When you are expecting a large number of guests, there is no simpler dessert to prepare than a sheet cake. And contrary to popular belief, cake can be really, really delicious. I found the cake part of this recipe on the Taste of Home site a few years ago. I first served it as Mocha Chocolate Cake with Sour Cream Frosting. (On this site) And it has become my number one favorite chocolate cake. And every time I make it, it always meets with rave reviews. The cake is so moist, tender, and delicious, that frosting or topping probably wouldn’t be necessary. But because I enjoy gilding a lily, I always frost or top the cake with a little “something”.

This time I decided to top the cake with a chocolate hazelnut concoction. (It was going to be dessert for an Italian themed meal, so of course chocolate hazelnut anything would have been perfect!)  I found the recipe on the Cookies and Cups website. It was actually a cake filling recipe, but it looked so wonderful, that I had to give it a try. Of course I messed with it by adding Frangelico, but then, how could a splash of Frangelico hurt?

In my mind I thought I was creating a frosting, but as sometimes happens, things don’t always work out exactly as planned. I felt the “frosting” was too soft to set properly. So I decided that serving pieces of cake with a generous dollop of this amazingly flavorful “topping”, then garnishing each serving with chopped hazelnuts, was the way to go. And not only did it end up tasting wonderful, the presentation was lovely.

For me, the most delightful thing about cooking is the experimental process. And there are so many wonderful internet cooking sites to help me achieve my goals. Anything I need, or any subject of interest is right at my fingertips. So special thanks to the wonderful cooks who share their recipes with the world. They make me a better cook and I totally appreciate every single one of them.

  • 1 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 4 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
  • 3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ c. cocoa powder
  • 1 T. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1½ c. room temperature coffee or 1½ c. water and 1 rounded tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1-1/3 c. sour cream
  • 8 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¾ c. chocolate hazelnut spread (I use Nutella)
  • 2 c. powdered sugar, or more as needed
  • 2 T. Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
  • chopped toasted hazelnuts, garnish

Cream the butter and brown sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 3 teaspoons of the vanilla. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with coffee and sour cream, beating well after each addition.

Pour into a greased and floured 9×13-inch glass pan and an 8×8-inch square or round pan or three 9-inch greased and floured baking pans. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Don’t over-bake! Remove from oven and place pans on wire racks to cool completely. When cool, cover with plastic wrap.  

In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Transfer to another bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

In the same mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and chocolate hazelnut spread until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla; beat until smooth and all the ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the reserved whipped cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve generously dolloped onto cut pieces of cake. Garnish with chopped toasted hazelnut pieces.


I love puttanesca, but when you plan to serve it to a small army, serving the sauce over perfectly cooked pasta is for a cook with a lot better kitchen skill set than I possess! So what to do? Well, since I was already preparing a béchamel sauce for one of the other pasta dishes I was serving, I thought “what the heck”, why not make a puttanesca casserole too. So that’s just what I did. And it turned out pretty darn good. So that is the genesis of this recipe. (I tell you, necessity is indeed the mother of invention!)

I was slightly worried that the pasta bake would be too rich. But given that there is no meat in a puttenesca sauce, and a sharp bite from the Kalamata olives, capers, and red pepper flakes, it was just right. Of course the three different cheeses didn’t hurt either. They just helped with the creamy part. So all and all, a good dish to serve a crowd. And you can make it ahead of time. (The only way I can feed 30 some people at 1:00 in the afternoon!)

So if you like puttanesca and would like to serve it as a casserole, give this recipe a go. It is perfect company food, although I don’t think Mr. C. is going to think of it in that way. (That man loves his pasta.)

I also plan to make this dish using an arrabiata sauce instead of puttanesca sauce. I see no reason why it wouldn’t adapt well to a pasta casserole with a béchamel sauce layer. For my recipe for arrabiata sauce, see Pasta with Arrabiata Sauce on this site.

So dear readers, as in all of my recipes, make them your own. If you already have a favorite puttanesca sauce recipe, use it in this dish. Or change my recipe any way you like. I promise I will not be offended. After all, that’s what I do with other people’s perfectly good recipes all the time. I just want to provide you with ideas to make your job as family cook easier. I know I’ve said it before, but good food is a wonderful way in which to let your family and friends know in how high a regard you hold them.

So spend time in the kitchen. Make it a pleasure rather than a chore. Try new recipes. Use fresh and healthy ingredients. Be creative. But most of all, have fun in your kitchen. After all, it really is the center of your home.

  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 med. onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp. dried red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 2-oz. can anchovy fillets (or 10-12 fillets) 
  • 16 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 16 oz. can diced tomatoes (preferably Italian)
  • 18-20 Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 2 T. drained capers
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 T. butter
  • ¼ c. flour
  • 2½ c. whole milk
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c. grated provolone cheese
  • 1½ c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ¾ lb. penne or rigatoni pasta
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

In a medium covered saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Fry until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté for one minute. Add the anchovy fillets and stir them around with the other ingredients until they are all mushed up. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, cover the pan, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in the olives, capers, and fresh parsley. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, melt the butter for the béchamel sauce in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the flour starts to turn a delicate golden brown. Slowly whisk in the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, provolone cheese, and 1 cup of the Parmesan. Set aside.

Before cooking the pasta, have all the other ingredients prepped and ready to go. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente (firm to the bite). Remove from heat. Don’t drain. Leave the pasta in the water as you assemble the pasta bake. Remove the pasta as needed with a slotted spoon.

Spread just a smear of the puttanesca sauce on the bottom of a buttered 9×13-inch, fairly high sided casserole dish. Place 1/3rd of the pasta in a single layer on top of the sauce. Spread 1/3rd of the puttanesca sauce over the pasta. Spread 1/3rd of the béchamel sauce over the puttanesca sauce. Sprinkle 1/3rd of the remaining ½ cup Parmesan cheese and 1/3rd of the shredded mozzarella over the béchamel sauce. Repeat. For the final layer, add the remaining pasta, puttanesca sauce, béchamel, and cheeses. Cover the casserole with a piece of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated 375 degree oven. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pasta bake is bubbly and the cheese is completely melted and starting to brown. Remove from oven and let stand 8-10 minutes before serving.

Note: This dish can be assembled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before baking. It can be frozen for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before baking. (This takes about 1-3 hours, depending if the casserole has just been refrigerated, or if it is just out of the freezer.)





I call this an Italian salad because the dressing is more like an Italian dressing than not. I hope that makes sense. Of course it does to me, but sometimes my thinking is a bit off as I’m sure you have already perceived if you are familiar with my writing and recipes. Plus, I just couldn’t think of any other name for this combination of ingredients.

It all started because I thought I wanted to prepare a Panzanella Salad (Tuscan Bread Salad) for an Italian themed pre-concert supper I was preparing last Sunday. But when I realized that the three pastas I was serving plus the sourdough bread contained more than enough flour already, I decided a simple mixed salad with a kind of toned down “panzanella like” dressing would be perfect. Thus this recipe. BTW, if you love Panzanella Salad, please try my recipe already on this site.

And of course in my haste to get all the food set out for our guests, I failed to take a picture of this salad. But then, you all know what salad looks like. So you will simply have to use your imagination. (I can already hear those synapses (tiny gaps across your nerve cells or neurons sending impulses to other neurons causing your mind to be focused and electric) synapsing. In other words, I’m actually doing you a favor by not posting a picture of this salad. Proof once again that my thinking may be a bit off!)

Regardless, this is a really good salad and I hope you prepare it in the near future.

  • 2 tsp. sugar 
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt 
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ c. fresh parsley, loosely packed, then finely chopped 
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar   
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ c. mayonnaise 
  • ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • ½ head iceberg lettuce, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • ½ c. halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • ¼ red onion, very thinly sliced
  • ½ English cucumber partially peeled, seeded, and diced  
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced 

Whisk the sugar, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, parsley, vinegar, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and olive oil together. Set aside or refrigerate.

Place the romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, and yellow bell pepper in a large salad bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat the lettuce leaves.

Optional ingredients: Kalamata olives, thinly sliced pepperoncini, carrot, celery, basil, salami, cheese, etc. etc.  


Quick and easy meals appeal to me more and more as I approach middle age. (Middle age – right!?!?) Well isn’t 73 the new 53? Apparently only in my mind, because my body sure as heck isn’t going along with my brain on this one!

So when my body won the other evening after a long and arduous day, my mind decided to go along for the ride and helped me remember all the ground beef I have in my freezer.

So this dish is the result of a whole body agreement. And every part of my body must have been in sync because this dish turned out really yummy. And oh so easy to prepare. I served it with a simple mixed rice mixture cooked in my rice cooker, and warmed petite peas. So without even breaking a sweat, I had dinner on the table before my martini was finished.

So if you love ground beef and mushrooms, give this recipe a try. It’s comfort food to the max. It is also quite an economical dish to serve. And I can’t imagine my own children not thinking this was wonderful, especially if I served it with mashed potatoes.

So give this recipe a try. You will be reminded once again that even a meal that comes together quickly can be delicious.

  • 3 T. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef  
  • 1 c. chopped onion  
  • 8-12 sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 lg. garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 T. unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. beef broth
  • 1 T. Cognac, opt.  
  • parsley, garnish

Whisk 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, Montreal seasoning, salt, and black pepper together in a bowl. Add the ground beef and gently mix until well combined. (You never want to mix the meat too much or too hard. Over mixing makes the meat tough.)

Using your hands, shape the mixture into 3-4 patties. (Again, don’t mess with the meat too much. No scrunching or tightly pressing the meat into patties allowed.) 

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sear the burgers on both sides to create a nice “crust” on the burgers. Remove burgers from skillet and place on a plate. Set aside. (The burgers will not be done at this point.)

Add the onion and mushrooms to the pan; sauté until tender and golden. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Sprinkle in flour and cook until golden, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in broth. Turn off heat and add the Cognac. Adjust seasoning. Turn on heat and bring gravy to a simmer. Add the hamburger patties and cook until the gravy is thickened and the burgers are cooked to your liking. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.




So its breakfast time and I have a loaf of this bread to use for our morning toast. I am actually excited! Because with a dab of honey on the toasted bread, this makes for a heavenly repast when served with an easy-over egg and a small bowl of homemade granola topped with vanilla yogurt. And so our day begins.  

Now I realize that the only reason you are reading this post is because you are either already a bread baker or have a passing interest in becoming a bread baker. Well let me tell you, this bread is just about as easy as it gets. No fancy ingredients, well if you don’t count the sourdough starter that is. But even then sourdough starter is no harder to take care of then say an older neighbor who occasionally asks you to come over and carry groceries into their house. Certainly it takes less time to care for a sourdough starter. (A sourdough starter doesn’t care if you talk to it even though it is alive and probably shows more zest for life than your elderly neighbor!) A simple feeding once a week is all it requires. And how difficult is that?

So if you are thinking about playing with sourdough, this is the bread for you. The recipe makes a fairly small loaf which is perfect for us. I cut the slices about 5/8-inch thick and toast them until they are quite brown. Then I don’t even use butter, just wonderful local or Turkish honey. The combination of the whole wheat flour in the bread and the honey on top is marvelous. And yes I know, I probably could use honey in the recipe, but I think maple syrup is perfect with the other ingredients. But by all means, use honey if you prefer. Honey would actually make perfect sense if you plan to serve it with honey on top like I do. But then, when have I ever made sense? And I’m much to set in my ways to start now! Hopefully there’s still hope for you.

  • ½ c. lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 c. sourdough starter (easy recipe below)
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1¾ c. whole wheat flour
  • ½ c. bread flour, or more as needed
  • olive oil

Place the water, yeast, and maple syrup in the bowl of your stand mixer. Stir gently with your dough hook. Let proof for 15 minutes, or until foam appears on top.

Add the starter, salt, and whole wheat flour. Stir well with dough hook. Add enough bread flour to make a shaggy dough. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

Add additional bread flour if needed to form a smooth, slightly sticky, and springy dough. Knead for 3-4 minutes.

Once the dough has been kneaded, lightly grease the dough with a small amount of olive oil. Cover the bowl with a tea towel. Let rise 90 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Punch down the dough. (The dough should be smooth and springy, but not too sticky at this point.)

Shape into a loaf and place in a parchment paper lined bread loaf pan (8.5 x 4.5-inches). Cover again with a tea towel and let rise for 75 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Pour water in a shallow oven-safe pan and place on the bottom rack of the stove. Just before placing the dough in the oven, make 2 or 3 cuts along the top of the loaf.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and firm. (If in doubt if the bread is done, take the breads temperature with an instant-read thermometer. It should read at least 190 degrees.) Remove from oven and turn out of the pan onto a wire rack. Let cool on the wire rack completely before slicing. Store loosely wrapped in plastic bag at room temperature. Absolutely wonderful toasted and slathered with butter and honey! Do not refrigerate. Will stay fresh for several days.

Sourdough Starter

  • 1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1½ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 c. warm water

Combine all ingredients in a plastic juice pitcher using a wooden or plastic spoon. (Don’t worry about lumps because the little yeasty beasties will make short work of dissolving the lumps!) Cover with lid, turning strainer in lid to pouring lip. (This allows air to reach the starter.) Let ferment 3 days at room temperature, stirring several times daily. After the third day, transfer starter to a covered glass container and refrigerate.

To use, remove desired amount for recipe and replenish starter by stirring in equal amounts of flour and water or follow the instructions for the particular bread you are making. Let stand at room temperature overnight. Return to refrigerator.

If a clear liquid forms on top, stir back into starter. Every time you use, replenish with equal amounts of flour and water. Even if you don’t use every week, replenish every 7 – 10 days with equal amounts flour and water. (First remove about ½ cup of the existing starter. This allows room in your container for the new flour (yeast food) and water.) Use in any of your favorite bread, muffin, or pancake recipes.




Yes I know, I already have an Asian inspired recipe on this site that is very similar to this one. However, it (Seafood and Fried Tofu Low Mein) has a few different ingredients and takes a bit longer to prepare. (It’s really good too!)

So one evening a few days ago I was in a hurry. I wanted chow mein but I didn’t want to spend much time in the kitchen. (You know, there are just some days like that!) So I went to one of my favorite sites for inspiration. And Nagi didn’t let me down. Of course I changed things up from her original recipe, but I still felt it only fair to acknowledge her contribution. You too might want to check out RecipeTin Eats. But back to this recipe.

I loved how easy this one-dish meal came together. And man was the chow mein good! But then I am absolutely crazy about fried tofu. I could eat it almost every day. And in combination with either a bit of shrimp or chicken, this dish is like the best chow mein you could ever hope to find in a restaurant. And not greasy. Not in the least!

So if you need to create a quick one-dish meal some evening, give this chow mein a try. It really is easy and fairly quick to prepare. Plus you can add as many veggies to this basic recipe as you desire. Don’t like tofu, leave it out. Want the chow mein to be meat free, leave out the chicken or shrimp. (The dish as written won’t ever be strictly vegetarian because oyster sauce actually does contain oyster extract or essence.) Want to make the dish GF, use rice noodles and make sure your soy sauce is GF. (GF Tamari is really good for that purpose.)

Anyway you prepare this dish, you are going to be pleased with the results. And this dish warms up beautifully. Which BTW, is almost essential here at Chez Carr. We simply don’t eat as much as we used to and planned-overs are now a regular part of our life.

Note: If you are still cooking for a large family, you just might want to double the recipe. And even then you still might not have any leftovers to warm up for lunch the next day. Believe me, I understand all too well. I still remember feeding my kids when they were teenagers. Leftovers! Huh! It was only a distant dream in those days. Now I’m living the dream, in many more ways than leftovers! Happy cooking my friends.

  • ¼ c. soy sauce
  • generous 1/3 c. oyster sauce
  • ¼ c. dry sherry
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1½ tsp. sugar
  • 1 T. sesame oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. Sriracha, or more to taste
  • 1 pkg. firm tofu, sliced and cut into cubes
  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 4-5 c. thinly sliced napa cabbage
  • 1 sm. carrot, chopped fairly small
  • 5-6 lg. uncooked shrimp, shelled and cut in thirds or ½ chicken breast, cut into small pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 oz. chow mein noodles, cooked al dente
  • 4 green onions, sliced diagonally
  • 2 c. bean sprouts

Whisk the soy sauce, oyster sauce, dry sherry, cornstarch, sugar, sesame oil, black pepper, and Sriracha together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Gently combine the tofu cubes with 3 tablespoons of the chow mein sauce while you chop the veggies and shell the shrimp or cube the chicken.

When all of the ingredients are prepped, heat the oil in a wok or large non-stick fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the tofu cubes and fry until brown on at least 3 sides. (Reserve the sauce mixture remaining in the bowl after you remove the tofu.) Remove the browned tofu from the pan and set aside. Start noodles cooking.

Add the cabbage and carrot to the pan and stir fry until the cabbage starts to wilt. Add the shrimp or chicken and cook just until done. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the cooked noodles, (I lift them directly from the pasta water into the fry pan with a pair of tongs), fried tofu, green onions, bean sprouts, and sauce. (Don’t forget the sauce in which you marinated the tofu). Gently stir fry until the noodles are warmed through and sauce is thickened, about 1 minute. Don’t over-cook. Serve immediately.



One day while thinking about what I would serve for dinner, I thought about Chicken Piccata. But we had just had chicken the night before, and there really is such a thing as “too much of a good thing”. But the “piccata” part still lingered in my mind. So what about seafood in piccata sauce? Perfect!

And then, what about scallops for the seafood part? Again – perfect. So off to our local grocery store for some individually flash frozen scallops. (And yes, scallops that have been individually flash frozen are delicious. In fact, I have purchased “fresh” scallops thinking they would be better than those that had been flash frozen, just to find the fresh scallops seriously past their prime. Whereas, buying flash frozen scallops, I have never been disappointed.)

But, a couple of things to look out for in flash frozen scallops – ice crystals or evidence of freezer burn. If either of these two things are present, walk away. But if the scallops look good, go for it. It is best to defrost the scallops overnight in the refrigerator. But if you are like me, and usually only have a short time before wanting to cook these delicious babies, seal them in a freezer bag and place the bag in a bowl of cold (never warm or hot) water until they are defrosted.

Then assemble and measure all of your ingredients before you even think of turning on your stove, because the whole process of cooking the scallops goes very quickly. (You really don’t want to be squeezing the lemon juice while the scallops are cooking, for example.)

So some evening when you feel you are worthy of a special dinner, make this simple dish as your reward for good behavior. Believe me, if I could fix this dish for some of the politicians currently in office, with their promise that they would begin acting in a more dignified and concerned manner, I’d leave on a jet plane this afternoon. But promises from Washington DC seem to be about as reliable as a chocolate teapot or a support bra without under wires! So I guess I’ll just leave that sleeping dog lay and fix this dish for the more deserving. So, hope you give this recipe a try. And if you love Chicken Piccata, there’s a pretty darn good recipe already on this site.   

  • 1 lb. fairly large sea scallops (about 10)
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 T. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 T. dry white wine
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T. capers, drained
  • 2 tsp. chopped parsley, opt.

Pat scallops dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add seasoned scallops and sear for about 2 minutes on each side. The bottom and top should be a lovely golden brown.

(You don’t want to cook scallops too long or they will be tough. It’s actually better to cook them a bit on the underdone side.)

Transfer the scallops to a serving plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the same skillet. Add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the white wine and remove skillet from heat. Whisk in the lemon juice and capers.

Spoon sauce over scallops, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.




So, this is another drink introduced to Mr. C. by our brother-in-law Rick. I tell you, that man has exquisite taste. First of all, he married Mr. Cs sister Katie. His first great move. Then he became, and still is a very successful fine furniture builder. And if that’s not enough, he now instinctively knows how to find fabulous new drinks and happily shares his new-found knowledge with Mr. C. What’s not to like about that? Mr. C. gets to perfect (to his liking) these drinks, and I get to post them on my blog. I call that a win/win situation.

So for this post I’m not going to bore you with the nutritional value of the ingredients. But I will tell you that, according to Frank Whittemore writing for, and I quote, “Many studies have been conducted to consider any potential nutritional benefits that alcohol itself may play in a healthy diet. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism concluded that moderate drinkers have the highest longevity within the general population. The organization also reported that cardiovascular health improved in individuals who drank alcohol occasionally. A study published by the American Heart Association indicated that nondrinkers had twice as high a chance of suffering a stroke as moderate drinkers. Still other reports show that the effects of hypertension, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and a list of other illnesses and disorders were improved with occasional alcohol consumption. Alcohol also increases “good” HDL cholesterol in the body.”

So thank you Rick for another wonderful drink introduction. And thank you Arrowleaf Bistro in Twisp, Washington for sharing your recipe with Rick. BTW – I’ve heard nothing but good things about this restaurant. Check them out next time you’re in the Twisp/Winthrop vicinity.

  • 1½ oz. mezcal (the bistro uses Mina Real Mezcal, Mr. C. uses El Zacatecano Mezcal Reposado)
  • 1 oz. pear liquor (the bistro uses Clear Creek Pear Liqueur, Mr. C. uses Berentzen Pear Liqueur)
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • ¼ oz. simple syrup
  • 4-5 ice cubes
  • twist of lemon in the glass

Shake the mescal, pear liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, and ice cubes together in a cocktail shaker. Pour the contents into a short, curved glass tumbler. Add 2-3 of the ice cubes to the glass along with a twist of lemon. Enjoy.


OK, sorry about no picture, but really, who doesn’t know what a bowl of oatmeal looks like? And this oatmeal looks like every other bowl of oatmeal. The difference, and you knew there had to be a difference or I wouldn’t have bothered posting this recipe in the first place, is in the flavor and texture.

The cinnamon gives the porridge a rich flavor, and the golden raisins add both texture and sweetness. And of course, a dab of butter and a spoonful of sugar always make anything taste better. Even taking medicine, I’ve heard!

So if you want to up your fiber intake, provide your body with important minerals (thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, selenium, and iron), and make it to lunch without fainting or munching on a sugary product for energy, you “oat” to add oatmeal to your breakfast rotation.

  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. milk, plus more for serving
  • pinch salt
  • lg. pinch ground cinnamon
  • ½ c. steal cut oat meal (I use McCann’s Steel Cut Oat Meal)
  • ¼ c. golden raisins
  • dab of butter
  • brown sugar

Bring water, milk, salt, and cinnamon to a boil. Sprinkle on the oats and stir well. When the porridge is smooth and starting to thicken, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring periodically. After the oats have cooked for 15 minutes, add the golden raisins. Stir frequently towards the end of the cooking time.

Serve with a dab of butter, brown sugar, and additional milk. Or add fresh fruit for a lovely change of flavor.

Please Note: Nutritionally, steel-cut oats, old-fashioned rolled oats, and quick oats are the same. All oats start as oat groats, with only the outer husk removed. The main difference between steel-cut oats and quick oats lies in the processing. Steel-cut oats are simply oat groats cut into two or three pieces, for a relatively unprocessed product. Rolled or old-fashioned oats are produced by steaming and rolling the oat groats for faster cooking. Quick oats are just old-fashioned oats that have been chopped into smaller pieces for even faster cooking. The main advantages of using steel cut oats in your porridge are the chewier texture and nuttier flavor.



So, you’ve got leftover turkey from Thanksgiving in your freezer, but no homemade stock and your taste buds are crying out for soup. This happens routinely at Chez Carr. So when I desperately want turkey soup, I cheat! Yep, that’s just what I do!

I start with chicken or turkey broth, then add a bunch of common ingredients, and next thing you know, I’m sitting down to a lovely steaming bowl of goodness. Healthy too!

According to Donna Clarke writing for Health Guide Info, and I quote, “There’s nothing like a soothing bowl of hot chicken soup to cure what ails you. Grandma was right, it’s the best thing for that nasty cold! But what about turkey soup? Why does chicken soup make us feel so much better? Can turkey soup offer the same powerful punch?

We’ve all been there – wrapped in a blanket with chills, fever, cough, runny nose, aches…the works. The only thing that seems to sooth and comfort is a hot delicious bowl of chicken soup, with chunks of chicken, carrots, fresh dill, and onion, the aroma fills the entire room. Homemade or canned, it just seems to make everything better. But, did you ever wonder why? What is the secret our grandmothers all seemed to know? What is the mystery contained within this wondrous food? Why does chicken soup seem to be the perfect food to help cure what ails us? And what about turkey soup? Can turkey soup offer the same benefit?

The idea of consuming a hot bowl of chicken soup for the medicinal qualities it possesses dates back to the 12th century when Rabbi Moses Maimonides prescribed it to his patients. Since then, it has been offered to individuals ailing from a wide variety of maladies from congestion to the flu. Amazingly, this simple yet flavorful soup has been the subject of controversy with respect to its healing ability. But is it myth or medicine, fact or fiction?

Can chicken soup really offer relief for the common cold? Dr. Stephen Rennard at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, sought to solve this mystery. He conducted a series of tests adding chicken soup to neutrophils – the white blood cells. His findings were published in 1999 in the American College of Chest Physicians. He concluded that chicken soup did in fact help to inhibit the movement of these neutrophils, determining that chicken soup has a definite anti-inflammatory effect, causing a reduction of chest congestion!

The exact cause of this benefit is still a mystery, but one thing is certain, the nutritional values found in chicken soup are undeniable. Loaded with protein, vitamin A, niacin, vitamin K, potassium, and phosphorus, the ingredients contained in this fabulous soup offer a definite benefit when struggling with the common cold. If you are making homemade, be sure to include these ingredients as a base:

chicken: hot chicken broth vapors can help thin out mucus due to the presence of cysteine, an amino acid

onions: onions contain quercetin, also helpful in thinning out mucus, as well as act as an anti-inflammatory

carrots: these yummy vegetables provide an excellent source of vitamin A

parsnip: in addition to adding a delicious flavor, parsnip provides a good source of potassium

Other ingredients such as dill, celery, mushrooms, and even brown rice or whole grain pasta can be added for even more benefit!

But How About Turkey Soup?

The benefit of turkey soup is the same as chicken soup. Plus, with turkey soup, you have the added benefit of tryptophan (an amino acid) to help calm and sooth, providing the perfect relief for that day when you need the warmth and comfort only hot soup can provide.”

So I say – what are you waiting for? Dig that package of almost forgotten turkey out of the back of your freezer, and help gird yourself against a nasty winter cold or even more undesirable, the horrible flu that is going around. Think of this soup as preventive medicine. And as medicines go, you could do a lot worse!

  • 8 c. chicken or turkey broth (I use Costco Chicken Bone Broth or Better Than Bouillon Turkey Base and 8 cups of water)
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • ½ lg. shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced
  • ¼ c. minced parsley
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. poultry seasoning
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 pkg. turkey gravy mix, opt. (provides color, flavor, and a bit of thickening)
  • planned over turkey cut into bite-size chunks (however much you want or have)
  • 1-2 T. white wine vinegar
  • 1½ c. wide egg noodles, cooked al dente

Place the chicken broth, onion, shallot, garlic, carrots, celery, parsley bay leaf, seasoned salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, dried thyme, and turkey gravy mix in a large, heavy, covered soup pot. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer gently for about 90 minutes.  

When the carrots are all but dissolved, add the turkey, white wine vinegar, and cooked noodles. Adjust seasoning. Good the first day, but even better the next!