battle of the broccoli: sweet or savory?

I bought broccoli and needed to do something with it. Hubby does not like broccoli. But while at the market a woman next to me said she had bought some the week before and it was fabulous. It is locally-ish grown so what more could one ask for? What am I to do? I just saw a blog on broccoli salad with bacon and remembered that I always liked it when it was brought to potlucks by some industrious woman. It is a very tasty salad and when I saw it on I thought I would try to make it myself. I’ve always thought it was too time consuming and difficult but bacon makes everything better so I went for it. I looked to see if this recipe was in any of my standard cookbooks but it is not. It is, however, in all of the self-published, fund-raiser type collections put together by churches, day cares, and the like. I went internet-ting for the origin but found that there are many variations by different home cooks. Fascinating since there are only five basic ingredients!

the five basic ingredients

20160425_214711444_iOSThis is the sweet salad since there is a bit of sugar in the dressing and of course the raisins add a natural sweetness as well. My recipe said I could use mayonnaise and/or yogurt. I used yogurt and found I needed to add an extra splash of vinegar. I used golden raisins and spring onions. The salad I remember from church potlucks used red onion. While chopping up my ingredients I decided to make only half of the dressing called for and only half the amount of raisins and seeds because 1 cup each seemed like overdoing it for the one bunch of broccoli.

20160425_212301437_iOSNow for the savory:

I found this broccoli salad recipe in my Soulard Market cookbook. This one has a vinaigrette type dressing. And I had all those ingredients too. Wow, two broccoli salads in one day. I figured that broccoli is a sturdy vegetable and can keep in a salad over a few days so I could have healthy lunches during the week.

Unlike the sweeter salad, this one does not have the broccoli completely raw. It is steamed for about 5 minutes and then plunged into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking and to set the color.

Then everything is tossed together with the dressing which is a garlicky Dijon vinaigrette. Looks savory to me!

Which would you choose? For modifications I think a handful of grated carrots could be an appropriate addition to the savory salad. Hubby tried the first one when I told him it had bacon in it. I think that a handful of grated cheddar cheese would be a fabulous addition to that salad. But even with bacon and cheese I do not believe it will make a broccoli lover out of Hubby. He will eat these to be polite and because he loves me!



Special Sauce

There are two young women out there who will know what this is about. I’m not naming names but you know who you are but it is not my story to tell! (ooh, how mysterious!)


We use ketchup for cheeseburgers and hot dogs, although Hubby doesn’t understand why one would put ketchup on hot dogs, only mustard and onions, and maybe relish. I grew up putting mustard (the bright yellow variety), ketchup, and pickle relish on my hot dogs. Sometimes I would buy chili dogs but I don’t remember having them at home. I love a good hot dog with good chili, cheese, and onions. My aging belly is not always happy about that though! 😦

Now that I am reading ingredient lists I have found that there is High Fructose Corn Syrup in a lot of ketchup and pickle relish. So I wondered how easy it might be to make my own. I saved this recipe after reading the book and blog of 100 Days of Real Food:  This recipe is from a cookbook that I may just have to buy, NOT that I need another cookbook! (Just want to be sure the proper people get the credit for the recipe.)

I gather my ingredients and mix the spices. This way I can put everything in the crockpot in the morning and have homemade ketchup for cheeseburgers that evening.


As the day wears on the house is filled with the aroma of tomatoes and then, a distinctly ketchup fragrance. It even tastes like ketchup! I am not sure why I am surprised by this, but I am. Now what container should I use to store this homemade concoction?

On our burgers…


So now I am wondering if I should make our own mustard? Naah…I’ll just buy the whole grain variety when I can find it again.


Red Meat and Chocolate Cake

This weekend we did a major meat shopping at a local meat market. Hubby likes red meat and when the weather is warming up, cooking steaks on the grill is a favorite meal. Actually we use the grill all year round. This is New England after all. We got a good price on the sirloin because hubby cuts it up himself.

We have plenty of steaks to hopefully last awhile. But son is coming home soon and he enjoys a nice steak too!

Ordinary Saturday evening meal: steak, potato, and green beans. By “ordinary” I mean no special recipe. (We do not eat steak every week, usually, but we may until this meat runs out.)

Now for the chocolate cake. I have had the urge to make a chocolate cake with frosting for awhile. I told the people at work that they may be eating chocolate cake at morning report someday soon. That day will be Monday!

In the King Arthur Flour sales catalog that they send out every so often there was this recipe. It is similar to a Texas Sheet Cake in that the frosting is poured on the cake in the pan. It is to make a 9 x 13 cake but I thought I would make two small cakes, one to eat and one to take to work so that I wouldn’t find myself eating an entire cake.

This is King Arthur Flour’s Favorite Fudge Cake. This is very good. Really good. Very rich and very fudgy.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

It is an interesting recipe because the butter is actually melted and not creamed with the sugar. The butter is melted in a saucepan or a bowl in the microwave. Then the cocoa, and hot water are mixed with the butter, and then the dry ingredients are added, and then the eggs and buttermilk and vanilla. Put in greased pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. I used one 8 inch square pan and one 9 inch round pan. In hindsight I should have used an 8 inch round pan instead. I do not have two 8 inch square pans. I do have two 8 inch round pans but I was not certain if there would be enough room to pour the frosting on top. Now I know they would have worked out just fine.

The frosting is also made by melting the butter. Melt 1 stick of butter is a small sauce pan. Stir in 1/4 cup cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder) and 6 tablespoons buttermilk. Then beat in 4 cups powdered sugar until smooth. I did this by hand.Pour the frosting over the cake while the frosting is still warm. The cakes are supposed to be cooled completely. Mine were almost completely cooled.

The frosting settles into a smooth glaze that does not remain sticky. It did not stick to the plastic wrap I used to cover the cake.

Second piece!

I miss my kitchen!


It’s not that my kitchen has gone anywhere, nor has it changed in any way, shape, or form. I’ve been back to work for about six weeks now and I miss sitting in my kitchen in the morning contemplating my day. I would have to get up at the crack of dawn to have about half of an hour to contemplate and it’s not easy to do that. It will get easier as daybreak comes earlier and earlier with the onset of spring. But I am not generally a crack of dawn person.

I signed up to make cinnamon rolls for a breakfast celebration at work. Sure, easy! No problem! I figured I would make  Alton Brown’s Overnight cinnamon roll recipe. I’ve made them before and it sounds perfect for a Monday morning work breakfast. That is one rich roll recipe: 4 egg yolks plus an egg and buttermilk, ¼ cup sugar. Then I think if it is such a rich roll how about making my mom’s Rich Rolls recipe.Now that one calls for 4 eggs, 1 cup butter, and 1 cup sugar. Whoa! Then in my most organized recipe notebook there is a sourdough roll recipe next to the standard Fleischmann’s. What to do? 

I decide on the Buttery Sourdough Buns recipe from King Arthur Flour. And these rolls were very nice when made for Thanksgiving. I’ll just roll cinnamon sugar into them.


I have sourdough starter that needs to be used and fed.

The beauty of this recipe is the simplicity of the process of putting the dough together. Literally put everything in the bowl and mix. I used the dough hook and let it beat at 2-4 speed for about 5 minutes. I did add an extra 1/2 cup flour and the dough came together nicely. I let that rise in a greased bowl for about 1 1/2 hours. I then rolled it into a rectangle, spread three Tablespoons of melted butter and liberally sprinkled that with about 1/2 cup of cinnamon sugar (1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon to 1/2 cup sugar.

ready for the fridge to rise some more

I figure I can now cover this with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight. I plan to take it out for 30-45 minutes in the morning to rest at room temperature before putting them in the oven to bake. These are to bake at 350 degrees F for 22-25 minutes. The recipe notes that they do not brown as deeply as most dinner rolls. I don’t know why this is. The KAF website might say.


They were a hit at work. I made a bit of glaze so folks could add a bit if they liked. One cup powdered sugar plus 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and a bit of water made about 1/2 cup glaze. Almost everyone added the glaze. I was surprised at that but that is what it was there for.

A tasty light cinnamon bun


Salad Supper


salad supper 001

Trying to be healthy I found a fascinating bag of produce at the Walmart. Yes, I did my little bit of grocery shopping at the Walmart. I am not always impressed with the produce section but looking carefully, there are some good choices. I call this “prepared” and not “processed” food.

This is cool. I also buy this brand’s broccoli slaw mix to add to salads. Hubby is not a fan of broccoli so I have to sneak it into the meals. This blend is probably for making smoothies but I prefer to eat my vegetables instead of drinking them. I figure this can go in a soup, chili, or just throw on top of a salad. There was a mix of butternut squash but I only bought this one this time. Hubby calls and says he is rather full so don’t fix a lot for dinner. Okay, well a big salad will do. I’ll use the opportunity to try out the making hard boiled eggs in the oven recipe.

I bake/boil 6 eggs in a muffin tin, whole, for 30 minutes in a 320 F degree oven. Plunge them in a bowl of cold water and cool. Then peel. I found the recipe on Alton Brown, and allrecipes, and one of you lovely bloggers. It  works. And what was wonderful was that Hubby came home in time to shell the eggs.

Here’s the vegetables:

salad supper 002

And now for the protein parts:

salad supper 004

I make a batch of whole wheat popovers:

salad supper 005

Hubby makes the dressing and we put it all together:

salad supper 006

Poultry Pepper Pesto Pasta

This dish is somewhat inspired by the cover of the April food network magazine. Also by Hubby! When I picked up the magazine at the checkout line I showed him the picture and we both thought that looked good. But Hubby is allergic to shrimp, so it would just be pesto and pasta or trade out the shrimp for chicken.


pesto pasta 001I did not even bother to read the recipe. Hubby suggests angel hair pasta. We have some leftover grilled chicken and away we go! I want to add roasted red peppers since I have an almost full jar open in the fridge. I have 3 quarter cup chunks of homemade pesto in the freezer. So Hubby starts naming the dish and it’s a “P” tongue twister so eventually we settle on the title. Hubby wants to add the mushrooms but I don’t want to. I have no way of knowing if the type of mushrooms name starts with a “P”!

  • 2 pieces of poultry thighs, already cooked, meat cut off the bone and diced
  • 1 jar of roasted red peppers, sliced and diced, save the juice/oil from the jar
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 4 nests of angel hair pasta nests
  • Pecorino Romano cheese for serving

pesto pasta 002

Chop the peppers and poultry. Put in skillet with a little bit of cooking oil or cooking spray. Stir in the pesto and juice from the pepper jar. Heat through. Cook the pasta according to the package.

pesto pasta 003

When pasta is done divide into two bowls. Top with the pesto-poultry mixture. Sprinkle on the grated cheese. Eat up.

pesto pasta 004

The aroma was wonderful as was the taste. The mushrooms would have fit in perfectly. Hubby thought it needed a bit of sauce. We put a dollop of sour cream in each bowl and that did the trick. Next time making a bit of a butter cream sauce should be made. This would be done by adding a bit of butter to the skillet and a bit of cream/milk/or half-and-half to get the consistency desired.


Buckwheat, and no, not the Our Gang character!

In my effort to eat healthier, mostly to lose some weight and for heart healthiness, I try new grains. So a while back I picked up a box of buckwheat. I’ve added quinoa to my repertoire of cooking and some barley and bulgur. Oats and cornmeal have always been in my pantry. Rice, too, but now it is always brown rice and not white. Being a novice at using buckwheat I merely follow the recipe on the back of the box. One can cook up a pilaf or cook it up as a hot cereal. I go for the pilaf.

As I am reading the box I read that this is wheat and gluten free. How can it be wheat free if it is called buckwheat? What is this stuff? The internet is a wealth of information for us traditional cooks. Buckwheat is a type of seed called a pseudocereal; another of these pseudocereals is quinoa. These are seeds that are eaten like cereal grains, hence the name. This buckwheat was processed into groats: “100% pure roasted whole grain buckwheat”. Buckwheat is not related to wheat so it is gluten free. Who knew?!

Buckwheat 002

This pilaf recipe instructs that 1/2 cup each chopped onion and sliced mushrooms or other chopped sauteed vegetables can be added to the buckwheat when the liquid is added to the cooking process. Well, I select onion, celery, and other vegetables to add. I like to add more vegetables than a recipe generally calls for because it makes me feel like I’m eating healthier.

  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 smallish carrots
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 2 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup buckwheat cooked according to package directions: this uses 2 cups broth or water, 1 egg, salt and pepper, and 2 tablespoons butter


Buckwheat 004
about 3 cups of vegetables

The preparing of the buckwheat itself is not a one dish deal! First an egg is slightly beaten in a separate bowl, the buckwheat is added, and stirred about for the groats to get coated. This then is put in a skillet at medium to high heat and stirred constantly for 2-3 minutes so the egg dries on the buckwheat. You will smell this roasting but keep stirring so it doesn’t burn. Meanwhile bring the liquid (I used 1 cup chicken broth and 1 cup water) and the pinch of salt and pepper to a boil. The butter will be used to saute the vegetables which is also on the stove at the same time! I kept changing the pots around so the final cooking would be in the big enough skillet with a lid. Ay yi yi!

Add this all together, stir, cover with a lid,and simmer for 7-10 minutes. This took only 7 minutes for me. I threw in about a tablespoon of red pepper flakes with the water because I thought it might need a bit of spice and red pepper flakes are my secret ingredient for most vegetable dishes.

Buckwheat 007

And I serve this with grilled chicken thighs sprinkled generously with Soulard Grill spice mixture from the Soulard Market Spice shop in St. Louis. (So sis, if you are reading this, we’ll need more of this when we meet up in August. So will son-in-law. Just saying!). And with freshly cut honeydew melon.

The pilaf was good. I am glad that I added the red pepper flakes. Even so, it was not overly spiced. And by adding all those extra vegetables I have leftovers for workday lunches. One cup of uncooked buckwheat will make 4 cups cooked so I think 2-3 cups of vegetables can easily be added. But why coat with the egg? For the breakfast cereal instructions this is omitted. I suppose it is so that the groats stay separate and don’t mush together like a porridge.

This pilaf recipe is a bit fussy in the process of cooking but makes a lot so is worth it. Heating up the leftoers will be quick and easy!

“mom’s classic” meatloaf

I remember Mom making meatloaf when growing up but this is not her recipe. Over the years, as you know, I collected recipes from various newspapers and magazines. This one is from a 2004 edition of Woman’s Day.

I had saved this I am sure because it was a way to put a meal on the table in a short while. This article promised dinner in 20 minutes. That would appeal to the working parent and it apparently appealed to me.

I had just partitioned a large package of ground turkey into one pound packs. I had all the ingredients with a few substitutions. I don’t have real garlic cloves (I forgot to buy some) and I use the ground turkey instead of the ground beef or meatloaf mixture (beef, pork, and veal).  There were three choices: to basic ground beef and 2 eggs, the cook would add a liquid, some mix-ins, and serve or top with a sauce. This article even suggested the sides to round out the meal. I used one pound of ground meat and not the 1 1/4 pounds asked for in the recipe. And I did use ketchup even though I don’t usually cook with ketchup. I had to use garlic powder and my oats weren’t quick-cooking.

meatloaf 004So here goes: I gather everything. EVERYTHING. We know that Mise en Place is very important! Well, not as important in meatloaf as in baking, but, it’s the professional thing to do.

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • handful of fresh parsley
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 large green bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (this is my own dried thyme from last summer’s herb pot!)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup ketchup with 1 teaspoon Worcestershire plus 1 tablespoon water for the sauce*

Mix the ground meat with two eggs and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Chop the onion, parsley, and green pepper. I’m chopping and chopping and measuring and thinking to myself “this is meatloaf, why am I measuring?”

meatloaf 005
Mise en place, spices and all!

I mix 1/2 cup ketchup with 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and add that to the meat mixture. Then add the mix-ins. Shape into four mini-loaves on a prepared baking pan lined with foil. Oven has been pre-heated to 425 degrees F.

And then because bacon makes everything better, I add bacon!

These get baked for 20 minutes. I then spread the sauce* on the tops of the loaves and leave them in the hot oven for another five minutes. They smell wonderful and are ready just as Hubby comes home from work.

We had just had a huge baked potato the other day so I serve these with mixed vegetables. I am hoping for a meatloaf sandwich for lunch in the next day or two.

meatloaf 014

This meatloaf “batter” was very “wet”. I think I would use less ketchup as the “liquid”. Or perhaps the extra 1/4 pound meat would take care of that. The taste was mild which was what I was actually going for. That is most likely due to using turkey instead of beef. A barbecue sauce topping baked right on top would be a nice variation and give it a little bit more bite.

One of my favorite meals was meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and cooked carrots. My mother made meatloaf with stale bread crumbs. I remember the ends of bread sitting out on the kitchen counter drying up. No wasting of food for her! She didn’t put any ketchup or sauce on top either. Leftovers were great in a sandwich, bread spread with Miracle Whip. When I started to cook my own meals I read some recipes that used oatmeal in meatloaves instead of bread crumbs. I have used both over the years. I don’t think I have a preference. Do you?




Banana Muffins

I was reviewing the variety of foodstuffs I have blogged about and did not find any on muffins. I have a whole section in one of my recipe notebooks devoted to muffins. This is because I used to always have a batch  of muffins baked and ready to be grabbed for a quick bite to eat as family members started their day. When I was “dieting”, the recipes I would try would be low-fat, chock full of vegetables, made with applesauce, made with whole wheat flour, etc. But now that it is just Hubby and I in the mornings, I haven’t really made muffins on a regular basis. Shall I remedy that situation?

There are two cookbooks that I use for a basic muffin, my Betty Crocker Cookbook and Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. In Betty Crocker the muffin recipe is on page 199. Bittmans’ is almost the exact same recipe but giving suggestions for using melted butter or oil. The amounts of milk differ by 1/4 cup.

plain cooking 005

On this day I have two very ripe bananas that need to be used. I have never used frozen bananas in baking, just in smoothies. These bananas will need to be used or frozen. I decide to make muffins. I use the Bittman recipe, page 832, using the variation for Banana-Nut Muffins.

  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter or neutral oil (Oh my! As I am writing this it occurs to me that I left this out COMPLETELY!)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • scant 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 very ripe medium sized bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (I did not have regular milk in the house and did not want to open the new carton of half-and-half and did not think that chocolate cashew milk would be appropriate. But now that I think about it, hmmm?)

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. I whisk these around with a whisk. Mash bananas in another bowl. Add milk to equal 1 cup. My two bananas were just about a cup as they were. I added a bit of coconut milk at that time and then a little more to the batter because it looked so dry. See note above about the melted butter to know why!

To the dry ingredients I added 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, and 1/4 cup chocolate chips. I like stuff in my muffins! I put the egg in the wet ingredients and mixed that up. I then added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once and stirred until incorporated. This looked dry so I added a splash more of the coconut milk.

I sprayed the muffin pan with cooking spray. Preheated the oven to 375 F. Portioned the batter into the muffin pan. This made eleven, not twelve. Baked these for 20 minutes. They smelled nice and came out of the pan perfectly.

plain cooking 007

I  serve two for Hubby and me. They are light and fluffy even with whole wheat flour. And they look nice and taste good, too.

plain cooking 006

Conclusion: I think the banana acted as an adequate substitute/replacement for the fat in the original recipe.

Lesson to learn: Mise en Place

Plain cooking

plain cooking 003Ever have one of those days that you are tired at the end of a work day, motivation to “create” dinner is just not there, there’s another tragedy in the news, and the weather forecast is early spring turning back into winter? I did not want to sit down and brood over the local tragedy so I made myself fix dinner. We have been using up what groceries are in the house so the fridge is on the empty side. Luckily the last of the meat (chicken thighs) was thawed in the fridge. And there was one lemon and a bit of sad looking parsley. I was trying to keep fresh herbs in cups of water in the fridge but I am not successful at that yet. They just don’t stay looking fresh. What am I doing wrong?

I have made a lemon chicken recipe before: But this is slightly different and does not require marinading. I basically just layered chicken thighs, lemon slices, and garlic cloves in a baking pan. Squirted it all over with the lemon juice, sprinkled on some of the chopped sad looking parsley for a bit of color, and baked for 35 minutes at 350 F. I chopped up the last romaine heart, salvaged one carrot from a batch that were trying to sprout, and the remainder of the celery for a side salad. Now the fridge feels good and truly empty! But there is dinner…

The next day was a grocery shopping day. I was trying to think about what we needed only for the week otherwise I over buy. This is one reason I go to the discount grocery stores. More food for less money! But so much food can inhibit my creativity as well. There can be too much to choose from. This is often when I revert back to basic “non creative” cooking and baking such as throwing a roast in a pot, opening cans to make turkey chili, pre-breaded fish fillets, spaghetti and then leftover spaghetti, and sometimes scrambled eggs for dinner.

But now there is food in the house so we will see what this week brings!