A chronicle of my life in recipes. I love to cook, but more importantly I love to eat. The food you cook and eat tells a story of where you were raised and the path you have traveled. This is my story . . .

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Casaburo Chop Chop Salad

I'm not sure if the restaurant this salad comes from in Indiana is still open or not, but I got this recipe from a friend of my mom's years ago and it is always a hit and perfect for those summer picnic crowds.

You make your own dressing and croutons, which are crunchy, yet chewy at the same time and just a tad bit sweet. The ingredient list may seem long, but certain components of the salad are suited perfectly to be prepared ahead, which makes the recipe a snap.

1 Head ice burg lettuce chopped (But feel free to use any greens, baby spinach is yummy)
1 Head Romaine chopped
1 Red bell pepper diced
3 Green onions sliced
8-10 Slices bacon cooked & crumbled
1/2 C. Parmesan
3/4 C. Romano
1/2 C. Provolone cubed
1 C. Mozzarella shredded

Salad can be chopped and mixed with other veggies one day in advance and stored in the refrigerator to keep crisp. Toss all ingredients and dressing just prior to serving. Cook bacon and crumble, store in a plastic baggy, refrigerated until ready to serve. I like to cook my bacon in the oven. Save the mess and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place bacon strips on the foil lined pan and bake at 350 degrees 15-20 minutes until brown and crisp. Place on paper towel with tongs to remove grease.

6 Anchovies or equal paste, I use paste
1 1/3 tsp. Black pepper
1 T. Salt
1/4 C. Oregano, dried
1 1/2 tsp. Garlic powder
1 1/4 C. Granulated sugar
1/4 C. Cornstarch, I use a much (about half) less, too much corn starch gives a chalky feel.
8 oz. White wine vinegar
16 oz. Canola Oil, I mix canola & olive and use a little less

Blend first 8 ingredients in a blender to mix. While the blender is running slowly add oil.

6 English muffins, split & cubed
1/2 C. dressing
1/4 C. Parmesan, freshly grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss english muffins with the dressing to coat and mix in cheese. Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with foil and bake 20-30 minutes until golden, stirring every 5 minutes. Croutons can be prepared the day before and stored air tight.

Just before serving, toss all the components of the salad together and serve.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Crunchy Granola

I created this granola recipe with Cam, combining two recipes we found online and adding a few tweaks of our own. The recipies that inspired us were Alton Brown 's crunchy granola and King Arthur Flour's granola recipe. I love how versatile the recipe can be, change up the nuts, spices, extracts and dried fruit to suit your own taste.   We opted for coconut oil instead of vegetable oil that the other recipies called for. Stay tuned for other variations, including pecan and candied bacon granola.
I prefer it sprinkled over yogurt, served with berries and a drizzle of honey Cam loves it as an ice cream topping.

3 C Oats
1 C roughly chopped whole raw almonds
1/4 C brown sugar
1/2 t. Cinnamon
2 T. Honey
1/4 C Pure maple syrup
1/4 C Coconut oil
3/4 t. Kosher salt
1 t. Vanilla extract
1/2 t. Almond extract
1/2 C raw sunflower seeds
1/2 C Pine nuts
1/2 C Pepitas
1 C Sweetened coconut
1 C Raisins (mix in after baking)


Line a half sheet pan with aluminum foil, preheat oven to 275 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix first four ingredients. In a small bowl, stir together, the next six ingredients and set aside. Add nuts and coconut to the large bowl of dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix coating the dry mixture. Spread mixture ion to the foil lined pan and pat it out evenly.
Bake at 275 degrees for five minutes. Remove from oven and stir mixture patting it out flat against and return to the oven, reducing heat to 250 degrees. Continue to bake for one hour and up to an hour and 15 minutes until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan. When cool Mix in raIsins and transfer to an airtight container.
Store airtight for one week.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Basic Basil Pesto

 One of my favorite summer time treats, once my basil has grown large enough to accomodate. I make it almost daily in small batches. Just enough to have for a quick creamy pesto sauce over pasta or to whip up a quick cold pesto pasta salad with some leftover pasta and a few veggies or stir some into mayo for a quick and tasty sandwich spread. Topped off with olive oil, it will keep for a few days in the fridge, but with a few simple ingredients, I break out the mini food processor and make it as fresh and as often as I can.  
2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves
1-2 T. Or 4 cloves Garlic, I am lazy and buy pre-cleaned/chopped from my gourmet market 
1/2 Cup Toasted Pine nuts
1/3 Cup ParmeseanCheese, I use Parm, Pecorino, whatever I have on hand as long as it is good quality!
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. Salt & Pepper or to taste, depending on how salty your cheese might be.

 As always, when a recipe contains few ingredients, use the best you can. I reserve this unfiltered and imported olive oil for special recipes.
Place clean basil leaves in food processor or blender, pulse a few times to chop well. Add remaining ingredients except cheese and pulse until puréed. Once puréed, stir in cheese. Will keep in a sealed container, covered with oil to retain color up to one week. Can be frozen for two months. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Tomato Tortelinni Soup

This soup is my adaptation from one of my favorite restaurants in college, sadly it is no longer open.  Chaucer's in Gainesville, Fl.  They would roast whole turkeys every day and make the best sandwiches on croissants. My favorite soup that they would serve was a creamy tomato basil with tortellini, this is my version.

          I found these adorable mini cheese ravioli at Trader Joe's.  They work great in the soup!  Yum!This soup comes together so quickly.  Literally, about 10 ingredients that I usually have on hand ready to go in about 30-45 minutes.  I do like to make it the day before, however, I find the flavors really blend and improve.  You can go ahead and cook the mini tortellini or ravioli, just store them separately from the soup and mix in the next day when you reheat.

1 Small onion, about 1- 1 1/2 C chopped
2 T Olive oil
32 oz. Chicken stock
2, 28 oz. San Marzano cans whole tomatoes
1 Clove garlic, smashed and peeled
1/2 tsp Dried basil
1 T plus 1 1/2tsp. Penzeys Italian sausage seasoning
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
5 large fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 C Heavy cream
Salt & Pepper 
1 T Sugar
1 bag 12-16oz dried mini tortellini or ravioli
Fresh Basil & Parmesan cheese, ricotta for garnish

In a large stock pot, heat over medium heat and add oil.  Add onion and saute until nicely caramelized, about 3-5 minutes.  Add spices, stir and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and de-glaze the pan. Add the canned tomatoes, allow to simmer about 5 minutes. 

While simmering, in a separate small pot heat salted water and boil mini tortellini or ravioli, cook according to package directions.  Slightly under cook and reserve some of the cooking liquid.

Add the fresh basil leaves to the soup pot and puree.  Use a hand blender to puree or transfer to an upright blender and puree until smooth.  If using an upright blender, use caution and allow for pressure of hot contents when blending.  I couldn't live without my hand blender, get one, you will love it.

Once blended, add cream and adjust any seasonings, add sugar if needed.  (Sometimes I add sugar to balance the acid, but sometimes it is not necessary) Taste and use your best judgment.  Add cooked pasta.
Garnish as desired and enjoy.

Espresso Cream Cheese Brownies

These recipes are from a wonderful book that is no longer in print.  Thank goodness I have a friend who
has a copy.  They come from Alice Medcrich's Cookies and Brownies.  See the recipe on this blog Super Rich Brownies.  Then follow the directions below to turn them into these perfectly balanced brownie.  Sweet rich chocolate with the creamy and slightly bitterness of espresso cream cheese topping.
My advice, this is a simple recipe as far as number of ingredients.
Make those ingredients count, use the best quality.  I use Plugra butter, Scharffenberger chocolate and Medaglia D'oro espresso powder.

This brownie is a variation of the brownie recipe listed earlier on the blog, The basic New Classic Brownie. This simple addition changes the brownie completely.

Ingredients from Super Rich Brownies on this blog.
I T. instant espresso powder
1 T water
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 C sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 large Egg
9-inch square pan lined across the bottom and up 2 opposite sides with parchment or foil.  I lined with foil.

Preheat the over to 325 degrees.  Place rack in the lower third of the oven.  Mix the batter for the Super Rich Brownies on this blog.  Spread all but 1/2 Cup of that batter in the bottom of the lined pan, set aside.

Mix the espresso powder with the water, in a small measuring cup or bowl.  With an electric mixer, mix the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in the egg and coffee mixture.  Spread this mixture over the brownie batter.  Spoon dollops of the reserved brownie batter on top.  Using a table knife, pull the brownie batter through the other batters to marble.  **Be careful not to scrape the bottom of the pan with the knife.

Bake, 20-25 minutes.  Look for the brownies to begin to pull away from the side of the pan.  Cool on a wire rack.  Refrigerate and chill before cutting, about 2 hours.

Using the foil, lift the brownies out of the pan, peel away the foil and place brownies on a cutting board.  Cut into 16 squares or cut into 32 triangles as pictured, by cutting those squares in half on the diagonal.  This is the perfect size piece, they are so rich.  Can be kept, airtight in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Vegetable Beef & Barley Soup

I love cooking soups, you can be so liberal with your ingredients and you have to work really hard to mess it up. I created this one by reading over a couple of different beef and barley recipes and following the basic instructions, while adding my own ingredients. I use a very specific type of beef that originates from the Amish country near my hometown. (Sources are listed at the bottom of this blog entry.) Do yourself a favor and go to the trouble and order this canned beef, it is perfect for the pantry and has a multitude of uses.  My Grandmother would send me a box of Beef, Chicken and Noodles every Christmas.  You can also order homemade Amish noodles. I blended the recipe on the box of barley with some basic ideas of soup making, so don't be afraid to take liberty with the ingredients.
If you grew up in Amish country, they use this beef for a number of meals.   Beef and Noodles and Bar-B-Q Beef Sandwiches were both standard fare..

1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/2 C celery, chopped
1/2 C carrot, chopped
1/2 C onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 C, 1 small head of cabbage chopped into 1 inch squares
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. or more, Penzeys Italian sausage seasoning
Salt and Pepper
1/2 C barley
1 20 oz. can Amish packed beef, remove any fat
2 15 oz. cans stewed tomatoes
1 32 oz Beef Stock
Water according to the proportions on the barley

In a large stock pot over medium heat add butter and olive oil, saute celery, carrot, onion, garlic and cabbage until translucent. Season with celery salt, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Add the barley and cook 5 minutes. Add broth, water, beef and tomatoes. Simmer about an hour, taste and add additional seasoning if necessary.

This is the beef I use.  I am sure there are other brands out there or you could start with a fresh roast, cut it into cubes
season and brown it in a pan, add 1 C of water and cover, cook for 30-45 minutes and then add it to your soup.

I couldn't live without the Italian Sausage Seasoning from Penzeys either!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Veggie Slaw

Surprisingly, I came across this recipe on Facebook.  In line with other New Year posts, it boasted cleansing properties.  Cleanse or no cleanse it sounded good and it is!  A big plus is how easy it was to prepare, using the food processor.  I didn't measure exactly, nothing new there, and I did change a couple of ingredients. This is one that can go with the flow.

2 Broccoli crowns
1 Head cauliflower
2-3 Carrots peeled
1 Small bunch Kale, stems removed
1/2 C parsley
1/2 C Sunflower seeds salted
1/2 C Almonds, chopped
1 C Dried berries (cherries, cranberries or blueberries)
1/2 C Raisins

Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup ***  I used local Honey
2-4 Tablespoons Olive Oil, the recipe doesn't call for this, but I added it
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, carrots and parsley.  Transfer into a large bowl.  Add the nuts, seeds and fruit to the bowl and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Make the dressing:  Combine lemon juice, vinegar and honey or syrup.  Whisk in olive oil and season.  Pour dressing over salad, stir and refrigerate.

Crunchy, a little sweet and a little sour, this salad is a great balance of them all.

Crispy Parmesan Toasts

Never thought this could be so simple, until I saw it on a cooking show today.  Why have I waited SO long to make these.  The perfect side to a salad, pasta or to sop up some yummy soup.  Next time I will add a little something extra and season the cheese or rub the bread with a little garlic before toasting.

1 fresh Baguette, thinly sliced
Shredded Parmesan
Olive Oil
Season to taste

Drizzle each slice of bread with olive oil, just on one side.  In a cold nonstick skillet place a mound of cheese large enough for your bread slices.  (About 1-2 Tablespoons.)  Top each mound of cheese with the non-oiled side of the bread.  Turn heat on, to medium.  Cook until the cheese begins to brown, approximately    
2-4 minutes.  Flip bread slices and toast the other side of the bread, 1-2 minutes.  Serve warm or set aside to cool.  Great for topping soup as a crouton.

Monday, January 5, 2015


The list is almost TOO long, because we know this town too well, where do I begin???

 LaSpadas, quite possibly the best HOAGIES, not subs.
Now with a bunch of locations, find one near you and get one!
Turkey & cheese here with hot and sweet peppers.  Have them
pull the bread and get an extra one to take the beach for
tomorrow, even better the next day.

 Mai Kai for happy hour!  Get the pu pu platter, and the ribs, and the shrimp and the pressed duck and a rum barrel and a pina passion and . . . It is a touristy spot as well as a place for the locals, you just have to know when to go, call ahead and reserve a table in the Molo kai lounge and know what to order!

 Peter Pan Diner, fried clams.  Nothing wrong with
a menu where you can get anything, anytime, breakfast for
dinner, turkey dinner, gyros.  You name it, they serve it.

The Nook, get there early, tables are limited and they go fast, so be prepared to wait.  Great German food, pictured here, the imported pretzels with beer dipping sauce, they aren't always available so if they are order one to share.  Another special on the menu is the pork shoulder, YUM!  Staples like sauerbraten and sausages are authentic menus items that are always a hit.  They also serve a great breakfast in the mornings.
The Cookie Lady, lace cookies are a favorite.
Hidden in Lauderdale by the Sea, seek them out!

Conch Chowder, Conch fritters, BBQ and Bimini Bread at Ernies 
You won't see any tourists here, bikers and mariners, regulars at the bar.

La Bonne Crepe
The best crepes you will ever have, and so many choices!  Order a salad even if you share it, the dressing is a secret creamy herb dressing and I use it just to dunk my bread.  Stroll away your breakfast or lunch on beautiful Las Olas Avenue after your meal.

No pictures, but also visit Lester's for a great breakfast, Skyline Chili, South Port Raw Bar, Kelly's Landing for original Boston chowder and seafood, Piranha Pat's or any Flannigan's for great ribs and bar food,  Cafe Max  for an adult foodie meal, Chez Porky's for creatively flavored wings (trust me get the curry wings and have them wet over rice!) and great dinner items, Wings & Things for wings, beer and bar food, You have to have a Jack's Hamburger and head to Pomperdale for an authentic pastrami deli sandwich.  I am sure I forgot something, and don't nit pick, some of these are in Pompano or Lauderdale by the Sea, but Fort Lauderdale area, all east of 95.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


There is such an enormous opportunity for fantastic food in this city! We have been visiting for over 20 years and some things never change, while like most urban areas, once forgotten neighborhoods are being revitalized. The later is what we found on our most recent visit to Washinton.  A few old standards along with some newcomers. . . I hope they are all there to stay! Old Ebitt Grill, our first stop during every visit to the nations capital, is a staple. Established in 1856. http://www.ebbitt.com. Visit at least twice if you can, once for breakfast and once for lunch or dinner. Ben's Chili Bowl is an oldie too, now with various locations, but to get the REAL experience, visit the original on U street. 
Logan circle is a great spot and often missed with spots like: The Pig, Dulcezza, Le Diplomat and another Etheopian spot,Lalibella. 

Oysters at Old Ebbitt, with migniotte! Yummmm

So many great Etheopian spots in DC, this is a new one in an up and comer neighborhood, Etheopic.


Signature pulled pork sandwich and the Korean pork at The Pig. Great bar and a great vibe!

Sadly our favorite crab spot has closed, had to find these beauties in Maryland, but it isn't a visit to DC without blue crabs.
Ben's Chili Bowl, this is the new local at the airport, not quite the same as the original on U, but it will do!
Dolcezza, unbelievable gelato and espresso! 
The Tombs, a must visit in Georgetown. Bar food and craft beer. The old college haunt, speaking of haunts . . It is just a hop, skip and a jump from those iconic steps featured in the Exorcist.