Persimmon Cookies

These are perfect fall/winter cookies. They have a lovely spice flavor and beautiful with flecks of orange persimmon pulp running through them.

This is the beautiful persimmon cookie dough. It's more like cake batter!

This is the beautiful persimmon cookie dough. It’s more like cake batter!

Ready to bake. Look at that chunk of persimmon pulp!

Ready to bake. Look at that chunk of persimmon pulp!

 

plate of persimmon cookies

These were disappearing off the cooling rack as quickly as I could get them out of the oven. A big hit with my husband and kids.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

Pulp from 2 ripe persimmons (about a cup)

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare cookie sheets by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In medium bowl mix dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer blend shortening and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  4. Gradually mix in dry ingredients until combined.
  5. Add raisins and nuts, mix until combined.
  6. Drop cookie dough onto greased sheets using a small to medium scoop.
  7. Bake for 25-20 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Tips:

  • Use very ripe Hachiya persimmons (the heart-shaped kind, not the flat type). Carefully peel off the skin and remove the calyx (the stem). Don’t worry about the very tiny seeds in the pulp, they are edible.
  • Greasing the cookie sheets is recommended to ensure the cookies come off easily.
  • You can make bigger cookies using a big scoop, but increase cooking time to 25 minutes. It may also be necessary to reduce oven temperature to 325°.

 

Spicy Quinoa Salad with Garbanzos, Bell Peppers and Parsley

spicy quinoa salad from www.lesserhomesandgardens.com

This is the third quinoa recipe I’ve made. I like quinoa for it’s high protein and quick cooking. I’ve found that the taste is much improved if I thoroughly rinse it prior to cooking. My husband, however, has not been impressed. In an effort to find a quinoa recipe that would tickle his taste buds I tried this spicy version.

This is by far the best quinoa recipe I’ve tried so far. I served it warm the evening I cooked it, but ate it cold as leftovers the next day. I think it’s actually better chilled!

Ingredients

2 cups quinoa, thoroghly rinsed

3 TBSP lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne

1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained and rinsed

1 jar fire roasted red bell pepper, chopped

1 bunch fresh parsley (about 3/4 cup chopped leaves)

Salt to taste (approx 1/2 tsp)

Directions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Add all other ingredients and mix well.

Tips and Tricks

  • This dish is high in protein and is great as a vegetarian meal.
  • This makes a large batch, enough for 3-4 people as a main dish or 6 as a side dish.
  • The cayenne pepper gives this quinoa a nice kick of heat, but is not overpowering for the volume here. For a milder dish, reduce to 1/4 tsp.

 

Broiled Tomatoes With Basil & Mozzarella (No-Bread Bruschetta)

broiled tomatoes with basil & mozzarella

I love the flavor combination of tomato, basil and mozzarella. It’s a classic for a reason! When I needed a quick no-carb lunch last week I turned this classic combo into a five-minute treat. It really satisfied that craving for bruschetta without any bread!

Ingredients:

1 large ripe tomato, stem and core removed, sliced  1/4 ” thick

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1-2 TBSP fresh basil herb paste (found in the produce section of the market)

Directions:

  1. Wash, stem, core and slice tomato. Place on non-reactive cookie sheet
    or dish.
  2. In a small bowl combine cheese with basil paste.
  3. Spread evenly over tomatoes.
  4. Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned.
  5. Serve immediately.

This makes a great quick lunch or a nice side dish on a hot summer night since the broiler won’t heat up the house. For extra pizzaz try adding a little salt and pepper to the tomatoes or drizzle with olive oil before broiling.

Avocado Pie

 Avocado Pie

This is a sweet (not savory) avocado recipe. The flavor is reminiscent of key lime pie – a bright, fresh citrus flavor. The pie is no-bake and if you use a prepared graham cracker crust prep time is about five minutes.

First you mash the avocado.

 

Whisk in the lemon juice and the sweetened condensed milk.

Pour into a pie shell and refrigerate for at least an hour for it to set up.

Ingredients

PIE
1 cup mashed avocado
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

CRUST
2 cups of crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

or prepared graham cracker crust

Directions

  1. Mix graham crackers and sugar in a small bowl. Pour in melted butter and stir until combined.
  2. Press into a pie plate and refrigerate 30 minutes or bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
  3. Mash avocado until smooth.
  4. Whisk in lemon juice and condensed milk
  5. Pour into prepared graham cracker crust.
  6. Refrigerate until set, 1-2 hours.
  7. Serve with whipped cream on top or cool whip.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

image

When you want to make cookies there are so many choices. Even if you narrow it to chocolate chip, there are regular chocolate chip, oatmeal chocolate chip, and on and on.

I say when in doubt go for the extra chocolate!

Here is a recipe for double chocolate chip cookies. They are just as easy to make as the classic Toll House recipe, and have a great chewy texture. With chocolate cookies it can be difficult to know exactly when they are done because of the dark color. Don’t overbake or they will be burnt on the bottoms. Speaking from experience here!

For even more variety try it with white chocolate chips or peanut butter chips in place of the semi-sweet chips.

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups chocolate chips (or any other type of chips)

 

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375°
  2. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat butter, sugars and vanilla.
  4. Add eggs; beat well.
  5. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Bake 8 to 10 min. Do not overbake!

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Meat Lasagna

Here is a very easy recipe for lasagna.  There’s nothing fancy here, just good home-made taste!

Now that I am doing menu planning I like to cook a double batch of whatever I’m making and put it in the freezer for future use.

Things like enchiladas, chile verde and lasagna make great freezer meals. I wrap the meal well and label with the date. Then take it out a couple of days ahead to thaw. Great for those busy days when you just don’t feel like cooking at night – and everyone still gets a home cooked meal instead of take out!

This recipe is for two full size lasagnas ( 9″ x 13″ casserole pans). You could make just one, but why make one lasagna when you can make two with the same amount of effort. All you need is an extra pan. I like to use disposable foil pans for the freezer so my regular casserole dishes are available for other things.

This is an extra-meaty lasagna because I had thawed a large package of ground beef.  You could easily cut the beef down to 2 lbs and still have enough for two lasagnas.

Ingredients:

16 dry lasagna noodles (one package)

3 lbs ground beef

1 TBSP coarse ground garlic powder

1 TBSP Italian Seasoning

2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1 extra large container of spaghetti sauce (about 3 regular size jars)

2 15 oz containers of ricotta cheese

2 large eggs

1/2 cup grated parmesan or Roman cheese

2 TBSP dried parsley

6 cups grated mozzarella cheese

 

Here’s how to put it all together:

1. Brown the ground beef over medium heat. Add Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper. Drain excess fat.

2. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.

Extra meaty sauce!

3. Meanwhile, boil water and cook noodles according to package instructions.

4. In a medium bowl mix ricotta, egg, parm or Romano and dried parsley

The ricotta cheese mix. Use fresh parsley if you have it on hand.

5. Drain noodles. Remove meat sauce from heat.

6. Begin layering by putting a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the pan. Just enough to keep the noodles from sticking.

7. Place 3-4 noodles in the bottom of the pan, overlapping a little is good. (Do each step for both pans if you are doing two lasagnas)

Smear a little sauce in the bottom of the pan (right) then layer noodles (left).

8. Spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese mix over the noodles.

Spreading the ricotta can be tricky–just go slowly.

9. Next a layer of meat sauce.

Layer with a generous amount of meat sauce.

10. Then a layer of mozzarella cheese.

Mozzarella on top. Then repeat layers.

11. Repeat steps 7-10 for second layer. Top with additional grated parm or Romano. Cook uncovered at 375° F for 30-40 minutes.

The extra lasagna should be wrapped tightly in foil before placing in the freezer. Be sure the label it with the date.

To use frozen lasagna remove from freezer one day prior to thaw and bake with foil loosely covered for 45 minutes, removing cover after 30 minutes. To bake from frozen cook at 375° for approximately an hour, or until center is heated to 160° when check with a food thermometer.

 

Minestrone Soup

image

Here’s a quick minestrone soup that I whipped up tonight. I was trying to use up a variety of fresh vegetables that were sitting in my refrigerator. This makes a huge pot – enough for a large family!

2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cups diced carrots
6 celery ribs, sliced
Salt & pepper
1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz.)
1 large can whole peeled tomatoes
6 cups water
1 TBSP chicken bouillon
1 TBSP Italian seasoning
2 small zucchini, diced
1/2 small green cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
2 cups small pasta shapes (I used ditalini)

1. In a 10 quart stockpot heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until tender and slightly browned.
2. Add carrots and celery cooking until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remember that bouillon will add salt as well.
3. Add tomatoes, water, Italian seasoning and bouillon. Simmer for 10 minutes then add zucchini and cabbage.
4. Add pasta 10 minutes before serving. Check seasoning and adjust if needed.
5. Serve with fresh grated parmesan or Romano cheese on top and crusty bread.