Butternut Squash Risotto – Take Two

I’m posting this one again. It’s been three years since the original post! This is such a delicious meal for these cold, blustery days. I hope you enjoy!

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Click here to view recipe.

Beautiful Butternut Squash Risotto

Years ago, so many many years ago that now it seems like a lifetime, my sister Susan and I went to Tuscany together. Our kids were all still young and living at home, but we managed to spend a little over a glorious week there.  On four of the days, we toured around in the morning and then returned to a villa at 4pm for a cooking class.

Most of the food we prepared at Tutti a Tavola was not fancy or difficult to make.  We made lasagne using dried noodles, pepperonata, tiramisu, limoncello, bollito misto and risotto.

The risotto recipe contained fresh pumpkin and required at least a half hour of standing at the stovetop stirring constantly.  For me, that is a non-starter and so I took the basic recipe and adapted it for my stovetop pressure cooker, subbing peeled and diced butternut squash for the pumpkin. This is a seven minute preparation that requires no stirring and comes out better than ever!

One thing I learned in Italy was to use liberal amounts of good olive oil when cooking.  Do not hold back – this imparts a marvelous flavor and a glorious silky smooth texture.  

I still order a case of Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Italy and use it for most everything and then give a few bottles to relatives who cook and who appreciate the gift. Mine is from my teacher Mimma’s vineyard – the Muricciaglia winery in Tuscany. It is so beautifully green and really earthy tasting – Olio d’Oliva delizioso!

The BEST EVOO

This January, I made this on a Sunday night for my husband and me.  Because we always dine at home, I try to create a nice atmosphere with flowers, napkins, beautiful food and theme music-here. For this dinner I found “Romantic Italian” on a playlist.  Somehow it makes eating a lot more fun and elevates whatever I make to restaurant quality.

Risotto con la Zucca (AKA Risotto with Pumpkin)

Serves 6-8

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Ingredients
  • ½ – ¾ of a large butternut squash, peeled and seeded, dice into ⅓-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbsp good olive oil for the squash
  • 2 cups of Arborio Rice (can be substituted with “Short Grain White Pearl” rice)
  • Another 2 Tbsp good olive oil for sauteing onion/rice
  • 4 cups (or 1L) of chicken or vegetable broth (lazy me, I use Better than Bouillon and boiling water)
  • 1 onion (or 1 cup, diced) or ¾ cup diced shallots 
  • 1 swig of white wine or dry vermouth (about 1 ½ Tbsp)
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese to finish
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions 

First, mix the diced squash and 3 tablespoons olive oil with some salt and pepper, and bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes – until softened but not overly done.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Meanwhile, in the pre-heated pressure cooker on medium heat add the two tablespoons oil and onion or shallot. Sauté the onion or shallot on low until it becomes translucent (about 5-10 minutes).

Add the rice and lightly toast it to release the starch. When you add the Arborio rice to the onions/shallots, the rice will turn from solid white to translucent as it absorbs the oil and onion juice, then in about a minute back to white. Wait until just a couple of grains look golden and your rice is toasted! 

Add a swig of white wine and un-stick any grains from the bottom of the cooker and stir the rice until the wine has fully evaporated.

Add the broth to the onions/shallots, mix and close the top immediately.

Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.  For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower the heat to maintain it and begin counting seven minutes pressure cooking time.

When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure

The risotto should appear just slightly too wet. Stir, and the rice will continue to absorb the extra liquid in about 30 seconds. If the rice is still very wet, put the open pressure cooker back on a medium flame, without the lid, and finish cooking it this way – stirring often – until it reaches the right consistency. For a classic finish, melt two tablespoons of butter and grated cheese and stir in right before serving. Adjust for salt and pepper 

I add the cooked tiny cubed cooked butternut squash right at the end too.  By the way, this works with diced broccoli as well or a combo of broccoli and squash.

Leftovers reheat beautifully or you could add some egg and breadcrumbs, coat with panko and saute for a different meal.

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Whole Wheat Apricot Scones

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Whole Wheat Apricot Scone

Something happened to the Apricot Scone recipe I posted here a while back.  No matter where I searched, it did not show up. Poof! Ah, technology …

Sooooooo, I hunted through my “regular” recipe files and found two recipes for whole wheat apricot scones.  I selected the easiest one with the least amount of sugar, played around with it twice, and voila.  So easy and so good.  The scones are incredible in part due to the fancy shmancy dried apricots I always order from Traina Foods in California, a minimum of two pounds of Sun Dried Ruby Royal Jumbo Apricots.  They are soft, flavorful, and have a really nice color.  

The Best Whole Wheat Apricot Scones (version 2.0)

Yield: 8 small scones

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Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  •  2 tsp. baking powder
  •  Little less than ½ tsp. table salt
  • Grated zest of ½ lemon or ½ orange
  •  4 Tbsp. (½ stick) cold salted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
  •  ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup + a little extra diced dried apricots (I cut with scissors and toss with the flour/butter/sugar mix to distribute)
  •  ½ cup half-and-half (or use half cream and half whole milk. I’ve even used just whole milk – still delish)
  •  1 large egg
  • 1 tsp sparkly white sugar (for the top)
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, and salt. Add sugar and make sure everything is well combined.

With a hand-wire pastry cutter, cut butter into the flour mixture and whisk to incorporate. Stir in lemon or orange zest, then add apricot pieces and be sure they are evenly distributed. 

Measure the half-and-half or milk into a 2-cup measuring cup, and add the egg. Beat with a whisk to mix well. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture (leave a tiny bit in the measuring cup to put on top of the scones as a glaze) and stir with a rubber spatula to just combine; there may be some flour at the bottom of the bowl. 

Quickly use your hands,   turn the dough and any excess flour out onto a board or countertop, press, gather, and knead it until it just comes together. Ideally, do not knead more than 12 times. As soon as the dough holds together, pat it into a rough, 8-inch circle in the middle of the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. I use a rolling pin so it is even.  Cut the circle into 8 even pie-shaped wedges. Use the remaining egg/liquid in the cup and spread on top of the scones with your hands, then sprinkle the top with about one teaspoon of sparkly sugar.  Lightly press the sparkly sugar in the scones.  

Separate the pie shaped wedges on the cookie sheet, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until pale golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or reheat lightly.

Note: If you plan to eat them soon, store the scones in an airtight container at room temperature. For more than two days,  seal them in a heavy plastic bag or container, and freeze them. Before serving, bring them to room temperature. Either way, reheat them briefly in a 300°F oven. They’re best served warm.



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Kal’s Spicy Chicken Chili – Repost!

I decided to make this for Father’s Day dinner with our son, my daughter in law  and their  four kids. We got to all eat together and boy was it a hit! Everyone loved this, from the 3 year olds to the 75 year old.

I didn’t change much – just pulsed all the onions, garlic and seeded peppers in the Nutribullet for ease and added 1 1/2 cups of fresh corn kernels.  Such a delicious recipe I thought I’d post it again – seven years later!

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Click here to view recipe.

Chicken Chili

Comforting Chicken Chili

I have already published a fantastic traditional meat chili, but I have been meaning to write about Chicken Chili too because A) it’s quite different and B) it’s the chili we always have before Thanksgiving at my brother Kal’s cabin and C) said chili always always disappears.  

To me, a chili recipe is a template and this one is no different.  The basic ingredients are good, but you can change the flavor and texture of the formula below by adding in some corn kernels, or topping the finished dish with some full fat plain yogurt, chopped cilantro and possibly even some pickled purple onion.  The possibilities are endless!

Cooking away...

Cooking away…

I make this chili several times a year now, and I always always double the recipe, reserving a huge tub for my freezer.  Because I am somewhat of a food snob, I use my freshly cooked beans along with their cooking liquid in place of those from a can.  I realize most of you aren’t making beans from scratch, so cans work as well, but please, rinse the beans.  Go for it!

Kal’s Chicken Chili

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Prep time:        30 minutes

Cooking time:  1 hour

Servings:         10-12

(Kal always starts his recipes with the prep time, cooking time, and number of servings.  He’s more top of his game than I am!)

Ingredients:
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 whole chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (canned)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded then finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and diced ⅓ inch
  • 2 poblano peppers, diced (when I made this recently the poblanos were almost as big as my hand so I used just one)
  • 1 large brown skinned onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 lbs ground chicken
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 15-ounce cans of cooked beans such as garbanzo, pinto or kidney.  Rinse and drain. OR 3 ½ cups freshly cooked beans in their cooking liquid.
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 14-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato juice
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups corn kernels  if you have that available

Toppings you might like for the chili: chopped cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese, pickled onion, hot sauce — the sky’s the limit.

Instructions:

In a large soup pot, heat oil, brown chipotle peppers whole for three minutes, turning them over halfway through.  After the time is up remove them and discard the chilis but leave the oil and any brown stuff on the bottom of the pan.

Before you cut or seed the fresh peppers, put on disposable kitchen gloves or you’ll get nailed if your hands accidentally touch your eyes.  You do NOT want that to happen.

I cheated here and coarsely chopped then put the garlic, onion, and all the peppers in my Nutri bullet in three or four separate batches to pulse instead of chopping them by hand.  It chopped them really tiny but  it turned out fine and saved me tears and time.   Add the chopped garlic, onion, chopped peppers and saute a bit, then add raw ground chicken and cook, stirring, until chicken is browned.  Reduce heat to medium, add salt, cumin, and chili powder, stirring until soft, about six minutes.  Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato juice and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  Taste the chili and add more salt and chili powder if you like – I always do.  

Ladle into bowls, garnish as you wish and enjoy.  Homemade corn bread drizzled with honey or maple syrup is a wonderful accompaniment to this chili…just sayin’.

Serving suggestions for the leftovers:

  • Combine chili with frozen peas and corn and carrots, and top with mashed potatoes for a sort of shepherd’s pie.
  • Try a poached egg on top!
  • I love making twice baked potatoes, scooping out some of the potato and replacing it with chili
  • Use chili to fill omelettes
  • And so forth and so on!
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Yellow Finger Jell-O, AKA Colonoscopy Jell-O

Click here to view recipe.

Yellow Finger Jell-O

You might be shaking your head in disbelief that I would post a “recipe” for something like Jell-O, let alone finger Jell-o.  Listen up, my friends.

I had a colonoscopy in late September this year, and being restricted with food is simply awful for me.  A couple of days with “no fiber” foods?  Doable but so boring.  Sliced turkey on white bread without seeds, mashed potatoes without skins, pasta with a little oil and a little cheese, plain eggs, plain chicken or fish, plain toast…all the foods that were allowed were foods I rarely eat.  Turns out my diet consists of mainly vegetables, fruits, and grains – lots of foods with bulk AND some color!  To top it off, I have never been a dieter, so following a restricted eating plan is not in my wheelhouse.

All this complaining when I should be so grateful that I can have a screening for colon cancer. My late sister-in-law died very young from this horrible disease, so I am conscientious about the procedure.

Which brings me to Finger Jell-O.  Clear liquids (nothing red), which was all I was allowed the day before the procedure, do not fill me up or taste good.  I bought clear chicken broth, clear sodas, and carbonated water, along with some clear gummy bears in green and yellow.  I had tea and apple juice, but nothing that seemed like food.  And I could not find clear yellow or clear green popsicles (which ended up being just fine).

Enter YELLOW JELL-O.  This brought me back to my youth, but when I searched for instructions, it was a little perplexing.  Lots of formulas with extra gelatin added.  No no no.  Finally, I found what I was looking for.  Finger Jell-O, the kind that firms up so much you can cut it in squares and hold it in your hands while you eat it.  It did the trick, it seemed like food because it had a little texture and flavor, and helped me stay the course.

Finger Jell-O

Makes a 9 x 9  size pan

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Ingredients
  • 6 oz package of lemon Jell-O
  • 1 ¼ cup boiling water
Instructions

In a small container, stir the boiling water into the Jell-O powder.  I use a spoon to avoid foam…then pour the liquid into a greased brownie or pie plate and refrigerate for 3-4 hours until firm.  Cover with Saran Wrap.  Cut into squares or pieces.  The Jell-O will be firm enough to hold in your hand.  Enjoy!

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Giant Oatmeal Chocolate Chippers

Recently, I was the mood for baking a cookie that would freeze well and that I could take on the plane.  Oatmeal sounded good but I wanted chocolate so I reworked this recipe and am super happy with the results.  I love making giant cookies, the kind you spend $3.50 and more at the coffee shops.  Trust me, these are better!

Everything stays the same except I used bittersweet chocolate chips instead of raisins and use a heaping cup.  I also changed out ground cinnamon for cocoa powder, same quantity.

GIANT Chocolate Chippers

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Click here to view recipe.

Seriously – The BEST!

I came home on a “rescue” flight from Guatemala in late May, just as the president was locking down the country.  Truly locking it down – as in no one was allowed to be outside for four days each week—which meant no shopping, no walking, nada.  Nisht.  I encountered these rules the weekend before we were to leave as our flight was canceled. But that is another story for another day. I’m just relieved to be home!

My mornings in Seattle begins around 6:30 am.  My barista (aka husband) makes me a mug of cappuccino so I can start my engine.  I then start putting my flour, sugar, yeast, vanilla, and everything I need for baking on the counter.  This morning, which is already three weeks since I’ve been back, he remarked that I was a sick individual with a severe baking addiction.  I cannot argue that point.  Every single day I make bread, some type of pastry or pie or cake and then the ho-hum soups and good, fresh dinners. 

I know, I know, I know!  I have no reason to have yet another oatmeal cookie recipe but come on…my daughter Rachel stocked our kitchen before we returned and quarantined with too much bread flour, white whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, bittersweet chocolate, and other baking (and cooking) stuff. So bake, I must.

I can also blame this insanity on my sisters.  We Zoom every Sunday evening for 80 minutes then send flurries of texts so we compare notes on what we are cooking and baking, then recipes are sent back and forth and reviews of the food are unabashedly made.

Skeptic that I am, I don’t trust most people when they tell me a cookie recipe is really good.  But my seesters?  They have genetic taste buds like me and are baking snobs as well.  None of us would consider white chocolate or light chocolate or even semi-sweet chocolate, heaven forbid.  We are intense chocoholics after all.

Kay and I heard about these cookies from Susan, who got the recipe from her daughter-in-law Nicole who probably made them gluten-free.  Susan sent us both her recipe and Kay made them not once but three times in the past week!  Today was my maiden voyage. And I am here to testify that these are really good and really easy. Plus – they make enough for me to give some to my two offspring who brilliantly decided to settle in Seattle so they can always have food from their mother.  And if my freezer isn’t packed I’ll have an excuse to make yet another batch of cookies or scones or breakfast bread.

“BIG ASS” (Susan’s title) Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield 24 large (4” in diameter) cookies 

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Ingredients
  • 1 cup salted butter softened
  • 1 ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 ⅓ cup rolled oats (old-fashioned) 
  • 1 (12 oz) pkg. bittersweet chocolate chips (my bittersweet chips only had 10 oz which     Kay said was plenty, but I, of course, added two more ounces from another pack)
  • 1 ½ cup chopped toasted nuts (salted and/or smokey almonds are great I hear, but I just had pecans on hand which I toasted.  I try to go to the store no more than once a week right now.)
  • Coarse cane sugar for sprinkling on top
Instructions

Beat butter and brown sugar in a large bowl of an electric mixer until creamy; beat in eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, blending thoroughly.

Add oats, chocolate chips, and cooled toasted nuts; mix well by hand or quickly in the machine.

Shape each cookie by scooping into a ¼ cup measure for large cookies, six per sheet.  I then cover the balls of dough with a piece of waxed paper and flatten them evenly. Next, sprinkle a few flakes of coarse sugar on top.  

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 13-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool on the cookie sheets for five minutes then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Cook’s notes:

  • In general, when I bake cookies, I do all the scooping at once and put the balls of dough onto a parchment-lined tray, then refrigerate until I am ready to bake.  This keeps the dough cooler and I can wash the pans and equipment while the first batch of cookies is baking.  I hate having a bunch of dishes to do at the end, truth be told. 
  • My sister Susan noted: these are “very similar to mom’s oatmeal ccc’s. Easy to make gluten-free w/substitute flour, tastes the same I swear.”
  • These freeze well up to two months, or you can freeze the dough balls and bake as needed.  
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Pudgy Peanut Butter Cookies  

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Giant Plush Peanut Butter Cookies

I have been in a baking mood as of late. It is summer in Seattle, but the weather is more like March: high 40’s at night and low 60’s during the day.  Most of what I bake these days is divided and delivered to friends, and to grandkids.  I love to hear the ooos and ahhs and there is never a complaint about my finished products. 

For some odd reason, last night I had a hankering for peanut butter cookies.  Not with oatmeal, not with chocolate chips, not with crushed peanuts…just plain old peanut butter cookies with a fork cross hatch. They remind me of my mom’s peanut butter cookies, although hers were mini cookies and I have a strong preference for huge monster cookies these days.  I start by cutting a large cookie in half then I go back and finish the other half later. 

This recipe is adapted from Sallys Baking Addiction blog*. They are easy.  The dough is peanut butter-centric with less flour than most, and I mix the ingredients the night before, put the raw dough in an airtight container overnight in the refrigerator and scoop then bake them the following day or even two days later.  I only get about a dozen cookies here, but that is perfect for me since I no longer have a huge freezer.  This way I get to bake more often, and everything is fresh as can be.  

* I have put everything in grams since that is my strong preference for consistent baked goods. 

Giant Plush Peanut Butter Cookies 

Yield: ~12 giant cookies or ~30 smaller cookies

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Ingredients 
  • 170 grams unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • ½ tsp baking soda 
  • ¼ tsp sea salt 
  • 1 stick salted butter, cut into bits so it softens quickly 
  • 50 grams granulated sugar 
  • 100 grams dark brown sugar 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 185 grams creamy peanut butter, commercial Jif or Skippy works just fine 
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar to roll the cookies before baking 
Instructions 

Combine the flour, soda and salt in a small bowl and whisk together, set aside. 

Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter for a minute, then add the sugars and continue beating for two more minutes.  Add the egg and beat another minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl. 

Add the peanut butter and vanilla and beat until everything is evenly mixed. 

Add the flour/soda/salt mixture on low speed.  The dough is very soft.  Scrape it into a covered container and refrigerate overnight or up to three days.  

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the shelf in the center of the oven.  Take two cookie sheets and line them with parchment paper.    

Place 1/3 cup granulated sugar into a shallow bowl.  Scoop about 60 grams of dough (I use a large ice cream scoop) and then roll the dome part in sugar.  Place six cookies evenly on the cookie sheet and gently press down a teeny bit, then use the tines of a fork to make a cross hatch design. Even up the edges of the cookies so they look like a magazine photo. 

Note: if you want 30 smaller cookies, scoop a little less than a tablespoon per cookie and bake them less, maybe 10-11 minutes.   

FOR THE GIANT COOKIES Bake one sheet at a time for 14-15 minutes so the edges are browned a bit, but the center might look less done.  You want it like this, so the cookies are crunchy on the edges and soft in the middle.  

 Remove the cookie sheet when the cookies are baked enough  and let them rest on the cookie sheet for five minutes, then remove them to a cooling rack.  You can keep them in a tightly covered container for up to a week or freeze them. 

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Lentil Vegetable Stew with Lamb Meatballs

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Lentil Vegetable Stew with Lamb Meatballs

My sister Susan wrote to both Kay and me (the third sister) and told us she highly, highly recommended this lentil soup she had tried from the New York Times, adapted by Joan Nathan. Originally this was eaten to break the Ramadan fast.  Susan said it made a ton and was hearty and delish.  She suggested additional carrots since the soup is brown and the color makes it much more appealing. 

So, I picked up supplies I did not already have in my fridge and pantry, then rolled up my sleeves and put everything on the counter.  Surprisingly the soup was very quick to make, start to finish.  We had it for dinner, we had it for lunch the next day, my husband ate it for breakfast (!) and I still had enough to give a large container to Jakey Boy’s family.  Add some crusty bread and a simple salad and you will be in heaven.  This year I made a double batch to eat before the Yom Kippur fast” gallons of soup but I was feeding my grandkids who play football, baseball, and basketball.  They eat like there is no tomorrow!

I changed the original recipe, adding more lamb for the teenagers and more veggies for me.  And I eliminated sauteeing of onions for the stock, putting extra onion instead into the meat mixture. I needed to use up some of my legumes, so I ended up using mostly brown lentils and supplementing them with yellow split peas.  I didn’t have allspice (not my fave) so I added cinnamon to the lamb.  And per Susan’s recommendation, I added more carrots and a diced parsnip as well. If you have a little zucchini, that would be fine to put into the soup along with the carrots.

Lentil Vegetable Stew with Lamb Meatballs

Serves 12 

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Ingredients 
  • 1 large onion minced : I chopped both the onion with the parsley in the food processor since I had it out already.
  • 1 1/2 lb ground lamb 
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley (I grow parsley in the front yard) -chop by hand or in the processor)
  • 1 cup soft breadcrumbs (I always make breadcrumbs with leftover bread and have it frozen) 
  • 1 tsp sea salt: this is more than enough.
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper 
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 10 cups chicken broth -homemade, better than Bouillion or boxed chicken broth.
  • 1-pound brown lentils, picked over to remove stones and rinsed (or substitute up to half with yellow split peas) 
  • 2 oz angel hair pasta, broken into 2-inch segments 
  • 3carrots, peeled and cut 1/3 inch 
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and cut the same size as the carrot 
  • Juice of ½ lemon plus wedges of lemon to serve the soup 
Instructions 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the minced onion, the ground lamb, parsley, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl and blend with your hands.  Form into balls the size of walnuts and space onto the baking pan. I like larger meatballs so mine were more like small golf balls.

Roast for 10 minutes and remove from the pan onto a paper towel-lined cookie sheet to drain. 

Heat the soup pot and then heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté until golden, then add the broth and bring to a boil.   Add the rinsed lentils and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are almost tender.  

Break up angel hair pasta and add to the pot along with the diced peeled carrots and parsnip.  Add the drained lamb meatballs.   Simmer slowly for another 5-10 minutes or until lentils and noodles are cooked.  Add more chicken stock or water as needed.  I love thick soups, so I leave mine that way but if you are wanting more of a soup, add more liquid.  Just before serving, add lemon juice, taste to see if you need more salt or pepper and serve with lemon wedges. 

I am sure ground beef would work here too but I love the surprise taste of lamb.  Also, I think if you reduce the amount of lentils a tad, adding some fresh spinach at the end and just letting it wilt would be nice.  I like a thick stew and adding more vegetables helped accomplish that for me.

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Addictive Crispy Chocolate Chunk Cookies – Redux

This is a repeat post from 2018.  This time around I did away with the pecans and like the recipe better with 1 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate.  I refrigerated the dough for 45 minutes before balling them, then I put them back in the fridge for another 15 min while the oven preheats. I also put just 12 cookies on each sheet while they baked because they spread a lot. These are, IMHO, sensational. Better than Tate’s!

Crispy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Originally posted June 13, 2018

Click here to view recipe.

I Just Couldn’t Help Myself!

OK people. In the past, I posted a recipe for salted chocolate chunk cookies that are firm on the edges with a soft interior.  They are the bomb.

But these?  These are, as my husband says, “ the best cookies I’ve had in 74 1/2 years.”  And I wholeheartedly agree, even though I am a year younger and a much more sophisticated cookie taster.

These are a cross between toffee, shortbread, and chocolate chippers.  They are really crispy through and through, not too sweet (I even decreased the sugar suggested in the original recipe) and they have a deep, interesting, nutty flavor.  Again, I think this is in part due to the Lyle’s golden syrup I subbed for the original recipe’s light corn syrup. Lyle’s is my favorite “golden” syrup and I love the flavor when added to batters and doughs.  (The original recipe came from Amanda Hesser of the New York Times.)

Addictive Crispy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes ~32 cookies

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Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) salted butter, melted
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Lyle’s golden syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 3/4  cups chopped bittersweet chocolate (pea-size pieces and shavings)I started with Ghirardelli bittersweet chunks and ran a knife through them until they were smaller
  • 2 cups chopped toasted pecans (optional) – chopped the same size as the chocolate
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300 convection degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the butter, sugars and corn syrup for about three minutes. Stir in the vanilla, then the milk. Add the flour mixture all at once and blend just until a dough forms. Fold in the chocolate and walnuts. Chill the dough for at least an hour.

Roll 1 ½ tablespoon lumps of dough into balls, then place on the baking sheet and flatten to 1/4 inch-thick disks spaced two inches apart. Chill the dough between batches. Bake until the edges are dark golden brown, 17 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a baking rack.

I do one cookie sheet, mid-oven at a time.

 

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Easy Applesauce

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Easy Applesauce

Easy Applesauce

I previously posted a recipe for cranberry applesauce from a Thanksgiving/Chanukah meal we shared with family at Kal’s cabin in 2014.

That seems like so long ago! Today I have three mature apple trees that drop apples everywhere – all of which are still wonderful to use for cooking.

I thought I would share a formula for apple sauce that I’ve been using of late.  I have committed this to memory and feel it is particularly good to make in the fall and early winter while farmers’ markets have lots of apples available.  I find that less-than-perfect apples work well for sauce.  Oh, and I have a new 6-month-old granddaughter who is just starting to eat solid foods.  You better believe applesauce was one of her first gourmet delights, and I’m happy to report that her batch was not sweetened at all.

Easy Applesauce

Makes about 2+ quarts

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Ingredients:
  • 8-10 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 pieces each (I peel mine with the potato peeler, then use a metal apple slicer to cut them into 8 pieces)
  • 1 ¼  cup water
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • IF you want colorful applesauce, add an unpeeled plum or a peeled peach, diced into ½ inch.  These are abundant in Seattle in the late summer.
Instructions:

Put all these ingredients in the pressure cooker or Instapot. Stir to combine.  Lock the lid in place and bring it to pressure, let it stay at full pressure for four minutes, then turn off the heat.  Allow pressure to drop on its own, which takes up to 15 minutes.

Remove the lid of the pressure cooker and mash the apples (and added plum or peach) with a potato masher. This way, it’s a little chunky, which I prefer.

Store in jars in the fridge for up to 10 days, or freeze and use within six months.

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Fresh Summer Uncooked Tomato Sauce With Basil

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Fresh Summer Uncooked Tomato Sauce With Basil

In the summer, I grow and harvest tons of yellow, orange, and red cherry tomatoes.  I put lots of them in salads or eat them right off the vine, but one of my favorite dishes is uncooked tomato sauce. This takes zero skill – other than patience to wait while the tomatoes become juicy and delectable!

This can be used to mix with cooked pasta of any kind, adding a dollop of fresh pesto or including fresh raw sweet corn, or any other type of cooked veggie or white bean.   I always shower the top of the pasta with fresh ribbons of home-grown basil leaves and fresh Parmesan cheese.

Fresh Summer Uncooked Tomato Sauce With Basil

Serves 4

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Ingredients
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 3 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • Sea Salt (probably around 1 teaspoon)
  • Fresh ground black pepper (about 20 grinds)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp slivered basil, divided (1 Tbsp slivered basil to mix with the raw tomatoes and another 1 Tbsp for serving)
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4-pound dry spaghetti noodles or fusilli
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese (to serve)
Instructions

Combine the tomatoes, garlic, salt, black pepper, vinegar, basil, and oil in a wide bowl. Let sit uncovered at room temperature for at least an hour and up to 3 hours. Stir about once an hour. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

After the sauce has been on the counter for at least an hour and when you are ready for lunch or dinner, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Salt generously and add the dried pasta. Cook until the pasta is firm to the bite, following the directions on the package but checking 1 to 2 minutes before the suggested cooking time. I always reserve about ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water in case the final dish seems too dry.

Drain the pasta and toss with the raw tomato sauce. Add any other cooked leftover vegetables you wish, add some pasta cooking water if you desire, and sprinkle on the cheese.  Top the dish with some ribbons of basil and serve.

PS: This mixture is also good on toasted baguettes, polenta, or even rice.  I have been known to use it on top of white beans or white fish, such as baked halibut or even cod.

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