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

rare roast beef . . . !

IMG_0947I’ve often avoided reasonably priced roast beef because they are usually a tough cut of meat, e.g., eye round, rump roast etc. When I read this recipe which instructed a very slow roast starting in a cold oven, it made lots of sense. High heat which sears meat will also make it contract. A cold oven roast will gradually increase the heat and cook the center to from 125 degrees for rare and about 130 for medium.

I tried the recipe yesterday for supper and it came out beautifully. For the final sear of the outside after it was done roasting, I used unsalted butter. I had sprinkled lots of Lawry’s garlic salt and coarse pepper on the roast when it rested in the fridge before cooking.

Now, there are slices of cold roast beef for more meals. I don’t think they will last the weekend, though!

homemade pizza for lunch! . . .

Homemade mushroom pizza for lunch!IMG_0916

Usually, I use a flatbread base and make a quick pizza with Ragu pizza sauce, Mozzarella cheese, fresh mushrooms, more cheese and parmesan cheese on top.

This morning, I found a quick pizza dough recipe and decided to try it out. I made 2/3rds of the recipe in order to ensure it would make a thin crust on my round baking pan.

Here it is: in a bowl, gently stir together 2 teaspoons yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 Tablespoon olive oil. With a spoon, stir in a cup of all purpose flour. Knead it gently, cover with a clean dishtowel and let it rise in a closed oven with the oven light left on. I did this around 10 a.m. and let it rise for about an hour and a half.

Sprayed the round pan with PAM, and spread the dough out with my fingertips to make a thin edge. With a soup spoon, I put on Ragu pizza sauce in a very thin layer on the crust. (Too much tomato sauce makes the pizza soupy.) Sprinkled a layer of Mozzarella Italian cheese mix on top with my hands.

Then cut up 4-5 large fresh mushrooms and laid them out in a pattern on the pizza. More cheese sprinkled on top and then grated fresh parmesan cheese over the whole thing.

Meanwhile the oven was heating up to 425 – and I baked it for about 12-15 min. and then boosted the heat to 450 until the pizza was golden brown. Slid it onto a cutting board and sliced it with a large knife.

The crust was tasty to eat – not doughy at all. And the rest of the pizza was delicious too.

angel hair alfredo with shrimp! . . .

Here’s a fabulous recipe that I found on Youtube today.  I halved the recipe and used angel hair rather than fettucine pasta.
We enjoyed this dish so much for supper. I squeezed some fresh lemon on the pasta right before serving. I can say that this was one of the most delicious recipes we’ve enjoyed since the quarantine began.
A couple of things that made a difference were that I used a lot of spinach and it retained its presence and flavor plus the bacon I used was smoked maple flavor, adding a sweet/saltiness flavor to the Alfredo dish. We enjoyed it with a glass of Riesling wine – PERFECT!!

good afternoon cookies! . . .

IMG_0859Just made a small batch of chewy, crumbly oatmeal-golden raisin cookies. A simple recipe: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together 1 soft stick of butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup golden brown sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and an egg. Beat until fluffy.

Add 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt. Combine with creamed mixture at low speed. Add 1 1/2 cups of Quaker oats (not instant) and 3/4 cups golden raisins. Mix together and drop in lumps on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes in a 350 degree oven, taking them out when the tops have golden tips.

I used to make Toll House cookies and ginger snaps, but these are currently my favorite combination – especially the golden raisins! YUM!

chocolate roll cake! . . .

IMG_0844A couple of years ago, our favorite bakery in town was sold. Although the new owners kept making the cinnamon raisin swirl bread that my husband ate for breakfast all his life, the cinnamon was thinner and the raisins were hard to find. Likewise, the chocolate roll with filling that they made suffered the same consequences: very thin filling, irregularly placed so that one end of the roll was bare of filling — all the while the price went up a dollar per roll, and then another. This was their way of doing business which quickly drove this traditionally popular bakery into the ground.

Now, it’s closed, temporarily or not, but I’ve begun making the cinnamon swirl raisin bread with good results, using a challah bread dough recipe rich with eggs, golden raisins and an egg wash to hold the sugar/cinnamon swirl filling in place. Powdered sugar on top after the loaves cooled. Now that I’ve become comfortable with making these loaves, I decided to try my hand at the chocolate roll.

I’ve made jelly roll cakes before so the process of baking a thin sponge cake, rolled up with parchment while still warm was familiar to me. The filling ingredients, though, had me stumped. I looked at a few recipes online that specified a simple whipped cream filling that didn’t sound like what I had liked about the filling. As I recall, it was more robust than just whipped cream and it didn’t taste like cream cheese nor butter cream filling either.

Finally, I came across some recipes that sounded perhaps like the filling I remembered so fondly. It required butter, a dab of Crisco, Marshmallow Fluff (believe it or not) and powdered sugar. The combo of shortening plus the marshmallow and confectioners sugar seemed to make the filling more robust than just whipped cream.

So that’s what I made this afternoon. Can’t wait to try it out tonight for dessert. And, trust me, it wasn’t that hard to make! More creations resulting from the quarantine!

macaroni and cheese. . .

IMG_0758IMG_0760I haven’t made macaroni and cheese for a long time, but I’ve had it on my mind the past couple of weeks. Tonight, we had it for supper – and it turned out really well because I used sharp white cheddar cheese in a rustic cut. The cheese did well in a bechamel sauce of butter, flour, milk and cream – plus a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

I toasted the panko crumbs in a little melted butter and also grated some parmesan cheese into them before putting it on top of the macaroni and cheese.

We had a light plain green salad with a dressing with Japanese vinegar, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, Poupon mustard, Gravenstein balsamic vinegar and a drop or two of maple syrup. Sounds like a little overkill but it was refreshing and tasty!

homemade hummus – 2nd try! . . .

IMG_0714During the “stay-at-home” timeframe, I’ve used my trusty Cuisinart more than I have the whole twenty years up to now. I’ve made six loaves of bread, using the dough blade. It does an okay job of mixing the dough and processing the kneading part. It gets warm though, and the bread dough is elastic (and warm) when I set it in the large red mixing bowl to rise.

I’ve also used it to make hummus, the first time from chickpeas soaked, boiled and peeled which produced hummus to die for. So I thought I would be peeling chickpeas forever.

But wait! I bought two cans of Goya chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and made a new batch of hummus this morning. And guess what? I guess we’ll have to die twice! It is REALLY GOOD. Here’s what I did: a) drained a 15 oz. can of chickpeas; b) peeled and cut a large clove of garlic into little bits. c) stirred up Tahini and measured out a half cup; d) squeezed a lemon and saved the juice.

Put all of the ingredients into the processor. Added a dollop of good olive oil, Lawry’s garlic salt and some cracked pepper. Pulse until mixed, taste and added more lemon juice. Pulsed some more – but did not over process it with the “On” button.

The hummus was just as coarse textured (my preference) as the batch made from peeled chickpeas. YAY! And it only took about 10 minutes. Will be served with pumpernickel toast, fresh carrot sticks and some tomato soup for our lunch.

Now that I’m using it so often, I’ve made a place on my kitchen counter for the Cuisinart to live instead of having to lug it from the pantry every time I use it.

So, two new things during the quarantine: home made hummus and home-baked sandwich and cinnamon swirl bread. I’ve been tempted to get a Kitchenaid Pro 6 quart mixer to make the bread (2 min. = 12 minutes of kneading,) but I think I’ll keep using the Cuisinart until it wears out. Nice appliance.

homemade cinnamon swirl, raisin bread. . .


Ever since I’ve known George, he’s had the same breakfast everyday. It’s 4 pieces of cinnamon swirl bread with raisins, toasted and drizzled with honey. During these times, the bakery which provided these loaves has closed. And we don’t know if and when they will open again.

Today, I made two loaves of cinnamon swirl bread with a dough enriched with an egg, honey and golden raisins. It’s brushed with an egg wash before adding sugar/cinnamon all over it and rolled up tightly to rise in the loaf pan before it’s baked.

The aroma of this bread baking was very fragrant!

supper from the freezer & pantry~!

IMG_0693IMG_0697Tonight’s supper is a pantry/freezer meal. It’s called “American Chop Suey” for reasons that are beyond me – OR Hungarian goulash (ditto.) Anyhow, I defrosted ground beef and 2/3rds of a green pepper from the freezer. Found a partial box of Farfalle pasta, Ragu pizza sauce and Del Monte’s diced tomatoes and an onion in the pantry. From the fridge, a fresh unopened pack of pizza cheeses.

Although the dish is pretty straightforward, there are a couple of issues that account for it being really great tasting or mezza mezza: that is, cooking an onion, garlic, green pepper beef mix with drained diced tomatoes and a splash of pizza sauce, being careful to drain the mixture of too much juice before adding the pasta.

Second, for the first time, I added a good handful of cheeses into the beef mix before
adding the pasta. Super important is making sure the pasta is drained WELL. The
Farfalle was cooked al-dente, squeezed dry of excess water and gently folded into the
meat/cheese sauce. A big handful of cheeses went on top and then baked in a 375
oven for almost an half an hour. It was really tasty! We ate it with thick slices of
toasted, buttered homemade bread.

tiramisu! . . .

IMG_0680Tiramisu is an elegant Italian dessert. I made one for Christmas a couple of years ago and shared it with my daughter and her family up in Gloucester. Our neighbor downstairs made one about a month ago which started us on a Tiramisu roll ever since.
This one is probably the best tasting one so far that I’ve made, for which I used an electric mixer to whip up the Sabayon of (4) egg yolks and (1/2 cup)sugar in a double boiler. It was worth the trouble because it resulted in a light colored Sabayon, to which I gently folded in a container of Mascarpone. I whipped a pint of heavy cream starting slowly to ensure that the whipped cream would stay up during the days it would mellow in the refrigerator.
I used two packages of fresh lady fingers from the Stop and Shop. I brewed a cup of Medaglia d’Oro espresso coffee, let it cool and added a generous tablespoon of Marsala wine. I have tried using brandy (Courvoisier) or Kahlua (I think the first time I made it) but Marsala is my favorite because it is light but leaves a lasting impression that seems more Italian to me than the other poseurs.
In any case, we tried it tonight and it was a dreamy dessert. I dipped halves of ladyfingers into the cooled coffee in rows of a 8 X 8 pan, layered the whipped mixture on top; did a second row of dipped lady fingers and a top layer of 2 rows, using the fingers up. I then covered the top with the filling and whipped cream. Then sprinkled a nice layer of Hershey’s cocoa through a sieve on top. I inserted 4 toothpicks into the corners and one in the middle so that I could cover it with plastic wrap without mussing the cocoa layer. It needs to chill at least 4-6 hours and it gets even better after two days in the fridge. It usually doesn’t last much longer than that because we end up eating it all!
If you’d like to try this elegant dessert, I would strongly advise using a mixer to make the initial Saboyon in a double boiler (I used a glass bowl in two inches of simmering water in a skillet on the stove. It’s the foundation of the filling, and slowly whipping the cream until it’s thick also helps the depth of the filling.
It’s truly delicious!