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Sweet Potato-Pecan Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe courtesy of


1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened

4 large eggs

1 (16-oz.) can mashed sweet potatoes

2/3 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

Garnish: coarsely chopped pecans


1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Place pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan.

Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted, stirring once after 4 minutes.

Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

Whisk together mashed sweet potatoes, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sweet potato mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Fold in toasted pecans. Place foil baking cups in muffin pans, and coat with vegetable cooking spray; spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full.

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended; stir in vanilla.

Bake at 350° for 28 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove immediately from pans, and cool 50 minutes to 1 hour or until completely cool. Spread cupcakes evenly with Cream Cheese Frosting. Garnish, if desired.

Yield:  3 cups of frosting and 2 dozen cupcakes

Spaghetti squash is also currently in season. Fresh, different, and oh so tasty!

Spaghetti Squash I

Recipe courtesy of


1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

3 tablespoons sliced black olives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil


Cook the squash (there are a variety of ways)

Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook only until tomatoes are warm.

Use a large spoon to scoop the stringy pulp from the squash, and place in a medium bowl. Toss with the sautéed vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Serve warm.

Yield: 6 servings

Incorporate more local, seasonal foods into your culinary repertoire.

Why? Because seasonal food is fresher so it tends to be better tasting and more nutritious. You also avoid paying the premium placed on items which are shipped in from a distance while helping to support your local economy.

For me, eggplant and tomatoes are in season!

Grilled Eggplant & Tomato Stacks

Recipe courtesy of


2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium eggplant (3/4-1 pound), cut into 6 rounds about 1/2 inch thick

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, divided

6 teaspoons prepared pesto

2 large beefsteak tomatoes, each cut into 3 slices about 3/4 inch thick

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 6 thin slices

6 fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


Preheat grill to medium-high or place a grill pan over medium-high heat until hot.

Use 2 teaspoons oil to brush both sides of eggplant slices; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Grill the eggplant slices for 5 minutes.Turn; continue grilling until tender and marked with grill lines, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a large platter.

Spread each eggplant slice with 1 teaspoon pesto. Top with a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf.

Drizzle vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over the towers; sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Yield: 6 servings

The Ultimate Cinnamon Roll with Vanilla Frosting

Recipe courtesy of


1-1/2 packages (about 3-1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup shortening

1/3 cup sugar

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 egg

4 to 5 cups sifted flour

melted butter

brown sugar


raisins (optional)

Vanilla Frosting

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 to 4 tablespoons milk or cream


Add the warm water to the yeast and soak 10 minutes.

Scald milk; pour over the shortening. Add sugar and salt and cool to tepid. Add the dissolved yeast and beaten egg. Add 4 cups flour, adding one at a time and beating after each addition.

Dough should be soft yet firm enough to handle. Knead on floured board until elastic and smooth. Avoid too much flour. Turn dough into well oiled bowl. Let rise for 1-1/2 hours.

Press dough down and divide into workable size. Roll dough out into a rectangle. Cover with melted butter. Layer generously with brown sugar. Sprinkle on cinnamon as desired. If you like raisins, layer on the raisins. Roll up jelly roll fashion.

Using scissors or a piece of string, cut off slices about 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick. Place slices in an 8 or 9 inch round greased cake pan. Place one slice in the middle and the other slices around it. Press rolls down to even out and fill pan. Let rise until rolls fill the pan generously . . . about another hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 – 20 minutes. If rolls get too brown, cover with a piece of tin foil until the end of baking. Do not over bake the rolls.

Remove immediately from the pan by inverting onto a plate and then tip over onto another plate to right the rolls.

For the Frosting:

In a medium bowl, place sugar, butter and vanilla. Then stir in enough milk or cream to reach a thick, hardly-able-to-stir consistency.

Spread over warm rolls as soon as they are placed on a plate to let the frosting melt and run into the rolls.


Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes

Friday = quick and easy 🙂


1 medium tomato  *add more if you like

1 (8 ounce) package of angel hair pasta

1 clove garlic

dried basil or fresh basil leaves, whole or chopped

olive oil

Salt and pepper


1.  Cook pasta until al dente. Drain well.

2. While pasta is cooking, mince the garlic, dice the tomato, and place it all in a bowl. Stir in salt, pepper, oil, and basil to taste.

3. Add drained pasta to the tomato mixture (this warms the mixture) and toss well.



Recipe courtesy of Moosewood Cookbook


4 cups tomato juice

1/2 cup finely minced onion

1 medium clove garlic, minced

1 medium bell pepper, minced

1 tsp. honey (optional)

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and minced

juice of 1/2 lemon + 1 lime

2 tbsp. wine vinegar

1 tsp. tarragon

1 tsp. basil

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cumin

1/4 cup freshly minced parsley

2 to 3 tbsp. olive oil

salt, black pepper, and cayenne – to taste

2 cups freshly diced tomatoes


Combine all ingredients. Optional: puree all or some. Chill until very cold. Serve.

Yield: 6 servings.

I love strawberries and I love blueberries. Serving them this way makes for an easy, tasty, and pretty presentation.

The blueberries are simply rinsed and stemmed. The strawberries are rinsed, topped and cut in half.

Layer in yogurt, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream and voila!

To add more pizzazz, drizzle in one or both of these sauces.

Easy Blueberry Sauce

Recipe courtesy of


3/4 cup unsweetened apple juice

4 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger or 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

2 cups blueberries or 1 package (12 ounces) frozen dry-pack blueberries, thawed

1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice


In a small saucepan, stir together the apple juice, honey, cornstarch, and, if desired, ginger until the cornstarch dissolves.

Add the blueberries, then bring to a simmer over moderate heat; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.


Easy Strawberry Sauce

Recipe courtesy of


16 ounces strawberries, fresh or frozen (unsweetened, thawed)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons maple syrup


Puree strawberries to a chunky puree. Heat them in a small saucepan over a low flame, until they are just warm. Stir in lemon juice and maple syrup.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size about 1/3 cup)

Happy 4th!

Strawberry Mint Julep



4 ounces stemmed strawberries

3 tablespoons thawed, frozen lemonade concentrate

1 teaspoon chopped mint leaves

1 cup crushed ice

1/4 cup sparkling water

strawberry slices, lemon slices, or mint sprigs (for garnish)


In blender combine the strawberries, lemonade, and mint. Blend until smooth. Add the ice and blend until smooth. Pour into sugar-rimmed glass. Top with sparkling water and mix lightly. Garnish glass with strawberry and lemon wheel. Serve with straws.

To rim the glass:

Put some lemon juice in a saucer.

Place a clean glass upside down on another saucer and pour sugar around the outer edge of the glass rim creating a circle. This is your sugaring template. *Use only superfine, ultra fine, bar, or bakers sugar.

Holding a glass upside down, dip the glass first into the lemon juice and then the sugar.

Tap the glass to remove any excess. Be sure to remove any sugar that found its way inside of the glass.

Serves 1 large or 2 small

Watermelon Granita

Recipe courtesy of


1/3 cup sugar (equivalent Splenda sugar substitute may be used)

1/3 cup water

4 pounds seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups)

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 Tablespoon grenadine or pomegranate juice, optional

6 thin watermelon wedges for garnish


Make a simple syrup by heating sugar and water over high heat, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Let cool.

Place half of the watermelon and half of the lime juice in a heavy-duty blender and process until smooth. Repeat with remaining watermelon and lime juice. Return all of the puree to the blender. Add simple syrup and grenadine. Pulse until combined.

Press puree through a coarse strainer, pushing through the solids. Pour into a 9×13-inch glass baking dish. Freeze, stirring and scraping with a fork every 30 minutes, until all of the liquid has frozen. This should take about 3 hours. May be held in the freezer up to 2 days.

Stir again before serving. Serve watermelon granita in margarita glasses or large wine goblets and garnish with the watermelon wedges.

Yield: about 6 servings

Alternate recipe without added sugar

POM Watermelon Granita

Recipe courtesy of


16 oz. POM Wonderful

5 cups watermelon, cubed (about 1/4 large watermelon)


For the granita, puree POM Wonderful and watermelon together in a blender.  Pour mixture into a freezer-safe Tupperware.  Choose something wide and flat that will freeze faster and be easy to scrape the surface.  Freeze overnight and scrape surface with a spoon to form flakes.  Spoon mixture into glasses and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Recipe courtesy of


8 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned, stems and gills removed

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 large red, ripe tomatoes, slightly firm, cut into ½-inch-thick slices

Pinch granulated sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

8 large crusty rolls, cut in half

1 cup Roasted Garlic Aioli (recipe below)


Brush mushrooms with half of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill or broil on a preheated grill or broiler pan until soft, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a warm platter.

Brush tomatoes with the remaining oil. Sprinkle each slice with salt, pepper, sugar, garlic and chopped basil. Grill until soft, about 2 minutes on each side.

Toast rolls until lightly brown in color. Spread Roasted Garlic Aioli (below) on both sides of each roll; place the mushrooms on the bottoms, then top with the tomato slices. Replace the roll tops and serve warm.

Yield: 8 burgers or 32 appetizers


Roasted Garlic Aioli

Recipe courtesy of


1 head garlic (or more, to taste)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice off the top quarter of the garlic head to expose all of the cloves. Place the head of garlic in a clay garlic roaster or oven-safe roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven until soft, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, apply pressure to the base of the head and squeeze out the pulp; discard the skins.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk roasted garlic pulp, mayonnaise and chopped parsley until completely incorporated; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Yield: about 1 cup