Ginger Guinness Cake

1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c. brown sugar
4 1/2 tbsp butter, softened
1 large egg
1/3 c. applesauce
1/4 c. molasses
1/3 c. flat Guinness stout
whipped topping

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Coat 9"-round cake pan with baking/cooking spray; set aside.

Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl - stir with a whisk.

Place brown sugar and butter in mixing bowl and beat at medium-high speed until well-blended (about 3 minutes). Add the egg and beat well. Beat in applesauce and molasses (batter may look slightly curdled). Reduce mixing speed to low. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until just blended. Repeat procedure with remaining flour mixture. Add stout and beat until just blended.

Scrape batter into prepared cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely. Serve with whipped topping.


Spicy Yoshida Pork Chops

(I forgot to take a photo, which is too bad because the chops turned out quite prettily.  Next time.)

1 c. Yoshida sauce
1/4 c. spicy Korean red pepper paste (more or less to taste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
generous dash of black pepper
small splash of sesame oil

2 3/4" thick boneless pork chops
1/2 small onion, sliced

Marinate the chops in the spicy Yoshida sauce at least overnight.

Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

Place marinated pork chops in glass baking dish.  Lay sliced onions on top of each chop, then spoon extra marinade over the onions & chops.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Bake for 15 minutes on middle rack.

Turn the chops over, replace the onions, and spoon the remaining marinade over the chops.  Bake uncovered for 13 minutes, checking in now and then to baste.

Place the chops under the broiler for 2 minutes to crisp the outside of the chops and onions - this also makes the marinade sticky on the chops.  Delicious!

Remove from oven, let cool for 2-3 minutes.  I served the chops with pan-roasted baby red potatoes (seasoned with black pepper, salt, rosemary, thyme and oregano), and a green bean/zucchini/onion saute (seasoned with black pepper, salt and red pepper flakes).


Really Peanut Buttery Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup peanut butter chips
3/4 cup crystallized or granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375-degrees.

In large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter and sugar. Beat in egg. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually stir flour mixture into peanut butter mixture; combine completely. Add peanut butter chips; mix well.

Roll dough into 1 1/2" balls. Lightly dip balls into granulated sugar and place on baking sheets covered with Silpat mat or parchment paper, about 2-3" apart.

Bake for 9-10 minutes or until cookies are light brown. Remove baking sheet from oven. With back of spatula, gently smoosh the cookies balls until they form 1/4"-1/2" discs. Transfer cookies to wire rack and cool completely.



I love the colour of red-velvet cake:

Red-velvet cupcakes with white-chocolate-cream-cheese frosting and chocolate sprinkles:

Chocolate-sour-cream cupcakes with peppermint frosting:

Lemon cupcakes with cream-cheese frosting and shredded coconut:


Connecticut Jen's Meat Loaf

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
3 slices of bread torn into small pieces
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard (***or try one big long squirt of yellow mustard***)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder (***or one large garlic clove, minced***)
1 cup barbecue sauce

Mix all ingredients together until everything is evenly blended. (***Feel free to eyeball the ingredients and flavor as you like, especially with the Worcestershire sauce, garlic and black pepper.***)

Place mixture in a loaf pan and spread top with barbecue sauce. (***Also try shaping the meat mixture into a loaf in the middle of a cookie sheet so that the sides of the loaf don't burn and the juices can float away.***)

Bake at 350° for 1 1/4 hours.

One loaf feeds about 3-4 adults.


Pear and Dried Cherry Clafouti

1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 large Anjou pear, peeled, halved lengthwise and cored (***I used a can of pear slices and they worked just fine***)
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9.5” pie plate. Dust with flour. (***I use the Pam Spray: Butter with Flour.***) Put dried cherries in medium bowl and cover with boiling water by 1”. Let stand until plump, about 10 minutes.

Cut pear lengthwise into 1/8” slices; fan over bottom of dish. (***If you are using canned pear slices, just drain the slices well.***) Blend milk, eggs, cream, vanilla, sugar, flour and salt in blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour batter over pear slices.

Drain cherries; sprinkle into batter. Bake until golden and set, about 25 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes. Cut into wedges. Clafouti can be refrigerated up to one day.

(***After cooling the clafouti, I turned it over, as if it were an upside-down cake. It sank a bit but overall, it held up just fine and was even prettier from the bottom.***)


Skirt Steak with Cilantro Garlic Sauce

The sauce:
1 medium garlic clove
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp cayenne

The steak:
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 lbs skirt steak, cut crosswise into 3- to 4-inch pieces

For the sauce: Mince garlic and mash to a paste with salt. Add remaining sauce ingredients, then blend until smooth.

For the steak: Stir together cumin, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Pat steak dry, then rub both sides of pieces with cumin mixture. Pour the cilantro sauce evenly over the steak and rub it in. Let sit and marinate for as long as possible.

Heat an oiled well-seasoned ridged grill pan over high heat until hot but not smoking, then grill steak in 2 batches, turning over occasionally, about 2 minutes per batch for thin pieces or 6 to 8 minutes per batch for thicker pieces (medium-rare). (**I have also cooked the steak under the broiler -- about 5 minutes on each side, for steak about 1/2" thick. This resulted in perfectly medium doneness. Next time, I will broil for less time because I like my meat medium-rare.**)


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
4 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 oz) butter, melted but not bubbling hot

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt.

In a smaller bowl, beat together the milk and eggs.

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in about half the liquid mixture. Blend well, then add the remaining liquid mixture and stir until fairly smooth. A few lumps can remain. Stir in the butter. Cover and let sit for at least one hour.

The best way to cook crepes is in a 10" cast-iron pan or a crepe pan. Heat the pan until it's medium-hot. Wipe the bottom fo the pan with a bit of butter. Pour 1/3 cup of batter into the pan, picking up the pan and tip and swirl it in a circle so the batter covers the bottom of the pan thinly. Cook until the bottom begins to brown and you can slide a spatula under the crepe. It hold together very well, so you can flip it over pretty easily. Cook briefly on the other side and place on a warm plate. Cover until the remaining batter is cooked.

The traditional way to fill crepes is with Nutella spread and sliced bananas. I have also eaten them with strawberries, ice cream, whipped cream, and sprinkled with cocoa powder or cinnamon. For a heartier meal, I've filled them with sauteed sausage and vegetables, in garlic and spices.

Mexican-Style Pecan Chocolate Squares

Cookie base:
6 oz (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz (1/2 cup) finely grated bittersweet chocolate

Pecan topping:
10 oz (3 cups) chopped pecans
1/4 lb (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp salt

Cookie base: Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Put butter in a food processor, along with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. (**I also used a pastry cutter and just worked my muscles in a bowl -- takes a bit longer and is quite a workout, but if you don't have a food processor, it's the only way to go.**) Pulse until mixture is well-combined, about 20 pulses. Scatter the dough into a 9" x 9" baking pan and press it evenly over the bottom. Wipe out the processor bowl but don't bother washing it.

Bake the base until firm and lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Don't turn off the oven, but take the cookie base out of the oven and sprinkle the grated chocolate evenly over the top. Set the pan aside.

Pecan topping: As the cookie base bakes, pulse the pecans in the food processor (**unless you've bought already-chopped pecans, like I do**). In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the dark brown sugar, honey, cream and salt. Simmer for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in the pecans. Pour the mixture over the chocolate-sprinkled cookie base, spreading evenly. Bake until much of the filling bubbling (not just the edges), about 16-18 minutes.

Let cool completely in the pan. When ready to serve, cut into squares (**a bench scraper works really well**). Tightly covered, these bars will keep for about five days.

Green Beans with Sesame Vinaigrette

1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp sesame seeds

Cook beans in boiling water, or steam them until crisp-tender. Drain in colander and immediately transfer to ice cold water. When beans have cooled, drain and pat dry.

Whisk together the oils, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in large bowl until combined well. Add beans and sesame seeds, and toss to coat.