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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread

Confused is the weather this time of year. One day it is cold with deep dark clouds and morning fog. Next, there is not a cloud in the sky; the wind is blowing and it is chilly enough for a sweater. The sun is setting much earlier too. Even though the light in the day is becoming shorter there is still the same amount of hours in a day. So why do I feel rushed? Makes no sense.

Now this little gingerbread does make sense. As it bakes the cranberries will sink to the bottom of the pan creating a caramelized chewy goodness. The texture is cake like and sticky and has all the spices of fall. The house will smell of cinnamon and molasses. The first night I served this cake with a scoop of ice cream. The next morning plain with a cup of coffee.

This recipe has been adapted from Melissa Clark's cookbook, "Cook This Now".


1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 stick unsalted butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 large eggs, slightly beaten

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 9 inch square baking pan, then line pan with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan on medium heat; combine cranberries, sugar and water. Stir until sugar is combined and the cranberries become soft and the water syrupy, about 20 minutes stirring often.

In a separate saucepan, stir together the butter, brown sugar, milk, molasses and maple syrup over medium heat. Bring it to a slight simmer and then remove it from the heat. Do not let it come to a boil. (Mixture could curdle)

In a large bowl, sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and black pepper. Beat in the butter molasses mixture and then the eggs.

Scoop batter into prepared pan. Then spoon cranberries into the batter in a swirly design and then drag a knife through the batter in the same pattern to incorporate. Bake approx 40 to 50 minutes, until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack and let cool.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Updated Tuna Casserole

Thought I'd share a picture of the beach right now in the mist of it's transformation. As you can see the grasses are starting to change color. Then there's the path to the sand that is covered with yellowed and crumpled leaves. The brown pelicans form v-formations or lines just above the water's surface to fly to and from their fishing grounds. Everything looks so serene in this picture above but there is a lot going on.

Still working on the tuna cache before we leave. Found this classic in a very large pile of recipes that have been printed from other blogs, (before pinterest) or torn out of magazines. Had to google the name of the recipe to find out where I had found it. Turns out it's from Southern Living magazine and a updated version of one at that. It was delicious, creamy, cheesy, crunchy and full of fresh green beans and tuna. Prepared this exactly as written except did not use as much butter or cream. Would definitely make again.

1 16 ounce package dried ziti pasta
1/2 pound fresh green beans (trimmed)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium leeks (thinly sliced)
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms (sliced thinly)
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 tablespoons flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup 2% milk
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups Cheddar cheese (shredded)
6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (divided)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 pound fresh tuna (cooked and cubed)
2 tablespoons fresh chives (chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
1/4 cup crushed potato chips (plain)
1/4 cup panko
2 tablespoons melted butter

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 13 x 9 inch baking dish. (I used butter)

Prepare pasta al dente according to package directions. In the meantime blanch green beans in boiling salted water for 2 to 3 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain, plunge into ice water to stop cooking.

Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat add leeks and saute 2 minutes, then add mushrooms and saute 5 more minutes until lightly browned. Transfer mixture to a small bowl, wipe skillet clean.

Melt butter over medium-high heat and whisk in flour, and cook, whisking constantly 2 minutes. Gradually stir in cream, milk and broth. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and whisk in cheddar cheese and 4 tablespoons of Parmesan until smooth. Add salt and pepper. Stir cream mixture into pasta and then add chives and parsley, tuna, green beans and leek and mushroom mixture. Then transfer to baking dish.

In a separate dish add potato chips, panko, melted butter and the rest of the Parmesan, combine, then sprinkle over top of pasta.

Bake at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Huckleberry Lemon Scones

Saturday I ran out to pick some huckleberries in the front of our house. We have five large bushes that were loaded with berries and have been waiting all summer for them to ripen. I ran to the one that was closest to the house and then the next one. There were hardly any left. Dang those birds, I've been outsmarted again.

Days before we had traveled to the big city of Eugene to run some errands and stayed overnight in a hotel. We drove back late the next day. Before leaving the long awaited berries looked plump and ready to pick. I was anxious to get back as I had many recipes and ideas lined-up. My total pickings today were a little over a cup, so disappointing.

These scones are biscuit like in texture, not too dry and sweetened with a light lemon glaze. I halved the recipe and added less butter and 2% milk instead of cream. There were a few other minor changes as well.

This recipe has been adapted from Ina Garten's, strawberry scone recipe.


For the scones:

1 1/2 cups flour, plus 1 teaspoon for the huckleberries
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cold stick butter (small cubes)
1 egg
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup huckleberries
1 lemon (zest)

For glaze:

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare cooking sheeting with butter or use a baking mat.

In a large bowl combine both flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter using a pastry cutter or blend on low until mixture is the size of peas.

Whisk egg and milk together, add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. In a small bowl combine huckleberries with the flour to lightly coat the berries. Then add floured huckleberries and lemon zest and gently distribute throughout.

Turnout dough onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a square of sorts and roll out with floured rolling pin until approx 3/4 inch thick. Cut into fourths, then once more at a diagonal to form eight triangles.

Transfer to prepared baking sheet and bake 20 to 25 minutes until lightly golden brown.

Remove from oven and let cool at least 15 minutes. Then combine sifted confectioner's sugar and lemon juice to form a glaze using a glass measuring cup. **easier to pour that way** Pour glaze in a zig zag like pattern on top of the scones. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tuna, Artichoke Hearts and Roasted Tomato Linguine

We are heading back to Phoenix in less than 2 weeks. It's hard to believe summer is almost over as it has gone by so fast. Time to start clearing out food in the freezer and kitchen cabinets. Some of our meals will be a little unconventional and some a tad bit adventuresome but that will be part of the fun.

We bought a tuna fish off the docks a month ago, about ten pounds worth. Tuna has been on the table at least once sometimes twice a week since. My favorite dish to date is this Mediterranean version using roasted cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts and Kalamata olives. The artichoke hearts were the canned ones from Trader Joe's. I buy their frozen ones when in Phoenix. Here in Oregon we drive two to three hours to the nearest TJ's so the canned product travels much better. I cut the tuna into bite-sized pieces and then tossed them in a little olive oil and dried herbes de provence to lightly saute'. I added all the ingredients to the mix with a squeeze of lemon. Next I added the linguine, grated Parmesan cheese and a half a cup of pasta water; it was delicious!


Olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 pound tuna (cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 can Trader Joe's artichoke hearts (I used the hearts only, pulled the leaves off)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tablespoon dried Herbes De Provence
1/3 cup Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
8 ounces dried linguine
1/2 to 1 cup pasta water
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
1 handful parsley (chopped)

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place tomatoes and 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium size bowl, gently mix and pour onto baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling salted water add linguine and cook until al dente, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove 1 cup pasta water, drain noodles in colander

Toss tuna, herbes de provence, salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil together in a medium bowl, saute' about 2 minutes on the first side and 1 to 2 minutes on the other. Add artichoke hearts, garlic, roasted tomatoes and olives; stir until combined.

Add cooked pasta, 1/2 cup  pasta water and Parmesan, combine; if pasta is dry add the other 1/2 cup of pasta water and gently mix until heated through. Drizzle top with a little olive oil and fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fava Bean and Corn Risotto

The harvesting of the garden goes on. Yesterday I netted 2 pounds of fava beans, that is after being shelled, and by shelled I mean after removing the beans from the pod and then tossing them in boiling water and then (I'm not finished yet) removing them from that skin. In the end you have a bright shiny bean. My mind set at the moment is not to grow them again. But you never know; sometimes a growing season away, the memories are not quite as vivid.

Normally this would be more of a spring time dish, but here in the pacific northwest the growing season ends a little later in the year. This risotto came about only after looking in the pantry for inspiration. I was looking for a spring board of sorts. I took a cup of the favas and tossed them in the food processor. I added the processed beans along with the whole beans towards the end. This gave the dish a slight green tinge and added more of that delicious green flavor. To me fava beans taste like a cross between a lima bean and a pea. At the end I added the fresh corn and Parmesan cheese and then topped with fresh parsley. This is a great dish that truly celebrates the delicate sweetness of the beans.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion (diced)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/4 cup white wine
3 1/2 to 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (heated in a saucepan)
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cups fava beans (prepped and divided)
1 ear of corn (kernels removed)
1 handful parsley
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)

To prepare:

Take 1 cup of the fava beans and puree in a food processor. Set aside. Have all ingredients prepped and ready to go.

In a heavy pot on medium heat add olive oil and onion saute until almost translucent then add garlic, stir 1 minute. Add rice and stir until completely coated with olive oil, add wine and cook until evaporated. Sir in 1 cup of the broth and simmer gently, stirring constantly.

When the stock has absorbed add another cup of broth, and continue in this way for another 15 to 20 minutes until rice is cooked through, stirring constantly. Add the fava beans pureed and whole, cook another minute or so. Add corn and Parmesan. Taste, if needed add salt. Garnish with fresh parsley. Enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Roasted Eggplant Sandwich

There is a great little bakery in Newport Oregon called Panini. It's about a 25 mile trip one way but it is the nearest "big" town. The owner is a relatively young man I'm guessing in his middle thirties. The shop has three tables and a sit down bar inside and 2 tables out front. The walls are decorated with local artist's work, always very eclectic. Nothing fancy about this place at all. We go there quite often for living so far away. They make the best mocha coffee I've ever had and the most wonderful pastries. They also make the most delicious eggplant sandwich.

Today's post is all about trying to replicate this dish, let me explain. First the eggplant is roasted and then served on freshly made focaccia bread. Then the sides are slathered with an aioli mayonnaise topped with the eggplant, red onion, sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese, then drizzled with a balsamic vinegar. Did I mention how good this was.........My version is not exactly the same but it is a close second. Thanks Joey for all the great food.

* I roasted two eggplants which was way too much for my husband and I but I used the eggplant later for another dish *


Eggplant Mixture:

1 eggplant
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3 sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
2 thin slices red onion
1/4 cup feta cheese
4 slices whole wheat bread/focaccia
Balsamic vinegar

Easy Aioli

1 clove garlic (pressed)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mayo
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch rounds, then using fork tines poke rounds and then sprinkle with salt. Let set 15 to 20 minutes. Pat rounds dry using paper towels or clean dish towel. Pour olive oil into shallow dish and brush both sides of eggplant with olive oil.

Place rounds on a baking sheet and bake 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned, turn and roast on other side another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, set aside.

Meanwhile, while eggplant is roasting, prepare the aioli. Remove skin from garlic, mash garlic and salt in a small bowl until a paste is formed. Whisk in mayonnaise, olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste if needed salt and pepper.

Take roasted eggplant, slice into fourths add to a small bowl then add sun dried tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, 2 sprinkles of balsamic and combine together. Slather bread of choice with your aioli, then mound the eggplant mixture, place other side on top. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Baked Kale Chips

So hard to believe that it's almost Autumn. It's time to start harvesting all the goods in the garden as we will be heading back home in less than 3 weeks. Today I decided to start with the kale. You can see by the picture above that this one veggie alone will take some time. This is the same kale that I had the problem with the beginning of the summer. If you remember some little varmint was getting into my garden and chewing the end of the kale stems. He would then try to drag them down a small hole. So I kept burying the little holes and I bought and planted more kale, maybe a little too many. I showed him. Maybe.........

I made these kale chips today even though the temperature on the coast was very warm. Not sure why I have not made them before as they are delicious and easy to prepare. I followed the recipe very closely except I added a teaspoon of soy sauce to the mix, which my husband and I enjoyed. I had to make two separate batches. The first batch I added a little too much olive oil and tore the leaves a little too small. The second time I tore the leaves into three inch pieces, taking into account that they will shrink.

The kale turned out crunchy like a chip and had a soy and sesame flavor. It's hard to measure out exact amounts for this recipe. One bunch of kale is about one pound or four to five cups. Leaf size can also make a difference. Use your own judgement.


1 bunch kale (cleaned, dried, remove stems and tear into 3 inch pieces)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
1/4 cup sesame seeds

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 200F.

In a large bowl add kale and lemon juice, massage leaves until softened, a minute or so. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and soy sauce, mix with hands if more olive oil is needed add the other tablespoon and then the sesame seeds.

Place on baking sheets in a single layer (will need two sheets for this amount) and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, turn with spatula and place back into oven for another 20 minutes. Check leaves, if not quite crisp turn oven up to 300F and check every couple of minutes. Watch carefully, will not take long. Enjoy!

Recipe has been adapted from "Martha Stewart" videos.