Tuesday, November 28, 2006


The shop that employs my hubby had a pre-Thanksgiving lunch for employees and clients. The owner's daughter made many of the side dishes, the guys at the shop fried up three turkeys, and at least one of his co-workers' wives sent in a casserole or two. Apparently I have gotten a reputation for dessert making, and so a request was sent in for desserts. This is a case of flattery will get you everywhere! I already had many things on my plate (all puns intended) that week, but was more than happy to oblige!

Knowing that everyone would be sitting down to "traditional" Thanksgiving fare that week, I wanted to make desserts that were "traditional with twist." I borrowed heavily from Cooking Light recipes, but in the end, I "make them my own" (to quote the infamous Paula Abdul).

First up...Ooey-Gooey Apple Sheet Cake. I had never made this before, but a read-through of the recipe told me this was like an apple pie cake! I am not a huge fan of pie (however, I discovered over the holiday that I can make a mean pie crust!), but I am a lover of all things cake! After mixing the batter, and before assembly, I did a "taste-test" of the batter, and knew it was a winner. It wasn't terribly gooey, but oh so yummy! For a non-chocolate dessert, this one goes straight to the top of my LOVE pile!

Second, Oatmeal Pecan Pie. I have never made a pecan pie before, but it is the November 2006 Cooking Light cover recipe. Depsite that I did not love the picture on the cover, the recipe was simple and apparently very tasty. I added 1/2 cup Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips, which I think made this pie a repeater (and I have gotten requests for the recipe!).

Third, Pumpkin Cheesecake. This is a tried and true recipe, and was well-received. I should have cooked it a few minutes longer, but I don't think anyone else noticed! Instead of a crust made from vanilla wafers, I used ginger snaps and added a tad more butter to make up for their "hardness." I will use ginger snaps as the crust every time.
Last, but not least, Old-fashioned Cider Ginger Bundt Cake. Oh, how I love a good bundt cake. It takes me back to my German roots and a deep love of all things bundt! I had not made this particular recipe before, but was very pleased with the results. I used my fancy-shmancy Nordicware Cathedral bundt pan for dramatic results!

Here is a picture of the wee bit of leftovers, as I forgot to take photos before they were devoured!

From left (clockwise): Old-fashioned Cider Ginger Bundt Cake; a slice of Oatmeal Chocolate-Chip Pecan Pie on its side; a slice of Pumpkin Cheesecake, also on its side; thre cubes of Ooey-Gooey Apple Sheet Cake.
I have heard through the grapevine that there have been several requests for pies for the holidays. YEA!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Scottish nibbles

I am teaching a study abroad class in summer '07 in Scotland. I had an informational meeting yesterday for interested students, and I called it "Tea and Tartans." So, being the food lover that I am, I made different Scottish-inspired nibbles for the students and offered a selection of teas (not all Scottish, but all good!). The cookies are Martha recipes (Citrus and Cornmeal Shortbread and Dried Cranberry Shortbread Hearts) the Pumkin Bread is a recent Cooking Light recipe -- but I omitted the raisins and walnuts and replaced them with chopped dried apricots, apples, and prunes. SO YUMMY! I also had an assortment of english tea crackers, a (purchased -- horrrors!) cheese ball, apples, and peanuts.

Here is a picture of the leftover baked goodies. My hubby took some to work and said the Pumpkin Bread went really fast. I love praise!

Monday, October 30, 2006


I have been remiss of posting of late. I have been way too busy to take even 5 minutes to put together something for the blog, and for that I apologize! I have been doing some cooking, although my dear hubby as been really bringing it on. Unfortunately, many of his dishes include meat, so I don't include them here (even though he has asked! sorry honey!)

First up -- a tomato galette -- galette dough from Julia Child
I used red tomatoes from our garden and the yellow/orange ones are from the market. I LOVE this recipe, but the amount of butter included means I won't make it too often.

Second up -- for our anniversary I made a bunch of Indian food, however I was not wowed over with my attempt. I have made better in the past, and I am not sure what went wrong this time. The best part was that that week we had indian cheese in our dairy delivery, so I fried it up. That was pretty fun to see it actually hold shape and look like it is supposed to. Of course the spinach sauce it went into left a little something to be desired. We should have just gone to the local indian rest. and ate there. oh well!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Use'em or lose'em

Now that the weather is decidely fallish, the nights are cooler, the sun is not quite so warm, we have decided that our tomatoes are not going to get any less green, as can be seen here. So, we try to come up with creative ways to eat them. Don't get me wrong, I love fried green tomatoes, but some times they are a pain to make. So I dug out this recipe that I made two years ago for the first time, and I really love it. I am sorry to say I have no pictures of it b/c, well, it is all gone. But it was lovely and even lovelier tasting!

Green Tomato Chocolate Cake

As unlikely as it might seem, among thrifty gardeners there is a tradition of using up excess vegetables in cake. They don't necessarily lend taste, but they do make it more moist. This recipe comes from "The Tomato Festival Cookbook," by Lawrence Davis-Hollander. Serves 12.

2/3 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted unbleached flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup beer
1 cup puréed green tomatoes
1/4- 1/2 cup water (optional) (you need this if the puree is very thick and dry. I had to add ¼ cup)


Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan (I used two 8-in. round pans).
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Stir in chocolate, then, one at a time, the eggs. Add vanilla.
In a medium bowl, sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with beer and tomatoes.
If batter appears stiff, add water (moisture content of tomatoes varies).
Turn batter into the prepared baking pan.
Bake for 35 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Ice with frosting or serve plain.

The first time I made the cake, I made a frosting of powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa, vanilla extract, and half-n-half. I spread it over the top and let it drip down over the sides. It looked really good this way.

This time I made the frosting recipe from the back of the Hershey's cocoa powder can, and used 6 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. all natural peanut butter. Can you say, YUM?!???!?!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My Favorite Fall-themed appetizers, Part I

Now that Fall is upon us, and I LOVE appetizers, I thought I would post my favorite tried and true FALL-THEMED appetizers. This is also a way for me to keep posting even though I don't have a lot of time to cook right now!

Up first,

Pumpkin Cheese Ball (from Southern Living, photo credit: Southern Living.com)

Here's a great cheese ball recipe I got from Southern Living. This cheese ball is so cute - it looks just like a pumpkin and the broccoli stalk looks just like a pumpkin stem! I used all light cheeses and cut the recipe in half to make a small pumpkin. DH and I both thought this was delicious. A definite repeater.

Pumpkin Cheese Ball INGREDIENTS

2 (8-ounce) blocks extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) container chive-and-onion cream cheese
2 teaspoons paprika (I usually use a beer cheese spice mix that I have. You might want to added a touch of seasoned salt to the paprika and ground red pepper. You can really play around with the spices, after all it is CHEESE and very forgiving!)
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 broccoli stalk Red and green apple wedges

INSTRUCTIONS Combine Cheddar cheese and next 4 ingredients in a bowl until blended.
Cover and chill 4 hours or until mixture is firm enough to be shaped.
Shape mixture into a ball to resemble a pumpkin. (I usually wrap it in plastic wrap for this step. Otherwise you end up with lots of cheese goo on your hands!)
Smooth entire outer surface with a frosting spatula or table knife.
Make vertical grooves in ball, if desired, using fingertips.
Cut florets from broccoli stalk, and reserve for another use.
Cut stalk to resemble a pumpkin stem, and press into top of cheese ball.
Serve cheese ball with apple wedges.

Note: To make ahead, wrap cheese ball in plastic wrap without stalk, and store in refrigerator up to 2 days. Attach stalk before serving.

YIELD: Makes 16 appetizer servings

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Did you miss me?

My most hearfelt apologies for my prolonged absence. This semester has gotten off to a HECTIC start! If we had a decent internet connection at home chances are I would have been posting so much more. We are in the middle of some fall crziness (conference presentations, weddings, family visits, job changes, and general mayhem!), so I am going to postsome photos from our anniverasry backpacking trip from 2004. We hiked in the Smoky Mountains, including a bit on the Appalachian Trail. Fun stuff!

Mmmm...camp cuisine!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Yummy Magical Mystery Dessert Place

My hubby often (sometimes a little too often for my waistline) brings me sweet treats from some establishment near his work. He won't give me any identifying details...I don't even know if it is a bakery or a gas station! So I call it the yummy magical mystery dessert place! I do know that whenever I see a small white box hanging around in the kitchen, I know I am in for a yummy treat. Sometimes my sweet-tooth overtakes my willpower, and my dessert becomes my dinner. SIGH! I have never had any dessert from there that I haven't like, although there are some that I like the best!

This week he brought me a chocolate mini-bundt cake with a fudge icing/glaze. Now, I had a bite, and thought it was fine as it, but then the lightbulb in my head went off, and I said "Wow! Wouldn't this be great with a scoop of vanilla ice cream?" So, out came the ice cream maker and the milk and sugar. I whipped up a quicky (but tasty) vanilla ice cream (well, it was more like ice milk b/c we didn't have any cream). I warmed the cake up in the microwave ( 1 min. on 20% power), plopped a scoop of ice cream on top, and then the vanilla ice cream looked a little lonely, so I covered it in Guittard Milk Chocolate Sauce. Yep, sinful!

Here is a pretty picture of a custard tart topped with fresh fruit that was really tasty.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It's gettin' hot in here,

so I thought I would turn on the oven and roast some veggies!

I made veggie stuffed roasted poblanos for dinner during the week. While there were a couple of steps, the cooking was mostly hands-off, so it was fairly easy, and the results yummy!

Roasted Veggie Poblanos

recipe by ME!


2-3 green poblanos

3 small yellow squash (or zucchini) (cut in half lengthwise, or coarsely chopped)

3-4 fingerling potatoes (coarsely chopped)

1/2 - 3/4 cup pinto beans (already cooked)

1 cup fresh corn kernels

up to 1 cup onions (diced)

1-2 cups cooked brown rice

2 Tbsp. low fat cream cheese (at room temp)

fajita seasoning

cheese (this can be shredded cheddar, queso quesadilla, whatever you have on hand)

To do:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a roasting pan with Al foil. Coat a second roasting pan with either non-stick spray or mist with oil (either canola or olive).

2. Put whole poblanos in foil lined pan. Roast for about 20-30 mins., turning halfway during cooking. Cool long enough to handle without burning yourself!

3. Place potatoes, squash, corn, and onions in other pan. Lightly drizzle with oil (you just need a light coating, don't drown them!), and sprinkle with fajita seasoning. Stir well to coat. Roast for about 20-30 mins., turning halfway during cooking.

4. While veggies are roasting, mix rice and cream cheese in a med. bowl.

5. Add the roasted squash veggie mixture to the rice and cream cheese mixture.

6. When the poblanos have cooled enough to handle, gently peel the roasted skin off (go ahead and discard this, compost is acceptable if oil has not been involved in the roasting). Gently slice the poblanos in half, and remove seeds -- discard.

7. Put 1/2 cup (or more if it fits) of the veggie/rice/cream cheese mixture in each pepper. Wrap sides of pepper over mixture, sprinkle with cheese of choice.

8. Put back in oven and roast for about 10-15 mins.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Channeling my Inner Julia

My friend, KIG, gave me Baking with Julia a few years back as a gift. I have to admit, that when I first received it I wasn't sure I would ever use it. Julia Child....WOW! I have no where near her skills, and was just intimidated. So, here I am years later, thumbing through the book...I LOVE THIS BOOK! The picture are gorgeous and inspiring. I lay in bed at night and read it like a bedtime story.

Last weekend I decided that I would no longer fear such beauty, and such directions! I decided to make the vegetable galette for dinner, followed by a berry gallette for dessert. The Gallette dough recipe is enough for two gallettes, and this is the dinner menu that Julia Child suggests.

The savory gallette was made with tender baby crookneck squash, sweet Vidalia onions, a scattering of mozzarella, and topped with roughly chopped backyard-fresh tomatoes. The result....OUTSTANDING! My hubby kept singing the praises of the crust. The ONLY drawback was having to heat the oven up to make it.

The dessert gallette was a little trickier. I rolled the dough out too thin, so it was harder to work with, and I didn't put enough sugar on the berries -- raspberries leftover from my berry picking trip, and blackberries fresh my the farm of a friend's grandfather (the same friend that told me about the peaches). Here it is:

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Thought I would post some pics. of recent food stuffs going on in our household (and I need to clean off the card on my camera!).

Shitake Mushrooms grown by a colleague of mine.

We ate these in a tofu stir-fry. Note to self -- cut off and discard stems before cooking/eating. They were surprisingly tough!

All the Veggies Pasta SaladA concoction to use up some fresh veggies sitting in the crisper. Light, tasty, and filling.

Cherry Clafouti

Surprisingly easy. Yummy!

Cherry Clafouti

Created by Gale G andFrom Great Food in the July 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

Serves 12

Pop this bubbly, custardy cherry clafouti into the oven midmeal and 30 minutes later, take your bows.


2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing

2 cups fresh (or frozen, unthawed) cherries, pitted

1/3 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease a 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate. Fill with cherries.

In a blender, combine sugar, eggs, milk, flour, salt and butter until smooth.

Pour batter over cherries in prepared pie plate. Bake until puffed and golden, about 30 minutes.

Dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve hot.

Produce Pictures

Here is the total haul fro mTuesday's market foray.

Red-speckled butter beans

Gilliliand's peaches

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Murfvegas has a farmer's market, and I finally found it! It has been elusive lo these past months...only because I was looking on the WRONG SIDE of Main St.! Geez! Well, I went last week for the first time, spent $6, and came home with enough veggies to feed us for the week. As a matter of fact I have been eating up what is left just so I could clear out the fridge for Tuesday's trip....which is detailed below....

I went to the market again today (Tuesday)...I only spent $5.50 and got so much food! There were a few more vendors today than last week, and some were already sold out and packing it up at 8:00 AM. I missed out on the cantaloupe...too bad, that was one of my favorites from last week.
However, I did get 4 ears of peaches-n-cream corn (see the picture), a bunch of tender baby crookneck squash, 1 lb. of blue-runner beans, 1/2 lb. of some sort of red and white speckled beans (apparently they are sweeter and creamier than lima, taste a bit like pinto? I don't know, I haven't had them yet), some blue potatoes (can't remember the offical name of these guys), and one organic cucumber. I stood and chatted with the only organic farmer there...super nice fellow, very knowledgable, and passionate, about eating only organics. He told me the story of his wife having kidney problems after working in their printing shop for 30 yrs. around a bunch of chemicals. Now that she eats all organic (on the recommendation of her doctor) and drinks only distilled water, she feels so much better. He has been selling at this market for about 4-5 years, and said he was "near run off" when he first started selling there. Now, this guy is about as local as they come (so it is not like he is an outsider, like me!), but apparently some of the other farming women were very nasty to him because he told them all the chemicals and pesticides they were using on their crops were bad. And since he doesn't use them, and he buys all organic seeds, etc., he charges more (like $3/lb for beautiful fingerling potatoes -- like 8 varieties!). They apparently also made a stink about how pricey his stuff was, and they could get the same thing or grow it, for less. Obviously, what they are buying elsewhere or growing themselves, was/is not the same thing. I am so glad he decided to ignore the ol' biddies and keep on with what he believes in. I am stopping there first next week to get me some of those potatoes!

Second cool treat today...Gilliland's Peaches (not really sure if I have spelled their name right...sorry folks if it is wrong). I found out about this "pit stop" (hee hee, sorry about the bad pun!) last Tuesday from one of my friends (that met me at the market to make sure I could find it!). Apparently, these people sell their peaches a block off the town square, out of the back of their truck every Tuesday morning. They start at 8 AM, and are sold out by 11 AM. My friend, AS, had to get on to a meeting, but urged me to go and try out these fantastic peaches (her obsession with them is similar to that of the Mackinaw on Seinfeld -- if you know what she is talking about!). She also warned me there could be a line, but that it would be well worth it. So, I found the place, (church parking lot across the street from Jr's grocery), and sure enough there was line, but only about a dozen deep. It was funny because it was obvious that everyone there was a veteran (at standing in line for peaches, not of any wars, although some of them were old enough to be), and knew what to do. I kinda' felt like I was getting in line for the Soup Nazi, but these people are not militant and are super nice! Seriously, you stand in the line, facing forward. When it is your turn to pay, you tell the old-timer (I mean this with the utmost respect) sitting in the lawn chair how many boxes you want, and give him your cash. You then have to wait until he tells you to move forward to the tailgate of the truck, where the Peach Mistress is working the peach boxes. While waiting my turn to pay, I chatted with the folks in line behind me and was told that these peaches were so good, that (1) I should stand in a bathtub to eat them ['cause they are so juicy], and (2) don't make anything with them -- that would be a waste, just eat them as they are. Well, with recommendations like that, how could you not want these?
(I was also told that the line often stretches around the building, and people have passed out in the heat from waiting in line for these peaches.)

So, I bought a flat ($8 for about 25 good-sized peaches), which the Peach Mistress hand sorts and chooses to make sure you get the finest of the peaches. She sets aside any half-rotten ones (which can be bought for $4 a box), and gives you extra if some of them are small, all with a smile on her face! Of course, I had to lug all my produce to my office so it didn't melt in the hot car. The peaches totally fragranced my office -- a good thing, I assure you. I took some down to the dept. secretary, and when I walked in she said "Are those Gilliland peaches? Man, I just love those peaches. Haven't had a chance to get over there this year."
YES, the peaches really are THAT GOOD! I have been eating them two at a time, because one is so not enough. Once, I even cut some up and put them over vanilla frozen yogurt w/ a sprinkle of cinnamon...ahhh, summer.

Anyhow...on to more recent adventures....

I stood in line again for peaches, but this time I knew what to do. I split a tray w/ my neighbor b/c I still have 8 leftover from last week's box. Add that to our plenteous bounty (is that redundant?) of tomatoes and we are set! I just picked a baker's dozen tonight...and there are PLENTY of green and half-turned ones yet. I just love mid to late summer!

Well enough of that for now. I will be posting a picture of my veggies and peaches when I get to a faster internet connection -- dial-up can't handle pictures all that well! If you have made it this far, thanks so much for reading and letting me share my farmer's market story! There aren't too many people that understand my joy at having fresh, well-priced veggies for the next few months!

Okay -- just popping in to add that something funky is going on with blogger b/c I am not able to post my pictures. I get them uploaded, and then it says "can not find server." Okay, vent over!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Carrots, and chocolate, and buttercream...oh my!

It must be a birthday! Happy birthday to my honey! His favorite cake is carrot cake (sorry honey, as you know this is not even in my top 10 of cakes), and I had never made one until we started dating in 2000. So for this year's bday I resurrected the same recipe I used that year (a Cooking Light recipe), made a few minor substitutions, added chocolate chips, and topped it all off with a low(ish)-fat buttercream icing (no cream cheese in the house, and in no mood to run to the store). All in all, the layers came out very nice, and the cake was not bad. I liked it best on the first and second day. It dried out (even w/ layers of plastic wrap and toothpicks) and became rubbery at the same time as days passed. Well, that is what happens with low-fat cakes sometimes.

Here is a picture of the dinner we had: falafel burgers, cucumber raita, chopped fresh tomatoes, feta, and mediterranean couscous.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Girls' Weekend -- Part II

First, let me offer my sincerest apologies for the delay in this second installment. First blogger was inaccessible (to me anyway), then I took some extended and much needed time away from the computer, and third -- I haven't been inspired to write at all. I haven't had writer's block since 1997...I really didn't know what to do. However, I have been reading like mad, in some vain hope for inspiration.

Okay, now let's get on to to the good stuff. I forgot to mention that K. and I went to a wine tasting on Friday night before dinner. It was free, not crowded, and I liked the majority of the wines. What's not cool about that?

Saturday -- late morning, early afternoon -- BERRY PICKING! K., Natalie, and I went to Reed Valley Orchard, in Bourbon County, for their Blueberry Jubilee and Pancake Day! We were a bit later getting out there than we would have liked, so we missed out on the pancakes (darn!), and there weren't as many ripe berries on the bushes as we would have liked, but we did manage to make a nice haul, and K and I took some time to pick red raspberries (N. abstained since she has her own thicket of these in her backyard, and plugged along on the bluesies!). K is on the right modeling a very nice ripe red raspberry. YUM! N. is below right with her flat of berries -- which she so graciously shared with me! Is that not the best berry picking outfit or what?

Here is my haul, before N. loaded me up with fruits of her labor! (You can seem that I had my sights set very high, with all those empty bins.) I ate a bunch fresh, but have since frozen them, to be used in yummy non-smoothie recipes. I have so far made Berry Tofu "Ice Cream" (from The Big Book of Vegetarian) with 2 cups of the bluesies. I think I will use some more in a lemon blueberry poundcake. The raspberries? These will be made into a raspberry sauce to go over Lemon Ricotta Pancakes (and some bluesies may make a cameo in those as well!).

Saturday Evening -- "Girls' Night In" Cocktail Party! Hosted by K, at her lovely nearly refurbished historic house.

Menu (solids) : hummus and dippers; lemony veggie dip (K's own creation -- very yummy!); olive nut and crackers; Italian cheese torte and baguette; dolmas (stuffed grape leaves); pita chips and tomato salsa (like a deconstructed bruschetta); and Chocolate Guinness Cake.

Notice the Guinness Chocolate Cake -- all gussied up!

Menu (liquids): various red wines (all that I sampled were delish); martinis -- lemon, passionfruit (my personal fave); regular (am I missing anything K?).

The food was fantastic, the beverages were fantastic, and the company and conversation was even more so. I can't say whenI have spent a more enjoyable evening with a group of smart, confident, in-the-know, fun women.

Thanks K for a great weekend! I hope we can repeat it again in the fall!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Girls' Weekend -- Part I

I spent this past weekend visiting friends in Lexington, Kentucky. The entire trip was instigated by my good friend, Kristin. She wanted to have a "Girls' Night In" cocktail party since her hubby was out-of-town. The entire weekend turned out to be fantastic and revolve around food (what else, of course?!?). I have decided to split this into two posts because of length and pictures -- and I want to stretch the fun a wee bit longer! So, please indulge me!

Friday -- left home super early (7 am CST!) to arrive in Lex. to pick up two former co-workers (donna and nancy -- who was celebrating her b-day) to go to the girliest restaurant in town (and not be late for our reservations -- which is a no-no, and might get you blacklisted, seriously!). Flag Fork Farm's Garden Cafe (sorry, the don't have a website -- which is soooo 1990!), a few miles from downtown Lexington is one of my favorite lunch-time destinations. All of the menu items are made on the premises, fresh, and full of flavor. The two-story brick building (which has been described as a cottage) is part cafe, part store, part flower and herb garden. They sell everything from antique linens and children's clothing to furniture, locally made jewelry, mass-produced tapestry and scarves, unique purses, dip mixes (their own line), to local art (can be found upstairs). I always purchase something when I am there, whether it be notecards, earrings, scarves, or plants! Out back they have a 1/4 acre flower and herb garden. This past weekend they were selling all plants at 40% off. I didn't get any b/c we are quickly running out of room for anything in our yard until we construct additional beds.

My favorite part of Flag Fork (as we all have always called it -- for a time we had the reservation phone number posted on the wall above the phone, yes we went there often!) is the food. The menu is printed on both sides of a pink laminated card that is probably 4" x 11". There are also daily specials, which I will get to ina minute. Items on the front side range from appetizers (beer cheese & crackers, bourbon blue cheese & crackers) to pasta salads to sandwiches. The sandwich selections are always the same: pimiento cheese, beer cheese, olive nut, turkey, ham, tuna, chicken salad, or PB&J. Each sandwich comes with a choice of two sides (potato salad, fresh fruit, fresh veggies and dillicious dip, jello and fruit, pumpkin bread, pasta salad). All of these sandwiches are simple, yet excellent and tasty. As for specials -- one can choose from the soup of the day (on Friday these were: Burgoo, Fresh Tomato and Basil, or Carrot Leek with Ginger Cream); quiche of the day (Friday -- only one choice -- spinach and feta); pasta salad of the day (on Friday these were: fettucine with crab meat and a bunch of other stuff; and one vegetarian with olives and other stuff -- I can't remember!). There are also desserts of the day, tea of the day, and coffee of the day. The tea of the day was Ginger Peach (donna got this and said it was really good).

The dessert list includes: Lemon Geranium Pound Cake (I really need to get this recipe), Bourbon Chocolate Cake, Bourbon Bread Pudding, Key Lime Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce, Carrot and Chocolate Chip Cake; and a few others I am forgetting.

Anyway -- I had a 1/2 pimiento cheese sandywich w/ a cup of the Carrot Leek w/ Ginger Cream Soup (SO EXCELLENT!), and fresh veggies. I had the Bourbon Chocolate Cake (served warm) and regular iced tea. The food was outstanding and worth the drive!

Friday night -- Kristin and I went to the Good Foods Co-op for dinner and shopping. They have a fabulous hot bar and cold/salad bar, plus desserts and a variety of drinks not found in most places. We both had these really yummy black bean cakes with some sort of aioli that we are going to try to reproduce. (I'll let you know if we are successful!). We then spent the rest of our time shopping. I indulged in fresh ground peanut butter and almond butter; bulk whole wheat cous cous; and an assortment of bulk spices (I so wish we had a place in M'boro that sold bulk spices....).

We then headed home to begin food preparations for the Saturday night cocktail party. Kristin worked on appetizers (olive nut, hummus, lemon dip), and I set about making the Guinness Chocolate Cake . What can I say -- I LOVE this cake!

After the cooking was done we stayed up chatting and watching a chick flick (13 Going on 30 ...cute and light).

Saturday A.M. -- First stop -- the Lexington Farmer's Market. I purchased a Lavendar Sachet and Ground Ginger from Herb N' Renewal , and a bottle gourd to turn into a birdhouse (sorry -- I can't remember the name of the farm that grows these). Kristin loaded up on veggies and more veggies. Here is a picture of some of the items for sale:

Check back tomorrow for Girls' Weekend-- Part II: Berry Picking and The Cocktail Party!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


and it is damn good! We get more milk than we can drink with our weekly CSA delivery. Our friendly farmer Jordan sent me a recipe for ricotta that is super easy, so I used the milks (cow and goat) from last week and this week to make about 2 cups of ricotta.

Homemade Ricotta (from the kitchens at Short Mountain Farm)

1 gallon milk (16 cups) [I only had 14 cups]
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt [this is my addition to the recipe]
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Heat milk to 195 degrees (I did this on low to medium-low heat, so it took a while. I also kept a constant watch on the thermometere -- didn't want it to boil and get all weird!).
Slowly stir in vinegar, which will separate the curds from the whey. Don't stir too much or the curds break up and it becomes a real challenge to scoop them out of the pan.
If needed, you can heat the mixture to 205 degrees, but I didn't.
Ladle curds into a cheesecloth-lined colander (over a bowl), and let drain. I then tied up the cheesecloth w/ a rubber band and hung it from a long-handled spatula across my sink for about 15 mins.
Mix the drained curds with the melted butter, salt, and baking soda (I did this in a metal bowl with a fork -- works really well).
Let cool before refrigerating. Use with in 3 days.

Macaroni-and-Ricotta Cheese (from Tanya's kitchen)

I made this recipe up to use what we had on hand for a quick and tasty dinner.

1/2 pound macaroni (I used short tube-shaped pasta)
1 cup homemade ricotta (I used all the ricotta I made, which was a bit too much!)
2 cups broccoli (or spinach, or asaparagus would be good, too)
1 tbsp. EVOO
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup parmasean or romano cheese, freshly grated
1 cup chopped tomatoes (I didn't have any, but this would be so good with tomats!)
fresh basil, sliced, to taste
minced fresh garlic (one clove per serving)
red pepper flakes, optional

Cook pasta according to directions, adding broccoli last 2 mins. of cooking time. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.
Mix ricotta, EVOO, S & P, 1/2 cup par. cheese, and 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid.
Add hot pasta and broccoli. Stir until combined. Add more liquid if sauce is too thick.
Serve topped with fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and additional parm cheese, if desired.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Refrigerator Calzone

We had a bunch of veggies and fresh ricotta to be eaten or abandoned, so I chose to make them into a yummy calzone (as we had pizza dough sitting in the freezer). I have never made a real and true calzone before, and was a little nervous about getting it on the pizza stone all filled up with goodies. Well, it slid off the peel like a champ, and all my sweating and worries were for naught. So here are some pictures of it in the oven, and thne cut in half. Contents included: fresh cow milk ricotta (from our CSA), spinach, roasted garlic, barely-carmelized Vidalia onions (I couldn't wait long enough for them to be fully carmelized!), squash, green pepper, mozzarella, fresh basil, S & P.

Of course, you cannot have calzone without some sort of marinara. I used one 28 oz. can of peeled whole roma tomatoes, and then added a bunch of the veggies that wouldn't fit in the calzone. All in all a very veggie-friendly dinner, and hubby even had leftovers for lunch. YUM!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Guinness is Good For YOU!

[If loving a cake is bad, then I don’t want to be good!]

Last Friday night was a Bon Voyage party for one of my students (Jessica, pictured here). She was about to embark on 30-day trip to Scotland, where she will be participating in the excavations of a really cool archaeological site! I leaped at the chance to make her a cake for her party. I have been dying to make this Guinness Chocolate Cake (recipe by Nigella Lawson), so I thought what a perfect crowd to serve it to! (Yes, I do know that Guinness is Irish and she is going to Scotland, but who cares?!?!?!?!)

All I can say is this cake is absolutely fantastic! Jessica’s husband, Daniel, gave the cake two thumbs up, and proclaimed that “The cake and the hummus [another treat I brought a long] were wicked!” THANKS! The cake is wicked. I am in love with this chocolate cake like no other, perfect density and crumb, and the icing sets off the cake PERFECTLY! Okay, without further ado, here is the recipe (with my comments in parenths.)

Chocolate Guinness Cake -- Nigella Lawson’s
This cake is magnificent in its damp blackness. I can't say that you can absolutely taste the stout in it but there is certainly a resonant, ferrous tang which I happen to love. The best way of describing it is to say that it’s like gingerbread without the spices. There is enough sugar - a certain understatement here- to counter any potential bitterness of the Guinness, and although I've eaten versions of this made up like a chocolate layer cake, stuffed and slathered in a rich chocolate frosting, I think that can take away from its dark majesty. Besides, I wanted to make a cream cheese frosting to echo the pale head that sits on the top of a glass of stout. It's unconventional to add cream but it makes it lighter and frothier which I regard as aesthetically and gastronomically desirable. But it is perfectly acceptable to leave the cake un-iced; in fact, it tastes gorgeous plain.

For the cake:
1 cup Guinness
1 stick plus 2 two tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar (I used 1 cup regular sugar and 1 cup brown –that’s all I had!)
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp. baking soda

For the topping:

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream (whoops! Forgot to buy this so I subbed maybe ¼ cup full-fat goat’s milk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter and line a 9-inch springform pan. Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter - in spoons or slices - and heat until the butter is melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar.

Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and baking soda.

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

When the cake's cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the frosting. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sift over the confectioner's sugar and then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsifted confectioner's sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint. Makes about 12 slices. (I would say that this cake served a lot more than 12 folks. It is so dense the pieces don’t need to be huge!)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

D is for dough

Here is my very pretty dough all ready to be shaped into 2 yummy pizzas. I made pizza for the Friday night of Memorial Day Weekend. We had a house full of folks, and the food was yummy! Three of the pizzas were destined to be topped with goat milk ricotta (SO GOOD!), and one had tomato sauce and asparagus. All my favorites. I promise to post some non-pizza stuff soon....

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Smooth on over

I love smoothies for breakfast when the weather turns warm. They are the perfect breakfast for an on-the-go morning. It is basically a "one-pot" meal that you can put in a to-go cup and drink while driving to work, or at work while prepping for class. I love that there are endless variations on the smoothie, almost all being extremely yummy and customizable, and healthy to boot....let me introduce you to today's smoothie yumminess!

Liquid Sunshine (aka, Pineapple-Mango-Orange Smoothie)

1/2 can Dole crushed pineapple in juice
1 mango
6 oz. plain yogurt
1/2 cup (or more to taste and thickness-consistency) Mango-Orange Jucie (I used Santa Cruz's organic)
fun plastic tumbler
bendy straw

I need to confess that, knowing I would be making a smoothie in the morning, I prepped the mango and pineapple last night. Basically I cut and smooshed off all of the edible mango that I could from the seed [those darn seeds are such a pain, how many of us have found ourselves sucking the mango juice off the seed? Um, yeah, me neither ;)] I then put the mango and 1/2 can of pineapple in a tupperware container and stuck it in the freezer overnight. When I got up this morning I took it out of the freezer so it could thaw to slushy consistency (the microwave will also achieve this w/o any forethought).

In the blender I put the slushy fruit, the yogurt, and the juice. Blend on "liquify" (or equivalent) until desired thick/smoothness. I sometimes find that I have to turn the blender off and swirl things around with a spoon or spatula to help the process along. This comes with having a cheap, but mostly effective, blender.

Pour into fun plastic tumbler (in this case I made two smaller smoothies; one got covered with a sanwich baggie and put in the freezer for tomorrow).
Insert bendy straw.

**I often add wheat germ to the mix, but forgot this morning.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

We recieved our CSA delivery yesterday, and with it approx. 12 oz or so of fresh goat's milk ricotta cheese. Mmmm....I wanted to prepare it in a very minimal way, so we had it on a pizza (I seem to be on a weekly pizza kick lately). I had a dough in the freezer (recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), which my hubby defrosted while I was at the gym taking my first-ever water aerobics class with my friend Noel(What fun, and not just for the AARP crowd!).
The dough was not quite squishy enough, so we took the doggies on a stroll. We came home, rolled it out, and did the prebake thing (~ 7 mins. at 425 degrees on the stone).

I then brushed the hot crust with a bit of olive oil and seasonings (dried basil, oregano, etc.). Smooshed on (I don't really know how to describe this) small bunches of ricotta until the dough was pretty much covered. I then added freshly sliced basil and sliced grape tomatoes (and sliced/chopped green onion on DH's half -- ick). This was all topped with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a lightish dusting of shredded mozzarella. Baked for 14 minutes on 425 so the cheese would just start to brown.

The Details...

The verdict -- creamy, rich, decadent, heavenly. I could only ingest two pieces (and they were not huge NY slices by any stretch of the imagination), but DH managed to put down three. I mentally wanted more, but the belly said no!

I love that homemade pizza lends itself to endless variations!

Monday, May 15, 2006

I'm on an eggroll.....

YES! I made eggrolls, successfully for the first time. I have been having an overwhelming hankering for Thai food, intensified by the very icky food a friend and I had at a place that calls itself a Thai Diner (this is in Franklin, TN). Ummm, I may not be a Thai connoisseur, but I do know that Pad Thai is not supposed to be bologna pink and stinking like old fish!

So, Saturday after working on the house (although I am not sure exactly what I accomplished!), I made a run for the local Kroger to pick up much needed supplies. I used a recipe for mini-eggrolls with spicy mustard sauce from the January 2006 Vegetarian Times. In this recipe the filling is sauteed ahead of time, and the assembled eggrolls are put on a hot cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. The rolls themselves are also sprayed and put in the oven at 425 degrees for 10 mins, flip and bake another 10 mins (I think mine only needed about 5-7 mins on each side). They come out just as crunchy as if they had been fried, but w/o the guilt. YUM-O!

We also had Tofu Paht Thai, a recipe given to me by my colleague that she found on the Splendid Table website. Very quick and yummy. It will be the house Paht Thai recipe from now on!

Baked Mini Egg Rolls & Hot Mustard Sauce (Vegetarian Times)

1 T. soy sauce
1 t. rice vinegar
1 t. cornstarch, plus some extra for dusting baking sheets
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame, thawed
2 T. finely chopped roasted peanuts
1/2 t. dark sesame oil
26 won ton skins
1 large egg, slightly beaten

Whisk soy sauce, vinegar, and 1 t. cornstarch in bowl to blend; set aside.
Warm large nonstick skillet over med-high heat; coat with cooking spray.
Add cabbage and carrots; cook, stirring, until cabbage is softened, 3-4 minutes.
Add ingredients down to dark sesame oil, stirring just until heated, about 1 minute.
Add cornstarch mixture; cook, stirring until thickened, about 1-2 minutes.
Transfer to plate; cover, adn chill about 20 minutes to cool.
Place several won ton skins on work surface, with a corner of each facing you (in diamond shape).
Brush top corner of each with egg.
Put 1 T. filling in center of each; fold bottom corner, then both side corners over filling, and roll up.
Place egg rolls on baking sheet dusted with cornstarch and cover loosely with plastic as you go.
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Put second baking sheet in oven for 2 minutes.
Remove, coat with cooking spray then quickly put egg rolls on it.
Spray rolls and return to hot oven.Bake 10 minutes, flip rolls and bake 10 minutes more, or until golden brown.
Serve with mustard sauce (below).

Hot Mustard Sauce

2 T. powdered yellow mustard
1 T. water
1 t. honey or rice syrup
1 t. rice vinegar

Whisk all ingredients in bowl to blend. Transfer to dipping bowls.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Couscous is yumyum

My sister and nephew came for a visit last week, and we had planned to do lots of cooking (note -- planned!). The first evening we made a medley of "grilled" dishes ("grilled" as in on the George Foreman -- my favorite-at-this-moment kitchen gadget! Can't believe I am such a late-comer to the GF grill bandwagon!), including:
Grilled Vegetable Salad (Vegetarian Times May 2006)

I don't have the recipe with me right now to add here, but I can, so if you would like it, please leave me a comment. Basically it is spinach tossed with grilled asparagus, portabello caps (sliced), and red onion that have been marinated in a balsamic/EVOO vinagrette. The leftover marinade is warmed in a pan on the stove, then tossed into the salad right before servine. Good flavors, healthy, and quite easy, thanks to George Foreman!

Next up: Saffron Couscous (Cooking Light May 2006)

The actual recipe is for zucchini ribbons on the couscous, but we had no zucchini, so just the couscous was made. I really liked this dish, as it was easy, tasty, and really good leftover. First you sautee some small-dice carrots and onions in a small amount of EVOO, then add veggie broth and saffron threads, bring to a boil, add couscous and peas (mine were thawed frozen), turn off and remove from heat. Next time I am thinking of adding lima beans and corn as well. My sister wasn't a huge fan of the couscous ("It's a texture thing!"), but her little boy (my nephew!) sure was!

Next up: GF Grilled Tofu (My own creation!)

I drained and pressed all of the excess water out of a tub of Extra-Frim Tofu, then sliced into 1/2-inch slices. I then sprayed (liberally) the grill and the tofu w/ Pam, and put them on the grill. In about 7 mins. total, my tofu was grilled to perfection. I then cut the slices into cubes, sprinkled a very small amount of kosher salt over them, and dipped them in a Sesame-Ginger Vinagrette dressing my husband had bougth. So good!

All in all, I was super pleased with my vegetarian portion of the dinner. My sister, newphew and hubby had chicken as well, but honestly the food was perfect for a May evening on the deck.

Dessert? Double Chocolate Truffle Cookies (however, these were not made on the GF!)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

SHF #18 -- Bourbon-licious!

I am very excited to participate for the first time in a Sugar High Friday!

I knew nothing about bourbon before I moved to Kentucky. Did you know that all bourbons are whiskeys, but not all whiskeys are bourbons?

Here are some quick facts about the smooth substance, from the folks a the Labrot and Graham Distillery, makers of Woodford Reserve, our house bourbon.:

No whiskey can call itself Bourbon unless it meets the following criteria:

Must be made in the United States

Distilled at less than 160 proof from fermented grain mash

The grain recipe must be at least 51% corn

The product must be stored in new, charred, white oak barrels at no more than 125 proof

Nothing can be added to the final product except pure water

I learned a lot about bourbon in my four years in Kentucky, like a bottle makes a great hostess or thank you gift; non-whiskey drinkers will sip on a glass of good bourbon; even dogs like bourbon (when it is occassionally spilled on the floor!); and don't call Jack Daniel's bourbon in front of a Kentuckian (or me now, for that matter!); mostly I learned about cooking with it. I have made everything from Bourbon Baked Beans to Bourbon Brown Sugar Sauce for ice cream, and probably my favorite...the Bourbon Ball. My husband and I were married at an historic log cabin church in Paris, Bourbon County (yep, our marriage certificate even says Bourbon County!), Kentucky. For the reception we featured Kentucky foods and drinks, like Flag Fork Farm Beer Cheese (YUM!), Kentucky Ale, and of course Bourbon Balls (made with Woodford Reserve)! We made over 300 of those little buggers, by hand, to give out to the family and friends in attendance. I haven't quite gotten over that experience, and have stuck to extremely small batches since then!

A few months ago I made some Bourbon Fudge Brownies from Cooking Light (March 2003) when we had a weekend guest. They were really good, especially when warmed and topped with Purity After Dinner Mint ice cream! This weekend, for our Easter party, I wanted to make them again. As I was preparing them, I realized I used the 2/3 cup instead of the 1/2 cup when measuring the flour, which made the batter more like a dough. To compensate, I added approx. 1/4 to 1/3 cup additional bourbon, extra cocoa powder, and 3/4 cup chocolate chips. The result -- HEAVENLY! Here is the modified recipe, with a modified title that more accurately reflects their bourbony-goodness!

Bourbon Truffle Brownies

1/2 cup bourbon

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips + 3/4 cup semisweet choc. chips

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups sugar

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Bring bourbon to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat. Add 1/4 cup chocolate chips, stirring until smooth. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add vanilla and eggs; beat well. Add flour mixture and bourbon mixture to sugar mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Add 3/ 4 cup chocolate chips.

Spread batter into a 9-inch square baking pan (I used my Emile Henry heart-shaped pan, which is the perfect size!) coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A Sure Sign of Spring

I love when asparagus can be found for less than $2 a pound! That means warmer weather is here (along with tornados), and it is time to start eating veggies we haven't seen in 8 long months (or so)! The April issue of Vegetarian Times had a recipe for Asparagus-Pesto Lasagna. The recipe sounded good, but their picture was a bit on the pale and pasty side to me. However, a virtual friend of mine made it and raved about it on the Cooking Light Bulletin Board (a favorite haunt). I trust, better, I run to his recommendations, so I knew I had to make this dish on Monday night when my sister, BIL, and nephew were coming over [none of which are veg-heads, but I still love them! :) ]. The recipe is posted over on the link, but I will repost here, in case the link goes down (thanks to Bob for typing and posting it on the CLBB).

Asparagus-Pesto Lasagna
(Vegetarian Times April 2006)
(Serves 10)

1/3 cup all purpose flour
3-1/2 cups low fat milk, divided
6 Tbsps pesto, or more to taste*
2 Tbsps. Grated Parmesan, plus additional for garnish, optional
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1-1/4 lb. asparagus spears, tips cut off and reserved, spears trimmed and chopped into 1/4” pieces
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp)
16 no-cook lasagna noodles (9 oz)(I used 9 noodles, and couldn't find no-cook!)
2 cups shredded Fontina or part-skim mozzarella (8 oz), divided

1. Preheat oven to 350. Whisk flour and ½ cup milk in saucepan until smooth. Gradually whisk in remaining milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly, and boil 1 minute until thickened. Remove from heat: stir in pesto, parmesan, salt and pepper. Reserve one cup of the white sauce.

2. Warm oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add chopped asparagus (not tips) and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, cook, stirring, 1 minute and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

3. Coat 13 x 9 baking dish, layer three noodles on bottom, overlapping slightly. Layer with half of cooked asparagus, ¾ cup cheese and half of sauce (I used less sauce, since my noodles were already cooked). Add another layer of pasta, remaining sauce, remaining cooked asparagus, and ¾ cup cheese. Top with a layer of noodles, then with reserved cup of white sauce. Arrange reserved asparagus tipes over top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. (I had sauce, ca. 3/4 cup, leftover b/c I had pre-cooked my noodles.)

4. Bake, uncovered. 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden. Let stand 10 minutes; serve with additional grated parmesan, if desired.

Per Serving: 413 cal; 21g protein; 17g total fat (8g saturated); 44g carb; 44mg chol; 686mg sod; 2.5g fiber; 8 g sugars* Look for the freshest, most flavorful pesto in the refrigerator section of the supermaket, packed in vacuum sealed bags or plastic tubs.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Evolution of Pizza...

at my house anyway! Here is the very delectable end-result...a tomato and asparagus pizza on my all-time favorite crust (recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone). This pizza looks as yummy as it tasted. Of course, it was a labor of love to get it to the final stage.

Let me backup and clarify the story....

First, I bought a new pizza stone in January (via Amazon.com) because our first one had an unfortunate collision with one of our dogs (thankfully, on the stone was hurt, and that story is for some other time!). I used it maybe twice before I noticed it had what appeared to be oil stains...not really sure how that would have happened, but I do know it was putting off an awful smell, kinda' sweet and icky all at the same time!

So, it was banished to the pantry until I decided I couldn't take it any longer, I HAD TO HAVE homemade pizza. Hubby agreed, so I set about making the dough, and while it was rising, I set off to sand the yucky stuff off of the pizza stone (per the recommendations given here), under my hubby's watchful eye (or camera, maybe!). Hence the picture in the garage with the palm sander.

Okay, sanding done, stone washed and dried, dough is ready to go. I rolled out half the dough for the pizza (the other half goes into a well-oiled ziploc, remove all the air, and place in freezer for future use).

It had been a while since I made pizza, so I put the dough on the peel, and proceeded to put tomato sauce on it. Hmm...something seemed not quite right here. OH WAIT! I need to prebake the pizza. DUH! So I scraped off as much of the sauce as possible, and into the oven it went.

I baked it for 7 minutes, then went in for retrieval. Well the darn dough, instead of slipping onto the peel, proceeded to hightail to the back of the stone, and then JUMPED! ARGH! Now I had half cooked pizza dough cleaning for its life, its tail end getting sizzled by the very hot oven element below. I start yelling some very choice words, grab the tongs, and start pulling pieces of it out. The half-cooked dough was flinging around, piling up, and what was resting on the hot element was putting out an awful stench.

Hubby comes running in from the garage to see what the commotion was about to find our dinner looking like this:

Alas, I dry my tears of frustration, blanch the asapragus (they were forgotten about in the hoopla surrounding the stone and the burning shattered dough), and remember that I have the bag of dough sitting in the freezer. Luckily, it was just cold, not frozen.

So, I repeated the procedure, and here it is ready to go in the oven. I love that you can see the little ends of the asapragus sticking out!