Archive for the ‘Tummy Food’ Category


FlatbreadI recently went to Subway and for the first time got a sammich (Spicy Italian) with their flatbread. Loved the bread, and naturally wondered if I could do it at home. There are a number of recipes online, all quite similar, yet none of them had any fat in the bread. So I put together my own version and we grilled it up last night.


1 C warm water
2.5 tsp yeast
1/4 c sugar
1 egg
3 T milk
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp thyme leaves chopped
4 C flour
2-3 Tbsp olive oil

  • Put the dry ingredients (flour, yeast, sugar, salt, thyme) into mixing bowl.
  • Stir wet ingredients together till egg is broken up.
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix till a smooth ball forms
  • Put dough ball into oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise for 30 minutes
  • Light the coals in the chimney and prep the grill
  • Punch down and divide into 4-8 balls, depending on how large you want the flats to be
  • Rest balls 5 minutes then roll out to 1/4″ thickness or a wee bit less
  • Grill the flatbreads, turning after the bubbles form on the top (2-3 minutes each side)
  • I found it helpful to move the flatbreads to the cooler side of the grill for a few minutes to be certain they were baked through.

I thought this was excellent with grill roasted turkey and cheese. The kids pulled the turkey and cheese off and made a meal of just the bread!


Read Full Post »

We love Lisa Wheeler’s children’s books, and Ugly Pie has been one of our long time favorites.

Ol’ Bear has a hankerin’ for pie. Not just any pie…ugly pie. He wanders around visiting friends, each of whom has a taste-bud tempting pie, but he’s just itchin’, truly whishin’ for some ugly pie. Each of his neighbors does give him something ugly from their kitchen: “Ugly apples, raisins, too, sweet molasses, nuts–WAHOO!” which he takes home and commences to mix together to make his own ugly pie.

Our version of Ugly Pie

Well, the book has a recipe for ugly pie at the end, and-as you might expect-the kids have been pestering me for years to make it. So here is the finished ugly product!

As you can tell the ugliest thing is my pie crust. There are really only two kitchen projects that really intimidate me: pizza crust and pie crust. Just can’t seem to make either of them well.

One of the coolest things about this pie, though, is that it is the first pie I have had the chance to make using one of my mom’s pie dish. I had a chance to snag it this summer on a trip back to Toledo. It has a special place in my heart. (Now if I can just figure out how to weasel her doughnut cutter from my brother.)

If this has you itchin’ for some Ugly Pie, today is your lucky day! Here’s Ol’ Bear’s recipe, handed down from bear to bear for generations.

Ugly Crust:
2 & 1/2 cups flour
1 cup shortening (we used butter)
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 to 8 tablespoons icy cold water

Ugly Filling
6 cups peeled, sliced Granny Smith apples (we used apples given to us by a family from their apple tree)
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a large bowl, toss apple slices with lemon juice. Then mix in molasses until apples are completely coated with ugly brown goo. Set aside.
5 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the dry ingredients listed above. Add to the ugly apple mixture until everything is nice ‘n’ moist.
3/4 cup red raisins or cran-raisins
1/4 walnuts chopped fine (we left out the nuts)

Toss raisins and walnuts into apple mixture. Make sure all ingredients are well coated. Place into pie crust. Your pie should look fairly ugly by now.
Top with second pie crust and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture. Cover pie with an aluminum-foil tent to prevent over browning. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes.
When your pie is done, you will have the most delicious, most beautiful UGLY PIE you ever did see!

And here are the variations I employed:

  • I used America’s Test Kitchen butter crust, since I don’t have a ready supply of lard, and shortening makes a pretty tasteless crust. (This crust was the best attempt I have ever made, at least it was the easiest to roll out and it didn’t tear too much. We’ll see how it tastes. I have been really, really tempted to try ATK’s trick of using vodka r/th ice water in crust. The alcohol cooks out but it allows you to use more liquid than just water and the crust is easier to roll out. However, due mostly to my upbringing in a fundamental church, I am a teetotaler. While I cook with wine, I don’t drink any alcohol. I can explain to family that visits the cooking wine and beer for beer-battered fish, onion rings, etc. It might be a bit harder to ‘splain the vodka in the pantry! Ah the angst of ‘growing up fundamentalist; I’m scarred, scarred I tell ya!)
  • I also used a combination of Yellow Delicious and Granny Smith apples and baked them to just tender to keep their moisture down so the pie doesn’t get soupy. After baking them with some sugar and cinnamon, I mixed them into the other ugly stuff and cooked it a bit longer to let the four thicken some of the molasses and brown sugar goo.
  • And finally, I used a crumble topping that ATK sent out in one of their email blasts. Halving this recipe worked great for the 9″ pie.
  • Topping
    • 3/4cup (3 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 3/4cup pecans, chopped fine
    • 3/4cup old-fashioned rolled oats (see note)
    • 1/2cup (3 1/2 ounces) packed light brown sugar
    • 1/4cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
    • 1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2teaspoon table salt
    • 8 Tblsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

btw, almost all of Lisa Wheeler’s books are rollicking good fun to read. I want our kids to love language, and her books contribute to that with great rhymes, stories, and rhythmic lines.

Read Full Post »

Plays well with fruits and nuts, ice cream and honey, or just by itself. My kids? Sometimes. Crunchy, tasty, crisp, nutritious. Who doesn’t like granola?

As long as my teeth survive, you may mutter. Good point. Those Nature Valley bars can do enough damage to finance an orthodontist’s 2nd home. And if it takes that much to masticate, what is it doing to your innards, I ask you? But now (doncha just love that biblical phrase that turns everything around?) there is hope for teeth and tummy.

Cooks Illustrated included a fantastic base recipe for granola in the March/April issue. Adam Reid, ATK’s gadget guru, threw it together when he wasn’t busy figuring out which blender would grind up a tree stump the fastest. He listed several variations and gave several helpful guidelines.

Taking it all into account, here is the base recipe, as well as ditches to avoid and directions to explore.

Granola Base Recipe

  • 1/3 Cup   maple syrup*
  • 1/3 Cup   light brown sugar
  • 4 tsp         vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp     salt
  • 1/2 Cup   vegetable oil
  • 5 Cups      rolled oats
  • 2 Cups      chopped nuts
  • 2 Cups      dried fruit (optional)


  1. Oven rack in middle. Oven temp – 325. Line a sheet pan or a couple 9×12 casserole dishes with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk maple syrup*, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl. Stir in oats and nuts till thoroughly combined.
  3. Sprinkle granola into dishes or pack it in with the back of a spatula to make bars.
  4. Bake 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool at least an hour. If you are making bars, break it into irregular pieces (Reid describes it as ‘granola bark’ which is pretty apt.) Stir in the dried fruit.

Half sheet pan of granola going into the oven.

40 minutes later, look at me now! Tanned and ready to go

Ditches and directions

$35.77 for 64 oz! $.56/oz!!!

* I have no doubts that Reid, being in Vermont and working for ATK, intends the maple syrup to be the real mccoy from the trees. I don’t have that budget, so I used “Maple flavored Pancake Syrup.” (You may now arise from your fainting spell if you are in New England and/or have an unlimited budget for granola. You may now call me blessed if you have a normal-sized budget and 3 kids who treat this stuff as candy; I have tried the recipe with the low cost alternative and it works just fine.)

The biggest pain of the whole recipe is chopping the nuts. Reid says that the food pro does a terrible job of chopping nuts, and he would probably say the same thing about a slap-chopper. But I think I am going to try that next, cuz keeping little fingers out from under the knife blade is sometimes a challenge. Plus their li’l eyeballs are right at the level of nut-shrapnel.

Along that line: I had about 1.5 cups of pecan flour dust in the freezer after making pecan crusted pork pinwheels. (The crust needed small bits of pecan, but the dust becomes problematic. And I hate throwing away food. So there was all this pecan dust/flour.) Anyway, I tossed that in with the oats and nuts and it was fine. Probably bumped up the nut flavor.

Reid says that any attempt to include dried fruit into the bars/granola while baking will inevitably dry it out. I like granola just fine without dried fruit, so I didn’t bother. Plus how do you mix dried fruit bits into the packed and baked bars?

This recipe can probably head as many different directions as you can think of with nuts and fruits and combinations. Use your imagination. Use what you have available. Throw in some M&Ms. Toss it in a bag for school snack.

Looks so good, I’ll show it twice.

Try it some morning in a bowl with fruit and drizzled with honey. Your whole day will be better.

Assessment:  A

The first time, I used 2 casserole pans, making one loose and crumbled, and the other packed into bars. The second batch I packed into a half sheet pan. It is easy to crumble up after the fact.

This granola is great crumbled. Just stir it once or twice while baking. Dynamite for cereal. The bars were just as good. They hold their shape well, but are not jaw-breakingly dense like the-bars-that-shall-now-go-unnamed.

This an easy snack to make. Great for kids to help with. It stores really well. But it won’t last long, either.

Read Full Post »

For some reason recently I remembered Mother, every once in a while, making some sort of spice cake and a pot of warm lemon sauce. As I recall, most of my siblings weren’t too fond of the sauce in particular, because it was quite tart. But it brought back fond memories for me, so I decided to see if I could find a reasonable facsimile.

My normal search starts (and usually ends) with America’s Test Kitchen. It is usually pretty easy to find a blogger who has put their recipe on the web. ATK is helpful because they test each recipe so many times and then explain why they went the direction they did with it. The explanation makes it easy to understand the why’s and wherefore’s of the recipe, rather than just giving a list or ingredients and processes. Understanding makes it easier to personalize.

Anyway, here is the ATK recipe for the Spice Cake. I followed this closely, except the cardamom was $13 for about 2 oz and I just couldn’t justify that expense, so let’s call this Cardamomless Spice Cake.

2 1/4 Cs unbleached all-purpose flour (11 1/4 ounces), plus extra for dusting pans
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
16 tbsps unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt
2 large eggs at room temperature
3 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 Cs granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
2 tbsps light molasses or mild molasses
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 C buttermilk, at room temperature

1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13- by 9-inch baking pan. Combine spices in small bowl; reserve 1/2 teaspoon for frosting.

2. Heat 4 tablespoons butter in 8-inch skillet over medium heat until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan constantly, until butter is light brown and has faint nutty aroma, 2 to 4 minutes. Add spices and continue to cook, stirring constantly, 15 seconds. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

3. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. In small bowl, gently whisk eggs, yolks, and vanilla to combine. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream remaining 12 tablespoons butter with sugar and molasses at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl twice with rubber spatula. Reduce to medium speed and add cooled butter and spice mixture, ginger, and half of egg mixture; mix until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with remaining egg mixture; scrape down bowl again. Reduce to low speed; add about one-third flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk, mixing until just incorporated after each addition, about 5 seconds. Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.

4. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Zigzag the tip of a metal spatula through batter, pulling it to pan edges. Lightly tap pan against counter 3 or 4 times to dislodge any large air bubbles; smooth surface with spatula.

5. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 32 to 37 minutes. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.

Lemon Sauce

I scrounged around on the web and found a number of different recipes before settling on this one, that I then adjusted.

1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. + 2 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup water
2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. grated lemon peel
Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a sauce pan. Gradually add the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir it for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in the butter, lemon juice and lemon peel.

I bumped up the amounts of everything. Used the juice of one lemon (1/4-1/3C), plus zest of the entire lemon (almost 2tbsp?). Added probably 2 Tbsp lemon juice from the ubiquitous green bottle. Used 1 1/2C water and probably close to 2 Tbsp cornstarch. Only used 1/2C sugar even with the added lemon, but it was still sweet. Alot like thicker lemonaide. I’d like it to be still thicker, especially when warm.

Comments: We loved the aroma of the spices as they bloomed. The cake came together pretty easily and baked up nicely. I was surprised that the spice flavor was not more assertive. I might try adding more spices next time. The lemon sauce needs to be more tart for my taste, so I will likely cut back on the sugar next time.

Jill likes it, which automatically puts it into the winner-make-again category. Aubrey has adult tastes, cuz she won’t keep her hands off the cake. So now I have extra lemon sauce and leftover fresh ginger root…so I guess I’ll have to try a gingerbread cake now. Shucks:)

Read Full Post »

emma’s popovers

Emma has been exhibiting quite an interest in ‘helping’ while Jill or I cook, so when Jill found a DK Children’s Cookbook, she knew we had a winner Christmas gift.

As Emma paged through the book, she decided that she wanted to make every recipe. Fortunately, she settled-with some gentle nudging-on the Sausage Popovers. And, doggone it, they turned out really good.


  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2ish tsp chives
  • 1 Tblsp spicy brown mustard
  • oil
  • 12 sausage pieces-approximately 2″ each


  • Sift flour and salt into bowl. Make a well in center of flour.
  • Crack eggs into a bowl and mix lightly.
  • Pour milk and eggs into flour mixture. Beat together till smooth, no lumps. Add chives and mustard. Mix well.
  • Let rest about 30 minutes.
  • Heat oven to 425.
  • Pour about 1 tsp oil into bottom of muffin pan holes. Add one sausage piece to each. Heat for 3-4 minutes. (Our sausages were already cooked, just needed heating through. If they are not cooked, put them in the oven for an additional 3 minutes.)
  • Remove muffin pan and half-fill each hole with batter.
  • Bake  18-20 minutes till puffed and lightly browned on top.
We had ours with corn and onion rings. Delicious!

Read Full Post »

I enjoyed gardening while growing up. I really enjoyed the tomatoes, sugar snap peas, peppers and other things that came right from our ground. Growing up in suburbia, northwestern-Ohio-style, I evidently developed some misunderstandings about what constitutes a garden.

This is my idea of a garden:

And this:

and this:We have neighbors who have somewhat different conceptions of the dimensions of a ‘garden.’ One neighbor, I believe, has made Tim, the Tool Man, Taylor his hero. Anything that can be done, ought to be done bigger and louder and more fun. The other neighbor is a retired farmer.

So when we all talked about ‘gardening’ together, I quickly realized I needed to supersize my vision. This is their idea of a garden:

500' of corn

And this:

220 tomato plants

and this:

75' of onions

My thoughts run from “oy vey!” to “oh wow” to “yum” depending on the work or reward currently taking place.

Read Full Post »


My Mom made Moonshine.

How many kids can say that? I guess I was destined to live in the Southeast.

Here’s the recipe:

  • Mix a couple packages of jello (we usually used cherry) according to directions. Refrigerate it till soft-set. At that point, drop banana slices into the jello and let it set completely.
  • Mix up a couple packages of lemon pudding and pour that over the jello. Use the same number of pudding packages as jello.
  • When that sets, spread whipped cream over the pudding.
  • Top with whatever strikes your fancy. M&Ms, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and shredded coconut have all had their rightful place. But it is especially good if salted peanuts are included.
Now here is the story behind the name. My Mom grew up in England and was a little girl during the Blitz. She and her siblings were among the children evacuated from London to escape the German bombing raids.
When the American soldiers began filling up Great Britain in advance of invading the continent, many British families hosted them for dinners. Mom’s family made this simple dessert because it was one of the few that could be done with the available ingredients. One of the soldiers saw the bananas peeking through the jello and said it reminded him of the moon shining at night back home. The name stuck.
It would be ironic if that soldier happened to be from Tennessee, but I guess we’ll never know.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »