Open the door to your Mystery Bake

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Remember the magic baking cart that lives in my pantry? It’s a little like the Tardis…

Here’s what I pulled off the cart over the weekend. The end of a bag of graham flour, 1/2 a jar of dark molasses, some autumnal sprinkles and 1/2 a container of lemon peel. I looked up a recipe for hermits, because I have been craving gingerbread recently.


Here’s the recipe from my favorite TV cook Ina Garten. Cream brown sugar and and butter together.


Add the molasses and an egg and mix thoroughly. Then add the dry ingredients of flour, salt, raisins, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger and because I love lemon and ginger, I added a good handful of lemon peel. The mix will just hold together and be very shaggy.


Turn it out onto a floured board and form into a disk and refrigerate for half and hour or so.


Cut the disk in half and form into 2 long logs that are about 12″ x 3″. You can use your hands or a rolling pin with different results. I used my rolling pin to make them more even. Follow the baking instructions, about 20/25 minutes in a medium oven. Let them cool.


While baking and cooling you can make a glaze of confectioner sugar and lemon juice and a little lemon zest.


Once cool, the logs should be fairly soft. Drizzle with the glaze and add sugar topping or sprinkles if you would like. I cut the ends off to make slicing easier and then cut the logs into fingers by slicing in half, then each half in half, and again. Perfect with tea!

Bubble, bubble, no toil, no trouble….

Seriously, it is this good….

Slivers of salami, sauteed for oh so short  a time in some butter, a handful of frozen peas and a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. Add cooked rigatoni and a few spoonfuls of pasta water and heat until water is dissolved. Add some cream ( about a half cup) dand some shredded parmesan ( about 1/4 cup) and heat through. Serve piping hot!


Gateway Pie


Who only has one pie crust in their fridge or freezer right now? Go on…raise your hand! No shame in using one for a quiche or something and having one left over. But I’m here to show you what to do with it!


Peel, cut and slice some apples….


Toss with 1/3 of a cup of sugar and your own blend of apple pie spice. Leave in a bowl and let the slices sit for about 45 minutes. Spoon them into the open pie crust and trim the edge of the crust. I rolled the excess back out and made some polka dots with the extra for decoration. Bake as you normally would.


Take the excess juice that drains from the apples and sugar and add to a saucepan with 1/2 stick of butter.


Add a teaspoon of this magic ingredient and stir to dissolve.


Add heavy cream and bring to a boil to reduce until caramel will coat the back of a spoon.

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Pour the caramel over the baked pie and wait for it to set up. Trust me it’s a gateway pie.

I recommend serving with ice cream, salted caramel of course….


Nothing Cooks Like Cast Iron

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Onions, rosemary, olive oil, tomatoes and anchovies…five ingredients. So simple and so easy for a great, fast pork chop dinner.  You will need very thick pork chops for this dish.

Start out by browning them in a cast iron skillet on a hot sear. Remove them to a platter.


Cut cherry or grape tomatoes in half and drain.


Thinly slice a large red onion and saute in olive oil. Add sprigs of rosemary to infuse.


Add four minced cloves of garlic and 6 anchovy filets or a tablespoon of anchovy paste.


Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan and reduce. Nestle the chops in the pan and pour in any juices that may have drained from chops. Put the whole pan into a 375° oven for 15 minutes to cook through. I served over cauliflower polenta.

P.S. You guys! I already posted this recipe….almost 2 years ago!  I still like it!

We Fondue, Do You?


Cooking Light has a great recipe for a family service meatball fondue that is lightened in substance and calories by making the meatballs out of shredded zucchini and ground chicken.


The mini meatballs ( size of a quarter) are made with shredded zucchini, shredded onion, and ground chicken. Instead of pan frying they are cooked off in the oven.


Doctor up a supermarket jar of low sodium marinara sauce with mushrooms. I also added the end of the zucchini and onion ( and there might have been a little bit of butter slipped in also…) Make sure to use an oven proof skillet for the sauce as it will have to go under the broiler later on!


Add the meatballs to the skillet of marinara. Top the skillet with shredded cheese and place in a  425° oven. ( Pepperoni added by moi, because, well…pepperoni)

The fondue is served with thinly sliced whole wheat baguette. The meatballs are softer because they were not fried and also the consistency of the chicken and zucchini is much softer than ground beef.  Enjoy!

Currently Crushing

Grills grills grills!!! 😆 Thank you, @theflave69 for the pic!!! #kitchentape #truecooks #cheflife
According to the archives, I have not done a “crushing” edition since July 27th, which doesn’t seem completely possible, but it could be.  I am totally off a publishing schedule. Trying to get back on track.
I have worked in commercial kitchens since I was 16 years old and have seen it all. Really…ask me about the knife throwing chef someday…or the starfish that lived on the bottom of a box of fish…
Anyway, with the rise of social media, there is a whole new world to be discovered for fans of just how funny kitchens can be. Labeling in storage is a non negotiable for food safety. Evidently, however, spelling is negotiable. I give you KitchenTape on Instagram.
( link below)
It’s like Manuel from Fawlty Towers meets Oscar Wilde in a kitchen. Some of them are just sounded out for spelling  (“Bowl in Nas for Bolognese) and some of them are really funny (“Die Kahn” for daikon, a type of radish). I haven’t seen a new post in a while so I hope whoever is behind Kitchentape continues.


Because kitchen tape doesn’t have spell check. 🍴🍔🍩😆 #kitchentape
(Caesar dressing) Gonna pass on this salad, thanks. 😮Thank you, @jamiestriha for the pic!!! #kitchentape #truecooks #cheflife
That's one sweet sizzling jam! 🥓Thank you, @kristophermcgowan for the pic!!! #kitchentape #truecooks #cheflife
(Noodles) Send nudos. 😉🍜Thank you, @mozartistic for the pic!!! #kitchentape #truecooks #cheflife
(Swiss chard) A quart of wet shart. Thank you, @overmind78 for the pic!!! #kitchentape #truecooks #cheflife
(Daikon) KHAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!! 😆🖖🏼 Thank you, @scotticusss for the pic!!! #kitchentape #truecooks #cheflife
Uuhhh... Nah, I'm good. 😐 Thank you, @dbakesacake for the pic!!! #kitchentape #truecooks #kitchenlife #cheflife #cheflaughs
(Bolognese) Just sound it out! 😂😂😂 🍝 Thank you, @xxbammiexx for the pic!!! #kitchentape #truecooks #kitchenlife #cheflife #cheflaughs
And I can honestly say, it is superb!
And it comes in cute little glass pots that can be recycled for so many things like holding votive lights or planting little succulents or hold makeup brushes or posies from the garden. The craft world is spinning on it’s axis..
If you like Greek style, this is not it. But it is creamy and full of flavor and not too sweet, just a hint of fruit at the bottom. The absolute hands down best flavor is coconut which tastes more like a panna cotta than mass retailer yogurt, but don’t question it. Given the absence of it on store shelves in last couple of weeks at Target and more, I am hoping they up the production because I am not the only one buying it. Eight flavors including plain, vanilla, coconut, lemon, peach, blueberry, strawberry and black cherry. I would humbly petition for apricot and perhaps a mango or chocolate. Thanks Yoplait!