Saturday, October 27, 2018

Easy Chocolate Snacking Cake (No Eggs. No Dairy.)

Yes, this is the frosted top. Trust me, there is yummy cake below the surface.

It's the wacky cake! The light, easy-breezy treat that miraculously appears when baking soda, vinegar, canola oil and other common ingredients are brought together in your mixing bowl and baked up in the oven. Is this what you want to serve the queen on her birthday? Maybe not. But for an ordinary afternoon with coffee, it is delicious. I particularly like the addition of cinnamon to this chocolate flavored cake.

Mix it up!


1-1/2 cups AP flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbs. white vinegar
5 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 cup cold water


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil an 8 x 8 cake pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Using the back of a large spoon, create three wells in the flour mixture. Pour the vanilla in one well, the vinegar in another, and the vegetable oil in the last well. Pour the cold water over all the ingredients and stir to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, being sure to check the cake at the earliest time. Use the toothpick test: Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the cake is finished, it should come out clean or with just crumbs -- no batter.

Sift confectioners sugar over the cake and serve with ice cream. Or top it with frosting, such as the one below.


1 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbs. butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 - 3 tsps. milk (more as needed)
Cake / cookie sprinkles

Melt the butter. Combine the sugar and cocoa powder. Stir the melted butter and vanilla into the sugar mixture. Add milk, a teaspoon at a time, until mixture gets to spreading consistency. Spread over cooled cake. Definitely add some colorful cake sprinkles if you have them!


If you have a box of this, you are on your way to cake.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Chicken Tacos Tonight

Chicken tacos are so easy. I like to bake chicken thighs in the oven, covered in my favorite salsa. The chicken is carefully shredded right in the baking pan. Then everyone fills crispy taco shells to suit their taste: chicken, lettuce, shredded cheese, olives, green onions, and more.

To bake the chicken, I follow the tips set forth in this article from The Kitchen: How to Cook Boneless Thighs in the Oven (425 degrees / 20 minutes / internal temperature of 165).

Tacos tonight. TGIF!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Marshmallow Crispy Bars

Marshmallow Crispy Bars

A classic summertime treat is upgraded with browned butter, vanilla, brown sugar and fine grey sea salt.


4 ounces butter
10.5 ounces marshmallows
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
6 ounces crispy cereal (I use Nature's Path whole grain brown rice cereal)
1/4 tsp. fine grey sea salt


Butter an 8 x 8 inch pan.

In a large sauce pan, brown the butter over medium-low heat: After the butter melts, it will turn frothy, then golden in color, and then finally brown in color with a nutty smell.

Turn off the heat. Add the marshmallows, brown sugar and vanilla to the pan and stir until the ingredients are well combined and the marshmallows have melted.

Add the crispy cereal and sea salt and stir to combine.

Lightly press the mixture into the prepared pan; do not press so hard as to turn the bars into bricks! The goal is tall, chewy bars.

Let the bars cool. And then enjoy!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Fresh Cranberry Galette

Galette: What is it? It's no stress, one crust pie. Here is a free-wheeling version made using a bag of frozen, fresh cranberries that I found in our freezer, and based upon a recipe from


1 pie crust, rolled out thin (about 1/8")
1/2 cup toasted pecans
(Note: Toast nuts at 350 degrees for 6-7 minutes; cut into smaller pieces when cool)
1 bag of cranberries
(Note: If frozen, then use frozen, but rinse in cold water before using. Yes, some ice may form; break it up, and any clumps)
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 Tbs. AP flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1 tbs orange juice
1 Tbs. unsalted butter


Heat the oven to 350. Roll out a pie crust and place it into a 9-inch pie pan, allowing the dough to hang over the sides of the pan. In a medium sized bowl, combine the nuts, cranberries, sugar, flour, spices and orange juice. Pour the filling into the pie plate. Dot the filling with butter, and then fold the crust's hanging edges into the pan, over the fruit. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the crust with water and then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the galette for 1 hour, or until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Chicken Marinade

In anticipation of making chicken parmesana, I marinaded chicken breasts using the recipe below. The chicken was excellent, very moist and flavorful. Give this a try!

For 1 pound of chicken:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, rough chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
A pinch of sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Add chicken and marinate in refrigerator for 6 hours.

Adapted from The New York Times.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Chocolate Cake : Pastel de Chocolate

Chocolate cake with Mexican flair? Si, por favor! This recipe, adapted from 1,000 Mexican Recipes by Marge Poore, makes one 9-inch round cake that is moist and flavorful. Additionally, it is mixed in a food processor, which is quick and easy.


3/4 cup AP flour
1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder (aluminum-free stuff brings better flavor to baked goods, IMO)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
One 4-ounce bar of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chocolate, chopped into pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
3 large eggs (I like organic eggs)
1/4 cup best unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla (I make my own; you?)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan, and then line the bottom with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon).

Have the boiling water at the ready. Place the chocolate and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and then pulse until the chocolate is very fine. While the processor is running, pour the hot water through the feed tube, keeping the processor on until the chocolate melts. Turn the processor off, add the three eggs, and then process for 20 seconds. After scraping the bowl, add the butter, sour cream and vanilla. Again, process for 20 seconds. Add the flour mixture and pulse until the ingredients are just mixed, 7 or 8 times.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and then bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean when the cake is done.

Allow the baked cake to cool on a rake for 5 minutes. Remove it from the pan and then continue cooling the cake on the rake.

Frost with your favorite chocolate icing after the cake is cool.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Creamy Ham and Potato Soup (Surprise: There's no cream and it's all about the onion).

I love soups made with root vegetables. In this soup, potatoes are the star. But to really develop nice flavor, I give credit to the onion. Onion is thinly sliced, pole-to-pole, into long strips, and then cooked in olive oil over very low heat for 30 minutes, slowly turning soft and golden. This method really brings forth excellent flavor, in my opinion. The remaining diced aromatics are then added to the onions and softened, with the heat brought up a bit and with more stirring on the chef's part. Later, to obtain a creamy soup without adding cream, an immersion blender is used to emulsify the soup a bit, but still leaving plenty of chunky veggies. Delicious!


1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced, pole-to-pole, into strips
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
2 Bay Leaf
2-3 sprigs of Thyme
6 cups chicken stock
1-1/2 cup diced, cooked ham
Salt and Pepper


In a soup pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbs olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and immediately lower the burner heat to its lowest setting. Sprinkle the onions with a pinch or two of salt. Stirring occasionally, slowly cook the onions until very soft and golden - but not burnt; about 30 minutes. Add the carrot and celery, increasing the heat slightly. Stir a bit more frequently to avoid burning the onions and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Add the potatoes and chicken stock to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The potatoes should have softened. Remove several cups of the soup from the pot and place into a mixing bowl: be careful to not scoop up any Bay Leaf or Thyme sprigs. Using an immersion blender, carefully blend the soup in the mixing bowl until it is creamy. Return the blended soup to the soup pot. Add the ham and continue to cook until ham is heated through. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Yellow Cake

Here is a recipe for an easy yellow cake. I made this as a birthday cake using a 9-inch round cake pan. Decorate it with your favorite frosting.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment.


1-1/2 cup AP four
1-3/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs (room temperature)


In a small bowl, combine the AP flour, baking powder, and pinch of salt. Measure the milk into a Pyrex cup and stir the vanilla into the milk.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, beating the mixture on medium high for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time. Using a spoon or whisk, starting with the flour, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the sugar, ending with the flour mixture.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. The cake is done with it springs back when touched on top and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with only a few crumbs.

Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and allow it to finish cooling on the rack.