Fruit…Covered in Chocolate

I had an incredible, dare I say life changing, experience of tasting some treats from a specialty food store in Amarillo yesterday.  We’ve all tried chocolate covered strawberries, but they seem a little bit dated and ordinary to me.  Not to say that I don’t like them, I do.  This may not be news to everyone, but it was news to me…you can cover different fresh fruits in chocolate!

I had the opportunity to try a banana coated half in white chocolate and half in dark chocolate.  Chocolate and banana are great together, so this didn’t seem totally out of the ordinary.  And it was delicious.  The combination of texture, crunchy chocolate and soft banana.  The flavors were also spectacular.  I preferred the white chocolate side, but that may just be me.


I also tried dark chocolate covered red grapes.  I was skeptical at first and didn’t expect them to pair well together.  Well, I was wrong.  Again, the texture contrast and the taste combinations were great. (more…)

Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes with Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Frosting

My friend Jackie had a birthday this past Friday, so she was getting a dozen cupcakes whether she liked it or not.


I used a boxed chocolate cake mix for the cupcakes.  I know…baking from a mix is not my style.  But cake mixes are always reliable, and I haven’t yet found a terrific chocolate cupcake recipe.  So, cake mix it is!

I added a tablespoon of instant coffee to the batter, but it wasn’t a dominant flavor in the cupcake.  I might try to add some brewed coffee next time in place of some of the water in the recipe.   (more…)

Ricotta, Sun dried tomato, Spinach and Pine Nut Pizza


Pizza can be easily overwhelmed with toppings and the result can be a soggy crust, a greasy mess or flavors that hide one of the true stars of a pizza…the crust.  The key is not only the number of ingredients, but the volume of those ingredients.  A cheese pizza with too much cheese can be a disaster.  A pizza with sauce, mozzarella cheese, sweet Italian sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers and spinach can work as long as the pizza preparer has a light hand with those delicious ingredients.  So, just be aware of how much you’re loading on the pizza and when in doubt use less than you think you need.  

Two years ago I would have cringed at the thought of making my own pizza.  I had always found anything involving yeast to be too daunting.  My first attempt at pizza was OK, but I found the dough recipe for that crust to be a little too thick and chewy.  I like thin crust pizza.  The recipe I used tonight is one I have used before and that I will use from now on.  It is from “The Breadbaker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.  I like that I can make this dough the day before and use it up to 3 days later.  Last minute dinner date?  Save the dough for tomorrow!  Freedom.  I love it.

The only problem I had was getting the dough to form that perfect round shape by tossing it.  An attempt at tossing got me nowhere.  All I really needed to do was pick up the dough round and stretch it just a bit and it was round.  Work pretty quickly or else your dough will stretch too much and develop a nice hole that is not easy to repair.  I was unable to recover from my holey dough.

So, unless you’re feeling kinda crazy and have a pizzeria dream to toss the dough around and be like this kid, don’t worry about it.  The recipe for the dough is at the bottom of this post.

A tip for pizza making: have all your toppings prepped and ready to go before your dough is ready to use.  I like to have my toppings in cute little bowls so that I feel like a TV chef.  This will make the topping process quicker and easier.  This is also a great thing to do when you have people preparing their own individual pizzas or calzones.  Everyone can see their options and choose their own toppings.  My small counter requires me to make good use of my space when I’m cooking, so all the cute little bowls were crammed together here.


Ben and I love a simple margherita pizza, so I made one of those.  


I also decided to try something different without using a recipe…yikes!  I had some ricotta cheese, so that was the beginning of the recipe.  The other ingredients came into the mix because I just like them.  I sauteed some spinach in olive oil and garlic, sliced some sun dried tomatoes and toasted some pine nuts.  Seemed like a good combination, so I went with it.


We liked the clean and simple flavor of this pizza.  There isn’t a lot of cheese, so there is very little grease.  The salty sun dried tomatoes were a great compliment to the creamy ricotta.  The spinach was perfect on this pizza.  I will try using chopped artichoke hearts in place of the spinach for a different flavor next time.


Ricotta, Sun-dried Tomato and Spinach Pizza

  • 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 6-8 sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and sliced
  • 4-5 generous cups spinach
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • One nine inch round pizza dough (recipe above) 
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan over medium high heat.  Add garlic and spinach and stir occasionally for 3-5 minutes until spinach is wilted.  Set aside to cool.
  2. Prepare dough on pizza peel dusted with plenty of cornmeal.
  3. Brush olive oil sparingly all over the dough with a bit more on the outer 1/2 inch of the dough to make a yummier crust.
  4. Dollop teaspoons of ricotta on the crust spacing about 1/2 inch apart.
  5. Scatter spinach and sun dried tomatoes over the pizza and then sprinkle pine nuts on top.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Slide pizza off the peel onto the hot pizza stone.
  8. Bake for 9-12 minutes.
  9. Let cool for a few minutes before slicing.  
  10. Eat up!

Pizza Dough


  • 4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled 
  • 1 Tsp Instant yeast 
  • 1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
  • 1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
  • 1 Tb sugar 
  • Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

3. Flour a work surface or counter.  Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them.  Gently round each piece into a ball.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven.  Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C). 

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan (or pizza peel) with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan (or pizza peel), making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Black and White Cookies



Seinfeld Episode 77: The Dinner Party

[The Royal Bakery]

ELAINE: Ummm, I love the smell of bakeries.

JERRY: Oh look Elaine, the black and white cookie. I love the black and white. Two races of flavor living side by side [mumble?] It’s a wonderful thing isn’t it?

ELAINE: You know I often wonder what you’ll be like when you’re senile.

JERRY: I’m looking forward to it.

ELAINE: Yeah. I think it will be a very smooth transition for you.


JERRY: Uhm, The thing about eating the Black and White cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate And yet somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie all our problems would be solved.

ELAINE: Your views on race relations are fascinating. You really should do an op-ed piece for the Times.

JERRY: Um, um, Look to the cookie Elaine. Look to the cookie.

Look to the cookie…the Black and White cookie.

I watched some Seinfeld when it was in prime time, but I really started to become a fan in college when I started watching it in syndication.  My husband has all 9 seasons on DVD, and we still watch it almost every weeknight from 6-7 on TBS.  I think I’ve seen almost every episode.  A waste of time?  Possibly.  But what a fun and entertaining way to waste it!

I have decided to start a little series of recipes inspired by Seinfeld.  The illustrious black and white cookie begins the series.  My sister and her husband live in New York City.  I have eaten quite a few Black and Whites thanks to her.  Lisa brings a bunch of packaged ones home for Christmas and puts them in our stockings.  When I’ve visited I’ve bought them fresh from bakeries.  These soft, cake-like cookies frosted half with chocolate and half with vanilla icing are truly a lovely combination.  I am more a fan of the vanilla half of the cookies, but both are delicious.  My favorite packaged brand is Angel’s Bakery.


This recipe comes from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.  I love owning this cookbook.  There is a beautiful photo of every item, tips on baking, equipment, techniques, ingredients, etc.  

These cookies turned out to be so delicious.  The cookie is soft, cakey, not too sweet and the perfect base for the sweet icings.



The icings are rich and wonderful.  They are made with heavy cream, but I think whole or 2% milk would work.  You may need to play with powdered sugar if you choose to change the liquid.  Next time I will add a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract to the icing.  


Let the chocolate icing set completely before icing the other half of the cookie.

cookie5 This will keep the chocolate icing from infiltrating the white and also keep it smooth.  Give the icings some time to set and dry before packaging or serving them.  


These black and whites do not stack well since the white icing never really gets completely hardened.  That is the only downside to these cookies.  While they are more time consuming then a common drop, bake, cool and eat cookie, they are well worth the time and effort.  


  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) butter at room temp
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs + 1 yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350°  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Beat butter, shortening and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add whole eggs and yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.
  5. With mixer on low speed add half of the flour mixture, then the cream, then the remaining flour.  Beat until just combined.
  6. Scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets.  Give them at least 2 inches to spread.  *The recipe makes large cookies using a 1/4 cup the drop the cookies.  I used a large cookie scoop resulting in a baked cookie about 4 inches in diameter.
  7. For large cookies, bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges are very light golden brown.  I baked them for 9 minutes using a large cookie scoop.
  8. Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Black and White Icing

  • 1 cup heavy cream (whole or 2% milk)
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 5 tablespoons boiling water
  1. Whisk cream and sugar (add in vanilla) in large bowl until smooth.
  2. Set aside about 1 1/4 cups of the white icing in a separate bowl.
  3. Combine cocoa and boiling water and stir until dissolved.
  4. Add cocoa mixture to remaining icing and stir until smooth to make the black icing.

Icing the Cookies

Frost the BOTTOM of the cookie so that the icing will be flat and not domed.


  1. Spread half of the bottom, flat side of the cookie with the chocolate icing.  Repeat with all cookies.  Let set completely.
  2. Spread the other half of the cookie with the white icing, overlapping the chocolate a bit to avoid gaps in the icing.  

Here comes the Groom…

Groom’s Cake Ice Cream!  Groom’s Cake is chocolate ice cream with chocolate cake pieces, chocolate coated strawberry hearts, swirled with strawberry sauce and chocolate icing.  Most of the groom’s cakes I’ve seen at weddings are some combination of chocolate with strawberry, so the name fits the flavors here.


Blue Bell Ice Cream has been a staple of my diet since I was allowed to eat ice cream.  It breaks my heart that there are people out there who can’t get Blue Bell in their local grocery store.  Blue Bell is only sold in 17 states, with their headquarters in Brenham, Texas near Houston.  You can visit the creamery, take a tour of the facilities and get a scoop of ice cream at the end!  The tour is only $3 for adults and $2 for kids.  Not a bad deal.

I highly recommend visiting Blue Bell if you find yourself in Houston this summer.

Ok, back to the new ice cream flavor.  Whenever I pass through the frozen food aisle I check the freezer for new flavors of Blue Bell.  There are times when I am excited about the new flavors and other times when I ask “Who decided that this was a good idea?”  I don’t always buy the new flavors that are offered.  Sometimes I just find it too hard to spend $5.99 on a half gallon of ice cream that I’m not sure I’ll like.  But this new flavor intrigued me.  I am not the biggest fan of chocolate ice cream in general.  I’d rather have vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips or chocolate fudge than just plain chocolate.

I like this ice cream.  The cake pieces are yummy, the strawberry is not overwhelming and adds a different type of sweet than the chocolate flavors, so it works.  Look for this new creation from the “little creamery” in Brenham at your local grocery store and try it.  You know you want to…


Texas Sheet Cake

In April of 2005 I was living in College Station, Texas going to Texas A&M.  My roommates and I took the Houston Chronicle, and I pulled this recipe from the newspaper and stashed it away in my recipe box one day in late April of 2005.  I found it this weekend…roughly 4 years later.  


I am not sure why this is called Texas sheet cake…but I am proud that it is!  I did find a little information about the history of this cake, but nothing saying it actually originated in the Lone Star state.  This excerpt is from

Question: Where does Texas Sheet Cake get its name? 
A) From the super-chocolatey taste, as big as Texas. 
B) From the fact that the taste is so intense, people can eat only a small piece – meaning one cake will serve a Texas-size crowd. 
C) From its overall richness – a big taste in a big cake from a state that was super sizing things long before fast-food places were. 
D) All of the above. 
The answer, if you’ve ever tasted the famous cake, has got to be D. Texas Sheet Cake is chocolate through and through, rich and decadent. As for whether it originally came from Texas, I couldn’t find a definite answer. But Lone Star cooks were smart to get their state’s name on something that tastes so good.
— “A chocolate cake from the land of the super-sized,” Ann Burger, The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC), January 28, 2001, G, Pg. 6

This cake is so moist and chocolatey.  The cake itself is sweet, light and moist.  The fudgy frosting is spread on to the cake while it is still warm, so some of the frosting melts a little into the cake.  The sprinkle of toasted pecans on top are not only a good textural contrast, but add some Texas (or at least Southern) flavor.  A cold glass of milk or scoop of vanilla ice cream are great accompaniments.

Texas Sheet Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Grease and flour a 9×13, 10×15, or 2 9-inch round pans.  Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  3. Combine water, butter, oil, cocoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  4. Pour the cocoa mixture over the flour mixture and stir together just until smooth.
  5. In a small bowl whisk eggs, buttermilk and vanilla then add to batter and stir together.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan(s).
  7. Baking Times: 9×13 – 25 minutes, 10×15 – 20 minutes, 9-inch rounds – 25 minutes.  Check cakes about 5 minutes before baking is completed to avoid over baking.
  8. Let cake cool for 5-10 minutes, then frost with chocolate frosting and sprinkle with chopped, toasted pecans.


Chocolate Frosting


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
  1. Cream butter and cocoa in a large bowl.
  2. Add the milk and beat until smooth.
  3. Add powdered sugar in 3 additions scraping down sides of bowl between additions.
  4. Add vanilla and beat well.

Garlic and Herb Roasted Mushrooms

Ben and I grill steaks a few times a month and I usually make a potato or creamy rice dish as a side along with a salad or steamed veggie.  I was in the mood to try something a little different to have with our incredible New York strips this past Saturday.  I found this recipe for roasted mushrooms in a Food Network cookbook called Making it Easy.  


I changed the recipe in the cookbook just a bit.  I used less oil than called for (with great results) and added a few tablespoons of chopped Italian parsley.  I used half button and half shiitake mushrooms.  We loved these mushrooms.  They were a nice accompaniment to the steak and also a very tasty snack later that night cold from the fridge when I had a craving for these yummy salty, garlicky fungi.

I recently planted some rosemary in the back yard, so I was excited to use some of it for this recipe.  It is so nice to open up the back door, walk into the yard and just cut off a few sprigs of rosemary.  Let’s just hope I can keep the plant alive!


Garlic and Herb Roasted Mushrooms


  • 1 1/2 pounds assorted mushrooms (I used half cremini and half shiitake)
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 5 smashed garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons water


Preheat oven to 450°.

  1. Clean and prepare mushrooms.  Be sure to remove the stems of the shiitake mushrooms, they are too tough to eat.  I halved some of the larger cremini mushrooms and left some whole.  They should all be about the same size.
  2. Toss mushrooms, olive oil, rosemary and parsley on a rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.


  1. Roast mushrooms for about 25 minutes until golden.  Once or twice during baking, move mushrooms around on the sheet.
  2. Remove from the oven and pour 2 or 3 tablespoons of water on the baking sheet and scrape up brown bits from the pan and toss the mushrooms.
  3. Season with more salt if desired.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Red Wine Brownies

Wine and chocolate are perfect partners.  Well, in my opinion, wine and cheese are perfect partners, but I don’t see a blue cheese brownie in the near culinary future…unless someone reading this is feeling kinda crazy!  Let me know…

Anyway, a red wine brownie only seems natural.  This recipe comes from Cookiemadness, one of the first food blogs I started following when I started blogging.  Love it.

When I read through the ingredients I was so pleased that I had everything to make these without a trip to the store, always a good thing.  I was also pleased that I had an excuse to open a bottle of wine.  

The brownie batter came together really quickly, and I didn’t have to use my mixer!  All you need is a whisk and a spoon.  About 5 minutes before the brownies were done I made the glaze and it was ready when the brownies came out of the oven.  My brownies were very thin (less than 1/2 inch) in the center of the pan.  My cookiemadness advisor told me to be sure I just greased the BOTTOM of the pan.  Greasing the bottom only ensures that the brownies will bake up evenly instead of sticking to the sides and pulling the brownies outward.  I will try that when I make these again, and I will be making these again.  They are so tasty and different than just a regular fudgy brownie.  There is a slight yeast-like flavor that comes from the wine.  These are good.


Red Wine Brownie Bars

  • 4 oz/114 grams unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 ounce (28 grams) unsweetened chocolate, broken up
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (192 grams)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon red wine (Cabernet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon lightly into cup to get 94 grams)

Red Wine Glaze

  • 3 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter (50 grams)
  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar (60 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine (Cabernet)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square metal pan with foil and grease bottom of pan only or spray the bottom with cooking spray. Don’t spray the sides.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and add chocolate. Stir until chocolate melts, then add sugar. Continue heating for about 30 seconds to dissolve some of the sugar. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Whisk the eggs, wine, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl. Make sure you’ve whisked out any lumps of stray baking powder. Add a small amount of the slightly cooled chocolate mixture to the eggs and whisk until blended, then whisk in the rest of the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour with a large spatula – the goal is to mix it, but not beat the flour too much. Pour into pan. Drop pan onto counter from about 5 inches once or twice to remove air bubbles. Bake on center rack and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Meanwhile prepare icing. Melt butter over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and add chocolate, sugar and wine. Continue heating over low, stirring often, until mixture is smooth – don’t let it boil. Pour hot wine mixture over fresh-out-of-the-oven brownie/cake base and let stand for an hour or so. The topping should sink down into the cake and settle on top. Let sit until topping has set. I put mine in the refrigerator to speed up the chocolate-setting. This worked well for the topping, but I think the refrigerator adds to much stiffness to the base so if you chill these, let them come back to room temp before serving.

No-Knead Bread


I’ve seen more than one blog in the past few weeks with a no-knead bread post.  I read one recipe around 11 AM the other day and thought, “This sounds great!  I will make it tonight!”  but then I saw that it has to rise for 12-18 hours.  Well.  Unless I wanted to eat fresh bread at 2AM, it wasn’t going to happen that day.  So, I got up with Ben at 5:45 the next morning and made bread dough.  I didn’t have any bread flour, so I used a recipe that calls for all purpose flour.  I used this recipe from, and substituted 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour for 1/2 cup of the all purpose.  

The dough is so easy is mix up.  4 ingredients in a bowl.  


Mix.  Cover with plastic wrap and forget about it for half the day.  It doesn’t get much easier than that.  After the 12 hour rise it looked good.


After a bit of kneading, a sprinkle of cornmeal and an additional hour, it looked unchanged…hmm.  I decided to move ahead with the baking even though possible failure was in my future.


Ta-da!  It isn’t the prettiest loaf of bread, but it tasted good.  I loved the nice crunchy exterior and even ate just the crusty goodness of one piece with some butter.  Yum.


No Knead, Dutch Oven Bread

  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting. You may use white, whole wheat or a combination of the two.
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the flour and salt, stirring until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at least 8 hours, preferably 12 to 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
  2. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
  3. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently shape it into a ball. Generously coat a clean dish towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Put the seam side of the dough down on the towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another towel and let rise for about 1 to 2 hours. When it’s ready, the dough will have doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  4. At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, heat oven to 475 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and lift off the lid. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. The dough will lose its shape a bit in the process, but that’s OK. Give the pan a firm shake or two to help distribute the dough evenly, but don’t worry if it’s not perfect; it will straighten out as it bakes.
  5. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Brown Rice and Mushroom Casserole

My sister told me about this site, 101cookbooks.  All the recipes are vegetarian and pretty healthy.  She has a recipe for black bean brownies that I am planning to try soon.  There are so many yummy things that I’ve put on my list of “to-make” recipes.  I may not ever find the time to make them all!  Anyway, this sounded so delicious and would pair well with the garlic and herb pork tenderloin I planned to make for dinner.  


This casserole came together really quickly.  I cooked the rice earlier in the day and kept it in the fridge until that evening.  I also prepped my onion and mushrooms in the afternoon.  I like cooking a dish like they do on food shows.  Bowls of pre-cut ingredients ready to go.  I almost felt like giving verbal instructions to my dog as I cooked this…but I decided against it.

The only hard part about this casserole is waiting the hour it takes to bake.  It smells so lovely that you’ll want to dig in as soon as the aroma starts to take over your kitchen.  Remember, patience is a virtue.  This is delicious.

I used brown rice, low fat cottage cheese, low fat sour cream, added 2 teaspoons of fresh chopped tarragon with the garlic to punch up the tarragon flavor.  Maybe I would add a bit more salt, or cook my rice with salt, next time.

Mushroom and Brown Rice Casserole

  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) brown mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 large onion, well chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (low fat)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (low fat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons plus a bit more fresh tarragon, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Spray a baking dish (I used a 9×9) with cooking spray.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat saute the mushrooms in olive oil and sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt. Stir every minute or so until the mushrooms have released their liquid and have browned a bit. Add the onions and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes or until they are translucent.


Stir in the garlic and 2 teaspoons tarragon, cook for another minute and remove from heat. Add the rice to the skillet and stir until combined.


In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, and salt.

Combine the rice mixture and cottage cheese mixture in a large bowl, stir until well combined.


Turn out into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese.

mushroom4 Cover with foil and place in oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes more or hot throughout and golden along the edges. Sprinkle with more of the chopped tarragon, and the remaining Parmesan and enjoy.


Serves about 8.