I call baked chicken my “Sunday night special” because there is just nothing better than a lovely roast chicken to close out a weekend. And since this chicken is best when it has had some time in the refrigerator to become acquainted with the lovely herbs and spices that have been sprinkled in its cavity and on its skin, preparation takes place in the morning. That leaves me free to spend the rest of my Sunday, or any other day for that matter, working around the house, shopping, reading, or just sitting around contemplating the inside of my eyelids – aka, taking a nap. And just to make life even easier, I also prepare the dressing in the morning, so the only significant task left for me to do in the evening is clean a green veggie or make a simple salad to accompany the chicken.

And what better way for me to start my week than with leftover chicken in the refrigerator. I can use the chicken to make a simple soup, or a nice curry, or chicken salad, or…..well, you get the point. My Monday night meal is already half done, even if I don’t just warm up the leftovers and serve the meal just the way I did the night before. Of course, if truth be known, I don’t particularly enjoy left-overs. (I know – crazy!) I would rather take a simple ingredient liked baked chicken and repurpose it into a totally different dish. Now I realize something like chicken noodle soup is going to remain chicken noodle soup, and that’s fine. But baked chicken? Well that’s a different story. So tonight, my leftover chicken from Sunday evening is going to be featured in a lovely chicken curry.

So don’t hesitate to bake a chicken in the near future. And no you don’t have to make the dressing or even the gravy. But should you choose to do so, the recipes below are easy to prepare, full of flavor, and help turn a simple chicken dinner into a feast.

So welcome to autumn my friends. The season of homemade soup, pot roast, beef stew, chili, and all manner of dishes that evoke home, happiness, and comfort. 

  • 3½ to 4½ lb. whole chicken, washed, excess fat removed, then dried very well with paper towels
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 c. chicken stock, plus more as needed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • cooking spray

Combine the salt, pepper, lemon zest, rosemary, sage, thyme, granulated garlic, and onion powder together. Sprinkle half of the mixture in the cavity of the bird. Add the butter. Truss the bird by tying the legs together. Place the bird, breast side up on a roasting rack, tucking the wings in as you go. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture evenly over the skin. (And no it won’t really stick to the skin. That’s OK.) Place the chicken uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours before roasting.

Remove from refrigerator and pour the chicken stock in the bottom of the roasting pan along with the bay leaf. Just before placing the bird in the oven, spray liberally with cooking spray.

Bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 90 minutes or until the juices run clear and the internal temperature reads 180 on an instant-read thermometer. Add more chicken stock to the bottom of the pan half way through baking if the pan is dry. When done, remove from oven and set the bird on a platter loosely tented with aluminum foil. Let chicken rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.


  • flour
  • chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 chicken gravy mix (just in case)
  • 1 tsp. cognac, opt.

Place the roasting pan on the stove after the chicken has been removed. Turn the heat to very low and begin making your gravy immediately. (Good gravy flavor and consistency require time to develop.)    Do not remove any fat from the pan, do not strain the liquid, do not do any of the things most cook book writers tell you to do to make good gravy. (Oh OK, you can remove the bay leaf!)

Whisk in enough flour to absorb the fat. Let cook for a couple of minutes. (This process takes time, so be patient.) Slowly whisk in chicken stock until you reach the desired thickness you like. Add the Kitchen Bouquet (gives the gravy great color) and some freshly ground black pepper. No salt! Taste the gravy. If you think it needs more depth of flavor, begin by whisking in part of the gravy mix and a small amount of chicken stock. Let the gravy simmer for a couple of minutes and taste again. Repeat if needed.

Turn heat as low as possible and let the gravy simmer away while the chicken rests. Whisk periodically.  (You will probably need to add more stock during this time.) Also, after the chicken is sliced and plated, don’t forget to add the juices to the gravy that have accumulated on the platter while the chicken was resting. Just before serving, taste the gravy again and make any final adjustments to the seasoning. Stir in the cognac and serve piping hot.

Note: if the gravy seems a little salty, you might try adding a teaspoon or two of fresh lemon juice.


  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • ½ c. chopped celery (stalks and leaves)
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • 5 button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh sage
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ tsp. savory, either powdered or dried leaves
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4-5 c. dry bread cubes (I use inexpensive sliced sourdough bread cut into cubes and toasted)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. chicken stock, or more as needed

In a large sauté pan, melt butter and add celery, onion, and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, poultry seasoning, sage, rosemary, thyme (sound familiar?), savory, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat. Place dried bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add the sautéed vegetables; mix thoroughly. Whisk together the egg and stock in a separate medium sized bowl. Pour the liquid over the bread cubes and gently stir. Add more stock if the dressing is dry. (Remember, this is dressing, not stuffing, and therefore is not going into the cavity of the chicken. So any moisture needs to be added while it is being prepared.) Taste the dressing and add additional poultry seasoning and/or salt if needed.

Place dressing in a buttered casserole dish, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes or until hot. 




I love coleslaw. And everyone I know loves coleslaw. But you can rarely get a decent coleslaw in a restaurant these days. I know, I’ve tried. The coleslaw dressing is usually either flavorless or non-existent, and all you taste is the cabbage, or the dressing has ingredients that don’t seem to go with the cabbage. I really just don’t get it! It’s not like the chef is being asked to build a world class dish here. It’s a couple chopped veggies in a simple dressing, for goodness sake!

So basically, I’ve given up on restaurant coleslaw. When I order fish and chips, I usually try and get a green salad in place of the chips and almost always when asked if I still want the coleslaw, I say no thanks. Perhaps I’m taking the negative approach, but darn it, at my age if the coleslaw I get in restaurants is only good about 1% of the time, why bother? Truly, I have not found a decent coleslaw in a restaurant for decades, so that leads me to believe it’s probably not going to happen again in my lifetime.

So what to do when I want a delicious coleslaw? I build it myself! And this coleslaw that I made recently to go with an Oktoberfest meal is a true winner.

Usually I don’t much care for sweet dressings. But this dressing is absolutely lovely and perfect with rich German food. I found the recipe on the allrecipes site. I added a bit of black pepper to the original dressing recipe and a small amount of red cabbage and carrot mainly for the color. Other than that, the recipe is straight off the site. And I truly can’t wait for you to try it. Just make sure that you grate the vegetables into very small pieces. This helps create the “creamy” consistency that sets this coleslaw apart.

So grate up a Cruciferous veggie or two, an Apiaceae (formerly known as Umbelliferae) and whip up this simple dressing. Mix all together, let marinate in your refrigerator for a couple hours, and prepare yourself for a coleslaw that will knock your socks off.

Now granted, coleslaw is probably never going to be the number one food you request for your 75th birthday celebration. But when done right, coleslaw is just delightful, as well as being an economical alternative to more pricey salads that contain boutique greens and expensive salad dressing ingredients.  And – it’s crunchy. One thing most green salads lack.

So give it a try. And if you really want to go on a coleslaw adventure, there are several other delicious coleslaw recipes on my site. Try them all. Amaze your family and friends. Be the first on your block. Dare to be different. Take the plunge. And have fun – that’s what it’s all about!

  • 3 T. sugar
  • 3 T. cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. celery seed
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (not too much)
  • ½ c. mayonnaise
  • ½ lg. head green cabbage, grated (I use my food processor)
  • 1/8 head red cabbage, grated
  • 1 small carrot, grated

Whisk together the sugar, vinegar, celery seed, salt, pepper, and mayonnaise. Pour over the cabbage and carrot, stir to combine, and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Stir well before serving.



In an effort to include recipes for everyone, young and old, sober or otherwise, vegetarians, gluten avoiders, spicy lovers, and even those poor souls who only eat meat and potatoes, I offer up this adaptation of a Bette Hagman GF recipe for all of my readers who are gluten intolerant. (Usually I can’t abide intolerance, but for gluten, I make an exception!)
And if ever there was a cake that almost everyone loves and should be able to enjoy, it’s carrot cake. My feeling is, if there’s a way around a problem like gluten flour, then let’s go for it. And Bette Hagman, one of the pioneers in GF cooking, did just that.
Now of course, I couldn’t leave even a Bette Hagman recipe alone! (I’d apologize to Bette, but she now resides with the angels, and my direct line to heaven seems to have been severed.) But even if I could apologize I would argue in my own defense. I simply like a spicier base cake, and I happen to think toasted coconut in a carrot cake is essential.
So if you and/or yours happen to be gluten intolerant or simply want to try giving gluten a rest, give this lovely cake a try. It’s moist and delicious, and I promise you, no one will miss the gluten. And really, when you think about it, who knows what gluten tastes like anyway? No one I know walks into my home and begs to be fed a soup spoon full of wheat flour. Or runs up to me, grabs me by the arm, leads me to the pantry screaming “give me flour, or give me death”! So who really gives a buttery French croissant if there is or is not a spec of gluten in a recipe? As long as the end result is delicious, which incidentally is the goal of everyone who spends any time in the kitchen, then life is good. So experiment my friends. And if you have a favorite GF recipe you would like to share with the world, please write it down and send it to my email address www.chezcarrcuisine@wavecable.com. I will gladly prepare the recipe and if it meets the exacting standards of Mr. C., I will post it and take all the credit. Just kidding. The glory and recognition will be all yours. And of course, the undying thanks from my GF readers.

  • 16 oz. crushed pineapple
  • 1 c. golden raisins
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c. mayonnaise (yes – mayonnaise)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 c. grated carrots
  • 1½ c. toasted chopped walnuts, divided
  • 1½ c. toasted coconut, divided
  • 1½ c. white rice flour
  • ½ c. soy flour
  • ½ c. potato starch
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground mace
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

Pour the pineapple plus juice into a small saucepan. Add the raisins and simmer over low heat until the raisins are plump and juicy. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl cream the sugar, eggs, and mayonnaise together. Add the vanilla, carrots, 1 cup of the toasted walnuts, 1 cup of the toasted coconut, and the cooled pineapple/raisin combination.

In another bowl, whisk together the flours, soda, salt, cinnamon, mace, cloves, and nutmeg. Stir the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until well blended.

Pour into a lightly buttered and rice floured 10×16-inch glass baking dish*. Smooth top with an offset spatula or table knife. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven* for approximately 40-45 minutes. If already getting brown after 20 minutes or so, gently tent with aluminum foil to prevent further browning. Remove from the oven when a pick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Place pan on a wire rack. Cool completely before topping with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below). Garnish with remaining half cup of toasted coconut and half cup of toasted walnuts.

Please note: Most of the time when I bake cakes or breads that contain veggies or fruit, I freeze them for a couple of days before I frost and serve them. But with this cake, because I am a novice at working with flours other than wheat, I have not frozen the cake before serving. If any of you are GF experts, I would welcome your thoughts on the subject. Thank you.

*If using a metal baking pan, increase heat to 350 degrees and check if done after 35 minutes.


  • ½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 3½ c. powdered sugar or more if needed

Cream butter and powdered sugar together until well blended. Add the vanilla and salt and enough powdered sugar to make a firm but not stiff consistency. Beat until smooth and easy to spread.



My friend and neighbor Marsha made these cookies to share at our annual homeowners meeting. I had been on the board for 6 years serving as president the last year. And Marsha was on the board for my last year serving as a director-at-large. She is a most delightful woman, with a sterling intellect, logical mind, and a terrific sense of humor. In other words, an absolute delight! And, BTW, a fabulous addition to our homeowners board of directors, as well as being a great baker. And speaking of delightful – these cookies definitely fit that category. They are crisp, light, and full of flavor. You would never guess they were GF.

So if you or someone you know needs to stay away from gluten, then these are the oatmeal cookies for you or them. And a wonderful addition to a dessert table when you have no idea whether or not some of your guests might be gluten intolerant. Your only trouble is going to be keeping your non gluten challenged guests from keeping them all to themselves! A bit of hand slapping might be necessary. Or maybe baking a double batch would be the more politically correct course of action. I’m not sure. I used to have a pretty good idea what was and wasn’t politically correct. But this year’s presidential election has thrown everything I felt defined common decency or political correctness right out the window.  (I know, I promised no more commentary on politics, but I set myself up without any intention of going politically postal on all of you again!)

I’m OK now, but I think I need a cookie. And since I just happen to have baked a batch of these cookies for Mr. C. and the other members of the seven piece jazz group (Seabreeze Jazz Band) that are, as I write, rehearsing in our living room, I’m going to leave you now and grant myself an attitude adjustment. You’re on your own. But if you too need your attitude adjusted, these little darlings just might be the ticket. And no, I’m not going to say anything about tickets, political or otherwise! I’m simply going to stop now while I’m ahead.

Thanks again Marsha for this wonderful recipe.

  • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. GF flour (see note about GF flours below)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 c. GF oats* (some of them aren’t!)

Cream butter and sugar until pale yellow. Add the vanilla. Whisk the flour, soda, salt, and nutmeg together. Add to the butter mixture and beat just until the dry ingredients are thoroughly blended. Mix in the oats. Drop by small ice cream scoop or rounded teaspoons onto lightly greased cookie sheet two inches apart. Flatten slightly with your fingers.

Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are golden and middle is mostly set. (I found that it helped to turn on the convection option on my oven for the last 3-4 minutes to help brown the center of the cookies.)

Please note: For this recipe, Marsha uses what she calls her “Cookie Flour Blend”. (See recipe below.) It has a sweeter taste overall and is not as dry as other gluten free mixes. For all other cooking she uses GF Cup 4 Cup flour. It is the closest to wheat flour she has ever found. In place of her cookie flour and for easy baking she would have no qualms about using Cup 4 Cup in this or any other cookie recipe. GF flour can usually be found among the other flour varieties, or if not there, the grocery store might have a separate area dedicated to GF products. At least, the GF area is where I found my bag of Cup 4 Cup flour at our local Haggen.

COOKIE FLOUR BLEND (recipe found in a Washington Post article)

Equal parts:

  • mochiko flour
  • sorghum flour
  • tapioca flour
  • cornstarch
  • almond flour

Whisk all together and store in an airtight container. Use in any of your favorite cookie recipes.

*According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, “oats are technically gluten-free since they aren’t a type of wheat, barley, or rye grain, the three groups of whole grains that naturally contain the protein gluten.

So pure oats themselves are GF and safe for most people with gluten-intolerance. The problem with oats in gluten-free eating is contamination. Most commercial oats are processed in facilities that also process wheat, barley, and rye. So unless the packaging specifically states “GF”, you might not be safe eating just any old oats if you truly suffer from celiac disease. However, many people with just an intolerance to gluten are fine eating oats that are not specifically rated as being “GF”.






So I know, every good cook has a recipe for carrot cake. But does every good cook have a “killer” recipe for carrot cake. (There is a difference you know!) I consider this recipe, which I have been preparing since a few of you were only glimmers in your father’s eyes, the most moist and delicious vegetative cake that I have ever had the pleasure of taking out of my oven. But one thing I must warn you about, besides of course the tendency to become addicted to it, is that this cake only reaches its full potential after it has been frozen. It really needs to spend a short time in your freezer to attain the moist consistency all of us treasure in a truly wonderful carrot cake.

Now I know that statement sounds preposterous. But if you have read any of my other recipes for cakes or breads that contain fruit or veggies, I almost always recommend a short resting period in your freezer as the best way to ensure perfection. (And no, I didn’t learn this trick from my many years studying at Le Cordon Bleu. I learned it from my dear friend Linda’s mother Rhoda. And to the best of my knowledge, Rhoda didn’t learn this trick from her years at Le Cordon Bleu either! (Like either of us ever attended any cooking school, much less Le Condon Bleu!) We both perfected our culinary skills in the school of “what’s for dinner, mom”?

But you truly can’t appreciate this cake until you have sunk a fork down through the not-too-sweet frosting and into the moist and tender crumb of this cake. When it reaches your mouth, you not only have the wonderful mouth feel, you have the depth of flavor from the spices, golden raisins that have simmered in pineapple juice, the toasted coconut, and the lovely tasty crunch from the toasted walnuts.

I am not going to tell you that this cake comes together in 30 minutes, because it absolutely does not. You have to simmer the raisins, toast the coconut and walnuts, grate the carrots, and mix the batter, etc. But, if you want to create a cake that has all the characteristics of that perfect carrot cake that you long for every time you see it on a menu, you have to spend the time and do it right. Of course you can always go to your favorite restaurant or bakery and pay through the teeth for just one piece. Or you can set aside a bit of time and make yourself a treat that can be shared with your family and friends for a fraction of the cost. Of course the advantage of making this cake rather than just buying a piece, is that you get to have seconds. And who in their right mind doesn’t want a second piece of carrot cake, especially around midnight or with their morning coffee?

So do yourself and your family a favor. Make one of these cakes for your next birthday celebration, or as a treat for your family and guests after your next dinner party. Remember, you really need to bake the cake ahead of time, freeze it, and then frost it the day you plan to serve it for dessert. So the hard work is all done ahead of time. That leaves you with plenty of time the day of your get-together to concentrate on the other dishes you are planning to serve. And isn’t that a plus?

So enjoy my friends. And always remember to eat your veggies!

  • 8 oz. crushed pineapple
  • 1 c. golden raisins
  • 2 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. grated carrots
  • 1½ c. toasted chopped walnuts, divided
  • 1½ c. toasted coconut, divided
  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground mace
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

Drain the pineapple juice into a small saucepan. Set pineapple aside. Add raisins to the juice and bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.   

In a large mixing bowl cream the sugar, eggs, and oil together with a whisk. (No mixer needed for this recipe.) Add the vanilla, carrots, 1 cup of the toasted walnuts, 1 cup of the toasted coconut, the reserved pineapple, and the cooled raisins.

In another bowl whisk together the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, mace, cloves, and nutmeg. Stir flour mixture into the carrot mixture just until thoroughly blended.  

Pour into a lightly buttered and floured 9×13-inch glass baking dish. Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes or until a pick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack. Cool completely before covering with plastic wrap and placing in the freezer for no shorter time than 2 days. (I warned you in my introduction!)

The day you plan to serve the cake, remove from freezer and allow to come to room temperature.

Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below) and garnish with remaining half cup of coconut and half cup of walnuts.


  • ½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 3½ c. powdered sugar or more if needed

Cream butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, salt, and enough powdered sugar to make a firm but not stiff consistency. Beat until smooth and easy to spread. Spread evenly over cake. Garnish with remaining half cup coconut and half cup walnuts.




First of all, if you don’t like a really good navy bean soup, then read no further! But if you happen to love navy  bean soup, then this is the navy bean soup of your dreams. It’s easy to prepare, economical to make, and it tastes like nothing you are going to find in a can. (And yes, I am a little bit prejudiced about this soup since I started making it about a hundred years ago.)  

When my 4 children – Good God Almighty, 4? were young, I used to make soup almost every weekend. (Hey, my former husband and I weren’t poor, but we weren’t up there with the Rockefeller’s either. And soup was a delicious and healthy way to fill the little darling’s tummies.) Plus ham hocks were cheap, dried beans were cheap, and soups were both nutritious and filling. What more could a mommy ask from a simple to prepare dish?  

Then my life changed dramatically. I became single, my kids grew up and went away to college, but my love for soup remained. So I continued to make soup, including this one. Why you ask, when I could have just purchased a can of soup? Well, I was single, not brain dead! I still knew that homemade soup was always going to be better tasting and better for me, so I persisted in my passion for delicious and nutritious homemade soup. Eventually Mr. C. came along, (thank God), and he too loved homemade soup. So almost every winter weekend while we were both still working, I would build us some kind of soup on weekends. Now that we are both retired, weekends last 7 days a week. And I can prepare soup any old time I please!

(I highly recommend retirement, BTW. It is not overrated!)

So if you too want to fill your home with wonderful smells, feed your family a healthy and nutritious meal, and save money in the process, then homemade soup is the answer. And this soup is a good way to start. Serve this soup in a big old bowl surrounded by slices of a wonderful homemade or bakery bread, and you have an irresistible combination.

  • 1 qt. chicken stock
  • 3 c. water
  • 1 ham hock
  • 2 c. navy beans, washed and drained*
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped into fairly small pieces
  • 1 c. chopped celery, including the leaves
  • ¼ c. minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a heavy covered pot. Cook until beans are very tender, about 2 hours. Remove ham hock, let cool, and separate the meat from the bone and fatty tissue. Chop or shred the meat and add it back to the pot. Remove bay leaf and adjust the seasoning. Great served with a good hearty bread or crusty baguette. 

*For this recipe, beans do not need to be pre-soaked.

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP (Good for what ails you!)


And why a recipe for old fashioned chicken noodle soup you might ask? Because I believe that periodically everyone needs and deserves a taste of love. And if homemade chicken noodle soup doesn’t taste like love, I don’t know what does! As my grandfather used to say, “chicken noodle soup is good for what ails you!” Grandpa never defined what “what ails you” meant, but as I’ve gotten older, I think I know. What ails you – anything from stiff joints, a bad cold, a rotten day at work, teenagers, an invitation to the wedding of the daughter or son of a person you work with, whom incidentally you have never met. (The child that is!) And of course at this point, please feel free to add your own definition of the things you classify as “what ails you”.

Now I know, I love new-fangled variations of chicken soup as much as the next gal. But when what I need is a soothing, not spicy, healthy, like my grandma used to make kind of soup, I follow this recipe. (And yes, I do follow my own recipes. That way I don’t have to think. The older I get, the more I have begun to appreciate not always having to think! Sometimes I just like to let the auto-pilot function in my brain take over. So using my own recipes is my equivalent of putting my mind on auto-pilot or cruise control. But don’t fear. I get a lot of thinking done while I am working on new recipes!)

So next time you feel a cold coming on, or your teenagers are driving you to distraction, distract yourself by making a big old batch of this soup. After all, even if chicken noodle soup doesn’t solve the world’s problems, it does make them easier to take. (At least for a little while.)

  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 split fryer, cut into sections (or any other pieces of bone-in chicken)*
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, including leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, thoroughly washed, chopped (all the white and part of the green) or 1 med. onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 qt. chicken stock
  • 2 c. dry egg noodles (the wider and thicker the better), cooked al dente
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • 4-6 green onions, thinly sliced

Pour the olive oil into a large covered soup pot.



Liberally sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil and fry the chicken until the skin is golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the carrots, celery, and leek; sauté for about 5 minutes. Do not let any of the veggies start to brown. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1 minute. Add the bay leaf, a small amount of salt, pepper, chicken stock, and browned chicken. Bring the soup to just under a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is just cooked through. (Do not overcook the chicken!) Remove the chicken pieces and set aside to cool. Meanwhile continue to let the soup burble away. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones. Cut the meat into bite sized pieces. Return to the pot and add the cooked noodles and parsley. Bring just to a boil and adjust seasoning. Remove bay leaf and serve in individual bowls topped with green onions.

*If you prefer, add 2 cups of boneless, skinless chicken cut into cubes (raw or previously cooked). If using raw chicken, add when the carrots are tender. Cook the chicken just until it is done. Add cooked noodles and parsley. Bring to a boil and adjust seasoning. Serve topped with green onions.

If you are using already cooked chicken, add it along with the cooked noodles and parsley.





Some people think that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. And to the best of my knowledge, those “some people” are absolutely right! But in my husband’s case, on the way to his heart, many times the food item must first take a little detour past his sweet tooth. Because if ever there was a person who took his sugary treats seriously, it’s Mr. C. Of course he loves savories too, but in his world, each meal must be followed by a little something sweet. Except of course for breakfast. For breakfast he wants his bit of sweet before his eggs and bacon!

Now I realize that Mr. C. is no different than a lot of my friends, both male and female. These sophisticated sugar lovers want to get the most bang for their sugar “buck”.  And I truly have to say, these cookies deliver in every way. They are chocolaty to the max. They are chewy on the inside, and crisp around the edges. But, in all honesty, they do not have a lot of staying power. They are absolutely at their best when they have only been out of the oven for a couple of hours. So sending these in a Christmas package; not such a good idea. Making them in the afternoon to serve as a casual after dinner treat; perfect!

So next time you want a quick and easy cookie, give this recipe a try. And don’t worry about the cookies not having a long shelf life. They are so good, they probably won’t even make it to an airtight container, much less a shelf!

  • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ c. granulated sugar
  • 2/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 lg. eggs, room temperature
  • 2¼ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 c. white chocolate chips (the real white chocolate chips, not the white baking chips)

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract together until light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture. Stir in white chocolate chips.

Using a small ice cream scoop, place dough onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until centers are set. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, remove to wire racks and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.





As much as I love to cook, there are just those evenings when the last thing I want to do is spend time or more time in the kitchen. What happens more often than I would care to admit, is that I have already spent my entire day in the kitchen preparing for an event. So the last thing I want to do is even think about what to do about dinner. Sometimes the answer is obvious. I grab my dear husband and drag him out the door to a local food purveyor. But that never seems quite fair. After all, the poor guy has been smelling food all day. And I’m quite sure expecting that at least some morsel of whatever I have been preparing is going to reach the dining room table. (Not usually going to happen.) So the good wife in me hates to deprive him of a home cooked dinner.

For those evenings, and for times when all I want is a simple meal fit for the most dedicated carnivore (I resemble that remark), I fix this simple recipe, along with a baked sweet or Yukon Gold potato and a steamed green veggie. Mr. C. is happy, I’m happy, the cats are happy. All is right with the world.

So if you too have extenuating circumstances that result in you not jumping for joy at spending another or even 30 minutes preparing dinner, I suggest you use the excuse I often use under this most trying of situations. I DON’T WANT TO! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME! I QUIT! (I don’t actually say those things. But you can bet your favorite Dr. Seuss book my inner child is jumping up and down screaming them in my head!)

Actually what I usually do is negotiate. You know, the art of getting your own way but in a decent, respectful manner. I play to Mr. Cs always agreeable side. I merely tell him, “I’m old, I’m tired, and if I have to make dinner I might accidentally burn down the house”. No, I don’t do that either. I just tell him the truth – “I truly don’t have the desire or strength to cook dinner tonight”. That’s all it takes. Just a simple statement told in an adult and civilized manner. Sometimes it results in us going out. Sometimes Mr. C. cooks, and sometimes the best of all possible worlds happen. We cook dinner together. I can almost always garner enough strength to cook when I have Mr. C. helping me. And of course, a dish as easy as this makes our joint adventure even more enjoyable. That and one of Mr. Cs martinis! (You just have to get a little extra boost of energy wherever you can. A nice glass of wine works too.)

So enjoy how easy this ground beef recipe is to prepare, how economical it is, and how darn delicious it is for containing such a short list of ingredients. You can thank me later by replying at the top left corner of this post.

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 T. minced onion
  • 2 tsp. Montreal Seasoning
  • 1 T. unsalted butter
  • ½ c. beef stock
  • 1 T. Cognac

Combine the ground beef, onion, and Montreal Seasoning. Form into 2 or 3 torpedo shaped patties. Heat the butter in a small fry pan. Add the patties and fry the first side until dark brown and about half cooked. Flip the patties and cook an additional couple of minutes or until desired doneness.


Remove pan from heat and transfer the patties to a small plate; cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Add the beef stock and Cognac to the pan. Return pan to medium high heat and cook until liquid is reduced by about half. Remove from heat and pour over the patties.   



I love Creole food and I love meatloaf. So I decided that a recipe for Creole meatloaf would be next on my list of “how in the heck am I going to use up more of the ground beef in my freezer?!?!”

Having decided on the flavor theme, I went about looking for Creole recipes I could adapt. And one of the first recipes to pop up on my search was a recipe from Rachael Ray. But I couldn’t stop with just looking at one recipe, so I brought up a few more and the recipe below is the result of combining several recipes and my own ideas on the subject.

Now, unless you have done a lot of Creole cooking, you might be wondering about “trinity” gravy. If you are like me, my “trinity” in cooking is a combination of onion, carrot, and celery. I start almost every stew, soup, or red sauce with this combination of base ingredients. In French cooking it’s called mirepoix, and consists of 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, and 1 part celery. But the Creole and Cajun cuisine considers onion, celery, and green pepper to be the holy trinity of flavor. 3 parts onion, 2 parts celery, and 1 part green bell pepper. Cajun/Creole dishes such as étouffée, gumbo, and jambalaya almost always start with this base. And since I love all three of these dishes, I decided maybe a trinity gravy was right up my alley too.

I am happy to report that both the meatloaf and the gravy are a wonderful combination of flavors, very simple to prepare, and economical to build. In fact, I would classify this dish as perfect for company. It does take time to prepare, but all can be made ahead of time, and then reheated just before serving. And although the ingredients aren’t expensive, the presentation looks like a million dollars.

Now I’ve heard, that half the enjoyment one gets from food is in the presentation. Frankly, I think that’s a load of rutabaga skins! I’ve tasted many a dish that looked terrific, but the flavor – less than satisfactory. But this delicious dish is not just beautiful on the outside. Remember – “external attractiveness has no relation to goodness or essential quality.” I know this maxim first stated by Sir Thomas Overbury in his poem “A Wife”, was meant to imply that beauty (in a wife) should not be just skin deep. But, as far as I’m concerned, his reflection speaks equally to culinary presentations! And if this dish doesn’t yell “good wife” I don’t know what dish does!! (And yes, I can make any quote or maxim have something to do with food. It’s a DNA abnormality handed down through my father’s side of the family!)  

For a small family or a senior couple like Mr. C and me, this wonderful meatloaf and gravy is a three meal delight. First night – eat until you can’t walk. Second night, eat until you remember how bad you felt after dinner the night before! Third day, argue over who’s going to get the last couple of slices of meatloaf for lunch! Enjoy, and no fighting kids!     


  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for smearing on meat loaves before baking
  • 1 lg. onion, finely chopped, divided
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely minced, divided
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 T. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 T. Creole Seasoning, divided (to make your own, see two very good recipes below)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T. grainy Dijon mustard
  • ½ c. bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ c. milk
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4th of the onion to the skillet, and cook to soften, 5-6 minutes.  Add half of the minced garlic and cook for one minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cool.  To the cooled onion mixture add the paprika, thyme, 1 tablespoon of the Creole seasoning, ½ teaspoon of the salt, black pepper, mustard, bread crumbs, egg, and milk.  Mix to combine. Add the ground beef and the ground pork, stirring gently just until well combined. (I use my hands for this part.) Form into 2 loaves, each about 10 inches long and 4 inches wide.


Place on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Smear the entire surface lightly with olive oil. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

To serve: Slice the meat loaves. Arrange the slices over Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and pour the Trinity Gravy over both.  Garnish with sliced scallions and serve.

Trinity Gravy:

  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • small bay leaf
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1½ c. beef stock (I use beef base and water)
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce or more to taste (I use Frank’s Red Hot Sauce)
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • mashed sweet or russet potatoes (see recipe below)
  • 2-3 scallions, sliced on the bias, for garnish

Meanwhile, in the same skillet you used for the meatloaf mixture, melt the butter and add the remaining onion. Cook for about 7 minutes, then add the celery, bell pepper, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and white pepper.  Cook the mixture long enough to soften, about 30 minutes. (I usually cover the pan after about 10 minutes and let the veggies gently steam/fry.) The veggies should be kinda brown and kinda mushy. That’s what you want. None of this crisp tender for this recipe!


Add the remaining garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the tomato paste and bay leaf; stir for 1 minute.  Sprinkle the flour and remaining Creole seasoning over the mixture and stir for another minute.  Whisk in the stock, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; cook to thicken over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes. Adjust the seasoning. Turn the heat to the lowest setting to keep the gravy warm. Stir periodically.

If you are not going to be serving in the next little while, remove from heat and re-warm when ready. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes:

  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ to 1 c. buttermilk

Cover the potatoes with water in a medium pot and bring to a boil, then season with salt, reduce heat, and cook for 12-15 minutes until tender.  When the potatoes are done, drain and return to the hot pot and mash with black pepper and buttermilk to desired consistency. Add salt if necessary.


  • 2½ T. paprika
  • 2 T. salt
  • 2 T. garlic powder or granulated garlic
  • 1 T. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T. onion powder
  • 1 T. cayenne
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 1 T. dried thyme

Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.


  • 1½ tsp. onion powder
  • 1½ tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. dry mustard
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½-1½ tsp. cayenne (depends on how much heat you like or can tolerate)
  • ½ tsp. gumbo file

Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container.