Thursday, February 23, 2017

Brownies Cockaigne

From The Joys of Cooking
Rombauer, Irma von Starkloff
Becker, Marion Rombauer

I used to make these often when the kids were growing up.  I just gave 1/3 of the brownies away to some neighbors/friends.
I have to say it is important to follow all directions (making sure the eggs are light in color, and foamy in texture, sifting the flour, folding in the chocolate, and flour with a "few swift strokes".  Also, use an electric mixer because it takes a while to get those eggs light in color and foamy.  The less you mix it once you add the flour, the lighter the brownie.
The picture isn't much, until you start to see the details.  A paper thin crunchy upper crust, a combination of cake-like and chewy, moist, these brownies have it all.  

Here's the recipe:

"Almost everyone wants to make this classic American confection.  Brownies may vary greatly in richness and contain anywhere from 1 1/2 cups of butter and 5 ounces of chocolate to 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 ounces of chocolate for every cup of flour.  If you want them chewy and moist, use a 9 x 13-inch pan; if cakey, a 9 x 9-inch pan.  We love the following:

Preheat oven to 350
Melt in a double boiler:
  1/2 cup butter
  4 oz. unsweetened chocolate

>>Cool this mixture.  If you don't, your brownies will be heavy and dry.
Beat until light in color and foamy in texture:
  4  eggs at 70 degrees
  1/4 teaspoon salt

Add gradually and continue beating until well creamed:
  2 cups sugar
  1 teaspoon vanilla

With a few swift strokes, combine the cooled chocolate mixture and the eggs and sugar.
>>Even if you normally use an electric mixer, do this manually.  Before the mixture becomes uniformly colored, fold in, again by hand:
  1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

And before the flour is uniformly colored, stir in gently:
  1 cup pecan meats

Bake in a greased 9 x 13-inch pan about 25 minutes.  Cut when cool, as interiors are still moist when fresh from the oven.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Ham and Swiss Casserole

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This is from the book "Taste Of Home~Volume 2~Casseroles"

This recipe was very tasty and I can make it while we are "on the road" very easily.

1 package (8 ounces) egg noodles, cooked and drained
2 cups cubed fully cooked ham (I used a ham steak)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of celery soup
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion

In a greased 13x9 baking dish, layer half of the egg noodles, ham and cheese.

In a large bowl, combine the soup, sour cream, green pepper and onion, spread half over the top.  Repeat layers.  Bake uncovered, at 350, for 40-45 minutes or until heated through.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Zuppa Alla Paesana (Lentil Soup)

I found myself some info on the name of this recipe, Zuppa means Soup.
Any time you see Italian dishes described as alla contadinaalla paesana, alla campagnola………do we really know what is meant by these terms?
These all translate as of the peasantry – peasant style –  and as those who live on the land would cook these dishes. They imply to be dishes that are healthy, nourishing, unsophisticated, hearty, country-style and as cooked at home.

This recipe came from a cookbook called The Chicken and the Egg Cookbook.  It has been my go to cookbook for the last 37 years.  I used it constantly the first 10 years.  I was so happy to see that you can still purchase it.  At Amazon, I see they have a "used" one (1981 copyright) for $0.01 plus $3.98 for shipping....and they have a new on for $76.18!!.  Funny.  I am on my second one, as I used up my first one to the point where it was falling apart.  But I replaced it a good 12 years ago now, with a used one.    
I changed up the recipe a bit, my changes are in blue font

1 pound of dry lentils, rinsed, soaked in water for 5 hours, drained, then cooked covered, in salted water at a simmer for 45 minutes, or until tender.  (I just simmered my lentils with the cover vented, in my homemade chicken broth (1 1/2 qts.) for 20 minutes, no soaking at all.  I only put in 3/4 lb. of lentils, as I thought 1 lb. was too many.).

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. butter
8 anchovy fillets, drained and mashed
2 celery ribs (with leaves) scraped & chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs. chopped broadleaf parsley
4 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 1/2 quarts of chicken broth
2 cups of water (I only added 1 cup)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup small pasta shells, cooked, al dente and drained (next time I'll cook up 3/4 cup instead)
1 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese

In a large pot, over medium heat, heat the olive & butter.  Stir in the anchovies, celery, garlic and parsley.  Cook for 4 minutes, or until celery is soft.  Add the tomatoes, broth, water, salt & pepper.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, uncovered for 25 minutes.  Add the lentils and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in the pasta.  Serve in heated bowls and pass the grated cheese.

(so I cooked my lentils in my homemade chicken broth.  Sauteed the anchovies, celery, garlic and parsley and put it into the broth when the lentils were cooked thru, then added tomatoes, water, salt & pepper.  Added the cooked pasta.)

For the Chicken Stock, I had collected 4 small Chicken carcasses, and I had about 4 neck bones in a separate bag, that had not been cooked)
The recipe I followed is from Cook's Illustrated


This stock is great to use in our recipe for Matzo Ball Soup (see related content) or in any of our recipes calling for chicken broth. You can freeze chicken carcasses one at a time until you have the 2 1/2 pounds needed for this recipe; three to four rotisserie chicken carcasses or one 6-pound roaster carcass will weigh about 2 1/2 pounds. This recipe was developed using bones from cooked chicken.


  • 3quarts water
  • 2 1/2pounds roasted chicken bones
  • 1onion, chopped
  • 2carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2celery ribs, chopped
  • 1teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 1bay leaf


  1. 1. Place all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 8 to 10 hours.
    2. Let stock cool slightly, then strain through fine-mesh strainer set over large bowl. Use immediately or let cool completely, then refrigerate until cold. (When cold, surface fat will solidify and can be easily removed with spoon.) Stock will keep, refrigerated, for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Chicken Vesuvio, Chicago Style

Jim cooked dinner tonight.  A meal fit for a King & Queen and so easy!
The website can be found here

Chicken Vesuvio
1 Whole chicken, cut into pieces
Russet Potatoes (4) or Red (6)
White Wine   1 1/2 C  Pinot Grigio
Chicken Stock  1 1/2 C
Garlic Cloves  10
Dried Oregano
Granulated Garlic
Frozen Peas

Season chicken on both sides with salt pepper, dried oregano, thyme, sage, red pepper flakes,  granulated garlic. 
In a large heavy skillet & coat with olive oil, season  potato wedges with oregano, granulated garlic, salt, pepper & red pepper flakes before and after browning.   Brown potato wedge's and chicken pieces till nicely browned then remove and place in a roasting pan.
Put garlic in pan and fry until golden.  Put in roasting pan.

Deglaze pan with the wine, and boil for a few minutes.  Add the chicken broth,  & potatoes.  Bake at 375 for an hour.   Do not cover.  Put in frozen peas.  Cook another 15 or until chicken is done.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

7 Layer Dip and Jim's Special BBQ Rib's

We are heading over to some friends' for Superbowl Sunday.  I made my 7 layer dip and Jim made his wonderful Ribs on the BBQ.  We are going to be eating their wonderful "Italian Beef" along with what we bring.  It's gonna be a great night!  You could cut this recipe in half and make it in an 8x8 dish....which is probably what I should have done for just the four of us.  Oh well...too late now!!

7 Layer Dip

7 Layer Dip
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 (16 oz) can refried beans
4 cups shredded Mexican-style cheese, divided
1 (8 oz) container soup cream
1 cup guacamole
1 cup salsa
1 (6 oz) can black olives, chopped
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped green onions

In a large skilled brown ground beef.  Set aside to drain and cool to room temperature.
Spread the beans on to the bottom of a 9x13 serving tray that is about 1 1/2 inches deep.  Sprinkle 2 cups of shredded cheese on top of beans.
Sprinkle beef on top of cheese.  Spread sour cream on top of beef.
Spread guacamole on top of sour cream.  Pour salsa over guacamole and spread evenly.
Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese.  Sprinkle black olives, tomatoes and green onions on top.
Serve immediately or refrigerate it overnight and serve cold.  It tastes better at room temperature.

Best Guacamole
2 avocados
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 Tbs. chopped onion
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. olive oil

Cut the avocados into halves.  Remove the seeds and scoop out the pulp into a small bowl.

Use a fork to mash the avocado.  Stir in lemon juice, onion, salt and olive oil.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour serving.

For Jim's great Ribs, it is from Weber's Cookbook.  I have found the recipe on the Web.  You will need to scroll down to see the recipe.  It is about half way down the website, and is called:  "Slow Good Baby Back Ribs With Soo-Wee Sauce' 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Homasassa State Park Florida

Homasassa State Park Florida
4150 S. Suncoast Blvd. (US 19)
Homosassa, FL 34446 (352) 628-5343

We visited the park yesterday.  It is the time of the year when the Manatee gather in the largest quantities to stay warm for the season.  Here are some excerpts from the link above, and then the pictures I took will follow.

During the winter months, the gate has been opened at the Long River Bridge, allowing the wild manatees to have access to the warmer waters of the spring. On colder days, you may see dozens of wild manatees in the spring and spring run. 

January starts out with a First Day Hike and ranger guided tour of the Wildlife Walk. On January 26, 2017, we will be celebrating Lu, the hippo’s 57th birthday with a big party. A guided Bird walk on Pepper Creek Trail will be held on Saturday, January 28. Be sure to look at the complete listing of our Park Events for more information on this and other upcoming events.

The park's resident manatees are enjoying a large section of the spring run, including the in-ground rehabilitation pool.

On colder days, you may see dozens of wild manatees in the spring and spring run.

I love this picture for the reflections in the water, and in the center, you can see the fish, giving it a 3-dimensional look!

The reflections of the trees, with the school of fish in the center...

They said last Labor Day, when the Hurricane hit, they found Lu with water up to her shoulders.  They only live to about 60, so she's turning 57, she's pretty old.  They have had her here at the Park since 1964...52 years.

I enhanced this picture, the reflections and colors were so awesome, I couldn't resist!!

This looks like an oil painting!  Wow!!!

Do you see the baby underneath the Pelican on top of the boxes?  

Here is a better picture of the baby Pelican
Original of Picture shown below (with enhancement).  Even without my "enhancing" it, the picture was pretty cool.

He stood there, and I stood there with my camera, waiting for him to show me his stuff...

he finally did show me his stuff...and I let him be.

Hawk, just chillin

This was a great shot, thru the chain link fence, with the reflection of the tree.

Hawks, maybe mates?  

one flew away, and we got to see his/her colors...

All the Eagles and Hawks have been hurt, and cannot survive in the wild

Jim told me one of the Rangers was telling them the story of the Whooping Crane below.  She is the female and was wounded and can't survive in the wild.  They have removed her mate and relocated him as far away as Canada, 3 different times.  3 times he has returned to her.  They have produced 3 separate batches of eggs, but none have hatched.  

He just makes me smile.  Love the feet.Look how teeny tiny his eye is.

This worked out.  Got one standing and one showing me his colors.  

This one worked out also!  Sunning themselves to dry their wings for flight.

Mr Fox.  Cool as a Cucummber.

I just adore these guys.  Sleeping.  

I am so thankful I got to spend a day in the life of all of you!  Thanks to all the great folks at Homasassa State Park.  

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sausage Bread - Homemade By Jim

Our kitchen is a Working Kitchen, and today, Jim made homemade Italian Sausage Bread.  It was his very first attempt.  We both have fond memories of our early years in our marriage, and we would have sausage bread, along with some other wonderful things from the neighborhood Italian Deli.

This recipe come from the Blog:  Proud Italian Cook.  Marie writes at her site:

"This recipe connects me to my childhood, I remember my mom use to make this for special holidays and occasions. When I was a kid I thought making this was such a big ordeal, but when I got married and started making it on my own I realized just how simple it was to put together."

I loved munching away on Sunday's with our friend, on all these wonderful foods.  Here's a picture of Jim's Bread.  I am so proud of him!!

Marie writes in her post:  "You’ll also need the best Italian sausage you can find, I like using hot, it adds so much flavor and honestly rolled up in all that bread dough you can hardly taste the heat."    We used some great Italian Sausage that we purchased from a site called  We chose some sausage from Esposito's Sausage, in NYC.  Hand made since 1933.  It is really really good.  So there you go.  The link to this recipe is here.