Spaghetti Sauce

This recipe is for you if you want to try and make your own sauce but don’t know where to start.  Once you learn to make this you can personalize it to your own taste and add or take away ingredients.  Custom sauce.  And if you make your own you save money and can have it on hand in your freezer.  It’s so easy and so much better than the stuff in a jar.  I use the giant can of San Marzano tomatoes from Italy.  They are said to be the best because of the growing conditions in Italy.

2014-11-30 Spaghetti Ingredients














You will need:

  • 1 giant can Nina San Marzano tomatoes (3000g or 6 lb 10 oz) or other brand
  • 2 12-ounce cans tomato paste
  • 1 10-ounce can Ro-Tel dice tomatoes and green chilies
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 very large chopped onion
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

Put all those ingredients in a nice large pot.  Turn on the heat to medium for a start – just until everything gets warmed up and starts to simmer, then turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 2-3 hours or until the onions and tomatoes are very soft.  Then remove your bay leaves.  Using a stick blender mix it all together until smooth.  That’s it. Easy as can be.  Now you have 4 quarts of amazing sauce that will be ready whenever you need it.  Buon appetito!

2014-11-30 Spaghetti on a Plate

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.  Right?  Not always.  Not for everyone.  Lots of pressure for family, friends, parties, traditions, shopping and more shopping.  We miss loved ones.  That’s how I feel, anyway.  In the chaos I sometimes lose my focus.  Then I stop.  Breathe.  What am I doing?  Why do I celebrate Christmas?

Oh yes.  In the craziness I sometimes forget.

Luke 2:10-11 (NIV)

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  11  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, this and many other prophecies were written (and fulfilled) about the coming Savior:

Micah 5:2 (ESV)

2 “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”

We celebrate the Savior who came to us as a baby.  Who created the universe.  I worship the One who made me.  That’s it.  Jesus.  He is why I celebrate Christmas.  He is a bit surprising at times.  His family tree contains the likes of prostitutes, murderers, liars, cheats.  And lest anyone think this is a white person’s religion, think again.  Jesus came from a multi-racial family.  His political and top social issues might be summed up in this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.

So…Merry Christmas to all.  May it be a time of reflection as well as all the other stuff.  Much love to you.  It really is the most wonderful time of the year if you let it be.

Thank you Steve, for your beautiful photo.  This is our Christmas card to you.

for Karins Christmas 2

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Dutch Baby

Pannekoek (plural Pannekoeken), German Baby, Puff Pancake.

Dutch Baby- Cropped 1














“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh.  “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.  “It’s the same thing,” he said.

- A.A. Milne

The Dutch Baby is exciting.  Make sure that your family is gathered around when this comes out of the oven because it is quite dramatic but it doesn’t last long before it settles.  A big, buttery, reminiscent-of-a-popover delight!  A puffy, crusty pancake.  With toasty brown butter flavor.  Topped with farm fresh berries.  Ahem and amen.

You must have a cast iron skillet for this.  If you don’t have a cast iron skillet (whaaat?!?) we should talk.  This is our heritage in America and the original cast iron cookware actually goes back to the time before Christ in China.  They are durable and in the South they are handed down from generation to generation. It is a source of pride to have grandmother’s skillet.  Truth be told, I had to buy my own.  No matter.  I went to a camping store and paid $12 some years ago.  True, they are heavy and you’re not going to do any fancy omelet flipping in one of these.  They are the workhorses of cookware; solid, beautiful things.  Truly, you could probably use some other skillet but I won’t vouch for them.

Here we go.  Get your ingredients ready.

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp lemon or orange zest (optional)

Dutch Baby Ingrediants














Turn the oven on to 425F and place 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter in your pan and pop it into the oven right away, WHILE it is preheating.  That’s important.

Dutch Baby Butter














Mix all ingredients with a stick blender, blender, or hand mixer.

Dutch Baby Batter














As soon as your oven has reached temperature, remove the pan from the oven and pour the batter right over the melted butter and into the hot pan.  Put it back into the oven immediately.  Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown and puffy.  Serves four.

Dutch Baby- Cropped 2


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Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

Double Layer Pumkin Cheesecake-4














Yay for pumpkin AND cheesecake! I usually don’t like my cheesecake messed with too much, but there are exceptions. Yes to pumpkin in cheesecake for sure.

The first time I made this was for Thanksgiving some years ago.  My family promptly informed me that we no longer needed regular pumpkin pie.  This was the new star of Fall celebrations and Thanksgiving, and pumpkin pie is a little boring after all.  My daughter makes this for her family now.

Right now it is 4:00 a.m. on a beautiful September morning. The windows are open and I can hear an owl outside somewhere. Who-who-whoo! Just the owl and I are awake. Anyway, I’m wired to be a morning person. I can’t really help it so I might as well enjoy it.

When I first found this recipe it had a graham cracker crust and not really enough filling in my opinion – but still a lovely pie with star potential.  So I added a gingersnap crust and increased/modified the filling.  Serve it with some whipped cream or Browned Butter Ice Cream to dress it up a little.

Double Layer Pumkin Cheesecake-5














This is pretty simple for cheesecake.  For the crust:

  • 1-3/4 cup ground ginger snap cookies
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Mix together and press into pie pan or springform pan.  Bake 350F for 10 minutes.

Now for the cheesecake:

  • 3 8-oz pkg softened cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cloves
  • 1 pinch nutmeg

Mix the cream cheese in the mixer until smooth.  Add sugar and mix until smooth.  Add one egg at a time and mix, add vanilla.  Place half of batter in pan and spread evenly.

Make sure your naughty puppy doesn’t counter surf for the empty cream cheese wrappers.  But she’s so cute…









Now blend the pumpkin and spices into the remaining cheesecake batter and spread over the top of the plain cheesecake batter.  Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes.  Cool and then refrigerate before serving.  Absolutely delicious.  I’m loving autumn!

Double Layer Pumkin Cheesecake-2















Categories: Desserts and Sweets, Recipe Index | 1 Comment

Browned Butter Ice Cream















I think we all know the wondrous aroma of browned butter.  It has long been used in sauces, on pasta, and on vegetables.  But in ice cream???  Superb.  The complex, nutty aroma in this ice cream takes you to another place on the food-space continuum.  For me, caramel and nuts will win out over chocolate every time and the brown butter caramel notes in this ice cream are deep.  Add to that some cinnamon sugar toasted pecans and it’s almost too wonderful to speak of.

No, Virginia you don’t absolutely have to have an ice cream maker.  But once you make that initial investment you can make ice cream of any flavor, sorbet, frozen yogurt, frozen drinks.  If you’re already familiar with making ice cream sans ice cream maker, go for it.















I never thought I would love making ice cream.  But when I learned that I could actually make ice cream that is as good as the real premium stuff, I was in. I owe that to my friend Janet who walked past me one day and said “Cuisinart ice cream makers are on sale at The Kitchen Window!”  What??  I’m there.  Oh Janet, I totally blame you.  Kidding.  Sort of.

Now.  Making ice cream isn’t that hard.  You just need to plan a little.  Get everything ready a day ahead and then the next day you’re ready to go.  Place the bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer at least 12 hours before use.  You will also want to completely chill the mixture before processing.  Chill for at least 6 hours and overnight is even better.  There’s a science to all this ice cream making.  Ice crystals, fat crystals, emulsification, and freezing.  Follow the directions and you won’t have to get all involved with the sciencey stuff.  And your homemade ice cream will be pure food heaven.  No weird stuff which I’m all for, don’t get me wrong.  But you don’t need it here.

Cinnamon Sugar Toasted Pecans:

  • 1 Cup chopped pecans
  • 2 Tbsp butter (this will melt by itself in the oven)
  • 1/3 cup cinnamon sugar









Put the above ingredients in a pan and place in 350F oven for 20-25 minutes.  Stir a few times during that time.  Remove from oven and give one last stir to break them up.  Cool.  I will admit that this is a lot of pecans for about a quart of ice cream but you can freeze the extras.









Browned Butter Ice Cream (adapted from Desserts/Baking):

  • 1/2 cup butter (I used salted – either works)
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt butter in a saucepan or small skillet.  Cook over medium heat until the butter is is good and brown, but watch and stir frequently because it can burn quickly.  Brown equals flavor so this step is important.  You’ll want a nice dark brown color and it will be on the bottom of the pan.

In a mixer beat egg yolks, brown sugar and salt until fluffy.  Slowly add the browned butter while mixing.  Just drizzle it in at first and be careful.  Hot butter burns.  No fun.  Meanwhile bring the cream and milk to a simmer.  Then slowly whisk the cream mixture into the browned butter mixture until well blended and pour back into the pot.  Cook over low heat to a temperature of about 170F.









Stir in the vanilla.  Cool and then refrigerate for several hours – overnight is even better.  Pour into the bowl of your ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions.  You can either stir in the pecans or sprinkle on top.  Freeze until firm.  Wait for it….oh my.
















Categories: Desserts and Sweets, Recipe Index | 2 Comments

Grilled Tilapia
















Easy, fast and delicious.  I’ve never been super excited about fish but that’s about to change.  Sorry to all the disappointed fish who thought they were off the hook.  Hehe.  That was a totally terrible and spontaneous pun.  Anyway, grilled or oven baked this will be done in just minutes.  Oh yeah.  There’s no pan to clean up because we’re using foil!

You will need:

  • aluminum foil
  • cooking spray
  • Tilapia (or Mahi Mahi, Salmon, Walleye, etc)
  • salt, pepper, this seasoning blend or your own
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • fresh thyme (or tarragon or dill)
  • lemon slices
  • sliced onion

Make a little foil tray for the fish by folding up the sides and ends and spray it with cooking spray.  Double the thickness of the foil unless it’s heavy duty.  Place the fish in the tray and sprinkle with salt, pepper and seasoning, drizzle with olive and a little butter.















Almost ready.  Take a sprig of thyme and place it on top of the fish and finish with a slice of lemon and a few onion slices.  Now place it on a medium heat grill.  When the fish becomes opaque and firm, it’s done!  About 10-15 minutes is all it takes depending on the size of your fish.


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Mint Iced Tea and Peach Mojitos

Summer I have missed you!  Welcome back to Minnesota and quickly, before we float away in this record month of rain, let’s pause and refresh.  What do Iced Tea and Peach Mojitos have in common?  Mint!  My garden is crazy with this fragrant perennial.  Here are two recipes that are super easy. First, the tea.

Mint Iced Tea














Minty Lemon Sun Tea

  • 12 tea bags
  • Sliced lemon
  • Mint Sprigs
  • 12 cups filtered water
  • Sugar to taste (add post-brewing)

Put it all in a jar in the beautiful sunshine for 3-5 hours and you’ll have minty, lemony sun tea.  My dad used to make sun tea by the pool when we were kids so it brings up some great memories for me.  He would like this, I think.  Remove the tea bags and refrigerate. That’s it.  You have a pretty glass of iced tea.

Peach Mojito














Peach Mojitos

I make these one at a time but you can always make a simple syrup if you’re making more.  One part water to one part sugar; boil and cool.  To be honest, I’d never heard of a peach mojito before.  But I had mint and I had peaches and it sounded like a perfect match.  Of course I did not invent this drink except for perhaps in my own mind.  All that peachy-licious color.  This is seriously very good without the rum too.  Beauty in a glass.

  • 1/2 a lime, quartered
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1-3 teaspoons sugar (I like one) and equal parts water
  • 1/2 fresh peach
  • 2 oz white rum
  • Club soda

Squeeze the juice of two of the lime quarters into a glass, add mint leaves, sugar and water.  Now….MUDDLE.  This is the fun part.  If you don’t have a muddler – and who does – use a wooden spoon or similar utensil to kind of crush the mint leaves and release their flavor and dissolve the sugar, then add the last two lime quarters and muddle those a bit too.  Now take half a ripe peach and press it through a strainer to get the nectar.  You can buy peach nectar in a can if you don’t have ripe peaches.  Pour the peach nectar and rum into your glass.  Fill it with ice and finish it off with club soda.  Garnish with a sprig of mint and even a slice of peach and a curl of lime rind.  So pretty!  Mint and peach are really nice together.

Now I feel that I may need a muddler seeing as how I have so much mint.  I love kitchen tools.  Happy muddling to you!  May your summer be filled with minty fresh goodness.


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Swedish Nuts















I think I’ve known this recipe my whole life.  But what I don’t know is what makes these nuts Swedish.  I’m a little Swedish.  Does that do it?  No?  I asked my mom where she originally got the recipe.  And yes, it was out of a church cookbook about 50 years ago.  Church cookbooks were the backbone of middle-American cooking.  Before the internet people had to share recipes in cookbooks and on recipe cards.  Seriously.  I find it humorous that the Swedes would take a food that is of various brown tones and make it white.  Ha!

Anyway, we all have our favorite recipes that are part of our heritage.  I guess this one is part of mine and that’s why I want to share it.  Although…I confess I didn’t love nuts when I was a child.  But now I make these for Christmas every year and they’re even gluten free so if all that Christmas cookie baking has you down, don’t despair!

This is so easy and requires only a few ingredients.  Who doesn’t love brown butter, sugary, meringue-coated nuts?  Use any nuts that you like.  I used roasted, unsalted Pecans and Almonds.  I think unsalted is a good idea for this recipe.  This is simple.  And nuts are healthy so get ready!

You will need:

  • 4 cups mixed nuts
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 325F.  Place nuts and 1/3 cup butter on a half sheet pan (a pan with edges, aka jelly roll pan?).  Bake for 20 minutes or so.  Give them a stir about halfway through to coat evenly with the butter.















And they look like this:















And this.  Mmmmhmmmm…..















Now you’ll want to whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Sloooooowwwly add the sugar and salt.  Now pour onto the baking sheet,















stir to coat the nuts and into the oven.  Don’t stir too much or you break down the meringue.  Be gentle.















Give them bit of a stir or just kind of loosen them after 15 minutes for a total bake time of 30 minutes.  That’s it.  Let them cool for a few minutes, loosen from the pan with a spatula so they don’t stick too much.
















Cool completely and place in an airtight container.  They will keep for a few weeks.  Keep in the freezer for longer storage.



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Glory Be









Our daughter Jamie’s 14th birthday was coming up.  Steve said that the golden birthday, in her case February 14th, was a special birthday and we should think of a special gift.  Hmmmm….the only thing that I could think of was a puppy.  Steve balked.  We got her a kitten for her 6th birthday – wasn’t that enough?  I pressed and he finally gave in.  But only if it was a Border Collie.  Fine – no problem!  I liked Border Collies.  So the search began.  We looked at some black and white BC’s in Isanti but they were almost 12 weeks old.  They looked so big.  I wanted a younger puppy.  Little did I know that a 12 week old puppy would have been much better socialized.  Anyway, we found some seven week old pups in New London.  They were red and white.  I didn’t know there was such a thing as red and white Border Collies.  Off we went to New London while Jamie was at school.  And there was that sassy little girl pup.  She liked to bark and had two different colored eyes.  She’s the one.  We drove for home with a side trip to the pet store for all the necessary items.  Jamie came home from school and I told her she needed to clean her room.  Now.  A look of confusion crossed her face.  Now?  Yes, now.  She went in her room and screamed!   A puppy!!  Glory Be became the one nickname that stuck over time.  The phrase “glory be” is an old fashioned kind of an exclamation point. That describes Glory for sure.

Glory was sassy from the get go.  And driven.  Throw the ball.  Throw the ball.  Throw the ball.  THROW THE BALL!!!!  Where’s the squirrel.  Where’s the squirrel.  Relentless.  She would leap into the air so she could look directly into your eyes.  Nothing could get her as excited as the mention of a squirrel.  It was about the game – not the squirrel – although she did like to chase them.  But she wanted you to be as excited about the squirrel as she was.

Glory was unbelievably smart.  I know everyone says that about their dogs.  But what I loved about her was that she processed what you would say.  Glory, go upstairs and get the toy turtle.  Thinking…..her head would tilt to one side, the wheels were turning.  Though I’d never told her to do that before, she put those commands together and off she went.  I loved that about her.  She really listened – more than any other dog I’ve ever known – and tried to understand your words.  So you can imagine how sad we were when she seemed kind of disoriented yesterday morning.  I took her outside early in the morning and had to help her with the step down to the sidewalk.  But she ate her breakfast and though she’d been lethargic lately all seemed well.  Until she had a seizure.  Oh how hard to watch a dog go through that.  All you can do is hold them.  But we thought that was the end of it. Until the next one.  And the ten more that followed that for a total of twelve seizures in 24 hours.  Steve was by her side all night, holding her through each one.  What a good man he is.












And now five months after Kip died, here we are again, faced with a tough decision although there really was no other decision we could make.  It’s so sad and so hard that I can’t judge another for not making the decision.  We held Glory in our arms and again Dr. Audrey was there.  She said Glory was ready and it’s nice to hear someone say those words because we second guess ourselves as it is.  So again we held her as the life went from her little body and again we are unbearably sad.  The house is completely empty except for ourselves now.  No pets left where once we had four.

Goodbye, Glory.   You were a good girl.  Now there are two empty collars and two heavy hearts in this home.



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Pumpkin Chai Marshmallows















Pumpkin chai marshmallows?  These are fun and if you are a lover of pumpkin lattes, this is a must try!  These bouncy little pillows get all melty in your coffee and create this beautiful pumpkin spice foam of deliciousness.  And it won’t cost $5 a cup either.  I chose to make these with honey and not corn syrup.  A direct one-to-one substitution.  I’m a little bit anti corn syrup although it has it’s place.  If you choose to use corn syrup, this will work just as well.















Homemade marshmallows are quite a bit different from the store bought kind.  They melt much more easily which is nice for your coffee.  And how about in your cocoa??  Divine.















If you’re going to make Pumpkin Chai Marshmallows, don’t forget the S’mores!  I used gingersnaps, put a few chocolate chips on the bottom of one and placed my roasted marshmallow on top.  The chocolate melts, the marshmallow oozes out and there is the taste of autumn goodness.  A tip about roasting these: since they melt more easily than regular store bought marshmallows, use caution when roasting.  
















  • 3 packets unflavored gelatin powder
  • 1 cup cold water, divided in half
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • A pinch of cardamom
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

Grease and sprinkle with powdered sugar/corn starch blend  9×13 inch pan. Set aside.

In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup water. Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes for the gelatin to “bloom” or activate.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the honey, 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, and salt to a boil over medium high heat. Using a candy thermometer, continue boiling until the temperature reaches 238-240 degrees F. This will take about 8-10 minutes.  Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over.

While the syrup mixture is cooking, blend the pumpkin puree, spices and vanilla together with a fork or spoon until smooth.

As soon as the temperature of the syrup is reached, slowly pour into the gelatin mixture while beating on low speed to incorporate using a whip attachment.  Use extra caution here to not burn yourself or any innocent bystanders!  Turn the mixer up to high speed and beat for 12-14 minutes.  The marshmallow should be thick and fluffy. At about the 8 minute mark, beat in the pumpkin, spice and vanilla mixture.  Mix until well-incorporated, about 1 minute.

Pour marshmallow mixture into prepared pan and allow to set overnight.  Sprinkle work surface with powdered sugar/corn starch mixture.  Remove from pan and cut with an oiled knife.  Once all the pieces are cut, give all sides of the marshmallows a generous coating of the sugar/corn starch mixture.  Allow to dry at room temperature.  Store in a closed container or in the freezer if you plan to keep them a while.


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