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amish ginger cookies

I love ginger cookies. Especially the ones that are moist, chewy, and slightly spicy. I do not remember where I found this recipe, but I've been making it for quite a few years. It is always a hit at parties, everyone loves them for their pretty round shape, the sparkle, and of course their flavor. It is hard not to eat them all myself, so I only make them when I have somewhere to take them. Enjoy!

Amish Ginger Cookies 
makes approx 50

3/4 cup butter, softened (1.5 sticks)
3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar (depends how sweet you like your cookies, I prefer them less sweet)
1 egg
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
white or colored sanding sugar, for decorating (can use regular granulated sugar)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a bowl, beat together butter and 1 cup sugar until creamy. 
3. Add egg and molasses and beat until combined. 
4. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. 
5. Roll dough (or use a mellon baller) into 1-inch balls, then roll them in the extra granulated sugar. 
6. Place balls on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 6 or 7 minutes.
7. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet, then remove to finish cooling on wire racks.
8. EAT and enjoy!



 Roll again





roast eggplant with ricotta

Have you heard of The Silver Spoon? According to my Sicilian friend, it is the best cookbook for everything Italian. According to me, it is the best cookbook, period. I have yet to be disappointed by anything I've tried. That is not to say that all recipes are equal. Some are better than others, but all are good. Since eggplant is in season, I have been perusing the "melanzane" section searching until my mouth waters the most. I found myself drooling over this eggplant recipe today. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Roast Eggplant with Ricotta
Serves 4
from the Silver Spoon

1 cup dried mushrooms (I used dried porcini mushrooms)
olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
4 small eggplants, halved lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig, chopped
2/3 cup ricotta cheese (do yourself a favor and use the full fat ricotta!)
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
pinch of dried oregano
2 salted anchovies, cleaned, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes, drained, and chopped
salt and pepper


1. put mushrooms in a bowl, add hot water to cover, and let soak for 30 minutes.
2. preheat oven to 350°F, brush an ovenproof dish with oil and set aside.
3. Scoop out the flesh from the eggplants into a bowl--you don't have to scoop all the flesh out, you can leave a little so the "shell" holds its shape.
4. Cook the shells in salted boiling water for about 8-10 minutes, remove with slotted spoon and place upside down on a plate covered with either paper towels or a dishtowel to catch the moisture. 
5. Add half the eggplant flesh to the same boiling water, cook for a few minutes, then drain, squeeze out and mix with the garlic and parsely.
6. Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, egg, and oregano in a bowl and season with salt and pepper, then stire in the eggplant and garlic mixture. (you will have to find another use for the unused eggplant, sorry!)
7. Drain and squeeze out the mushrooms, chop them with the anchovies and stir into the mixture. 
8. Spoon the mixture into the eggplant shells, place in the prepared dish, drizzle with olive oil. 
9. Bake for 40-50 minutes, basting occasionally with the cooking juices. Serve hot.
10. I didn't have any cooking juices, so I didn't baste. And I broiled the dish until nice and golden and crispy on top, about 4 minutes. You don't have to broil it if you don't want to. 

I served it with fresh heirloom tomatoes seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Yummy!



In an attempt to simplify our lives, we're going to plan out weekly dinner menus. That way we know what to buy, when to make it, and who's cooking it. Because I like things to be organized, I wanted to find a simple, straight-forward, one meal menu planner template. After spending way too much time on google and finding lots of cute, over-embelished templates, I threw this one together--simple and to the point. Feel free to print it out and use it as you need. It will (hopefully) make our lives easier and it isn't an eyesore so I can leave it on the fridge.

Happy meal planning.


holy bread!

My husband has been searching for a homemade recipe to get that crunchy, artisanal bread for over 10 years. He's tried bricks in the oven, water in the oven,  you name it and he's tried it. One fortuitous day, we came across a copy of Edible Santa Barbara. In that copy, there was an article about cooking bread inside a sealed vessel. This prompted hours of internet searching for the technique. And the discovery of Mark Bittman's interview with Lahey, a prominent New York baker who revealed his secret of using a dutch oven to make home made artisanal style bread. Try it, you won't be disappointed!


Here is our first one! 


anyone can cook...even if your kitchen is as small as a matchbox

I watched Ratatouille for the umpteenth time on Friday night. I love Gusteau's mantra: "Anyone can cook." I also love Mark Bittman's simple approach to food and cooking.  Bittman notes that we don't need an industrial sized range to create delicious dishes. All we need are fresh ingredients, pots/pans, and a basic stove or oven. He posted a picture of his kitchen, the one he comes up with all of his glorious recipes in, here's the link. It is small and simple, just like mine. I was delighted to see someone else, especially a cooking guru like Mark Bittman, would have a simple kitchen free of the glitz and glamor that inhabit so many kitchens these days. So not only can you cook in a simple kitchen, but YOU can cook. We all can. It just takes a little effort and creativity.

Here's an easy recipe that you might wonder how each ingredient can be eaten together, but give it a try. It will surprise you.

Blood Orange Salad
2-3 servings

4 Blood Oranges, peeled* and diced
0.5 yellow onion, thinly sliced
0.25 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. peel and dice blood oranges, add to a bowl.
2. Slice onions and olives, add to oranges.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

blood oranges
when scored with a knife, oranges are easy to peel
Kalamata Olives

sliced onions

¡Buen provecho! 

*Try scoring the oranges into quarters, then peel each quarter using your fingers. They usually peel pretty easily this way.


mini ginger cupcakes

My sister and mother gave me a brand new gleaming apple-green stand mixer for Christmas. I LOVE it. Well, I just learned that I love it because until yesterday, I had never used one of these machines. I was inspired by a cupcake recipe I saw in Vegetarian Times and decided it would be the perfect recipe to test my mixer on. These cupcakes are moist, light (for a cupcake), and not too sweet.

Mini Ginger Cupcakes (with a mascarpone/orange/honey frosting)
 makes 24 mini cupcakes

For the Cupcakes
1/4 cup sugar
1.4 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces
1/2 cup skim buttermilk
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cococa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Frosting
4 oz low-fat mascarpone cheese, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
chopped crystallized (or candied) ginger for garnish (about 3 tablespoons)

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease (you can use butter, spray, whatever your preference) 24 mini muffin pans.
2. Combine sugar, molasses, and butter in small saucepan over low heat, whisking the whole time until butter is melted and mixture is smooth, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 
3. Whisk buttermilk and egg together, add and whisk molasses mixture in. 
4. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Whisk dry ingredients into buttermilk mixture. 
5. Fill muffin cups within 1/8 inch of rims. Bake 10-12 mins or until cupcakes are puffed and set. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and let cool.
6. For the frosting, whip the mascarpone cheese, honey, and zest in a bowl with a fork until smooth. Spread a thin layer on each cupcake and sprinkle with ginger if desired.