Saturday, January 28, 2012

Quinoa Black Bean Patties

I saw this recipe on the bag of Quinoa that I got at Trader Joes and was skeptical that it would have any taste, let alone taste good. However, I was truly surprised at how much flavor these little patties had! My picture looks like some sort of a "gift" from a local cow, but I assure you, these patties are not the bovine type. 

The only negative thing I have to say is that I had a LOT of trouble keeping these patties from falling apart. I think that chilling them for at LEAST 30 minutes would really have helped (the recipe suggested 10 minutes).  

I ate mine on a bed of lettuce (as in the picture) with a dressing of olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Lee ate his on a bun with fixings, like a regular burger - he said it was fantastic (THAT'S a HUGE compliment coming from a beef-lover like Lee).

The recipe also calls for "Trader Joes Everyday Seasoning"  - which I did not have on hand. However, I had some that I had made for something else and you could make your own as well with spices you probably already have like, paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, cayenne, cumin, etc.   You could probably use something like Season Salt, and reduce the extra salt and have a great result.

I hope you give this one a try - we liked it!


3 C cooked quinoa
6 TBL olive oil
3/4 C red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 C fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained
1 egg, beaten (optional)
2 C bread crumbs (I used Panko for extra crunch)
Salt and Pepper, and seasoning to taste

1. In a medium pot, bring 1 1/2 C quinoa (I used Trader Joes Tricolor Quinoa) and 3 C chicken broth or you can use water) to boil. Turn to a simmer, cover pot and cook until all water is absorbed, 10 - 15 minutes. Take off heat, stir and let cool slightly.

2. Heat 3 TBL olive oil in a skillet, add red pepper and saute until slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and shallot, continuing to saute until soft, about 1 minute.

3. Remove from heat, let mixture cool slightly. Add black beans and cilantro to pan. Stir to combine.

4. Put bean mixture into food processor and pulse until chunky. 

NOTE~ The recipe suggests adding the quinoa to the processor at this point, along with salt and pepper. However, I wanted my quinoa to stay whole, so I put the bean mixture into a bowl and added the quinoa by hand.

5. Add the beaten egg. (this is optional for vegans, but if you can tolerate it, it helps to hold the mixture together).

6. Divide mixture into 7 or 8 patties and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (I put mine on a sheet pan lined with foil).

(Season bread crumbs with everyday seasoning and some salt and pepper to taste).

7. Dredge patties in bread crumbs, handling gently and pressing crumbs in. Fry patties (about 4 at a time) in remaining olive oil, adding more oil if pan gets too dry. Drain on paper towels; eat while hot!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Peas Please

It's January, yet it's warm and feels like Spring here in Southern California. I was craving Spring Peas and wanted a quick little nosh while I was waiting for Lee to get home from the studio. I saw Giada (I use only her first name, pretending we are the best of friends) do an episode on TV with the recipe and it was so simple that I was on a mission to make it. FAST.

Here's what you need:
10 oz of defrosted frozen peas
1 clove of garlic
1/2 C grated Parmesan (ONLY use fresh!! Not the stuff in the green can)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 C olive oil
Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
A baguette

Here's what you do:

1. In a processor, pulse the peas, garlic, Parmesan, salt and pepper, until combined.

2. With the machine running, slowly pour the oil in and whirl for 1-2 minutes, until well combined. Taste, and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Set aside.

3. Slice the baguette on the diagonal and either toast in a toaster, or brush with some olive oil and char them a bit on a grill on medium high heat (I like to use my grill pan).

4. Now - simply spoon some of the pea mixture on the toast, top with a few tomato halves, garnish with a little pepper and VOILA! You have a delicious, healthy nosh!!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Old Fashioned Brown Bread

"I'm old fashioned, I love the moonlight....I love the old fashioned things"

What does this recipe have in common with that song? Not a ding-dang deal, except for the title. And I thought it would be nice to listen to Ella while I wrote this post about my 2nd venture into bread-making.  I have another post on my blog called "No Knead Bread", which is the simplest yeast bread ever. It should be entitled, "Breadmaking for Dummies".   

It's only because of Lee's love of bread that I've even started venturing into bread-making and I don't want to have a bread machine because I want to do it the old fashioned way (I didn't plan to write's just true!). There's a wonderful sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when you make a loaf of bread...the process of working the dough, smelling it as it's baking, seeing it become golden brown, then slathering a slice with butter...and eating it warm, just outta the oven...........OOOOOOOOOOH man.

I had begun to prepare the dough and realized I only have ONE loaf pan and this recipe calls for two (it makes two loaves). However, I have a mini-loaf pan so I made one regular sized loaf and for smaller ones (hence the picture). This is not a QUICK's one you make while loafing around. (RIM SHOT! - Thank you - tip the waitress)

Here 'tis~ Old Fashioned Brown Bread


2 1/2 C boiling water
1 C old fashioned oats (not instant or quick)
1/2 C butter, cubed
1/3 C molasses
5 1/2 - 6 1/2 C all-purpose flour
5 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp salt


1. In a large bowl, pour boiling water over oats. Stir in butter and molasses. Let stand until mixture cools to 120 - 130 degrees, stirring occasionally.

2. In another bowl, combine 3 1/2 C flour, yeast and salt. Beat in oat mixture until blended. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

3. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 - 8 minutes. Place in a greased (I used butter) bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

4. Punch dough down. Turn onto a slightly floured surface; divide dough in half. Shape into loaves. Place in two greased 9X5 loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 375.

6. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lemon Meringue Cake

I made this "cake" for Lee's birthday a couple of years ago. I was excited to make it because it was a difficult recipe, but I had high hopes for myself and when it was finished, it looked perfect - just like the photo in the recipe. We had our friends, Greg and Andrea Adams over for dinner to celebrate that night. We had some appetizers and some dinner - I have no recollection of what I served because the only thing I remember about that night was how unusually warm it was for a November evening.....and how the "cake" slowly slid off the edge of the counter while none of us were looking. We were eating dinner....and heard a PLOP! There was my creation.....Lee's birthday "cake".....on the floor.  A moment of shock and silence and then uproarious laughter!!!!!  Oh my goodness.....I'll never forget it. 

Fortunately, for us, only the top half of the "cake" slid off, and we still managed to have something to eat for dessert. I'll try this recipe again one day.....but I'm going to be sure it's a very cold day.

I hope you enjoy my Flip Video of our little celebration! (Music is courtesy of Flip Video). We managed to have a wonderful time that night, in spite of the CAKE. We had a little wine, a little food, lit the candles and wished Lee a happy birthday.  

  I must give credit where it is due: This is a Nigella Lawson recipe - I am a huge fan of hers. This is the way I wrote it down...a few words may be different than her original.  

The cake is a combination of 3 layers of deliciousness: Meringue, Lemon Curd, and Whipped Cream.  It tastes divine. 


1 stick, plus 1 TBL unsalted butter, very soft
4 eggs, separated
1 1/2 C, plus 1 tsp superfine sugar (sometimes called "Baker's Sugar" - you can make some yourself by putting regular sugar in a food processor and whirling away!)
3/4 C flour
2 TBL cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
zest of 1 lemon
4 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp milk
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2/3 C heavy or whipping cream
1/2 C, plus 2 TBL lemon curd (use good just tastes better)


1. Pre-heat the oven to 400. Line and butter two 8-inch cake pans (cut parchment to fit the bottom of the pan, then butter the whole pan.

2. Mix the egg yolks, 1/2 C of the sugar, butter, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and lemon zest in a processor. Add the lemon juice and milk; process again.

3. Divide the mixture between the cake pans. You will think you don't have enough to cover the bottom of the pans, but don't panic. Spread calmly with a rubber spatula until smooth (I love the way Nigella words things).

4.  Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form and then slowly whisk in the cup of sugar. Divide the whisked whites between the two pans, spreading the meringue straight on top of the cake batter.

5. Smooth one flat with a metal spatula, and with the back of a spoon, peak the other and sprinkle 1 tsp sugar over the peaks. Put the pans into the oven for 2-0 - 25 minutes.

6. With a cake tester, pierce the cake that has the flat meringue topping to check it's cooked all through (it will have risen now, but will fall back a bit flat later). No sponge mixture should stick to the tester. Remove both cakes to a wire rack and cool completely in the pans.

7. Un-mold the flat-topped one onto a cake stand or plate, meringue side down. Whisk the heavy cream until thick but not stiff, then set aside. 

8. Spread the flat sponge surface of the cake on the platter, with the lemon curd, then use a spatula to spread the cream over the the curd. Then top with the remaining cake, bronze-peaked meringue uppermost.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tish "the Dish" Diaz's Galleta's De Navidad (that's Christmas Cookies for the gringos)

The first thing I need to do is apologize to Tish because this is the ONLY picture I have of us together....and it's simply not a good one. It is, however, a Christmas picture, which goes along with the recipe she has given me. Tish is in the back at the right, behind the keyboards, and this picture was taken during an Andy Williams Christmas Show in Branson, Missouri during the first season he was doing shows in his new theater there.  (Also in the picture is the lovely Chris Flowers. I don't know the Snowman's name or I'd give him credit).

Tish is a wonderfully talented musician and at the time of this writing, she is working in Las Vegas playing for the show "Jersey Boys". I miss seeing her and working with her very much - she's a sweetheart and someone who knows what life is all about.

Tish says she made this with blackberry preserves but it can also be made with apricot. Enjoy~


1 1/2 C butter, room temperature
1/3 C sugar
3 C flour
1 1/2 tsp vanilla 
4 eggs, separated
3/4 C sugar
juice of 1 lime
2 1/2 C fruit preserves
1/2 C Grand Marnier
1/2 C confectioner's sugar
3/4 C chopped walnuts


1. Mix the butter, 1/3 cup sugar and flour until well blended. Add the vanilla and egg yolks and mix until a large ball can be formed.
Knead the dough 4 to 5 minutes, dust with flour, cover with plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease two cookie sheets. (Or you can line the sheets with parchment paper).  Beat the egg whites until stiff, lower mixer speed and gradually add ¾ cup sugar and the lime juice. Beat for 1 minute, until the mixture is shiny.

3. On a large, floured surface roll out the dough. Transfer it to the greased cookie sheets and continue to roll out until very thin.

4.  Combine the preserves and the Grand Marnier, then spread the mixture over the dough. Cover the preserves with the beaten egg white mixture and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and chopped walnuts.

5. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until egg whites are golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven, allow to cool and cut into squares. Makes about 2 ½ dozen.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Gratin

Every year, after the holidays have passed, I announce to Lee (and myself) that we are going to eat lighter. That's that. But after having allowed myself to indulge for a couple of months, I admit it is difficult to wean myself from the wonders of fat and butter. Lee will often remind me that my kitchen mantra is, "Fat is Flavor"! However, my jeans are begging me to lighten up.

This recipe called to me because it sounded like my kind of fatty comfort food, but in a lighter way. It has Parmesan cheese, whole milk (instead of cream), and it includes garlic, sage, and anchovy for intense flavor. AND not to mention the wonderful attributes of squash instead of pasta! LESS carbs, and MORE fiber!

If you aren't used to using anchovies, PLEASE believe me....when they are used in a recipe like this, there isn't a fishy flavor!! The anchovy adds a saltiness and richness that adds so much flavor it's crazy. I keep a tube of anchovy paste in my refrigerator for recipes like this (I also use anchovy paste in my "Marinara Me Marinara" - SO good).

ALWAYS use fresh Parmesan. I have nothing against the Kraft company, but the stuff that comes in that green can does NOT taste like Parmesan is supposed to taste.

Also, fresh breadcrumbs are ridiculously easy to make. Put some leftover bread cubes, ends or whatever you might have, in a food processor and whirl. You can use these immediately, or put them in the oven for a few minutes to toast, then save for later.

This recipe isn't difficult, but it will take some time, because you have to roast the squash before you make the gratin. So, only make this on a night when you have loads of time to lollygag (where does that word come from?) around the kitchen.  

Websters definition of "Lollygag": To spend time doing things that are not useful or serious : to fool around and waste time.


5 C roasted spaghetti squash (1 VERY large Spaghetti Squash)
1 C low-sodium chicken broth
1 C whole milk
2 garlic cloves,  crushed and peeled, left whole
3 TBL flour
1 TBL unsalted butter
1-2 Anchovy fillets, chopped (I used 2 squeezes from the tube)
3 tsp fresh sage leaves, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 C fresh breadcrumbs 
2 TBL grated Parmesan


Roast the Squash!

Preheat oven to 375.  Prick the squash all over with the tip of a knife and put the squash on a baking sheet lined with foil (or if you like to clean, don't line it). Roast for 1 hour and 20 minutes, flipping after about 40 minutes.  (It should be tender when pierced with a knife).

When it's cool enough to handle, halve it lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Scrape the inside with a fork to remove the long strands.  
This step may be done ahead of time - just keep in the fridge until time for the gratin.

For the Gratin:

1. Preheat oven to 375.  In a small pot, bring the broth, milk, and garlic to a boil over medium high and cook 1 minute. Pour into a medium bowl, and slowly add flour, whisking constantly.

2. In a large pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add anchovies, and 2 teaspoons sage and cook, stirring 1 minute. Return broth mixture to pan, bring to a simmer and cook until thickened; about 6 minutes. Discard garlic.

3. Add squash to the pan with the sauce and season with salt and pepper (about 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper). Transfer to a 2 quart shallow baking dish. In a small bowl, combine 1 tsp sage, breadcrumbs and Parmesan, then sprinkle over squash. Bake until top is golden brown and bubbling at edges, 20 - 25 minutes.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rosemary Honey Cookies

Christmas is over and I'm still craving cookies. Must have cookies. What to do, what to do?  Get out the massive 200+page recipe book of COOKIES, that's what!

That was me the other night. I found this recipe for Rosemary Honey Cookies that sounded fantastic and the taste ended up being so delicious - unlike any other cookie I'd ever eaten (and I've eaten a lot of cookies).

The recipe calls for crushed, dried rosemary (I sometimes make my own by simply stripping the needles off and putting them on a paper towel and leaving them out to dry for a couple of days - this works really well during the winter when the humidity is low). But you can use dried rosemary from your pantry and it will turn out fine.  This is a softer, more cake-like cookie. Enjoy!


1/2 C shortening
1/4 C butter, softened
3/4 C sugar
1 egg
1/4 C honey
1 TBL lemon juice
2 C flour
2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 325.

1. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening, butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Beat in the egg, honey and lemon juice.

2. Combine the flour, rosemary, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. (You can put it through a sifter, or just blend very well in a bowl - either way is fine).

3. Drop by teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto parchment lined baking sheets (or you can grease your sheets if you like). Bake for 12 - 14 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks and cool.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cornmeal Blueberry Muffins

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm............Blueberry Muffins.  A special treat to be sure, but these are unique because they have a little "crunch" in the batter - cornmeal! Yummy.  Also, they are a bit lower in fat than a regular muffin because this recipe calls for yogurt instead of eggs - the result is moist and delicious.

I took this picture before I slathered the muffins with the orange juice/confectioners' sugar concoction  - I thought they would look best photographed this way.  Everybody's a critic these days! I'm getting critiqued on my photography skills  (or the lack thereof).  Anyway the recipe is tasty. 


1 C, plus 1 TBL all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 C fine yellow cornmeal
1/3 C sugar
1 TBL baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C Vanilla flavored yogurt (I like Trader Joe's brand the best!  You could also use plain Greek yogurt)
3 TBL unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 C blueberries (7 oz).
2 tsp orange zest, plus 2 tsp orange juice for glaze
1/3 C confectioners' sugar


1. Preheat oven to 400. Line muffin cups with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 C flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. 

2. In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, butter, vanilla and orange zest.  Add to the flour mixture, stirring just until combined - don't overmix!

3. In yet another bowl, toss the blueberries with 1 TBL of flour to coat. (Note: I didn't have fresh berries, so I used frozen which can create a sickly blue batter if you're not careful. Defrost berries in a colander, then pat dry on paper towels. Then proceed as with fresh berries).

4. Gently fold berries into the batter. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (I use a cookie/ice cream scoop  for even measuring). Bake until puffed and golden on top, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once during baking. Let muffins cool, in pan, on a wire rack.

5. Stir orange juice and confectioners' sugar together and drizzle over cooled muffins. Let glaze set, about 10 minutes, before serving. Store in airtight container for up to 2 days.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Red Wine and Pear Sorbet

I've made posts before where I've gone on and on about my love for ice cream. It would be easy for me to do again......and I will....for a minute. In my entire life, I've never met anyone who doesn't like ice cream. Not one single person.  It is impossible to eat ice cream and be angry or grumpy. I've often thought how fun it must be to work in an ice cream shop - dolling out scoops of happiness, one after the other.  I mean, come on....when you go out to buy a scoop of ice cream, what is your face doing when that person hands over the cone to you? YOU ARE SMILING!!! Unless, of course, you are like the Grinch and have no heart.

Ok....that's enough of my blatherings on my love for ice cream.

With that said, IF I eat ice cream on a regular basis, I can PACK on the pounds. So, very often I will try to eat less fatty concoctions that are equally as tasty and satisfying. THIS recipe is so easy and extremely flavorful. Quite a sophisticated taste for a sorbet too. Not overly sweet and seems "creamy" without any cream at all - hence the title "Sorbet".

The best part? This recipe does not require an ice cream maker! You can do this in your processor (everyone has a processor nowadays).

Here tis~


1 C dry red wine
3/4 C sugar
1 lb ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch pieces (2 Cups)
2 TBL fresh lemon juice
kosher salt


1. In a medium saucepan, bring wine,1 1/4 C water and sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring often, until sugar dissolves. Add pears; reduce heat and simmer until tender, 5 - 10 minutes.

2. Stir in lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Cool completely. Transfer to a shallow baking dish. Freeze until solid, about 6 hours (or overnight).

3. With a fork, break frozen mixture into large pieces. In two batches, puree in a food processor until completely smooth, 2 - 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve. (Sorbet will be soft, even after freezing).

Enjoy, Ice Cream lovers!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Roasted Tomato Ricotta Tart

Surely anyone can make a tart?! Of course they can! (and don't call me Shirley).

(rim shot) THANK YOU! (Please tip the bar maid).

Ok...about the tart - it is DELICIOUS. It has the flavors of lasagna, but uses bread crumbs for the starch instead of noodles. If you don't have a springform pan, I suppose you could use a pie tin, and lift out a piece like a pie, but the springform pan is THE kitchen tool of choice for this recipe.  

Also, the recipe calls for 2 cups of coarse FRESH breadcrumbs. I had never seen FRESH breadcrumbs in the store and decided to make my own....and GOOD GRIEF! if you can breath you can make them. Simply put some cut bread into a processor and whirl.  I mean............come on! EASY. 

Lastly, I was in a hurry and used store bought ricotta, but I have a recipe here on my blog for home made ricotta that is SIMPLE, but takes a bit of prep. But there is NO comparison between store bought ricotta and home made. Home made is divine.

Here 'tis:


2 C coarse fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 C olive oil
1 C whole milk ricotta
1/2 C grated Parmesan
2 large eggs
2 TBL fresh chopped basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 LBS beefsteak tomatoes, thinly sliced


1. Pre-heat oven to 450.

2. Toss the breadcrumbs  with the olive oil and press evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

The fresh bread, after whirling in the processor. VOILA! Fresh breadcrumbs.

3. In a bowl, whisk the ricotta with the Parmesan, eggs, basil and salt and pepper. Spread over crust.

4. Arrange the tomatoes on top, slightly overlapping until covering the entire surface.

5. Lightly brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with a little more pepper.

6. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, until tomatoes are slightly dry and roasted at edges.  Let cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature.