Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Category Archives: cranberry

december

This month the market offers lots of festive ingredients in anticipation of the coming holidays. I find it is a great time to perk up your winter dishes with lots of fruit flavors. This week I picked up fennel and apples to enhance some pork cutlets and oranges to give swordfish a new look. Carrots make a great side dish and there are so many recipes you can make with hearty greens. Cranberries add a beautiful red color to breakfast cake that could easily be served on Christmas morning. Check the list above and try something new this week.

Swordfish with Smoked Paprika and Orange Sauce

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Swordfish is a cornerstone food throughout the Mediterranean and swordfish is not endangered anywhere around the United States. The various fish watchdog organizations all give consumers the green light to eat as much swordfish as they want, provided it was caught in North American or Hawaiian waters. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch gives American swordfish either a “best choice” or “good alternative” rating, depending on how it’s caught.

2 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound swordfish or tuna fillets
Salt
¼ cup flour
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
Black pepper

Directions

Cut the swordfish into 2 inch cubes. Salt the fish well and dust the cubes in flour. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan large enough to hold all the swordfish chunks in one layer. Sear them well on at least two sides. Give the first side 1-2 minutes, then sear other sides for 30 seconds to 1 minute each.

When the swordfish is cooked, remove it to a bowl and reserve. Add the garlic slices and sauté 30 seconds or so — the second it begins to brown, add the orange juice, zest, parsley, nuts and paprika. Toss to combine and cook 1 minute, then add the swordfish back to the pan, toss to combine and cook another 30 seconds or so. Serve at once.

Crispy Pork Cutlets with Fennel Apple Sauce

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4 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Four boneless pork cutlets, pounded to 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced
Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions

In a shallow dish, mix the flour with salt and pepper. In another shallow dish, beat the egg. In a third shallow dish, spread the panko and season with additional salt and pepper. Dredge the pork in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip the pork in the egg, then dredge in the panko to coat. Place the cutlets on a large plate.

In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the pork cutlets and cook over moderately high heat until golden, 2 minutes. Turn the cutlets over, and cook until just golden on the outside and white throughout, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the cutlets to a paper towel-lined plate.

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Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and butter to the skillet. Add the fennel and onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until light golden and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and apple slices and season with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Place the cutlets back in the pan and let them heat in the fennel mixture for a few minutes. Place the cutlets on a serving platter and top with the fennel mixture. Serve with lemon wedges.

Sautéed Carrots

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2 servings

Ingredients

3 medium carrots, peeled
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon dried marjoram

Directions

Cut the carrots diagonally into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place the carrots, 2 tablespoons water, the salt and pepper in a medium skillet and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes. Add the butter and marjoram and saute for another minute, until the water evaporates and the carrots are coated with butter.

Cranberry Orange Breakfast Cake

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Topping

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cake

2-1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the dusting the pan
1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh or defrosted frozen cranberries
1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup softened unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk

Directions

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and heat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly butter and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Combine the walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter in a mixing bowl. Using your hands form the mixture into crumbs.,

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the cranberries and orange zest and mix.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a medium mixing bowl, mix the ½ cup butter on low-speed with the stand mixer’s paddle attachment or on medium-low speed with a hand mixer until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and continue mixing on low until slightly fluffy. Scrape the bowl and beater. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until smooth after each addition.

Stop the mixer, scrape the bowl and beater, and add half the flour mixture. On low-speed (for either mixer), mix until the flour drifts disappear and then add half the buttermilk; mix until just blended. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until smooth. 

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Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the crumb mixture. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Cake can be served warm. Dust with powdered sugar for a pretty presentation.

Spinach and Cheese Pie

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Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons dried dill
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 lb. frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Melted butter or butter cooking spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 2 quart baking dish.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
Stir in lemon zest, dill and feta cheese into spinach mixture. Combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and egg in a small bowl. Stir until well blended. Add to the spinach mixture. Add salt, pepper and stir well.

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Working quickly so that phyllo doesn’t dry out, line the baking pan with 10 sheets of phyllo, brushing each sheet with butter after you place it in the pan. Fan the sheets out towards the edge of the pan, making sure the bottom is covered. Allow excess to hang over the sides. Spoon filling into pan. Drape remaining layers of phyllo over filling, one at a time, brushing each with butter. Brush top with butter, then neatly fold overhanging phyllo over the top, and brush with remaining butter. Bake until golden, about 1 hour. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.



fallflavorsheadWhat flavors do you associate with fall? For me the ones that immediately come to mind are apple cider, cinnamon, caramel, ginger, cranberry, pumpkin and nut flavors. Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate these flavors into your cooking.

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Apple Cider Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • Parsley for garnish

Directions

Put the potatoes, apple cider and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring once, until the potatoes are tender (25-30 minutes).

Mash the potatoes with the cider until it is smooth. Add the butter and the pepper and heat just until the butter melts. Garnish with parsley.

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Pumpkin Ricotta Cheese Pie

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 1 cup of pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

Crust

  • 1/3 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • Pinch of salt
  • Butter

Directions

For the crust:

Place the crust ingredients, except the butter, in a food processor or blender and process until totally ground, but not powdery. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the crumbs for a topping.

Rub a little soft butter on the inside of a 9″ pie pan at least 1 1/2″ deep; use a deep-dish pan, if you have one.

If your pie pan isn’t at least 1 1/2″ deep, substitute a 9″ square pan.

Pour the crumbs into the pan, tilting and shaking the pan to distribute the crumbs across the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Place the pan on a baking sheet, to make it easy to handle once you’ve added the filling.

For the filling:

Beat together with an electric mixer the ricotta, mascarpone, pumpkin, honey, eggs and pumpkin pie spice.

Continue to beat until creamy.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust and sprinkle the top with the reserved crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until the top of the center of the cheese pie springs back to the touch.

Chill in the refrigerator prior to serving.

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Apple Bars

Makes 20 bars

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (3 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted or cinnamon chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan; set aside.

In a very large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the eggs, oil and vanilla. Stir in the apples and nuts.

Add the egg mixture to the well in the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened (batter will be thick).

Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour to serve slightly warm, or cool completely.

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Pear Crisp

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 cups thinly sliced pears
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Topping

  • 1/2 cup regular rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 2-quart square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix the sliced fruit with the granulated sugar and place in the prepared baking dish.

For the topping:

In a medium bowl stir together the oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.

Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts.

Sprinkle topping evenly over the fruit.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden.

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Cranberry Pecan Bread

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup sweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).

Coat an 8″ x 4″ loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda.

In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, oats, applesauce and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and thoroughly combine them.

Mix in the cranberries and pecans. It should have a consistency a little thicker than pancake batter.

Pour the dough into the loaf pan.

Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the loaf’s center comes out dry or an instant read thermometer registers 190 degrees F at the center of the loaf.

Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then remove the bread from the pan and let it cool before slicing.

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Pumpkins

pumpkintreats

When choosing a pumpkin at the market, look for soft spots, mold, wrinkles or open cuts that would indicate damage or early spoilage. Choose a pumpkin with a solidly attached stem. A green stem indicates a freshly harvested pumpkin. Choose pumpkins between 4 to 8 pounds and labeled “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins.” Some specific names are Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, New England Pie Pumpkin, Lumina (which are white), Cinderella and Fairy Tale. Pumpkins have a long shelf life and can keep for months at cool room temperature.

Pumpkin Puree

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ pounds pie pumpkins

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut pumpkins into 5×5-inch pieces. Remove and discard seeds and strings. Arrange pieces in a single layer, skin sides up, in a foil-lined baking pan.

Cover with foil. Bake about 1 hour or until tender. When cool enough to handle, scoop pulp from rind. Place pulp in food processor or blender.

Cover and process or blend until smooth. Measure out what is needed for a recipe. Transfer remaining puree to an airtight container.

Store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw frozen puree in the refrigerator.

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Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

Makes 12 – 15 depending on the size of your muffin tin.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ¼ cup reduced fat milk or almond milk
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • Vanilla sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-15 cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Combine the remaining (wet) ingredients in another bowl.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture until just moist. Fill the muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes (or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean).

Let rest for 10 minutes.Remove the muffins and cool on a wire rack.

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Apple Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin butter is a delicious addition to waffles, pancakes, banana bread, oatmeal or as a spread for toast. It also makes a great and healthy topping for ice cream.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups pumpkin puree or two 15-oz. cans pureed pumpkin
  • 1 ¼ cups pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions

In 5-quart Dutch oven combine all ingredients except nuts. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.

Cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, about an hour until thick. (If mixture spatters, reduce heat to medium-low). Remove from heat; cool.

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Ladle into jars or freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Cover; store in refrigerator up to 1 week or freezer up to 6 months.

Acorn Squash

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Acorn squash can have orange, dark green, or tan skin. To pick a good-tasting one, press it all around to make sure it’s devoid of soft spots. Don’t refrigerate-just store the squash in an airy dry spot for up to 3 weeks.

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Roasted Acorn Squash Slices

Ingredients

  • 1 medium acorn squash (about 1-1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven 350°F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds and membrane. Cut each half into 1/2-inch slices; discard ends.

Place slices in a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with the maple syrup. Dot with butter.

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Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until tender.

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Italian Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 large acorn squash, halved crosswise, seeds and fibers scooped out
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced thin
  • 12 ounces Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of 1/4-inch cubes of lightly toasted sourdough bread
  • ¾ cup chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Directions

Oven 400 degrees F.

Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Slice off the bottom of each squash half so that they stand flat, being careful not to cut into the flesh.

Place in a baking dish large enough to hold the squash halves and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with the back of a spoon, until no traces of pink remain, about 8 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the thyme, salt, pepper, bread cubes and chicken broth until well mixed.

Divide the stuffing mixture among the squash halves. Add enough water to the roasting pan to make a depth of about 1/4 inch. Cover the squash loosely with aluminum foil.

Roast for 45 minutes.Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes more or until the squash is tender. Place 1 squash half on each of 6 plates, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

 


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Make Vegetables Taste Good

1. Use seasoning

  • Salt and pepper vegetables as they cook. Add herbs.

2. Use olive oil

  • Fat carries flavor and provides fat soluble vitamins which tend to be lacking in vegetables.

3. Don’t boil your vegetables

  • One of the easiest ways to make vegetables taste bad is to boil them. Boiling is also problematic because your vitamins end up down the drain.

4. Roast, saute or stir fry

  • Unlike boiling,  dry heat methods of cooking help add caramelized flavors to your vegetables and remove excess moisture.

5. Use good quality vegetables

  • Buy what is in season and, if possible, locally grown.

6. Use tasty condiments and garnishes

  • Add condiments to make vegetables more palatable, such as chili powder or hot sauce, honey or agave, soy sauce, lemon or orange juice, Parmesan cheese, toasted breadcrumbs, bacon, pesto, tahini sauce, yogurt sauce, spices, fruit, mustard sauce, toasted nuts or salsa.

Try some of the recipes below that are easily managed on a weeknight and offer lots of flavor.

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Carrot and Sweet Potato Bake

8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Add the carrots and sweet potatoes to the baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes.

Stir together cranberries, walnuts, orange juice, honey, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt.

Drizzle over the partially cooked carrots and sweet potatoes. Gently stir until evenly coated.

Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes, basting with the pan juices halfway through cooking.

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Roasted Cauliflower Florets

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cauliflower (about 2-1/2 pounds), cut into florets about 1-1/2″ wide*
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

Directions

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Place cauliflower florets into a Ziploc gallon bag, add olive oil, salt and pepper. Shake to coat well and pour out onto a rimmed baking sheet.

Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove foil and continue roasting another 10 minutes until florets are golden on one side. Carefully turn the florets over, sprinkle with cheese and roast an additional 10 minutes or until golden all over.

Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley.

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Broccoli with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (pignoli)
  • 2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Bring 1″ of water to a boil over high heat in a 4-quart saucepan. Place a small rack or steaming basket in the bottom of the pot.

Place broccoli on the rack in the saucepan; cover and steam over medium-high heat until bright green, about 3 minutes.

Using tongs, transfer broccoli to a serving bowl. Add pine nuts, vinegar, oil, tomatoes, salt and pepper and toss to combine.

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Braised Cabbage 

Serves 6 -8

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 cups shredded savoy cabbage (about 1 normal-sized head)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Directions

In a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat; add onion, cabbage, garlic and brown sugar to the pan.

Sauté until the cabbage is limp, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth and thyme. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover the pan.

Cook, stirring a few times, for approximately 20 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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Sautéed Kale with Cannellini Beans

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (chili)
  • 1 large bunch kale (about 1 pound), stems removed, leaves cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar

Directions

Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed pepper; stir until garlic is pale golden, about 1 minute.

Add kale by large handfuls; stir just until beginning to wilt before adding more, tossing with tongs to coat with the oil.

Add broth, cover and simmer until the greens are tender. Add beans; simmer uncovered until the beans are heated through and liquid is almost absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Stir in sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


cookiegiftscover

Homemade Christmas gifts are a great way to add a very personal touch to your gift giving during the holiday season. There are countless ways to spread Christmas cheer and, for hundreds of years, one of the world’s enduring time-honored traditions is that of giving food gifts. The cookie recipes below make excellent gifts but they are also good to take to a Christmas party or a cookie exchange. Packaging them in decorative bags, jars or boxes or arranging them on Christmas plates, makes these gifts very festive.

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Lemon Pecan Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans
  • Lemon Icing, recipe below

Directions

Beat the butter and sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed. Beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour and the lemon peel.

Divide dough in half. Shape each dough portion into an 8-inch-long log. Sprinkle half of the nuts on a sheet of waxed paper. Roll one log in the nuts to coat. Repeat with remaining nuts and log.

Wrap logs in plastic wrap. Chill about 2 hours or until firm enough to slice.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

If necessary, reshape logs to make them round. Cut logs crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place slices 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or just until edges are firm and tops are set. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool completely.

Lightly cover cookies with Lemon Icing. Let stand until the icing sets.

Lemon Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons milk

Directions

In a medium bowl, stir together powdered sugar, lemon peel, and enough milk to make a spreading consistency.

To store:

Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Dark Chocolate Cookie Kisses

Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel
  • 36-40 dark chocolate candy kisses and/or dark chocolate stars

Directions

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until combined. Add the baking powder and salt; beat until very light and fluffy.

Beat in egg white. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour and the orange peel.

Cover the bowl and chill dough about 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or just until the edges are set and the bottoms are very lightly browned.

Immediately press a chocolate kiss or star into the center of each cookie. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool completely.

To store:

Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Chocolate Sugar Cookie Stars

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 recipe Vanilla Icing and Chocolate Icing

Directions

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until combined. Add baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in cocoa powder. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 to 2 hours or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough, half at a time, to just under 1/4-inch thickness. Using 1- to 2-1/2-inch star-shaped cookie cutters, cut into stars. Reroll scraps as necessary. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets covered with parchment paper.

Bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until edges are firm and centers are set. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely. Drizzle cookies with Vanilla and Chocolate Icing.

Chocolate Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 – 6 teaspoons milk

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, and enough milk to make drizzling consistency.

Vanilla Icing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 – 4 teaspoons milk

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough milk to make drizzling consistency.

To store:

Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Chocolate Covered Pretzel Sticks

Makes 16

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces white baking chocolate (with cocoa butter), semisweet baking chocolate or dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted pistachios
  • 16 pretzel sticks
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped dried tart cherries

Directions

In a small saucepan, heat chocolate over low heat until melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Spread pistachios on a sheet of waxed paper.

Dip each pretzel into the  melted chocolate, covering about two-thirds of the pretzel. Let excess chocolate drip off.

Roll dipped pretzels in pistachios to coat. Press a few cherry pieces into the chocolate on each pretzel. Place pretzels on a clean sheet of waxed paper; let rest until the chocolate is set.

To store:

Layer pretzels between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Cranberry Cornmeal Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 4 ounces chocolate chips
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • One 8 – ounce carton light dairy sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Place cranberries in a small bowl; add enough boiling water to cover. Let stand for 5 minutes; drain well.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in drained cranberries and chocolate. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.

In a small bowl, combine egg white, sour cream and milk. Add egg white mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir until combined.

Drop dough by well-rounded teaspoons, 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown..

Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool completely.

To store:

Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover; seal. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.


IMG_0106

Need  some new ideas for using your Thanksgiving leftovers? Think breakfast.

I had apple cider leftover from basting the turkey on Thanksgiving, so one way to use up some leftover cider, is to make pancakes or muffins. I also had plenty of sweet potatoes, vegetables, Italian sausage stuffing, turkey and cranberry sauce leftover, despite giving my guests take home containers. I don’t mind repeating Thanksgiving dinner one night, but not two. So the remaining leftovers need to become something else. Here are a few suggestions.

IMG_0104

Apple Cider Pancakes

Yield: 6 to 8 pancakes. This recipe is easily doubled.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Self-Rising flour
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped pecans or peeled and chopped apple

Directions

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and pecans.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, cider and oil until foamy. Add to the flour mixture and mix until blended

Let the batter rest while the griddle or frying pan heats up. Brush the griddle lightly with vegetable oil.

Drop 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake onto the hot surface. Turn the pancakes over once bubbles have risen to the surface and cook the second side until golden brown.

IMG_0121

Sweet Potato Whole Wheat Muffins

Cooked butternut squash would also work well in this recipe.

Makes 12-15 muffins depending on the size of your muffin cups.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup leftover mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin pan with 12-15 baking cups or spray the muffin pan well with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl combine the chopped hazelnuts with the granulated sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, lemon zest, cinnamon and ginger.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, mashed sweet potatoes, brown sugar, oil, applesauce and vanilla.

Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well incorporated, then fold in apple. Spoon batter into baking cups and sprinkle with hazelnuts and granulated sugar.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

IMG_0118

Cranberry Sauce Scones

I use orange zest in my cranberry sauce. If your recipe does not, then add a teaspoon of grated orange zest with the cranberry sauce.

12 scones

Ingredients

  • 2 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling on the scones
  • ½ cup unsalted, cold butter, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half, plus more for glazing
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup leftover homemade cranberry sauce
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

In a small bowl, combine the 1/2 cup half-and-half and the eggs, beating well. Add the cranberry sauce and almond extract. Stir well.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently just to combine. Use your hands to press the dough into a rough ball.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board or counter top. Press and knead the dough just until it comes together. Do not overwork the dough or the scones won’t be tender.

Divide the dough in half. Round each half into a 6″ circle. The circles should be about 3/4″ thick. Cut each circle into 6 wedges.

Transfer the scones with a metal spatula to the baking pans.

Pour a small amount of  half-and-half into a dish or measuring cup. Use a pastry brush to gently brush some half-and-half on the top of each scone and sprinkle with a little granulated sugar.

Bake for 12 – 25 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly.

IMG_0115

Thanksgiving Stuffing Hash and Eggs

2 servings

Ingredients

Directions

In a medium skillet with a cover, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the butter. Add the stuffing, flatten with a spatula and cook until light golden brown and crispy on the bottom. Gently turn the stuffing over and cook for 3-4 minutes more.

With a large spoon make four round holes in the stuffing mixture. Crack eggs one at a time into a small bowl and gently pour into each hole in the stuffing.

Cover the pan and cook the eggs to your likeness or until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Serve immediately.

IMG_0119

Turkey Breakfast Sandwich

1 sandwich

Ingredients

  • 1 bagel thin, lightly toasted
  • 2 eggs
  • Dash of water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 thin slices leftover turkey
  • 1 slice white American Cheese or your favorite cheese

Directions

Beat eggs with a dash of water, add chives, salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

Heat oil in a small skillet and pour in egg mixture. Cook until set and turn the egg over with a wide spatula to finish cooking.

Fold the egg in half and in half again. Place the turkey slices on top to heat for a minute or two. Place the cheese slice on top and let it warm.

Transfer to the toasted bagel.

'Oh, she's not a witch or anything -- she just served leftover turkey five days in a row.'

‘Oh, she’s not a witch or anything — she just served leftover turkey five days in a row.’

Helen was determined to get rid of her leftovers.

Helen was determined to get rid of her leftovers.

breakfastcartoon3


fruitbreadcover
“Quick bread” refers to any bread that uses leaveners, like baking powder or baking soda instead of yeast, and requires no kneading or rising time. Quick breads are always popular; blueberry muffins and zucchini bread in summer, pumpkin muffins in the fall or coffee cakes and banana bread, any time of the year! More versatile than most other baked goods, quick breads give you greater freedom to add ingredients (like nuts and dried fruit) and make healthy substitutions. To lower the fat, for example, you can substitute some of the oil with an equal amount of almost any fruit puree (applesauce, plum, pumpkin, bananas).

fruiebreaddried

If you’re adding dried fruit, try soaking it first. This will moisten the fruit, make it tender and juicy and also preserve the bread’s moisture. To soak dried fruit, place it in a heatproof bowl and pour over just enough boiling water to cover. Let it soak about 15 minutes, then drain and add to the finished batter. For added flavor, soak fruit in hot apple or orange juice–or soak it overnight in rum or brandy. Don’t sprinkle dried fruit on top of quick breads before baking, as it will burn before the loaf is done.

The secret to moist, tender quick bread is in the mixing: use a gentle touch. Combine in a bowl the dry ingredients–flour, leavening, salt, and spices; sift them together or mix them thoroughly with a wire whisk. In another bowl, beat together the fat, sugar and eggs in the order the recipe advises. Stir any other ingredients (fruit puree, flavorings or extracts) into the wet ingredients. Only when each bowl of ingredients is mixed thoroughly should they be combined. When you are ready, pour the dry ingredients into the wet ones and fold them together gently. Do this part by hand rather than with a mixer. Add nuts and fruits; stir just until incorporated. Over-mixing will cause “tunnels”–holes where the air bubbles escaped–and will make the bread tough.

fruitbreadpans

Unless you’re using high-quality non stick metal or silicone baking pans, you should always grease the pans before you pour in the batter. The best thing to use for greasing the pan is shortening, because its melting point is higher than any other kind of fat, which helps maintain a “shield” between the pan and the batter while the bread is baking. A high-quality cooking spray–one that won’t bake on to your pans and discolor them–is also a fast, easy fix. Let the bread cool for at least twenty minutes before inverting the pan and removing the bread.

The crack on top of the bread happens when the loaf “sets” in the heat of the oven before the bread is finished rising. Don’t worry–it’s normal for quick breads. Drizzle the loaf with icing or dust with confectioners’ sugar to cover the crack.

The bread looks done on the outside but it’s still raw in the middle. This is one of the most common quick bread problems and it can be caused by a few different factors:

  • The oven temperature could be too high. (Use an oven thermometer to check.)
  • Try lowering the oven temperature and/or putting a loose tent of foil over the top of the bread so it won’t burn before the middle has time to catch up.
  • Another cause of a “raw center” could be using a different pan size than the recipe calls for. One of the advantages of baking quick breads is that you can use the same batter to make muffins, mini loaves or large loaves. Each size, however, requires different baking times–and some require different baking temperatures. The larger and thicker the loaf, the longer it’s going to take to bake. If you’re using a different size pan than your recipe calls for, adjust the baking time accordingly and check the bread often.

fruitbread1

Pear and White Cheddar Bread

Makes 16 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal or toasted wheat germ
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded pears
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup refrigerated egg substitute or 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (2 ounces)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of one 9x5x3-inch loaf pan or two 7 x 3 1/2×2-inch loaf pans; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine pears, sugar, eggs, oil, buttermilk, honey and vanilla. Add pear mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in cheese. Spoon batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes (45 to 50 minutes for the smaller pans) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan.

Cool completely on wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

Variations: 

Cinnamon, Chocolate, and Pear Quick Bread:

Prepare as directed, except stir 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon into the flour mixture and substitute 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces for the cheese.

Fig, Ginger, and Pear Quick Bread:

Prepare as directed, except stir 1-1/2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel and 1 teaspoon ground ginger into the flour mixture and substitute 1/2 cup finely snipped dried figs for the cheese.

Blue Cheese, Pecan, and Pear Quick Bread:

Prepare as directed, except substitute 1/4 cup finely crumbled blue cheese and 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans for the white cheddar cheese.

fruitbread3

Healthy Banana Bread

One 9 x 5-inch loaf (about 15 slices)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs or 1/2 cup refrigerated egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2 very ripe bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle.

Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with pan spray, and line the bottom with parchment. Spray the parchment.

Sift together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sugar until thick; five to eight minutes. Beat in the oil, the yogurt or buttermilk, bananas and vanilla.

At low-speed, beat in the flour in three separate additions. Fold in the nuts.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, until the bread is firm and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

This bread will keep for several days, but put it in the refrigerator after three days and the bread freezes well if wrapped air-tight.

fruitbread2

Apricot Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dried apricots
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan and set aside.

Soak apricots for 20 minutes in hot water to cover. Drain and chop apricots into 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside.

Beat sugar, oil and egg together in a mixing bowl. Stir in water and orange juice. Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mixing until thoroughly combined. Stir in walnuts and apricots.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to continue cooling.

fruitbread4

Blueberry Oatmeal Bread

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats, plus extra for the top of the bread.
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions
Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom only a 9-inch loaf pan.

In large bowl, mix brown sugar, milk, oil, vanilla and eggs with spoon. Stir in remaining ingredients except blueberries; mix thoroughly. Fold in blueberries. Pour into pan. Sprinkle with additional oats if desired.

Bake 45  minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaf from pan with a thin spatula; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days or refrigerate up to 10 days.

fruitbread5

Whole Wheat Fruit-Nut Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 6 ounce carton plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon toasted wheat germ

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease the bottom and 1 inch up the side of a 1-1/2-quart ovenproof casserole; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Make a well in center of the flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, applesauce, yogurt, brown sugar and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy.) Fold in nuts and dried fruit. Spoon batter into the prepared casserole. Sprinkle with wheat germ.

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cover loosely with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning.

Cool in the casserole dish on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove bread from the casserole. Cool completely on wire rack. If desired, wrap and store overnight before slicing (bread will be slightly moister the second day). Makes 12 servings



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