Archive for August, 2013

Chicken Tagine

Some one-pot meals are even better the next day.

Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes and Golden Raisins


3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each halved
1 ½ tablespoons salt, plus more for seasoning chicken
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cayenne
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
About 1 quart chicken stock
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted in a 350 degree oven until fragrant and golden, keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn (optional)


Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Coat a large pot or Dutch oven with a thin layer of olive oil. Heat it over high heat and brown the chicken, in batches, making sure not to crowd the pot. If the chicken sticks to the bottom, don’t worry – this will help develop the flavor of the sauce. Remove the browned chicken from the pot and set it aside in a mixing bowl.

Add the onions to the same pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, and sauté until translucent, making sure to scrape up any remaining drippings from the chicken, about 7 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, cumin, turmeric, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt. Cook until the spices are fully incorporated and aromatic, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot, and add the tomatoes and chickpeas. Toss to combine.

Pour in enough stock to submerge all the contents (this may be less than 1 quart, depending on the size of your pot) and bring to a summer. Turn the heat back down to low and cook, uncovered, for at least 2 hours, the longer the better.

During the last 30 minutes or so of cooking, add the sweet potatoes, submerge them in the liquid, and cook until tender.

Add the raisins, half the cilantro, and the lemon juice. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Spoon the tagine into individual bowls. Garnish each bowl with some of the remaining cilantro, sprinkle with the almonds (if using), and serve.

Recipe Details

Note: You can make the stew through step 5 and then refrigerate it overnight. Just reheat it for 30 minutes over medium-low heat before your guests are due to arrive, and continue with the remaining ingredients.

For a Vegetarian Squash Tagine: Omit the chicken, and substitute 3-4 diced zucchini or yellow squash. Double the chickpeas, and use vegetable stock instead of chicken.


Sue over at The View from Great Island called these adult cookies. Shortbread cookies are my favorite and to add Espresso powder and dark chocolate chips…well I don’t think there could be a more perfect cookie.   Go check her out at

Espresso Chip Shortbread
makes about 12-14 cookies, but the recipe is easily doubled if you crave more
oven to 325
1 cup flour
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, or superfine sugar
2 Tbsp instant espresso powder (use 1 for a lighter coffee flavor)

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, briefly blend the dry ingredients.

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature and cut in pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 or 2 tsp milk or half and half

  • Add the butter and the vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix on low until the butter is incorporated.  It will seem dry at first, until the butter has a chance to become thoroughly incorporated into the flour.  Add in the milk or half and half a little at a time just until the dough comes together.

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

  • Turn out onto a surface and mix in the chocolate chips with your hands, distributing well, but don’t overwork the dough.
  • Form the dough into a smooth 7 or 8 inch log, on top of parchment, plastic, or waxed paper.
  • Roll the log of dough up with the paper and twist the ends to secure.
  • Refrigerate for about 2 hours until firm.
  • Slice the chilled dough into approximately 1/3 inch slices.  Don’t worry if the dough crumbles, just reform them on the baking sheet.
  • Bake on a silpat or parchment lines baking sheet for about 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your slices.  Don’t over bake, this shortbread should be silky and creamy, not crisp.
  • Cool on a rack.

Oh glory, this is sounding like the Spanish Coffee at La Bodega.  Sue over at says the original recipe called for vanilla ice cream but heavens using coffee ice cream sounds MUCH better.  I might even shake in some Vietnamese Cinnamon to further rock the taste.  YUMMMMM

Hummer Cocktail
serves 1 or 2
4 large scoops coffee ice cream
1 oz amber rum
1 oz Kahlua
2 ice cubes

  • Blend everything in a blender just until smooth.  Serve with a straw (or two)

I found this over at Sue’s blog, The View from Great Island….
Baked Cheese—the most romantic appetizer ever

Yield: serves 2 as a light dinner, or 4 as an appetizer

What You Will Need

  • 1/4 lb Fontina cheese
  • 1/4 lb Gruyere cheese
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Kirschwasser (you can use white wine, brandy, or sherry in its place)
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh chives
  • a nice fresh baguette
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced in half


  1. Slice the bread, I like to do it on the bias to get more surface area. You’ll need approximately 8 to 10 slices. Heat a grill pan over medium to high heat and toast the slices until they are browned and slightly charred, about 4-5 minutes per side. Watch them carefully. While the bread is still warm, run the cut side of the garlic along the surface, this will give it a nice subtle flavor. Set aside.
  2. Remove the rinds and cut the cheese into cubes, about 1/2 to 1 inch. Put them in a small cast iron pan, or other small broiler-friendly pan, about 5-6 inches in diameter. Add the oil and Kirsch. Sprinkle the herbs across the cheese.
  3. Broil about 5 inches from the broiler for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. The time will depend on your pan, your oven, and how far your pan is from the heating element. I put my rack on the highest position and it took 10 minutes. Watch it like a hawk.
  4. Serve right away with the grilled bread.

I found this luscious looking veggie burger over on Sue’s blog, The View from Great Island.  Go check her out at

The Ultimate Veggie Burger
makes 4 burgers
1 cup cooked red rice
1 cup cooked black beans
1/2 cup rough chopped colorful bell peppers
1/2 cup rough chopped Portobello mushroom
1/2 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 small)
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (substitute soy sauce if vegetarian)
1/2 tsp smoked salt
1/4 tsp cumin
fresh cracked black pepper to taste
sliced cheese, if desired

  • Put the rice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Pulse the machine until the rice has broken down but still has some texture.  Don’t process into a paste, but break down the rice so there are no big pieces.
  • Remove the rice to a bowl, and then put the black beans in and do the same thing.  Measure out 1/2 cup of the processed beans and add to the bowl.
  • Put the bell peppers and mushrooms into the processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add them to the bowl (I used 1/2 cup measured after processing)
  • Add the shredded zucchini, bread crumbs, beaten egg, Worcestershire sauce and spices.  Add lots of fresh cracked black pepper, and mix everything together until completely combined.
  • At this point your mixture should resemble a meatloaf or meatball mixture: moist and sticky but not too wet.  If it seems overly wet, add a bit more bread crumbs.
  • Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, take a fourth of the mixture and form it into a ball.  Place on a square of waxed paper and cover with another square.  Press down to flatten slightly and then flatten with a tortilla press or a plate, using gentle even pressure to press the burger into a round. Use your fingers to even it out.
  • Stack the burgers on a plate, in their waxed paper, and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow them to firm up.
  • Grease your pan with olive oil and cook the burgers for about 4 or 5 minutes on each side, until they are hot through and crisp on the outside.  Be careful when flipping them because they are delicate.  Homemade veggie burgers probably won’t work on a grill because of their delicate texture, but you could try if you have a special pan.
  • Add a slice of cheese at the end of the cooking time, if using.
  •  Serve right away in a bun with all your favorite fixin’s!

Tips for veggie burger success:

  • Use flavorful whole grains as your base.  The Wehani red rice I used has got a great rust color and wonderful flavor and texture.  It’s my new favorite rice around here.
  • Cook your beans from dried.  It’s not that much effort, and you can double or triple the recipe and freeze extra burgers for later.  Canned beans will make a mushy burger with a ‘canned’ taste.
  • Slightly under cook your rice and beans until they are just barely tender.  They should have a nutty bite to them.
  • Be gentle with them, they are delicate like a crab cake would be.  Transfer them from their paper onto the pan carefully, and flip them carefully.  Their delicate texture when raw is what makes them delicious after they are cooked.
  • Veggie burgers are on the thin side, so don’t overwhelm them with huge buns.
  • Treat veggie burgers just like you would a meat burger— use all your favorite burger toppings!
  • If you freeze them, first freeze them flat, in their waxed paper, then you can stack them in freezer baggies.

Another great looking recipe from Sue over at



Gruyere cheese is one of my favorites and mushrooms are throughly enjoyed by the entire family so I knew this would go over well. I’m planning out our Labor Day weekend menu and I love to try new things.

  • 1 small loaf ciabatta bread or a crusty baguette
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 1 pint cremini mushrooms
  • 1/4 pound Gruyere cheese, grated (a generous cup)
  • 1 Tbsp Sherry (or Marsala)
  • pinch of salt, if needed
  • fresh thyme
  • Fresh cracked black pepper


  1. Cut the bread in half lengthwise, so you have a large cut surface. You will not need the whole loaf, I used about a 6 inch by 6 inch piece of ciabatta. Grill the bread, cut side down, on a hot grill until it starts to get nice char marks. Rub the cut side of the garlic across the bread while it is still hot. Set aside.
  2. Dust off the mushrooms with a clean dish cloth. Trim off the tips of the stems, and then thickly slice them.
  3. Heat a cast iron or saute pan on medium high, and add the mushrooms and thyme leaves. Dry saute the mushrooms, stirring often so they won’t stick to the pan, until they release their moisture and are softened. This will only take a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the sherry and let it sizzle for just a few seconds. Stir to deglaze the pan and get up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Season with a pinch of salt, if needed.
  5. Spoon the mushrooms and any juice onto the bread. Top with the cheese, some black pepper, and a little more fresh thyme. Broil until the cheese is melted.
  6. Slice the bread into individual portions and enjoy right away.

One of our favorite restaurants in the Kansas City area is La Bodega, a lovely Spanish Tapas Bar.  We first went years ago for their Saturday afternoon Happy Hour, with Tapas and their Sangria half price.  What a feast of new flavors to try with a group.  Then we saw them make a Spanish coffee as we were leaving one time and we asked about the drink being made tableside and knew we had to return for that treat.

This last weekend to celebrate 31 years of love we decided it would be a glorious evening to sit on their patio and enjoy some good food and end the Anniversary celebration with some Spanish Coffee’s.  We had 5 days of bizarre, cool, low humidity days which are just not the norm for August around here which made sitting out on their patio even better. We had barely been seated two minutes when suddenly about a football field length away a surprise popped out of the trees.  It was a beautiful evening for someone to enjoy a hot air balloon ride.


We decided to start with two different Paella.  Neither of us had tried it before and I knew after a couple of bites that I had to come home to search for a recipe. There is a part of me that wants to try it with Quinoa instead of rice, we shall see if that works.  My husband’s had chorizo mixed in with the chicken and seafood and mine had more seafood options with out the chorizo.  They were both very tasty.


This is just one of many basic recipes I found online.  Some had more saffron and paprika than others so again I will have to experiment to get the flavor we enjoy, but the basic recipe is a good place to start for me.

Easy Paella


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil             1 tablespoon paprika              2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • salt and black pepper to taste        2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces                    2 tablespoons olive oil, divided              3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 t crushed red pepper flakes         2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
  • a pinch saffron threads                1 bay leaf            1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 quart chicken stock            2 lemons, zested               2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped            1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed and crumbled
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined.
  • Mine had baby squid, calamaria rings, mussels and clams also without the chorizo.
  • Directions

    1. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate.
    2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer 20 minutes. (or quinoa according to directions)
    3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Stir in marinated chicken and onion; cook 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and sausage; cook 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp; cook, turning the shrimp, until both sides are pink.
    4. Spread rice mixture onto a serving tray. Top with meat and seafood mixture.

    Then came the fun…we stretched out our meal until it was getting darker, enjoying conversation and letting the food settle. But it was finally time to order our coffee’s.  Our sweet waitress was really zippy at making these things.  It is fun to watch and you end with a lovely flavor to savor for a bit.

  • IMG_3144

  • I never could find a recipe online like La Bodegas method so I’m giving estimates.  Many Spanish coffees have orange liqueur and I’m not really into that so I’m throwing out a guess on the recipe that we will try and use.
  • 1/2 shot of rum in a wine glass.  Swirl that around and tipping it sideways a bit, light with a long handle lighter.  Our glasses had been dipped in water and then sugar to rim the edges.  Sprinkle cinnamon from about 6-8 inches above the burning glass and the sparks will fly.  This really is to taste.  Our glasses were nicely coated with the cinnamon.  Then they placed a small plate over the flaming rum to put that out and when they were sure it was out they poured in the Kahlua.  They poured in enough that the glass looked 1/3 full.  Then they poured in strong, hot coffee and topped that with fresh whipped cream.  HEAVEN people, I tell you it was heavenly.  I have a lovely spiced rum that we will use.  NOT sticking a lighter down in the glass would be my only advise.  Once you’ve swirled the rum around the glass there will be enough fumes to catch if the flame even comes close to the glass.  It is a lovely drink to sip and enjoy some good conversation with friends or family.

Disclaimer:  DON’T MAKE THIS DRINK WHILE DRUNK.  Playing with fire requires clear thinking in my book.

NOTE:  some of the recipes I found online did not flame the rum before adding everything.  That might be fun to try as well.  I have some Spiced Rum that I want to try in this as well.  Life is an adventure, why leave a recipe alone.  I believe in tweaking most recipes.

Image     I know, I opened this blog with a Best Chocolate Cake….but this one caught my eye with its 3 beautiful layers and the buttermilk.  Yup, I love to use buttermilk in recipes.  Like sour cream it seems to be a wonder ingredient.  I imagine I will have to use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa for this…I think it calls for a luscious, deep black color.  This one has evidently survived the years, appearing in Good Housekeeping several times since 1927.  1927!!!  Doesn’t that just invoke special memories of your grandma’s chocolate cake passed down through the years?  Let the baking begin!

Cake Layers
– 2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
– 1 cup(s) unsweetened cocoa
– 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
– 3/4 cup(s) (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
– 1 cup(s) packed brown sugar
– 1 cup(s) granulated sugar
– 3 large eggs
– 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
– 1 1/2 cup(s) low-fat buttermilk

– 1/3 cup(s) unsweetened cocoa
– 1/3 cup(s) boiling water
– 1 cup(s) butter or margarine, softened
– 2 tablespoon(s) confectioners’ sugar
– 12 ounce(s) semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1. Prepare cake layers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three 8-in. round cake pans. Line bottoms with waxed paper; grease paper. Dust pans with flour.

2. On another sheet of waxed paper, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter and brown and granulated sugars until blended. Increase speed to high; beat 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to medium-low; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla until blended. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until batter is smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.

3. Spoon batter evenly among prepared pans. If necessary, stagger pans on 2 oven racks, placing 2 on upper rack and 1 on lower rack, so that top pans are not directly above bottom one. Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. With small knife, loosen layers from sides of pans; invert onto wire racks. Carefully remove and discard waxed paper; cool completely, about 45 minutes. If you like, wrap layers well and store at room temperature up to 1 day or freeze up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before frosting cake.

4. Meanwhile, prepare frosting: In small bowl, combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until smooth. In large bowl, with mixer at medium-high speed, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar 5 minutes or until fluffy. Reduce speed to medium-low; add melted chocolate, then cocoa mixture, beating until smooth and occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. If frosting is too runny, refrigerate until just stiff enough to spread.

5. Assemble cake: Place 1 cake layer bottom side up on cake plate; spread with 1/3 cup frosting. Top with second layer, bottom side up; spread with 1/3 cup frosting. Place remaining layer bottom side up on top. Spread remaining frosting over sides and top of cake.


I love greek yogurt so this recipe sounds so good.

Michael Symon’s Roasted Chicken with Cumin and Orange

4 skin on chicken breasts
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup Dannon Oikos Plain Greek Nonfat Yogurt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 orange, zest and juice
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Season the chicken breasts with plenty of salt and pepper on both sides then place them in a gallon sized re-sealable bag.
2. Whisk together the Dannon Oikos Plain Greek Nonfat Yogurt, cumin, smoked paprika, orange zest and juice and garlic. Pour this mixture in to the bag with the chicken, seal and make sure all of the chicken gets coated. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to 3.
3. Remove your chicken from the fridge 30 minutes prior to cooking to take the chill off of it.
4. Remove the chicken from the marinade, wiping off any excess and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Discard the marinade.
5. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil along with the chicken, skin side down.
6. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the skin is golden brown then flip the chicken and place the whole pan in the oven. Roast for 25-30 minutes until the chicken has finished cooking through. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes.
7. Slice and serve with Creamless Corn (can remove skin from chicken before eating).

Yield: 4 servings

Sour Cream Lemon Pie

I really DISLIKE, I mean I STRONGLY DISLIKE Lemon pies….EXCEPT this one.


One it doesn’t have a meringue topping, but mostly, I think, its AMAZING because of the sour cream.  I’m thinking sour cream is like a wonder ingredient no matter what you put it in.  This and my chocolate/cinnamon sheet cake are my hubby’s favorite desserts.  So for our anniversary today I decided to go lemon.  This pie is so smooth and so lovely.  Someone gave me the recipe and it calls for Cool Whip on the top.  Now if you want to cover the lemon custard part with plastic wrap so the top doesn’t dry out you can top each piece with home made whipped topping. But I use Cool Whip….I know, not so great, BUT, that way the whole pie is frosted and whenever my hubby wants another piece it is complete and late night eating is at its best.  The original recipe was for an 8 inch pie and that was just never enough for my hubby.  So I increased the recipe and make it in a large 10 inch pie plate.

Oh yeah….lots of yummy for several days.

When I make my French Pie Crust I have used butter, Crisco and lard.  I don’t think we’ve come up with a favorite.  We are not true food snobs, but we do like a certain level of quality and this is a nice flaky type crust.


French Pie Crust

3 cups flour   1 tsp. salt    1 1/2 cup Crisco or butter or lard       1 egg

1 T. apple cider vinegar     5 T. ice water

Mix the flour and salt together and cut the Crisco into the flour mix until its kind of pebbly size clumps.  Add the beaten egg, vinegar and ice water.  Mix together but don’t over work it.  Its okay if some clumps are not mixed in.  I take about 2/3 of it and roll out on floured mat.  Flop it nicely into your pie pan and finish edges as you like. (This recipe will make 3 crusts for 8 inch pies.)  Poke with a fork so no bubbles rise during baking and bake at 450 for 12 minutes.  I have frozen the left over dough but sometimes, like today, I made a special small pie plate of the left over dough, smeared it with some butter and topped it with Trader Joe’s Sugar grinder blend…sugar, coffee beans and dark chocolate…YUM.

When the crust has baked and is totally cooled fill with the lemon custard.   I had to make this one time with out fresh lemons and it was not nearly as good as when you add fresh lemon juice AND the lemon rind…..please don’t leave out the rind.



The scrap of left over crust dough was so much better with the special grind on top instead of just butter and sugar and cinnamon like i grew up with.



Sour Cream Lemon Pie

 1 c. sugar  (1 ½ c.)   3 Tbl. (4 ½) corn starch

 ¼ c. (6 Tbl) butter   3 Tbl. (41/2)Lemon Rind

    ¼ c. (6Tbl) Lemon juice  1 c. (1 ½) milk 

  3 (4 ½) egg yolks    1 c. (1 ½) sour cream


Mix sugar and cornstarch in stove top pan…add butter, lemon rind, juice, milk and slightly beaten egg yolk.  Cook and stir over med. Heat to boil and thicken.  Remove from heat and add the sour cream.  Pour into COOLED, prebaked pie shell.  Chill the pie at this point with plastic wrap covering it to cool the custard before topping with the cool whip. Once chilled cover with cool whip and refrigerate until fully chilled and ready to serve…maybe a couple of hours.   It is not nearly as good with lemon extract…actually its kind of boring, it needs the fresh lemon juice and the lemon rind for sure.   Enjoy.  I’ve had several people who don’t like traditional lemon pies who love this one.

Smaller measures are for an 8 inch pie…(**) are for 10 inch

I finally gave up on getting the pictures to center…silly computer is freezing up.  I may have to send it to the Genius Bar at Apple so I’m not sure when I’ll be posting again.  Who knows, it may work next post.