Chicken Tagine and Apricots

For my birthday last week I received a TAGINE!  I’ve been looking at them for the last year and even had one saved in my Amazon shopping cart.  My friends know me so well!  Great gift.   A Tagine is a shallow, round, (typically earthenware) pot (mine is cast iron) with a conical lid designed to keep moisture and flavors in.  The cast iron base makes it ideal for using on top of the stove or in the oven.  I seasoned the cast iron a few days ago so I was all set.

I was also gifted a cookbook so I would know where to begin.  The introduction in this cookbook, Tagines & Couscous, by Ghillie Basan, speaks to the fascinating cultures that left their mark on the region and are reflected in Moroccan cooking.   Classic Tangine dishes include lamb, dried prunes or apricots, preserved lemons, green olives, honey, onions, and spices.  Other recipes combine duck and dates, fish with lime, tomatoes and cilantro, or beef with beets and oranges.  The first problem I encountered was finding the right spices available where I live.   One of the spices, rãs-el-hanout, contains 15 different ingredients.  I had 11 of them and had never heard of a couple, so I got online and ordered it.  Ultimately it was less expensive than trying to make up my own.  I did put up some preserved lemons which will be ready in a few weeks.  Several recipes call for smen which is aged (or rancid) butter and is an acquired taste that I think I will pass on acquiring.  I will just use glee or regular unsalted butter.  I still hadn’t found an appropriate piece of lamb to use and I was anxious to experiment so I made a dish with chicken.  I kind of cobbled together a couple different recipes.  I’ll tell you what I did as well as what I would change the next time.


2 tsp rãs el hanout

1 tsp salt

3 T olive oil

2 chicken breasts cubed

1 T unsalted butter

1 medium red onion halved and thin sliced

4-5 cloves of garlic sliced

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 cup water

2 T honey

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup dried apricots

fresh parsley for garnish

Combine 2 T olive oil, rãs el hanout, and 1 tsp salt.  Add chicken and turn well to coat.  Heat 1 T olive oil and 1 T butter in the base of the Tagine over medium heat.  Brown the chicken in batches and transfer to a plate.

Add the onion and a little salt to the Tagine and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until soft.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

Add the chicken and the broth along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate into the Tagine.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking bring 1 cup water, cinnamon stick, apricots, and honey to a boil in a heavy sauce pan.  Cook until apricots are very tender, adding more liquid if necessary.  Once apricots are tender simmer until the liquid is reduced to a glaze.

About 10 minutes before the chicken is done add the apricots and syrup mixture to the Tagine.  Discard the cinnamon stick.

Cover and finish cooking.  Ladle chicken and apricots and broth into bowls with couscous (or rice if you don’t have couscous) and enjoy.

NOTE:  So I told you exactly what I did.  This is what I would change.  Next time I would increase the amount of spice to a tablespoon of rãs el hanout vs 2 tsp.  I would use chicken thighs instead of beast meat which, without skin and bone, I always find a little dry even in the Tagine.  I would also use cilantro because I think the flavor would be a better compliment than parsley.  And, of course, I need to buy some couscous.  The aroma was wonderful!  I’m excited to try a lamb dish next.

If you don’t have a Tagine you could prepare this same recipe in a heavy skillet with a lid for simmering.

Quiche with Crab and Asparagus

I haven’t stopped cooking and baking but I haven’t worked on my blog in awhile.  I rely on it myself when I go to make favorites, like this morning when I looked up my granola recipe.  I love sharing my recipes with people and this is the perfect vehicle.  So I will keep on blogging.  It’s Easter weekend and I thought I’d make a special Saturday brunch for the two of us.  I found a recipe for crab quiche and made my own modifications.  Eating brunch this morning reminded my of going to a little seafood place in Chicago near our daughter that serves awesome crab cakes Benedict.  This is an easy recipe that comes together quickly and takes about 50 minutes for baking and 10 minutes for resting so you’ll have time to whip up some muffins or a little green salad to go with the quiche.  Another reason this came together fairly quickly is because I cheated and used a prepared pie crust.


1 9” unbaked pie crust (your own or one from the grocery)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup whole milk

2 T AP flour

1/2 tsp salt

Franks Hot Sauce (optional)

5 oz Gruyere cheese cubed

8 oz container crab meat

5-6 green onions chopped

asparagus spears cut into bite size pieces

Preheat the oven to 450.

Roll out the pie crust and line a 9” pie pan, crimping the edges.  Cover with two layers of tin foil and bake for 8 minute.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-6 minutes until light brown.

While the crust is baking dice the green onions, asparagus, and cube the cheese.

In a medium size bowl whisk the eggs.  Whisk in the milk, mayonnaise, flour, salt, and a few shakes of Franks.

Gently fold in crab meat, onion,  asparagus and cheese.  Pour egg mixture into the hot pie crust.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the edges are puffed up and the center is set.  Allow the quiche to rest for 10 minute before slicing.

Slice and serve!  I made blueberry muffins to enjoy with ours.  And mimosas.  Had to have mimosas.  I had grapefruit juice, my husband had orange.  Both delicious.

I will blog the blueberry muffins next.

NOTE:  As always you can change this up.  Don’t like asparagus, use broccoli or zucchini.  Don’t care for gruyere cheese, use Swiss (almost the same) or cheddar.  Add more Franks or none at all.  Substitute a little cayenne.  Everyone’s palate is different.  It also depends on what’s available in your fridge and pantry.

Beef Chuck Roast in Tomato Gravy

A chuck roast is a relatively inexpensive cut of beef that is perfectly suited for slow cooking in an oven, a crock pot or a pressure cooker.  Growing up it was one of our regular Sunday dinners.  Ours was usually cooked in a brown gravy and served with mashed potatoes and a can of peas or corn or green beans.  There were no “exotic” vegetables at our house.  When my Dad was cooking for himself he would put a chuck roast in the crock pot with an envelop of French onion soup and a can of cream of mushroom soup.  Easy to make and the meat came out tender and the gravy was actually pretty yummy.  My husband loves anything with tomatoes so this recipe puts a little different twist  on a chuck roast.  I cooked the roast in a 300 degree oven for two and a half hours.


1.5 – 2 pound chuck roast

1 pint jar diced or stewed tomatoes

1/2 cup beef broth or red wine

1/2 cup catsup

3 T brown sugar

2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 T red wine vinegar

1 T chipotle in adabo sauce

3 cloves of garlic thin sliced

2 T olive oil

salt and pepper

1 medium onion quartered

3-4 carrots

3-4 stalks of celery

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven, season the meat with salt and pepper and sear on both sides.

While the meat is browning mix the sauce ingredients; tomatoes, broth (or wine), catsup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, chipotle in adabo, and garlic,

I like adding the chipotle in adabo sauce because it gives the sauce a little smoky flavor and a bit of heat.  Depending on your personal taste you can add more or eliminate it entirely.

Once the meat has been seared on both sides remove it to a plate.  Line the Dutch oven with the vegetables and put the roast on top.

Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables, cover, and get it in the oven.

Roast for 2-3 hours until the meat is tender and the gravy is thickened.  Turn the meat over a couple times as it is roasting.  Once the meat is done, slice and serve with a generous scoop of the smoky tomato gravy.

I served the roast beef and tomato gravy with potatoes mashed with sour cream and broccolini.

NOTE:  This roast can be cooked on low for 6-8 hours in a crock pot or 35-40 minutes in a pressure cooker on high pressure, allowing for a natural release.  I think I will do mine in the pressure cooker next time.

I like using chipotle in adobo but no matter the size of the can there is a lot left over.  I now buy the larger can, dump the entire can into my little food processor and pour it in an ice cube tray.  Once frozen, I bag the individual cubes in snack bags and store them in the freezer.  No waste and the cubes are easy to use.

When I was thinking back to the Sunday dinners of my childhood, I remembered our roasts being cooked in a blue and white speckled enamel roaster in the oven.  I assumed crockpots had not yet been invented.  However, I looked it up (I googled it of course) and found out Irving Nachumsohn received a patent for the device that became the crock pot in 1940.  It was invented to cook a traditional stew eaten by Jews in Eastern Europe on the Sabbath and was marketed as “Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker.”  In 1971 the cooker was reintroduced by Rival under the name “Crock Pot” and gained popularity as more and more women joined the work force.  Women were able to start dinner in the morning before leaving for work and finish preparing the meal when they came home.  Our little bit of trivia for today!

Chicken and Ricotta Meatballs

One of the food magazines that I pick up regularly is called COOK.  It has a lot of recipes with ingredients that I usually have on hand or are easy to come by at the grocery.  And the magazine has beautiful food pictures!!  The January issue has a great recipe for meatballs made with ground chicken and ricotta cheese.  With a little planning it’s a meal you can have on the table in 45 minutes, and that included me grinding my chicken breasts in an old fashioned meat grinder!  A food processor would work.  Or purchasing ground chicken (or turkey) at the grocery would be even easier.  The meatballs look a little different than what we’re accoustomed to…my husband saw them in the sauce and said “dumplings??”.  But they’re light, moist,  and have a great flavor.


1 pound ground chicken

3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

1/2 cup panko

1 large egg yolk

3-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped and divided

1/4 cup fresh basil sliced thin and divided

2 tsp kosher salt

4 T olive oil

1/2 cup white wine

28 oz of crushed tomatoes

fresh grated asiago and additional basil for serving

First things first.  If you didn’t purchase ground chicken you’ll need to do that.  Grind your chicken.  With the meat slightly frozen, cube it and grind.  I used chicken breast but I don’t see why you couldn’t use boneless leg or thigh meat.

Preheat your oven to 400.

In a medium bowl stir together chicken, ricotta, panko, egg yolk, half the garlic, half the basil, and 1 tsp salt.  Mix until well combined.

Use a 1/4 cup spring-loading scoop (I call it a cookie scoop) or a teaspoon and shape into 16 meatballs.  Place in a foil lined pan.  Drizzle with 2 T of olive oil.  Bake for 12 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking get your sauce started.  In a heavy skillet, over medium heat, add remaining 2 T of olive oil and remaining garlic.  Cook for 1 minute and add the wine. Cook until the wine is reduced by half, 3-5 minutes.   Add the tomatoes, remaining basil and 1 tsp salt.  Bring to a simmer.

Once the meatballs are done add them to the sauce including any pan juices.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Serve with fresh grated asiago and garnish with additional basil if desired.  I served mine over a simple, creamy polenta.  It would also be good with angel hair or fettuccine noodles or served with spaghetti squash.

NOTE:  I made only slight modifications to the recipe in COOK.  I used fresh basil instead of fresh rosemary.  One, I didn’t have any fresh rosemary and two, basil just sounded better to me in this recipe.  I also used shredded asiago for serving rather than Parmesan.  I have a slight preference for asiago but either would be good.

My friend Jane made this recipe before I did and she gave it high marks so I was confident I would like it.  However, when you’re mixing the meat and cheese you may be a little skeptical about how its all going to come together.  But it does!

I have not made this with ground turkey but I cant imagine that it wouldn’t work.  To me, when you’re cooking, a recipe is a guideline and you’ll like it best when you take your personal tastes and preferences into account.

Baked Beans

For Christmas this year my daughter gave me Carla Hall’s Soul Food Cookbook.  I have loved Carla Hall since I first saw her on Top Chef and she was my favorite part of the Chew.  Her cookbook is great.  The recipes are not complicated and the dishes are all comfort foods.  Like the recipe I found for Slow Cooker Baked Beans.  It’s been a long time since I made real, from scratch, baked beans.  Where you have to let the beans soak overnight in cold salt water.  Bushes beans with lots of add ins like bacon and ground beef and onions, etc.  have been my fall back.  Don’t get me wrong.  Those are very good!  But real baked beans that have cooked all day are true comfort food.

When we were kids my mother would sometimes make baked beans and homemade bread and that would be our Saturday supper.   It wasn’t a side dish.  It was supper.  We didn’t have crock pots back then so the beans cooked in a big roaster in the oven for the better part of the day.  Baked beans with warm bread slathered in butter.  A good memory.  I also remember having homemade baked beans for hot lunch at school.  Back in the day they didn’t have stations in the school cafeteria where you could get pizza or visit a salad bar or put toppings on your hot dog or hamburger.  You had lunch ladies in aprons and hair nets, who also cooked the food, ladle it on your plate and that’s what you ate.  And we liked the food.  At least I remember liking the food.

My dad obviously loved beans because they were a “camp” staple.  Eaten at breakfast with eggs and potatoes and meat.  Sometimes at supper with hot dogs or brats.  I think Van de kamps beans were a camp favorite.

Fun bean facts:  Navy beans got their name because they were a staple food of the US Navy in the early 20th century.  They are a good, inexpensive, virtually fat free source of protein, fiber and vitamin B1, copper and manganese.  They are one of 13,000 species of the family of legumes or plants that produce edible pods.

So…yesterday I made Carla Hall’s beans with a slight modification.  I added bacon.  Because everything is better with bacon.

4 slices of thick cut bacon diced

2 pounds of dried northern beans

1 large onion finely chopped

1 jalapeño chili seeded and minced

2-3 cloves of garlic thin sliced

1 T smoked paprika

1 T Worcestershire sauce

3/4 cup catsup

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses (I added an extra 1/4 cup of molasses)

3 T yellow mustard

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

This is the part that requires some planning ahead.  Stir 3 T of kosher salt into 3 quarts of water until the salt dissolves.  Add the beans, cover, and soak overnight in the refrigerator.

Drain the beans and transfer them to a 6 quart slow cooker.  Mince the jalapeño, slice the garlic and dice the onion.

In a heavy skillet cook the bacon until most of the fat is rendered.  Add the onions, jalapeño, and garlic.  Stir occasionally over medium heat until the onions are translucent.  About 5 minutes.

Stir in the smoked paprika, 2 tsp of salt and fresh ground pepper.    Add the Worcestershire sauce, catsup, brown sugar,  molasses, and mustard.  Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture starts to bubble.

Pour the sauce over the beans and add enough water (about 5 cups) to cover the beans by 2 inches.

Cover the cooker and cook on low until the beans are tender, 6 to 8 hours.  Stir once or twice as they are cooking.  Serve up while they’re hot and enjoy.  Supper.  Corn bread and beans.

I was messaging with a friend last night before we ate, bragging a little about how good these beans were smelling, and he told me his wife was cooking black-eyed peas and corn bread for their dinner.  Unbeknownst to me, in the South, black-eyed peas, cowpeas, and beans, pork, and cornbread are symbolic foods served on New Year’s Day.  They are considered “lucky” foods and, when eaten on New Year’s Day, are thought to bring a year of prosperity.  The peas or beans are symbolic of pennies or coins.  You’ll want to eat 365 of them.  Corn bread, being the color of gold, represents wealth.  The peas or beans and corn bread are supposed to be served with kale, collard, mustard or turnip greens which are the color of American currency and are supposed to add more wealth.  There is a dish called Hoppin John which is a combination of rice, beans, greens and bacon.  If you serve the left overs the next day its called Skippin Jenny and demonstrates one’s frugality.  For the bad rap some people give beans I think after last night’s dinner 2019 will be a year of prosperity.

NOTE:  I am quite certain my mother’s baked bean recipe did not include smoked paprika or a jalapeño.  Just as I modified Carla Hall’s recipe a bit by adding bacon and a little extra molasses, feel free to customize this recipe to your own tastes.  The beans would make a great vegetarian dish without the bacon and would be a great side dish with roast pork or sausage.

Gnudi (Pronounced NUDIE)

I just looked back on my blog and realized that I hadn’t posted anything since I posted the bologna cake I made to celebrate a good friend’s birthday back in early December.  A lot has happened since December 10th  when I posted that and I need to get back on my blog and share my food adventures.  I subscribe to several food magazines, enjoy watching cooking shows (especially Top Chef and the Chew), and I have way too many cookbooks.  Recently I watched an episode of the Chew where Michael Symon made Gnudi with brown butter and sage and I decided I had to make them.  I told my good friend Jane about them and she decided she had to make them too!!  Gnudi is basically a ravioli without the pasta.  The semolina flour that you roll them in forms a skin so you basically end up with cheesy, buttery goodness.  On television they looked really simple.  They whipped them up in like 15 minutes!  And everyone was smiling and wide eyed and ooohed and aaahed as they ate them.  We all love things with only a few simple ingredients and no complicated instructions, right?  Well.  I would not recommend Gnudi!  But I’m still going to share the recipe, the process, and ultimately the edible outcome.


1 pound whole milk ricotta

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 egg yolk

3/4 tsp grated nutmeg

1 pound semolina flour

For the brown butter:

1/2 cup butter

sage leaves

So here, at the very beginning, is where Michael Symon’s instructions have me scratching my head.  He says to drain the excess liquid from the ricotta by putting it in a fine mesh colander or on paper towel.  As instructed, I put my whole milk ricotta in a mesh strainer.

NOTHING.  There is no excess liquid.  There is no liquid at all.  Michael must get special ricotta not available to me here in Michigan’s wilderness.  So okay.  Mine has been pre-drained.  Next I shredded my Parmesan cheese, separated an egg and mixed the cheeses and egg together along with some fresh grated nutmeg.

For the record Michael did not add an egg yolk.  I decided to do that since apparently I had some very dry ricotta.  Once the cheeses are mixed cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Then, using a small scoop, form the cheese mixture into balls and gently toss in a bowl of semolina flour.  Remember, the semolina flour is supposed to form a “skin” or faux pasta on the gnudi.

Line a 9×13 pan with a layer of semolina flour and put your balls in the pan to rest.  Refrigerate, uncovered, overnight or up to three days.  Rotate the balls a few times.

Day one, after resting uncovered overnight.

Put up a large kettle of salted water and bring it to a gentle boil.  Lower the gnudi ever so carefully into the water and remove them with a slotted spoon once they float to the top.  Well.  They floated to the top but then quickly disintegrated into mush and I was left with a gnudi the size of a small marble.  Fail.

Day two, after resting uncovered 24 hours.

More disintegrated gnudi mush.  Fail.

Day three, after resting a generous 36 hours.

The gnudi finally came out of the water intact.  Success!

I immediately set them into the brown butter with sage leaves and basted them.

We had our first edible sample.  After all the anticipation, on a scale of 1-10, I would rate them a 4.  I can’t imagine making a meal of these.

So I still had about 20 gnudi balls and I need to rethink this.  I happen to have wonton wrappers in the refrigerator so I decided to try cutting the balls in half and making them into ravioli.

Those cooked up beautifully.  Once they floated to the top I transferred them to the brown sage butter and basted them.

Much better.  But in this house we like things with tomato sauce much better.

Day 4, after resting 48 hours uncovered.

I made a red sauce with mushrooms, onion, garlic and pepper.  I cut the gnudi balls in half and made up a nice batch of ravioli.

I served them up with the red sauce and we devoured them.  This was the best use of the gnudi.  At least in this house.

I’m happy to have finally put these ingredients to good use.  Throwing away all that good cheese just seemed wrong.  Will I ever make gnudi again?  I will not.  I will make ravioli again and, quite honestly, the wonton wrappers worked great!  Almost as good as homemade pasta but a lot less work.

NOTE:  Save the rinds from the Parmesan cheese to use in soups and sauces.  They add great flavor!

Bologna Cake

We have a good friend who requested a bologna cake for his birthday.  He sent a photo of a bologna cake that was slice of bologna, cream cheese, slice of bologna, cream cheese and so on and so on.  The sides and top were “frosted” with more cream cheese and decorated with the cheddar cheese that you buy in aerosol cans.

I decided that rather than an ALL bologna cake I would make bologna sandwich spread and use bread for the layers.  Several years ago I made a sandwich cake for a Super Bowl party.  I made that “cake” with ham salad and chicken salad.  It was lovely to look at and tasted ok but I made a mistake and didn’t cut the crusts off the bread making it very difficult to slice. You nearly mangled the whole cake sawing through the crust.  I also learned that sandwich cakes are a real “thing” called smorgastarta, Swedish for sandwich cake.

Cake Ingredients:

2 loaves of a good sturdy bread

2 pounds of garlic bologna

mayo or miracle whip

sweet pickles

onion and celery

Icing Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds of cream cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 c mayonnaise

1 envelope ranch dressing seasoning

The shape of your bread does not matter.  Round, square, rectangular.  Just ensure that it is a good quality, sturdy bread so it doesn’t turn to mush when you add the filling.  Shave off the crusts with a serrated knife.

Grind your bologna and pickles in a food processor.

Small dice your celery and onion and add to the ground meat.   The vegetables give a little crunch to the sandwich spread.  Add mayo or miracle whip until the spread reaches your desired consistency.  Now you can begin assembling the cake.  Spread a thin layer of the icing on each layer and a generous amount of the sandwich spread.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Until you’ve used all of your layers.

When you begin icing the sides and top of the cake do just as you would with a real cake.  Start with a thin layer of icing to seal in the crumbs and then go back and add more icing and smooth out the sides and top.

Decorate your cake with garnishes of your choosing.  I used fennel fronds, carrots, green onions, radishes and miniature heirloom tomatoes.

Voila!  I think my bologna cake is quite beautiful and it was appreciated and enjoyed by the birthday boy and most of the other guests.

NOTE:  It isn’t necessary to use bologna.  Any type of sandwich spread, sliced deli meats, lox, or hard boiled eggs would work.  Adding sliced vegetables like seedless cucumber, radishes, or onion would add some crunch and flavor.  I wouldn’t recommend using tomato slices which would make the bread wet and mushy.

I used the bread crusts to make breadcrumbs which I bag and freeze and croutons for soup or salad.



Roasted Vegetable and Prosciutto Tart

The inspiration for this recipe came from the Fall 2017 issue of Cook Fresh.  When I’m in the supermarket checkout line I’m always looking at the tabloid headlines with the latest movie star gossip and the women’s magazines that have pictures of gorgeous desserts and promises that you can lose 15 pounds in 15 days.  I’m always in the slowest moving lane at the grocery so I have plenty of time to read.  I spotted this Cook Fresh magazine on the very bottom of the rack and it was the only copy left.  The vegetable tart was on the cover so I picked it up and put it in my cart.  Sold.  I modified the recipe somewhat.  The real beauty of this is you can use any vegetables you have on hand or just add or omit based on personal preference.  These are the ingredients and quantities I used.

Ingredients for Filling:

2 cups of cubed butternut squash

1 cup of thin sliced leeks (white and light green parts only)

1 cup of course chopped sweet bell peppers

1 cup of course chopped cauliflower

3-4 cloves of garlic minced

1 T of fresh rosemary minced (I only had dried)

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes halved

4 oz of prosciutto in bite sized pieces

2 T olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

10 oz goat cheese softened

grated asiago

1 egg

Ingredients for the Crust:

1 1/3 cups AP flour

6 oz of cold unsalted butter cubed

6 oz of cold cream cheese cubed

1 tsp kosher salt

2 T cold water

Preheat the oven to 375.  Combine all of the vegetables (except the tomatoes) and toss with the olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Spread the vegetables out in a baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.

While the vegetables are cooking and cooling prepare your crust.  Preheat the oven to 400 once the vegetables are out.    Pulse the flour, salt, cream cheese and butter in the food processor until it starts to come together.

If necessary add a little cold water.  Put the dough on a generously floured service and knead.  Form the dough into a ball.

Roll the dough out into a 16 inch round.  Place the round on parchment paper and spread with the softened goat cheese.

Halve the tomatoes and dice the prosciutto.  Toss them with the vegetables.

Heap the vegetables and prosciutto on the goat cheese leaving about a two inch border.  Sprinkle with a little shredded asiago cheese.

Fold the edges of the dough over the edge of the filling.  Whisk together one egg and a tablespoon of water and brush the edges of the dough with the egg wash.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until the crust is golden brown.  Allow the tart to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Slice and serve with a fresh fruit cup or salad.  We had ours with a side of applesauce.

NOTE:  I put the goat cheese in the microwave for a few seconds on the defrost setting so that it would spread on the crust more easily.

Any combination of vegetables equaling 5 cups is the perfect proportion (not including the tomatoes).  Brussel sprouts, carrots, golden beets, sweet potato, fennel, broccoli…any of those would work.  I used nearly triple the goat cheese called for in the original recipe and I thought that was perfect.  You can also change up the herbs and use basil, oregano or dill.

The Cook Fresh magazine was a great impulse buy!!!



Sloppy Joes

We used to go north to our cottage on weekends and Sloppy Joes were frequently our go-to Friday night supper.  Easy to prepare, especially because they involved browning some ground beef, opening a can of Manwich, stirring and loading it onto a bun.  I always had cans of Manwich in the cupboard.  Manwich first came out in 1969 and was marketed as a fast, one dish meal.  It arrived on the scene before Hamburger Helper but much later than Kraft Macaroni and Cheese which came out in the 1930s.  I’m sure, back in the day, I tried a few varieties of Hamburger Helper and I know I whipped up more than a few batches of neon orange Mac and Cheese.  Now I prefer making my own Mac and Cheese, casseroles concoctions, and Sloppy Joes.  Perhaps we ate Sloppy Joes a little too often because I hadn’t made them in years.  Recently we had guests over for a casual supper and I decided to try making them, sans Manwich.  They tasted mighty good.

Sloppy Joe Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

1 cup diced onion

1 cup diced celery

2-3 gloves of garlic minced

1 12oz bottle of chili sauce

1/4 c brown sugar

1/4 c cider vinegar

1 T yellow mustard

2 T Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup sweet pickle relish (the secret ingredient)

In a heavy skillet brown the meat and season with salt and pepper.  Use a colander to drain the meat and remove the grease.

In the same skillet, saute the onion, celery and garlic for 2-3 minutes until tender but not browned.

Whisk together the chili sauce, cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard and Worcestershire.

You can combine all of the components in the skillet and simmer for 10 minutes or put them all in a crock pot on low until you’re ready to serve.  I use the crock pot.  Either way, you want the flavors to meld.

Just before you’re ready to serve the Sloppy Joes stir in 1/4 cup of sweet pickle relish, my no longer secret ingredient.

I served the sloppy joes on seasame seed buns with corn on the cob, coleslaw and chips.  You can choose your favorite sides.

NOTE:  If you don’t have chili sauce in your pantry you can substitute a cup and a half of your favorite catsup.  My hands down favorite catsup is Brooks Tangy.

Spanish Rice

Pork Loin with Tomatillo Salsa and Spanish Rice.  That was last nights supper.    (You can find the recipe for Roasted Tomatillo Salsa in an earlier post.)

This Spanish Rice recipe is one I started making in the early 70s. It is listed under “Pork Casseroles” in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book that I received as a gift from my Home Economics teacher, Mrs. Little.  It has a serious burn mark on the back cover…another down side of electric stoves I say, and several pages that have splatter on them.  For several years, when I first started cooking, it was my go to book.

We all either own one of these books or have seen them in antique shops.  The Spanish Rice recipe is listed next to the Cantonese Casserole which calls for frozen French style green beans, soy sauce, sour cream, cubed ham and water chestnuts topped with buttered soft bread crumbs and then baked.  I never did make Cantonese Casserole.  On the opposite page are Glamorous Rice Rings…which call for pressing hot cooked rice with chopped canned pimientos and peas into a ring mold.

As you read this cookbook you’ll find that the ring mold was a must have in every kitchen.  It was used for salads like the Harvest Fruit Mold, Frosted Cranberry Salad or Rosy Strawberry Ring; vegetable dishes like Tomato Aspic; and main dishes like Jellied Chicken Salad.  Back in the day we had lots of “molds” hanging in our kitchens.  Of course the conventional ring mold but others shaped like a fish or fruit or fancy loaf shapes.  I  love this cookbook.  There are some tried and true recipes that I still use today including a never fail pie crust recipe written in the margins.

Back to my Spanish Rice.  I have modified the recipe a bit but even in its original form it is a good recipe.


3-4 slices of bacon

1 cup diced sweet onion like Vidallia

1 half sweet bell pepper diced

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 pint tomatoes

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup uncooked long grain rice

1/2 cup chili sauce

1 tsp brown sugar

1 T Worcestershire

Fresh cilantro to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

In Dutch oven or heavy skillet cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Set aside.

Add the onion, pepper and garlic to the bacon grease and cook over medium heat until tender but not brown.  Two to three minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, broth, rice, chili sauce, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce.

Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed.  Once the rice is done stir in the crumbled crisp bacon and cilantro.

Dish up and enjoy.  This was a perfect side to my pork loin but would also go well with pork chops or roast chicken.  The tomatillo salsa kicked the pork up a bit.

NOTE:  When I buy bacon I freeze some in 3-4 slice servings to use in recipes like this one.

The original recipe calls for 8 slices of bacon, thus qualifying it as a Pork Casserole.  I reduced that significantly but you’re welcome to add more bacon if you’d like.  If you do use significantly more bacon be sure to drain off most of the grease before cooking the vegetables.

I was fortunate to have a jar of chili sauce that someone had made and given to me.  It was excellent!  Perfect for this recipe.  I wish I remembered who gave it to me so I could thank them.  I think I’ll add chili sauce to my tomato canning this summer.