Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sugar-Free Cookies

UPDATE: This is now the day after I made these cookies, and I'm going to be throwing them out. They've sat in a covered storage container overnight, and now you can't taste the chocolate-butterscotch flavor any more. All you can taste is the baking mix, with almost a burning sensation on my tongue that must be the baking powder.

Do not make these cookies.


I came across a recipe for sugar-free pudding cookies on recipezaar, and thought I'd give it a try. The original recipe said to try my choice of pudding flavors, and it called for Bisquick. I tried chocolate and butterscotch together, and used Trader Joe's Multigrain Baking Mix.

I'm not EVEN going to show a picture of these, because I failed to follow the directions. But DH and I have tasted them and believe they're definitely edible. If you decide to make these, remember the part about criss-crossing with a fork. I made the little balls, and then cooked them like that.

Chocolate-Butterscotch Cookies
Sugar Free

1 (3 ounce) package sugar-free chocolate pudding mix
1 (3 ounce) package sugar-free butterscotch pudding mix
2 c Trader Joe's Multigrain Baking Mix
1/2 c canola oil
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350˚. Mix pudding and baking mix. Add oil and beaten eggs. Shape in balls with hands (mixture is crumbly) and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Criss cross with a fork. Bake 8 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Donna Hay, I like this chicken!

Back in Janaury, I wrote this post, where I first learned about Australia's Donna Hay. Tonight I decided to make one of her chicken recipes, and chose a very simple one that I could throw together quickly and cook in the oven.

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken
Donna Hay

finely grated Parmesan cheese
ground black pepper
boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 per person)
egg whites or beaten egg

Preheat oven to 390˚. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Dip the chicken breasts into the egg whites, then toss in the combined Parmesan and pepper to coat. Place in the baking tray and cook for 15 minutes or until the chicken is golden and cooked through.

Since I have re-dedicated myself to cooking as low carb as possible (though sometimes you just gotta have some potaotes!) I made roasted broccoli and stuffed tomatoes. The first time I'd ever thought about roasting broccoli was when Kalyn posted her recipe for Garlic Roasted Broccoli. I've always wanted to give it a try, but had to wait for cooler weather since I didn't want to use the oven during the summer. I chose not to use the garlic this time, though I will the next time I make this. While the recipe below says the oven should be at 400˚, I used the same temperature (390˚) this time that I used for the chicken.

Roasted Broccoli

1 large crown of broccoli
2 T olive oil
1 t salt

Preheat oven to 400˚. Trim broccoli and break into florets. Toss with olive oil and salt, and spread on a baking sheet. Roast 15-20 minutes. Serves 2.

The other side dish this evening was stuffed tomatoes. I always keep some cooked brown rice in the freezer, and pulled out a small chunk (about 1/3 cup) for this recipe. I also used frozen spinach.

Stuffed Tomatoes

4 medium tomatoes
1/3 c cooked brown rice
1/3 c frozen spinach, thawed
1/4 t chopped garlice
2 T grated Parmesan
1 egg
more Parmesan to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 400˚. Cut tops off tomatoes. Using a spoon, scoop out the insides and discard. Sprinkle lightly with salt and turn upside down on a paper towel to drain for about 10 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients, and fill tomatoes. Top with a little more Parmesan. Bake 15-20 minutes.

So, you can see that the cooking time for tonight's dinner was 15-20 minutes - in my oven, it was all ready at 18. Later, I'll make a couple more of yesterday's Chocolate Lava Muffins for dessert!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Who'd have thought you could have low-carb lava cake?

I've avoided rich, decadent desserts because I know they're "evil" for a borderline diabetic, but I've adapted my original recipe for Chocolate Lava Muffins to make it low carb!!!!

Part of eating low carb is portion control, so instead of making lava cake in ramekins or mini-bundt pans like the restaurants do, I make this one in regular-sized muffin tins.

Low Carb Chocolate Lava Muffins

2 4-oz. bars Ghirardelli bittersweet baking chocolate
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 c Splenda granular
3 T flour
1/4 t salt
4 eggs

Place a medium metal bowl in a saucepan of simmering water. Melt chocolate and butter in the bowl. Stir in the vanilla. In another bowl, combine the sugar, flour and salt. Sift these into the chocolate mixture and mix with an electric hand mixer. Add one egg at a time, fully incorporating each egg before adding the next. Beat on high until the batter is creamy and lightens in color. (approximately 4 minutes) Chill mixture.
Preheat oven to 375˚. Coat muffin tin with butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon mixture into the muffin tin using approx. 1/4 cup for each muffin. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Outside should be cake-like and centers should be gooey. Let cool some before serving. Makes 12.

We ate ours with sugar-free Cool Whip. Yum!

Dinner with a Southwestern Flair

I've had this recipe in my notebook for many years, but it looked too complicated to make. But then I looked closer at it the other day, and realized that it's really pretty easy. I started it Thursday, by soaking the chilies, and then blending them in the blender and putting the mixture in with the meat. Then on Friday, all I had to do was pour it all in a baking dish, cover it and cook. The smell of the cooking meat was divine, and there was nothing else to do but make the Spanish rice and heat the tortillas. I'm putting the original recipe below, though I actually halved it for DH and me. There were plenty of leftovers for lunch.

For great information about dried chiles, go to Cook's Thesaurus: Dried Chiles.

Carne Adovado

7 - 8 whole dried red chile pods, seeded and deveined
2 cloves garlic
2 t dried cilantro
1 t salt
2 pounds boneless pork butt, sirloin, or shoulder, sliced thin
Choose the dried chiles for your dish. They range in "heat" from mild to very hot…so ask your merchant to point the way. I use a mixture of California (Anaheim) and New Mexico red chilies so that I have a little mild and a little medium mixed together.
Prepare the chiles by slitting or cracking them open and removing the seeds and veins. The seeds and veins are what make the chiles hot, so you should clean the peppers according to how hot you wish them to be. Place the chile skins in a bowl and add enough hot tap water to cover. Allow them to sit for 1 hour and then drain, reserving the liquid. Place the pepper skin in a blender and add enough of the water to bring the total amount in your machine to one pint. Add the garlic, oregano, and salt. Blend until thick and smooth.

Place the sliced pork in a large zip-top plastic bag and pour in the chile sauce. Mix the meat and marinade and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook, heat oven to 350F. Place meat and marinade in a covered casserole and bake for one hour. You may wish to drain some of the "juice" after 35-40 minutes. The longer you cook it, the softer the meat gets - so even two hours will work, too.

Serve with flour or corn tortillas, along with your choice of accompaniments, such as grated cheddar or jack cheese, sour cream, diced onion, salsa, avocado, and chopped fresh cilantro.
Spanish rice goes well with this dish.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Trying Some New Recipes

I had some bananas that needed to be used, but wasn't in the mood for plain old banana bread. So I went through my recipes, changed one a little, and came up with a really tasty treat. It has a bit too many carbs and too much butter to make it something I can eat a lot of, so DH is helping - a lot.

Banana Cinnamon Bread
makes 2 loaves

1 c butter
1/2 c Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
1 t vanilla extract
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 c mashed ripe bananas (about 4 large bananas)
1/4 c honey
4 large eggs
3 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c 9-grain cereal
1/2 c oat or wheat bran
1/4 c ground flaxseed
1 c cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Add the bananas, honey, and eggs, beating until smooth. Add the flour, cereal, bran and flaxseed, then the chips, stirring until smooth. Spoon the batter into two lightly greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pans, smoothing the top. Let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Bake the bread for 50 minutes, then gently lay a piece of aluminum foil across the top, to prevent over-browning. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the oven; a long toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean. Allow the loaf to cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan, and cooling it completely on a rack.

I've made the same kind of meat loaf for about 20 years, and after Cooking Light did a feature on various meat loaves, I thought I'd try some of them. This one is definitely a keeper! (DH says he'll reserve judgement until he eats it cold in a sandwich tomorrow, though he did gobble up two large servings tonight).

Iberian Meat Loaf
adapted from Cooking Light

3/4 lb. lean ground beef
3/4 lb. groun turkey
1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce, divided
1 c chopped onion
1/2 c dry bread crumbs
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley
1/3 c sliced pitted green olives cooking spray
1 1/2 t paprika
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t ground coriander
1/4 t ground black pepper
2 large egg whites or 1 large egg
1 garlic clove, minced

Preheat oven to 350˚. Combine meat, 1/2 cup tomato sauce, and remaining ingredients (except cooking spray) in a large bowl. Shape mixture into a 9 x 5-inch loaf on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Spread remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce evenly over top of meat loaf. Bake for 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes.

I served this with Curried Orange Rice so that the sweetness of the raisins offset the savory flavors of the meat loaf.

Friday, September 15, 2006

If You're a Vegetarian, You Might Like This (Even if You're Not, Too!)

When I went to Costco today, I sampled a new (for me) item - dried Shitake mushrooms. They sell them in HUGE bags, and all it takes to use them like fresh mushrooms is to cover with a little boiling water for 15 minutes. I already had an 8-ounce package of fresh button mushrooms, and decided to make a mushroom pie. I had only one crust (I buy the ready-made ones), so I turned my recipe from a pie into a rustic tart. With a green salad, this made a great dinner.

Mushroom Pie

3 T butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 lbs. mushrooms, sliced
dash pepper
1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 T lemon juice
8 oz. Swiss cheese, grated
2 unbaked pie crusts
1/2 t salt
1 egg yolk
1 T water

Saute onion in butter until golden, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms. Saute until juice has cooked out. Drain. Mix with salt, pepper, Worcestershire, lemon juice, and cheese. Pour into pie crust; top with other pie crust. Trim edges; brush with egg yolk and water mixed together. Bake at 375F for 40 minutes. 6 servings.

When I made the rustic tart pictured above, I reduced everything to 2/3: 2 T butter, 1 lb. mushrooms, etc. I then rolled the crust out with a rolling pin as large as I could make it, piled the mushroom-onion mixture in the middle, and pulled the edges up around the filling. I baked it for only 35 minutes. 4 servings

Earlier in the day, I wanted to use some "Just Apples" that had been sitting in my cupboard for a long time, and found a good recipe on the company's website. I adjusted it the way I alter a lot of my quick bread recipes, substituting some whole wheat flour for white, unsweetened applesauce for the melted butter, and some Splenda for the sugar, and added walnuts. These came out fine. They were a bit dense, due to the whole wheat flour, but that just meant it took only two to be satisfying instead of three or four.

Apple Nut Muffins

Streusel Topping
1/2 c whole wheat flour
3 T brown sugar
2 T butter, room temperature
1/4 t cinnamon

3/4 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c Splenda granular
2 t baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
2 large eggs
1 c sour cream or plain yogurt
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1 c JUST APPLES, coarsely chopped
1/2 c chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 375˚. Grease muffin cups or use paper muffin cups. Mix streusel ingredients in mini-chopper until crumbly; set aside. For batter, mix flour, Splenda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and soda in large bowl. Break eggs in separate bowl. Add sour cream and applesauce, and whisk until well blended. Stir in chopped Just Apples and nuts. Pour egg mixture over flour mixture and fold in just until dry ingredients are moistened. Scoop batter into muffin cups. Top each muffin with about 2 teaspoons of streusel mixture. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned. Remove from pan and cool. Makes 18 regular muffins.

Something a Little Different

Sometimes I wish my food photographed better. But I do the best I can. This dish is really a lot better tasting than it looks. Cinnamon Chicken is a recipe I got about 25 years ago, and used to make with bone-in thighs. Nowadays I buy only boneless thighs, so this recipe cooks up much faster. It's good with rice or couscous, though last night we just had it with some peas and a salad. And I forgot the almonds!

Cinnamon Chicken

6 chicken thighs (I used boneless thighs)
1/4 t cinnamon
dash ground cloves
1 1/2 T oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 med. onion, chopped
3/4 c orange juice
2 T raisins
1 T drained capers
1/2 c slivered almonds

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, then with cinnamon and cloves. Heat oil in a large skillet; cook chicken slowly. Add garlic and onion to chicken and continue cooking until chicken is a good golden brown all over. Add orange juice, raisins, and capers; cover. Cook over medium heat until chicken is tender, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with almonds.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Borrowed Fish Recipe

My list of recipes to try included Pine Nut-Crusted Flounder with Balsamic Orange Reduction Sauce from Sweetnicks. All of the ingredients are ones I like, so I decided to give it a try. Cate’s original recipe is here. I changed it a bit because I didn’t want to use my oven.

Pine Nut-Crusted Fish with Orange-Balsamic Sauce
adapted from Sweetnicks

1/4 c freshly grated Parmigianno-Reggiano cheese
1/3 c pine nuts, toasted and very finely chopped
1 t dried Italian seasoning
1/4 t salt
1/3 c flour
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 c mik
4 fish fillets (I used barracuda)
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c orange juice
1 t honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 T olive oil
2 T butter

Combine the cheese, pine nts, Italian seasoning, and salt in a shallow bowl. Put the flour in a secon bowl, and then combine the egg and milk in a third bowl. Dip both sides of the fish in the flour, sahking off the excess. Dip the fish in the egg-milk mixture, then dredge in the cheese-pine nut mixture. Combine balsamic vinegar, orange juice, honey, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl; set aside. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the fish in the skillet until browned on both sides and fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove to a plate and keep warm. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Add vinegar-orange juice mixture to hot skillet; cook about 1 minute. Serve sauce over fish.

Taco Salad - the way they do it in Texas

Another one of DH's favorite meals is taco salad. We've had it at all kinds of restaurants, done all kinds of ways, but the way I make it at home is the way my mother taught me. I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but she's a Texas cook–and I've found recipes just like hers in many Texas cookbooks. This taco salad is one that you can find at parties, brunches, church suppers, and other kinds of gatherings. While there are a few variations, which I'll mention below, this is the basic recipe.

Taco Salad Texas Style

3/4 to 1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cut in bite-sized pieces or shredded coarsely
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1 15-oz. kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups tortilla chips, slightly crushed (not fine)
1 cup Kraft Catalina dressing

Crumble and brown the ground beef; let cool slightly. Combine with remaining ingredients. Serves 4.

Additional add-ins: diced canned/jarred jalapeños, sliced or chopped black olives
diced avocado

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

German Food Night

There wasn't much cooking from scratch tonight. Just the schnitzel, and even then it wasn't "true" scratch, since I used ready-made corn flake crumbs and panko bread crumbs. (I use corn flake crumbs and panko bread crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs because I like a good, crunchy coating.)

I started with a salad made from a head of leaf lettuce and a package of salatfix. I add my own personal touch, which is a couple of tablespoons of cream or sour cream in the dressing.

For the curry schnitzel, I started with a package of curry sauce mix,
but instead of water, I used a 6-oz. can of pineapple juice, and then stirred in a little bit of milk for a creamy sweet curry sauce.

To top it all all off, I opened a cold bottle of spatlese, a very sweet German wine. I'm not a wine specialist; I don't like any red wines that I know of, and the only white ones I like have to be sweet. Spatlese and auslese are my favorites.

I guess I need to point out that there's a German market around the corner from my office. Lucky me!

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Day of Adaptations and Good Eating

One of the things I like to do is experiment with old, established recipes (and new ones, too) and try to make them healthier. Sometimes I try a baked goods recipe with whole wheat flour, or I’ll substitute Splenda or Splenda Brown Sugar Blend for granulated and brown sugar.

First up today was breakfast, and I worked on my recipe for pfannenkuchen , also known as crepes. Instead of white all-purpose flour, I used half white whole wheat and half regular whole wheat. I used Splenda instead of sugar, and then sprayed the pan with butter-flavored Pure (a cooking spray by Mazola) instead of using a teaspoon of butter for each crepe.

Whole Wheat Pfannenkuchen
this recipe makes about 20 crepes, so you might want to cut it in half

4 eggs
1/4 t salt
2 T Splenda granular
1 c whole wheat flour (I used Stone-Buhr, a brand found in the western US)
2 1/2 c white whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur)
1 t vanilla
4 1/4 c milk

Beat eggs well. Add salt, Splenda, and vinegar. Add flour and half of the milk, stirring until smooth. Gradually stir in the rest of the milk to make a creamy batter. Heat a large nonstick skillet until drops of water dance on it. Spray with butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray. Add about 1/3 cup of the batter. With a quick rotary motion, tip skillet to spread batter thinly. Brown only lightly on each side. To serve, roll up with your choice of jams.


Since it was a holiday, I was able to get a little time in on the computer for fun, so I visited There’s a great discussion going on right now about grilled cheese sandwiches, which helped me come up with a use for the leftover pita bread in my freezer.

Grilled Ham, Swiss, and Apple Pita Sandwiches

3 rounds whole-wheat pita bread, cut in half
6 slices Swiss cheese
3 large slices Black Forest ham, cut in half
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray

Fill each pita half pocket with one slice of Swiss cheese, half a slice of ham, and several apple slices. Spray each side with nonstick cooking spray and grill until lightly browned on each side and cheese begins to melt. Makes 6.

Next up was a pie. I’ve had some Pillsbury pie crusts in my freezer for a while, and decided to use one of them for a coconut cream pie. I haven’t made pie in a while since it’s been such a pain to use foil on the crusts to keep them from burning. Yesterday I bought a pie crust shield at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and it’s the answer to the problem. It just slips onto the pie crust and protects the edges while the pie bakes, keeping the edges from burning.

I got this recipe in 1976 from a woman named Susan White, who lives in Knox City, Texas. I was visiting a guy I was dating, who was trying his hand at pig farming. He, his friend Bayless, and the Whites all lived in a former hotel, and Susan had the run of a pretty good-sized kitchen. One of my most distinct memories of this visit was eating fresh, and I mean fresh, sausage from a sow that I’d seen a few days before. But the pie was fabulous, and I’ve had that recipe for 30 years. It’s one of DH’s favorites. Most coconut cream pie recipes I’ve seen lately use coconut milk. This one doesn’t, and is much like my mother’s pies, made from a custard that’s started from scratch.

Coconut Cream Pie
from Susan White, of Knox City, Texas

3/4 c sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/4 t salt
2 c milk
3 eggs, separated
2 T butter
1 t vanilla
1 1/3 c shredded sweetened coconut
1 9-inch pie crust, baked and cooled

In saucepan combine sugar, flour, and salt. Mix well. Gradually stir in milk. Cook, stirring often, over medium heat until bubbly. Cook and stir for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Separate eggs, putting yolks in a small bowl and the whites in a small mixing bowl. Take small amount of this mixture and stir into bowl with egg yolks; mix well. Immediately return to hot mixture, cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. (If mixture is too lumpy or egg yolks have separated, beat with rotary or electric mixer.) Add butter and vanilla, then coconut. Pour into cooled pie crust. Spread meringue on top. Cook at 350˚ for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool. Can sprinkle a little coconut on top of meringue before cooking.


The fish I cooked for dinner is an adaptation of a Cooking Light recipe, which originally called for habañero chilies. Have you ever eaten habañero? It’s way too hot for me, so I substituted jalapeños. I don’t even remember what kind of fish was in the original recipe–I used another package of the barracuda that DH brought home from when he went ocean fishing. This is a fabulous recipe! The jalapeño was just hot enough–I can imagine that if I'd used habañero it would have been too hot.

Grilled Fish with Jalapeño-Lime Butter
adapted from Cooking Light

1/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c orange juice
3 T lime juice
1 T tequila
1 T grated lime zest
1 T minced jalapeño pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
4 5-oz. fish fillets
1/4 c butter, softened
14 t garlic salt
2 t minced fresh jalapeño
2 t grated lime zest

In a bowl, stir together vegetable oil, orange juice, 3 tablespoons lime juice, tequila, 1 tablespoon lime zest, 1 tablespoon jalapeño pepper, and garlic. Reserve a small amount to use as a basting sauce, and pour the remainder into a shallow baking dish. Place the fish in the dish, and turn to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, turning frequently. In a small bowl, mix together softened butter, garlic salt, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 2 teaspoons jalapeño pepper, and 2 teaspoons lime zest. Cover, and refrigerate.

Preheat grill for medium heat. Lightly oil grill grate, and place fish on the grill. Cook fish for 5 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish can be easily flaked with a fork. Baste occasionally with reserved sauce. Transfer to a serving dish, top with jalapeño butter, and serve.


Another Cooking Light recipe was used for tonight’s side dish. I didn’t have any Yukon gold potatoes, though, so I used white potatoes. I also cut the recipe in half, since DH and I didn’t need a full recipe. Too bad I can't have a lot of potatoes–this was so good I could have made a full recipe and eaten ALL of it!

Asiago, Potato, and Bacon Gratin
from Cooking Light

1 1/2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes,cut into 1/4" slices
1 t salt, divided
2 T shallots
1/4 c flour
2 c low-fat milk, divided
3/4 c grated Asiago cheese
1/4 c chopped fresh chives
1/4 t ground black pepper
4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender. Drain. Sprinkle potatoes evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside and keep warm. Heat a medium saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add shallots; cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Sprinkle flour over shallots. Gradually add 1/2 cup milk, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Gradually add remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook over medium heat 9 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt, Asiago, chives, pepper, and bacon.
Arrange half of potato slices in an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pour half of cheese sauce over potato slices. Top with remaining potato slices and cheese sauce; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Five Things to Eat Before You Die

I was recently tagged by cookiecrumb of I’m Mad and I Eat and Christine of Christine Cooks for a fabulously fun meme - “Five Things to Eat Before You Die.” Melissa of The Traveler’s Lunchbox started it, asking food bloggers to recommend "things you've eaten and think that everyone should eat at least once before they die." What fun. Cookiecrumb took the angle of listing things to put on a “to do” list, including truffles, squirrel, tripe, and jellyfish tentacles. Christine made her list one of foods that she had eaten, and felt that others should put on their “must do” lists. I think I’ll try the second version. I mean, if I haven’t eaten it yet, there’s got to be some pretty good reasons why! I mean, I have NEVER had sushi of any kind, and have no interest whatsoever in eating it. Don’t even try to convince me. It just won’t happen.

My recommendations:

1. Chocolate Lava Cake, like the kind served at McCormick and Schmick’s in Irvine, California (and other locations) If you’re a chocolate lover, this has got to be the best dessert in the world. It’s cake, but it’s molten fudge. It’s just sinful. And I get to have one next weekend! (My executive board is having its retreat in Irvine, and our Saturday night meal will be at McCormick and Schmick’s.)

2. Rahmschnitzel, especially that made by the cook at Le Coq D’Or in Carmel, California. When I go to the California Teachers Association Presidents’ Conference in Monterey every summer, I make sure to go to Le Coq D’Or for the rahmschnitzel. I can make my own schnitzel here at home, and I’ve made jagerschnitzel (brown sauce with mushrooms), zigeuner schnitzel, and sometimes even rahmschnitzel. But nothing compares to the rahmschnitzel at Le Coq D’Or. I think it’s the Madeira wine she uses; or maybe the meat; but I literally swoon when I eat it.

3. My mother’s Burnt Sugar Cake. How do I describe it? It’s a Floyd family heirloom, passed down from my grandmother Alma Adams Morlan. For both the cake and the frosting, you start by caramelizing some sugar. The frosting hardens almost to the consistency of fudge, and all of us (my 5 brothers and sisters and I) eat the cake first, leaving the “m” shaped frosting for last. It’s mandatory for Mom to make this cake for any and all family functions. We’ve scattered to the corners of the continent, and seldom make it ourselves, since we will never be able to make it like Mom does.

4. Raclette. Another food I swoon over, especially when it’s made with bananas, potatoes, bacon, and mushrooms. Raclette is a kind of cheese found in Switzerland and France. It has a strong, almost odorous, scent to it when it’s uncooked, but once it’s heated and melted, the scent goes away and you’re left with a delicious flavor. I first had raclette at our neighbor’s house (Egon and Christina) in Waldorf, Germany. Christina had a raclette grill–like this one:

She laid out sliced boiled potatoes, sliced bananas, mushrooms, cooked bacon, and small gherkins, and we gathered what we wanted and covered it with slices of raclette. We then put our own personal pan into the grill, where the cheese then melted all over the rest of the food. The combination of flavors is addicting, and I ate until I was almost sick. The next time I had it was at a small cafe in Zermatt, Switzerland, where it was served the traditional way : the wedge of raclettepis warmed next to a heat source such as a fire, and then the melted cheese is scrated off onto the food on the plate. When we returned to the states, I did without raclette until I came across it at Trader Joe’s. I also found it at Whole Foods, so it’s not a distant memory any more. DH doesn’t care for it often, but I sometimes make enough of the potatoes to be able to take some to the office now and then and eat it for lunch, after cooking it in the toaster oven.

5. Calves Liver with Pancetta and Onions from James’Beach in Venice, California. I grew up eating calves liver, but Mom always cooked it with sautéed onions. It wasn’t until I was married that I had it with bacon. At James’ Beach, they serve it with both, but they use rounds of sliced pancetta instead of bacon. Yes, this is a high-calorie dish, but so is lava cake!

So there you have it. I could think of more, but these are the ones that my taste buds and my memory claim as my top five.
We're supposed to tag 5 more bloggers for this, so I found 5 that I don't think have posted about this yet.

Ulrike of Kuchenlatein in Kronshagen, Germany
Nerissa of Deetsa’s Dining Room in Waglisa, British Columbia
Pat of Up a Creek Without a PatL in New England
Pamela of Posie’s Place in Basel, Switzerland
Anthony of Anthony's Kitchen in Mumbai, India

It's Good to Be Back Among the Cooking

After Thursday’s long day, though, we enjoyed dinner at El Mexicano, our town’s only restaurant. It’s the antithesis of the chain restaurants like El Torito, and most of the dishes are “authentic” Mexican. Others aren’t really authentic, like fajitas, but they taste better than the fajitas I’ve had anywhere else. My favorite meal is the fajitas camaron, or shrimp fajitas, made with lots of onions, peppers, and tomatoes. I get it every time I’m there, since DH is allergic to shellfish and I don’t make them at home. DH tries different things each time, such as the combo # 1 with a shredded chicken taco, a bean tostada, and a cheese enchilada, or the gordita–a thick corn tortilla topped with meat, beans, and everything else in the world. Thursday he got the torta, which is really a steak sandwich, and the meat was pretty tender.

Last night we ate at home, but I didn’t really cook. DH grilled some bratwurst, and I make tomatensalat, or tomato salad. It’s really quite easy and quick to put together.

Tomatensalat (Tomato Salad)

3 T olive oil
2 t “brown and spicy” mustard
2 T cider or red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
3 medium tomatoes, halved and sliced (this is also good with halved cherry tomatoes)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and stir to mix. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Serves 2


Ice Cream Rant

We went to the commissary today at March Air Base. While I love going there since I save about 35% off the prices at the supermarkets, they didn’t have any quality ice cream there. All they had were that new “slow churned” crap. Even the no-sugar-added was “slow churned.” “Slow churned” means that they’ve added even more air, so they can use less milk and cream. REAL ice cream melts into a liquid with the consistency of milk or cream. This new “slow churned” crap melts, if you could call it that, into a mess with the consistency of whipped cream. It doesn’t even lose the air. The advertising idiots think that if they call it “creamy” we’ll think it’s better. It’s not. Don’t buy it. Either spend more money and get the quality stuff (Häagen Dazs, for example), or make your own. I decided to make my own this afternoon, since I could fiddle with the recipe and reduce the sugar. What I ended up with today was outstanding. I started with the Coffee Ice Cream recipe that came with my ice cream maker, followed their suggestion of substituting a little cocoa for some of the espresso, and used part Splenda. This is sooooo good!

Mocha Ice Cream
low sugar

3 c half-and-half, divided
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c Splenda granular
1 T powdered cocoa
2 T espresso powder
1 t vanilla

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the half-and-half with the sugar, Splenda, cocoa, and espresso until sugars and powders are dissolved. Add vanilla and the remaining half-and-half. Turn ice cream machine on and pour into freezer container. Freeze 25-30 minutes and transfer to a freezer-safe container. Put in freezer for another couple of hours to ripen.


Lunch was a variation of a bagel sandwich I had at a shop near Cal State, San Bernardino. Theirs used sliced avocado, but I didn’t have any. This one used some jalapeño bagels I had in the freezer from Bruegger’s Bagels.

Jalapeño Bagel

2 jalapeño bagels, sliced in half horizontally
2 T cream cheese, divided
1 tomato, halved and sliced
1/4 c shredded cheddar or jack cheese, divided
canned jalapeño slices to taste (don’t use fresh–they’re too hot!)

Spread bagel halves with cream cheese. Top with tomato slices, cheese, and then jalapeño slices. Bake at 350˚ 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serves 2.


A few months ago, Joe of Culinary in the Desert, now known as Culinary in the Country, made some tempting Cinnamon Bread. I just had to try it, since I had some cinnamon chips in my cabinet waiting for a great recipe. The only change I made to Joe’s recipe was that I used half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. My husband devoured this loaf, leaving me to fight him for the two slices that I enjoyed. He said it tasted like his favorite cinnamon rolls. So I definitely have to stock up on more cinnamon chips and make a lot more of this recipe!

This is Joe’s original recipe:

Cinnamon Bread
from Joe of Culinary in the Country

3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup cinnamon chips
2 tablespoons sugar
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon, can use more or less to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, yeast, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, butter and egg. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, beating until smooth. Cover and let the batter rest at room temperature for 1 hour, then stir in the baking powder and cinnamon chips with a wooden spoon.
Preheat oven to 350˚. Scoop the batter into a greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. In a small bowl, mix the rest of the cinnamon and sugar. Sprinkle the top of the batter with cinnamon sugar. Bake the bread for 35 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the bread from the oven, let it rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then tranfer it from the pan to a rack to cool completely. This bread slices better when you wait for it to cool down some.


While the east coast is getting tons of rain from Hurricane Ernesto, we’re having another heat wave. When it gets warm up here, I don’t want to heat the kitchen up, plus cool food is refreshing. So, tonight’s dinner was a cold couscous-chicken salad, plus a spinach-apple salad. I’d never made the couscous salad before, but the spinach-apple salad is one I used to make often when our son was living with us.

Lemon Couscous Chicken Salad

1 1/4 c water
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 c edamame, thawed
1 pkg. Near East Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil Couscous
1 1/2 c chopped cooked chicken (2 small half-breasts)
juice of 1 lemon (2 T)
1/2 t lemon peel
1 T dried parsley

In a large skillet, bring the water, oil, edamame, and contents of the spice pack from the couscous mix to a boil. Stir in the couscous, chicken, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Add parsley and fluff lightly with a fork. Chill well and serve cold. 4 servings

Spinach-Apple Salad

3 T vegetable oil
3 T raspberry or red wine vinegar
2 T honey
dash salt & pepper
about 3 cups fresh spinach (about half of a bag)
1 crisp apple (Fuji, Gala, etc.), unpeeled, cored, and sliced
2 T sliced almonds, toasted

Combine first 5 ingredients in a jar; cover tightly, and shake vigorously. Chill thoroughly. Remove stems from spinach; wash leaves thoroughly, and pat dry. Tear into bite-sized pieces. Toss spinach in enough dressing to coat, reserving remaining dressing. Place spinach on serving platter. Core and slice apples. Toss in reserved dressing, and arrange on spinach. Sprinkle with almonds. Makes 3-4 servings.