Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

almond crunch biscotti

one of the most delicious recipes for biscotti comes from the book written by lou pappas.  biscotti are twice baked italian cookies that have a wonderful crunch.  they can be served with coffee or tea, or just for an afternoon snack.

mixed in just under fifteen minutes, the biscotti bake in the oven first for 25 minutes, then are removed, cooled for 10 minutes, sliced into strips, turned on their sides, and baked again for another 10 minutes.

here is the recipe:
in a standing mixer, mix 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs, and 1 tsp vanilla together until well mixed.  in a separate bowl, mix 2 cups of flour with 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 tsp salt.  then add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients already mixed in the mixer.  as the final step, add 3/4 cup of sliced almonds.  stir to mix. 

form the mixture into 2 logs on a baking sheet prepared with spray oil/flour.  flatten the logs into 1 inch tall, 3 inches wide and about 13 inches long.  as they bake, the logs will widen some, so allow for the spreading of them on the baking sheet.  bake in a 325 degree oven for 25 minutes until lightly browned.

remove from the oven and cool about 10 minutes.  slice on the diagonal into strips and turn the cookies onto their sides on the baking sheet.  bake another 10 minutes.

this cookie is one that will be enjoyed by all generations.  they offer a crunch and tasty alternative to soft cookie textures.

swiss breakfast squares

for an easy breakfast entree, these swiss breakfast squares can be made in less time than a standard quiche and offer a delicious alternative when preparation time is limited.  this recipe can be altered to taste and varied for different events.

begin by using a standard refrigerated crescent dough as the base in a 9 by 13 casserole pan.  mix together 3 eggs, 3/4 cup skim milk, 12 oz of shredded swiss cheese, and herbs to taste.  for this recipe, i used cut basil, chives, and italian parsley from the garden.  pre-baked maple bacon was added in broken crisps to the mixture as well.  this would be an option, and could be substituted with brocolli pieces, red or green pepper pieces, green onion, or even mushrooms. 

once the mixture is ready, spread over the base and bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until browned.  the casserole will puff into a quiche-like presentation.

serve with a side salad for a luncheon alternative to a sandwich or as a breakfast entree. this recipe will serve 8-10 squares.

baked spinach and artichoke spread

here is another way to offer a fresh summer appetizer made from ingredients from the herb garden.  i chose to use chives, basil, and italian parsley in the standard mixture. first, choose a one quart baking casserole for the recipe.  next, thaw and reduce liquid from a small size box of frozen spinach.  drain a small can of artichoke hearts.  chop them if they are not bite sized.  mix these two ingredients in a bowl, and add 8 ounces of shredded mozarella cheese, and either one cup of plain yogurt or one box of low fat cream cheese. add selected herbs, along with sliced green onions and diced red pepper.  i also added some sliced black olives on top for decoration.  bake this casserole for 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  serve this casserole while warm along with crispy toasts, bagel crisps, crackers, or breadsticks.

first lilies of the season

today the first lilies of the season opened in the garden.  since many of them were consumed last year by a family of hungry bunnies, this year comes with a welcome celebration for their blooming.

the orange lily photographed to the right is mrs. backhouse, given to me by a midland gardening friend.
i have over 40 lilies planted in the garden with a combination of asiatic and oriental lilies selected.  their colors were selected in a combination of pinks and whites.  even though they were moved from last year's unprotected location outside of my picketed fenced area to within the garden, i have continued to protect their bases with green coated chicken wire circles.  still, a few hungry bunnies have managed to chew a few of the grouping. however, it looks as if i have over 30 plants that should produce blooms this year.

these lilies should offer several weeks of color in the garden and will complement other perennials in bloom/

easy dinner

one of my goals is to eat fish twice every week.  not only is fish a healthy protein, but it is very low in fat and very speedy to prepare.

for this dinner, i chose to bake the fish in a ceramic dish, topped with a bit of ground black pepper, dried parsley flakes, and an herbal seasoning in a jar.  with a few tablespoons of water from the tap around the fish, i simply place the dish into the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

during this time period, i boiled several small red potatoes for brian on the stovetop.  when their time was completed, i covered the fish in the oven with tin foil and lowered the temperature, until i could complete the vegetables.  i drained the water from the potatoes, and mashed them with their red skins intact, adding a couple tablespoons of margarine, and a 1/4 cup of skim milk.  at the same time, i lightly boiled the green beans and within five minutes the dinner was completed.

preparing cod in this manner, creates a flaky and delicious fish entree, low in calories and fat grams.  over the years, i have tried a variety of seasonings, including lemon, fresh thyme, chives, a selection of peppers, and i have even baked the fish with grape tomatoes.  any of these choices are tasty and quick.

breakfast fruit butters

although trying to maintain a lower carbohydrate diet, sometimes a breakfast treat has to be available.  fruit butters add so much flavor and glamour to any breakfast bread selection.  these two butters are simply made with favorite jam flavors.  i used 1 tablespoon of red raspberry jam with one-quarter stick of softened margarine.  for the other one, i used 1 tablespoon of orange marmalade mixed with the same portion of margarine.

most recipes use freshly mashed fruit for the butters, and of course "real" butter.  i think using lower fat margarine works just as well and the taste from the jam is wonderful. 

try this easy way to brighten up your breakfast table, as these can be served with muffins, scones, croissants or even toast.