Posts Tagged ‘recipes’


What am I baking?

November 16, 2014

baklavaTomorrow is Baklava Day . . . and this is what I was baking.

Baklava Ottoman Turkish: باقلوا  is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire, and is also found in Central and Southwest Asia.  (Wikipedia)

I have always enjoyed baklava, but never attempted making it until now.  It turns out, it is dead easy to make – and delicious.  I followed Ree Drummond’s recipe, using a combination of walnuts, butternuts and pecans to create my baklava.

Here’s the recipe:


  • 1 package Phyllo Dough
  • 4 cups Chopped Walnuts Or Pecans
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 stick Butter, Melted
  • 2 cups Honey
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Preparation Instructions

Remove phyllo dough package from freezer and place in the fridge for 24 hours to thaw. Remove from fridge 1 hour before using.

When working with the phyllo dough, only remove the sheets you immediately need, keeping the other sheets covered in plastic wrap, then a damp cloth.

Toss together the chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly butter a rectangular baking pan. Make sure the sheets of phyllo will generally fit the pan (if they’re a little bigger, that’s okay.) If they’re much bigger, just trim them with a sharp knife.

Butter the top sheet of phyllo with melted butter, then grab it and the unbuttered sheet below it. Set the two sheets in the pan, buttered sheet face down. Press lightly into the pan. Repeat this twice more, so that you have six sheets of phyllo in the pan, three of the sheets buttered.

Sprinkle on enough walnuts to make a single layer. Butter two sheets of phyllo and place them on top of the walnuts. Add more walnuts, then two more buttered phyllo sheets. Repeat this a couple more times, or until you’re out of walnuts. Top with 4 more buttered phyllo sheets, ending with a buttered top. Cut a diagonal diamond pattern in the baklava using a very sharp knife.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the baklava is very golden brown.

While the baklava is baking, combine 1 stick of the butter, honey, water, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.

When you remove the baklava from the oven, drizzle half the saucepan evenly all over the top. Allow it to sit and absorb for a minute, then drizzle on a little more until you think it’s thoroughly moistened. You’ll likely have some of the honey mixture leftover, which you can drink with a straw. Just kidding.

Allow the baklava to cool, uncovered, for several hours. Once cool and sticky and divine, carefully remove them from the pan and serve with coffee (or give as gifts!)


What am I eating?

July 9, 2014




Today is Sugar Cookie Day

To celebrate, this is one of my favorite recipes and is from the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook that belonged to my mom.

betty crocker cookbook


1 1/2  cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter  softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2 1/2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the egg and flavorings. 
Whisk together the flour, soda and cream of tartar.
Add gradually to the butter and sugar mixture, combining well.

I admit that I am too lazy to roll and cut out shapes, so I form the dough into a log on a piece of waxed paper.  I sprinkle sparkling sugar on the waxed paper and roll up the dough so that it is covered with the sparkling sugar all around the outside.  Chill the dough for a couple of hours.  Slice (3/8″ thick) and bake on a silpat covered baking sheet (or lightly greased, or on a sheet of parchment paper) for 7 to 8 minutes at 375 degrees.

If you don’t have silpat sheets, sparkling sugar, or baking parchment, take a look at King Arthur Flour’s website.  They have everything. My baking sheets are made by Chicago Metallic, large, commercial grade, uncoated.  I bought them at Amazon.

A little history from What’s Cooking in America: The earliest cookie-style cakes are thought to date back to 7th century Persia A.D. (now Iran), one of the first countries to cultivate sugar (luxurious cakes and pastries in large and small versions were well known in the Persian empire). According to historians, sugar originated either in the lowlands of Bengal or elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Sugar spread to Persia and then to the Eastern Mediterranean. With the Muslim invasion of Spain, then the Crusades and the developing spice trade, the cooking techniques and ingredients of Arabia spread into Northern Europe.


What am I eating?

July 4, 2014


Am I the only person who eats radish sandwiches?  This has always been a summer favorite of mine when the new radishes appear in the grocery store. When I was a kid, my mom would slice up radishes and serve them on white bread with a little butter and salt – yummy!

The photo shows an upscale version with a slice of melted American cheese on a toasted English muffin – also yummy.


What am I noting today?

June 16, 2014


Today is National Fudge Day

Fudge’s origins are unclear, but it remains a popular confection.  It was something my friends and I often made when we were teenagers.  However, at that time the only recipe we know was one that involved a lot of beating by hand to cool and incorporate air into the fudge so that it would stiffen up to the proper consistency.  Thinking we were very clever, we poured a batch of the warm candy into my friend’s mother’s stand mixer thinking that the mixer would do the hard work for us.  After a few minutes, smoke started to come out of the mixer’s motor.  Hmm.

Here is an easy recipe made with Marshmallow Fluff.  Once we discovered the fluff, we never went back to our old fudge recipe. Prepare yourself for some tooth-rattling sweetness.

I think this recipe may be improved by a good slug of bourbon.

And maybe just forget about the fudge.


3 cups  sugar
3/4 cup  butter
1 small  can (5 oz.) evaporated milk (about 2/3 cup) (Do not use sweetened condensed milk.)
12 oz chocolate chips
1 jar  (7 oz.)  Marshmallow Creme
1 cup  chopped walnuts (optional)
1 tsp.  vanilla

Line9-inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides and butter it lightly.

Bring sugar, butter and evaporated milk to full rolling boil in 3-qt. saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook 5 min. Remove from heat.

Addchocolate and marshmallow creme; stir until melted. Add nuts and vanilla; mix well.

Pour into prepared pan; spread to cover bottom of pan. Cool completely. Use foil handles to lift fudge from pan before cutting into squares.



What am I celebrating today?

June 2, 2014


Velveeta Cheese Day

Year It Began: 1928

Bite of History: When Kraft first brought Velveeta to market, they declared it to “always melt perfectly.” Velveeta’s ads instructed housewives to melt a 1/2 lb. of the “famous cheese food” and gradually stir in 1/4 cup of milk. We know what you’re thinking, they were suggesting to use it to make macaroni and cheese, right? Not quite. That “sauce” was recommended it be served, “over toasted sandwiches of peanut butter and sweet pickle relish.” Hmm…

Prior to the launch of Velveeta, Kraft spent several years researching the nutritional benefits of whey, the bi-product that is part of the cheese-making process. In 1931, the American Medical Association gave Velveeta its official seal of approval. When the product was released there in 1937, it became so wildly popular in Germany that the plant in Lindenberg could not keep up with demand. In 1953, it was introduced as a spread with less fat and fewer calories. Over the years, Velveeta has been slightly altered and new varieties have been introduced including its newest member, Spicy Buffalo.

Fun Fact: The brand name Velveeta was intended to convey the product’s velvety texture.

Ref: Delish – the History of Velveeta

I was at the big CWRU Annual Book Sale  this weekend.  One of the treasures I found was an older Velveeta Cookbook to add to my collection.



I have a friend who named her orange tabby Velveeta.


What am I celebrating on tattoo Tuesday?

May 20, 2014

root beer book

Today is Root Beer day.  On this day in 1876 Charles Hines introduced commercially bottled root beer to the public in celebration of the centennial of the USA in Philadelphia.

Root Beer with Sam

Here are some bottles from my root beer cellar being watched over by Cmdr. Sam Vimes.

Root beer, of course, had been around for a long time.  It is one of those homemade concoctions like birch beer, ginger beer, spruce beer, and sarsaparilla, that has many different recipes.  Some of the ingredients in root beer (from Wikipedia) include:

Main ingredients



Other ingredients

I bet you thought I forgot the tattoo.  Nope – here it is:

rootbeer tattoo


What am I reading?

April 24, 2014

The Worst Book Ever – reblogged from PWxyz:



In 1987, The Book Services Ltd published a slim, 144-page cookbook called Microwave for One. The book is by Sonia Allison, who has quite a few publications under her belt. But she’s best known for her masterpiece of tragedy, a book whose title and cover is so rife with sadness that one almost has the urge to brush the invisible tears from Ms. Allison’s face as she leans over her microwave and her food spread.

Very little is known about the contents of the book, except for the few that have been lucky enough to chance upon a copy. Let’s turn to these Amazon customer reviews for some insight.

After the divorce” by Benjamin L. Hamilton

After the divorce my diet consisted primarily of uncooked ramen and whiskey. Occasionally I wondered aloud if I’d ever have another home cooked meal again.

Then I discovered “Microwave for One” and everything changed.

My favorite chapters were:

Chapter 1: Plugging in your Microwave and You

Chapter 4: How to Wait 3 Minutes

Chapter 11 [BONUS CHAPTER]: Eating with Cats

In closing, I give this book 2 thumbs up (and a paw!). Thanks Sonia Allison!

Would have starved to death if not for this book” by Michael B.

Several essential parts of my furnace and my small portable stove had been stolen by my erstwhile wife, Lulu, and her accursed teenage consort (damn you both!) along with all of our blankets and my collection of antique cat food lids. With no funds to purchase a replacement, and being unable to produce anything edible from that most complicated and infernal of modern inventions (the microwave), I often resorted to eating bits of roadkill in the corner of my shed while trying to warm myself in a cocoon of shredded newspapers.

I found this book in a dumpster behind the local Taco Bell/KFC-combo franchise. It saved my life. Now, when I hold my gun to my forehead and rock slowly back and forth every night, keening with loneliness and despair, I am at least doing so with a belly full of salvation army rations seasoned and microwaved to perfection.

If only it could make the pain stop.


The book I’ve been waiting for” by Michael Senn

Ever since La Verne was killed in the thresher, my microwave has sat unused, as I only ever knew how to cook for two. But now, thanks to the magic of Sonia Allison’s inspirational tome, I have rediscovered the joy of living, loving, microwaving. I have accumulated enough empty boxes of Swanson Microwave Chicken to assemble them into life-sized sculptures of my grandchildren, with whom I dine each Tuesday.

1001 vs. One” by Maurice Lemongello

As a huge fan of 1000 and 1 Ways to Cook Ground Beef (Although I use 9-Lives chicken flakes – doctor said no red meat), and What’s Really Cooking at Git’mo, I found Microwave Cooking for One an indispensable addition to my library. It and a serviceable Microwave oven were culled from the recycling area of the dump. What a gem! With a pocket calculator I figured out how to cook for more than one, and have started my own catering business. You can do a party of 16 or so out of one oven but it takes a lot longer than you’d think, and the outsides get a little chewy. My advice here is to get some cribbage boards and cards (from a flea market or your grammy) and serve cocktails while the meal is radiating. If you sell some tickets ahead of time you can score a half gallon of coffee brandy, some milk and if it’s really special some non-dairy hazelnut creme. Sonia’s recipes are some of the most economical I’ve seen, and in these tough times you can put smiles on the faces of your new customers and a few dollars under the mattress! After the meal it’s time for Walker, Texas Ranger on the VHS for that old timey family vibe! Thank you Sonia!

Buy this book, or don’t, I don’t care anymore” by Michael Pemulis

It used to be that I got home from work and the only thing I’d want to put in my mouth was the cold barrel of my grandfather’s shotgun. Then I discovered Sonia Allison’s Chicken Tetrazzini, and now there are two things.

Best thing ever after alien abduction” by Louis Green

I have been abducted by aliens 16 times during the past 3 ½ years. After the probes and biopsies it is really comforting to open up the book I treasure most of all – Sonia Allison’s Microwave For One.

Yes her Chicken Tetrazzini recipe is amazing, but a little run-of-the-mill for me. I am an adventurous foodie, so I go straight to the gourmet section. Popcorn with hot water is my go to dish every time I want to impress my imaginary girlfriend and her family. I have served them every recipe in the book and they always ask two things. What’s my secret and can I give them some to take home.

I plan on popping the big question soon, and you better believe Sonia Allison will be right there with me! Ssshhhh… Not so loud the guards are coming!!!


What am I cooking?

April 16, 2014

cadbury egg toast

Here is a charming, Spring recipe I found on Serious Eats (one of my favorite recipe sites.)  It combines pound cake with those delectable Cadbury cream eggs to make the recipe we used to call “egg-with-a-hole-in-the-middle” when I was a kid, albeit this is a tooth-rattlingly sweet version – Genius!

While it’s inspired by the look of “egg in hole toast”, a morning delicacy made by griddling a slice of bread with a hole cut to fit an egg, this treat is all sweet. It’s made with thick slices of pound cake instead of bread, and Cadbury creme egg halves instead of, well, actual eggs. When heated on a griddle with plenty of butter, the fondant-filled eggs get nice and melty in the middle, making for an extra sweet surprise in the middle of your cake slice.

Recipe note: in terms of your pound cake, you want fairly thick, at least 1-inch slices. You also want slices which you can cut a circle into and still have a bit of cake remaining on each side. If the “walls” of the cake are too thin after you’ve cut the circle, it may fall apart. The chilling process in step 1 will help the cake firm up so that it is less likely to crumble once heated.


  • 2 Cadbury Creme Eggs
  • 4 thick slices of pound cake
  • plenty of butter, for the pan
  1. Unwrap the Cadbury Creme Eggs. Place them on a dish and put them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes along with the pound cake.This chilling period will help the elements of the recipe remain firm and easier to handle in the next steps
  2. Remove everything from the fridge. Using a sharp knife, cut the eggs in half along the “seam”. Try to make it as clean a cut as possible. Since you chilled the eggs, they should slice cleanly, with the insides somewhat solid. Place the four egg halves to the side for the moment.
  3. Delicately slice a hole in the center of the pound cake, as close to the size of the creme egg as you can without being larger than the size of the egg. You want it to fit in very snugly. Remove the hole cutout and enjoy it as a snack before proceeding. Repeat with the remaining slices.
  4. Heat up your frying pan with a fat dollop of butter in the middle. Let the butter get nice and hot over medium heat. Using a spatula, transfer one or two of the pound cake slices, sans egg, to the pan (as many as will fit comfortably). Let them fry for about 30 seconds, or until lightly toasty on the bottom, then flip the slices.
  5. Now, place the egg half in the holes in the cake, facing yolk side up. Heat for 30 more seconds in the pan, and then turn off the heat.
  6. Place a lid or plate on top of the pan (which is no longer being heated) to capture the heat. Let the residual heat melt the eggs inside. Check them after 3 to 5 minutes. Once they’re nice and melty, you’re ready to serve. If they’re not melty enough, put the pan back on a low heat setting and monitor until the eggs have melted enough for your liking.
  7. Using a spatula, transfer the finished slices from the pan to serving plates. Enjoy the Easter magic.



What am I celebrating today?

December 5, 2013


Today marks the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition (January 1920 through December, 1933).  This was accomplished by ratification of the 21st amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

It is difficult for me to believe that an amendment such as the 18th was ever proposed, let alone ratified, in the first place.  It must have been a very different time, or I am just exhibiting my proclivity for leaving the Constitution alone.

Nevertheless, today is National Sacher Torte Day.  So raise a glass (or not) and enjoy this Austrian delicacy, which was developed in 1823 by Austrian pastry chef, Franz Sacher.



Franz Sacher

Here is a recipe from the Austrian Tourist Board.


What am I celebrating?

November 29, 2013

chocolateIt is National Chocolate Day.  Time to make candy for Christmas.  Time to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.  Time to bake chocolate chip cookies for your sweetie.

There is lots about the history of chocolate on Wikipedia, including the fact that chocolate, when eaten in moderation (ha!) can lower blood pressure.

What is your favorite chocolate treat?

From The Dessert Lovers Handbook (a vintage cookbook from my collection), here is a recipe for chocolate pudding.