Sunday, December 22, 2019

Seared Sea Scallops Au Champagne Gratin

plate of seared scallops au champagne grain
Elegance with Few Ingredients

Recipe by Robin

Back in the days when I first left my birthplace in New England, my parents would ask me what I wanted to eat when I visited from California. My dad’s scallops were always high on my list. He’d pan-fry the scallops, crumble Royal Lunch milk crackers over them after plating, then top off with butter sauce. Since original Royal Lunch crackers have been replaced with an odd and expensive substitute, and fresh scallops aren’t too available here, I’d never tried to duplicate his recipe. Until inspired by some scrumptious-looking sea scallops I saw at Costco recently while shopping for chicken. Seafood night!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Salsa Fresca Nueva

Salsa on top of Roast Chicken, green beans on side

Recipe inspired by Casalegno Farms

Every time I make salsa I wonder why I don’t make it more often. It’s easy and delicious, and can be varied numerous ways. Though I usually make salsa with lime juice, recently I learned a Casalegno Farms family secret: grandma used apple cider vinegar in her salsa. I was skeptical, but its subtle fruitiness enhances the tomato and pepper flavors without adding extra flavors from the citrus. So it allows me to bump up the Southwest spicing with cumin and cilantro, or whatever else I might have on hand.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Shakshuka for Two

Shakshuka served over spinach with bread
Serve on a Bed of Spinach with Crusty Bread

Recipe by Robin

Shakshuka! A fun word to say, and a delightful dish from North Africa that satisfies at both brunch and supper.  It starts with a thick whole-tomato sauce, chunky with onions and bell pepper, lightly spiced (or not so lightly—your choice) with exotic Middle Eastern flavors. Next, eggs are poached directly in the sauce and topped with green herbs. For extra color and veggie-power, I serve shakshuka on a bed of steamed spinach or julienned steamed zucchini. Traditionally it’s accompanied by hearty homemade white bread for scooping up the yummy sauce.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Southwest Chicken Salad

Southwest Chicken Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing
Salad Served

Recipe by Robin

Whenever Southwest chicken salad is on a restaurant menu, I’m likely to order it. Styles vary widely, but typically include salad greens, corn, beans, cheese, and a side of salsa. A chicken breast, hopefully browned and spiced, crowns the creation. Dressings vary from chili lime vinaigrettes to creamy flavored ranches to green goddesses. This first attempt to recreate the salad at home was a great success, largely due to the rich, creamy homemade avocado ranch dressing. Fresh corn-off-the-cob from last night's Farmers' Market leftovers adds more taste appeal, though in a pinch—or in winter—frozen cooked corn will do nicely.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Avocado Ranch Dressing

Perfect Compliment to Southwest Salad

Recipe by Robin

Ranch dressing so deliciously compliments all manner of not-so-healthy snacks, from buffalo wings to packaged chips to fried calamari. Remarkably enough, it also works magic with bland, healthful salads. Adding avocado to the ranch bumps up levels of omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and Vitamins E, A, and C. Not that ranch dressing will ever be a contender as healthy salad dressing. It’s still more of rich, creamy, subtly herbed treat.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Citrus Mint Iced Tea

Two Glasses of Tea Garnished with Lemon and Mint
Iced Tea for Two

Recipe adapted from The Tea Companion

It’s summer and it’s hot! Temperatures are sizzling throughout the US. Even the weather map looks sunburned, all zones pink to dark red, with no blue, green, or even yellow zones in sight. Pretty much the same story throughout the northern hemisphere. We need to chill out, even as we brainstorm solutions to global warming. A tall glass of orange-lemon, minty tea with a caffeine lift couldn’t hurt. I adapted the recipe from The Tea Companion, a classic guide to different teas from around the world, as well as clear, succinct descriptions of how different teas are grown and processed. The Companion also demonstrates how to make great tea. 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Blueberry Hand Pies

Closeup of baked blueberry Handpie
Each Person Gets Their Own

Recipe adapted from Yankee Magazine

June, one of my favorite months! Heralding the late spring turning into summer, the end of the school year, the beginning of seasonal swimming. And, my birthday! This year, instead of the usual bakery cake, I decided to make my own. Not a cake. Instead, blueberry hand pies—flaky pastry being much more delicious than most cakes IMHO. Found the recipe in a library while on vacation a few years back, and first prepared it in a motel room (with limited success). A burgeoning, bountiful blueberry crop at the farmers’ market inspired me to try again. A lot easier to make at home than in a motel room.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Chili Roasted Carrots

Roasted and Spiced to Perfection

Recipe adapted from The Metabolism Reset Diet

It’s May, but here in Santa Cruz it’s still cool in the evenings, and most days. New spring greens make a lovely salad, yet we still crave something hot and substantial for dinner. Enter chili roasted carrots, a dish with heat, crunch, and spice. Few ingredients and easy prep make the recipe even more appealing. Spices and herbs can be changed up according to personal tastes and what’s on hand. Perfect for early spring, this recipe can also be deployed all winter, switching out the lime juice for lemon or even orange. What’s not to like?

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Rum Raisin Persimmon Muffins

platter of muffins
Platter of Rummy Goodness

Recipe adapted by Robin

What do you bring to a luau-themed birthday party for a 60 year old who has everything and loves rum? More rum! And some rum raisin muffins for the potluck. Luckily my friend Cynthia shared a recipe for persimmon muffins earlier this year, and I still had persimmons in the freezer. And rum. I remembered what cousin Jon’s great grandma Ellen said about her Bourbon Pecan Cake: soak the raisins in the rum so the alcohol won’t bake off as much. This also concentrates the rummy flavor in each plumped-up raisin. I also cut down the sugar and tweaked a few quantities to accommodate the extra liquid.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Pumpkin Soufflé or Winter Squash Soufflé

Slice of pumpkin souffle with orange slice
Brilliant Use of Leftover Pumpkin

Recipe from The Classic Zucchini Cookbook

For the past year I’ve been obsessed with soufflés. After the classic cheese soufflé, the golden delicious apple soufflé, and my recently posted acorn squash soufflé, I have one more recipe to explore, this time with leftover Winter Luxury pumpkin from Argentine beef stew in a pumpkin, pureed and frozen.  Any kind of cooked, pureed winter squash, or even canned pumpkin, will suit the recipe. It’s that late winter/early spring time of year, when I’m using up the rest of the winter squashes from last year’s farmers’ markets. Alas, I’m recycling the same old soup and baked squash recipes. This recipe can the antidote to baked squash ennui.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Gluten-free Flaxseed Crackers

Good with a Schmear

Recipe inspired by Bob’s Red Mill & How Not to Die

It’s Lent, the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter, according to the Christian calendar. The word derives from the Anglo Saxon lencten, meaning spring. Symbolic of the time Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for his ministry, it’s a time for reflection and purification as the seasons change from winter to spring. When I was growing up, kids were encouraged to “give up (name of rich food) for Lent,” a feat at which I never really succeeded. Deprivation just isn’t my thing, but I offer these gluten-free, keto-friendly, high fiber crackers as a crunchy substitute for buttery high carb desserts, for whenever the urge for purification strikes.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

New Orleans Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Square of Bread Pudding topped with Bourbon Sauce
Bread and Bourbon Classic

Recipe by Susie M.

Absolutely the best ever. Even the exquisite Commander’s Palace and Brennan’s restaurants can’t compete in the bread pudding arena. My Auntie Ann’s concoction comes close, but lacks the New Orleans bourbon sauce. My friend Susie brings this pudding to an annual New Years’ Day party and it always disappears quickly, despite numerous dessert contributions and large amounts of seafood stew. When I inquired, she said that the recipe is from a New Orleans greeting card that she purchased years ago, and generously shared a photocopy. It’s a perfect treat for Mardi Gras—next Tuesday, March 6 this year.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Acorn Squash Soufflé

wedge of acorn squash souffle with spoon and napkin
Serve Warm, Room Temp, or Chilled

Recipe adapted from Simplicity from a Monastery Kitchen

This last of a trio of soufflé recipes from an upstate New York monastery cookbook is perhaps my favorite, though it barely surpasses the classic cheese soufflé in deliciousness, and the apple soufflé is easier to prepare. This is a dessert soufflé, taking advantage of acorn squash’s natural sweetness, enhanced by small amounts of maple syrup and sugar. The cookbook suggests serving it warm, but it’s also good at room temperature, and IMHO even better chilled, like a light pumpkin-ish pudding infused with the unique flavor of acorn squash.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Moroccan Pumpkin Soup

Closeup of bowl of Moroccan pumpkin soup
Leeks on Top for Color Contrast

Recipe from Dan Musicant’s sister

Looking for creative uses for leftover pumpkin from the delightful Argentinian beef stew in a pumpkin recipe, I came across a recipe I printed out way back in 2011 when I first started this blog. I’ve already blogged a more elaborate Moroccan Butternut Soup as well as a Savory Roasted Pumpkin Soup and a Chunky Ginger Pumpkin Soup, but the addition of allspice makes this recipe unique. So I adapted it for the amount of leftover pumpkin that I had, and added some extra chickpeas, since my husband isn't a fan of super-smooth soups. I also chose to serve the sautéed leeks on top, instead of pureeing them with the pumpkin and spices, for variety of taste and texture.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Persimmon Chicken

Persimmon Chicken on bed of spinach
Sweet and Savory Persimmons

Recipe adapted from Persimmon Love

I thought I’d escaped the annual ritual of receiving persimmons from my friend Bill’s tree by being away for the holidays, but alas! I responded to his Christmas greeting early in the New Year, and he replied, “Persimmons?” Sure, I’ll take some. I froze the super-squishy Hachiyas, but had to find a use for the hard, super-ripe Fuyus right away. We’re off the usual persimmony sweet treats post-holiday, so I adapted an online chicken recipe by adding sour and salty components to the sweet persimmons for a perfect balance of flavors. A dash or two of cayenne completes the flavor spectrum.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Chilean Pumpkin or Winter Squash Casserole

Plate of Chilean Pumpkin Casserole on Spinach
Oldie But Goodie Vegetarian

Recipe from Moosewood Cookbook

Way back in 1974, Mollie Katzen hand-wrote, illustrated, and published the first Moosewood Cookbook, with recipes she and other Moosewood Restaurant cooks dreamed up. It became an instant classic for creating satisfying vegetarian meals. Both the restaurant and cookbook have survived the intervening 40-plus years. Many new revised editions have been published, but this recipe, from my original handwritten edition, is delightfully old-school. It's a tasty way to use up leftover pumpkin, either from autumnal displays or from a recipe like Argentinian Beef Stew in a Pumpkin.