Dinner Party!


Dinner party tomorrow night: us, two members of my critique group, and my IT person (translation: three of my close friends). Wanna hear the menu? Suuure you do. We’re all girls here, right? Here it is:

  • Niman Ranch filet mignon (which I took a picture of so you can see how purty it is) with sauteed crimini mushrooms and mustard butter
  • Kale salad from my garden, with pine nuts, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, and avocado
  • Roasted Russian fingerling potatoes with pesto that I made from the basil in my garden
  • Acme Bakery baguette
  • Peach/blueberry cobbler with vanilla bean gelato

Doesn’t that sound tasty? This is the big upside of living in Berkeley. And the best part is, it’s all really simple, since I hate to spend a long time cooking these days.  I’ll make the kale salad and the cobbler tomorrow morning, and everything else I can do easily in half an hour.

You can tell by this post that I haven’t been cooking much (at all) lately. 🙂 Hubby will be happy.


Grandma Lottie (Harward)’s Pecan Pie

Thanks to reader Kathy Harward for the recipe! I made this for my Southern boy husband and he LOVED it! Super easy.

Kathy recently suggested adding chocolate chips. Good thing I didn’t know about that before I made my most recent two pies, because I DEFINITELY wouldn’t have been able to resist eating that, and I’m supposed to be on my New Year’s Diet.

Makes 2 Deep Dish pies. I used frozen pie shells because I’m lazy. (That’s Rosalind, not Kathy talking.)

Heat oven to 350.

1 stick butter, melted
2 cups white sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
6 well-beaten eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups chopped pecans (I (Rosalind) added an additional 1 cup of pecan halves so they would rise to the top and make that yummy crunchy topping.)

Melt butter; add sugar and corn syrup, then add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add pecans; pour into pie shells. Bake 50 minutes, until pies are pretty set and slightly brown. Refrigerate leftovers.

Vegetarian West African Soup

Full of protein and vitamins, hearty and delicious. Even kids seem to like this. Easy to make, too! You can double the recipe & freeze, too.

1/3 cup peanut butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2-3 cloves diced garlic
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger (or you could use 1 tsp. powdered ginger)
3 cups peeled & cubed sweet potato (I use the white ones)
1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin (I use roasted, ground cumin for better flavor)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 can garbanzo beans
3-1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained

Saute onions, ginger, and garlic in olive oil, in large Dutch oven or stock pot for about 7 minutes. Add everything else. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes (or more; the flavors blend more if you simmer longer, or if you refrigerate and serve the next day.). Mash with a wooden spoon or blend in a food processor or blender.


This recipe was shared with me by reader Kathy Harward of Georgia. (Thanks, Kathy!)  I made it last night and it was absolutely delicious. I sieved on some unsweetened cocoa after the pie cooled, and that was wonderful, but it would also be good with fruit preserves, baked with coconut, etc. Or lemon juice & zest–lots of possibilities. Super quick & easy, no crust required. (It makes its own!)

Wish I had a picture, but we started eating it before I thought of it!

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9″ deep dish pie plate with Pam.

1 1/3 cups white sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup biscuit mix (Bisquick)
1/3 cup melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3 large eggs

Mix well with mixer. Pour into pie plate. Bake 30-40 minutes until pie is browned but still a little jiggly (it will set as it cools). I baked 35 minutes and it seemed perfect. After cooling, serve with pie filling, sift confectioner’s sugar or cocoa (or a combo) over it, or serve plain.

It’s even better the next day!


Adapted from a recipe in the Fannie Farmer Baking Book. The buttermilk gives it a more tender crumb.

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar (more if you like sweeter cornbread)
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
4 Tbsp. melted butter

Sift together dry ingredients; add cornmeal. Combine rest of ingredients and beat; stir into dry ingredients with a few swift strokes (a rubber spatula works best to combine without overmixing). I make muffins: 425 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Or pour into greased square pan and bake 25-30 minutes, just until a toothpick comes out clean.


Honey Cake


A friend invited me to a Rosh Hashanah dinner tomorrow night. I made a honey cake and added some marzipan bees. That is supposed to be a beehive. I am a better cook than I am an artist! I used this recipe, which is supposed to be good–we’ll see!

Update: It was pretty good–moist, which was nice–but not the best spice cake ever. I think maybe I’d have put some chopped apples in it, another time, to give it a bit more oomph. I don’t eat that many sweets, and I have to confess that my favorite part was the homemade applesauce (from our little tree which produced a bumper crop this year) that I served on the side. But I think I will continue to save my calories for chocolate cake! The only kind of cake worth falling off the wagon for, IMHO. But the marzipan bees were very tasty. Everybody ate his or her bee, with relish.


4-6 servings

1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
2 carrots, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
3-4 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
4 tsp. curry powder
8 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
½ cup diced tart apple (Granny Smith is good)
1 cup cooked rice
1 cup diced cooked chicken
2 tsp. salt or to taste
½ tsp. pepper or to taste
¼ tsp. thyme
1 tsp. grated lemon zest (yellow part only)
1 cup half & half or milk (can use everything down to 1% milk, depending how rich a soup you prefer)

Saute onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger in butter in large soup pot. Add flour and curry powder; stir and cook about 3 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and bay leaf and simmer 15 minutes. Add other ingredients except cream/milk and simmer 15 minutes more. Immediately before serving, stir in cream or milk.

If you are making a quantity that you won’t use up that day, keep the rice separate and add it to each bowl of soup, so it doesn’t get mushy.


6-8 servings (recipe can be doubled. Makes a great workday lunch over arugula and/or spinach—protein, vegetables, vitamins, fiber, AND low-calorie!)

1 c. uncooked quinoa, rinsed very well and drained (the soapy substance tastes bitter if you don’t rinse it off)
Vegetable or chicken broth, if desired
1/2 c. chopped green onions, white and pale green parts only (about 2 bunches)
¾ c. chopped fresh parsley
3-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint, to taste (optional)
1 clove minced garlic
1 c. grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters
½ cucumber, chopped
½ cup diced red or yellow pepper
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
½ tsp. salt, or to taste (less if you are cooking quinoa in a salted broth)
¼ tsp. pepper, or to taste
3-4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons)

Cook the quinoa as directed on package—normally about 15 minutes. If it is well rinsed, use about 1-3/4 cups water, or vegetable or chicken broth, for 1 cup of quinoa. It is done when the quinoa sprouts little curly “tails.” If all liquid is not absorbed, strain it to remove the liquid.

Chill the cooked quinoa if possible; add vegetables and herbs (and beans, if using).

Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper in a bowl with a fork until well blended. Add to salad and mix thoroughly. Taste & correct salt & pepper. Chill salad if possible; the flavors will blend as it sits.

Other vegetable/herb choices: carrots, zucchini, cilantro (instead of mint).


4 servings (just cut everything else in half if cooking for two). Basic idea for this comes from Cook’s Country. Quick and easy; makes a delicious company dinner with roasted potatoes and a green salad.)

4 salmon fillets, rinsed, patted dry, sprinkled with salt and pepper. 1” thick (if thinner, cook shorter time)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. olive oil (not extra-virgin as it smokes too easily)
2 Tbsp. butter

Whisk vinegar, juice, and honey together in small bowl. Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat until very hot. Cook salmon fillets without moving for 4-5 minutes (shorter time if the fillets are less than 1” thick). If the fillets are skin-on, start with the skin side facing up. Flip fish and cook 2-3 minutes more, until cooked through but not dry. Transfer to warm plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

If you cooked salmon with skin on, wipe pan out with paper towels. Lower heat to medium. Pour balsamic mixture into pan and simmer about 5 minutes, until thick and syrupy. Stir in butter and pour sauce over salmon.


Coffee Cake
3/4 cup sugar
¼ cup butter
1 egg
½ cup milk (higher-fat is tastier, but 1% is OK too)
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 can pears in juice, drained and chopped
¼ cup dried cherries (optional)

½ cup brown sugar
¼ cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9” square glass baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix together butter and sugar with an electric mixer; add egg. Stir in milk. Sift together dry ingredients, or mix in a separate bowl; stir in. Carefully stir in fruit. Spread half the batter in pan. Sprinkle half of filling/topping mixture over batter. Spoon remainder of batter over filling and smooth over. Sprinkle rest of filling/topping mixture over top of batter. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.

Other ideas: peaches (fresh or canned), nectarines, blueberries (omit dried cherries if using other fruits).