Tuesday, December 25, 2012 0 comments

Cranberry Upside-down Cake

There's so much goodness in this cake, I don't even know where to begin. I first had this cake four years ago in Boston. A dear friend and chef had made it for one of our Bible study dinners and I fell in love with the combination of rich sweetness plus the tartness of the berries.

I never did get her exact recipe, so I scouted around online and cobbled together this version. I made it yesterday for a Christmas Eve dinner and it's all gone today. I got heavy cream, intending to make whipped cream for the cake but forgot to bring it to our dinner and you know what? We didn't miss it one bit.



1/2 C sugar
At least 2 T butter, softened
2 C fresh or frozen cranberries, not canned -- if using fresh, wash and sort; if using frozen, thaw and drain


1 1/3 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C (1 stick butter), softened
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 t fresh lemon zest
2/3 C milk


  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Generously coat the inside of a 9-inch cake pan with the 2+ T softened butter
  • Put the 1/2 C sugar in the cake pan and coat the entire pan with sugar (bottom and sides); there will be a lot of sugar remaining. Make sure it's evenly spread on the bottom of the pan.
  • Place the cranberries in the bottom of the cake pan and make sure they're evenly distributed. Set the cake pan aside.
  • In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until the mixture is pea-sized or smaller.
  • Add the egg, lemon zest and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  • Add in the flour mixture and milk and beat at a low speed until just blended, or use a wooden spoon to blend.
  • Carefully put the batter on top of the cranberries in the cake pan, making sure to cover the berries evenly. I used a spatula and dropped the batter onto the cranberries, almost like biscuits. Then I used the spatula to gently spread the batter around and cover the berries.
  • Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the middle cleanly and the top of the cake has started to brown slightly. With my current oven, the cake baked for 45 minutes and I didn't use the toothpick.
  • Let the cake sit for 10 minutes, then use a knife to carefully loosen the cake from the pan.
  • Invert the cake onto a cake plate (you may need to tap the cake pan) and let cool completely.
  • Enjoy!

Sunday, July 22, 2012 0 comments

Tortellini Salad

I got this recipe from my mother; the original recipe actually calls for goat cheese. However the first time I made it, I didn’t have any on hand, but I did have feta. I think you could use either kind and get good results; I’m just used to using feta. I like the flavor combination. 


1 pound tortellini, cooked, drained and cooled (I use cheese tortellini)
6 sundried tomatoes, diced
6 roasted red peppers, diced
3 T olive oil
5 T balsamic vinegar
1—2 T oil from the sundried tomatoes (optional; I usually add just 1 T for extra flavor)
7 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 ounces crumbled feta or goat cheese
Parsley to taste

  • Combine the oils and vinegar and whisk til thoroughly mixed.
  • Pour the oil/vinegar mixture over the pasta.
  • Mix in the rest of the ingredients.
  • Chill before serving.
  • Enjoy!

Monday, July 9, 2012 0 comments


I LOVE Baklava. Something about the sweet honey with the nuts just appeals to my palate. I recently received a large jar of fresh local honey from a friend of mine who has a bee hive. My first though to to make some baklava, and I wasn't disappointed!

1 package phyllo dough
1 lbs of nuts, you can use any you want, I used a combination of almonds, walnuts, and pecans because that is what I had on hand.
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey


  • Thaw the phyllo dough according to the directions on the box.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Butter a 9 x 13 pan.
  • Bring 1 cup to a boil. Turn off heat immediately. 
  • Add sugar, vanilla and honey. Stir until combined. Set aside to cool. 
  • Chop nuts in a food processor and toss with the cinnamon.
  • Roast the nuts until you can smell them. You can do this in the oven or in a large fry pan over medium heat.
  • Place two layers of pyllo dough in pan, then butter. Repeat until you have about 8 layers. 
  • Then add about 3 tbls of nuts over the buttered phyllo dough. Add two layers of phyllo dough, butter, add nuts on top. 
  • Repeat until you only have about 8 layers of phyllo dough left. You should run out of nuts at about the same time.
  • Cut the baklava before you bake it into whatever shape/size you desire.
  • Butter the top layer then bake in the over for about 50 minutes.
  • Immediately drizzle the cooled sauce over the baklava. 
  • The baklava will soak up the sauce in a few hours, leave uncovered.
  • Enjoy!



Lemonade is actually very easy to make at home. Homemade lemonade just tastes so much better than the stuff from a can. Next time you're at the store, skip the frozen concentrate and grab a bag of lemons instead.

6 Lemons
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup water
Cold water


  • Bring 1 Cup of water to a boil. Immediately turn off the head. 
  • Add 1 Cup sugar to the hot water. 
  • Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • Cut 6 lemons in half and juice them. (You can buy a hand squeeze juicer at the grocery store for about $3 if you don't have one).
  • In a pitcher combine the lemon juice, simple syrup. Fill the pitcher up with cold water. 
  • Enjoy!
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 1 comments

Fish Tacos

Don't let the multi-step directions scare you off. These are well worth making and add a nice variation on Mexi-Cali food. As always, dial down the jalapeno if you don't like it hot. As made, we get two generous tacos and one generous tostada from the recipe.

  • 2 T sour cream (for the crema)
  • 2 T light cream  (for the crema)
  • Hot sauce to taste  (for the crema)
  • 1/2 C thinly sliced cabbage (for the slaw) 
  • 4 or 5 scallions, thinly sliced (for the slaw) 
  • 1 red jalapeno, half finely diced and half left whole  (for the slaw and for the fish) 
  • 1 T fresh lime juice (for the slaw) 
  • 2 T sour cream  (for the slaw) 
  • 3/4 pound firm white fish like tilapia (for the fish, well duh this IS the fish)
  • A bit of flour for dredging (for the fish)
  • 1 to 2 T olive oil (for the fish)
  • Tortillas (for assembly)
  • 1/2 C finely diced fresh cilantro (for assembly)

  1. Mix the sour cream and light cream together. It should be fairly thick.
  2. Add hot sauce to taste.
  1. Mix the lime juice and sour cream together in a small bowl.
  2. In another bowl, combine the cabbage, scallions and diced jalapenos.
  3. Add the lime juice/sour cream mixture to the cabbage mixture and toss well.
  1. Heat the oil in a skillet large enough to hold all the fish in one layer.
  2. Add the half jalapeno to the oil and move it through the oil. Leave it in the pan to continue cooking.
  3. Dredge the fish in flour (or toss the flour in a plastic bag, add the fish and shake gently to coat).
  4. Sauté the fish in the skillet along with the jalapeno and cook until done.
  5. Remove from heat and put the fish in a bowl. Shred the fish with a fork or knife.
Assembly directions:
  1. Heat your tortilla.
  2. (If you want cheese, add it now)
  3. Place some diced cilantro on the fish.
  4. Top with slaw.
  5. (Add sliced avocadoes if you want)
  6. Drizzle crema over your masterpiece.
  7. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 23, 2012 1 comments

Lentil Soup

Yes, it looks like mud but it tastes oh so good.

This lentil soup isn't spicy-hot; I'd categorize it as spicy-flavorful. If you're worried that it will be too hot for you, you can always cut the cayenne in half. But I think you'll miss the flavor. As made, I got eight servings of soup from this recipe.

  • 16 ounces lentils
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely diced
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely diced
  • 8 cups water or stock or a mixture
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, put through a press or otherwise mashed
  • 1 16-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • ½ C minced cilantro leaves
  • ½ t cayenne
  • 1 t ground cumin

  1. In a large stock pot, combine the lentils, carrots, celery, and water or stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low.
  2. Cover and cook until the lentils are done, stirring occasionally. My lentils take about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet and sauté the onions and garlic until soft.
  4. Add the cayenne and cumin and stir well. Cook for about a minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes (including the juice) to the skillet, and cook for a few minutes.
  6. When the lentils are done, add the mixture from the skillet to the large stock pot and stir well.
  7. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. We prefer a fairly smooth texture; if you like your soup chunkier, just blend a little bit.
  8. Enjoy!

Friday, February 17, 2012 2 comments

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

This is rich. There is no way around it. If you've been craving peanut-butter go make this right now!


1 cup of Oreo crumbs (I just bought Oreo's and made my own, but remove the cream filling)
2 tbs. of sugar
¼ cup melted butter


24 ounces softened cream cheese (3 packages)
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 egg
2/3 cup of peanut butter (don't use the all natural stuff, it won't mix very well)

Peanut Butter Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons sugar

Chocolate Ganache (topping):
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz chocolate, bittersweet or semi, depending on your taste (if you use bittersweet you may want to add sugar or else it will be very bitter and taste like a very dark chocolate)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Add Oreo crumbs, butter, and sugar together in a 9 inch pie dish.
  3. Mix and then press into the pan so it is compressed.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.

  1. Set oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a bowl mix softened cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, peanut butter until well blended.
  3. Add 1 egg at a time until it is completely mixed.
  4. Pour mixture into pie pan.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.
  6. Reduce heat to 250 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Check done-ness by inserting a toothpick in the middle, it should come out clean.
  8. Remove and let cool.
Whipped Cream:
  1. Add cream, sugar, vanilla, and peanut butter to a mixing bowl.
  2. Using a hand mixer or similar device, mix on high for 3 minutes until it forms stiff peaks. Don't over beat of you will make butter.
Chocolate Ganache:
  1. Chop up chocolate and put in a medium bowl.
  2. Pour cream in a small pot and bring to a boil (watch it carefully).
  3. Remove immediately and add to the bowl of chocolate.
  4. Mix vigorously until combined.
  5. Spread a layer on top of the cooled cheesecake.
  6. Garnish with half a peanut butter cup.
  7. Enjoy!
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 0 comments


I made this for my wife for valentine's day. It was a big hit! This is very simple yet incredibly delicious. Give it a try!


1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
3 tbs. of sugar
¼ cup melted butter


24 ounces softened cream cheese (3 packages)
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 egg

Raspberry Topping:
1/2 cup ruby port
1/2 cup raspberry's
1/2 lemon juiced
1 tablespoon sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Add graham crackers, butter, and sugar together in a 9 inch pie dish.
  3. Mix and then press into the pan so it is compressed.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.

  1. Set oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a bowl mix softened cream cheese, sugar, vanilla until well blended.
  3. Add 1 egg at a time until it is completely mixed.
  4. Pour mixture into pie pan.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.
  6. Reduce heat to 250 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Check done-ness by inserting a toothpick in the middle, it should come out clean.
  8. Remove and let cool.

Raspberry Topping:
  1. Add port, raspberrys, sugar, and lemon juice to a small pot.
  2. Simmer and reduce, 10 minutes or so.
  3. Pour mixture through a sieve to strain out the seeds and fiber of the fruit.
  4. Let mixture cool.
  5. To get the stripped effect on the cake dip a fork in the raspberry topping and run it over the top of a slice. This cheesecake will need to cool for some time to be the texture you are used to.
  6. After the cheesecake cools refrigerate.
  7. Enjoy!
Sunday, January 29, 2012 0 comments

Cheater Chicken Soup

I almost didn't post this recipe because
the soup is not in a bowl. Silly, huh. 

Sometimes we’ll pick up a grocery store rotisserie chicken for dinner. To alleviate the guilt of not having made dinner from scratch, I stretch that bird to cover a few meals and then use the carcass as the basis for what I call cheater chicken soup. It’s cheating because it’s not entirely made from scratch but boy is it tasty. I prefer pasta in the soup because the pasta ends up behaving like dumplings. Use potatoes if you prefer that instead.

This is not a complicated recipe in terms of hands on time but does take two days just so you can get your broth properly made.

  • The carcass of one rotisserie chicken OR the remnants of a whole chicken you’ve previously roasted
  • Two carrots, peeled and diced
  • About half of a medium white onion, coarsely chopped
  • One small potato, diced into cubes OR a handful or two of your favorite uncooked pasta
  • Two stalks celery, diced
  • A liberal sprinkling of Italian seasoning
  • One bay leaf
  • Lots of water


Day 1
  1. Simmer the carcass and seasonings in enough water to fill a large stock pot for several hours.
  2. Cool overnight.
Day 2
  1. Strain and discard the fat from the surface of the broth.
  2. Pick off any meat remnants from your carcass and toss into the broth.
  3. Add the vegetables.
  4. If you are using pasta, add the pasta.
  5. Simmer for another couple of hours.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste to your individual bowls.
  7. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 2 comments

An appetizer

"What can I bring?" I asked.
"Bring a healthy appetizer to go with the Pinot Noir we'll be sipping as I fix dinner," she said.
"Uh sure thing!"

But I was using up all the food in the fridge because we were leaving on vacation soon and then I had another trip to see family the following week. So I had to make something out of what I had on hand, and what I had on hand wasn't much. Plus she requested that the dish be healthy and also go with red wine. So with those restrictions in mind, this is what I made.


  • 1/4 C feta cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 C balsamic vinaigrette (I used Paul Newman's Own Lighten Up version)
  • about 1/2 C each diced cherry tomatoes and sliced mushrooms
  • Finely sliced red onion, about two or three slices; then cut the slices into smaller pieces
  • 1/3 to 1/2 C cooked pasta (I used my favorite Gemelli)

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and allow to cool.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, prep the vegetables.
  3. Assemble the vegetables, feta crumbles and dressing in a bowl large enough to hold everything. Toss well.
  4. Once the pasta is cool, add to the bowl and toss again.
  5. Enjoy!
Note: Obviously you could use Parmesan cheese but again, I had to go with what was on hand. This is a basic pasta salad and can be gussied up with whatever you like. If I'd had any, I'd have put artichoke hearts in there too, and also roasted red peppers. But I didn't have any.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 0 comments

Heavenly Oatmeal Cookies

Honestly...these are the best oatmeal cookies you will ever have. Simple, moist, and hard to stop eating at just 1 or 2 (or 5). The key to this recipe, like many great baking recipes, is the use of shortening instead of butter. Follow this recipe and you'll have people begging for more every time.

1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs well beaten
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
3 cups Old Fashioned Oats (not instant)
1 cup raisins (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Cream shortening and sugars.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
  4. Sift flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.
  5. Add to first mixture and mix well. Add raisins (if using). Add oats last.
  6. Spoon out by rounded tablespoonfuls on to greased cookie sheets.
  7. Bake at 350°F. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool completely.
  8. Makes about 2 dozen. Enjoy!
Saturday, January 14, 2012 3 comments

Homemade Granola Bars

I've been trying various granola bar recipes for a while now. This one I really like. The bars hold together well and are not too dry or too crumbly. The great thing about granola is that you can use whatever you have on hand and really customize it to your taste. So feel free to add raisins, chocolate chips, or whatever suits your fancy.

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1/4 of crushed walnuts (you will probably have to do this yourself)
2/3 cup of honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 1/2 ounces chopped dried fruit, any combination of apricots, cherries or blueberries. I used dried cranberries, but I am going to try figs or dates next.
Anything else that you think would be good!

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Mix it all the ingredients together!
  3. Press mixture into buttered pan, 9x9 or 9x13. The key here is to make sure you really press it down, that way it stays together when it's done.
  4. Cook for 25 minutes.
  5. Let cool at least 2 hours before you cut.
  6. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Casserole

(I tried to get a good picture, but I turned around for a second and someone had already swiped some!)

This is honestly the best sweet potato casserole I've ever had. I think you could actually classify this as a desert. This isn't your ordinary throw-marshmellows-on-top casserole, this one has class.

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (wash, don't pierce, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 425 degrees for about an hour. If they are soft at that point, cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. The pulp should be shrinking away from the outer skin and sugar should be leaking through)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs well beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk (as always whole is best)
pinch of salt

1/2 cup brown sugar firmly packed
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup shopped pecans

  1. Blend all ingredients together.
  2. Pout into casserole dish that has been greased.
  3. Crumble topping on.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
  5. Enjoy!

Bourbon Pecan Pie

This pie is so easy to make. And what could be better than bourbon in a desert?

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
3 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 to 2 cups pecan halves
2 tablespoons good-quality bourbon
1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie shell, unbaked

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and melted butter.
  3. Add the corn syrup, eggs, pecans, and bourbon, and stir until all ingredients are combined.
  4. Pour mixture into an unbaked pie shell, and place on a heavy-duty cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and continue to bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until pie is set.
  6. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
  7. Enjoy!


Loaded Baked Potato Soup

If you are counting calories just stop reading right now. But if you want a souper good, satisfying soup that sticks to your ribs, this is the one for you.

4 large baking potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
6 cups milk (whole is better)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 green onions chopped
1 8oz carton of sour cream

  1. Cook the potatoes through.
  2. Cut cooked potatoes into cubes, discard the skin.
  3. In a stockpot melt the butter over medium heat.
  4. Add the flour and cook about 2 minutes, stirring constantly (you are making a roux).
  5. Gradually add the milk and turn up the heat some.
  6. Cook until the mixtures begins to thicken and slightly boil.
  7. Don't let it burn!
  8. Reduce head and add the potatoes, salt, pepper, 1 cup of cheese, 1 cup of bacon, and the green onions.
  9. Heat through.
  10. Just before serving add sour cream and combine.
  11. Garnish with more cheese and bacon on top.
  12. Enjoy!
Friday, January 13, 2012 0 comments

Spicy Vegetable Soup

You control how spicy this soup is—if you like it hotter, dice the adobo peppers finely and use two or three. If you don’t want it hot, then use one and either don’t dice it at all or cut it into large pieces. The heat comes from the seeds in the pepper and when they get diced, they get hot. The adobo sauce isn’t (or shouldn’t be) hot; it’s just flavorful. I’ve also found that the Lacostena brand is hotter than the Hernandez brand. I prefer Hernandez for the flavor.

As written, this soup makes about eight servings.


1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 C frozen corn OR one can corn, drained
2 or 3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 or 4 celery ribs, diced
1 small or ½ large white onion, diced
2 or 3 small red potatoes, diced
1 to 3 adobo peppers, diced
1 can pinto or black beans, drained
2 C chicken broth plus extra water OR use all water to make this entirely meat-free


  1. Assemble the diced ingredients in a slow cooker.
  2. Add the corn, beans and adobo peppers and stir.
  3. Add the crushed and diced tomatoes, and the broth. Stir again.
  4. Add enough water to almost fill your slow cooker. If you have a huge cooker, you may need to add either more broth (for a brothy soup) or diced tomatoes (for a more stew-like soup).
  5. Cook on low for eight hours.
  6. Enjoy!
Monday, January 9, 2012 2 comments

Bean and Chicken Tostadas

This dish came about because I had various bits of leftovers in the fridge and wanted to use them up while also having a full-flavored dinner. If you prefer burritos, you could roll your bean mixture up rather than spreading it out on the toasted tortilla as I did. If you are not pigs the way we are, you can get four servings out of this. Sadly, we are pigs.


1 can refried beans (I use fat-free spicy refried beans; I’d rather have the fat calories elsewhere)
1 to 2 adobo peppers, finely diced plus some of the sauce from the can
1 cooked boneless, skinless chicken thigh, diced
½ avocado, cut in thin strips
2 to 3 T diced fresh cilantro
Sour cream (I use light sour cream)
Shredded cheddar or jack cheese (or a mix)
Adobo seasoning
Salsa verde
2 to 3 tortillas


  1. Mix the beans and diced chicken in a microwave-safe bowl and heat thoroughly.
  2. Toast the tortillas in a toaster oven, taking care not to burn them OR place in a sauté pan and cook till crisp. If you are making burritos, omit this step.
  3. Sprinkle some cheese on the hot tortillas and spread the bean mixture on top.
  4. Sprinkle the adobo seasoning on the beans.
  5. Sprinkle some cilantro on the beans.
  6. Top with sour cream, avocado slices and salsa verde.
  7. Enjoy!