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

Monday, June 27, 2011

ginger lemon cookies

my favorite cookie flavors are ginger and lemon, and this cookie combines both of them into a truly unique cookie.  this recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

heat oven to 350 degrees.  line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.  in an electric mixer, mix 1 stick of unsalted butter and 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

add one egg and mix.  then add 1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest.  mix to combine.
in a bowl, mix 1 1/3 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, cut into dice sized pieces.
add to butter mixture and mix about 20 seconds to combine well.  using a cookie scoop, drop cookies onto the baking sheets covered with parchment or silpat mats.  bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans half way through the baking time.

this is another one of Martha's great recipes from many years ago, and one that i will make again.

skillet baked chocolate chip cookie

here is a recipe i have saved for years and was actually published by Martha as dessert of the month for July 2002.

this super size chocolate chip cookie is both soft and tasty.  after baked, this cookie is absolutely delicious served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  in a medium bowl, mix 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  then, in a bowl of an electric mixer, cream 3/4 cup unsalted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup light brown sugar, until creamy and fluffy for about 2 minutes.

then, add 1 large egg and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.  mix well.  then, add the flour mixture and beat until combined.  stir in 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips.  i used a mixture of milk and semi sweet chips.  transfer the dough into a 10 inch ovenproof skillet, and press to flatten.  bake for 40 minutes.  cool for about 20 minutes before removing from the pan. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

pita pocket pizza

for a fresh way to enjoy a pita sandwich, slice the flat pita in half and use as a base for a pita pizza. for this recipe, i added some fresh mozzarella, fresh tomato slices, and sliced onion. then, baked in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes and topped with fresh lettuce.

any toppings can be used, and no tomato sauce is necessary. the fresh shredded romaine lettuce or even spinach is a nice cool topping to the warm pizza. served with a side salad, this is a wonderful alternative to a slice of high calorie traditional pizza.

homemade tomato salsa

over the years, i have sampled a variety of store bought salsas to serve with crusty breads or even tortilla chips. after many disappointing attempts at gourmet salsas, i have found that my preferences lean toward fresh salsas in the deli section of the market.

since i like the taste of fresh flavors, herbs, and tomatoes, i began experimenting in making my own fresh salsa. here is a recipe for a salsa that can be used on crusty bread or even for dipping.

begin with fresh or canned diced tomatoes. i used the petite diced tomatoes as they speed up the recipe. choose two smaller cans or one large can of diced tomatoes, add fresh herbs from the garden, such as chopped parsley and cilantro, diced green onions, chopped red or white onion, and diced peppers to taste. by adding your own selection of peppers, the recipe can be adapted to your taste. i used sweet red peppers and sweet onion for this salsa. all of these ingredients are added to a saucepan and cooked on the stove top for at least 20 to 30 minutes until the texture cooks down into a salsa consistency.
thoroughly cool the salsa and serve. the salsa can be saved in a glass jar in the refrigerator for about one week to keep the fresh taste and texture.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

tea party chests

some of my favorite tea accessories includes two tea chests that are used daily as well as for tea parties.  my first tea chest was a gift from my husband Brian and is made of polished cherry wood.  it has a hinged brass lid and is used to store some of my favorite stash tea bags.  these teas are high quality and very flavorful.  they can be used for a single cup of hot tea or several can be used to prepare iced tea in a pitcher.

another tea chest that i often use is solid black wood and compliments my dining room decorations.  this chest is filled with twining British tea bags.  these tasty teas are also served hot or cold. 

i enjoy serving tea from a chest as the display is quite lovely, and guests appreciate a tea selection.  for parties, tea chests can be used to serve a large number of guests simultaneously.  i usually offer a plate for used tea bags and a selection of tea spoons that compliment the tea party setting.

for tea accessories, check out this website for more information: http://www.englishteastore.com/accessories.html

sweet potato fries

these baked sweet potato fries are a great alternative to traditional baked sweet potatoes for a casual dinner. i simply peeled and sliced four large sweet potatoes and placed on a sheet pan with a light coating of olive oil.  i seasoned with salt and pepper and baked at 425 degrees for 20 minutes and lightly tossed them to rotate on the pan.

i continued to bake until crispy for another 15 minutes.  these potatoes need to be watched carefully to make certain they are baked to perfection.  this side dish will quickly become a favorite with your family.

summer fruit ambrosia salad

when the temperature heats up, it is time to find my summer salad recipes and start experimenting with some new summer cookbooks.  this recipe is a old favorite shared with me by a good friend.  it is slightly different than the standard ambrosia with marshmallows and sour cream.

try this one for a more healthy alternative.  here are the ingredients:  1 can pineapple tidbits, drained, 1 can mandarin oranges, drained, 1 jar maraschino cherries, chopped, drained and blotted, 1/2 cup or more to taste of chopped pecans, 1 lite cool whip, 1/2 cup or more to taste of coconut flakes.

combine these ingredients, making certain that the fruit and cherries are well drained and even blotted with paper towels to make certain no additional juice is added to the ambrosia.

this salad is delicious and sweet, making it an very nice summer accompaniment for a barbecue dinner.

maple cream and toast

last week we took a trip up north to charlevoix and stopped at one of my favorite shops, American spoon foods. we have visited their shops in several cities in northern Michigan, and i particularly love the sound of the wooden screen door as you enter the store.  American spoon foods has a wonderful selection of jams, relishes, sauces and other items foodies crave. their website has a blog and recipes that are quite wonderful. so, last week,  i decided to try one of their best sellers, maple cream.

this spread must be kept refrigerated to ensure the creamy texture on toast, biscuits, or scones.  the maple flavor is amazing and this project will soon become one of my breakfast favorites for special days.

check out the American spoon website for store locations and products: http://www.spoon.com/