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    Strawberry Shortcake

    While we’re not quite at that time of year here in Maine, it is that time … STRAWBERRIES! I love strawberries just hulled and sliced with a bit of sugar and balsamic vinegar. Though I have made Dark Chocolate Strawberry Ice Cream and Strawberry Limeade, if I had to add strawberries to a recipe, my all time fav would be Strawberry Shortcake.

    When Fantastical Food Fight announced April’s spatula down to be Strawberry Shortcake I was delighted! I changed up my Grandmother’s Biscuits a tiny bit to make them sweet, not savory and simply sliced up some strawberries and let them macerate for a while.

    Traditionally you would serve these beauties with whipped cream. I have not been able to bear the sight of schlag on my food since … well, let’s just say, Vermont, a loss of power, whipped cream and a pumpkin pie. Gives me the willies just thinking about it!

    Hopefully by the time you read this any threat of snow will be gone … I’m pretty sure I heard that rotten weatherman say the dreaded S word this morning!

    Biscuits:

    • 2 C all-purpose flour
    • 1 T baking powder
    • 1/2 t salt
    • 3 T sugar
    • 1 stick butter, chilled
    • 2/3 to 3/4 C half and half

    Strawberries:

    • 1 quart strawberries
    • 1/3 C sugar
    • 1 T Balsamic

    If you want the ooky whipped cream:

    1 1/2 cups whipping cream for topping, or non-dairy whipped topping

    NOTE: Try to use the best balsamic possible. Not everything you buy in the supermarket is anything close to traditional balsamic. If you want to treat yourself to something wonderful, try the Traditional Balsamic from Fiore. Their products are really great … stay tuned for an ice cream with their Amarena Cherry Balsamic!

    Rinse the berries under cold water; drain well. Hull and slice the berries; place in a bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar and balsamic; cover and let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.

    Whip the cream (sweeten with 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar, if desired) until it holds a soft peak. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Preheat the oven to 425.

    In a food processor combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and pulse to mix. Cut butter into about 8 pieces and add to the mixture. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, but with few pea-size chunks of butter left in the mixture. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and make a well in the center. With a fork stir in the cream, just until dough is moist.

    NOTE: Be very careful not to overwork the dough. The dough doesn’t hold together well at this point, but let the dough stand for a minute, and magic happens.

    Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough over on itself (knead) 2 or 3 times, until it is holding together and is less sticky.

    Gently pat the dough into a 6 by 12-inch rectangle about 3/4-inch thick and cut into 8 (3-inch) biscuits with a floured round cutter. Transfer to a buttered foil-lined cookie sheet. Brush on a little milk or cream and sprinkle tops with some sugar, if desired. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until risen and golden brown.

    Split each biscuit horizontally. Top with about 1/3 cup of berry mixture. Replace the tops and top with a tablespoon or so of berries. Serve with whipped cream for topping.

    Serves 8.

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    Buttered Rosemary Dinner Rolls #SundaySupper

    Another Sunday … another Sunday Supper Movement. This week hosted by Christie at A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures. Stop by and check out her blog … scroll to the bottom and check out all of the Easy Easter Side Dishes

    It doesn’t get easier than these dinner rolls!

    When I have a large group over for a holiday – last Easter there were 12 of us – I try to simplify my menu as much as humanly possible. If you know me, that’s not easy!

    But, as I’ve gotten older, I’d like to think I’ve gotten wiser … at least about cooking! I used to have elaborate menus with fabulous, but complicated recipes. I’d be in the kitchen all day and a good portion of the time once my guests arrived. Dinner was fabulous, but I was exhausted and my kitchen looked like the Swedish Chef had cooked dinner.

    Now, I try to add in a few things (well, as many as possible) that can be made or prepped in advance.

    I sit and make a menu with a shopping list next to it, and next to that timing. If I can’t make the timing work something on the menu has to change.

    These dinner rolls are a savior! So easy and quick and because of the embellishments on top, it’s hard to know you did not bake them from scratch. I think this recipe came from Ree Drummond, but I don’t remember. Sorry!

    • 15 frozen, unbaked, un-risen dinner rolls
    • Melted butter
    • Coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
    • Coarse sea salt

    Place the dinner rolls in a large lightly buttered skillet, allowing some space between the rolls. Cover with a dish towel or cloth napkin and set aside in a warm place to rise for at least 2 to 3 hours.

    When risen, the rolls should be poufy and soft. Brush melted butter onto the rolls. Then sprinkle the rolls with chopped rosemary and sea salt.

    NOTE: I have also sprinkled thyme on the rolls. You can change up the herbs to whatever suits your fancy or menu.

    Bake (as instructions on the packet – usually 400 degrees F) for 15 to 20 minutes.

    NOTE: When you take them out of the oven they’re really puffy – sometimes over the top of the skillet. Once you let them sit for a few minutes they deflate a bit.

    Serve hot.

    Easy Easter Side Dishes

    Enticingly Easy Sides

    Scrumptious Salad Sides

    Sunday Supper MovementThe Sunday Supper Movement is committed to bringing our readers delicious recipes that encourage them to gather and eat together around the family table. Search for your favorite ingredients on our Sunday Supper website. Also check out the Sunday Supper Pinterest boards for plenty more ideas and inspiration.

    Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

    Caramel Brownies

    Brownies.

    I love brownies.

    I’m not much of a sweet tooth person, but I am a total sucker for a good brownie. Tell me I can make brownies  in a small batch and you’ve won me completely.

    Most of my brownie recipes call for an 8×8 pan, so to me these aren’t really small batch, but still totally worth it.

    I am totally addicted to Dessert for Two … not just desserts, but dinners for two as well. With just the Dear One and I at home these days, I always have a hard time cooking for just two people. Christina is the solution for everything … desserts, mains, drinks, cookies! It’s all there!

    We invited our dear friend Dave for dinner and while dessert isn’t usually on the menu, one of the dear daughters brought chocolates, lots of chocolates to the house. One of the selections was Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Caramel squares. The stars aligned. Tonight we needed dessert and this had to be the one.

    • 10 T unsalted butter, diced
    • 1 1/4 C granulated sugar
    • 3/4 C + 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
    • 1/2 t espresso powder
    • 1/4 t salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
    • 9 caramel-filled chocolates

    NOTE: I used Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel squares.

    Preheat the oven to 325, and make sure an oven rack is in the lower third of the oven.

    Line a 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper in two directions, overlapping. Leave enough excess to make handles so it’s easier to pull the brownies out once they’re baked.

    NOTE: My parchment paper is really wide, so I just used one piece and tucked it in. I always find it hard to keep the paper in place and those large metal clips do the trick.

    Next, in a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar and cocoa powder.

    Microwave for 30 seconds, stop and stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds. The mixture will be quite hot.

    NOTE: So we don’t have a microwave. I know. I know. I’ve been living int he woods for far too long. But when someone who will remain nameless put something with metal in the microwave, she did us a favor. We really only use it to start potatoes and melt butter. Why take up all the cabinet or counter space? I did this on the stove top and it was fine.

    Let the mixture rest on the counter for a few minutes to cool, stirring occasionally.

    When the mixture feels warm, not hot, stir in the vanilla, espresso powder and salt. Finally, stir in the eggs.

    Add the flour to the batter, and using a spatula, vigorously stir the mixture for 50 strokes. This activates the gluten and makes for a rich, chewy brownies.

    Spread the batter into the prepared pan evenly.

    Bake for 23-26 minutes, until the top is dry.

    Unwrap the squares while the brownies are still hot, and press into the top of the brownies evenly. Slice and serve.

    Cherry Walnut Soda Bread

    I come from an Italian and Greek family. We celebrate a lot of things with a lot of food.

    But, here comes St. Patrick’s Day. The Dear One is Irish (mostly) and can trace his roots back to Town someplace in the County something. Totally lost in translation for me.

    Sadly, this is what I know about being Irish …

    Irish Whisky
    Guinness (Steak & Guinness Pie)
    Uncle Nicky’s Irish Cream
    Irish Stew
    Beer
    St. Patrick’s Day Parade in NYC
    LeprechaunS

    I’m sure there are other things … but the knowledge is SERIOUSLY limited.

    I want to make something special for the Dear One. Celebrate his heritage a wee bit.

    I opened the Boston Globe and there was a recipe from Lisa Yockelson of Baking Style Diary for a cherry and walnuts soda bread. This is the ticket.

    No blarney, this was fantastic and easy … and gone. Great combination of favorite flavors. This could make even the least Irish amongst us to feel a bit green on St. Patrick’s Day!

    • 2½ cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon salt, preferably fine sea salt
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into teaspoon-size chunks
    • 1 egg plus 1 extra yolk
    • ½ cup buttermilk, or more if needed
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • ¾ cup dried Montmorency cherries
    • ⅔ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

    NOTE: Didn’t have buttermilk. Didn’t want to buy a gigantic container of buttermilk for a mere 1/2 cup. I do, however, keep a container of buttermilk powder in the fridge for just such emergencies. Worked like a charm! The powder goes in with the dry ingredients and you add water to the wet ingredients. Not sure how it works – magic, I’m sure – but it does!

    Set the oven at 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar to blend them.

    Scatter the butter over the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or two blunt knives, cut the fat into the flour until it is reduced to pea-size bits. Using your fingertips, lightly crumble the mixture for 1 minute to reduce the butter into small flakes.

    In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, buttermilk, and vanilla. Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture. Scatter the cherries and walnuts on top. With a rubber spatula, stir to form a dense but cohesive mixture to bring the dough together. If necessary, add more buttermilk, 1 teaspoon at a time. Knead the dough lightly and briefly in the bowl for half a minute.

    Turn the dough out onto the counter. Form it into a plump ball about 5½ to 6 inches in diameter. Place the ball on the baking sheet and use a sharp paring knife to slash a shallow “X” in the top.

    Bake the round for 45 to 50 minutes, or until set and golden on top. Using two spatulas, carefully transfer the bread from the parchment paper to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Use a serrated knife to cut into slices.

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    Pistachio Lemon Bars #SundaySupper

     

    This week’s Sunday Supper is brought by Anne from Simple and Savory. The theme is Easy Spring Recipes. There are so many spring vegetables that I would love to write about, but this is Maine. Spring doesn’t hit until June and we’re pretty lacking in local produce at the moment. I haven’t even begun to think about the garden yet! I am dreaming about it … but in the meantime …

    There’s a little happy dance being done here – a very tentative happy dance, mind you. This is, after all, Maine. The snow has started to melt (hard to believe 2 1/2 weeks ago there was 4 FEET of snow out there), seems as though the grip of winter has started to ease. I realize, that merely typing these words can bring upon us another snowmageddon, but we’re hopeful.

    We have a short growing season here, so vegetables that take a longer time to mature grow in our greenhouse, all else in the garden. I CAN NOT WAIT!

    I’m not quite sure why lemons and pistachios remind me of spring, but they do. Perhaps it’s my Greek roots. Perhaps it was my Papoo’s love of pistachios and sneaking handfuls out of his night stand drawer – though, those were the red dyed ones. Not easy to be sneaky when your fingers and lips and tongue are dyed bright red!. Perhaps it was his idea that lemons were good for everything – softening your hands, flavoring things, making you feel better, taking away unpleasant smells.

    So, Papoo, this one’s for you …

    THE CRUST:

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    • ¼ cup shelled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped

    THE FILLING:

    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup sugar
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
    • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    •  cup shelled unsalted pistachios
    •  Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper (if using foil, lightly butter it). Place flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add butter and process until well combined. Stir in chopped pistachios. Firmly press mixture into the bottom of the lined pan using the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup (if it sticks, place a piece of parchment paper on the dough before pressing).

    Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, whisk together the filling ingredients. When the crust is baked, pour the filling into the pan and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

    Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and cut into 2-inch squares.

    Breakfast

    Cakes, Pies, and Sweets

    Cookies and Bars

    Main Courses

    Pastas

    Seafood

    Veggies and Sides

    Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

    Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookeis

    Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

    I should start this with … these are THE BEST vegan chocolate chip cookies EVER. And quite nearly the best chocolate chip cookies. But …

    I am a carnivore. A carnivore through and through. A believer in a well balanced diet being far better for you than one completing omitting a food group.

    I now find myself surrounded by vegetarians and vegans, many of whom consider themselves foodies (?). Always hungry. Always looking for snacks. I need a cookie that would work for everyone and this is the one.

    I have found most homemade vegan cookies to be either tasteless, ridiculously complicated to make, way too many ingredients and ending up with a crumbling, sandy cookie like substance.

    Try these once and you’ll be hooked. It’s all in the mixing.

    • ½ C coconut oil
    • 1 C brown sugar
    • ¼ C almond milk
    • 1 T vanilla extract
    • 2 C flour
    • 1 t baking soda
    • 1 t baking powder
    • ½ t salt
    • 1 C vegan chocolate chips (I love ‘Enjoy Life Mini Chips” for this)

     

    Preheat oven to 350

    Cream coconut oil and brown sugar. Best to use stand mixer, second best a hand mixed.

    NOTE: The key to this cookie is the length of time you spend combining the ingredients. This should look like butter and sugar having creamed before you continue. It’s not always quick.

    Add almond milk and vanilla. Mixture may be a little liquidy.

    In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

    Combine the wet and dry ingredients using a hand mixer or stand mixer. Fold in chocolate chips.

    Scoop tablespoon sized balls and place on cookie sheet. Flatten the balls a bit with your hand.

    Bake 7 – 10 minutes

    NOTE: You want the dough to be the consistency of cookie dough and not crumbly or sandy as many vegan recipes tend to be.

    NOTE NOTE: I have varied the size of the cookie from half-dollar sized to 3 inches around. It holds up no matter the size. Just vary the cooking time.

    Rhubarb Coffee Cake

    Done

    As Robert Burns once wrote … ‘The best laid schemes ‘o mice an’ men’ …

    As anyone still out there may recall, this past January I took a stand against cyber stalking, pledging to not allow fright and fear of judgment curb my enthusiasm for writing.

    AND THEN …

    Came the snow! (Imagine that, snow in Maine …) And there was the Dear One, shoveling and shoveling and shoveling. It pained me to watch him do this all alone, so off I went to help. It pained me to watch him and then it pained me the next morning ~ SCIATICA. Crippling sciatica. Off we go to the doctor. Here’s some meds. They will help. Rest. Heat. Cold. Drugs. Repeat.

    After a few days, they did help. Helped enough so I was able to get myself out of bed and go downstairs.

    At our house in cold and snowy and blowy Maine, it was not easy to keep the outer door closed tight and we would offer awake to inches of snow inside the porch doorway. The solution? Put a log there.

    Physically fragile and compromised me goes to walk outside and instead of bending over to move the log, I pushed it aside with the outside of my left foot. No big deal.

    HA!

    I opened my eyes the next morning in the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. It was blinding. I couldn’t stand or walk or sit. I had one comfortable position and one emotion ~ hysteria.

    Dear One and I drive off to the doctor again, this time with me lying across the back seat in the fetal position sobbing. Different drugs. Rest. Heat. Cold. Drugs. Repeat. No better come in and we’ll start running tests.

    And really crappy drugs. I needed the mother of all muscle relaxers and I truly felt this medical office was ‘not getting it’. I managed to get flexeril, but I was in pain. I needed relief. It wasn’t happening. I was just stoned out of my head. Not sleeping, just passed out. Not eating (not the worst thing in the world). Sad. Deflated.

    A friend or two stepped in and suggested an osteopath. Being the skeptical gal I am, I just didn’t see that working. But at this point – three weeks of being in bed – I would have done nearly anything anyone suggested for relief.

    On a ridiculously snowy day, the Dear One and I drive 40 minutes to see the osteopath. I walk in the door and there’s sitar music playing and incense burning and I’m thinking – ‘yeah, right. This ain’t gonna work. $230 down the drain.’

    I lay on the table and the doctor placed his hands on my middle and lower back. Then my knee and hip. Light little fluttery touches. Nope, nope, nope, not working, not working … OH MY GOD, the muscles I pulled and twisted and tore RELAXED. No more drugs, slow pace, less bed rest, more sessions with him. And after 6 weeks, I felt like … well, at 80%.

    What I didn’t realize at the time was the emotional and mental blow this took on my psyche. I was just unhappy and unmotivated. I did just the bare minimum I needed to do to get by. Quite frankly, I didn’t even realize this was happening. I wasn’t writing or cooking anything new, certainly not taking photos. I felt myself slipping away. Nothing was fun. Nothing was interesting. Get up. Shower. Eat. Work. Sleep. Repeat.

    Finally, a dear friend who had been trying to reach out to me over and over again, cornered me. And we started talking … and talking … and talking … it didn’t hurt that she is an incredible neuropsychologist …

    Everything had caught up to me after the injury … moving, being away from my family, my friends, being away from my darling son and his new bride, trying to find a place to fit in with the Dear One and his children, making new friends, being seriously injured, feeling isolated and alone. I don’t have those bring you chicken soup at 2:00 am friends here yet. No one who would reach out and come and visit or … It all just came crashing down on my soul at once. I was just paralyzed. My dear friend has known me for many, many years and heard the sadness and desperation creeping into my head. Her answer … let’s talk some more and let’s think about prozac.

    I knew what I thought about prozac and I was VERY reluctant. The first pill I took was truly really hard to swallow. I was terrified. And I sat, patiently (well, as patient as I am capable of being) waiting for something to happen. As if there would be a TA-DA! moment. There wasn’t.

    But one morning I woke up, just as dear Dr. D.T. said, and it felt as though the haze was gone. I felt happier in my head, my heart and soul felt lighter. I tried a new recipe. I giggled. I’m sleeping.

    I’m getting better. I’m at the edge of the woods about to step into the sun light. Thank you, Dear one for being so patient and for dropping everything to stay home and take care of me. Thank you, D.T., I would have been able to get to this point without you. To my friends and family I’ve hidden from for the last number of months, I’m sorry, I love you all, and I’m back amongst the living.

    So, while in bed I saw this recipe for Rhubarb Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping from Melissa Clark in the New York Times Cooking section. It looked like it had to be made. I had rhubarb that had to be cooked.

    Tender, sweet, easy, yummy. The true testament is it being gone in a day!

    Cake

    • 1 C of sugar
    • ½ C of butter
    • 1 egg
    • 1 C buttermilk
    • 2 C flour
    • 1 t baking soda
    • ½ t nutmeg (optional)
    • 2 C rhubarb, diced

     

    Streusel Topping

    • ½ C sugar
    • ½ C walnuts, chopped
    • 1 t cinnamon
    • 1 T butter, melted

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a nine-by-thirteen pan. Assemble the cake, cream together the sugar and the butter, beat in the egg and buttermilk. Whisk or sift together the flour, soda, and optional nutmeg, and add it to the sugar, butter, egg, buttermilk mixture. Mix all together completely, and then fold in the rhubarb. Spread in the baking pan.

    Mix the topping by combining the sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and melted butter, and distributing it over the top of the cake batter.

    Bake for forty-five to fifty minutes. Serve warm.

    Makes one nine-by-thirteen cake.