Friday, November 8, 2019

Baked Eggs with Beans and Greens

In a rare cooking success on a busy day this week, I realized ahead of time that I had some wilty, month-old, garden chard in my fridge that would work in this recipe. And some already cooked italian sausage in the freezer from I-don't-remember-when. And some fresh, leggy basil still reaching for the light inside my back door (most of which is a window).

I feel like that basil this time of year: every part of me reaching for the warmth and light, wan though it might be, basking in it before the true cold months set in.


Baked Eggs with Beans and Greens

Source: New York Times Cooking
Serves 4-6

2 T olive oil
1/2 lb sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed (optional, or pre-cooked as in my case)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 15-oz can chickpeas or white beans, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes
4 c stemmed and packed roughly chopped greens such as spinach, kale, or Swiss chard
6 large eggs
black pepper
2 T mixed herbs, such as Italian parsley and basil, for garnish
1-2 T grated cheese, such as pecorino or Parmesan, for serving (optional, but very yummy)

Heat the oven to 375. Place olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet and warm over medium heat. If using the sausage, add it to the skillet and cook, breaking it up into bitesize pieces as you stir. Remove the sausage, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible, and set aside.

Cook the onion in the skillet until softened. Then add the beans and garlic, and stir, until the garlic is fragrant, just a minute or so. Sprinkle pan with salt. Add the tomatoes and sausage, then stir to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer, then gradually add the chopped greens, a handful at a time. Stir the greens in until wilted before adding another handful. Season with salt again.

Use a spoon to create a small divet in the sauce, then crack an egg into it. Repeat six times, then sprinkle each egg with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until the eggs are set to your desired firmness. (My kids don't like any gooeyness, so I left mine in for 20-25 minutes.) Scatter the herbs and cheese over the top, and let cool a minute or two before digging in.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Chocolate Berry Shortcakes

Where have you been all of my life, chocolate shortcakes? This was one of the recipes Mom brought to my house in September, when she came for our annual canning extravaganza. She brought raspberries with her, too, and we both had enjoyed a fall berry harvest of sorts. Her berries really produced before cold arrived, while every few days until the frost I found a delightful spot of red in my strawberry patch.


Chocolate Berry Shortcakes

Serves 8


Altitude adjustment for 3500-5500 feet:

subtract 1/4 teas baking powder
subtract 1/4 teas baking soda

2 egg yolks
1 c heavy cream
1 3/4 c AP flour
1/2 c plus 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 teas baking powder
3/4 teas baking soda
1/3 c granulated sugar
1/2 teas kosher salt
6 T unsalted butter, cold
2 oz  bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped or chocolate chips
3 T raw, sanding, or granulated sugar 

Berry topping:

1 1/2 pds raspberries or strawberries, trimmed if necessary and cut into small pieces or slightly smashed
3 T granulated sugar, or to taste
1 pinch kosher salt

Whipped cream topping:

1 c heavy cream
1 teas granulated sugar
1/2 teas vanilla extract

Preheat oven  to 400F. Place parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on a large baking sheet.

Measure the cream in a liquid measuring cup. Drop the egg yolks in and stir with a small whisk until well mixed.

In a large bowl, place flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt and whisk until completely combined. Use the large holes on a grater to shred cold butter into the mixture and stir together with a fork until the butter is incorporated throughout. Stir in the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. Add the cream/egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula and eventually using your hands to mix into a cohesive dough. It will be thick.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll each lump into a rough ball. Dip them into sugar (plain granulated sugar contrasts nicely with the chocolate biscuits) and place, sugar side up, on the lined baking sheet in 3 lines of 2 shortcakes each, staggering the rows.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until set, rotating the pan once during baking time. Remove from oven and allow to rest on a cooling rack.

About 30 minutes before serving, mash about a third of the berries and add the remaining berries. If using strawberries, quarter or cut into pieces. Stir in the sugar and salt. Set aside to macerate for 25 minutes until very juicy.

Using a cold bowl, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract together until the mixture holds a peak.

Cut the shortcakes in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Place the bottom halves on plates and top with macerated fruit. Top the fruit with a big dollop of whipped cream and place the top half of the shortcake on top. Enjoy!


Shortcakes can be frozen and defrosted in the fridge. If desired, you can warm them in an oven at low temperature for a few minutes.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Curried Chicken Breast with Zucchini

It is with a strange sense of both wistfulness and relief that I anticipate the waning of the garden every fall. I love harvest season, but it brings with a constant pressure to eat and preserve every little bit of produce while I still have it. So the relief is a lessening of that pressure, but it comes at a cost, of boring winter food. 

We're facing a probable freeze next week, with a number of baby zucchinis still on my plants. Two of them went into this fairly easy, low carb dinner. I usually add a starch (pasta, bread, or rice), and sometimes another veggie for my picky eaters who don't like zucchini unless it's in a sweet bread. 


Curried Chicken Breast with Zucchini

Modified slightly from

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lbs)
~4 T olive oil, divided
2 small zucchini, about 1 lb
2 teas curry powder
1 T unsalted butter
2 T fine chopped shallots
1/2 c chicken broth
2 T heavy cream

Turn the chicken breasts on their sides and cut in thin pieces of meat that will cook faster. Then add the chicken to a large bowl and coat with ~1 T oil and generous amounts of salt and pepper.

Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the zucchini and curry powder to the bowl with the chicken and stir with your hands to coat everything evenly.

Heat oven to 200F and prepare a dish to hold the zucchini and chicken that finishes early.

Heat ~1 T oil over medium high heat in each of two large, heavy skillets: I use a cast iron and an all clad, because that's what I have. Add the chicken in one layer to both skillets, then place the zucchini in between the chicken.

The original recipe said to brown one side for 3 minutes and then turn the heat down to moderately low and cook the other side for 5 minutes. The timing on this seems way off. It usually takes me about 30 minutes to cook the chicken to 165F after I turn the heat down for the second side. Turn the zucchini occasionally until browned and softened to taste. Move the chicken and zucchini to the warm oven as it finishes.

Then, use one skillet to make the pan sauce. Pour off the fat, and add the butter. Add the shallots. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring to get the flavorful dark bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the broth; reduce to about 1/3 c and then stir in the cream. Bring to a boil, then add the chicken and zucchini pieces back to the skillet and turn them to coat. I wanted more sauce last time, so I might increase the amounts for the pan sauce next time.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Blender Ice Cream

I have a beautiful mint plant on my back steps, that I keep watering every summer because I plan on using it to flavor mint ice cream. The last couple of summers, however, that idea has seemed out of reach. Infusing the cream with mint and pulling out the ice cream machine has been too much. But I am back in the ice cream game now, with this new recipe for making ice cream in a blender!

This was the perfect first-day-of-school treat! So easy. Whip the cream in the blender for 30 seconds, then dump everything else in and process for a few seconds more. Freeze for 6 hours or more, and voila! Soft, scoop-able, tasty ice cream.

Both recipes I tried were plenty sweet for me. I'm going to remove the granulated sugar next time--but here is the original, since I know not everyone objects to sweet.


Blender Ice Cream Base, with Three Variations

Source: Cook's Country
Yield: about a quart

2 c heavy cream, chilled
1 c sweetened, condensed milk
1/4 c whole milk
1/4 light corn syrup
2 T sugar
1/4 teas table salt

Vanilla variation

1 T vanilla extract

Mint Cookie variation

3/4 teas peppermint extract
4 Oreo cookies, or something similar, crushed coarse (1/2 c)

Peanut Butter Cup variation

1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1/2 c coarsely chopped peanut butter cups
(This peanut butter ice cream is really good topped with spanish peanuts.)

The original recipe says to process cream in a blender for 20-30 seconds until soft peaks form, then scrape down the sides and process another 10 seconds until stiff peaks form. I have a ninja blender and it was hard to tell the exact peak stage, so I went with the time recommendations instead.

After the cream is whipped, add all other ingredients except the big stir-ins like cookies or candy chunks. Process for another 20 seconds or so until fully combined, then pour into a loaf pan. Gently stir in cookie or candy, if applicable. Then cover the ice cream with plastic wrap, pressing it down so it's resting right on the cream mixture. Freeze for at least 6 hours, then enjoy!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Baked Peach Oatmeal with Almonds

One more summertime oatmeal recipe.


Baked Peach Oatmeal with Almonds

Adapted from:
Yields:  6-9 servings

2 c rolled oats
1/4 c light brown sugar
1 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
1 teas cinnamon
1/2 c chopped almonds
2 c milk,  any kind but almond milk might be particularly good
1 large egg
3 T coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly, or 3 T melted and cooled butter
1 teas vanilla extract
1/4 teas almond extract
1 1/2 c chopped peaches
Peach slices for the top, optional

Oil or butter an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish. Preheat oven to 350F.

Mix the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and almonds in a medium bowl.

Mix the milk, egg, coconut oil (or butter), and extracts in another bowl. Pour over the oat mixture and stir until combined.

Spread the chopped peaches on the bottom of the baking dish. Top with the oatmeal mixture and even it with an offset or rubber spatula. Top the pan with peach slices, if desired.

Bake for 40 minutes; the oatmeal should be set and the top be golden. Let it cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.


This is not a particularly sweet version of baked oatmeal which suits me fine, but I wager many people might like it a bit sweeter. You could add another tablespoon or two of sugar without a problem. Or you might offer a bit of maple syrup when you serve it. If you have some Peach Drizzle, this would be a great use for it.

You can double this recipe and place ingredients in a 9X13 pan.

Next time, I may use 2 cups chopped peaches, especially if I have an abundance of fruit.

This can be easily reheated in the microwave but you may want to stir in a bit of milk for creaminess.

Peruvian Chicken Soup

Although I'm unsure if this soup is authentic, it is tasty, pretty, and, for me, unique. Better yet it is very quick. The soup can be finished in about 30 minutes.

You may not love quinoa and although it hangs out at the bottom of the pan making it hard to serve evenly, I could find nothing objectionable in the flavor--it added texture to the soup. You could leave it out or use some potatoes, rice, or orzo (you'd have to fiddle with cooking time, though).


Peruvian Chicken Soup

Serves about 2 but can be multiplied

1 small onion, cut into quarters
1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 small jalapeno pepper, optional (or it can be increased), seeds removed and coarsely chopped
8 large stems of parsley or cilantro, including tender stems, coarsely chopped
1 T oil
2 c chicken broth
1/4 c quinoa
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast half (about 11 oz)
1/2 c frozen peas, optional
1 lime for serving

Place the onion, celery, garlic, jalapeno, and parsley or cilantro into a blender or a food processor along with the oil. Pulse until you've got a pesto-like paste. If it resists your machine's efforts add a tablespoon or 2 of the chicken broth and try again. It's nice to have it quite smooth but if you can't get there, don't fret. It will still taste good.

Scrape the vegetable paste into a saucepan and place on a burner over medium heat; let it heat for a minute or two. Add the broth. If your quinoa needs to be rinsed (check the package) do so and then put it into the pot. Once the mixture starts to boil, put a lid on it, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or so.

In the meantime, cut the chicken breast across the grain into 1-inch slices and place into the sauce pan. With the lid off, cook for 10 minutes until the meat is opaque. The quinoa should be starting to pop. Remove the chicken from the pan and cut it into bite size pieces. Return the chicken to the soup and stir in the peas. Cook until the peas have warmed up and are tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Peach and Corn Salsa

It's time for peaches! This fruit keeps me happy for weeks and weeks during the summer. And corn on the cob helps, too. Even though this is a canning recipe you can easily half it and store in the fridge if you have left overs. You'd get about 3 cups of salsa.


Peach and Corn Salsa

From: The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving 
Yield: about 6 half-pint jars (or 6 cups)

1/4 c malt vinegar (5% acidity)
1/4 c lime juice (about 4 small limes)
3 T chopped canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (optional) I used about one or a little more
2 T maple syrup
2 teas salt
1 teas fresh thyme or dried
3 1/2 c finely chopped peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3 1/3 c fresh or frozen corn kernels (2 fairly large ears; more if small)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c finely chopped red bell pepper

Heat clean canning jars in the canner as you prepare the ingredients.

Place all ingredients into a 5 or 6-quart stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven. Place on high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook about 5 minutes until heated through. Stir often.

While the salsa is cooking, clean lids and place them in a bowl of boiling water and allow to sit until you need them.

Use a ladle or measuring cup to place the salsa into each hot jar leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Use a chopstick or thin rubber spatula to remove bubbles. Wipe the jar rims with a clean paper towel to ensure no food adheres to the edge.  Place the lids on top. Top with clean bands on each jar and tighten with your finger tips. Place the jars into the simmering water in the canning pot. Measure to ensure you have at least one inch of water above the tops of the jars.

Cover the pot and return to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes but adjust for altitude by adding required boiling time according to this chart:

1,001-3,000 ft--5 additional minutes
3,001-6,000 ft--10 additional minutes
6,001-8,000 ft--15 additional minutes
8,001-10,000 ft--20 additional minutes

When the jars have boiled for the required time turn the heat off and allow them to sit in the water for 5-10 minutes to reduce the risk of siphoning (hot liquid escaping the jar in rapid temperature change). Using jar tongs, pull each jar from the water being careful not to tip the jars (also a siphoning risk) and place on a towel in a spot where it can remain for 24 hours as it completes its seal and cools down. If you must move them, place them on a towel on a baking sheet and as soon as all the jars are on the sheet carry them together to an area where they won't be disturbed for a day.

Note if you aren't canning this:

Cook the salsa longer 15 minutes or so. Test it and if it is too crunchy, cook it for another 5 minutes.