Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Macallan Scotch Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread

Here in blogland, you don’t have to reach for shortbread. Shortbread will float peacefully into your mouth. Calorie free and full of flavor you can just crunch munch munch until your cookie desires are filled. Ah yes, blogland is indeed a happy place.

If only that were true, then I would eat these buttery, crunchy cookies all day long! Scotch and brown sugar together add a wonderful deep rich brightness to this shortbread. Purchase a little sample bottle of The Macallan Scotch for under five dollars and you’ll get five or six batches out of it.

½ cup pecans
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ sticks (10 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar (the fresher the better)
1 Tablespoon Macallan Single Malt Scotch
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract

½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 Tablespoon coarse sugar

1. Place the oven rack on the lower third and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 inch square baking pan with foil and brush lightly with butter. You want to be able to lift the bars out by the foil edges.

2. Process the pecans, flour, and salt together in a food processor until pecans are finely ground. Set aside.

3. In a stand mixer beat the butter for a minute until creamy. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, scotch, and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes until the texture is light and fluffy.

4. At low speed mix in the flour half at a time until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.

5. Dump the dough into the baking pan and spread out evenly. Press gently with the back of a dry mixing cup to even out the dough a little.

6. Sprinkle the top with the chopped pecans and then the coarse sugar.

7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until lightly golden brown around the edges.

8. Remove from the oven and set the timer for exactly 15 minutes. After the timer goes off, grab the edges of the foil and move the shortbread to a very nearby cutting surface and cut into squares. Move the bars to a cooling rack and finish cooling.

Notes: I found the coarse sugar at Michaels.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blueberry Lemon Pie with a Touch of Fresh Mint

Pie used to be holiday food until I set my pride aside and started using purchased pie crusts the rest of the year. Now fruit pie around here is breakfast! This pie only takes a few minutes to put together, and about an hour to bake. Life is too short not to eat pie often.

1 box store bought refrigerator pie crusts (Or make your own, I won’t tell)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
6 cups frozen blueberries
Zest of 1 small lemon
Juice of 1 small lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract (Optional for more lemon flavor)
1 to 2 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint to taste
Butter for dotting pie and brushing bottom crust
Milk for brushing pie and granulated sugar for sprinkling top

1. Place the oven rack on the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

2. Mix together sugar and cornstarch. Don’t skip this step, it helps the pie consistency.

3. In a large bowl toss together the blueberries, sugar mixture, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and mint.

4. Between wax paper gently roll out the pie dough and stretch it about another inch or more for the bottom piece, and roll the top piece gently to even out the dough.

5. Line a 9 ½” Pyrex pie dish with the bottom crust, brush with soften butter. Add the blueberry mixture and spread out evenly. Dot the mixture with little bits of butter here and there.

6. Cover with the top crust. Press the top dough into the bottom piece gently to stick together. Tuck the top edges into the pie dish leaving a little to crimp at the top. Flute the edges. (See notes for fluting link)

7. Brush the pie with milk, sprinkle with a little granulated sugar, and poke a few holes in the crust for venting. I usually cut out a small circle in the middle with a paring knife.

8. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown for store bought crust. If the edges start to get too brown cover them with foil or a pie crust shield. Remove the pie from the oven and set on a cooling rack for several hours to set up the filling.


1. Purchased pie crusts need to be pretty deep golden brown before they are really done. Lightly golden will leave you with raw dough on the bottom.

2. Instructions for fluting pie crust at

Recipe by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Purple Pizza with Asparagus & Fontina

Asparagus, fontina, red onion slivers, and olives make this a purple pizza we adults won’t be embarrassed to gleefully bite into. With no kid toppings to speak of, you can grab that glass of vino, a nice fussy salad, your purple pizza, and head out to dine alfresco.

1 (12 to 14 inch) stretched beet pizza dough on a pan (See notes below for recipe link)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 recipe Garlic Cream Sauce (recipe below)
1 cup mozzarella
3/4 cup fontina (Italian preferably), or gruyere cheese
¾ cup grilled and chopped asparagus (plus olive oil for grilling)
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup sliced olives, any variety
¼ cup Parmesan Reggiano
Coarse salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste

Garlic Cream Sauce
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8th teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8th teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/4th cup Parmesan Reggiano

In a saucepan melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Turn the heat to medium low and add the rest of the ingredients, but add the cheese last so it doesn’t hit the hot pan and seize up. Stir constantly until thickened.

If the sauce looks a little thin don’t worry. It will thicken considerably as it cools.

Directions for Pizza
1. Make the Garlic Cream Sauce.

2. Heat up the grill to hot and close the lid.

3. Rub the asparagus in a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through, but not mushy. Remove from heat and chop into 1 ½” pieces.

4. Brush the pizza pan lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Stretch and roll the dough and place on the pan. Brush with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Spoon on as much Garlic Cream Sauce as desired.

5. Top pizza with the mozzarella, fontina or gruyere, asparagus, red onion slices, olives, parmesan, and sprinkle with salt & pepper.

6. Set the pizza on the grill and close the lid. Turn grill to medium high and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until cooked through. Turn to medium for a thicker crust pizza and cook longer. Remove onto a cookie sheet with tongs.

7. Let rest for about 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

1. Beet pizza dough recipe can be found at

2. See for information on pizza dough and grilling techniques.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bruschetta all'Avocado

I said that I’d post the adult purple pizza next, but I got so excited about this little dish that I hope you don’t mind the interruption. Avocados are in season right now, and this is a lovely way to eat them; creamy, on good bread, and with a light background of garlic.

For Spread
3 medium sized avocados
Juice of half a Meyer lemon
1 Tablespoon capers, not rinsed
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
Coarse salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste

Cut the avocados in half and scoop out the pulp into a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse to combine to desired texture.

For Bread
Slices of good French bread or other favorite
Extra virgin olive oil for brushing
1 garlic clove, cut in half

Heat the grill or broiler to high. Brush one side of the bread lightly with olive oil. Grill or broil the side with the oil until golden brown and crispy. Remove from heat, and immediately rub the toasted side lightly with the garlic clove.

Top bread with the avocado mixture. Sprinkle with dill if desired.

Recipe & picture by Laura Flowers

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Purple Pizza Dough Sneaks in a Vegetable

My seven-year-old daughter Clara thought this pizza was the coolest yet, thanks to bright purple dough. She didn’t even care that I dyed it with a cooked beet. I was, for a moment, the greatest mom ever. At least until I sent her to go pick up her room.

This crust is great. It has good flavor, and doesn’t taste like beets surprisingly. I thought it might, and then I’d never live it down around here.

I topped Clara’s personal pizza with quick homemade red sauce, mozzarella cheese, and Canadian bacon. My next post will cover the adult pizza toppings. Which were fabulous, and with purple crust of course!

Makes two 12” pizzas

3/4 cup cooked and chopped beets, lightly packed in a liquid measuring cup (or see notes)
Enough almost warm water to make 1 cup when mixed with cooked beets, plus 1 Tablespoon.
1 package bread machine or active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
3 cups all-purpose flour (Use good quality all-purpose or bread flour)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the bowl

1. Scrub beets under warm water to clean. Stab a knife into it a few times for venting. Line a plate with paper towels, place the beet on the plate, and cover with a paper towel. Microwave the beet on high for several minutes until easily stabbed through with the knife. Cool completely.

2. Chop the beet into chunks. Place 3/4 of a cup of the chunks (lightly packed) into a liquid measuring cup. Top with enough water to make 1 cup. Puree the beet/water mixture in a blender until smooth. (A couple small chunks are ok, but you might end up picking them out as you roll the dough. You can also strain beet mixture through a fine mesh strainer if you have one.) Pour the mixture back into the liquid measuring cup and top with enough water to make 1 cup, then add 1 more Tablespoon.

3. Add all the ingredients into a stand mixer bowl. Mix with the dough hook until well kneaded.

4. Remove from the bowl and knead by hand for 2 minutes on an unfloured surface. (If you have a counter that stains find another place). Then pat into a ball.

5. Grease a large bowl with olive oil and add the dough, flipping once to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled.

6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, do the final stretches by hand by gently pulling the ends with your fingers. Place on a lightly oiled and coarse cornmeal covered pizza pan, and then add the toppings.

1. Adding more beet flesh to the dough will make a deeper purple crust.

2. Sauce recipe can be found at

3. Grilling information can be found at

Recipe by Laura Flowers.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Caprese Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

I hopped over to see what beautiful cakes Patricia over at ButterYum had been making recently, and was slightly confused when I saw a gorgeous pasta salad instead. I had to double check her pink background to make sure I was at the right place! I guess cake decorators need to eat more than just cake to survive.

Trying to get through a huge Costco sized bag of Meyer lemons, I made the lemon vinaigrette from Giada’s Family Dinners for the dressing. Patricia likes to use her favorite bottled balsamic vinaigrette, which sounds excellent as well.

Lemon Vinaigrette

2 teaspoons finely grated lemons zest
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed to wet pasta

Blend the lemon zest and juice, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette to taste with more salt and pepper.

1 pound cappelletti (Hat shaped pasta)
1/2 pound diced ripe tomatoes
16 ounce tub fresh mozzarella pearls, drained
Lemon vinaigrette
Lots of fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the cappelletti according to the directions, drain, and rinse with cold water. Move the pasta to a large serving bowl and toss together with the rest of the ingredients.

Notes: I rewrote the recipe so the above picture could be copied, but this recipe idea belongs to Patricia from ButterYum. Visit her picture by picture instructions at

Lemon vinaigrette recipe belongs to Giada De Laurentiis. Picture and write-up by Laura Flowers.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pan-Fried Polenta with Fresh Tomato-Bean Salsa

This recipe comes from The Tomato Book, which happens to be shaped just like a tomato. I hate to admit this, but I enjoy these cheesy cardboard cookbooks by Publications International, Ltd. Their dumb shapes make me happy, and much like the old Pokémon fad, I gotta to catch ‘em all. It helps that the recipes are usually simple, because really, you can only fit so many instructions onto one little page. On brain fried days, I can grab one of these no brainer beauties, pick any recipe, and get cooking in no time.

2 ½ cups chopped ripe tomatoes
1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup chopped fresh basil
½ teaspoon each salt & black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (16 ounce) package prepared polenta, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Stir together tomatoes, beans, basil, salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes to blend flavors. (I added a drizzle of olive oil.)

2. Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add half the polenta slices to skillet; cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes, turning once. Remove polenta from skillet. Repeat with remaining oil and polenta slices.

3. Arrange polenta on a serving plate. Spoon tomato-bean mixture on top. Sprinkle with cheese and garnish with basil.

Makes 4 servings

Notes: For breakfast the next morning, I broke up the leftovers in a skillet, heated them up, poured in a couple seasoned whisked eggs, and scrambled it all together.

Recipe from The Tomato Cookbook. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Avocado On The Half Shell

The produce is making its way North and I’ve started pulling out all my favorite vegetable filled books. This recipe comes from My Italian Garden by Viana La Place. Her recipes are stunning, simple, and gorgeous. Well, at least they are when I picture them in my mind, as there are no photographs in her book! I’ll be taking many photographs as the summer moves along of her recipes, as they are delicious and fresh, as well as beautiful.

Serves 4

“Here, avocados are served cool, fragrant with herbs warmed in the hot summer sun. Serve on a sultry summer night accompanied by a chilled bottle of Italian white wine.”

2 large Hass avocados, ripe but firm (the flesh should be bright green with no blemishes or bruises), lightly chilled
1 small Meyer lemon
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Handful of fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Handful of fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
Sea salt
¼ cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
Sungold cherry tomato clusters or other small, sweet cherry tomatoes on the vine

Carefully CUT the avocados in half without removing the peel. Gently twist to separate the halves. Insert a sharp knife into the pit and pop it out. Immediately squeeze lemon juice over the exposed avocado flesh. If necessary, cut a small slice off the bottom of each avocado to stabilize it.

In a small bowl, COMBINE the olive oil, basil, and mint. Season with salt. Add fresh lemon juice to taste to the olive oil and herb mixture.

SPOON the herbal dressing into the cavities of the avocados. Distribute the almonds over the top and drape a small cluster of tomatoes on each avocado.

Recipe from My Italian Garden by Viana La Place.
Picture by Laura Flowers.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ruth Wakefield, Toll House, and Respectful Enhancements.

My most cherished book is a 1941, fifth printing, of Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Tried and True Recipes. First published in 1936, Wakefield’s book immediately became a phenomenon, and continued on to infamy through thirty-nine printings. The Toll House cookbook influenced American cuisine at home in big ways and small, but the biggest of course, is the invention of the chocolate chip cookie. It’s difficult to imagine life without this classic cookie in it, but before the 1930s no such cookie existed.

Strangely enough, “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies” were not the star of the book, as the recipe is hidden way in the back on page 216. It’s written plainly, and sandwiched between recipes for “Chocolate Cookies” and “Cocoanut (Coconut) Strips”. I wonder if Ruth Wakefield could ever imagine the impact this cookie would have.

Being an American, I feel I have to tinker with a good thing. I’ve been toying with the Toll House recipe for years, not to change this important piece of history, but simply to enhance all the best of what is there. Below you'll find a scan of the Toll House recipe straight from the book, and my hopefully respectful enhancements to the iconic chocolate chip cookie. Or rather, the “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie”.

To better view the Toll House recipe, or any of the pictures, click the image and it will enlarge onto its own page.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, soft to the touch
3/4 cups fresh light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon real vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar (You won’t taste it, I promise.)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups good quality all purpose flour
1 cup walnuts (Optional, but refer to notes for flour & chocolate changes.)
¾ of a 12 ounce package Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a nonstick skillet, melt 1 stick of the butter over medium heat until foamy and lightly golden brown. Pour into a bowl and wipe out the skillet. Place butter in the refrigerator and cool to about room temperature.

3. In the skillet over medium heat, toast the oatmeal stirring often until fragrant and some of the oatmeal is light golden in color. About 3 minutes. Transfer the oatmeal to a food processer and grind until fine and powdery. Set aside.

4. Spread the walnuts onto a plate and microwave in 30 second increments 2 or 3 times until toasted, stirring in-between. Let the walnuts cool slightly, and chop to desired size.

5. Mix in a stand mixer the softened butter, browned butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and vinegar into the and beat on slow to combine, and then on high speed until fluffy and lighter in color.

6. Add the eggs and mix until combined. Add the oatmeal and baking soda and beat for another minute. Next, add the flour half at a time and mix on low speed just until incorporated.

7. Add the chocolate chips and toasted walnuts. Mix on low until incorporated.

8. With a size 50 cookie scoop or a generous tablespoon, drop the dough onto parchment paper 3 inches apart.

9. Bake for 11 minutes or until golden around the edges. Remove from oven and let set on the cookie sheet for 3 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Makes about 45 cookies.

If omitting nuts, add 1/3 cup more flour to the batter and the whole bag of chocolate chips.
2. Cookies are best baked shortly after mixing the batter together. There is no need to refrigerate the dough.
3. These cookies freeze extremely well after they’re baked. You can take a few out at a time and microwave them. Or just let them thaw on the counter.
4. The plate of cookies was shot with a test batch that included coconut. If you want to try it, toast 2 Tablespoons sweetened coconut with the oatmeal.
5. The cookies were photographed on a 1930s Park Avenue luncheon plate by Anchor Hocking.

1. Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Tried and True Recipes.

Recipe changes, pictures, & write-up by Laura Flowers.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Homemade Banana Split Toppings

Ground instant tapioca is an incredible thickening agent. Just pulverize some instant tapioca in a clean spice grinder until almost powder. That’s all there is to it, and the taste of the tapioca powder is much cleaner than that of flour or cornstarch. Just be careful not to add too much, or you'll be making cement!

Now on to the banana splits! In addition to the toppings, you’ll need ice-cream, bananas, whipped cream, some chopped peanuts, and maraschino cherries if you like the works on your banana splits.

Chocolate Sauce
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder, sugar and salt and stir together. Next, add the evaporated milk. Stir until thickened enough to moderately coat the back of a spoon.

Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Allow the chocolate sauce to cool to room temperature. Sauce will thicken upon standing.

Strawberry Topping
1 tub (16 ounces) sliced strawberries with sugar, thawed
1 Tablespoon ground instant tapioca

In a saucepan over medium heat stir together the strawberries with juice and the ground tapioca. Stir occasionally until thickened to your preference.

Pineapple Topping

1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon ground instant tapioca

In a saucepan over medium heat stir together pineapple with the juice, sugar, and ground tapioca. Stir occasionally until thickened to your preference.

Notes: You can always add more ground tapioca if needed, but you can’t take it away.

Chocolate sauce recipe via Scott the dish boy who prefers to remain anonymous. Other recipes by Laura Flowers.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Stupid Rolo Turtles, Now I Need Bigger Pants.

I hate these things. HATE! Super addictive delicious easy horrible stinking Rolo Turtles I curse the day you were created! I curse the creator of such easy deliciousness. Do you hear me?

Maybe one more turtle and I’ll be calm enough to start writing. Ok maybe two. (Munch munch..) Ahhh much better. OK, just one more, really. Anyway, you get the picture right? Just stay away from this crack. It’s bad. I already feel the panic inside me growing. I’ve been without Rolo Turtles for ten seconds now. Ten seconds of wasted life.

It all started after lunch earlier this week. I wanted something sweet and salty. I had seen these easy little turtles pass through the blogging world. I even had the “recipe” memorized. So I innocently put them together, and something horrible happened! I *gasp* ate the whole cookie sheet full. This is something I never do!

The next day about noon I started to get antsy. Wait, be right back.. (Munch chew chomp). OK, so about noon I started to get kind of shaky. I need Rolo Turtles! Five minutes later these dastardly little sweet chewy chocolaty crunchy salty nutty monstrosities were being automatically shoveled into my mouth. My hands were out of control! On their own accord they started shoving these atrocious evil delicious candies into my mouth. My mouth would then be forced to chew, and my throat to swallow.

Day three is a repeat of day one and two. Except, I started putting more toppings on them. Peanuts, chocolate covered coffee beans, and almond, peanut, and plain M&M’s joined the original toasted pecans. I even have a special bag for toppings! There is no hope left for me. I’m doomed! I need bigger pants.

Don’t start down this road. Just say no to Rolo Turtles. Nancy Reagan will be proud of you.

Rolos, many
Pretzel Snaps (small square quilted pretzels)
Toasted pecans, M&M’s of any variety, chocolate covered coffee beans, peanuts, etcetera.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil.

Place the pretzels on the cookie sheet and top with one Rolo each. Bake for three minutes. Remove from the oven and press on topping of choice.

First, eat as many as you can while burning your mouth. Then slide the foil onto the counter and let the chocolate re-solidify. For faster set up, you can move the pan with the candy to the freezer, and chill for about 20 minutes or until firm.

Notes: To toast pecans, spread them out on a plate and microwave for 30 seconds at a time. Stir the pecans around with your hand in between cooking times until toasted.

I have no idea where this recipe originates from, but if I ever get my hands on that person... Picture and write-up by Laura Flowers.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hard Apple Cider Cheese Fondue

“Cheese makes life worth living” is what my friend Scott always says. I couldn’t agree more, but I’d stretch it a little further and say, “Cheese fondue, with university produced cheese and alcohol, makes life a party.”

1 pound Cougar Gold or other sharp white cheddar
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup hard apple cider (Drink the rest while preparing fondue)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1. Crumble or shred the cheese. In a bowl, toss together the cheese and flour.

2. In medium sized sauce pan bring the hard apple cider to a boil.

3. Reduce heat to low and add the cheese mixture a handful at a time, stirring until melted before adding more.

4. Add the vinegar and stir together.

5. Pour the precious golden cheesy elixir into a fondue pot.

6. Serve with cheese delivery devices

Cheese Delivery Devices
Crusty bread pieces
Baked Yukon Gold potato chunks
Lightly steamed broccoli
Apple chunks
Ham chunks
Toasted walnuts

Notes: Cougar Gold cheese is made by Washington State University:

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cherry Limeade the Radioactive Way

Want that dazzling super glowy look? Try this radioactive cherry limeade. It’s the secret skin enhancer of the stars. Your new glow in the dark skin will cause car accidents from the glare, and all your friends will be envious. With this extraordinary product you’ll stand out in the crowd, like the star you were meant to be.

Call now, for only $19.95 plus $1,245,967 shipping and handling, you can turn your whole life around. This product is not sold in stores. What are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and call 1 (555) Luv Glow. Try it risk free, with a full money back guarantee if you don’t love our product.

Warning: Side effects may include hyperactivity, addiction, and radioactive iodine poisoning. Shipping and handling are not refundable.

1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups water
Small pinch of salt
1 ½ cups fresh squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup maraschino cherries, not the juice
2 TBS grenadine
3 to 5 cups cold water (Depending on how strong you like your limeade)
Maraschino cherries & lime slices for garnish

In a sauce pan bring sugar, 1 ½ cups of water, and a pinch of salt to a boil. Boil until the sugar is melted and the liquid is clear; about 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside and cool slightly.

Place all the ingredients together in a half gallon pitcher and stir to combine. Chill and serve with garnishes.

Don’t forget to read the very small fine print! Radioactive Cherry Limeade photograph was taken by a goofy photographer playing with light, shadows, and Photoshop. Your batch may end up looking like normal cherry limeade, unless have a little radioactive iodine on hand to mix in.

Recipe, picture, and impossibly silly write-up by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Corn on the Cob the Easy Way

This method always turns out perfect corn on the cob. I consider my grill my first oven, and the oven that other thing that cooks too. To say that I prefer baking my corn over grilling means that baking, for once, is not only easier but produces constantly good results.

Corn on the Cob
Whatever you want to rub all over it later

Place the oven rack in the middle and preheat to 350 degrees.

Snip off any dangly small leaves and some of the fuzz (silks) on top. Place directly on the rack and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the corn from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before handling. Peel back the leaves and pull off the silks. Serve with the leaves twisted back, they look pretty and make a great handle.

Picture and write-up by Laura Flowers.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

WWII Caramel Refrigerator Cookies

I fumble around for a light switch as I walk softly in my skull printed Vans into the dark, cool reception room of a VFW Lodge. I find one, and suddenly spots of light float about the still dark room. Was this place alive once? It must have been, as old pictures of numerous past commanders run along the walls.

These men were once young, and grow older in visual records as time races forward. Fewer new faces come, and most of the old ones are gone now, giving the wispy ghost-like darkness a haunted feeling. I trail down the wall to the 1940s, my favorite era in time.

Young men, and many just home from the war, but I want to slide back just a bit further than these old photographs. I want to visit the time when these men were off fighting in foreign countries, and their wives, girlfriends, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and neighbors were taking responsibility for daily living. They did all this, all the while worrying about how they were going to make it, and how and if their loved ones would return home. Between newly acquired production line jobs and food rationing, women had to simplify their baking. Everyone was united in this war effort, either begrudgingly or wholeheartedly, but united nonetheless.

During this time, “Betty Crocker” printed a recipe for Caramel Refrigerator Cookies, which soon became an American favorite. These cookies were easy enough, stored quite well in the refrigerator until you needed them, and used brown sugar instead of precious rationed granulated sugar. They were also straightforward and not too sweet. Just the way I like my cookies.

I am in awe of the women who made it through this difficult time. They truly lived, good and bad, for better and worse. And after, they coped, celebrated, and had children. They moved forward, promoted service and veterans organizations, and changed the world. What an amazing time to be alive.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Caramel Refrigerator Cookies
½ cup shortening. (part butter or shortening)
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¾ cups Gold Medal Flour
½ teaspoon soda
¼ teaspoon salt

Mix shortening, sugar, egg, and vanilla thoroughly. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting. Stir flour, soda, and salt together; stir in. Form in roll 2 ½” across. Wrap in wax paper. Chill until firm.

Heat oven to 400° (mod. hot). Cut in 1/8th” slices. Place slices a little apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 min., or until lightly browned. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

My Notes
1. Lay a piece of wax paper on top of the cookies and place a piece of bread on the paper. This will keep the cookies fresh longer.

2. I doubled the recipe, and used half shortening and half unsalted butter.

3. I changed the vanilla to 1 Tablespoon for the double batch.

4. I froze the cookie logs for easier slicing.

5. I baked the cookies on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.

6. Soda in this recipe means baking soda.

Recipe in its original form from “Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book”. Write-up and pictures by Laura Flowers.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Zesty Old School Style Pizza Sauce

Growing up my parents took us kids to an old style pizza house their friends owned. “Uncle” Loren had the best pizza in town to me. I would climb up a small brick staircase onto a platform and watch through a glass window as those skillful pizza guys made our pies. This is where my obsession with pizza was born and nurtured.

This zesty sauce recipe is as close as I can come to that beautiful thick sauce. It’s what I make when I want a nostalgic, American style pizza house pie.

Zesty Old School Style Pizza Sauce Printer Version
Makes enough sauce to cover three medium, or two large pizzas.

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce (without sugar)
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Place all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and stir together.

Makes 1 1/2 cups of pizza sauce.

Notes: Because this recipe is so quick to prepare, I keep extra cans of tomato sauce and tomato paste around for spur of the moment pizza nights.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bruschetta Burgers with Fresh Ground Tri-tip

I like to grind my own meat in the food processor. I feel I have more control over what I’m using and what the end result will be. These burgers are one of those “Omgosh! Munch chomp chew don’t bother me I’m inhaling something amazing” experiences.

Bruschetta topping
1 or 2 ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
Palmful of chopped fresh basil
Palmful of chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4th cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 Tablespoon basil or regular olive oil
Salt & fresh cracked pepper

Mix all the ingredients together except salt. Add salt right before topping the burgers so the tomatoes don’t get watery. Set aside.

2 pounds Tri-tip steaks, with a strip of fat on the side preferably.
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
¼ cup finally chopped onion
Palmful of chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
Palmful of chopped fresh basil
1 Tablespoon basil or regular olive oil
Salt & fresh cracked pepper

Ingredients for assembly
6 thin slices unsmoked deli ham
1 cup grated Italian or regular fontina
1 loaf French bread, cut diagonally into 12 slices
Extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the grill to medium high.

Bring the steaks to room temperature. Grind ¼ of them at a time in a food processer, using the metal blade attachment. You’re looking for meat that is shredded without big pieces.

Place the meat in a large bowl and add the rest of the patty ingredients. Mix gently with your hands. Press together until it sticks well enough, then press into patties. The trick here is to press enough to stick together, but not to overwork the meat. Make 6 patties.

Cook the burgers until grill marks form, flip once and cook until almost done. Top with the fontina & ham and finish cooking.

Brush one side of the bread with olive oil. Grill the olive oil side until grill marks form. Place the patties on the uncooked side of a bread slice. Salt the bruschetta topping and spoon over the top of the patties. Top with another slice of grilled bread.

Serves 6.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mango Bacon Wrap

I wasn’t going to photograph this wrap, and certainly wasn’t going to write down this recipe. I told myself this is lunch; you don’t have to take a picture. Well it turned out lunch was especially colorful, and it tasted so good that I forced myself to stop eating to grab a quick shot.

Maybe I’ll try it with a few avocado slices next time.

Makes 1 wrap

4 thick cut slices of bacon
Zucchini, cut in half and thinly sliced (About 1/3 cup)
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt & fresh cracked pepper
1 Mango
Several small slices Pecorino Romano cheese
A little red onion, cut into thin slices
1 Burrito size flour tortilla

1. Cover a plate with two paper towels, layer on the bacon, and then cover with another paper towel. Microwave for three minutes. Carefully flip the bacon over and microwave for another three minutes or until crispy. Mop up grease with the paper towels.

2. Heat a skillet on medium high and add a small drizzle of olive oil. Add zucchini and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Sauté until tender crisp.

3. Skin and slice mango. (Mango slicers are fantastic)

4. Warm the tortilla in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Top with all the ingredients and roll together.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Olive, Garlic, & Rosemary Pizza Served with More Madness

This pizza has very strong flavors that hold their own, but balance each other well. That makes this particular pie a very savory umami experience without any meat involved.

To finish yesterday’s story of this crazy food blogger, I want to paint a picture for you of a typical pizza night in my home.

As people randomly show up they are put to work immediately. Usually on pizza nights I haven’t cleaned, haven’t written anything out but a few notes, and am in the middle of a brainstorm. That means I’m moving like a bat out of hell with a concentrated look on my face, and I refuse to speak. The creative process begins just when everyone wants to relax and have a good time.

The Hubby always gets the computer shift and a beer, his job is to write down ingredients and measurements as I spout them off. One or two friends/workers often show up. Dishboy is a regular on pizza nights, he’d like to be part of the creative process, but I have yet to include him in anything bigger than prep cook. The problem is, once I begin cooking there can’t be interruptions or I lose track of my thoughts. I’m often working at full speed with two or more projects at once. This leaves little time for communicating until everything is nearing completion.

Poor Dishboy is in the kitchen with me, often with my barks of, “Behind you with a knife!” and “No, chop this way!” This makes him feel on edge, and leads to him fearing my mere presence.

Friend two shows up later when he comes. I have yet to force him into free labor, but will be starting his training this week. Hopefully he is not reading this.

Ah at last! Everything is cooked and beautiful. Ready to eat? Everyone gather around the table. Yeah right! The food still needs to be plated and shot, and it usually goes something like this.

Dishboy, “I’m so hungry!”
Me, “We can’t eat yet, I still have to shoot”

Then I take plated food and camera outside to begin shooting. I realize there isn’t enough natural light left. So I throw a mini temper tantrum (it helps I tell you), and say a couple explicit words directing my anger toward the lack of light in Northern Idaho. I then pull out my small light kit and have The Hubby and Dishboy angle the lights.

Ugh still not enough light! We pull out the big guns with the reflector umbrellas. I finally get my shot, and we pack up and head to the table. Sitting down to eat, I beg for forgiveness for taking so long to make dinner and being a total pain in the butt.

Dishboy, “The pizza is cold”
The Hubby, “Chew chomp gulp”

The Hubby is way too smart to say anything after a wild pizza making night around here. Dishboy might learn someday.

So this is my life as a crazy food blogger. To my family and friends who put up with me for the sake of obsession, thank-you! Oh yes, and please forgive me.

1 (12 to 14 inch) stretched pizza dough on a pan (See notes below)
1Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 recipe Garlic Cream Sauce (recipe below)
2/3 cup mozzarella
1 cup baby arugula and spinach mix
1/2 cup blue cheese
1/2 cup Italian Alglio Green Pitted Olives with Minced Garlic, chopped (see notes)
¼ heaping teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano
Salt and pepper
Drizzle of olive oil

Garlic Cream Sauce
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8th teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8th teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/4th cup Parmesan Reggiano

In a saucepan melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant.Turn the heat to medium low and add the rest of the ingredients, but add the cheese last so it doesn’t hit the hot pan and seize up. Stir constantly until thickened.

1. Make the Garlic Cream Sauce.

2. Heat up the grill to hot and close the lid.

3. Brush the pizza pan lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Stretch and roll the dough and place on the pan. Brush with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Spoon on as much Garlic Cream Sauce as desired.

4. Top pizza with the mozzarella, baby arugula and spinach mix, bleu cheese, chopped olives, fresh rosemary, and Parmesan Reggiano. Sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Then drizzle the top with a little olive oil.

5. Set the pizza on the grill and close the lid. Turn grill to medium high and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until cooked through. Turn to medium for a thicker crust pizza and cook longer. Remove onto a cookie sheet with tongs.

6. Let rest for about 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

1. See for information on pizza dough and grilling techniques.

2. Olives are made by Olive Orchard and were purchased from Safeway’s olive bar.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fig, Bacon, & Bleu Cheese Pizza Served with a Little Madness

We food bloggers must be a crazy lot, and I’m guessing I’m not alone in my madness. Typically I’m described as happy, sweet, and even nice really. That is until I get into a kitchen. Then I turn into General Flowers, and all those within earshot become my reluctant and somewhat terrified minions. It takes an Army to run a food blog, and until I get paid for this, my Army happens to be everyone I can lure into my kitchen with the promise of a free meal.

This all began about a year ago, when I decided visually documenting some of the food I made might be a good idea. Then I reached a fanatical stage where I wanted to document most things I made. Subsequently, I realized I needed recipes recorded. What good are pictures without recipes?

So here I am, crazy but fulfilling a fervent addiction. I’ll disclose more about my poor frightened family and friends in my next post. For now, let’s focus on this pizza!

Oh, this pizza! So chewy, salty, creamy, mildy sweet, and so pretty! It convinced even the stubborn friend, who hates sweet on their savory food, that they were wrong. Very wrong indeed.

1 (12 to 14 inch) stretched pizza dough on a pan (See notes below)
1Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 recipe Alfredo Nutmeg sauce (recipe below)
2/3 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup bleu cheese or gorgonzola
1 cup baby arugula and spinach mix
4 slices thick sliced bacon
1/3 cup sliced Sun-Maid Mission Figs, stems discarded
1/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano
Drizzle of honey
Salt and fresh cracked pepper

Alfredo Nutmeg Sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan Reggiano
Fresh grated nutmeg to taste

Mix all the ingredients, except nutmeg, in a sauce pan and cook on medium low heat. Stir constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the nutmeg. Set aside.

1. Make the Alfredo Nutmeg Sauce.

2. Heat up the grill to hot and close the lid.

3. Cover a plate with two paper towels, lay on the bacon, and then cover with another paper towel. Microwave for three minutes. Carefully flip the bacon over and microwave for another three minutes or until crispy. Pat off grease and cut into bite sized pieces. Cool and cut into chunks.

4. Brush the pizza pan lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Stretch and roll the dough and place on the pan. Brush with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Spoon on as much Alfredo Nutmeg sauce as desired.

5. Top pizza with the mozzarella, bleu cheese or gorgonzola, baby arugula and spinach mix, chopped bacon, sliced figs, and Parmesan Reggiano. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper.

6. Set the pizza on the grill and close the lid. Turn grill to medium high and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until cooked through. Turn to medium for a thicker crust pizza and cook longer. Remove onto a cookie sheet with tongs.

7. Let rest for about 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Notes: See for information on pizza dough and grilling techniques.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mother’s Day Lavender Honey & Tea

This gift idea came about because I wanted some lavender honey to drizzle over warm brie on baguette slices. Then I thought the honey would make pretty little gifts. But the gifts were so small, they needed something else. Tea! So this year’s Mother’s Day gifts are little jars of lavender honey, Ball Iced Tea Jars, and a box of iced tea bags.

I used a hot glue gun to fasten on the flowers. The other embellishments were done simply with ribbon and some extra fabric. This is your chance to get creative.

Another idea for lavender honey would be a gift basket of scones, honey, and tea. Or perhaps one with brie, a fresh baguette or good crackers, and lavender honey would also be nice.

Lavender Honey
Honey, local preferably
Culinary Lavender
Silk or cotton tea bags
Small jars

Fill tea bags with 1 teaspoon of culinary lavender; seal the tea bag, folding the cotton ones in on themselves twice. Place the bags in jars and cover with honey. The bags will float, just shove them down and place the lid on top.

Decorate with dried or plastic flowers, ribbons, fabric, stickers, etcetera.

Notes: I purchased the culinary lavender from Amazon, and the tea jars from my local kitchen store.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sweet, Salty, and Savory Panini

Here’s another sandwich thrown together from food that needed to be used up in my kitchen. Sandwiches are a great medium for invention, and it’s a good thing we like them, because we eat a lot of them.

Makes two sandwiches.

4 slices of your favorite bread(Or see recipe link below)
Maple butter for spreading (Recipe Below)
Scant 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
10 slices pre-cooked Canadian bacon
½ Apple, thinly sliced
Fresh cracked pepper
Drizzle of honey
1/4 cup bleu cheese or gorgonzola

Heat up the panini press to medium high.

Brush the outsides of bread with maple butter. Layer on the cheddar, Canadian bacon, apple, fresh cracked pepper, a drizzle of honey, and bleu cheese. Top with other slice of bread.

Grill until crispy on the outside and the cheese is melted.

Maple Butter
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
Pinch of salt

Place in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer until well mixed.

Notes: The bread recipe from the picture can be found at I make all three loaves at a time, brush them with butter, let them cool, wrap them in foil, and freeze the extras. They thaw beautiful, and keep for almost a week in my bread box without drying out.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Strawberry Shake It Up Oreo Brownies

It was late into the evening before procrastination turned its obnoxious head toward reality. I didn’t have a cookie platter for my husband to take to work the next morning. So, off to my muse I went in search of inspiration. I was hoping for something easy, and then it hit me! I turned the corner and smacked my cart into a display of Strawberry Milkshake Crème Oreos.

Ok, I can take a hint. Here you go Oreo God! I hope I’ve done you justice.

1 (22.5 ounce) box Hershey’s Original Supreme Brownie Mix
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (12 ounce) package Limited Edition Strawberry Milkshake Oreos
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow crème
1/3 cup strawberry preserves

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap a 13x9 inch pan with foil and brush thoroughly with vegetable oil.

2. Place the Oreos in a gallon size bag and seal. With the side of a large heavy spoon break up the Oreos into chunks. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the brownie mix with syrup packet, water, vegetable oil, eggs, and 1 cup of the crushed Oreos.

4. Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 27 to 29 minutes, or until no longer wet looking.

5. Meanwhile, mix together the marshmallow crème and strawberry preserves. Set aside.

6. After removing brownies from the oven, immediately dollop on the marshmallow crème and spread gently to coat the brownies. Top with the rest of the crushed Oreos and press gently to stick. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan.

7. For easier cutting, move the pan of brownies to the freezer for 1 hour. Then, lift by the foil and peel it away. Cut into strips using a hot knife. Clean knife off after each cutting with hot water and a paper towel. Then cut the other direction into squares.

Warning! These are very sweet. If you want a less sweet brownie you can skip the marshmallow crème and strawberry preserves. Just lightly press in the remaining crushed Oreos during the last 15 minutes of baking.

Makes about 35 brownies.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

Friday, May 1, 2009

Panzanella Salad, Not Baseball.

I had a baguette sitting out on my kitchen counter for several days. The thing was rock hard, and it was either play baseball with it, or make panzanella salad. I chose the salad. It’s still too cold out for baseball.

1/3 of a red onion, thinly sliced
3 to 4 very ripe tomatoes, cut into bite sized chunks
2/3 cup marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
2 to 3 handfuls of basil leaves, torn into pieces
3 red mini peppers, lightly grilled and cut into rings
3 yellow mini bell peppers, lightly grilled and cut into rings
1 (8 ounce) very stale baguette
Salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste

2 tablespoon capers drained and rinsed
1 Tablespoon anchovy paste
1 to 2 cloves of garlic
½ cup good quality red wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
A handful of basil leaves

1. Break up the bread into large bite size chunks and place in a large bowl. Top with the rest of the salad ingredients, except salt & pepper.

2. In a small food processor add all the dressing ingredients. Process until smooth.

3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and let set for 15 to 20 minutes. Add more olive oil or vinegar if the salad is too dry. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.

Notes: For faster prep, use roasted bell peppers from a jar instead of grilling your own.

Serves 4 to 5.

Recipe by Laura Flowers

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