Category Archives: Enjoying the process of cooking.

You can find any recipe you will ever want on the internet. This is more about how to enjoy the process of cooking. It takes more time so this may only be helpful for weekend cooking but it is a sensory experience.

Thanksgiving 2016: Planning


It’s time to start planning for our Thanksgiving weekend meals.

I’m starting with my previous post Thanksgiving Menu 2010 and will make adjustments as needed.

I’m thinking maybe adding an Apple Pie and excluding the Pumpkin Pie, although it does seem like a violation of the holiday to do that.

The Menu:

Turkey, Dressing (or Stuffing)

Mashed Potatoes & Giblet Gravy

Yam & Cranberry Casserole

Potato Rolls

Cranberry Sauce

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Pies: Mixed Berry, Texas Pecan, Apple or Pumpkin

Here is my beginning grocery list:

  • Fresh Veggies – celery, carrots, onions, flat leaf parsley, curly leaf parsley, russet potatoes (& maybe yukon golds – 2 lbs), fresh cranberries, fresh mixed berries (or frozen), 2 – 10oz bags brussel sprouts, walnuts,
  • Canned and boxed goods – quick cooking tapioca, canned evaporated milk, canned pumpkin, canned cranberry sauce, shortening, dry yeast, canned sliced or chopped mushrooms, canned sliced black olives, chicken stock, corn meal or cornbread mix, stuffing mix, kitchen bouquet, 2 – 17oz canned yams, miniature marshmallows,
  • Refrigerated and Frozen products – butter, margarine, whole turkey, turkey breast, turkey bone parts for broth, eggs, heavy cream, fresh berries, bacon, vanilla ice-cream, milk,

Jelly Roll


This recipe is from my high school best friend Mom – Ruth New. She passed away way too soon but I have such fond memories of her warm hospitality, witty sense of humor and just all around fun loving spirit. Oh and she was a wonderful cook/baker. I loved spending the night or weekend at their home as often as I could. I think I tried this recipe once but I plan to give it a try again. Rolling the cake is a bit tricky but my memory of that beautiful spiral and delicious flavor (especially while it was still warm) makes my mouth water all these years later.

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. orange extract

1/4 tsp. lemon extract

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup sifted all purpose flour (or cake flour)

Strawberry (or other fruit) Jam (small jar or half a large one or to taste)

Beat eggs, oil and extracts. In another bowl, mix or sift flour baking powder and salt together.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in mixer and beat well.

Prepare a jelly roll pan by greasing the pan, then adding wax or parchment paper, then adding shortening and lightly dusting with flour. Pour batter over prepared paper in pan and bake in a 375 degree oven, on the bottom rack, until lightly browned, 5-10 minutes (watch closely so that it doesn’t over cook).

Cool approximately one minute in pan. Use a clean unscented dish towel to turn cake upside down, remove pan, then carefully remove wax or parchment paper as you roll into jelly roll shape. When paper is removed, gently unroll, spread with strawberry jam and re-roll. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, slice and serve or wait until it is cooled.

(Directions for rolling and filling might be best to find on YouTube).




Fresh Herb Pizza – no cheese (from Williams-Sonoma Guide to Cooking Software)


Prep: 40 mins

Cooking: 40-50 mins

Other: 1 1/2-2 1/2 hrs for kneading and rising dough

Total: About 3-4 hrs


1 1/2 lb Potato Pizza Dough (or other raw pizza dough)

4 T. (tablespoons) extra-virgin olive oil

1 T. minced fresh rosemary

1 T. minced fresh marjoram

1 T. minced fresh chives

1 T. minced fresh basil

1 T. chopped yellow onion

1 tsp. (teaspoon) minced garlic

salt and freshly ground pepper

Make the pizza dough (or buy pre-made raw dough). Shape into 1 large or 12 small appetizer sized pizzas and let rise again for about 20 minutes, as directed in dough recipe. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. If using a baking stone or tiles, place in the oven now.

On a lightly floured board, knead 2 tablespoons of the oil and the rosemary into the already made dough for 1 or 2 minutes. (hmmm seems out of order if already shaped into pizza for previous rising)

Sprinkle the pizza dough evenly with all remaining herbs and the onion and garlic. Drizzle the remaining oil over the top. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. and bake until the crust is golden, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as an appetizer.

(I didn’t have marjoram or chives and I added marinated artichoke hearts – loved it!)

I found this recipe on my first recipe software in 1996, Willliams-Sonoma Guide to Good Cooking by Broderbund Software, Inc. & Weldon Owen, Inc.

Puff Shell Pastry


Prep: 20 mins

Cooking: About 5 mins

Other Total: About 25 mins


6 tblsp unsalted butter, cut into small dice

1 cup (8 fl oz) water

1 tsp salt

1 cup (5 oz) flour

5 eggs

In a saucepan, combine the butter, water and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often, and removed from the heat. Immediately pour in the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth mixture. Put the pan back on gentle heat and continue to stir until there are no lumps and the mixture pulls away from the pan sides, 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is thoroughly mixed in before adding the next. Work the dough as little as possible after adding the first egg. The dough should be shiny and be stiff enough to hold a shape.

The dough is now ready to be used. It can be formed by spoonfuls or with a pastry bag fitted with a plain or decorative tip. The dough should be spooned or piped onto parchment-lined baking sheets or nonstick baking sheets. The dough may be stored in a plastic bag for 2 days in the refrigerator or for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Makes 1 lb of dough.

(To be used with Cheese Puffs recipe found here on this site.)

From the Williams-Sonoma Guide to Good Cooking c 1996. Published by Broderbund Software, Inc. & Weldon Owen, Inc.

Cheese Puffs


Prep: 25 mins

Cooking: 15-20 mins

Other Total: About 45 mins


1 lb Puff Shell Pastry dough (recipe posted here on this site also)

1 cup (4 oz) shredded Emmenthaler or Gruyere cheese

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg freshly ground white pepper

Prepare the pastry dough. While it is still hot, vigorously beat in the cheese, nutmeg and pepper to taste with a rubber spatula.

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F. Working in batches if necessary, spoon the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (one?) inch in diameter. Pipe small rounds about 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto a nonstick baking sheet at about 2-inch intervals. Alternatively, pipe the mixture into muffin-tin wells.

Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, 15-20 minutes. If serving at room temperature, let cool on wire racks.

Serves 6. Makes about 30 puffs.

From the Williams-Sonoma Guide to Good Cooking c 1996. Published by Broderfund Software, Inc. & Weldon Owen, Inc.

Tuscan Beef Stew (From The Wine Lover’s Healthy Weight Loss Plan)




1 Tablespoon olive oil

3 lbs boneless beef chuck, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes

2 large onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper

2 Tablespoons tomato paste (mine had Italian herbs in it, a mistake but it worked)

1 1/2 cups dry red wine

2 cups tomato sauce

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, as garnish

1/4 cup grated Parmesan, as garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat large (large enough to hold all the meat in one layer) ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When ready to start browning meat add the oil then cubed meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the juices have evaporated and the meat is browned, 20-25 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir in onions, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is soft but not brown, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste, cook for 1 additional minute. Add the wine; bring to a boil and over tightly.

Bake in the oven until the meat is tender and almost all of the wine has evaporated, about 1 hour. Stir in tomato sauce, sage, and oregano; return the pan to the oven. Continue baking until the meat is soft enough to cut with a spoon, about 1 hour longer. (You may add assorted seasonal vegetables this last hour of cooking. I added 2 potatoes peeled and cut in large cubes and 3 carrots peeled and sliced in large chunks.)

Serve garnished with parsley and cheese. Serves 6

Notes: Serve with creamy polenta or whole wheat pasta and sauteed greens. Use leftovers as a pasta sauce.

Recommended Wine

Barolo Sarmass 1999

Brezza Giacomo e Figli, Barolo, Italy


Nebbiolo or Sangiovese

We enjoyed a table red blend from Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill, Ca; Cavalcade California Cellar Red, Cork Equity #32 May 21, 2011 affectionately called Wedding Wine because it was left over from our daughter’s wedding reception in November 2011.


Post Paris Party Deux


I didn’t want my trip to France to be over so one way I’m keeping it alive is to share the memories with my friends. Last week I had three girlfriends over to taste some of the samples of things I brought back and some things I bought here that I hoped would be similar enough to what I enjoyed there. Today I did something similar for another two girlfriends.

I decorated the table with things that I either received from my husband on his previous trips to France (tablecloth) or I have collected along the way. The sunflowers in the center were in memory of my first painting at the art retreat.

You can see how it all came together if you click ‘more’

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4 cloves Garlic, Minced

3/4 whole Red Onion,Diced

1 1/2 whole Large Cucumber, Diced

10-12 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced (or other firm tomato)

1/2 Bell Pepper, Diced

3 stalks Celery, Diced

2 dashs Salt To Taste

1  46 oz bottle Spicy V-8 Juice

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar

Juice of 1 whole lime (or more)

2 Tablespoons White Sugar (I used two small packets of Splenda)

10-15 dashes Tabasco (I used Chipotle Tabasco)

2  dashs Black Pepper to taste

1  bunch of Cilantro (chopped)

(optional garnishes: 1 Avocado diced and sprinkled with lime juice, 1 whole lime cut in wedges, Sour Cream, croutons, or grilled bread)

In the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, combine the minced garlic with half the red onion, half the cucumber, half the tomato, half the bell pepper, half the celery, half the V-8 juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, sugar (or Splenda), Tabasco, hand full of Cilantro, pepper and a dash or 2 of salt. Pulse until all ingredients are blended well; mixture will have a nice speckled, colorful texture.

Pour into a large bowl and add the rest of the V-8 juice, and half of the remaining onion, cucumber, tomato, pepper, and celery. Add all the diced tomatoes that are left. (Reserve the rest of the diced vegetables for garnish.) Stir mixture together and check seasonings, adding salt if needed.

Chill soup for at least a couple of hours; soup needs to be very cold! Remove the soup from the fridge and stir. Check seasonings one last time. Ladle into a bowl and garnish with remaining diced vegetables, a sliver of fresh avocado, sour cream, sqeeze of lime, croutons and cilantro.

This recipe was adapted from one I saw on The Pioneer Woman’s site

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner (Corned Beef & Cabbage and Irish Soda Bread)


I don’t remember where I found these recipes. I cut them from a magazine years ago and unfortunately I trimmed all evidence of which magazine it was from. The article was about a man named Patrick who hosted a large party every St. Patrick’s Day and prepared this meal. I think it might have been Sunset Magazine but I’m not sure, just let it be known I tried to give credit to whoever deserves it. I did not make up these recipes, that’s the point.

For our family of 4 (with an occasional guest or two) I make the amount for 12 people because we love the leftovers, including Grilled Reubens. If we have an actual dinner party (up to 12 people usually) I make the amount for 25. I’ve never tried to cook for 50 people, that’s just crazy!  So I will not include the directions for that amount.

Patrick’s Corned Beef & Cabbage


For 12; For 25

  • 1 3/4 lb.; 3 1/2 lb.  Onions
  • 2 1/2 lb.; 5 lb.  Carrots
  • 6 lb.; 12 lb.  Corned Beef*
  • 1 c.; 2 c.  Malt Vinegar
  • 6 oz.; 12 oz.  Irish Stout
  • 1 Tbsp.; 2 Tbsp.  Mustard Seed
  • 1 Tbsp.; 2 Tbsp.  Coriander Seed
  • 1/2 Tbsp.; 1 Tbsp.  Black Peppercorns
  • 1/2 Tbsp.; 1 Tbsp.  Dill Seed
  • 1/2 Tbsp.; 1 Tbsp.  Whole Allspice
  • 2; 4  Dried Bay Leaves
  • 3 lb.; 6 lb.  Cabbage, rinsed
  • 2 1/2 lb.; 5 lb.  Small (2 in.) thin-skinned potatoes
  • 1/3 cup; 2/3 cup  Coarse-grain mustard
  • 1/3 cup; 2/3 cup  Dijon mustard

*Brisket, which is fattier and more succulent and flavorful – what we prefer – or round, which is leaner but can be dry, spiced or unspiced.

To serve 12, use a 14-20 quart pan, for 25 use 2 pans (14-20 quart each).

Coarsely chop enough onions and carrots to make 1 cup each (1 cup each for 12, 2 cups each for 25) and place in the bottom of each pan. Place corned beef with liquids and seasoning packets in appropriate pans, cutting to fit in one layer. Add vinegar, stout, spices, and bay leaves. Add enough water to just cover beef. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat (20-30 minutes). Simmer until meat is tender when pierced, 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

Meanwhile, cut remaining onions into wedges (leave part of stem intact so the wedges hold together after cooking). Cut remaining carrots into 2-inch lengths, half lengthwise if they are large. Cut cabbages into wedges (serving size) leaving core intact so they hold together after cooking. Scrub potatoes.

Add onions, carrots and potatoes to tender beef, place cabbage on top. Cover and return to simmer until cabbage is tender when pierced, 15-20 minutes.

With a slotted spoon scoop out vegetables onto warm serving dishes, cover with foil and place in warm oven. Using tongs and a slotted spoon, remove beef to cutting board. Cut off and discard fat. Slice meat across the grain (thinner if you plan to use in sandwiches later). Wrap with foil and place in oven with veggies while the last minutes preparations are made. Serve with mustards and black and tans (stout and lager layered in a glass) or your favorite beer (we like Newcastle even if it is English instead of Irish:)

Click ‘more’ to get the Irish Soda Bread recipe.

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Mexican Rice


This recipe might be Tex Mex, but I’m not sure. I’ll have to ask the girlfriend who gave it to me. We were both living in Texas at the time but the recipe was from her family from Mexico.  Before you begin you will need a few kitchen tools you might not have on hand. One is an old fashioned mortar and pestle or a Molcajete ….. isolated mortar and pestle

I have started using a coffee grinder instead (one that I only use on spices – no more coffee in this one).  You will also need a large skillet with a lid.

The ingredients are:

1 clove of garlic

1/4 tsp. whole peppercorns

1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds

vegetable oil

1/2 large yellow onion (or whole med.)

1/2 bell pepper, chopped

2-3 Tablespoons canned tomato sauce

1 cup long grain rice


(by the way, all measurements are aproximate, this is one of those recipes you can tweek a little based on your preferences…the only important part is the rice to water ratio…which you will need to practice with to get it the way you like <moist or dry> we like ours a little dry)

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