Monday, November 30, 2009


my  daughter was inspired by Giada de LAurentis:

 Butternut Squash Soup  

Having over-eaten lots of great food this holiday weekend, I was inspired to buy the latest issue of SHAPE magazine during my usual grocery run. Giada De Laurentis is on the cover so I could not resist. The woman was born on my birthday, our kids were born during the same month last year, and she enjoys easy, healthy cooking as much as I do.

In her December issue, she featured "Butternut Squash Soup with Fontina Crostini". Perfect for the chilly weather and my constant quest simple and nutritious cooking.

Here's what you need:
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cloves of garlic minced
31/2 pounds of butternut squash, peeled seeded and cut(about 7 cups)
6 cups of low-sodium chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup of sage.

For the crostini
1/2 wheat baguette sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 cup of granted fontina
Kosher salt

Heat oil in an 8 quart stockpot over medium high. Add onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally for five minutes or until onion is soft. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add squash and stock or broth and bring to a boil. Add sage and continue boiling for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Turn off heat. Use blender to mix till a smooth consistency.

Then, there's the crostini. Arrange bread slices on baking sheet. Drizzle oil and sprinkle with sage. Top with fontina and season with salt. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes.

To make it healthier, I chose to garnish this soup with fresh green herbs from our garden. But the crostini sure looks fabulous also!

And as we say in Romanian: pofta buna!

Sunday, November 29, 2009




I received a loaf of friendship bread. and than I received a small bag with some dough, to follow the recipe for next 10 days, to make a wonderful, baked friendship bread.

As always, the recipes (banana friendship bread, chocolate friendship bread, Amish friendship bread) one can find into my photo cookbook:

Amish Friendship Cake: Lorraine’s Story

from Janice A. Clark FitzGerald

Our niece gave us this Amish Friendship Cake recipe at Christmastime in 2007. My late sister’s daughter-in-law, Lorraine Askew, had been given the yeast with the recipe, by a friend who had received it from a friend, and so on. Like a good joke, no one knows who first made it up.

Lorraine had made many batches of the yeast and of the cake for friends and family. Her husband, John David, and their daughters, Samantha and Heather, were excited with anticipation each day the aroma filled their home on a mountain outside Lynchburg, Virginia.

We returned to Boston from our vacation with our starter yeast in a baggie and did what we were shown, with the same happy results Lorraine had. Our happiness was mixed, however, for everyone knew that this young mother was being treated for breast cancer. Every baggie and every loaf we gave away was a prayer for Lorraine and her young family. When I was recovering from back surgery my husband kept it going. Our friends have taken the Amish bread to Ireland and the Caribbean; no doubt it has spread further, and our prayers for Lorraine with it.

Lorraine died on January 14, 2008. Her father having worked in Japan for many years, there were 23 Buddhist monks chanting prayers for her when we called. We keep the memory of Lorraine alive by our bread-making. Amish Friendship Cake is, as Lorraine was, a gift.

 First I received Amish bread starter, as a friendship gift.

For the next 10 days I squeezed the bag and I added 1cup flour, 1c sugar, 1cup milk , in the day 5 and 10, as I received the instructions.

Day 1 - receive the starter

Day 2 - stir (OR= squeeze the plastic bag)

Day 3 - stir

Day 4 - stir

Day 5 - Add 1 cup each of flour, sugar and milk.

Day 6 - stir

Day 7 - stir

Day 8 - stir

Day 9 - stir

Day 10 - Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.

Divide into 4 containers, with 1 cup each for three of your friends and 1 cup for your own loaves.

Give friends the instructions for Day 1 through Day 10 and the following recipe for baking the bread.

In the 10th day you make 3 new bags, to give to your friends, and the last cup, you make chocolate bread, or banana bread or Amish bread....

Chocolate friendship bread:


• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 1/2 cup white sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup Amish Friendship Bread Starter
• 1 cup vegetable oil
• 1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix the dry ingredients with liquid ingredients and get an nice, soft, silky dough.
Poor in a bread baking pan, or muffin pan, coated with parchment paper.

Bake at 375F until the wooden stick will come out clean (wooden stick test), about 50 minutes later.


Banana friendship bread:

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 cup vegetable oil, butter, or Crisco
1 rounded cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown or white sugar
2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon buttermilk powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rum or banana liqueur
1/2 cup Amish Friendship Starter
1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine all ingredients. Turn out into a bread loaf pan,  molded with parchment paper.
When a cake tester (wooden stick) inserted in center comes out clean (about 50 minutes later) remove from oven.


Sunday, November 22, 2009


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When I find out about this 5 minutes chocolate cake  I can't believe it!
It is real and it is very good!!

You start mixing:
4 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, in a  big porcelain cup.
Add one egg and mix all well.

Add 3tablspoons milk , 3 tablespoons oil (or melted butter, better taste), 3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional, be creative: nuts, orange, lemon peel) a small splash of vanilla extract.

Mix all the ingredients well, in the cup and put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.

The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! 

Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate. Add fresh raspberry and whipped cream!

Now you, your children, your guests,  can be very creative, and you can make many cups
add nuts, almond sliver, orange / lemon peel, raspberry essence, orange essence, chocolate / peanut chips, candy.....

Sunday, November 15, 2009


The fall brings all plumply, full figure fruit and vegetable, to be able to survive the harsh winter...I love this full figures, dark colors, orange, purple, dark green, as color of the tree leaves, as color of natures...

Acorn squash is no exception: round, dark green outside, dark orange inside. I was so happy to find this recipe, because is bringing all the colors and all the strong taste of the fall, to the table...
 After you clean the squash,  prepare the stuffing.This stuffing is very tasty, but you can use any combination of vegetables and spices

4 small acorn squash, 1 to 1 1/4 pounds each
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, completely thawed, drained and chopped
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Generous pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut, clean and scoop the seeds out of the acorn squash,

Cut 1-inch off the top of each acorn squash and scoop out the seeds. If necessary in order for the squash to sit upright, cut off a small portion of the bottom.

 Put 1 of the 4 pieces of butter in the cavity of each squash. Set squash on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Set aside. 
My note: After you clean the squash,  prepare the stuffing.This stuffing is very tasty, but you can use any combination of vegetables and spices

In a large saute pan over medium heat, brown the ground pork until no longer pink. Remove the meat from the pan, add the olive oil and saute the onion, celery, and carrot until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 10 minutes. De-glaze the pan with the white wine. 

Return the pork to the pan along with the cooked rice, spinach, pine nuts, oregano and salt and pepper, to taste. Stirring constantly, heat mixture thoroughly, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Divide the mixture evenly among the squash, top each squash with its lid and bake for 1 hour or until the squash is tender. Serve immediately.


Put the stuffed squash into a sprayed pan with oil and prepare for baking: add water into a oven proof casserole and spray the end portion of squash with butter..When you serve, you use the top portion as an end piece, of the stuffed squash.

Bake for one hour, 400F and serve.

Bone appetite!

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2004

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

for halloween- PUMPKIN PIE



1 pkg. Jell-O vanilla instant pudding and pie filling

3/4 c. cold milk (not 2 cups as necessary for vanilla cream pie)

2cups+1/2 c. pumpkin puree

3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

3 1/2 c. Cool Whip/or whipped cream

1 baked 9 inch pie shell / or graham crackers

1.Prepare vanilla pie filling mix as directed on package with 3/4 cup milk.
MY NOTE;  This is very important, this way the mouse will not be watery, will be stiff and nicely shaped.
2.Blend in pumpkin puree, spice, and 2 cups whipping topping. 

3. Spoon into pie shell, of your choice.
4. Chill at least 4 hours and add crushed  Praline Nut Topping (optional). If it is easy, add on the pastry shell, slivered almonds.


My daughter made a nice looking pumpkin pie, and her little son, my grandson, was a VAMPIRE!!!   wouuuuu  scarrrryyyyyy!  In between candies, after a long walk to the park, the pie was very much appreciated!!!

1/2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. water
few drops of lemon juice
1/2 c. pecans, coarsely chopped

Butter a baking sheet. Heat sugar, water and few drops of lemon juice in skillet, until color becomes light, caramel. Stir in nuts. Spread quickly on baking sheet.
 Cool and chop into small pieces.


I received as a gift from Christmas (2019) a Cooking Lesson  with CARLY PAIGE. I went with my daughter, who is very interested in cookin...