"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

a small chocolate sour cream cake! . . .

Made a small chocolate sour cream cake this morning.

Quick and easy – smells luscious and can’t wait to cut into it! Recipe: Melt a stick of butter, add 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, 2 eggs, scant cup of sugar. Mix well by hand. To 1 cup flour, add 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tsp salt. Add 2 tsp vanilla to wet ingredients. Fold in dry ingredients and stir.. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream; mix in. Add 1/2 cup hot water and mix well.

Pour into well greased 8X8 square pan. To preheated oven 325, bake 25-35 min. or until toothpick comes out clean.

“Atkins” nut loaf . . .

Here’s photo of the nut bread made from the Atkins low carb cookbook. It has flaxseed flour and almond flour, parmesan cheese, eggs, baking powder. The top is sprinkled with pumpkin and sunflower seeds. The dough filled about 2/3rds of a regular loaf pan so I baked it in this small casserole one instead. Smells divine (and different!)

mushroom, golden raisin, mixed rice pilaf . . .

For supper tonight, I made a mushroom, golden raisin mixed rice pilaf, sauteed kale with Japanese vinegar and honey; and popovers left over from the other night.

The tastes went together really well, and we especially enjoyed the plump golden raisins in the pilaf!

homemade lentil soup with kale. . .

Our supper for tonight: homemade lentil soup with kale.

Recipe included browning half onion, 2 stalks hearts of celery, 2 carrots; 3 large cloves of garlic, then added 4 cups vegetable broth, 2 cups water, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon curry, salt, 2 cups of rinsed lentils. Simmer until soup cooks down, blend briefly with immersion blender, add chopped kale leaves; add juice of 1 lemon. Heat and serve.

Also made a pan of cornbread with fresh corn kernels.

a small pineapple upside down cake. . .

This grey, misty afternoon, I was thinking about the leftover fresh pineapple I had in the fridge and decided to make a half-size upside down pineapple cake. I used Ree Drummond’s recipe and cut the ingredient amounts in half. In a small skillet with a metal handle, I melted butter, brown sugar and added the pineapple before pouring the batter on top.

It worked out so well that I thought about how versatile a recipe this could be using: pitted fresh cherries, small dark plums, white peaches and so on.

Here are the ingredients for the cake batter: Melt 1/4 stick unsalted butter, add 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/8 cup veg. oil; 1 large egg and a tsp. of vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Measure out 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 Tb. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt and 3/4 cups whole milk — add gradually into the batter until mixed well.

In oven proof pan or skillet, melt 1/4 stick butter and 1/3 cup of brown sugar – add fruit and let brown. Add batter on top and bake at 350 for 35-40 min. until a toothpick comes out clean.

very easy chocolate mousse!

My first try at making an easy chocolate mousse dessert last week was too thick and gummy. Tonight’s second try seems to be a big improvement. I used 1/2 packet of Instant sugar-free chocolate pudding mix, with a cup of milk stirred in until thickened. In a separate bowl, I whipped up 1/2 – 3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream. I added the whipped cream into the pudding by folding it in gently.

Chilled for a couple of hours and added fresh raspberries on top. Much better – and an easy way to make chocolate mousse – no eggs, no baking, not much effort at all!

braised lamb and white beans for supper tonight!

As a change of pace for supper tonight, I’m making a braised lamb dish with vegetables and white beans.

Dredged the lamb in flour with garlic salt and cracked pepper, browned it in olive oil and combined with carrots, celery hearts, onion, tomato, white beans and beef broth. A couple of bay leaves and will simmer for a few hours the rest of the day. Will serve with toasted corn muffins tonight.

chicken, mushroom, spinach fettucine alfredo. . .

I’ve been taking different approaches to cooking so as to decrease the amount of meat we eat and to make cooking more convenient. Toward that end, I skillet cooked four chicken thighs yesterday morning, let them cool and froze them. I poured the chicken drippings into an a glass jar and set it in the fridge.

Today, I made a chicken, spinach and mushroom fettucine alfredo in these few steps. I cut up the chicken from one defrosted thigh, minus the skin. Stirred 2 minced cloves of garlic, a chopped shallot, olive oil and chicken. Added quartered fresh mushrooms and a half a batch of fresh spinach minus the stems. Stirred in the reserved chicken drippings and set it aside.

In a clean skillet, I melted 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, added about 1/4 cup of flour and blended it in, 1/2 cup of half and half, still stirring and a cup of pasta water from the fettucine that was boiling alongside. Added the chicken,mushroom,spinach saute to the alfredo sauce, a third of a package of mozzarella cheese, and the drained fettucine noodles mixing well.

Divided into two aluminum baking pans and grated a lot of parmesan cheese on top. One of our elderly neighbors is coming home from the hospital so one casserole will go down to them along with some baked crescent rolls. A light Boston lettuce salad with honey/lemon dressing will complete our supper tonight. I made Katharine Hepburn’s brownies yesterday and there are still some left for dessert

stuffed mushrooms for the New Year! . . .

I was picking up some last minute things at Shaw’s when I saw a package of GIGANTIC mushrooms for just $5.99. I brought them home thinking that making baked stuffed mushrooms would go very nicely on New Year’s Day with leftover slices of cold roast lamb served with Major Grey’s mango chutney.

There are lots of recipes online but here’s the one I use each time I make these – which is not very often. So, it’s fun! Pluck out stems from the mushrooms. In a skillet, melt half a stick of unsalted butter, chop 4-5 cloves of garlic; chop up a healthy bunch of fresh parsley and add both to bubbling skillet. Sprinkle on some Bell’s seasoning for sage flavor and mix well. Add half a bag of Pepperidge Farm stuffing crumbs and a half can of Swanson’s chicken broth. Mix well by scooping up and around so that air is able to help cook the stuffing. Add more broth if needed for it to adhere to itself. Let cool.

In a much larger skillet, sprinkle with a little olive oil, stuff each mushroom to the gills, pressing down on the stuffing so it stays together. Heat each one up in the olive oil – When all are filled, let cook on low heat for awhile until bottoms are a little golden brown.Transfer the mushrooms to a sprayed pan and set together gently. Grate some fresh parmesan on the tops of the stuffed mushrooms.

When ready to eat, preheat the oven to 375 and bake the mushrooms for about 20 minutes until they are golden brown on the top and look cooked in the middle. ENJOY!

ham and bean soup! . . .

We enjoyed a baked ham with fresh pineapple, cloves and a brown sugar/vinegar glaze last night with company. It was a Cook’s shank ham which I’ve had before – and it was very tender and tasty.

This morning, I cut the large chunks of leftover ham off the bone and started an “all-in” ham and bean soup: sauteed one chopped onion, 2 carrots with the hambone, then added 2 cans of chicken broth, 2 cans of filtered water, a can of diced tomatoes and a leftover baked sweet potato and pineapple bits.

Simmering this until the afternoon when I’ll add a large can of small white beans into the soup. Cook until suppertime when we’ll send some of the soup and ham sandwiches on homemade 10-grain bread down to our 93 year old neighbor who lives down the street.

Bon Appetit!