« August 2010 | Main | October 2010 »

September 2010

Penne with Tomato Basil and Mozzarella (Pasta Caprese)

Pasta caprese

Penne with Tomato Basil and Mozzarella (Pasta Caprese)

This is a perfect summer pasta dish, based on the Italian classic Insalata Caprese. The success of this recipe depends on a few high-quality ingredients, including ripe, in-season tomatoes, fresh basil, and the best olive oil.  

Download Penne with Tomato Basil and Mozzarella recipe 

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)

1 small shallot, minced fine (about 2 tablespoons)

1 ½ pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (or cherry tomatoes cut in half)

12 ounces fresh handmade buffalo- or cow’s-milk mozzarella

1 pound penne pasta

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon sugar (optional, depending on the taste and ripeness of the tomatoes)

½ cup freshly grated



1. Whisk oil, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, garlic, shallot, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add tomatoes and diced mozzarella and gently toss to combine; set aside. Do not marinate for longer than 45 minutes.


2. While tomatoes and cheese are marinating, bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain well.


3. Add pasta and mozzarella/tomato mixture and gently toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice or sugar, if desired, and serve immediately. 

Easy Peach Blueberry Crumble

Peach crisp 1

Easy Peach Blueberry Crumble

Download Easy Peach Blueberry Crumble recipe


¾ cup (3 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ cup pecans or almonds, chopped fine

¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats (see note)

½ cup (3 1/2 ounces) packed light brown sugar

¼ cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon table salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted


Fruit Filling:

5-6 medium peaches

1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed

1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca

¼ cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon grated lemon zest from 1 lemon

1.    Combine flour, pecans, oats, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl. Stir in butter until mixture is thoroughly moistened and crumbly. Refrigerate mixture while preparing fruit.

2.   Peel, pit, and cut peaches into half-inch wedges. Toss peaches with blueberries, tapioca, sugar, spices, lemon juice, and zest in medium bowl.

3.    Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Scrape fruit mixture with rubber spatula into 8-inch square (2 quart) baking pan or 9-inch round deep dish pie plate. Distribute chilled topping evenly over fruit; bake for 40-45 minutes until fruit is bubbling and topping is deep golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or at room temperature.

Peach crisp fruit
Peach crisp topping
Peach crisp baked

Baked Apricot-Orange Chicken with Almonds

Apricot Glazed Chicken 1

Baked Apricot-Orange Chicken with Almonds

Boneless chicken breasts are pretty common for dinner but can get a bit boring. I’m always looking for new ways to prepare them and this apricot version is a nice change of pace. I like to serve the chicken with green beans and brown rice.

Download Baked Apricot Orange Chicken recipe

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each), trimmed and patted dry with paper towels

Salt and pepper

2/3 cup apricot preserves

½ cup dried chopped apricots

½ cup orange juice

4 tablespoons honey

3 teaspoons cider vinegar

3 teaspoons soy sauce

1 ½ teaspoon curry powder

½-1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon water

4 tablespoons sliced almonds

1.     Adjust an oven rack to the upper position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Lightly spray a baking dish with vegetable oil spray and place chicken breasts in dish.

2.    Whisk the apricot preserves, dried apricots, orange juice, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, curry powder, and Tabasco together in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer, whisking often, until the mixture has thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.

3.    Quickly stir together the cornstarch in the water to dissolve, then whisk into the honey mixture until combined and thickened slightly. Pour the apricot sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the almonds. Bake until the chicken registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 18 to 22 minutes.


Traditional Carrot Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe

Carrot Cake slice

Traditional Carrot Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting 

Carrot Cake is a classic favorite for many. The problem is that sometimes the cake is either very dry or too moist, with an almost gummy texture, but this recipe delivers the perfect texture. I think the walnut oil gives the cake a greater depth of flavor, but you can use all vegetable oil if you can’t find good walnut oil.

Download Traditional Carrot Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe

Carrot Cake

½ cup currants

½ cup hot tap water

3 ounces chopped walnuts, toasted

2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)

1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon mace

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

1 pound medium carrots (6 to 7 carrots), peeled

1 ½ cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)

½ cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 ¼ cups vegetable oil or safflower oil

¼ cup walnut oil


Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter softened, but still cool

2 tablespoon sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ¾ cups confectioners' sugar (7 ounces)


For the cake:

1.    Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment and spray parchment. Soak the currants in hot tap water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2.    Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in large bowl; set aside.

3.    In food processor, pulse the carrots very finely to about the size of couscous.  (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor work bowl and fit with metal blade. Process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With machine running, add oils through feed tube in steady stream. Process until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape mixture into medium bowl. 

4.  Stir in carrots, raisins, nuts and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.


For the frosting:

1.    Mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla at medium high speed in bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed.

2.     Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute.

3.    Run paring knife around edge of cake to loosen from pan. Invert cake onto wire rack, peel off the parchment, then invert the cake again onto serving platter. Using icing spatula, spread frosting evenly over surface of cake. Cut into squares and serve. (Cover leftovers and refrigerate for up to 3 days.)

Carrots pulsed
Carrot cake rack

Easy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 3


Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


What’s not to love about these cookies? If you’re a fan of Reese’s peanut butter cups, these may become your new favorite cookies. I made mine with White Whole Wheat flour, but feel free to use all purpose flour, or a combination of white and wheat.


Makes about 18 cookies 

Download Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe


1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup creamy peanut butter

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

½ cup rolled oats

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

¼ cup unsalted roasted peanuts, finely chopped (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.


2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.


3. On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, about 3 minutes. Scrape down bowl and add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour until just combined. Using large wooden spoon, stir in the oats and chocolate chips (and nuts if using).


4. Using an ice cream scoop (3 tablespoons), drop dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake each sheet for 11-13 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. Cool completely on the baking sheet and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies dough
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies baking


Fast and Easy Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Icing

Cinnamon Bun 4

Fast and Easy Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Icing


Cinnamon is the star ingredient, so try to use the best possible. I like Vietnamese Cinnamon - the strongest, richest, and sweetest cinnamon around. I get mine from Penzey’s (they have locations around the US or you can order online here - http://www.penzeys.com). This is a clever recipe from Cooks Illustrated that is made without yeast, so they’re quick to throw together on a Sunday morning for brunch. Melted butter is used in both the filling and the dough and to grease the pan; it’s easiest to melt the total amount (8 tablespoons) at once and measure it out as you need it.


1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, for pan




3/4 cup dark brown sugar (packed, 5 1/4 ounces)

1/4 cup granulated sugar (1 3/4 ounces)

2 teaspoons ground Vietnamese cinnamon (or best available)

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon table salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted




2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces), plus more for work surface

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted




2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons buttermilk

1 cup confectioners' sugar (4 ounces)


To make cinnamon-sugar filling:

 1.    Combine sugars, spices, and salt in small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon melted butter and stir with fork or fingers until mixture resembles wet sand; set filling mixture aside.

 2.    Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Pour 1 tablespoon melted butter in 9-inch nonstick cake pan; brush to coat pan. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

To make biscuit dough:

 1.    Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter in measuring cup or small bowl. Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon until liquid is absorbed (dough will look very shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy.

 2.    Pat dough with hands into 12 by 9-inch rectangle. Brush dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with filling, leaving 1/2-inch border of plain dough around edges. Press filling firmly into dough. Using bench scraper or metal spatula, carefully loosen dough from work surface.

 3.    Starting at long side, roll dough, pressing lightly, to form a tight log. Pinch seam to seal. Roll log seam-side down and cut evenly into eight pieces. With hand, slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal open edges and keep filling in place. Place one roll in center of prepared nonstick pan, then place remaining seven rolls around perimeter of pan.

 4.    Brush with 2 tablespoons remaining melted butter. Bake until edges are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes. Use offset metal spatula to loosen buns from pan; without separating, slide buns out of pan onto greased cooling rack. Cool about 5 minutes before icing. 

To make icing and finish buns:

 1.    While buns are cooling, line rimmed baking sheet with wax paper (for easy cleanup); set rack with buns over baking sheet.

 2.    Whisk cream cheese and buttermilk in large nonreactive bowl until thick and smooth (mixture will look like cottage cheese at first). Sift confectioners’ sugar over; whisk until smooth glaze forms, about 30 seconds. Spoon glaze evenly over buns; serve immediately. 

Cinnamon Bun dough
Cinnamon Bun dough filling
Cinnamon Bun rolling
Cinnamon Bun Pan
Cinnamon Bun baked
Cinnamon Bun Iced

Quick Applesauce Cinnamon Bread

Applesauce Oatmeal Bread cut  

Quick Applesauce Cinnamon Bread


This is the time of year to find great varieties of apples – visit your local orchard or farmer’s market and try something new. This is an easy quick bread from the folks at King Arthur and tastes best with homemade applesauce, but unsweetened jarred sauce will work too. I like to toast it the next day and spread with cream cheese and thinly sliced apples.

 Download Quick Applesauce Cinnamon Bread recipe

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup (2 ounces) King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour

1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 3/4 ounces) rolled oats (plus a few for sprinkling)

3/4 cup (5 ounces) applesauce

1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped walnuts (lightly toasted)

 1.     Preheat oven to 350°F and adjust rack to center position. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.

 2.     In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla.

 3.    In a separate bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder and soda, and spices, and add them to the wet ingredients in the bowl. Mix in the oat flakes, applesauce, and walnuts.

 4.    Pour the mixture into prepared 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and sprinkle top with a few rolled oats. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when you test the bread. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool on rack for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of pan and remove loaf from pan and return to rack to cool completely.

Applesauce Oatmeal Bread batter
Applesauce Oatmeal Bread baked
Applesauce Oatmeal Bread rack

Chocolate Lovers’ Triple-Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Triple Chocolate Cookies 3
Chocolate Lovers’ Triple-Chocolate Brownie Cookies

These chewy fudgy chocolate cookies from Cook's Country will satisfy any chocolate lover who craves a brownie in cookie form. I use Callebaut chocolate, but Ghirardelli is also a fine choice. Three types of chocolate combine to deliver a deep dark rich chocolate cookie. The key to the fudgy texture of these cookies is letting them cool directly on the baking sheets. 

Download Triple Chocolate Brownie Cookies recipe

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 ½ cups bittersweet chocolate chips (don’t use bar chocolate, use chips only)

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Place a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add  unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chips, and butter. Stir mixture frequently, until completely smooth and glossy. Remove bowl from pan and let cool slightly. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl and set aside.

2. Mix together coffee powder and vanilla extract in small bowl until dissolved. Beat eggs and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at medium-high speed until very thick and pale, 3- 4 minutes. Add coffee mixture and beat until just incorporated. Reduce speed to low, add chocolate mixture, and mix until combined, about 20-30 seconds.

3.  Using a large rubber spatula, fold in flour mixture and semisweet chips into batter. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes until the batter firms up (it will more closely resemble thick brownie batter than cookie dough).

4. Meanwhile, adjust two oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using 1 heaping tablespoon batter per cookie, place cookies 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are shiny and cracked on top, 11 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking time. Transfer baking sheets to racks and cool cookies completely, on baking sheets, before serving. 

Triple Chocolate Cookies balls
Triple Chocolate Cookies Baked


Easy Baked Manicotti for Two

Manicotti plate
 Easy Baked Manicotti For Two


This is a great recipe for two, but can easily be increased to feed a crowd. Barilla no boil lasagna noodles work best in this recipe and you can easily make them ahead and refrigerate until ready to bake.

 Download Easy Baked Manicotti For Two recipe


Tomato Sauce:


1 (14.5) ounce cans diced tomatoes (Muir Glen or favorite organic brand)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)

1/8-1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon salt

Pinch of sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil


Cheese Filling and Pasta:


1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)

3 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about ¾ cup)

1 egg, lightly beaten

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon table salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

6 no-boil flat lasagna noodles

 For the Sauce: 

1.    Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Pulse 1 can tomatoes with their juice in food processor until coarsely chopped, 3 or 4 pulses. Transfer to bowl. Repeat with remaining can tomatoes.

2.    Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes (if using) in small saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt and sugar and simmer about 5 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasoning with salt.

For the cheese filling:

1.    Combine ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, nutmeg, salt, pepper, parsley and basil in medium bowl; set aside.

To assemble:

1.    Fill a large bowl with boiling water, and then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels.

2.    Spread bottom of 9x5 loaf baking dish evenly with 1/2 cup sauce. Using soupspoon or small offset spatula, spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered.

3.    Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 25 minutes, then remove foil. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Continue to bake until cheese is spotty brown, about 10 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve.

Manicotti spread filling
Manicotti in pan

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Coconut Icing

Oatmeal Cake Broiled Coconut Frosting 2

This old-fashioned snack cake recipe features chewy coconut, crunchy toasted pecans, and caramel-like flavor.  Do not use old-fashioned or instant oats for this recipe. It’s best to use a metal baking dish; glass pans are not recommended when broiling. 

Download Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Coconut Icing recipe



1 cup (3 ounces) quick-cooking oats

¾ cup water, room temperature

¾ cup (3 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

½ cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

½ cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

½ teaspoon vanilla extract


Broiled Icing

¼ cup packed (1 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 tablespoons milk

¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut

½ cup (2 1/2 ounces) pecans, chopped



1.    Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut two 16-inch lengths aluminum foil and fold both lengthwise to 5-inch widths. Spray 8- by 8-inch metal baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Following illustration 1 below, fit foil pieces into baking dish, one overlapping the other, pushing them into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Spray foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

2.    Combine oats and water in medium bowl and let sit until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. In another medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.

3.    In bowl of standing mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until combined and mixture has consistency of damp sand, 2 to 4 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula halfway through mixing. Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Add flour mixture in 2 additions and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add soaked oats and mix until combined, about 15 seconds.

4.    Give batter final stir with rubber spatula to make sure thoroughly combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan and lightly tap against counter 3 or 4 times to dislodge any large air bubbles; smooth surface with spatula. Bake cake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let cake cool slightly in pan, at least 10 minutes.


1.    While cake cools, adjust oven rack about 9 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. In medium bowl, whisk brown sugar, melted butter, and milk together; stir in coconut and pecans. Spread mixture evenly over warm cake. Broil until topping is bubbling and golden, 3 to 6 minutes.

2.    Let cake cool in pan 1 hour.  Transfer cake to serving platter, then discard foil. Cut cake into squares and serve.

Oatmeal Cake Broiled Coconut Icing
  Oatmeal Cake Broiled Coconut Frosting Baked
Oatmeal Cake Broiled Coconut Frosting cooling