Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Whole Wheat Popovers

These were topped with a small amount of Swiss cheese.

I love popovers, they look amazing, taste amazing, but wow have I gone through a lot of failures to get success.  It isn't that they don't always "pop" it is usually more of an oven issue or stuck to the pan issue.  I have had 2 oven fires, one of which weakened my heating element which I didn't realize and it broke on Thanksgiving day mid way through cooking my turkey---(thank you Priscilla for finishing my turkey!).  The pan issue didn't help as I would prepare the pan more and they would of course spill over, I really wish I took photos now of all the mishaps.   I think the prepared pan heats up the butter runs down the sides and as the batter rises up then the sides aren't as coated.  They are still tasty but not as great for presentation.  I can remember my grandmother making them and I had tried them years ago, but a while back we were at a meeting in Scottsdale, AZ where we had the most unbelievable popovers.  BLT which has many locations makes the largest most perfect popovers I have ever seen, so I came home determined to make these and so began the trials and errors.  I do think every time I make them there is possibility of something going wrong.  However last night success!  One of the biggest issues is I only have one oven (like most households I assume) when I want these the main course is in the oven so timing is usually an issue.

BLT gives you their recipe at the table when they bring the popovers, I also had a recipe card come with the pan which I bought at Williams & Sonoma  most recipes I've tried are pretty similar.  I halved the recipe which didn't affect the outcome, halved the flour to whole wheat and prepared the pan with softened butter rather than melted.

Whole Wheat Popovers

3 eggs
1 c milk
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 T butter melted


Preheat oven to 425°, take softened butter and spread into heat cup coating sides & bottom well.

In a bowl whisk together eggs and milk, then whisk in melted butter.
Blend flours and salt then whisk with egg mixture for 2 min till blended well.
Divide batter into prepared pans, only fill about 1/2 way up cup.
Bake for 20 min. reduce heat to 325° bake for 15 more min.
Remove from oven and dump out popovers (that would be a miracle for me) take a knife to go around popover and loosen from side. serve warm.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer Drink Favorites

Alyson this ones for you!  I love tea, I make a pitcher of ice tea everyday as soon as the weather warms up and until the weather cools back down.  I know when the pitcher of tea starts lasting to the next day the seasons are changing.  I like it brewed dark, unsweetened, and occasionally some lemon.   The Ruby Red Grapefruit drink is so refreshing, I don't drink much soda but love this mix.  Visit all of these companies sites for a ton of ideas and recipes, in doing this post I hadn't visited some of the sites before so was surprised with all the information.

My favorite brew combos:

My Regular Ice Tea

For about a gallon of tea I'll brew: 


 2 Bigelow Lemon Lift bags
 4 Tetley regular tea bags


Brew in microwave in measuring cup with about 1-2 c water.
Remove from microwave and allow to cool about 4 minutes.
In a gallon pitcher fill to within 2 cups of top with ice and water.
When cooled add brewed tea squeezing excess from tea bags.

Iced Green Tea

I had a harder time getting on board with Green Tea at first, I think I was used to drinking such strong tea that I wasn't getting the full flavor of the green tea.  I found this Tazo Zen tea has a great flavor with a blend of lemongrass and spearmint in it.  It is great hot also, it is costly to do a whole pitcher for ice tea but it is good.  We are Dunkin Donut fans versus Starbucks when it comes to coffee but when it comes to tea I'm stopping at Starbucks.  They use the Tazo products so this Zen flavor is available there.

My favorite green tea brew:


3 Tazo Zen Tea bags

Brew tea bags in 1-1/2 cups water in microwave, use cold water and micro for 2 minutes, allow to cool.
In 1/2 gallon pitcher fill half way with ice and water.
When cooled add brewed tea squeezing out excess from tea bags.

Ruby Red Pink Grapefruit Fizz

Another drink of this summer has been Ruby Red Pink Grapefruit Fizz, it really isn't that big of a deal but I have sure went through the grapefruit juice.  I have always like that juice but after having this drink with Alyson in Vermont  a light bulb went off and this drink was born.  This drink at Simon Pearce Restaurant was a Strawberry Fizz and had a little kick.

Lunch at "Simon Pearce" from my  Empty Nest Blog

Ruby Red Pink Grapefruit Fizz
Ocean Spray Ruby Red light
Cananda Dry diet Ginger Ale  ( other brands are to sweet)
Mix 1/2 and 1/2 pour over ice and enjoy.  You could use regular of both juice and soda, I prefer the lower calorie less sugar and am ok with the sugar substitute so my drink is only about 75 calories although that makes it a 24oz drink---but what to do with 1/2 a can of soda so I drink it all.  

Don't you love a pretty pink drink?


Monday, August 15, 2011

Creamy Mascarpone Cheese And Wild Arugula Pasta

I'm a big fan of NPR, always enjoyed it on the radio but my current car came with Sirius Radio which I didn't think I would use that much but my husband would have bought the car just for that.  In fact he has been swayed by a car for its stereo system before, I just wasn't that into it.  However I spend a lot of hours on the road so after the 6 months of free Sirius I was convinced to buy the subscription.........6 months free has to have been a great promotion for Sirius.  Well if you haven't heard Click and Clack you gotta check it out online, between the Boston accents and their infectious laughter it'll give you an hour of fun whether you are into cars or not.  My father in law is a huge "Prairie Home Companion" fan, we would often listen to that coming home from State College after Penn State games with him.  The NPR website is a wealth of information on all types of subjects so when I saw this article on Arugula and I had a ton of it in my refrigerator I had my dinner side dish for the night.  The recipes in this article come from Susan Russo who is a contributor to "Kitchen Window" and her blog Food Blogga  is a great find for new ideas, especially after a visit to a farmers market.   This pasta recipe is really simple, easy, quick and for me could have been the whole meal. A good meal if you are home alone and you'll have some to reheat the next day---maybe.

Link for NPR article:
Fresh, Feisty Arugula:  More Than a Salad Green

Creamy Mascarpone Cheese And Wild Arugula Pasta


1/2 lb spiral pasta  (Barilla Plus  my favorite)
3 oz mascarpone cheese (I used 6 oz)
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2 T pasta water  (I used 1/4 cup)
3 c packed arugula
4 T fresh grated parmigiana cheese (I stirred some into the pasta also)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
extra olive oil for drizzling


In a large pot, cook pasta in salted water till al dente.
Meanwhile in small bowl whisk mascarpone cheese, lemon zest & juice, salt & pepper, and hot pasta water until smooth and creamy.
Drain pasta, add back to pot with arugula and toss.  
Add cheese mixture and toss till coated.
Divide onto plates, top with grated parmigiana, red pepper flakes, and drizzle of olive oil if desired.

I add a bit of grated lemon zest on top
with the cheese and red pepper flakes.

Served it with Tilapia sprinkled with Old
Bay on Spinach.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gorgonzola, Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Pork Chops

Normally I would save this recipe for cooler weather, but when you get to August you start needing a change.  After Winter I can't wait for summer so I start grilling before grill season so I guess it is just wanting what you haven't had for awhile.  I'll be back to my summer meals right away because I can never have enough  Summer.  That comes from having spent at least 7 years of my childhood in places where we only had warm weather.  I'm alright through fall but as soon as we ring in the New Year I am ready for Summer again. I have tried all the snow activities but they just aren't for me.

Gorgonzola, Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Pork Chops


7 large cut Pork Chops
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach-steamed in microwave then squeeze out water
6 oz Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
1/4 c chopped onion
1 roasted red pepper chopped (directions below)
salt & pepper
olive oil


1.  In heavy skillet heat olive oil.
2.  Saute onion till tender, add spinach, red pepper &
mix in bowl with cheese set aside.

3.  Slice Pork Chops horizontally (carefully) but not
all the way through to form pocket.

4.  Spoon mixture into chop.
5.  Heat oven proof skillet, (I used cast iron) with a drizzle of olive oil.
6.  When pan is hot, place stuffed pork chop into pan & sear, turn to sear other.
7.  Place pan in 350° preheated oven for 10-15 min (depending on how thick meat is) & internal temp of 160°.

I use electric knife for this.

A Rose´ went great with this.
--with roasted potatoes & carmelized brussel sprouts

Electric knife was a shower gift when I got married,
31 years ago --- I don't use it often but worked great here.

Roasted Red Peppers


Red Peppers 
aluminum foil


Cut peppers and seed.
Place skin side up on foil.
Under broil till skin is charred black. 
Remove and wrap up foil with peppers inside.
Let rest till cool, the moisture created helps peel off the charr.
Peel and use. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Handwritten Recipes

This  Epicurious article caught my eye since part of my starting this blog was to get the pile of handwritten recipes off my shelf, out of my cookbooks, out of my purse and actually be able to find the one I want that I know is somewhere around here.  The article of course led me to the blog and what a fun idea bookstore owner Michael Popek, in Oneonta, New York has come up with.

The blog is at this address and definitely worth a visit.  I have recipes from my grandmothers and when you find the piece of paper they don't always have all the measurements, or instructions, and sometimes they used a made up shorthand.  In trying to make some of the recipes I end up guessing hoping it is at least close to what they used.  What a triumph though to recreate something you had as a child even if it isn't exactly as you remembered.  I like that after the recipe he has what book he found the recipe in, a little connection to another time and place.  We traveled by this town on our last visit north I think on our next trip we'll be stopping in to see the bookstore........if my husband blog it would be about books, bookstores, book bindings, libraries, reading chairs, reading he'll be thrilled when I tell him we have a bookstore to stop at.  

I blogged this recipe that was one of my handwritten recipes that needed to be deciphered:

Grandma Gibson's Lemon Meringue Pie

Friday, August 5, 2011

Homemade Pop Tarts

Yep, you heard me right homemade Pop Tarts.  I haven't bought these in years but when I saw this at Tasting Table DC I had to try them.  Buzz's Bakery in the Clarendon area of Arlington, VA has just opened this location and Tasting Table posted an adapted recipe of their  Peach Pop Tarts.  From the photo to the memory of a pop tart I had to make them.  They are made with whole wheat sorta healthy, right?  Well working with the dough was a little difficult it must be refrigerated each time you work with it.  This make for a time consuming recipe, the butter softens the dough so it gets sticky quickly.  I spread cream cheese onto the pastry instead of their method of rolling out the cream cheese to fit.  I also used a raspberry jam to try the recipe out.  Once the dough was mixed the only work was rolling out the dough and assembling.  Mixing the dough up the night before left my morning to just rolling & assembly.  While baking they spread out more than I would have liked, but they are better than any pop tart I have ever had.  I think with practice the dough would get easier, I am an impatient baker for sure.  The whole wheat dough is so good!  I will definitely use these Raspberry preserves again. I can't wait for my next DC visit it will include a stop at Buzz Bakery! Let me know if you have been there already.

my version:

Raspberry Pop Tart

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 c granulated sugar
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 c buttermilk

With mixer beat butter and sugar till light & fluffy.
In medium bowl mix flours, powder, & salt.
Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter/sugar mixture.
When dough forms divide into 2 balls, refrigerate at least 30min. (I did overnight)
Roll out dough on floured surface to about 1/4 in thick (I did this between saran wrap for ease of handling)
Cut dough into 3x4in rectangles place on baking sheet lined with parchment. Chill 30min.
Spread center of square with a think layer of spreadable reduce fat cream cheese.
Then put a dollop of Raspberry Jam on top of that and spread over cream cheese.
Top with another square, and seal edge with fork or pinch closed.
Refrigerate another 30 min.
Remove and place in preheated 350° oven bake 25min.
When cool spread glaze on top.



1/2 c Powdered sugar
3-4 drops vanilla
1 T water (to desired consistency)
optional drop of food color 


                                                                      stir together and spread on cooled tarts

Love these preserves!

a gadget I have for crimping ravioli, worked great on these

Buzz Bakery
818 North Quincy Street
Arlington, VA

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Eggplant Rollatini

Eggplant Rollatini
We are at the stage where summer vegetables are growing faster than we can eat them.  This old standby recipe has been around awhile-with many variations, it is one of those where everyone makes it with their twist. The ingredients just go so well together, you can't really fail.  In always trying to make something a little healthier I don't bread and fry the eggplant.  I opt for broiling or grilling the eggplant that has been drizzled with a little Balsamic Vinaigrette till it is tender.  I sprinkle a few whole wheat crumbs or panko on top for a little crunch.  It isn't the decadent breaded and fried version but it is good.   Since I do get complaints I will occasionally do the traditional breaded, fried style.  Lets face it most people will eat just about anything breaded and fried.  For regular weeknight dinners I try to keep it as healthy as possible.  I have also breaded the eggplant with whole wheat crumbs and baked them if  you want the breading but not the fat.  The breading and frying takes some time but without that this goes together quickly, and while it bakes you can get some other things done.

Italian seasoning
favorite red sauce
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

--Peel, slice eggplant lengthwise
--lay in single layer on cookie sheet
--drizzle with balsamic and oil
--broil or grill till tender (flip half way)
--mix: ricotta, eggs, Parmesan, seasoning to taste in a bowl
--simmer sauce with capers and chopped small ends of eggplant
--cover bottom of baking dish with sauce, spread cheese mixture on eggplant
--roll up and place in dish
--drizzle with more sauce
--sprinkle with more Parmesan & mozzarella
--add a few breadcrumbs and bake till heated through with cheese melted

chop  ends of eggplant to add to sauce
broil eggplant
ricotta, eggs, seasoning
add grated cheese
blend well 
spread eggplant with cheese and roll up
sauce simmered with capers and extra eggplant
top with sauce
sprinkle with cheeses and crumbs