Sunday, March 26, 2017

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

This is a recipe that I found on the New York Times cooking website and have adapted somewhat.  In this case it is not a healthier dish than the original but it is delicious and easy!

2 tablespoons butter (divided)
1 cup full fat ricotta cheese
2 cups 1/2 and 1/2
1/4 pound cream cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Pinch cayenne (these are both optional--I actually forgot them)
Pinch nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used Hook's white cheddar)
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (I used 2 different whole wheat pastas and it came out fine)
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Use 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9 inch square baking pan.  In a blender, puree ricotta cheese, cream cheese, 1/2 and 1/2, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, and pepper.  In a large bowl, combine all but 1/4 cup of the grated cheese, the liquid mixture and uncooked pasta.  Pour into the prepared pan.  Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for a few hours.

When ready to eat, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake covered pasta for 30 minutes.  Uncover and top with a mixture of reserved cheese, bread crumbs and butter.  Bake for an additional 30 minutes.  At this point it should be brown and bubbly.  Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

I'm sure you could use other cheeses in this dish.  A few of the reviewers of the original recipe suggested Velveeta which I would not use, but I think any flavorful natural cheese would be fine.

Adapted from NY, recipe by Julia Moskin

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Cranberry and Apple Baked Oatmeal

This is a recipe I adapted from a PBS food blog Fresh Tastes by Adrianna Adarme.  My husband loved it and thought it made a great breakfast.

  • Apple Mixture: 
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 apples, peeled and diced 
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Note:  I substituted 1-1/4 tsp. Oatmeal Spice from Just Spices (
  • Oatmeal: 
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds + a handful more for the top 
  • 1/3-1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups milk or almond milk (I used a combination of both)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries (frozen is fine too)


  1. To make the apple mixture: In a small skillet, set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until apples have softened. Set aside. 
  2. To make the oatmeal: Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Set aside. 
  3. In a medium bowl, add the oats, slivered almonds, syrup, salt and baking powder. Whisk together the liquid ingredients.
  4. To the prepared baking dish, add the apples and the cranberries. Pour the oat mixture on top and then add the liquid ingredients. Stir slightly and then top with the extra almonds. Transfer to the oven to bake for 40 minutes--it may take longer, until the edges are set and lightly golden brown. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Chilled Cucumber and Summer Vegetable Soup

In the summer we seem to get inundated with cucumbers.  This is another good way to use some of them.  It makes a good first course for a meal or a light lunch.

1 medium cucumber peeled and seeded (about 11 ounces)
2 cups plain Greek style yogurt
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

Puree the cucumber, yogurt, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Garnish or Salad Topping
16 grape tomatoes cut in quarters or about 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 cup either fresh or frozen (defrosted) corn kernels
2 green onions, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sunflower or olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup slivered fresh basil leaves

Combine.  Top each bowl of soup with some of the salad topping.

Adapted from The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet by Barbara Rolls

Friday, July 29, 2016

Cornmeal Blueberry Pancakes

These are delicious light blueberry pancakes with lots of berries that are easy to make.  If the batter seems too thick, add a bit more buttermilk.

We got 10# of delicious blueberries from a Michigan blueberry cooperative organized by a generous neighbor in Madison who ordered 2000#!  We kept 5# and shared the other 5# with my daughter.  It didn't take us long to go through our 5#.

1/2 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups blueberries

Whisk cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.  Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk.  Crack the eggs into the buttermilk.  Pour the slightly cooled melted butter into the other liquid ingredients and whisk everything together.  Do not over beat.  Some lumps are fine.  Coat the blueberries with a teaspoon or two of flour so they don't sink and add them to the batter.  The batter can be refrigerated up to one hour if necessary.

Heat a non-stick griddle sprayed or coated with oil.  Ladle batter unto griddle using 1/4 cup measure of batter for each pancake.  Flip the pancakes when bubbles rise to the surface and the bottom are lightly brown.  Keep warm in the oven while cooking the rest of the pancakes.  Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Adapted from the NY Times

Friday, July 22, 2016

Zucchini Corn Cakes

This is the time of the year that many of us find ourselves with lots of zucchini and yellow summer squash.  I'm never unhappy to find lots of it in my CSA box because you can do so many different things with it.  I know that the latest thing is zucchini noodles.  I don't have a vegetable spiralizer yet.  Maybe something I'll need to get?  These squash cakes are good for breakfast as well as other meals.  The recipe came from Madison Magazine.

1-2 tablespoons of sunflower oil or oil of your choice for frying the cakes
2 cups shredded zucchini or yellow summer squash
3/4 to 1 cup corn (I used frozen corn) you could use 1-2 ears of fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup finely diced red onion (I used a white onion from our farm)
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced)  It is only available for a short time of the year.  It is milder than the cured garlic and must be refrigerated or it will get moldy.
1/2 cup organic cornmeal
1/2 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/2-1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
a pinch of pepper
a handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
1 large egg
juice from 1/2 lime
Sour cream and extra cilantro, optional

Preheat and grease heat a frying pan or griddle.

Combine the zucchini, corn, onion, garlic, cornmeal, flour, cumin, salt, pepper, cilantro, egg and lime juice.  Stir until everything is combined and the mixture resembles a thick pancake batter.

Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop out portions of the batter onto the skillet or griddle.  Even out the batter into circles and let cook for about 5-6 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown.  Flip the cakes and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Keep the cakes warm in a low oven until they are all cooked.  Serve with sour cream and additional cilantro if desired.

Adapted from Madison Magazine.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Rhubarb Mango Crisp

This is a delicious dessert utilizing rhubarb.  If you don't happen to have enough mangoes, peaches or nectarines work well in this recipe as well.  I happened to have a little homemade peach ice cream that my son-in-law had made to serve with it.  It would also be good with store bought ice cream, whipped cream or vanilla yogurt.

Rhubarb & Mango Filling

1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2-3 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2" pieces (I only had 2 cups)
2 ripe mangoes, peeled, cored and cubed (I also added I ripe nectarine, peeled, pitted and cubed)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Combine sugar and cornstarch.  Add fruit, lemon juice and lemon zest.  Toss to combine and set aside.

Butter or pan spray for baking dish.  I used a 9" x 9" square pan.


1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut (you could probably substitute sweetened coconut and cut down on the sugar)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine the oats, flour, cold butter, salt and sugars.  Pulse several times until mixture resembles coarse meal (not too fine).  Stir in grated coconut.  Pour fruit into greased pan.  Sprinkle the topping over the filling, making sure it is completely covered.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and topping is golden brown.

Adapted from 2 recipes from Fork vs Spoon and Canadian Food Network-Christine Cushing.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Fish Chowder

The combination of fish and potatoes in a creamy broth makes a very comforting meal for a winter night.  I found this recipe in a copy from a page of a cookbook: Blue Plate Specials.  Apparently it was a special on Friday at a cafe in Portland.  I have adapted it somewhat for our tastes.

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onion
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups diced potatoes (1/2") no need to peel if the potatoes are organic
1# cod fillets or haddock if available
chicken broth
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup whole milk or 1/2 & 1/2
3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

Melt butter and cook onion until transparent.  Add pepper, garlic powder, salt and potatoes, plus enough chicken broth to barely cover the potatoes.  Boil until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.  Check to make sure there is enough broth and add more if needed.  Lay the fish on top of the cooked potatoes and onions.  No need to cut the fish up.  Cover the pan and cook until the fish flakes apart with a fork--about 8 minutes.  Add the evaporated milk and whole milk or 1/2 & 1/2.  Heat but do not boil.  Add the bacon and additional salt if needed.

The original recipe called for 2 cans of evaporated milk which I thought would be too much liquid.  If you like your soups soupier you could add the extra can.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Carrot Pancakes with Salted Yogurt

These pancakes are similar to latkes and gluten free.  The pancakes & salad make an interesting breakfast but would also be good for lunch or supper. The other good thing about them is they use a lot of carrots.  If you belong to a CSA farm you probably get a lot of carrots in your fall boxes. The chickpea flour or garbanzo bean flour is available from Bob's Red Mill.  It is also available in Indian grocery stores where it is called besan or gram flour.  

4 large eggs, beaten to blend
1 pound carrots (about 8 medium), peeled, coarsely grated
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chickpea flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup sliced green onions (optional)
1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
3 tablespoons (or more) sunflower or olive oil, divided
1 cup plain yogurt, Greek yogurt works well
1 cup spicy greens (such as baby mustard greens, watercress, or arugula)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Mix eggs, carrots, cilantro, green onions and chickpea flour in a large bowl (mixture will be loose); season with kosher salt, pepper and curry powder if using.
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Scoop two ½-cupfuls of carrot mixture into skillet, pressing each to ½” thickness. Cook, rotating skillet occasionally for even browning, until pancakes are golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat to make 2 more pancakes, adding more oil to skillet if needed.
  • Meanwhile, season yogurt with kosher salt and pepper. Toss greens with lemon juice and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil; season with kosher salt and pepper.
  • Serve carrot pancakes with salad and salted yogurt, seasoned with sea salt and more pepper.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Lady's Chicken Noodle Soup

Our last gourmet dinner was an upscale soup and sandwich supper with appetizers and desserts.  I made this chicken noodle soup and thought it was excellent.

1 (2 1/2 to 3-pound) fryer chicken
3 1/2 quarts water
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chicken stock base
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups sliced celery, with leafy green tops
2 1/2-3 cups uncooked egg noodles
2 cups sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/3 cup cooking sherry
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2-1 cup grated Parmesan, optional
3/4 cup heavy cream, optional
Seasoning salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the stock: add all ingredients to a soup pot. Cook until chicken is tender, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. Remove and discard bay leaves. You should have approximately 3 quarts of stock. When chicken is cool enough to handle, pick bones clean, discarding bones, skin, and cartilage. Cut chicken into chunks and set aside.

For the soup: bring stock back to a boil, add carrots and celery and continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until tender. Add egg noodles and cook according to directions on package. Also add mushrooms.  When noodles are done, add chicken, parsley, sherry and rosemary. Add Parmesan and cream. Cook for another 2 minutes. Adjust seasoning, if needed, by adding seasoning salt and pepper.  

Note:  I did add the Parmesan (1/2 cup) and cream.  It makes for a creamy luscious chicken soup.  You will not need to add much additional salt if any.

This is a adapted from a Paul Deen recipe.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Broccoli Bake

This is one of those comfort food kinds of recipes, but great to make and serve with a protein for a simple supper.

Although the original recipe called for frozen chopped broccoli, I used (and prefer) fresh broccoli when its available.

1 1/4-2# fresh broccoli
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or whatever cheese you have available
3 eggs
1 medium onion chopped
1/2 package of cornbread stuffing mix (or whatever dry crumbly topping you want to use)
1/4 cup of butter

Steam broccoli until barely tender.  Mix together all the other ingredients except for stuffing mix and butter.  Pour into a greased casserole.  Top with stuffing mix and sliced slivers of butter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.