A personal kitchen diary. I try new recipes and make notes on what works and what doesn't. Sometimes I can things, and sometimes I dry herbs. This is the story of my kitchen.


Quest for a Perfect Pound Cake – This wasn’t it

Quest for a Perfect Pound Cake – This wasn’t it

A friend is turning 50 this spring, and when I asked him what his favorite cake was, he said pound cake.  Well, the quest began for the perfect recipe so I could make him a pound cake for his birthday. And then I saw this […]

Marinated Tuna Steak

Marinated Tuna Steak

Tuna looked good at the fish counter the other night, and I hadn’t made this for awhile, so I picked up two.  The recipe calls for fresh parsley, and fresh oregano, but I had none and dried worked fine.  I was also putting together the […]

Sweet potatoes mashed with orange juice and spices

Sweet potatoes mashed with orange juice and spices

I haven’t made these in a long time, and I don’t know why, I love them!  Well, maybe because Steve doesn’t love them, so I usually just make for myself.

Tonight was the night.  I had two sweet potatoes left from a big farmer’s market bag of sweet potatoes, and Steve is out for the evening.

I also got out a big naval orange, and a few spices.  I may have once had a recipe, but I have no idea where it is.  So I just grabbed some things from the spice cupboard.

I peeled and cubed the sweet potatoes, and cut the orange for juicing.  I mixed up a tablespoon of cinnamon, and a teaspoon each of ginger and cloves from a little tin of organic spices my nieces had given to me.

Into a sauce pan with water to cover went the sweet potato, and onto the stove top to boil.

I juiced the orange, and fiddled with the spice blend.  I ended up adding 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, another tsp of cloves, and a tsp of green cardamom just because I had some in that tin.  I just kept adjusting until the blend tasted right.

I checked the potatoes at 15 minutes, and they needed just about 5 minutes longer before I took them off the heat and drained them.

And mashed them

And blended in the orange juice until smooth.  I then added probably 1 tsp of the spice blend and mixed it all up.  Again, I just did this to taste.

I decided it needed just a little butter, so added 1/2 tablespoon, plus a couple of grinds of coarse salt.

Final product.  So Good!

Served with fish and cucumber slices.  Pretty healthy dinner really.


Orange Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This is mostly to taste.

The sweet potatoes and orange should be one-to-one.  That is, if you are only doing 1 sweet potato, you need just 1 orange.  If you have more people to feed, use 4 sweet potatoes, and you will need 4 oranges.

2 large sweet potatoes

2 large naval oranges

Spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg to your taste. A pumpkin pie spice blend might fit the bill for you if you don’t want to mix your own.

1 Tablespoon butter

Salt to taste

Peel and cube sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes.  Place in a sauce pan and add water to cover.  Bring to boil and boil for approximately 20 minutes.  Check with a fork at 15 minutes for tenderness.

Meanwhile, juice the oranges and set aside.

When the sweet potatoes are tender, drain and return to the pan for mashing.  Once the potatoes are mashed, begin adding orange juice and stirring to blend.  The 1:1 ratio should work, but you can taste as you go to see if you want to add more orange juice.

Stir in 1 tsp of the spice blend, and again taste and add more to your own taste.  Stir in 1 Tablespoon of butter, and add a few grinds of coarse sea salt.  Blend thoroughly until smooth.

In the original recipe I had (wherever it is) they got all fancy and you cleaned out the orange shells and piled the mix back in the shells, and then baked them before serving.  I did it once, and it was pretty 🙂


Could a hot Caprese salad (of a sort) be a thing?

Could a hot Caprese salad (of a sort) be a thing?

I thought about making the Caprese portobello mushrooms again last night, but apparently even walking downstairs to go to the garage fridge was too much work for me. So instead I sliced up the two tomatoes I had, got out the rest of the mozzarella […]

A Chocolate Drink from Cocoa Beans

A Chocolate Drink from Cocoa Beans

On our recent trip to Costa Rica, I took a chocolate tour at Tirimbina and at the end of the chocolate tour the guide, Sergio, gave me a small bag of cocoa beans. Last night I decided I needed to do something with them before […]

Caprese Portobello Mushrooms

Caprese Portobello Mushrooms

I had an idea about making something with portobello mushrooms and was googling around trying to round out that idea when I came across this post by Cafe Delites.

And while I’m still going to run with my other idea, first I made these delicious mushrooms for lunch.

After all, I had all the necessary ingredients (well, with a little adjustment here and there).

I didn’t do everything exactly the same as the recipe, but it was pretty close. The first thing was that I don’t really like the gills on the mushrooms, so I scraped those out.  I also didn’t use grape tomatoes, and I wanted the tomato slices to lay flat inside the mushroom cap, so I cut out a bit more of the stem to make it even.

I melted some butter and minced garlic together, and brushed the tops of the mushrooms with it.


Since it was below zero, I wasn’t going to follow the instructions to grill the mushrooms outside, and I had adjusted an oven rack to the top of my oven and turned on the broiler to high.  I set the mushrooms butter side up on a foil lined sheet, and broiled the mushrooms for 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, I sliced a medium tomato, and got out a handful of Bel Giosio Mozzarella pearls.  I didn’t have any basil, but I did have this basil paste from Gourmet Gardens that I could use.

I took the mushrooms out of the oven.

Flipped them over, and brushed the insides of the mushrooms with the rest of the garlic butter.

My first layer was the tomato.  After placing two whole slices in, I cut another slice to fit in pieces so I had a whole layer of tomato.  If I had a bigger tomato, I wouldn’t have had to do the whole jigsaw thing.

Next up was the basil paste.  I squeezed a layer of the basil paste onto the tomato.

And finally I layered on the mozzarella.  Obviously just a slice would have been fine too, but what I had on hand were the little mozzarella balls (pearls).  I forgot to take a picture.  Oops.

I put the mushrooms back in the oven and broiled for 5 minutes, until the cheese started to brown.

One lesson learned was to use a rimmed baking sheet.  I managed to get this out of the oven without spilling, but it was touch and go there for a minute.

These were delicious!  Oh, I also drizzled with Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze.

I’ll add that I’ve tried a few things from Cafe Delites before, and they are always good.  Last fall I made her chimichurri and it is amazing.

So check out her post and try this!

My First Effort at Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

My First Effort at Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

I am not going to pretend I am a gumbo expert, or that I know everything there is to know about gumbo.  Far from it.  I have never even watched someone make gumbo. Mainly I like to eat it, and my brother makes the best […]

Brown Sugar Crockpot Ham

Brown Sugar Crockpot Ham

You can’t really call this a recipe.  You need two ingredients – brown sugar and a bone-in, butt portion ham. I found the instructions for this on Pinterest, but I can’t find the site again so can’t link to it.  However, it is so simple […]

Savory Oyster Crackers

Savory Oyster Crackers

This feels a little ridiculous to post.  But it did in fact happen in my kitchen last week, so here we go.

Yep, it’s snackin’ oyster crackers baked in ranch seasoning.  I was doing my last minute Christmas-meal shopping and found myself in the cracker aisle.  I spotted Oyster crackers.  I bought them.

Whisk 1/4 cup of vegetable oil with one packet of Hidden Valley Ranch mix and 1/4 cup of seasoning, pour those crackers into a zip lock bag, and you are half way there.

It feels weird to say massage the crackers, but that is what you do.

Spread into one even layer on a baking sheet, and into the oven at 325 Fahrenheit for 25 minutes.

Then after that you have ridiculously addictive crackers to snack on, even though they really don’t look much different than before you baked them.

Our stepmother used to send each of us our own bag at Christmas time.  We tended not to share with others, those were our bags by golly.

Savory Oyster Crackers

1 bag oyster crackers

1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dip mix

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit.

Combine crackers, vegetable oil, dip mix and garlic powder in a gallon zip lock bag.  Seal the bag and massage or toss the bag until all crackers are evenly coated.  Spread out in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet, then bake for 25 minutes.

You’re done.









Eating Rice in Costa Rica

Eating Rice in Costa Rica

I was away from my kitchen for a few weeks because Steve and I were vacationing in Costa Rica. The vacation was primarily bird-watching (my husband is the birdwatcher), but we still had to eat!  And I think that it is pretty obvious that I […]