Taco blend or cheddar (your choice).


I put mine back into the still warm oven (turned off), and let the cheese melt.  Alternately, you could nuke the whole shebang for about 45  seconds until the cheese is perfectly melted.


Spoon the Pico de Gallo on top of it all.   Why?   Because this is the roof on the house, or the flowers in the garden.   It’s the finishing touch that keeps you going back for more.   And it looks so pretty!

AND, because it’s all the veggies that makes this platter of nachos healthy.  I know for sure it’s what makes them so delicious!


I hope you enjoy my approach to making nachos.  Try them real soon, and of course, you can add whatever extras you like:  sour cream, chopped black olives, chopped green onions–anything.  My favorite part are the chips on the bottom that start to soften under all the gooey ingredients, while the waffle fries stay crisp.  Divine!

SOURCE:   Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

It’s a fact!  I know it for sure.  Real men do eat quiche.

How did quiche ever get the reputation for not being “manly”?  This quiche is he-man stuff.  Packed with broccoli, sautéed onions, two kinds of cheese, six eggs, and heavy cream all wrapped into a flaky, tender crust.  Yikes!  It just doesn’t get any better than this.IMG_8874

Fact #2:  You can eat this at any meal.   Call it a weekend breakfast or brunch,  call it lunch, or add a leafy green salad and call it dinner.

Like a favorite guest who is always welcome at your table, this is a dish you will want to make often.  If you must, you can sub out the broccoli and insert asparagus,  or change up the cheeses used,  but please don’t use skim milk instead of heavy cream.  It just won’t be the same;  no way, no how.

A properly prepared quiche has two requirements:  a well-cooked crust, and a properly cooked filling–not rubbery and overcooked, and not watery.  This quiche recipe will deliver perfect results every time.

A key factor that contributes to the deliciousness of this quiche is pre-baking the crust before filling it.  This is called “blind baking ” the crust.  With the crust almost totally cooked before filling it, it doesn’t become soggy when you add the egg custard.   Even leftover pieces will have a crispy, flaky crust.

The key to the filling?  Keep an eye on it and remove from the oven as soon as the center is set.

As we swing into the new year, with thoughts of trying to loose a little weight, this quiche will be seeing some heavy rotation in my meal planning because in spite of its richness, it is quite low in carbs, (only the crust).  When following a low-carb diet, weight loss occurs by using stored fat as your energy source instead of carbohydrates as a ready source of energy.   In that scenario, the amount of fats you eat has no significance.  I know, it sounds counter-intuitive, but it works.


Yield:   Makes 8 servings


  • all-purpose flour for rolling
  • 1 homemade or store-bought single-crust pie dough
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 pound broccoli florets, steamed until crisp-tender
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)


1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Lightly flour a rolling pin and work surface and roll out dough to a 12-inch round.  Place in a 9-inch pie plate, fold overhang under, and crimp the edge.  Place a sheet of parchment paper over the dough and fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Fill crust with pie weights or beans to prevent air-bubbles.

Fill crust with pie weights or beans to prevent air-bubbles.

Bake until edge is dry and light golden, about 20 minutes.  Remove parchment and weights.


2.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, precook the broccoli florets until crisp-tender.



3.  In another skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes.



4.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and cream.  Season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.



5.  Place broccoli florets in bottom of pie dish (crust)…..


spoon on the onions, then the cheese.


Pour the egg/cream mixture over all.


Bake until center of quiche is just set, 40 to 45 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


To store:  refrigerate cooled quiche, tightly covered, up to 3 days.  To reheat, cover with foil and place in a 325 *F. oven until warmed through, about 15 minutes.

SOURCE:   Everyday Food,  Dec. 2011


Wiener- Kraut

Weiner-Kraut with Spatzele

Weiner-Kraut with Spatzele

I’m a little late getting this post up.   I made this dish several weeks ago with a nod to Octoberfest.  But what the heck, just call it Novemberfest.

What’s Oktoberfest if not an excuse to indulge–isn’t that why we co-oped the German holiday, after all?

This is an old Mennonite recipe, brought by those folks when they immigrated to this country.   I found it in a catalog from the Penzey’s Spice Company.  It’s relatively quick to prepare and perfect for a chilly fall day after working out in the yard.  It can be served over mashed potatoes, or egg noodles, but when I made it I used a package of Spaetzle and served it all with fresh green beans.  A cold glass of beer goes very well with this dish. Dirndles and lederhosen not required.



Yield:   Serves 6 – 8IMG_8467


  • 1 Tbsp. butter or vegetable oil
  • 4  Polish or German-style sausages ( 1 1/2 – 2 pounds), sliced 1/4-inch thick.  (I used kielbasa.)
  • 1 onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 apples, cored and sliced
  • 1 cup chopped red or green bell pepper, 1 medium
  • 4 cups sliced or shredded cabbage
  • 1 Tbsp. Krakow Nights, or Tsardust Seasoning (from Penzey’s)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice ( in a pinch, use chicken broth)


1.  In a large deep skillet, melt the butter  or vegetable oil over medium heat.  Add the sausage slices and brown, about 4 minutes per side.  Add the onion and cook until tender 3 – 5 minutes, stirring often.

Browning the sausage with onions.

Browning the sausage with onions.

2.  Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan, being sure to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add the apples, bell peppers, cabbage, seasonings and apple juice or cider.


Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes, until the cabbage is tender but not mushy.



Serve with mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or spaetzle.



SOURCE:  Penzey’s Catalog

Glazed Salmon with Couscous

Glazed Salmon and Couscous

Glazed Salmon and Couscous

Let’s go fishing!   I’ll bring the fishing poles if you’ll bring your boat.  I’ll pack a picnic lunch and some cold drinks,  and enough insect repellent to take care of any bugs within miles.  Oh, yeah, bait!  Would you stop on your way to the river and pick some up? Oh, and be sure to bring your camera.  We have to get some pics of our catch to post on F.B.

That reminds me—Do you know how to bait the hook?    Oh, me neither.   Well, I guess we’ll need to find someone to help us with that.   On second thought,  why don’t we just go shopping instead and stop by the local fish market for a nice piece of salmon on our way home.  Sounds like a plan to me 🙂

When we get home it will only take a few minutes to get dinner ready because the salmon is so easy to prepare with this recipe.



Yield:  Serves 4


  • 1  1/4 cups water
  • 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked couscous  (In my version, I used the larger size pearl couscous, and followed cooking time on the package.)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

    Whole-grain mustard and chopped shallots.

    Whole-grain mustard and chopped shallots.

  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick
  • cooking spray


1.  Preheat the broiler.  Line a jelly-roll pan with foil, and coat with cooking spray.

2.  Bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Stir in 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, and couscous; cover.  Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes.  Stir in dill, rind, and juice.  (If using Israeli or pearl couscous, following cooking directions on package.)

3.  Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil and butter; swirl until butter melts.  Add shallots; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add wine to pan; bring to a boil.  cook 2 minutes;  stir in mustard and brown sugar.  Remove pan from heat.

Sautéing the shallots.

Sautéing the shallots.

4.  Arrange salmon fillets, skin sides down on the prepared jelly-roll pan.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 tsp, salt and remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Spread half of mustard mixture evenly over fillets.  Broil 6 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.  Spread remaining half of mustard mixture over fillets.  Serve salmon with couscous.

You can round out this meal nicely with the addition of a green vegetable such as haricots verts, or asparagus.




(Less is More) Blueberry Zucchini Bread

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

This is an  experiment in cutting back, using less, leaving out, and just generally leaving things alone.   You know that when I cook I try to cut back on ingredients that are unhealthy or not good for us, but when it comes to the “good” stuff, well…..that’s another story.  My philosophy is usually “more is better”.


Today’s baking session went something like this.   I made Blueberry Zucchini Bread, without adding bacon, without lemon zest, without ginger, without crumb topping, without coconut, without chocolate chips.   Oh, the more I mention, the more I want to put into this luscious breakfast bread.   I keep telling myself,  “no, just let it be what it is”.  So, Ok, I added blueberries to zucchini bread, but you know, a green veggie is kind of boring, and blueberries are so pretty, and good for us, (antioxidants and all).  You’ll be so glad I did all this for you.   The resulting bread is just right for breakfast, not too sweet, yet moist with tons of flavor.



Many zucchini bread recipes in my cookbooks seem to call for 1 cup or more of oil, and are also too sweet for my taste, so thinking that the moisture added to this recipe by the zucchini and blueberries would compensate, I reduced the amount of oil to 2/3 cup, and used only 1 cup of sugar instead of two cups as the original recipe called for.  Thus you have less is more.   Less of the unhealthy and unnecessary  ingredients and more of the healthy ingredients that are better for you.

Picky eaters at your house?   I’ll bet they’ll be scarfing down this one!


Yield:   2 loaves,  8″ x 4″  see accompanying conversion list for other size loaves


  • 3 cups flour  ( I used 1 1/2 cup white whole wheat, and 1 1/2 cups all purpose white flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3  cup vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries


1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Lightly grease loaf pans.  See conversion list for pan sizes.

2.  In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

Mix together the dry ingredients.

Mix together the dry ingredients.

In another bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar.

3.  Stir flour mixture into egg mixture and combine until well blended.

Add dry ingredients to egg mixture.

Add dry ingredients to egg mixture.

Stir in zucchini, then gently fold in blueberries.

Stir in zucchini, then blueberries.  Batter will be thick.

Stir in zucchini, then blueberries. Batter will be thick.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.   Note:  if using small pans, set them on a baking sheet for stability in and out of the oven.

Pour batter into loaf pans set on a baking sheet.

Pour batter into loaf pans set on a baking sheet.

4.  Bake at 350*F. for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

5.  Cool in pans for about 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.  Wrap in foil to freeze if desired.


These rise nice and high.

These rise nice and high.

Perfect for breakfast.

Perfect for breakfast.


Notes from my kitchen:   Many times quick breads can be baked in different sizes than the recipe calls for.  These are some alternate size pans for when a recipe is based on 2  1/2  – 3 cups of flour.  Keep in mind that baking times will vary, so use a cake tester, and rely on color and your sense of smell.

1  ( 9 x 5) loaf pan

12 muffins

2  ( 8 x 4) loaves

4  (6 x 3 x 2-inch) mini loaf pans

1 tube or decorative mold pan




SOURCE:   I made some major changes to a basic recipe for zucchini bread that was in my files.