Author Archives: Patti

CSERESZNYÉS LEPÉNY (HUNGARIAN SOUR CHERRY CAKE)

When researching what dessert to serve with a Hungarian themed meal for our JazzVox guests this past weekend, I stumbled on this recipe from Saveur magazine. Hungarian Sour Cherry Cake. It seemed, from all my reading on the subject of favorite Hungarian foods, that cherries were universally loved. Almost to the point of being part of the genetic makeup of the Hungarian people. Who knew? So why look any further? Then I saw a picture of the “cake” and I wasn’t terribly impressed.

Definitely not a thing of beauty. And flat. It looked much more like a bar cookie than a cake. But who was I to question a dessert that was absolutely adored by the population of an entire nation! So I decided to serve the cake in spite of its lack of visual appeal. And boy am I glad I did! After tasting the cake, I knew why the cake so richly deserved to be cherished. It’s wonderful. Not too sweet, full of cherries, (who doesn’t love cherries) and featuring whole-wheat flour which lends a unique texture and earthy taste to the cake. My friend Vicki suggested that using whole-wheat pastry flour would result in the same desired flavor, but with a more refined texture. So I plan to use whole-wheat pastry flour the next time I bake this simple to prepare dessert. (See which I prefer!) So then how to serve the cake?

Well I have long believed that sweetened whipped cream is the answer to the age old question of how to garnish any dessert. So I whipped up some heavy cream, added a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar, and a few teaspoons of syrup from a jar of specialty cherries* that Mr. C. uses in his Manhattans. Then when it was time to serve dessert, I dolloped each individually plated piece of cake with the concoction. Added much appeal to the presentation and tasted absolutely perfect with the cake. 

So if you need a simple dessert that serves 10-12 people, this is the dessert for you. Just don’t forget to make the whipped cream. Left over whipped cream? Add a dollop to your coffee the next morning. Ain’t nothin’ finer!

(BTW, for Mr. Cs recipe for a perfect Manhattan, enter “Manhattan” in the search box on this site.)

  • 2 cubes (16 T.) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing the baking pan
  • 1½ c. granulated sugar
  • 3 T. kirschwasser**
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 1 egg, room temp.
  • 2¼ c. regular whole-wheat flour or whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 c. milk (preferably whole milk)
  • 2 lb. pitted frozen sour cherries, thawed and “drained” on paper towels
  • ¼ c. all-purpose flour

In the large bowl of your mixer, beat the butter, sugar, kirschwasser, and vanilla together until pale and fluffy. Add egg; beat until incorporated.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, alternately add flour mixture and milk in 3 batches to make a thick batter. Spoon batter onto a buttered 13″ x 18″ x 1″ (half sheet) baking sheet and smooth out with an offset spatula. Toss cherries with the ¼ cup flour. Set cherries evenly over the top.

Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven until cake is golden brown and feels set to the touch, 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

Great topped with whipped cream that has been sweetened with powdered sugar and vanilla, a wee bit of kirschwasser, or my favorite – the syrup from a jar of really good cherries*.  

*I use the syrup from either Luxardo Maraschino Cherries or Culinary Circle Amarena Cherries. Both are Italian products.

**According to Wikipedia – “Kirschwasser (German for “cherry water”) or simply kirsch, is a clear, colorless fruit brandy traditionally made from double distillation of Morello cherries, a dark-colored cultivar of the sour cherry. However, it is now also made from other kinds of cherries. The cherries are fermented completely, including their stones. Unlike cherry liqueurs and cherry brandies, kirschwasser is not sweet. The best kirschwassers have a refined taste with subtle flavors of cherry and a slight bitter-almond taste that derives from the cherry seeds.”

 

CARAWAY RYE PEASANT BREAD

I glommed this recipe together to serve with a Hungarian themed meal. I wanted to serve rye bread, but in an easy to eat little piece since I was also serving Dilly Casserole Bread (recipe coming soon) that would be baked in a loaf pan. (I always try to keep food visually interesting as well as delicious.)

So I decided to pat the bread dough into a half sheet pan (13x18x1-inch) and see what happened. Well the bread turned out delicious, really chewy, and just tall enough to make a perfect size piece of bread when cut into squares or rectangles. And easy to prepare? Oh-my-gosh yes! This would be the perfect bread to fix if you were considering giving bread baking a try.

And don’t worry about the caraway seeds. They are there, but not in your face crazy. Just subtle and splendid.

So give this easy bread a try. We had some toasted for breakfast this morning, and what a treat to go along with our eggs and sausage. Yum, if I do say so myself!

  • 2 c. warm water
  • 2 pkgs. or 2 scant T. active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 T. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 4 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 c. rye flour
  • 2½ c. whole wheat flour
  • ¾ c. bread flour, or more as needed
  • olive oil

Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer. Let sit for 10 minutes. Add the salt and caraway seeds. Mix using your dough hook.

Add the rye and whole wheat flours and mix until well combined. Add as much of the ¾ cup bread flour as needed to make a stiff dough. (The ball of dough should completely pull away from the bowl.)

Pour a little olive oil over the dough, and using your hands, form dough into a ball and spread the oil all over. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.

Pour a bit of olive oil on a 13x18x1-inch baking pan. Spread the dough out with your fingers. Slather a bit more olive oil over the dough and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.

Let rest again for 30 minutes.

Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and crusty. Let cool completely before cutting into squares or rectangles.

Note: If in doubt whether or not your bread is done, stick it with an instant read thermometer. If it registers 190-200 degrees, your bread is baked to perfection. Take it out of the oven – immediately!

   

SEED-TOPPED SOURDOUGH BREAD BOULES (ROUND LOAVES)

OK, I know. Another darn bread recipe. But I love bread and really enjoy making it. So if you must, switch channels and stop reading this very minute! But, if you are like me and love good bread, please join me as I elucidate on the deliciousness of this bread.

First of all, what’s not to like about sour dough bread? Nothing, right? And this bread with its gentle sourdough flavor, wonderful texture and nutty, seedy topping is worth every second you spend in the kitchen.

I think that’s enough said! Thank you King Arthur Flour for this wonderful recipe.

Oh I forgot – this bread freezes beautifully. It also has a very nice appearance. (Looks like it came from a bakery!)

  • 1¼ c. lukewarm water
  • 2 c. sourdough starter (see recipe below)
  • 4½ -5 c. unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 T. active dry yeast
  • 4 tsp. vital wheat gluten
  • olive oil
  • 1 egg yolk  
  • 1 T. water
  • ¼ c. brown flax seeds
  • 2 T. sunflower seeds
  • 2 T. sesame seeds
  • 2 T. pumpkin seeds
  • 1 T. poppy seeds
  • 2 T. yellow cornmeal  

In the bowl of your stand mixture, combine the water, sourdough starter, and 3 cups of the flour, mixing until smooth.

Stir in the salt, sugar, yeast, and vital wheat gluten, then an additional 1½ to 2 cups of flour. Knead until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, adding only enough additional flour as necessary.

Knead the dough for about 7 minutes. Pour a small amount of oil over the dough, and using your hands, roll the dough into a ball. Make sure the olive oil lightly coats the ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes.

Gently deflate the dough, and divide into four pieces.

Shape each piece into a round and place the boules, at least 4″ apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets.   

Cover the boules with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let them rise for 1½ hours, or until they’re nice and puffy.  

Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolk and water; set aside. Also combine the flax, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, and poppy seeds together with the cornmeal; set aside also.

When the boules are nice and puffy, gently brush with the egg yolk glaze, and sprinkle with the seed and cornmeal mixture. 

For a classic look, slash an “X” on each boule, cutting about 1/4″ deep.  

Bake the boules in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until they’re a rich golden brown. Remove the bread from the oven. Place on wire racks to cool before slicing.

If not using the same day, cover gently with a tea towel and leave on your counter or in your bread box. Do not refrigerate! Slices make marvelous toast.

Sourdough Starter

  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1 T. or 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 2 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.

         

LEFTOVER STEAK AND DRIED MUSHROOM STROGANOFF

Sometimes we actually can’t finish all the steak we get served in a restaurant or that I prepare at home. First of all, we don’t eat steak that often. But when I get a graving, nothing should get in my way, or there might be serious ramifications! Ever get like that? Just have to have the culinary object of your longing? Well if you have never experienced that kind of desire – hurray for you! But if you’re normal, you understand what I’m talking about. Of course it’s not always steak for me. After all, I have a well-developed, terribly pampered palate. Some might even say, a sophisticated palate. Like when I get a craving for a really good hotdog or my favorite food in the whole wide world – a cheese burger, complete with bacon and guacamole!

So the other evening when only a rare steak would do, I grilled up a couple of beauties. But as I should know by now, there is a definite disconnect between my eyes and my stomach when it comes to my ability to take on nourishment. Thus the creation of this recipe and the reason for this post.

While I realize the above discourse was somewhat superfluous, it was never-the-less the reality behind this culinary creation. The fact that the dish turned out to not only be delicious, but easy and fast to prepare, was just a bonus.

So I guess the moral of my story is to never turn your nose up at any leftovers like steak or chicken that have been simply prepared. Most of the time they can be used as an ingredient in another dish like this stroganoff. Just a little creative thinking and a quick check of the other ingredients in your refrigerator and pantry can lead to another wonderful meal. Hope you enjoy this recipe.   

  • ½ c. broken up dried porcini mushrooms (or dried mushrooms of choice)
  • ½ c. very hot water
  • 3 T. unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ c. minced onion or shallot (or combination)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ c. dry white wine
  • 1 T. flour
  • 1 c. beef stock
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ tsp. dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • 4-6 oz. thinly sliced leftover steak
  • 1 c. sour cream (I use Mexican sour cream)
  • 1½ c. thick cut egg noodles, cooked al dente
  • 1 T. chopped fresh parsley

Combine the dried mushrooms and hot water in a small bowl. Set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium sized fry pan. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. (Don’t allow onion to brown.) Add the garlic and pepper; cook for 1 minute. Pour in the white wine and cook until all of the wine is evaporated.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan along with the flour. Cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the beef stock, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and paprika. Stir over medium heat until the sauce slightly thickens. Add the leftover meat, rehydrated mushrooms (plus 2 tablespoons of the mushroom water), and the sour cream. Adjust seasoning. Bring to just under a boil. Add the noodles and fresh parsley. Serve immediately.

 

 

CREAMY TUSCAN SPREAD OR DIP

I found the bones of this recipe on “the girl who ate everything” site. The recipe contained most, but not all, of the flavors I wanted to feature in an Italian appetizer. So I adopted the recipe, but added a few ingredients I felt should be represented in this dish. Call me an Italian ingredient snob, but I simply had to add some basil and Parmesan to the mix, along with a bit of sour cream for additional creaminess.

And you know what – it worked. My guests loved the spread, as did I!

So next time you want a hearty and delicious appetizer that can be made ahead, mix up a batch. After all – it’s Italian! What could be better than that?!?!  

  • 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
  • ¼ c. sour cream, or more as needed
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 sm. garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 T. minced fresh Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1/3 c. loosely packed chopped fresh basil
  • 1 (14-oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped  
  • ½ c. thinly sliced black olives
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • ¼ c. finely grated Parmesan cheese

Mix the cream cheese and sour cream together until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients. Adjust seasoning. Scoop into a pretty bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours. Serve at room temperature with crudité, crackers, or toasted baguette slices.

 

 

 

LAMB RAGÙ WITH PENNE PASTA

Once upon a time I helped raise 4 children. And my little darlings loved to eat. And one of their favorite dishes was leg of lamb. Now with 4 hungry kidlets, there were rarely leftovers of any kind. But this was especially true when leg of lamb was on the menu. They would actually fight over who was going to be the chosen one to gnaw on the bone! Seriously!

Now that my memories of my children’s formative years are gracing me more often as I race into my senior years, I take delight in some of the consequences of their adulthood. Like the fact that I now almost always have leftovers when I cook a leg of lamb. Oh joy and delight! But with the actual reality of leftover lamb comes the inevitable question of what the heck to do with it?

OK, I could prepare a lamb curry. It’s always a winner. But not the other evening because I had served chicken curry only two nights before. So now what? Well then, there’s always soup. Nope. Not workin’ for me this time. How about stew? No again. Then a crazy thought. What about Italian? What about Italian!! How about a ragù? How about a ragù!! So the following recipe is the result. Hope you enjoy it.

And for those of you who still have children at home, and therefore no leftovers, I included a version using uncooked lamb. And yes I know lamb might be a hard cell for young children. Bambi and all. So just call it “pasta with red sauce”. If they insist on knowing what’s in the sauce, consider calling the meat “young sheep”. If your children are teenagers, you’re on your own!

Ragù Using Leftover Lamb:

  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • ½ c. finely diced carrot
  • ½ c. finely diced celery
  • ½ c. finely chopped pancetta
  • 2 T. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 lg. garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 c. dry white wine
  • 1 28-oz. can Italian tomatoes, coarsely chopped if necessary, with their juices
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¼ c. whole milk or half and half
  • ½ -¾ lb. leftover lamb, cut into fine dice (plus any saved juices from the roasting pan)
  • ½ -¾ lb. penne pasta, cooked al dente (or your pasta of choice)
  • 2/3 c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Pour the oil into a large fry pan and place over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is pale gold. Add the pancetta and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta fat is rendered; the pancetta should remain soft. Add the chopped garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and slowly simmer until evaporated, about 7 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and broth; simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the milk and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the cooked lamb and cook until the lamb is just warm. Adjust seasoning. Add the drained pasta and the 2/3rds cup cheese. Serve at once, passing additional cheese at the table.

Ragù Using Uncooked Lamb:

  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil, or more if required
  • ¾ lb. lamb cubes, dried with paper towels
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ c. chopped onion
  • ½ c. finely diced carrot
  • ½ c. finely diced celery
  • ½ c. finely chopped pancetta
  • 2 T. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 lg. garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 c. dry white wine
  • 1 28-oz. can Italian tomatoes, coarsely chopped if necessary, with their juices
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¼ c. whole milk or half and half
  • ¾ lb. penne pasta, cooked al dente
  • 2/3 c. freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Pour the oil into a large fry pan and place over medium heat. Add the lamb pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and fry until the outside is browned but the inside is still medium rare. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon. Set aside.

Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pan, adding a little more oil if necessary. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is pale gold. Add the pancetta and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta fat is rendered; the pancetta should remain soft. Add the chopped garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and slowly simmer until evaporated, about 7 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and broth; simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the milk and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the cooked lamb and cook until the lamb is just warm. Adjust seasoning. Add the drained pasta and the 2/3rds cup cheese. Serve at once, passing additional cheese at the table.

CHICKEN MARSALA

I love this chicken recipe. (Actually I love most chicken dishes.) But this one is particularly near and dear to my heart. (I think it has something to do with the Marsala wine, mushrooms, and fresh thyme.) Whatever it is (probably the combination of ingredients), I am completely hung up on this dish. I even dreamt about it the other night. Now that’s scary!

So when I opened my Jan/Feb issue of Cooking Light magazine, and there on page 28 was a close cousin recipe of my very own recipe for Chicken Marsala, I immediately checked my blog to see exactly what the differences were. What!?!? No recipe on my blog for this amazing Sicilian classic? How could I possibly have been so remiss? Well, starting today, you now have my recipe for one of the tastiest and easiest Italian dishes to prepare.

Now many people pound the chicken before frying it. Not me. Too much work. Plus I find that meat that has been pounded sometimes feels mushy. I love minced meat (ground beef, sausage, ground turkey and chicken), but I don’t like mushy. But if you like to hammer on meat, by all means use your mallet or the side of a wide butcher knife instead of cutting the meat with a knife. Really makes no matter. The chicken will still be delicious.

So enough blather Patti. It’s already way past time this recipe appeared on the blog!

(If you would like to know a bit more about this fabulous dish, read the note at the end of this post.)

  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise, then each piece cut in two (you should now have 8 pieces)
  • kosher salt   
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 c. thinly sliced fresh button or cremini mushrooms
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 1 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. dry Marsala wine
  • 2/3 c. chicken broth
  • 1-2 T. chopped fresh thyme (start with 1 tablespoon, then add more as garnish, if desired)  
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley, opt.  

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large fry pan. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Fry the chicken pieces until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. (If you need additional olive oil – add a wee dram.) Remove the cooked chicken to a plate or other container; loosely tent with aluminum foil. Do not clean the frying pan.

Place the pan back on medium-low heat and sauté the shallot and mushrooms until all the liquid is evaporated, and the mushrooms start to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the butter and flour and cook for 1 minute. Off heat gently whisk in the Marsala, chicken stock, and 1 tablespoon of the thyme. Return to heat and cook for 2 minutes over low heat. Add the cooked chicken, cook for an additional minute. Adjust the seasoning.

Serve the chicken and sauce over or beside freshly cooked al dente pasta, brown rice, or polenta. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and a bit more chopped thyme, if desired.

Note:

Marsala is a dark, sweet, fortified dessert wine that resembles sherry. Chicken Marsala is an Italian dish made from chicken cutlets, mushrooms, and Marsala wine. It is a variation of a traditional Italian scaloppini dish. Chicken Marsala probably dates to the 19th century, when it most likely originated with English families who lived in Sicily, where Marsala wine is produced.

 

 

CREAMY BAKED PASTA PRIMAVERA

In my quest for vegetarian options to offer family and friends, I threw caution to the wind and glommed together this recipe for a primavera in the form of a casserole/lasagna want-to-be. (Too lazy to use lasagna noodles, so used fusilli instead.) (Coincidentally, using fusilli pasta is easy to serve. That always works for me!)

Now, at first glance you might think this recipe very time consuming to fix. But if you study the preparation instructions you will find that actually this dish comes together relatively quickly. Nothing fancy happening in any of the steps. And oh the results. If you are a veggie and cheese lover like I am, this is a dish you will love from first bite.

Now I’m not going to tell you that just because veggies are the star of this show, that this is a nutritionally perfect pasta dish. Yes the veggies are marvels of nature, but the butter, whipping cream, and various cheeses offset some of the benefits gained by “eating your veggies”. But once in a while, every mouth deserves a break from the mundane. And if you are going to indulge every so often, at least you can eat something with some nutritionally redeemable qualities at the same time. (That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it!)

So chop us some of your favorite veggies. (Be inventive and use the veggies you like best.) Grate some cheese, and al dente you up some pasta. (Use your favorite pasta. Doesn’t have to be fusilli.) Stir them all together, throw the whole mess in the oven, and serve yourself up a treat.

Perfect served with a nice crisp green salad and some chewy Italian bread. 

  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 sm. carrot, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced into half rounds  
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ red onion, chopped
  • ½ bunch asparagus, sliced into diagonal ¾-inch pieces
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 14-16 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 sm. yellow summer squash, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 1 med. zucchini, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 c. halved small cherry or grape tomatoes
  • ½ c. unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 4 oz. (½ lg. pkg.) cream cheese
  • 1½ tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 c. frozen petite peas
  • ¾ lb. fusilli pasta, cooked al dente  
  • vegetable broth or pasta water, as needed
  • 1 c. grated mozzarella cheese

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrot and sauté for about 4 minutes. Add the yellow onion, red onion, asparagus, red pepper, and mushroom slices. Sauté until all the veggies are crisp tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the squash and zucchini and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and tomatoes; cook for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; set aside.

In a saucepan set over medium heat, whisk together the butter, heavy whipping cream, milk, and cream cheese until the butter melts and the sauce is smooth and starting to thicken, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan cheese. Adjust seasoning.

In a large bowl, combine the peas, cooked veggies, sauce, and al dente pasta. If the sauce needs a little more liquid, stir in a small amount of vegetable broth or pasta water.

Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish and scoop in the pasta mixture. Pat down a bit and sprinkle with the grated mozzarella.

Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the entire dish is heated through and the mozzarella is melted and turning a light golden brown.

Please Note: If you are making this dish ahead of time, let each part of the recipe come to room temperature before mixing together. Cover and refrigerate until about an hour before you place in pre-heated oven.

 

 

CREAMY AND CHUNKY BLUE CHEESE DRESSING

And yes I do have another blue cheese dressing recipe on this site and it is still one of our favorite dressings (Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing). But I recently found this amazingly delicious set of instructions by Chef John containing just the right amount of flavor difference to provide us with a new, but still perfect blue cheese dressing varietal. (Mr. C. and I consider blue cheese dressing to be our favorite way to add an enormous amount of calories to what would otherwise constitute a low fat, perfectly healthy bowl of vegetables, aka – a green salad.) (And yes I know the term “varietal” is usually only associated with wine, but I think the word is perfect in this case. My blog, my word!)

So what’s a girl to do when confronted with a new recipe that looks delicious? Well I can only speak for this “girl”, and I simply had to prepare it almost immediately! And I am so glad I did, because there is just nothing that rocks our world as much as a fabulous blue cheese dressing liberally topping crisp greens and assorted other veggies. Throw a few homemade croutons on top and you have two happy campers. (Speaking of happy campers, the pictures at the end of this post are of our trailer and the fabulous campsite we scored at Harris Beach State Park in Brookings, Oregon during our recent trailer trip. The 4 pictures after that are why we went on a trailer trip!)

But back to this recipe. Seriously, you must give this recipe a try if you are a blue cheese dressing epicure. There is simply nothing on the market that can compare. Thank you Chef John Mitzewich, wherever you may be.

  • ½ c. mayonnaise
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • ½ c. buttermilk
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp. sugar   
  • tiny pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 4 oz. finely crumbled blue cheese

Place mayonnaise, sour cream, and buttermilk into a bowl. Add salt, black pepper, dry mustard, sugar, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk together thoroughly.

Place about half of the mixture into a small food processor. Add the garlic clove and half of the blue cheese. Whirl until smooth. Pour the blended mixture into the remaining cream base and stir in the rest of the crumbled blue cheese. Adjust seasoning.    

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (preferably overnight) to meld the flavors.

 The following are pictures from inside our home just 2 days before we left on our trailer trip. 

 

SAVORY GREEN CHILI, PARMESAN, AND GREEN ONION CORNBREAD

So, this is basically the corn bread I served my kids while they were growing up. I say basically because I changed the recipe just a bit to better fit today’s standards for culinary excellence and nutritional integrity. In other words, I greatly reduced the amount of sugar and substituted butter for the margarine called for in the original recipe. I also added a can of creamed corn and some corn kernels because they help keep cornbread moist without adding additional fat. But, the basic flavor in this updated version is still very similar to the cornbread I fed my kidlets, so that’s what really matters! 

Now I say “original recipe” with my fingers crossed because the real original recipe I found in my copy of Cooking with Gourmet Grains, copyright 1971 Stone-Buhr Milling Co. Seattle, Washington. But even in 1971 when I was only 27 years old, I was changing recipes left and right. So at least for this recipe, I’m going to use “original” with a bit of poetic license. (BTW, the Stone-Buhr website is a great resource for wonderful recipes. All tried and true.) But I digress…..

Anyway, this cornbread is really tasty, moist, and simple to prepare. You don’t even need a mixer. It’s absolutely wonderful with chili, stew, or any hearty soup.

  • 1 c. yellow cornmeal 
  • ½ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 2 T. baking powder (yes, 2 tablespoons) 
  • 1½ tsp. seasoned salt
  • ¼ tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • ½ c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 c. half & half   
  • 2 lg. eggs  
  • 1/3 c. melted unsalted butter
  • 1 (14-oz.) can creamed corn
  • 1 c. frozen corn, thawed and dried on paper towels
  • 1 (4-oz.) can diced green chilies  
  • 3 finely diced green onions (green stems and all)

Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, seasoned salt, granulated garlic, chili powder, and Parmesan cheese in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, melted butter, creamed corn, corn kernels, green chilies, and green onions.

Pour wet mixture over the dry ingredients; mix just until blended. Scoop batter into a lightly greased 9×13-inch pan.  

Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes or until a pick inserted into center comes out clean. Serve warm if possible. Can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to serve. Great warmed for breakfast and served alongside ham and eggs.