Pineapple, Cucumber and Strawberry Salad

 

Pineapple salad
Pineapple, Cucumber and Strawberry Salad

1 pineapple, peeled and chopped
1 English cucumber, chopped
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced or quartered
2 limes, zested and juiced
1/2 cup cilantro (or parsley), roughly chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper1. Combine all ingredients and toss lightly to distribute the lime juice and zest evenly.

  1. Combine all ingredients and toss lightly to distribute the lime juice and zest evenly.

2. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

3. Serve immediately or keep chilled until ready to serve.

Dark Chocolate Walnut Loaf Cake

chocolate cake
Dark Chocolate Walnut Cake

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan, or spray it with a butter-flour spray. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not overmix. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 30 minutes, at which point you can cool it the rest of the way out of the pan. Slice and serve with whipped cream or even in a bowl with cream.

Crispy Fried Breadsticks

sausage-sized bread sticks
Fried Breadsticks

The inspiration for this came from a Germans from Russia recipe for schoofnudla that I came across. My husband and I ate them with our fingers like french fries, but traditionally, they would have been served with sauerkraut, potatoes, or sausages. In our house, this has morphed into breadsticks and that’s what we call them. Making these tasty, crispy little gems is fun, especially when you make them with kids because you shape them by rolling between the palms of your hands as you would a piece of clay. Here is the recipe (Makes 10-15 sticks, it all depends on whether you roll them thiner or thicker):

Noodle dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1-2 Tablespoons water

Cooking:
2/3 cup water
¼ cup oil
1 pat of butter

Using a fork, mix together 1/2 cup of the flour, baking powder, salt, and egg. you may not need any added water. Gradually add more flour until you can turn the dough onto a floured surface and it sticks together so you can knead it 3-4 times so it is rollable. Tearing off walnut-sized pieces, hand roll the noodles between palms to the thickness of pencils (for thin sticks) or the size of a woman’s finger for thicker sticks (pictured). Roll them into about 4-inch pieces. They will puff up and get thicker while cooking.

Put 2/3 cup water in a large skillet along with oil and simmer-saute’ the noodles on medium high heat for anywhere from 5-10 minutes until the water boils out and the noodles begin to fry in the remaining oil. Add a pat of butter and fry until golden and lightly crispy, stirring once after the bottoms have browned. I like to flip them over once to brown on both sides, but that isn’t necessary for the skinny ones. They should be a deep golden brown color. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately, they don’t do well when cooked ahead.

Note: Great as dippers too with a hot marinara, alfredo or cheese sauce. I know, I have drifted far from the noble roots of this recipe, but that’s just what I do (grin).

 

Amish Cinnamon Bread

Four slices of cinnamon bread on a white plate
Amish Cinnamon Bread

A quick version of Amish Friendship Bread
without the traditional sourdough-style starter

1/2 c. butter, softened
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk (or ¼ c. buttermilk powder and 1 c. water)
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cinnamon/Sugar Topping:
1/3 c. sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees conventional (Use convection setting if you have it.)

Cream butter and sugar, then add the egg and vanilla, mix well. Add buttermilk, flour, baking soda, salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon and mix until just combined. Spread half of the batter into a greased loaf pan.

Sprinkle about 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top and swirl with tip of knife or finger. Gently spread remaining batter over the 1st layer and swirl with another 1/3 if the cinnamon mixture again. Sprinkle top with remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or longer until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert to a rack and cool. Makes 1 loaf.

Click here for a little history on this long-loved recipe tradition.

Jacques Pepin says we shouldn’t always follow a recipe exactly

Jacques Pepin puts into words the way I have been cooking all my life. I sometimes say, “it’s a feel thing.” Good cooks naturally know how to adjust a recipe and also, how to adjust to a recipe. Watch and listen. This is gold.

Crockpot Tomato Soup

white bowl of red tomato soup
Crockpot Tomato Soup

With two adjustments (using vegetable broth instead of beef and omitting anchovy paste) makes this a satisfying vegetarian soup, so whatever your lifestyle, this hits the mark.

2 tablespoon olive oil (for browning the onions)
½ cup diced yellow onion, browned
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
½ teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
Salt
black pepper, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced (none if making this for kids)
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced, stewed tomatoes
2 Tablespoons tomato puree
1 can (14.5 oz.) beef, chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

First, brown onions in olive oil and then put in crockpot. Add the rest of the ingredients, set crockpot to low and cook (3-4 hours). If you start this in early afternoon, it will be ready for supper. Before serving, blend lightly with a few pulses (don’t do this when soup is hot, it will blow out of the blender, trust me). In our house, we don’t want a fine puree, only medium, but do what your family likes. You can omit this step and simply serve the soup chunky.

Garnish with one or more of these: fresh croutons. Basil leaves, fresh grated Parmesan cheese, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

Asian-Fusion Stir-Fry Sauce

3 bottles of sauce with finished mix in small bowl, dark brown in color
Asian-fusion stir-fry sauce

Wonderful for fish and seafood, this is good in a stir-fry or basted on grilled shrimp or fish. Use it to make buffalo chicken wings. You can even drizzled it on steamed white rice. There is nothing fancy or complicated here. Anyone can do this and it’s not necessary to stick with these actual brand names, only the general sauce type.

I start by mixing equal amounts (about 2 Tablespoons each) of soy sauce, Korean gochujang sauce and Thai sweet chili sauce. At this point, you should taste and see how you like it. Sometimes I add more sweet chili sauce. That’s it. Easy peasy!