Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

These tasty dumplings are easy to make and taste just wonderful. We made some in a class on dumplings the other night. In many ways I think they are easier to make than pasta. The dough is mixed and rolled into ropes, then cut into individual pieces and boiled. No rolling pins or heavy lifting required. You can add the traditional gnocchi ridges by rolling the cut pieces of dough over the back of a fork before cooking. It is optional, but does look nice.

They can be served as a side dish, with butter and salt, We added some Parmesan cheese. You can also toss them with your favorite pasta sauce.

The dough is a combination of cooked sweet potato, cooked russet potato, eggs, flour and salt. I have made them without the russets and liked them best with a little added. Other white potatoes could also be used. You can certainly add additional seasonings, if you like. Turmeric can be added for color, rather than flavor.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

1 c. mashed, cooked sweet potatoes

½ c. mashed, cooked russet potatoes

2 eggs

1 t. salt

1 t. turmeric, optional

2 c. flour or more

Get a pot of water boiling. In mixing bowl combine the sweet potatoes with the eggs and seasonings. Add about 1½ cups of the flour and stir until a soft dough forms. Continue adding flour, a little at a time, until the dough can be handled without sticking to your hands but is still soft. Take about ¼ of the dough at a time and roll into a rope, about 15 inches long, on a floured work surface. Cut dough into ½ inch thick pieces. You can leave them as is, or add ridges by rolling each gnocchi over the tines of a fork. Place gnocchi in a pot of boiling water and after a few minutes the they will float to the top. Cook them for several minutes after they have risen to the top of the pot. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain. If you aren’t going to use them right away drizzle with a little oil to prevent sticking or toss with butter. You can also run a little cold water over them instead. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Chicken and Herb Dumplings

Chicken with Herb Dumplings

There are foods I will always associate with my childhood. Chicken and dumplings is one of those dishes. I can remember watching my Mom spooning the dumpling batter over the simmering pot of chicken and vegetables. She’d cover the pot and wait.

When she uncovered it, the dumplings had puffed up, and pretty much covered the whole dish. It was magical to me. The dumplings were so tender and light. I can’t make this dish, all these years, later without thinking of her.

My mom made her dumpling batter with a buttermilk baking mix- like Bisquick. Eventually, she started making her own baking mix, like I do today.

Dumplings will puff up when cooked

Mom’s Chicken and Herb Dumplings

1 T. oil
1 (3 lb.) broiler, cut into pieces
salt and pepper
flour for dredging
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3-4 potatoes, cut into chunks
2-3 c. chicken stock
1 t. each marjoram and thyme
1 c. buttermilk baking mix* , like Bisquick,I make my own, recipe follows
1/3 c. milk
2 t. fresh parsley
2 t. snipped chives or green onions

1/2 t. red pepper flakes
Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and dredge pieces in flour. Heat oil in large skillet and brown chicken pieces on all sides. Remove chicken pieces and sauté onion until tender. Add carrots, potatoes, broth and chicken to skillet and cook, covered, 20 minutes. Sprinkle herbs over the chicken. Combine baking mix with milk, parsley, chives and red pepper flakes and spoon batter in skillet in 8 mounds. Cover and cook over low heat 20 more minutes. Serves 4.

*Here are two versions of the biscuit mix.

Chef Pastry Mix/ Biscuit Mix

8 cups sifted, all-purpose flour

1 c. powdered milk

1 c. powdered buttermilk

¼ c. baking powder

1 T. salt

2 c. shortening, coconut oil or butter- if using butter store in the fridge- coconut oil version should be stored in fridge in warm weather

Sift dry ingredients together 3 times. Cut in fat to resemble cornmeal. Keep in an airtight container.  Store in a cool dry place and use within six months.

Whole Wheat Baking Mix

5 c. flour

3 c. whole wheat pastry flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

1/3 c. baking powder

1 c. powdered milk, not non-fat

2 t. salt

3 1/2 sticks butter

Mix dry ingredients together well, then cut in butter. Store in fridge for up to 3 months and can be frozen for up to a year. Makes about 12 cups.

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce

Chicken Glazed with Rhubarb Sauce

It is rhubarb season around here. Rhubarb is turning up at local farm markets and even in some grocery stores.

Like a lot of people, when I think of rhubarb, I first think of dessert, like pie or cobbler. But rhubarb’s tangy, tart flavor, lends itself to lots of savory uses.

I had some rhubarb and could not decide what to do with it. I chopped it up, and cooked it in a little water until tender. I ended up with 2 cups of cooked rhubarb.

I used this as the base for the sauce. I added the other ingredients, cooked it down until it was thick, and ended up with about 2 cups of sauce. It had a nice balance of sweet, tart and heat.

I used some of it as a glaze for chicken I was cooking. I froze the rest. The sauce would be good on other meats or even on grilled veggies.

Rhubarb Glazed Chicken

8 chicken thighs or 1 whole chicken, cut up

1 cup rhubarb sauce (recipe follows)

salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken pieces in roasting pan, season to taste and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and drain any fat out of the pan. Pour over the rhubarb sauce and return chicken to oven for an additional 35 minutes. Baste the chicken with some of the sauce in the pan and return to oven for 15 minutes more. Serves 4.

Rhubarb Sauce

2 c. cooked rhubarb*

1 c. apple cider vinegar

1/4 c. brown sugar

2 T. honey

2 T. dried minced onion

1 T. hot sauce

1 T. paprika

2 t. minced garlic

1 t. Worcestershire sauce

1 t. cumin

1 t. cinnamon

salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened. Stir more often as mixture thickens. Cook until sauce has reduced to about 2 cups. Use as a glaze on meats and vegetables. It was great on chicken but would also go well on pork or duck. I could also imagine it on portobello mushrooms. It would make a nice dipping sauce, too. Note: I liked the tang of it but you could make it a little sweeter to suit your own taste. Makes 2 cups. Will keep a few weeks in the fridge or can be frozen.

*To cook the rhubarb, cut the stems into 2-3 inch pieces and simmer in a little water until tender. You can also steam until tender.

Pink and Purple Potato Salad

Pink and Purple Potato Salad

Sometimes we just need a little extra color in our day. My pop of color came in the form of a potato salad.  Yes, a potato salad. I had picked up some purple potatoes at a local produce market. I’ve had them before. Normally, the purple potatoes lose a little color once cooked. For whatever reason, these potatoes retained all of that purple color.  I cooked them in the microwave, and maybe that is why. Maybe they were just a brighter color to begin with. All I know, is that when I started cutting them up for my salad, I was amazed at how purple they were.

Since I had some red onions, I decided to use them with the potatoes for my salad. I ended up with a purple and pink salad. Pretty and quite tasty.

A salad made with less colorful veggies, would still taste as good, but it would not be nearly as much fun to eat.

Pink and Purple Potato Salad

1 lb. purple potatoes

1 lb. red onions

1 c. apple cider vinegar

1/2 c. sugar

1/4 c. water

salt and pepper to taste

1 t. celery seed

1/4 c. oil

Bake potatoes until tender. I used the microwave and it took about 7 minutes, but you can bake in a conventional oven, too. While potatoes are baking, peel, then slice onions thin and place in a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients, except the oil. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 5-8 minutes until onions are just tender. Some of the liquid will cook off. Peel and cube potatoes and place in a bowl. Drizzle with the oil. Add the onion mixture and stir gently. Adjust seasonings, if needed. Chill. Serves 4.

Homemade Bagels

Freshly Baked Bagels

I taught a class last week on making bagels. It was a lot of fun. I think people were surprised on how easy the are to make. The chewy texture in bagels comes from boiling the bagels before baking them.

Bagel History

Bagels began in Austria when a baker in Vienna in 1683 wanted to honor the visiting president of Poland. He created a roll that was round, or shaped like the stirrup on the King’s saddle. The new creation was called beugel, which was a variation of the German word for stirrup. Over time the word evolved into bagel. Because they were made with white flour, everyone, other than the rich considered bagels a special treat for special occasions. Today bagels are found in almost every grocery store throughout the country.

Lox and Cream Cheese

Probably the most traditional way to top a bagel. A toasted bagel is spread with cream cheese and then a few thin slices of lox (salt cured salmon). Some people like to also add thin slices of sweet onion. I do. I also like to add a few capers. Years ago this became a tradition in my family. My niece and I always have bagels with lox on Thanksgiving morning.

Bagels

4 ½ -5 c. flour, bread flour preferred

3 T. sugar

1 T. salt

2 pkgs. Yeast

 Water

2 t. butter

1 T. sugar

2 t. salt

1 egg white

Mix 1½ cups flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1-tablespoon salt and yeast in a medium bowl. Heat 1½-cup water with butter and add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Add ½ c. flour and beat 1 minute. Stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Set in greased bowl and turn to grease top. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place 1 hour. Punch dough down cover and let rest 15 minutes. Divide dough into 12 pieces and form into smooth balls. Cover with towel and let rest 10 minutes. In large skillet heat 1 inch of water to a simmer. Add remaining sugar and salt to water. With floured finger poke a hole in the center of three of the dough balls. Drop into simmering water cooking 3 minutes. Turn over and cook 2 minutes. Turn to first side and simmer 1 more minute. Remove to greased baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Mix egg white with 1 tablespoon of water and brush tops of bagels. Sprinkle with seeds if desired. Bake in a 375 –degree oven for 20 –25 minutes. Makes 12.

Note: if you want a chewier bagel, you can boil them an extra minute per side.

Cinnamon-Raisin: Add 1-2 T. cinnamon to flour/yeast mixture. Add ½ cup raisins when you start to knead dough.

Everything Bagel Seasoning

Poppy Seeds

White Sesame Seeds

Black Sesame Seeds

Minced Dried Garlic

Minced Dried Onion

Kosher Salt or Coarse Sea Salt

Combine equal amounts of each ingredient.

Dough balls resting
Ready to boil
Boiling time
With cream cheese, lox, sweet onion and capers.

Toasted Pecan and Orange Waffles

Toasted Pecan and Orange Waffles

These orange- pecan waffles are sure to make anyone smile. They are really tasty. They aren’t hard to make, either.

You can serve them just on their own, or perhaps with a side of crispy bacon or some breakfast sausage and some fresh fruit.

I started with my basic vanilla waffle recipe and had some fun with it. I enjoyed the combination of pecans with orange juice. Serve them with warm maple syrup, powdered sugar or perhaps orange marmalade..

Here is the recipe.

Toasted Pecan and Orange Waffles

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 t. orange zest
2 eggs
1 cup orange juice
½ c. milk
½ c. melted butter
1 T. vanilla
¾ c. toasted pecans, chopped*

Whisk together dry ingredients and set aside. Beat together remaining ingredients and add to dry ingredients mixing until smooth. Cook in a waffle iron until crisp.

* To toast the pecans, place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes. Toast them before you chop them- smaller pieces can burn easily.

Rainbow Salad

Rainbow Salad

When you hear green or yellow split peas- do you think of soup?  You probably do. But when cooked until just tender, split peas make a great salad ingredient. I often just add some cooked split peas to a tossed salad. They add flavor, protein and a nice texture to salads.  An added bonus is that split peas can be cooked from dry to tender in about 20 minutes. That makes them a great choice when time is tight.

This is one of my favorite salads using both green and yellow split peas.  Fresh and colorful, it is a big hit with vegetarian and non-vegetarian friends. If some of you are looking for new meatless meals ideas, this one is a winner.

The salad uses both green and yellow split peas, along with black beans, butter beans, red lentils and assorted veggies. It is a great combination of colors and textures. It does make a lot, but you can easily cut the recipe in half.

The dish was inspired by my nephew  Danny’s love of sand art when he was a kid. The ingredients are layered in the bowl for a pretty presentation. It is also an homage to the layered salads I remember from my youth. I like this one a whole lot more.

  Rainbow Salad

 1 c. each green split peas, yellow split peas and red lentils

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can butter beans, rinsed and drained

1 c. diced sweet onion

1 c. diced sweet pepper

1 c. grated carrot

Cook split peas and lentils separately just until tender. Split peas, both green and yellow will take 20 minutes. Red lentils will take about 8-10 minutes. Drain and rinse each under cold water when done and set aside until ready to use, or you can cook them a day ahead and keep chilled. Each will yield about 2 1/2 c. cooked.

In large glass bowl, place the following ingredients in this order.

Black beans, butter beans, green split peas. yellow split peas. onion, red lentils. carrots and peppers. Pour over dressing and chill several hours or overnight. Serve on a bed of greens. You can also leave the salad plain and serve dressing on the side.

Dressing *

1/2 c. oil

1/2 c. vinegar, I like apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained

2-3 T. sugar

1/2 c. parsley or cilantro

1 t. each chili powder, cumin and salt

dash hot sauce

Combine in a blender or food processor until smooth.

*Note: Any fresh or bottled dressing you like can be used. Balsamic works very well.  I often serve it with homemade Italian dressing.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Hand Pies

Peanut Butter and Jelly “Pies”

These little pies are a fun way to take peanut butter and jelly on the road. They are just cut out circles of pie crust, filled with peanut butter and jelly, sealed, then baked.  Very easy to make, and a fun cooking project for kids as well as adults.

I prefer home made pie crust, but use store bought, if you like.

A nice treat, these little pies can be a snack, breakfast, lunch or even a dessert.

They are also great to take along for picnics and road trips. You can fill them with just jelly, if you like. I have filled them with peanut butter and a few chocolate chips for a fun dessert. You can use almond or cashew butter, if you prefer.

Get creative and have fun.

Peanut Butter & Jelly  Mini Pies

1 (15 oz.) package pie crusts or homemade crust for 2 pies*

1 egg

1 T. water

½ c. peanut butter

½ c. preserves, any flavor

Powdered sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. On lightly floured surface roll out one of the crusts into a 12-inch circle. Using a 2½-inch round cookie cutter cut out about 12-14 circles, re-rolling scraps and set aside. Roll out second piece of dough so you will have about 24-28 circles altogether. Beat together water and egg and set aside. Place a circle on work surface and place 1 teaspoon each of peanut butter and preserves in the center. Brush edges of the circle with egg wash. Place second circle on top and press edges together to seal. Prick crust with a fork a few times. Repeat with remaining circles. Place “pies” on lightly greased baking sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack and dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Martha Stewart’s Pie Crust Recipe

2½ c. flour

1 t. salt

1 t. sugar

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, very cold

About 6 T. ice water

Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Using a fork to mix the dough start to add the ice water a tablespoon or 2 at a time until mixture just holds together. Wrap and chill until ready to use. Makes 2.

Lemon Cheesecake with Lemon Curd

Lemon Cheesecake with Lemon Curd

This dessert was inspired by a bag of lemons. I had picked them up with no real plan. I wanted a dessert for a dinner and decided to use them to make a cheesecake. I wanted to really amp up the lemon flavor, so besides the lemon juice and zest in the cheesecake, I added a layer of lemon curd on the top.

It worked out even better than I thought. Lots of lemon flavor in a creamy cheesecake. The lemon curd brought even more lemon to the party. Just wonderful.

We made this cheesecake in a Spring Baking class last night. Everyone loved it.

So here is the recipe. I used a 9×9 inch glass pan to bake the cheesecake- rather than the normal spring form pan. It worked out really nicely. Kind of made me think about lemon bars, too.

Lemon Cheesecake with Lemon Curd

Crust:

1½ c. graham cracker crumbs

3 T. sugar

4 T. melted butter

Filling:

2 (8oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

¾ c. sugar

2 T. flour

2 eggs

3 T. lemon juice

2 t. grated lemon peel

Lemon Curd: recipe below

Heat oven to 350-degrees. Grease a 9×9-inch baking pan- I used a glass pan. In medium bowl, combine  crumbs and sugar, then add melted butter. Toss to distribute butter evenly. Press into bottom of prepared pan and bake 10 minutes.  Beat cream cheese, sugar and flour until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in juice and peel. Pour over crust and bake for 30 minutes, or until set. Cool then top with lemon curd. Chill well before cutting. Store covered in fridge. Serves 8-10.

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

1/2 c. lemon juice

zest from one good sized lemon- you should have 2-3 teaspoons

1/2 c. sugar

3 eggs

6 T. unsalted butter- cut into little cubes

In medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Whisk the mixture until the eggs are well blended. Cook over medium low heat, whisking often, until the mixture thickens. This will take 5-7 minutes. Whisk more often as mixtures warms and starts to thicken. Better to heat over lower heat and take longer than cook over too high a heat. You don’t want the eggs to scramble. Once the mixture is thickened , transfer to a bowl or jar. Cover the surface with a piece of plastic wrap to keep the surface from developing a skin- like any pudding will do. Chill until ready to use. Makes about 2 cups. Will keep in fridge a week or two.

Note: For using with this cheesecake, just make the lemon curd while the cheesecake is baking. Pour over the cheesecake while the curd is still a little warm, to make it easier to spread.

Ricotta and Sausage Pie

Ricotta and Sausage Pie

The plan was to make quiche but plans change sometimes. As I assembled the ingredients, I decided to go in a different direction. Something denser, without the custard-like filling of a quiche. It was all about the ricotta at that point. So I put this together and served it for brunch. Everyone loved it and I was so happy with it I thought I would share the recipe with you. I used dried herbs, but I could see using fresh herbs instead. I know I will be making this again- perhaps with spinach and artichokes as the base next time.

Ricotta Sausage Pie

2 pie crusts, home made or store bought, recipe follows

2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled

½ c. diced fresh tomatoes

½ c. diced sweet peppers

1 (15oz.) carton ricotta cheese

8 eggs

½ c. grated Asiago cheese

¾ c. half and half

Salt and pepper to taste

2 t. dried parsley or 2 T. fresh

1 t. dried basil or 1 T. fresh

Roll out crusts and fit into 9-inch deep dish pie pans. Divide mozzarella cheese, sausage and veggies between the two pans, sprinkling them evenly over the bottom. Combine remaining ingredients, beating until well mixed. Pour egg mixture over the sausage mixture in each pie pan, dividing evenly. Place pans on a baking sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until knife inserted off center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Makes 2.

Flaky Pie Crust

2 c. flour

1 t. salt

3/4 c. shortening, lard or coconut oil, chilled

1 T. cider vinegar

4-5 T. cold water

Combine flour and salt and cut in shortening, lard or coconut oil. Toss in vinegar and water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough holds together. Use a fork to toss the ingredients together and as soon as the mixture holds together stop adding water. Makes 2. Chill well before using.

Fresh from the oven

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