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Category Archives: Cooking

This is an adaptation of a recipe I found in 2015 on a wonderful site called Natasha’s Palace.  It’s worth a visit there to see all of the great and unusual recipes she has.  The original recipe is here:

https://nataschaspalace.co/2015/05/28/pear-goat-cheese-and-cured-ham-pasta/

My daughters and I love this dish, especially if I can use some flavorful Honey Baked Ham leftovers.

Ham, Pear and Goat Cheese Pasta

¾ cup bowtie pasta
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 Tblsp. garlic, minced
2 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced
One cup chopped cooked ham
1 tsp. oregano
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 Tblsp. butter
4 oz. goat cheese

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water to al dente, drain

In a saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion slices, sprinkle with salt/pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes until onions are translucent but not brown.

Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Add pear slices and ham and cook until heated.  Stir in oregano and salt/pepper to taste.  Stir in butter and drained pasta.  Add goat cheese in small lumps and stir gently until cheese has melted.

Serve hot.

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cherry-chickn-1

I found this recipe, adapted slightly here, on a cherry orchard web site in 2013 (page no longer available).

I just got around to making the wraps and they are really good, quick to make and have some vegetables included along with the tangy dried cherries.  I’ll be making these again.

*Instead of tortillas, I used some great flatbread I found in the deli section of my grocery store.

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Dried Cherry Wraps

1/2 cup non-fat lemon yogurt
1 tablespoon honey Dijon-style mustard or honey-mustard dressing
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1-1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (8 ounces)
1 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber
1/3 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup sliced green onion
4 (8- to 10-inch) whole wheat flour tortillas, tomato-flavored flour tortillas*

Whisk together yogurt, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Gently stir in chicken, cherries, carrot, cucumber and green onion. Mound about 3/4 cup chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla or flatbread, leaving space all around for folding . Fold in top and bottom and fold over each side, placing wrap seam-side down on a plate.  Cut into 3 portions.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Yield:  4 servings

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shortbread-apri-2
I adapted this recipe from one on epicurious.com several years ago and it has become a family favorite.  The shortbread would be great just by itself, but teamed with a layer of apricot and walnut filling plus a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar, it is simply delicious.  It’s easy to make with no mixer required.

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Shortbread and Apricot Bars

  • Servings: 8 to 12 bars
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Shortbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup chilled butter cut into small cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a 9×9 inch baking pan, place the flour, sugar and salt, stirring with a fork to mix.  Add the butter and with your finger press the butter into the dry ingredients and then spread the dough in the pan, pressing down to flatten and smooth it out.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes until top is light brown.  Remove from oven and set on rack.

Make Filling
2/3 cup dried apricot halves (about 4 oz.) coarsely chopped  – place in small pan, cover with water and boil until soft – about 4 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

2 large eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp vanilla
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup chopped walnuts

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs, whisk in the brown sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla.  Stir in the flour, walnuts and apricots.  Pour this mixture on top of the baked shortbread.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 35 minutes until top is puffy and dark brown.  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes.  Cut into portions and lift onto a rack that has been placed on top of a baking sheet.  Allow to cool thoroughly.  Note:  I cut mine into 8 portions which turned out to be large servings of a rich dessert.  Cutting the shortbread into 12 squares might be better.

Topping
¼ to ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

After cookies are cool, spoon confectioners’ sugar into a fine strainer and lightly sift over the bars.
Makes 8 large bars or 12 squares 

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brdstk-top
I started making these breadsticks in 1992, adapted from a recipe in my favorite bread cookbook, Clayton’s Book of Breads.  Be sure to use a good sharp, full-flavored cheese.

Italian Cheese Breadsticks

  • Servings: One to two dozen, depending on size
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2 Tblsp. Fast acting yeast
2 tsp salt
2 Tblsp. granulated sugar
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1-1/2 cups water, heated to 130 degrees F
¼ cup canola oil
1-1/2 cups good flavored cheese, grated

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place yeast, salt, sugar and 2 cups of flour.

Heat water to 130 degrees F, add cheese and stir to melt, reheat mixture to 130 degrees F.

Pour water/cheese mixture into bowl with flour mixture, add oil.  Beat on medium speed with a paddle beater for 3 minutes.  Remove the paddle beater and insert a dough hook.  Continue to beat at medium speed, adding flour gradually for 6-½ minutes.  You may not need all of the flour.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Punch down dough and using ¼ cup of dough, form into a cigar-shaped roll 5 inches long.  Place on a greased baking pan 3 inches apart.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake breadsticks for approximately 12 minutes until they are golden brown.  Remove to a rack to cool.

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salt-car-cook-3

At Christmas time, I found  Hershey’s Sea Salt Caramel Chips which were new to me and put them aside while I was baking my standard Christmas favorites.  My daughter and I were going to attend an Appalachian “Ringin’ in the New Year” event and something was needed for potluck dinner.  There never seem to be enough cookies for children at these dinners, so I thought I would try out the new chips.

chips

There was a recipe on the package which may be very good but it was for a chocolate cookie and I wanted a vanilla cookie that would be easy to pick up, not crumbly and that would not spread out too much.  I adapted the recipe to meet these requirements and thought the cookies were delicious.  My younger daughter is not given to lavish praise and when she rated them “fabulous”, I figured I had a winner.  They went very fast at the dinner.

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Salted Caramel Chip Cookies

  • Servings: Approx. 40 cookies
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½ cup (one stick) butter or margarine, softened
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-2/3 cups (10 oz. pkg.) Sea Salt Caramel Baking Chips (Hershey)

In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter/margarine, brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Beat in the vanilla, soda, salt and egg.

Gradually add and mix in the flour and chips.

Drop by tablespoon onto parchment covered baking sheets and flatten cookies very slightly.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 9 minutes until cookie is set.  Do not overbake.

Cool slightly, remove to wire rack to cool.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies. 

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stollen-5

I really love this version of stollen which is easy and fairly quick to make.  The ricotta gives the dough an interesting texture and the bits of dried fruit are delicious.  Even with a heavy coating of powdered sugar, this is not overly sweet.  Lovely with hot coffee or tea.

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Easy Fruit Stollen


Dough:
2-¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1-½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ cup cold butter, cut in cubes
1 cup ricotta cheese, part-skim milk type
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-½ tsp. butter flavoring (optional)
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
l/4 cup each of figs, dates, apricots, raisins, chopped to ½ inch cubes
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted and cooled

Topping:
3 Tblsp. butter, melted
½ cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment.

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

Blend the butter cubes into the flour mixture to form uneven crumbs.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cheese, egg, vanilla and flavorings.

Toss the fruit and almonds with the flour mixture until evenly distributed.  Than combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until most of the flour is moistened.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it two or three times until it holds together.  Divide dough in half.

Form each half of dough into a rectangle about 4 inches x 7 inches, 1-1/2 inches thick.
Place shaped stollen on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the stollen until they’re lightly browned around the edges – about 40 minutes.  A cake tester inserted into the center of a stollen should come out clean.

Remove stollen to a rack and allow to cool.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar.

Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve.  Cut into one-inch wide slices to serve.
Yield:  Two one-pound stollen.

This version of stollen does not keep for weeks as traditional stollen does.  Best if used within 3 days or  so. 

stollen-2Fresh from the oven

stollen-3Topped with butter and sugar

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burgundy-top

This is a tasty beef stew with vegetables, herbs, wine and a touch of brandy.  It’s easy to fix in a slow cooker and tastes so good when eaten in a warm, cozy kitchen or maybe in front of the fireplace.

BURGUNDY BEEF STEW - SLOW COOKER

½ lb. chuck steak, fat removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tsp. olive oil, divided
1-½ cups chopped onion
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
16 baby carrots, cut into ¼ inch slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tblsp. quick-cooking tapioca
1 cup Burgundy wine
½ cup beef broth
¼ cup brandy
1 Tblsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
½ tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 cup mushrooms, sliced

In a medium skillet over medium high heat, heat 1 tsp. oil and brown chuck steak cubes on all sides – do not cook through.  Set aside

In a 3-½- or 4-quart slow cooker place chopped onion, potato cubes, carrot slices, garlic.  Sprinkle tapioca over the top.

Place beef on top of vegetables.  In a medium bowl, whisk together wine, broth, brandy, tomato paste, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Pour over ingredients in slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low heat for 8 to 10 hours or on high heat for 4 to 5 hours.

Near the end of cooking time, in a small skillet, cook mushrooms in the remaining 1 tsp. of oil over medium-high heat until browned.  Stir mushrooms into beef mixture.

Makes 4-6 servings

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