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, May 28, 2012

bacon, tomato and noodles

when dinner time is a bit rushed but there is still a need for something tasty and delicious, try this recipe for bacon, tomato and noodles.  i use yolk free egg noodles and make just enough for two people.  cut about 4 slices of bacon into a large sauce pot and brown.  drain and add one chopped small white onion, and 1 can of crushed tomatoes or fresh chopped tomatoes.  add 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped and salt and pepper to taste.  cook to thicken and then add cooked noodles and stir.
this is a tasty dish adapted from Rachel Ray and can be served with bread sticks and a green salad or green vegetable.  this is one of those go to dishes for a quick and easy dinner that everyone will enjoy.

the yard and garden

one of the greatest pleasures has to be having a garden of your own.  each day that i am able to walk around my yard and garden, i feel a sense of well being and relaxation. the mulch pathways in the fenced garden provide additional space for potted lettuces, Swiss chard, and tomatoes this year.  growing vegetables in containers allows me the opportunity to move them as the sun moves throughout the day.

the herbs and perennials in this garden provide for a three season garden of interest, with something in bloom spring, summer and fall.
the front yard garden has come together with the spring blush of windflowers and grape hyacinths, followed by forget me nots, and then English bluebells.  as the hosta fill in around the lily of the valley, the garden takes shape for the summer months of shade under large established trees.  a border of lirope surrounds the bed, with small English boxwood for a contrast in leaf textures and shape.

hot milk sponge cake

Brian's birthday was earlier this month and i tried another new cake recipe from BAKE by Nick Malgieri.  this was one of the easiest and best tasting sponge layer cakes that can ever be made.  it can be served as a tea cake, and often would be in London, England.  any preserves can be used between the layers, which are light and elegant.  although this cake is not as light as a genoise layer cake, this cake recipe can be substituted whenever a white or yellow cake layer would be needed.  simply delicious.

use two 9 inch round layer pans, each about 1 1 /2 inches tall.  place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

combine 4 tablespoons unsalted butter with 1/2 cup whole milk or cream in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat until the butter is completely melted.  set aside.

stir 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder.  in a bowl with an electric mixer, whisk 3 large eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt.  then add in 1 cup sugar in a stream and then add 1 teaspoon vanilla.  using the whisk attachment, whip on medium high until very light, another 3 minutes.

then, gently whisk in the warm milk mixture and then fold into the flour mixture slowly to prevent lumps.

divide the batter and smooth the tops.  bake the layers until well risen and golden about 20 minutes.  loosen from the sides of the pan and place the cakes on a wire rack to cool, with the parchment paper on the bottom of the cake.  cook completely.  this recipe looks just like the photo in my cookbook.

assemble with one jar of raspberry preserves or another favorite flavor.  dust the top with powdered sugar and serve on a glass pedestal dish.  lovely.

grilled planked whitefish

after a recent trip up north this week, i decided to prepare grilled planked whitefish at home last night for a memorial day barbecue dinner.  the cedar planks can be purchased at any cooking shop, and are very inexpensive, since they can only be used once and must be discarded.

first, soak the planks in a sink of water, for at least four hours.  i used a cast iron pot lid to weigh the planks down in the sink.
the planks absorb the water and this prevents them from burning on the grill, and also allows them to steam cook the fish.  next, prepare the whitefish.  i used lemon pepper and herb seasoning, and a bit of parsley after spraying them with canola oil.

place the planks on the warm grill, close the cover and allow to begin to smoke.  then, turn the planks over and brush with grape seed or olive oil.  place the fish, skin side down first, and close the grill cover, cooking for about 12 minutes.  then, open the grill, turn the fish over on the planks and continue to grill until done.  total cooking time should be about 25 minutes.  we moved the planks off of the direct heat to the sides of the coals after the first 1/2 of the cooking process.  the fish will be flaky and white throughout the body, and begin to separate from the skin when done.
this whole fish provides for four generous servings.  served with a salsa, such as grilled green and red peppers with onions, or grilled chopped pineapple with white onions, and a side of greens makes a tasty dinner.  also, good with corn on the cob or grilled small red potatoes.

vegetarian spinach tart

if you are looking for a great brunch dish, here is an easy spinach tart that is vegetarian and delicious.  if served with a side salad , this recipe should serve about eight slices.

the recipe comes from music legend Paul McCartney, which was adapted from the Meat Free Monday Cookbook.

preheat the oven to 400 degrees. use a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom, and line with your favorite tart crust.  i simply used a refrigerated crust.  bake the crust on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes until browning.

prepare fresh or frozen spinach, either 9 ounces fresh cooked or one box of frozen warmed until wilted on the stove top with 4 tablespoons margarine.  add one finely chopped white onion and cook until soft.

spread spinach and onion over the bottom of the pie crust. 

beat in a bowl 2 whole eggs plus 2 yolks.  i use egg beaters and real yolks. add 2/3 cup of heavy cream, 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. add two cups of grated cheddar cheese to mix.  pour over the spinach and onion and then bake in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes.  i then usually turn off the oven and allow to heat for another 5 minutes to help set the custard.  this recipe is much thinner and lighter than a quiche, which has more body and depth.

serve and enjoy.  this is a very tasty tart that i can imagine being served in London, England with a cup of tea and a bowl of fresh fruit.

coconut lemon bars

earlier this month i tried this recipe which was written for key limes, but changed it to use lemons instead of the limes.  this was an excellent cookie bar recipe.  the lemon bars were cool and refreshing and very easy to prepare.

for the graham cracker crust, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and place the oven rack in the middle position.  butter or spray the sides and bottom or a 9 inch square baking pan.  toast a 1/2 cup of shredded coconut on a parchment lined baking sheet.  brown for about 7 minutes and remove from the oven.

place one cup of graham cracker crumbs in a large bowl, add the toasted coconut and 1 tablespoon brown sugar.  mix to combine.  add 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted to combine.  press the crust into the bottom and up the sides of the baking pan.  use a measuring cup to create a perfect flat crust.

bake the crust for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  remove and allow to stand until filling is prepared.
increase the oven temperature to 325 degrees F .

for the filling, mix 2 ounces cream cheese, zest of one lemon, and a pinch of salt.  add 1 can sweetened condensed milk, one egg yolk and 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice.  i used Meyer lemons and a hand held mixer.

pour the filling over the baked crust and bake in the oven until the filling is set and the edges are browned.  they will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan after the bars have cooled.  this will take about 20 to 22 minutes.  allow to cool completely about 2 hours, then cover the bars and refrigerate until totally chilled, another 2 hours.  sprinkle with additional shredded toasted coconut if desired.

top with fresh whipped cream to serve.