Saturday, July 30, 2011

Smokey Chipotle Meatloaf

Call me the Meatloaf Queen!  No, wait, please don't, but do consider me as someone knowledgeable of this iconic comfort food, and one who loves to experiment and assemble a collection of only the most unique, tastiest recipes for meatloaf to be found. Here's a recipe for those of you who like something a bit on the spicy side. It is smokey and flavorful with a complex taste that requires no adornment other than a splash of your favorite barbecue sauce.  It's very moist, the recipe can be doubled, and the next day on a sandwich with some thinly sliced red onions it is delish!


1 egg
3 tablespoons hickory-flavored barbecue sauce
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from chipotle
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup panko
1 pound ground chuck
2 tablespoons hickory-flavored barbecue sauce

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Beat the egg in a large mixing bowl to blend.  Whisk in 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce, the chopped garlic, chipotle chile, adobo sauce, kosher salt, black pepper, celery salt, cumin, and Worcestershire sauce until evenly smooth. Stir in the onion, panko, and ground chuck, mixing until evenly blended. Form the mixture into a small loaf, approximately 3" wide by 6" long and place into the prepared pan. Brush the top of the meatloaf with 1-2 more tablespoon(s) of barbecue sauce, coating to your liking. Bake in the preheated oven about 1 hour. Remove to a cutting board and tent with foil.  Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

This post is linked to:
On The Menu Monday
Weekday Potluck

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cherry Tomatoes with Avocado Cream

It's that time of the year when cherry tomatoes are available in abundance.  That tiny little plant that you carefully placed into the warming soil back in late April/early May is now rewarding you with so many tomatoes that it's hard to eat them fast enough.  If you've run out of ideas, here is an easy recipe, perfect for summer, that will make use of them in a very elegant way.

Cherry Tomatoes with Avocado Cream
18 cherry tomatoes
1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled, and cut into quarters
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon homemade or purchased basil pesto
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp. lemon juice

 Cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of each tomato. The bottom slice to is keep the tomatoes from rolling, so slice carefully so as not to make a hole in the bottom. With a small, serrated spoon or small melon baller carefully hollow out the tomatoes. Line a plate with paper towels.  After hollowing out each tomato, invert and place on the paper towel-lined plate to drain.  Let set for 30 - 35 minutes.

In the work bowl of a food processor (I used a small one) combine avocado, cream cheese, pesto, Old Bay, and lemon juice; process until smooth. Spoon filling into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.  Remove tomatoes from paper towel-lined draining plate, invert and place on serving plate. Carefully pipe filling into the tomato cups. Serve immediately or cover loosely and refrigerate up to 4 hours.

This post is linked to:
Foodie Friday
Foodie Friday @ Little Brick Ranch
Food on Friday
Friday Favorites
Friday Fat Camp
Spotlight Saturday
Seasonal Sunday

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bing Cherry Sauce

"Man it's hot. It's like Africa hot. Tarzan couldn't take this kind of hot." 
-- Eugene Morris Jerome (played by Matthew Broderick), Biloxi Blues (1988)

I can't tell you how many times this quote has gone through my head this past month.  It is hot!  If you're anything like me, when the temperatures creep into the upper nineties and low hundreds, you're thinking something cool and refreshing.  If you like ice cream (and who doesn't?), here is a topping that you're going to love.  It is made from fresh bing cherries -- so it just has to be good for you, right? -- and is delicious on top of a big scoop of French vanilla.  This is actually a recipe for cherry pancake topping that I found on, but I find it tastes so much better on ice cream; warmed slightly, it is decadent.


1/2 cup (or more) water, divided
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups halved, pitted fresh Bing cherries
1 tablespoons packed golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Whisk together 1/4 cup water and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Melt butter in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add cherries, 1/4 cup water, and brown sugar; stir until sugar dissolved.  

Increase heat to medium-high; add cornstarch mixture and stir until mixture oils and thickens, adding water by tablespoonfuls if sauce is very thick, about 1 minute.

Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice.  

Grab a spoon!
OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter
This OXO cherry pitter is my gadget of choice for pitting cherries.
Click the image for more details.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cliff's Parkay Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe has been in the family longer than I have.  We call them "Cliff's" after my uncle on my mother's side, who introduced the family to these cookies when he was 8 years old.  Back in the 30's when he was in grammar school his class did a unit on baking.  Each of the children got to participate in some way, and each went home with a small bag of cookies.  His mother (my grandmother) liked them so much that she sent him to school the next day with a note to the teacher requesting the recipe.  We've all been making them ever since, and find these are the best oatmeal cookies we've ever tasted.  Sadly, my uncle passed away in 1989 at the age of 60.  I wish he could see this little tribute that I'm paying to him and these delicious cookies.  Here is the recipe exactly as it was written when he brought it home those many years ago.  The "soda" referred to in the recipe is, of course, baking soda; "Parkay" is Parkay margarine.

Cliff's Parkay Oatmeal Cookies

1-1/2 cups Parkay
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup raisins
2 teaspoons soda
Dash of salt
3-3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream Parkay and sugar together, add eggs, then rolled oats, pecans and raisins.  Add the flour which has been sifted with the cinnamon, soda and salt.  Roll into small balls and dip them in sugar.  Take a glass and dip into flour and pat rolls down.  Bake in 375 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove at once from baking sheets.
Clifford T. McDonald ca. 1962

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bread & Butter Pickles

Remember the cucumbers that I showed you here?  I had no idea that one plant could be so prolific.  After making Chilled Cucumber Dill Soup, and then Cucumber Avocado Soup, I thought it was time to embark on pickles.  My first pickles, to be exact.  Yes, I was a pickle virgin.  But do you know what?  It's easy!  So much so that this week I'm planning on making garlic dill pickles.  But before I get ahead of myself, here is the recipe for these delicious Bread & Butter pickles.  They are a teeny bit vinegary, so if you like a less, ummm, aggressive pickle, then substitute 2/3 cup of the vinegar for 2/3 cup of water.

Bread & Butter Pickles
4 pounds pickling cucumbers
1 large onion, quartered, sliced about 1/4" thick
1/3 cup Kosher salt
3 cups cider vinegar
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds

Wash cucumbers and cut off ends.  Slice crosswise into 1/4" slices (I used a crinkle cut knife to do this).  Toss in a large bowl with the salt and onion slices. Cover with 4-6 cups of ice cubes.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Prepare the boiling water bath.  Add water to a large canner with rack and heat to about 180 degrees.  The water should be high enough to be at least 1 inch above the filled jars.

Wash jars thoroughly and heat water in a small saucepan; put the lids in the saucepan and bring it just to a simmer.  Keep heat low, you want to sterilize the lid, not boil the rubber off of them, this will ruin the seal.

Drain the cucumber mixture.  Combine the remaining ingredients in a large nonreactive pot and place over medium heat; bring to a boil.  Add the drained cucumber mixture and bring to a boil.  With a slotted spoon, loosely pack the pickles in your prepared jars.  Ladle the liquid into the jars to cover, dividing evenly.  Wipe away any drips with a clean, damp cloth before putting on the 2-piece lids; do not over-tighten.

Place filled jars into the prepared water bath.  Bring the water to a boil and "process" for 10 minutes (start counting as soon as the jars hit the hot water.  Too much processing will leave you with a limp pickle. Lift jars out of the water to cool. Makes about 6 pints.

Crinkle cut your own cucumbers using this special knife:
Stainless Steel Crinkle Cut Knife By MSC - (Random Colors) 7-Inch
 For more information on how to make your own pickles, I recommend this book:
The Complete Book of Pickling: 250 Recipes from Pickles and Relishes to Chutneys and Salsas
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Circuit Breaker French Toast

It was already 90 degrees when we arose this morning - at eight o'clock - so perhaps turning on the coffee pot, the toaster oven (to warm the plates), and the Griddler to make French Toast was not the best idea.  With the high expected to be 100 toasty degrees and heat indices around 115, my heart stopped beating when all of a sudden it got very quiet and rather dark.  A quick picture of our desiccated bodies being discovered by the police due to our mutual death by heat stroke flashed through my mind.  Then I heard the motor of the refrigerator click on.  Aha!  It's the circuit breaker, as only half of the kitchen seemed to be without power.  A trip to the basement to locate the box, a push to the right, a snap to the left and things were back to normal.  I decided that we really didn't need warm plates, I could just set them on the patio table for a minute or two.

The actual name of this recipe is Grand Marnier French Toast. It was first published in Bon Appetit in September 1995, and I found it here.  I did, however, substitute Triple Sec as I don't happen to keep Grand Marnier on hand, and used blood orange zest in place of regular zest.  I also halved the recipe with no problem.  This is one delicious French Toast recipe and I will be making it again.

Though it can easily be found online by clicking the link above, here it is below, for the sake of convenience.  

Circuit Breaker French Toast 
a.k.a Grand Marnier French Toast

4 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur or frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 3/4-inch-thick French bread slices*
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
Powdered sugar
Warm maple syrup
Whisk first 6 ingredients to blend in medium bowl. Dip each bread slice into egg mixture and arrange in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Pour remaining egg mixture evenly over bread. Let stand until egg mixture is absorbed, at least 20 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Place baking sheet in oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add 4 bread slices to skillet and saute until cooked through and brown, about 3 minutes per side. Place on baking sheet in oven to keep warm. Repeat cooking with remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 4 bread slices. Transfer French toast to 4 plates. Sift powdered sugar over. Serve with maple syrup.

*I used Challah.  I find this makes better French toast than any other type of bread I've tried.  What I used today came from Trader Joe's, but if you want the best Challah bread ever, you can make your own.  Instructions are here.

Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
I absolutely LOVE my Griddler!
Click the image above for the skinny.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thai Shrimp for Two

I packed the rice into custard cups and inverted it into the empty bowl then spooned the mixture around it.
I love cooking magazines.  So much so that I tend to subscribe to a lot of them.  Fortunately I also tend to get some great deals.  Fortunately for those who know me, I share.  Almost every magazine that I receive gets passed onto someone else, as I just don't have the space to keep them all, as much as I'd like to. You'd be surprised how grabby some people can get!  Tonight's dinner came from the current issue of Taste of Home magazine (slated to go to my mom upon the completion of this blog post).  I happened to open the issue to this page and knew immediately this was going to be dinner.  It's a simple recipe, serves two, and features the shrimp I've long been craving.  I did all of my chopping early in the day, so it went together in a flash, and it was delicious!
You'll have leftover coconut milk.  I used mine to make coconut rice to serve as a base for tomorrow's Rogan Josh.
Have a great weekend!

Taste of Home (1-year)

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chilled Cucumber-Avocado Soup

I made this soup for the first time last summer.  When my husband asked me how it was I said, quite truthfully, "It's so good I could swim in it."  True.  This is the chilled soups to end all chilled soups.  Decadent, one might say; with fresh cucumbers it is ambrosial! Cooling, delicious, what an excellent way to get your daily vegetables.  Try it!

Chilled Cucumber-Avocado Soup

1 large, ripe Haas avocado, peeled and pitted
1 large cucumber, unpeeled, and cut into large chunks
1-1/2 cups homemade chicken stock (canned, if you must)
4 scallions, diced
2-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
3 tablespoons salsa (homemade, if possible, jarred, if not)
1-1/4 teaspoons cumin (more or less to taste)
Pinch Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place avocado and cucumber into a large capacity food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until smooth.  With machine running, gradually pour chicken stock through feeder tube.  Process until smooth.  Add scallions, citrus juices, sour cream or yogurt, salsa, and cumin; process until combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Chill for at least 2 hours (the longer the better).  To serve, ladle into small cups or stemmed glasses and top with your choice of salsa, salsa verde, or sour cream.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Born from my love of chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate, this cookie has been filling my cookie jar since the early eighties when I first began to experiment with cookie recipes.  None of them ever had enough chocolate taste to suit me, so I had to come up with something on my own.  This crunchy, chocolaty cookie with just a hint of spice satisfied those chocolate cravings like nothing else ever could.  It has since become one of my family's favorites, so I hope you like it too.  The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to three days, or wrapped in foil and frozen for up to three months.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 extra large egg, beaten to blend
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled*
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips*

Cream butter with sugars using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Beat in egg and melted chocolate.  Sift flour with baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a medium sized bowl.  With mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry mixture, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Do not over beat!  Stir in remaining cup of chocolate morsels until thoroughly incorporated.  Turn dough out onto board and divide in half.  Form each portion into a ball and then roll ball into a cylinder approximately 2 inches in diameter by 10 inches long.  Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Cut chilled dough into 1/4" slices.  Arrange on sheets leaving about 2 inches of space between each cookie.  These do not spread, so a bit of crowding is acceptable.  Bake cookies for 15 minutes.  Remove from over and allow to cool on sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

* In both instances I use the Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips.  The chips are rather large, so I roughly chop those that are stirred into the dough for ease of slicing.  The richness of flavor is assured by using this brand.

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Six-Layer Quiche

There is nothing easier to make for a quick meal than a quiche.  All you really need are cream and eggs, the rest is up to you.  I strongly suggest a heavy dosing of Gruyere cheese as nothing makes a quiche taste more rich and delicious than Gruyere; a few scrapings of fresh nutmeg can give it that little something extra that will have your guests raving.  After that the choice is up to you.  I'll often make quiche when I want to clean out the vegetable bin in the refrigerator, those last couple of mushrooms, the bunch of scallions beginning to sag, the half pepper, even the remnants of last night's roast chicken, all contribute to a delicious tasting quiche.  Depending upon the ingredients it can be hearty or light, and it's well suited to any time of the day  -- brunch, lunch, or dinner.  It can be prepared up to a day ahead and baked when you need it making it the perfect choice for your busiest of days. How's that for versatile?

Here's one of my favorite recipes both for simplicity and taste.


1 refrigerated pie crust
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup each:
Chopped green pepper
Chopped scallions
Sliced mushrooms
Diced ham
Bacon, diced
3 eggs
2 cups half 'n half
2 tablespoons flour
Grating of fresh nutmeg (about 1/4 tsp.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Let crust come to room temperature.  Unroll and press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" deep dish pie plate.  (If you don't have a deep dish pie plate, it's perfectly acceptable to use a deep dish frozen pie shell.) Saute peppers, onions, mushrooms, ham, and bacon together in a medium saute pan until done; drain.  Place in bottom of unbaked pie shell and top with cheese.  In a separate bowl, beat eggs.  Whisk in half 'n half and nutmeg.  Add flour to mixture and mix until smooth.  Pour on top of ingredients in pie shell.  Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 25 more minutes.  Let stand for ten minutes before slicing.
Serves 6

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Brace yourselves, people, I have a cranberry!  Three years ago when I first began to container garden, I planted blueberries in a 24" wide container.  Guided by the book Crops in Pots, I underplanted with three cranberry plants due to the similar needs of the two.  I suppose, like most people, I thought cranberries needed to be grown in bogs.  Not so, I found out.  The bogs are only for the ease of harvest, they are perfectly adaptable to the home garden and thrive in containers.  Year after year I'd have plenty of blueberries, but despite healthy, trailing plants, not a cranberry in sight.  Today while weeding, I spotted my first one!  Too early to break out the cranberry relish recipe, but hope springs eternal and all that.  Here's the recipe anyway just so everyone can plan ahead.
Crops in Pots
Spicy Cranberry Relish

1 cup sugar
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
6 whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 whole cardamom seeds, crushed
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in large soup kettle.  Bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer 45 minutes.  Serve chilled.