Saturday, February 26, 2011

Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Gnocchi

So, dear ones, while at the gym on Thursday morning besides hearing one of my favorite songs ever - Hey Jude - I saw a poster that talked about beating the winter blues and foods that elevate your mood. Food…elevate mood…do tell. It said that leafy greens, such as Swiss chard, are packed with magnesium that help to relieve stress…wonder if they sell the stuff by the bushel?

How much is a bushel anyway? Or a peck?

I digress.

Not that I need help managing stress but for the benefit of my dear readers I decided that this Swiss chard hypothesis required further investigation and testing. Accordingly, I embarked on a search for a recipe. I found a simple one at that I, of course, modified to add flavors I thought would blend nicely.

Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Gnocchi
Olive oil (to coat the bottom of the pan)
4 (or 10) garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
2 bunches of Swiss chard, stems trimmed (save stems for another recipe that's coming)
½ cup of balsamic vinegar
¼ cup of pine nuts
1 bag of frozen (or homemade) gnocchi --> stay tuned!

Heat olive oil in the pan. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and sauté until the aromas are released, about 2 minutes. Cut the Swiss chard into ribbons and add to the pan along with balsamic vinegar; cook and stir until chard is wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the pine nuts and cook for another minute or so. Toss with prepared gnocchi. Top with shaved asiago cheese.

Very tasty indeed. I felt serene, down-right tranquil. Did I mention I also had some wine…perhaps the experiment was flawed by an independent variable.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

Every now and again, all a girl wants is breakfast for dinner. There’s something pretty soothing about whipping up some eggs, frying up some bacon or stirring up some grits AFTER a long day. Make no mistake, breakfast for dinner requires planning and orchestration…if it didn’t, we would just make the breakfast foods we love for breakfast, right!? But, who really has that kind of time in the morning? Between dogs tapping their paw at the door needing to pee, making lunches, putting out the trash and the recycling, locating missing items, finding a clean…nevermind, and maybe, exercising, most of us are lucky we have time for an Eggo, let alone Eggs Benedict.

Can I get a witness?

It was my turn to cook on Tuesday and I made Breakfast for Dinner…Buckwheat pancakes with real butter, thick SLAB bacon (have you seen my fish oil?) and maple syrup. We also had a fruit salad in the lovely traveling salad bowl and, vodka-ginger liquor-blood orange cocktails...we needed a proxy for the orange juice.

I used the buckwheat pancake recipe I posted a couple of weeks ago and, I must say, they were as good as they are down the shore - I was worried because you know how everything tastes better down the shore.

So, first I assembled all the ingredients.

Then, I mixed the wet ingredients...then the dry ingredients, incorporated them...

Cooked the flapjacks on the griddle and…ladies and gentleman, I present Uncle Bill’s Buckwheat Pankcakes!

These are some good pancakes...really.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lemon-Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

When I first saw this recipe I was tentative that olive oil would be tasty in a cake, but then considered that the smooth and buttery flavors of the oil Homer called "liquid gold" would blend nicely with the earthiness of the rosemary and the freshness of the lemon. I do not post step-by-step photos because, despite several ingredients, this cake is a mere two-step process...very, very easy.

Lemon-Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (I only used 1 cup)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fat-free milk
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
3 large eggs
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare a 10" tube pan (I used a 10" round stone pan). Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Place granulated sugar and next 7 ingredients (through eggs) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at low speed 2 minutes or until smooth. Add to flour mixture; beat until blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack, and remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. The recipe calls for a lemon glaze but I opted to sprinkle confectioners sugar on top.

Very tasty. Older daughter and I had a slice with a spot of tea when we returned from seeing "The King's Speech." I felt very British indeed!

Recipe form Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2009

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sprinkle, Sprinkle

Here's an easy way to keep confectioners sugar handy so that you can quickly and easily dress up your baked goods.

Once you are finished using the spices in a spice know, the kind with the smaler holes on the top and you can flip the lid down...wash it and dry it thoroughly.

Fill it with confectioners sugar.

Sprinkle away!

Store the unused portion in the frig for the next time a baked good needs a quick dress-up party! You can use the same trick for flour to make flouring a cake pan easy and less messy - one of my least favorite jobs!

Yet another way to ReCyClE an ordinary object and avoid buying a special tool! Plus, you're only sprinkling the amount you need so no waste! don't always need to use flour when coating a cake pan...if you are making a box cake, some of the dry cake mix will work too!

Friday, February 18, 2011


We had dinner at the architect’s house the other night and she made pan fried tilapia with sautéed fennel and wild rice. As usual, it was delicious…she coated the tilapia with a bit of flour and cornmeal then lightly pan fried it in a bit of olive oil and butter. Tilapia cooks up quickly and is not too fishy so it’s a great way to serve fish to those finicky family members or guests who claim not to like fish! *** BoNuS *** tilapia is a lower-fat fish than some oilier companions but still provides high levels of protein and heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). This is a familiar trio of letters to those of us you who take a fish oil tablet every day to control cholesterol!

Tilapia is a fresh water fish -- shallow streams, ponds, rivers, lakes – and China and Egypt are the largest producers in the world although most of the fresh tilapia fillets consumed in the US are imported fresh daily from South America.

Some of you are probably thinking...gosh, that girl is smart (humor me)… she sure knows about a lot of stuff. And while I certainly do know a lot about some stuff, I am very grateful to Wikipedia, my cookbooks, and knitting books for providing the information to make these posts (loosely) informative and accurate. I try to learn something new each time I write a post so maybe I can FINALLY Go To The Head Of The Class.

Remember that game? We used to sit on our concrete landing and play for hours. When Trivial Pursuit was first introduced I remember thinking it’s just a fancy-schmancy version of the beloved game kids have been playing since 1936! The game offered junior, intermediate and senior level questions in subjects such as science, math, history, literature and geography so that kids of all ages could play against one another. Below is a sample game card…do you know the answers? If so, post a comment!

Don't you just love memories!

Back to tilapia.

There are many ways to prepare tilapia and since Architect pan fried hers, I offer a baked recipe that I found on all

Lemon Garlic Tilapia

4 tilapia fillets
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Rinse tilapia fillets under cool water, and pat dry with paper towels. Place fillets in baking dish. Pour lemon juice over fillets, then drizzle butter on top. Sprinkle with garlic, parsley, and pepper. Bake in preheated oven until the fish is white and flakes when pulled apart with a fork, about 30 minutes.

No dessert this week but we had a delicious field green and grapefruit salad in the lovely traveling salad bowl.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nothing says loving like Chicken Pot Pie!

When you think wholesome food, one dish that comes to mind is Chicken Pot Pie….there’s something about the fresh vegetables, moist chicken, creamy sauce and flaky crust that just screams comfort food (not really…’s a metaphor that I’m using for effect). Don’t you just love metaphors…we use them to legitimately overstate a point and because we hear them so often in our everyday conversations, no one notices. Some (sappy) examples in honor of Valentine’s Day:

Love is a camara, full of memories.
My heart is on fire.
Love is in the air.
We were made for each other.

Oh brother, I'm faint from all this love talk.

Think I'll just stick to Pot Pie.

Way back in July of 1996, I found a recipe for “Blue-Ribbon Chicken Potpie” in Woman’s Day (the paper magazine) that I CUT OUT and saved and have been making ever since. Of course, I’ve made some minor adjustments, but this recipe is so good that adjustments aren’t really necessary (I made them anyway).

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (from a 17 1⁄4-ounce box), thawed according to package directions
1 cup chicken broth (sometimes I use 3/4 c broth and 1/4 c of white wine)
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
8 ounces green beans, cut in 1-inch pieces (I have been known to add frozen corn)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon of garlic (my addition)
1 1⁄2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme or 1⁄2 teaspoon dried (tarragon too)
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
3 cups bite-size pieces cooked chicken (I like to grill mine)
1 egg, slightly beaten

Have ready a deep 2-quart soufflé dish or other round casserole about 7 inches across the top and 3 inches deep. Using dish as a guide, trim pastry with kitchen scissors into a circle, leaving a 1-inch border. Discard trimmings. Refrigerate pastry on a large plate or cookie sheet until firm.

In a large saucepan bring broth to a simmer. Add carrots and green beans, cover and cook over medium heat just until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving vegetables and broth in separate bowls.

Return saucepan to medium heat. Add butter, and when melted, add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes until soft. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in reserved broth, then half-and-half, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until thick and hot, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in chicken and cooked vegetables.

Heat oven to 375°F. Scrape chicken mixture into soufflé dish, cover with foil and bake 30 minutes or until warm throughout.

Brush 1 inch border of pastry circle with beaten egg. Invert carefully over hot casserole. Gently press edge of pastry to dish until it sticks, then brush all over with more egg. Cut 2 vents in middle of pastry for steam to escape. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until puffed and browned.

Let cool slightly before serving.

Happy Valentine’s Day dear readers!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Blueberry Scones

I did not make these scones from scratch, but I opened the tube, sprinkled them with a pinch of sugar and baked them so I count them as “More-or-Less Homemade.” They are from Immaculate Baking Co. and, honestly, I don’t know that I could have made these much better…they are really, really good, made with all natural ingredients - not too sweet, lots of plump blueberries, wheat flour and no trans fat!
The label on the colorful packaging explains that the guy who started Immaculate Baking Co., Scott Blackwell, did so in 1995 with a “simple dream: bake great-tasting, all natural treats and inspire the natural artist in all of us.” The company supports folk artists, whose art is featured on their packaging. You can read all about them and the Foundation that Blackwell began to “help deserving folk artists maintain the integrity of their lifestyle and the sincerity of their unique vision” at Immaculate Baking Co.

You can also order products from their website...our local Co-Op carries them!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Yogurt Raita

We had dinner at the Foodie’s house on Tuesday night… she always surprises us with the most unusual dishes and this week she did not disappoint. She made chicken marinated in ginger, blood orange juice, garlic and cilantro, lightly fried and served atop mashed white sweet potatoes and sautéed spinach. As if this wasn’t enticing enough, she drizzled the creation with a yogurt "raita” and served it with a garnish of blood orange and cilantro. Very rare for us, but we were suddenly very quiet…being careful to appreciate the complex flavors of this dish. Tasty indeed.

Raita is a yogurt-based condiment commonly used as a sauce or dip. Typically used in Indian/Pakistani cooking, a raita is made by sautéing seasonings -- cumin, mint, cayenne pepper, ginger, garlic, and other herbs and spices – and mixing them into yogurt with fruits and vegetables such as cucumber, onion, or carrot, mango or pineapple. Foodie used ginger, blood orange juice, garlic, cilantro and, of course, yogurt, in her raita, recreating a dish she had in a San Diego restaurant during a recent trip to visit her daughter.

Blood Orange Raita
2 cups of plain yogurt
¼ cup cilantro
2 cloves of garlic
Juice of a ½ blood orange
Grated ginger to taste
Salt to taste

Grind together cilantro leaves, garlic and ginger and sauté to release flavors. Add salt, yogurt and blood orange juice and heat just until warm.

If you can contribute a raita variation (I imagine these are endless!), please share.

While eating our homemade cardamom rice pudding (a lovely complement to the savory meal)we somehow got talking about poetry and Foodie read us a delightful poem entitled "Forgetful-ness," by Billy Collins, Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. There is a line in the poem that says something about information “retiring to the southern hemisphere of the brain” and I found this strangely soothing…knowing that even a Poet Laureate can sometimes be a scatterbrain!

Oh yes….damn, forgot what I was going to say.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday!

KnitOne, PearlOnion was born one year ago today....Happy Birthday! Stella doesn't look like she is in a celebratory mood, does she?!

To my dear readers, thank has been an amazing year.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dessert in a Paper Cup

A short post.

I hosted a swim team pasta dinner at my house last night..basically a carb fest before a meet, which is tonight. Anyway, I made all the girls a little dessert cup that included a brownie and a cookie. I bought the red paper cups with heart-shaped cutouts at Joann' adorable are they?!

The baking cups come in all shapes, sizes, prints and colors and, they are not just decorative, you can bake in them! The design I used is made by Wilton.

Wilton Specialty Baking Cups.

Monday, February 7, 2011

J's Cowl

Remember I told you that I found an interesting cowl pattern on started it this weekend (so now I have two projects on the needles -- the infamous sweater and this cowl). I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this cowl pattern - it is knitting up beautifully with a rich and luscious "Cinnamon" Lion Brand Alpine Wool...gorgeous color! This pattern is deceivingly simple to knit and the result is a posh and practical garment. Look at those beautiful stitches!

This is called the "Cowl'd and Frosty" cowl and the link from Ravelry is to kellywithoutanet blog.

Yarn: 1 skein of Malabrigo Chunky (approximately 104 yards) or similar weight wool
Needles: 6 mm, 16 inch circular (I used 5mm and casted on more stitches). Notions: stitch marker or contrasting yarn (or the tiny rubber bands the orthodontist dispenses - these are also good for making sure the stitches don't fall off the needles between knitting sessions), a blunt head darning needle

Gauge: Gauge is not essential to this pattern, but my gauge was 14 stitches to 4 inches.
Finished Measurements: Approximately 9 inches by 9 inches.

Loosely CO 61 stitches.
Join in the round, being careful not to twist.
Row 1: K1, *(P1, K1) Repeat from * around.
Row 2: P1, *(K1, P1) Repeat from * around.
Row 3: Repeat Row 1.
Row 4: Repeat Row 2.
Row 5-15: Knit.

Repeat Rows 1-15 twice.

Repeat Rows 1-4. Loosely bind off. Weave in loose ends. Blocking not required.

I found my counter...just in time because I did not want to muddle the pattern by miscounting a row. I've been using a pencil and paper...ticking each time I started a row -- I felt like a Timex watch.

I can't wait to bundle up with this lovely piece. Will post a photo of the finished cowl...I need more yarn!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

How Now Brown Cowl

A co-worker was sporting this beautiful knitted tube around her neck the other day…upon further inspection, it was simply a wide scarf, knitted on regular needles, that was sewn together. So, I asked for the source of the pattern…she said ”I made it up.” I said, “do share!” So here it is!

But....before I share, I was curious about the origin of the term "cowl neck" so I did some sleuthing. A cowl a hooded garment, typically worn by monks. A cowl neck is defined as the part of a garment that is draped to resemble a cowl or hood. This scarf can be worn either way...beautifully draped around the neck or as a bonnet (don't you just love that word, bonnet...when I bought my Mini Cooper that's what they called the hood -- so you see most language is associated somehow!).

Oh yes, the pattern.

Cowl Scarf

Begin by casting on 30 stitches on size 13 needles using a bulky yarn.

1. Knit 6 rows in garter stitch. Incorporate a “fun fur” yarn on rows 3 and 4 to give the piece a little more interest...only if you'd like, don’t mean to sound all bossy! If you do incorporate a second, cut it off at the end of the 4th row and weave the tail into the scarf.

2. Row 7 – knit in garter but wrap TWICE and bring each stitch through – you will have 60 stitches on the needles.

3. Row 8 – knit in garter but pick up only ONE of the wrapped stitches – back to 30 stitches on the needles. This will give a scarf a lovely fallen stitch pattern.

4. Knit 5 more rows of garter (this is repeating step 1 above).

5. Repeat the pattern until the piece measures 30-36” depending on how fitted or loose you’d like your scarf. Sew the ends together using a blunt head needle.

Very simple and elegant. A great way to dress up a plain sweater! I found another great cowl pattern on that uses circular looks like it will knit up quickly so I will be casting on!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Buckwheat Pankcakes

One of my favorite places in the world is the South Jersey Shore….specifically Ocean City, NJ has been a haven for me since I was a little girl. As I drive into town over the 34th Street Bridge, the salt air overwhelms my senses and I am immediately calmed by the expectation of a peaceful retreat.

Transcendentalists take heed…

…sitting on the beach one must also endure the conversations from neighboring umbrella city dwellers about what to make for dinner, sports, politics (everyone’s an expert, you know) and the occasional chiding of a rambunctious child who just dropped his mother's cell phone in the sand. For some, this discourse might get tiresome, but for me, it just adds to the Shore’s allure and familiarity – remember, I grew up in Fairmount and am half Italian, so I am used to a bit of disorder!

Any jaunt to Ocean City would not be complete without a visit to Uncle Bill’s Pancake House. I like the 21st and Asbury Street restaurant, but there are other locations in Strathmere, Avalon, Stone Harbor, Wildwood and Cape May. Regardless of the location, I ALWAYS get the buckwheat pancakes.

You might think that buckwheat is a grain…not true; in addition to being a beloved character on "The Little Rascals," Buckwheat is a fruit seed related to rhubarb, and does not contain protein glutens, so it is often eaten by those with gluten allergies. Oh-tay, now that we've established that...the Uncle Bill’s version of buckwheat pancakes are not gluten free because they contain all-purpose flour, but they are nonetheless soooo good. Below is the recipe direct from this South Jersey Shore tradition!

Uncle Bill's Best Buckwheat Pancakes

1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons canola oil and 1 teaspoon butter, for frying pancakes

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg and 3 tablespoons of melted butter.
2. In another bowl, mix together, all-purpose flour, buckwheat flour, sugar, salt and baking soda.
3. Pour the dry ingredients into the egg-mixture.
4. Stir until the two mixtures are just incorporated.
5. Heat a griddle or large frying pan on medium-high heat.
6. In a small saucepan, add 2 teaspoons of canola oil and 1 teaspoon butter and let melt. Use as required to rub the griddle or frying pan before frying each batch of pancakes.
7. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of batter onto griddle or frying pan for each pancake to form 4 inch pancakes.
8. Fry until bubbles form on the top of the pancakes, about 3 minutes.
9. Flip them over and cook for another 3 minutes or until done.

Enjoy! BTW....I LOVE breakfast for dinner, so stay tuned!

Ocean City photos from Google Images. Recipe from

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Broccoli Rabe

This falls into my More-or-Less Homemade category.

My cousin, Elizabeth (actually my cousin’s daughter, so that makes her my second cousin, I think) writes a delightful blog called Scratch.Love. All the food she prepares for her family is made from scratch and she shares her fabulous recipes and gorgeous photos in her blog (I am very envious of the photographs she takes - stunning). Anyway, a few weeks ago she wrote a post about a pork roast, broccoli rabe, roasted red pepper and provolone sandwich that looked simply devine and I have been salivating ever since. She of course, made the bread and roasted the red peppers herself....not being as industrious – but just as enthusiastic – below is my “more-or-less” homemade version of Elizabeth’s lovely and delicious sandwich.

You will need:
Roasted red peppers (in a jar)
A bunch of broccoli rabe
Two small French baguettes
Provolone cheese
Pork tenderloin left over from another meal (remember, I am trying not to be wasteful!)

Wash and trim the broccoli. Steam for 5 minutes then sauté in garlic and olive oil for another 5-8 minutes. Set aside.

Slice the pork and place in a frying pan to warm. Open the jar of red peppers and place a pepper slice on top of the warmed pork.

Top with some of the sautéed broccoli.

Shave some provolone on top and heat until melted. Transfer to the baguette.