Maple Leaf Sundae

When you’re tucked in for a chilly night, curl up by the fire and balance the heat with a soft ice cream sundae.  Let the ice cream its on the counter for 5-10 minutes before scooping.  This way the ice cream will be perfectly soft and melty as you take your scoop… or two.  Your favorite mug will make the perfect serving vessel.  For me, there’s nothing better than soft vanilla ice cream melting in with some of my favorite flavors.

Toffee, caramel, or coffee ice cream would work beautifully here, too.

Maple Leaf Sundae
makes 2

2 scoops vanilla ice cream
2 ounces bourbon
2 ounces espresso
splash of cinnamon or chocolate bitters
drizzle of maple syrup
drizzle or two of Frangelico
whipped cream, to top, if you choose
pinch of cinnamon, to sprinkle on top

Divide ice cream between two mugs (or two rocks glasses for a fancier dinner’s ending).  Pour one shot of bourbon and one shot of espresso over each scoop of ice cream.  Then, add a splash of chocolate bitters to each glass.  Drizzle maple syrup and Frangelico over each scoop of ice cream, to your taste.  Garnish with whipped cream and the tiniest pinch of cinnamon.

This is my very first zucchini bread!!!

Seriously, This Is My Very First Zucchini Bread!

This was a quick bread first for me.  And, that’s something I don’t get to say every day.  It sure won’t be the last.  This was quick, easy, and delicious.  The taste?  Sweet cinnamon cake meets baked cake doughnut.  We both loved this so much that it made an appearance at just about every meal until it disappeared.

We’ll be making this every chance we get.  Not only is it delicious.  But, the house smells like heaven as it bakes.  Seriously, heaven.

Zucchini Bread
makes 1 8×8 inch baking dish

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (delicately flavored, like canola)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
heaping 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces, chopped
1 cup zucchini, finely grated
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 baking soda
barely rolled oats, to top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Then, stir in chopped pecans and zucchini.  Set aside.  Sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Add to the wet mixture.  Pour into buttered 8×8 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle top with oats, if you like.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 53-55 minutes.

Finely grated?

Well, this is the result using my largest grater.  But, it still grates finely.

Apple Cake With Rum

Everything about this cake is simply lovely.  From the sweet smell of the batter to the scent that fills the house as it bakes, this is one lovely cake.  And, it’s incredibly quick and easy to prepare, too.

Simple desserts just don’t get any better than this.  On special occasions, this would make a lovely breakfast, brunch or lunch treat.

Three small barely ripe Granny Smith apples added just the right amount of tart to the beautiful sweetness of the dough.  We’re in love with this cake.

Apple Cake With Rum
makes 1 8×8 inch baking dish

1 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 eggs
8 Tablespoons butter, soft
1 cup sugar
4 Tablespoons rum
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 small apples, roughly 3 cups, diced finely

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  Cream eggs, butter, sugar, rum, and vanilla.  Add apples and dry ingredients.  Stir to combine.  Pour into generously buttered 8×8 inch baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees F in well-buttered 8×8 inch baking dish for 58-60 minutes.

Tender, sweet, moist and crumbly, this is one delicious cake.

Still very warm from the oven, this was dished up in sloppy, crumbly squares with a scoop of soft vanilla ice cream and a little drizzle of brandy.

It made for sweet apple cake perfection.

Steak & Ale Pie

Steak & Ale Pie

Since this was a test, I decided to go with ground beef instead of steak.  Also, I’m using button mushrooms in this dish because I happened to have them on hand.

Top this with mashed potatoes and bread crumbs or pastry.  Both are equally hearty and delicious.  I’m fond of the mashed potato version with a little dot of butter in the center of each individual ramekin or baking dish.

Steak & Ale Pie
makes 1 big pot

2 lbs ground beef, lean

2 large onions, diced
3 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons flour
3 cloves garlic
1 large box of brown mushrooms
1 bottle dark ale
2 cups beef stock
4-5 carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
sea salt, to taste
bread crumbs, or buttered bread crumbs

In a dutch oven, brown ground beef.  Drain off excess fat.  Set beef aside.  Add onions to the pan.  Sauté with butter.  Add flour.  Cook briefly.  Then, add garlic, mushrooms, ale, stock, carrots and celery.  Bring to a simmer.  Add beef, black pepper and add salt to your taste.  Simmer gently until sauce thickens.

Pour into large baking dish (or individual baking dishes) and top with mashed potatoes.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs or buttered bread crumbs.  Add a little dot of butter on top, if desired.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 45-55 minutes or until golden and bubbly on top.

For pastry:

1 cup AP flour
1/4 cup suet or lard
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
water, as needed to form dough into a ball

Combine all in a food processor.  Pulse in bursts until a crumbly ball forms.  Roll flat.  Let rest.

Berry Salad

These beautiful berries were equally delicious.  And, I’m not ready to say goodbye to berries yet this year.  So, I’m devouring every berry that I see… in every way imaginable.

Berry Salad
makes 1

6 strawberries, halved
one handful of blueberries
1/2 green apple, diced with the skin on
bleu cheese, big crumbs
roasted pecans and/or almonds
2-3 handfuls of chopped romaine, washed
chicken breast, grilled or poached, sliced
one handful of granola, to garnish

In a large salad bowl, place chopped lettuce.  Top with halved berries, apple pieces, and blue cheese crumbs.  Then, sprinkle a few pieces of roasted pecans on top.  Slice chicken breast.  Arrange the sliced chicken over the center of the salad.  Sprinkle the granola on top.  Drizzle lightly with dressing of your choice.

Strawberry Vinaigrette
to top salad

splash red wine vinegar
splash of olive oil
one Tablespoon strawberry preserves (or blueberry)
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper to your taste.  Drizzle lightly over your salad.

This is what’s for lunch…

…for as long as I can find berries at the market.

Rice Cakes

Fried Eggs On Rice Cakes

Rice Cakes On The Griddle

Ever since high school, I’ve loved these rice cakes.  This is a great, tasty way to use up leftover rice.  Or, the rice left over from take-out.  Over the years, these rice cakes have been made in a variety of ways.  Herbs and spices vary depending on what is available.  And, a diced, sautéed onion makes a lovely addition.  If you’re short on grated cheese, toasted bread crumbs can be thrown in to make up the difference.  Or, use a blend of cheeses.

These were quite nice with their spicy bite of pepper and nutmeg.  But, next time, I’ll probably use two eggs for this quantity of rice.  These were a bit egg-y for my taste.

Rice Cakes
makes about 6

3 cups leftover rice
3 eggs
1/2 cup parmesan, finely grated
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
heaping 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Let sit for about 5 minutes.  Then, heat up the griddle and form little balls or patties.  Place on buttered griddle over moderate heat and allow each side to get crispy and golden brown.

Top a crispy, fried rice cake with an egg for a quick and easy breakfast or lunch.

My Best Blueberry Crumble of 2015

Blueberries are one of my all-time favorite foods on the planet.  They’re one of my weaknesses.  If I see blueberries, I must buy them.  So, how could I possibly resist a two pound box of perfectly ripe berries?  But, blueberries are tricky.  Just because they’re perfectly ripe, that doesn’t mean that they’ll be delicious.  Some are one dimensional.  Sweet or tart, that’s all she wrote.  Those blueberries are fine.  And, I’ll eat them.  But, it’s the other type of berry that always has me on the lookout.  Some very special blueberries have a gorgeous floral complexity that is hard to explain.  I’m not sure what it is.  Maybe there’s a hint of huckleberry hidden in there making them interesting.  Just like huckleberries, these gorgeous berries have a bit of crunch to them.  When you find these gorgeous berries with that quality of something special, you will know immediately.  Then, you’ll be hooked, too.

Blueberry Crumble
makes 1 giant casserole

2 pounds fresh blueberries, carefully washed
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
juice of one lemon (one very juicy lemon)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2-3/4 cup water (or blueberry juice)

4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a small mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, cornstarch, and cinnamon.  Stir well to combine. Pour wet, washed blueberries into a large buttered casserole.  Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over the top.  Sprinkle the juice of the lemon evenly over the top.  (If your lemon isn’t juicy, use the juice of one lemon plus an extra half)  Then, evenly pour the blueberry juice (or water) over the top.  Prepare topping in a small bowl.  Crumble over the top.

Sprinkle the top with extra oats, if you like.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes.

Baked Oatmeal With Strawberries

For me, nothing says fall like a bowl of something that has comfort food written all over it.  If that something has cinnamon in it, it’s even better.  Cool, brisk mornings are just begging for something to warm you from the inside out.  Start with a cup of cinnamon tea while this bakes.  And, follow that up with this simple and delicious baked oatmeal.  It’s warm, hearty, and super satisfying.

This dish requires just a minute of prep.  And, while it bakes.  You can prepare for your day.  By the time you’re ready to confront the new day, it’s breakfast time.

If you don’t have strawberries, throw on a few slices of apple or pear.

Baked Oatmeal
(With Coconut, Raisins, & Strawberries)
serves 2 generously

1 cup thick, barely rolled oats
1 tsp vanilla
heaping 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup raisins
3-4 Tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients listed above.  For creamier oats add an extra 1/4 cup of milk (or water… or orange juice).  Pour into a small buttered baking dish or pie pan.  If desired, add sliced strawberries around the edges and a sprinkle or two of granola and/or extra oats on top.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes.

…or until it reaches your desired texture.

Let it bake longer for a crispier top with dense oats.

Your Dekalb Farmers Market Oats Are The Best!

Best Oats

These oats are ready for their close up.

I’ve purchased a LOT of oats over the years.  And, these SUPER FRESH barely rolled oats from the Dekalb Farmers Market (Your Dekalb Farmers Market) are by far the best I’ve ever tasted.  Even better than the pricey Silver Palate Thick & Rough oats.  The Dekalb Farmers Market oats are rougher and thicker.  To top it off, they’re also pretty, very camera ready for beautiful dishes, and incredibly fresh (and delicious).  Due to their thickness, they remain firm and chewy in the best possible way.

Root Canal

It’s easy to fall in love with new flavors when you’re on vacation.  Then you go home and dream of those flavors and try to recreate them.  We love when we can bring those flavors home with us.  It turns every day life into another day on holiday when those flavors light up memories of those happy days.

And, as lovely as this root beer ale is all on its very own… we have other plans for this one.

Why are we drinking in the middle of the week?

No, someone did NOT have a root canal.  But, someone did go to the dentist.

I love my dentist… in a very Penny (from Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) way.  Have you seen that movie?  There’s this scene where they reminisce about things they aren’t going to miss.  Dodge says, “…going to the dentist”.  And, the dreamy, head in the clouds Penny says, “aww, Dr. Hoberman….” in a way that says she’ll miss him.  I completely get that.

I first had a root canal here.  And, this homemade version has a wicked kick.  One of these will end any productivity you hoped to achieve in your day.  So, it’s best to save this for an after dinner treat.  Subbing in a root beer ale for the soda takes it to the next level of never never land.  Next time, we might go back to the original version with an IBC root beer.  The sweetness of the root beer soda balances out the powerful kick of the absinthe.  We loved that.

But, then again, with every sip, our homemade version grew on us…

…a little bit more and more with each loopy sip.

Root Canal
makes 2

1 – 12 ounce bottle Not Your Father’s Root Beer Ale
2 ounces absinthe
crushed ice, to fill

Pour one ounce of absinthe into two chilled rocks glasses.  Divide root beer between the two glasses.  Fill with crushed ice.


Morehead City, NC

New tastes that you find on your travels are a great way to bring the vacation home with you.  One taste brings happy memories rushing back into our minds.