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

Sunday, April 22, 2012

roasted zucchini coins

just as i am planning my spring and summer vegetable garden, i am also searching for great vegetable side dishes made with fresh vegetables.

this dish is made with 2-3 fresh zucchini which are sliced into coin shapes.  they are roasted in the oven for about 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

to prepare them, after slicing, dip in egg whites, then plain bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. i use egg beaters egg whites.

season with salt and pepper to taste and then roast in the oven on a baking sheet prepared with spray olive oil.  i also give a quick spray to the zucchini rounds.

these are crunchy, tasty and very easy to prepare.

Friday, April 20, 2012

jalapeno cheddar biscuits

it isn't very often that i eat a biscuit, but once in awhile, i just have to try a new recipe. i have been searching for that perfect biscuit recipe for years. and, this one is getting pretty close to being a favorite.  each of these tender biscuits is cheesy and rich with a bit of heat that is quite pleasing.  the recipe comes from taste of home magazine, and these biscuits would go nicely with soup or salad.

to make the biscuits, combine 2 cups of all purpose flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, with 5 tablespoons cold butter.  cut the butter in until the mixture resembles course crumbs.

stir in 3/4 cup cold 2 percent milk or half and half.  add one cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese and 3 tablespoons diced jalapeno slices or sliced green onions.

scoop out tablespoons of the biscuit mix and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  bake for 12-14 minutes at 425 degrees.

serve warm.

chili basil tomato soup

are you looking for a twist on a tomato soup recipe?  well, here is one that is quite tasty.  it warmed me up one night this week and was very easy to prepare.  served with crusty bread and a salad, the whole meal was perfect for a weeknight warm-up.

to make the soup:
combine two cans of progresso condensed tomato soup undiluted with 1 can of evaporated milk, 1 cup of 2 percent milk or half and half, and 1 10-oz can of diced tomatoes and green chilies undrained.  i used ROTEL. add 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped basil, salt and pepper to taste.

heat and serve with shredded Parmesan and parsley as garnish.

apple pie in an apple

today, it felt like a fall day instead of spring time, so i decided to try a recipe i found online for apple pie baked in the apple.  this is a wonderful recipe.  by using granny smith apples, the structure of the apple stays intact and does not soften and cause the pie to deflate.  that was my major concern when i thought about trying this recipe.

to make the apples:
pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
slice off just the very top of three to four granny smith green apples. these are a firm apple and will allow the pie to bake within the apple and keep the shape.

discard the top and remove the inside of the apples with a knife and melon ball cutter very carefully.  i saved these apple pieces and chopped them finely to use for the filling.

next, mix these chopped apples with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.

i made three apples today and that was the amount of sugar i decided to use.  if you make more apples, adjust the amount to cover the apples.

next, fill the apples.

for the crust, i simply used a boxed refrigerated crust and sliced into thin strips.  i wove the strips on waxed paper and placed them on the apples.
the lattice pattern looks nice.

place the apples in a square ceramic baking dish and fill the bottom with water.  cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  then, remove the foil, and bake again for 20 minutes.

serve the apple while warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.   this is a great recipe.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

easter table decoration

for many years i have made Easter table decorations with a domed bell jar and natural bird nests.  for this year, i tried something a bit different and simply used solid chocolate rabbits sitting in a dish of jelly eggs.

i saw Martha use solid green jelly beans this year, and a two level platter of chocolate rabbits after i had made my table decoration.  the solid green jelly eggs looked like a bed of grass, which made a nice presentation.  this would be a nice decoration for a dessert table for Easter or for a children's table at mealtime.

croissant french toast

another option for breakfast french toast is to use store bought fresh croissants from the bakery.  using my french toast recipe that was featured in this blog in 2010, substitute croissants for the suggested bread in the recipe.

i simply slice the croissants in half lengthwise, and usually serve one croissant per person.  using a mixture of fresh eggs and egg beaters decreased the amount of egg yolks in the recipe as well.

soak the croissants in the egg mixture as before prior to browning on a griddle or on the stove top.  here, the croissants have been soaking for about 5 minutes to absorb the egg batter.

lightly brown on the stove top with a pat of margarine or butter and then, keep them warm in the oven until all the french toast is ready for breakfast.  serve with cinnamon, powdered sugar, and maple syrup.

croissants make this dish extra special and perfect for an Easter breakfast.

cream cheese icing

nothing says spring time like a carrot cake with cream cheese icing.  using your favorite carrot cake recipe or even a store bought carrot cake mix, try this icing recipe for a tasty frosting.

mix three ounces of softened cream cheese, with 2 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter.  using a hand mixer, slowly add 2 cups of powdered sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla.

this is a quick and tasty icing recipe that complements the carrot cake nicely.  i used a pastry bag to decorate the top of a one layer carrot cake.  enjoy for an Easter or spring time dessert.

easter egg coconut nests

one of my favorite Easter sweets has to be chocolate coconut Easter egg nests.  several well-known candy makers sell these during the springtime every year.  i have found a very good recipe that makes 36 of these nests for a fraction of the cost of store bought candy.

to make the chocolate Easter nests, melt 10 ounces of chocolate over a double boiler, and when melted, stir in one bag or 5 ounces of shredded coconut. i use the standard unsweetened coconut found in the market. i have also used chocolate candy melts at times, and these work equally as well in the recipe.

mix to make certain the chocolate covers all of the coconut shreds. next, using a teaspoon, form Easter egg nests on waxed paper.  when formed, add two jelly belly smaller size jelly beans for the egg decorations.  allow the nests to harden before removing from the waxed paper. this make take an hour or more.

this recipe is a classic that can be used for easter baskets, candy displays, or to share with children. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

vinca minor

spring has come to midland when my front lawn borders are filled with periwinkle blue flowers.  one of the best ground covers, that will grow beautifully in sun or shade, has to be vinca minor. 

i planted beds of vinca the first spring we moved into our home, and have been enjoying the beauty ever since early 2008.  the very dense roots hold nicely into the ground and form light green soft leaves early in the springtime.  as the summer progresses, the leaves become thick and dark green.

periwinkle survives cold weather nicely and usually lasts for decades without any care.  i plan to enjoy these beautiful beds for years to come.

oven roasted cabbage

besides cole slaw salads, i only have a couple of very good recipes that use cabbage.  this is one of them.  it is amazing how delicious this fresh vegetable is once it is simply oven roasted.

to make the dish, first preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  brush a rimmed baking sheet with extra-virgin olive oil.  next, slice one medium head of green cabbage into 1 inch thick rounds. place them in a single layer on the sheet pan.  brush or spray with olive oil and season with salt, ground pepper, dill and caraway seeds.

roast the cabbage in the oven until it is tender and the edges are crisp and golden, about 40 to 45 minutes.

i promise that you will be surprised at how delicious this tastes.  cabbage is low in calories, high in fiber, and quite tasty when served roasted.  the texture is very similar to baked onions, which is another tasty side dish that can be found on this blog.