Monday, December 21, 2015


It ain't fancy, it ain't show off food, it won't demonstrate your great talent in the kitchen ... but meatloaf, if done well, is very satisfying, budget friendly, and easy to make more to feed a crowd.    AND, at my house, the kids will eat it without complaint, threats or bribes!

Meatloaf is pretty flexible, so if you have a bit of spaghetti sauce, a grilled zucchini or a sauteed onion leftover, you can dice it small and throw it in ... but outside of that, my approximate recipe, per pie plate (though I always make at least two at a time):

Mix together:
- 1 C ketchup
- 1 packet onion soup mix (I use Wegmans store brand to avoid the MSG in the big name brand)
- a couple  tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- mushrooms - either a few diced button mushrooms, leftover sauteed mushrooms, a diced large portabella, or rehydrated dried mushrooms
- 1 egg
- good dash of salt

then add a cup of rolled oats (haha - whole grain meatloaf)

When that is all mixed, add:

~ 1.25-1.5 pounds of 80/20 ground beef

Mix it all in (hands are easiest for this), then form loosely into a lump in a 9" pie plate.    I then drizzle liberally with ketchup on the top.       Bake until 160 on meat thermometer - bake at 325 if you want it to cook slowly while you step out, or as high as 375 if you want it faster and with a bit more carmelized crunch on the outside.     In a hurry?   Cook it in a long narrow shape on a sheetpan or in muffin tins instead.   

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Pecan Bars

Preheat oven to 375.     Take your biggest ROASTING PAN (yes, you read that right) and line with parchment paper.    

For crust:

1.25 pounds butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar

3 eggs
1 T good vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
dash of salt

when that is well combined, add 4.5 cups of flour.    

Press into the roasting pan (put some flours on your fingers, but it'll be a mess anyway) - bake for 17 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a pan combine:

1 pound butter
3 cups dark brown sugar
teaspoon of orange zest
dash of salt

in a single cup measuring cup:  bit of molasses, bit of orange juice, remainder corn syrup   (which I was subbing for honey)

melt over medium heat, then boil for three minutes.

Remove from heat, and stir in:

1/4 cup heavy cream
1 T vanilla
1 1/2 pounds chopped pecans
1/2 pound pecan halves

Pour over crust, return to oven for 30 minutes.   

Monday, December 7, 2015

GG's apples

Scalloped apples

4 apples, sliced

Mix Together:
1/3 stick margarine/butter
½ C sugar
2T flour
½ tsp salt

Layer apples in baking dish.  Put mixture on top.  Bake at 350 45 minutes.  Cover half the time.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Homemade Caramels

Do you have a few extra hours today?     Want to spend them by the stove making as many calories as humanly possible in one pot?  And you have a candy thermometer at the ready?   Do you have real cream, butter and good vanilla?    Have I got the recipe for you! 

 I decided to try my hand at homemade caramels, so I read about 3 dozen recipes, decided I didn't want "microwave in seven minutes" or "open a can of sweetened condensed milk"  I wanted a recipe that belonged in my circa 1908 house ...      So I settled on this one: with a few modifications:

In a large pot (I used a seven qt dutch oven), combine:

1 qt (4 cups) heavy cream
3 cups white sugar
3 cups brown sugar
1 pint (2 cups) corn syrup
1 pound (4 sticks) butter, sliced into pieces
1 Tbs kosher salt

Mix them all in the pot, then move to stove on medium-low heat.    Once the ingredients are all melted (I'm looking at you butter chunks), you begin the very slow ascent to 248F on your thermometer.     You don't have to stir quite constantly, but much like when you're stirring risotto, you can't leave the room for five minutes.    It's not a bad project while socializing with a visitor at your kitchen counter ...

One of the things you can do while you get ready is VERY lightly butter a 13 x 9 pan.     I also readied a couple of mini pans.    Maybe thinly slice an apple, for sampling any "drips" ;)  

KEEP THE HEAT LOW - barely bubbling.    Your patience will be rewarded.     It took me about 2.25 hours to bring the temperature SLOWLY up to 248F.     Did I mention low heat and going slowly?

Once you reach 248 take the pot off the heat and stir in 3 Tablespoons of GOOD quality vanilla

Pour the hot caramel into the prepared pan(s).    The scrapings from the bottom of the pot go onto a plate for cook's treat.    Allow the caramels to cool for 20-30 minutes, then sprinkle with kosher salt flakes if desired.   Leave undisturbed for at least a few hours and preferably overnight.

Cut caramels into bite size pieces - small bites if you're going to serve directly on a tray, larger bites to wrap individually:

Caramels cut and wrapped in squares of parchment paper:

TINY cuts of caramel on a tray with Turkish figs, petite basque, Chianti salami, along with roasted baby brussel sprouts and pistachios: 

Try the caramel in your mouth with a nutty cheese!   (Dubliner, Petite Basque, Parrano ...)


Monday, October 26, 2015

Better hot cocoa mix

In food processor:

break up about 6 oz of dark chocolate   (I had about 2 oz of a year-past-expiration 88% bar and a whole new bar of 85% German chocolate)
1/2 C sugar

pulse until small bits


1 C cocoa powder (I use natural process)
1 C powdered sugar
2 T corn starch

pulse again until it looks like hot chocolate mix ... store in a jar. 

To use, put 2-3 T per cup of milk, heat while stirring frequently.     Serve with marshmallows or whipped cream.     This is a DARK chocolate cocoa ... "too chocolaty" to my dark chocolate loving five year ... so use less powder or cut with milk for the kids. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures: alternate hot fudge recipe

When in the course of human events you find yourself with sleeping children, husband away on business, and in desperate need of hot fudge sauce, with nary a jar of it or cream to be found ....

heat in a saucepan: 
1 can coconut cream (Trader Joe's rich version of coconut milk)

when hot, add: 
1 bag chocolate chips or chocolate chunks 
1 13 month expired dark chocolate bar from the back of the chocolate stashed, broken up

stir, then add a dash of vanilla.  

Serve over ice cream or sliced bananas.  

This sauce is unintentionally gluten free, could be dairy free depending on the chocolate used, etc ...

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sweet and slightly spicy Peach Pepper Sauce - over grits.

saute in a couple tablespoons of ghee one chopped sweet onion, then add two chopped green peppers, and one head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped. Cook until soft. Season with salt. Then I peeled/loosely pulled apart 7 or 8 ripe peaches, tossed them in, a bit of apricot jelly, some chipotle powder, dash of lime juice, little more salt ...

if you do NOT have a shellfish allergy at your house this could easily be made into a shrimp and grits recipe.  - Just pop in some peeled, cleaned shrimp into the completed sauce and simmer until finished.    Shrimpy or not, serve over cheesy grits.    I put a bit of smoked gouda into the grits, along with large quantities of cheddar, because there is no smoked meat in the sauce.   

I served with some crispy pork (pressure cooked pork belly, then fried in a pan) and garnished with heirloom cherry tomatoes: 


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Soft Sugar Cookies

What to do on a rainy day with four young children to entertain?   (I was borrowing a couple of them for the morning)    Make cookies!     We didn't have quite enough time to make rolled cookies, wait for them to cool and then frost/sprinkle them, so I needed a recipe that added the sprinkles before baking.    These also TASTE very, very good. 

Soft Sugar Cookies

~ 2 dozen 

  • 2 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 t double strength vanilla 

Preheat oven to 375 standard/350 convection.   Whisk flour with baking powder and salt.    In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar.    Then add in egg and vanilla (use the good stuff).       Much like when making peanut butter cookies, roll balls of dough in sugar (maybe bourbon/vanilla bean infused raw sugar?) or sprinkles, and place on parchment lined pans - far apart!    I was doing 8-9 cookies on a half sheet pan.     Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned on edges, allow to cool a few minutes on the parchment before removing from tray.