Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the category “Recipes”

WP Photo Challenge: Carefree/ Cloudy with a Chance of Pie

The WordPress Photo Challenge word this week is: Carefree

It’s a little gloomy out today, cloudy with a chance of rain. It’s a quiet day with no commitments, in other words, carefree….so I made an end-of-season blueberry pie.  And now we will celebrate our carefreeness and have a slice with vanilla ice cream. Yum. Love these carefree days.


And here’s a blueberry tart recipe for you: Got Blueberries? posted 7-12-2012

The Last Meow

Sometimes ya gets so tired you falls asleep wherever ya falls asleep.

Sometimes ya gets so tired you falls asleep wherever ya falls asleep.

I love blueberries, too! They make me happy…and sleepy.
Meow for now. =<^;^>=

Click on some of these “carefree” moments:

Chocolate Dream Dessert


Ellen V. Gregory, my WANA112 blogger friend, got me started on this when she suggested we do a favorite recipe for our WANAfriday challenge.

She posted her favorite, made-from-scratch, chocolate pudding.

I have never made pudding any other way than by using those little boxes of instant pudding mix. Gotta try out Ellen’s recipe for the real stuff.

Yummmmm. That reminded me of a recipe for a chocolate layered dessert that I made for church suppers many years ago. Somehow, in the throes of various moves, I lost the original recipe given to me by my friend Carol. Later, I found it again, but since it has a couple a horrendous number a few more than average calories per serving, I have not made it in awhile. Instead, I have taken healthy salads or other somewhat healthy dishes to our church dinners. (I know, boring. 😦 )

But Ellen has gotten me started again. Now that we are doing weekly potluck dinners for our visiting mission groups coming in to assist in rehabbing housing damaged by superstorm Sandy (2012), I have frequent opportunities to cook up something delicious. Those rehabbers work hard and deserve a rich good dessert, don’t you think? You can read more about the superstorm Sandy and rehabbers here (N is for Nora’s Ark  — In Times of Trouble, People Help People), and here (Jersey Shore Towns Reopen and Welcome Visitors.)

Chocolate Layered Dream Dessert

Ingredients for Layer 1

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans

In mixing bowl, cut the butter into the flour until it forms coarse clumps the size of peas. Stir in pecans. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking dish. Bake 15 minutes until layer 1 is golden brown. Cool completely.

[Here’s the lazy easy way to make this bottom layer crust. Shhhh. Don’t tell.
Mix together 1 pkg pecan sandies cookies, crushed, and 1 stick butter. Press into 9 X 13 baking dish. Bake in preheated over, 350 degrees, 15-20 minutes until golden brown.]

Layer 2

  • 1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed (or whipped cream)

Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until well blended. Add 1 cup Cool Whip and mix together. Spread over cooled crust.

Layer 3

  • 2 (3.9 oz) pkgs instant chocolate pudding
  • 3 cups whole milk

Mix pudding and milk together until slightly thickened, (about 3 min). Spread over cream cheese layer.

Layer 4

  • 1 cup whipped topping
  • 2 tbsp crushed pecans

Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Before serving, sprinkle with additional chopped pecans. Cut in squares after chilling.


For two helpings of this dish, use this recipe from Quick ‘n Easy Recipes and at Taste of Home. Another variation of the recipe for a crowd can be found at Deep South Dish. 
Substitute lemon pudding, or any other flavor pudding, for the chocolate pudding.
Crusts can also be made of crushed oreos, vanilla wafers, cinnamon graham crackers

And now you can try a few more WANAfriday recipes:

Ellen Gregory – chocolate pudding.
Kim Griffin – Meatballs and What?
Cora Ramos – Recipe for Murder
Liv Rancourt – Get Lucky!
Tami Clayton – EXOTIC Moroccan White Bean Soup from the Kasbah

C’mon now. How about some recipes from you readers!

The Last Meow

Frankly, we don’t care for the chocolate layered dessert. Just give us kibbles, and we’ll be happy. Thanks.

Meow for now. =<^,^>=

Dining In: Jersey Fresh Veggies and Ratatouille

Saturday fun: going to a farmer’s produce market, then deciding what to make for dinner.

My sister reminded me about Muzzarelli’s, a family-owned farmer’s market on Oak Road in Vineland, NJ, not far from where I grew up.

Photo Credit: Muzzarelli Farms. All other photos in this post are my own.

As with most NJ markets, the “Jersey Fresh”  produce is abundant: tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, beets with greens still attached, collards, Swiss chard, romaine, lettuce, okra, string beans, lima beans, corn, giant carrots, melons, potatoes, onions, leeks, endive, escarole, pickles, sweet potatoes, and so much more.

Several varieties of eggplant caught my eye, and I decided to try some of each type. By the way, did you know that eggplant, like a tomato, is really a fruit? It is.

My final purchases: eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, broad-leafed parsley. All the ingredients for a delicious summer ratatouille. Ta-dah. Dinner tonight!

A summer ratatouille uses fresh tomatoes, while a winter ratatouille uses canned tomatoes. The tomatoes on the left (below) are from the farmer’s market. The pitiful ones on the right are from my garden. Oh, well. What can I say? I did not inherit my father’s or grandfather’s green thumbs. I’ll throw these in the ratatouille anyway.

I checked Julia Child’s recipe for ratatouille in my well-worn 1961 edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The latest revised edition of this cookbook by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck (2009) is available on Amazon.com. How can you make a French dish without checking this classic cookbook?

By the way, Julia Child would have been 100-years-old on August 15, 2012. You can read “A Tribute to Julia” here at laughcooklove.wordpress.com.

You can make ratatouille in a variety of ways, but the ingredients are basically the same. Some ratatouilles feature sliced vegetables neatly layered in a casserole dish and baked with a sauce of tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Other ratatouilles have the vegetables all cooked together as a stew in a heavy pot.

But Julia Child says this.

A really good ratatouille is not one of the quicker dishes to make, as each element is cooked separately before it is arranged in the casserole to partake of a brief communal simmer.

I made a few changes to Julia’s process. I cubed the eggplant instead of slicing it, and then roasted it and the squash in the oven instead of sauteing them. I like the nice crisp edges on the roasted eggplant. In fact, I always make enough of this to eat as a snack right out of the oven. Seasoned and roasted eggplant cubes are healthier than potato chips and maybe even tastier.

And Julia’s quantities seemed small, so I increased them. Quantities do not have to be exact.

  • about 2 lbs eggplant (I used all four varieties I found at the market)
  • 3 small zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 cups red, yellow, and orange peppers chopped
  • two or three sprigs of rosemary
  • dried or fresh oregano
  • fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed
  • one very large fresh, firm tomato (or several average size)
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • shaved Asiago or Parmesan Cheese

Roast the eggplant and squash.

  1. Spread 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on a large baking pan or cookie sheet using a pastry brush or spatula.
  2. Peel, slice, and cube the eggplant and put on the baking sheet. Lightly drizzle olive oil over eggplant.
  3. Slice the zucchini and yellow squash, coin-shape, and put on another prepared baking sheet. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the squash.
  4. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, rosemary, and oregano.
  5. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 20-25 minutes, turning once.

Prepare the Casserole

  1. Saute the onions and peppers in olive oil in a heavy pot for about ten minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more.
  2. Add seasonings to taste.
  3. Remove the skins from several large tomatoes. (Drop each tomato in boiling water for 10 seconds. Remove and peel.) (Optional)
  4. Cut large tomato in half (top to bottom), then slice into thin wedges. Layer tomato wedges on top of peppers and onions in the heavy casserole. Cover and simmer for five to ten minutes.
  5. Add the roasted eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash and stir in gently. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add parsley.
  6. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, covered. Stir gently every few minutes. You may need to add a little water to keep it from scorching. (This recipe does not have a thick tomato sauce like a winter ratatouille might have.)
  7. Serve with shaved Asiago or Parmesan Cheese and a fresh sprig of rosemary or parsley.

As Julia Child would say,

Bon Appetite!

YOUR TURN: Do you have a favorite eggplant or squash recipe?

Saturday Sampling: Meandering through the Blogosphere

As I meander through the blogosphere, I copy and paste blog post titles that appeal to me into a blank post. At the end of the week, I sort through these titles and choose my favorites. Here is this week’s sampling.


Anita Ferreri at the Nerdy Book Club, Retro Review: Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne

Anita Ferreri, literary specialist in Winchester County, NY, reminds us of the excellent qualities in the Winnie-the-Pooh books.

Milne’s books are classics that teachers can read to children in the early grades. His lovable characters (Christopher Robin, Pooh, Tigger, Owl, and Eeyore) express wisdom that stays long in the hearts and minds of children and adults.


Sharifah Z. Williams, Dems da Rules: Adverbs

Williams, writer and and self-proclaimed word-eater, reminds us that unneeded adverbs, the “most sinister of writing faux pas,” don’t necessarily interfere with a good story line. In fact, if you are engrossed in the story, you will not notice the adverbs. Still, it is wise for good writers to use adverbs with care.


Judythe Morgan, Spellcheckers and Pullet Surprise Work

Judythe Morgan reminds us that our spelling system is not perfect by quoting a 1992 poem by Dr. Jerrold H. Zar. Our spellcheckers are not perfect either; they do not check for context when doing their thing. Here’s a clip to prove the point.

I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.


Tom Whitby, How Does #Edchat Connect Educators?

The #edchat hashtag connects teachers for Twitter chats on Tuesdays at noon and 7 p.m. each week. Interested Tweeters carry on a running conversation on pre-selected education topics. What a neat way to keep up with changes and trends in education.

I have used the #edchat hashtag on Twitter a number of times to pass on articles/posts worthy of an educator’s notice. This post tells more about this useful tag and how it came to be.


Michael King, A Cancer Story: Thoughts of Death

Cancer has hit my family hard, and it may have hit yours, too. The emotional impact of this horrible disease is deep but not always talked about openly. Michael King shares his physical and emotional pain in dealing with his own cancer. This is a good blog for cancer fighters and cancer care-givers to follow. Michael is fighting back at cancer by writing about it. My family fights back through Relay for Life.


Anderson Cooper, 7 Recipes for $7 (Charles Mattacks, The Poor Chef)

I love food blogs so I follow a number of them and look for recipes to try out. This post features Charles Mattacks (The Poor Chef) who shares recipes that cost about $7.00 each. I am going to try out this featured “Granny’s Chicken Curry” sometime soon.


And now…*drum roll*… two cat posts for the week. You didn’t think I would skip the cats, did you?

Derek Perry, On the Subject of Cats and Poets, at WORD SALAD: Stories from the Savage Pen. Cat owners will love this post! Nuff said.

B.F. Kazmarski, The Creative Cat, Daily Sketch: On The Edge. Check this site for a delightful charcoal pencil sketch of Mimi and Jelly Bean.


What was your favorite post this week?

Dining In: Peasant Chicken from San Gimignano, Italy

A recipe for Chicken with Herb Roasted Tomatoes and Pan Sauce posted by Epicurious (recipe here) reminded me of a delicious Peasant Chicken dinner that I had in San Gimignano, Italy this past May.

Peasant Chicken is similar to Hunter Chicken (a cacciatore), but the unique feature of this dish is that it includes green olives.

Here is my photo of the dish as served in San Gimignano.

I searched the Internet as well as my own vast collection of cookbooks for recipes for peasant chicken and came up with several possibilities.

Epicurean.com has a recipe for Chicken with Green Olives that sounds like the dish that I had. That recipe is here.

I checked The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen by Frances Mayes and Edward Mayes and found Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes. Mayes’ recipe uses both black and green olives. I am sure that the recipe varies with regional preferences.

I will try the Frances Mayes’ recipe today and see how my rendition compares to the original in San Gimignano.

Grocery list: Chicken, wine from the Chianti region of Italy, Jersey Fresh cherry tomatoes, broad leaf parsley, black  olives, and green olives. I already have extra-virgin olive oil. Consult the cookbook for exact quantities for these ingredients.

First, oven roast the cherry tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half, season with salt and pepper, and toss in garlic and herbs. Roast for a few hours on low oven heat. Here’s a peek at a bowl of the tomatoes (half the batch).

Now brown the chicken in olive oil and add a bit of chianti. Move the chicken and wine to a baking dish. Cover with a mix of the olives, parsley, and roasted tomatoes. Bake for thirty minutes.

Serve over nests of angel hair pasta or your own favorite pasta.

This is how my dish turned out. It smells so good, and it is delicious. It looks similar to the San Gimignano version, but I think the San Gimignano recipe uses white wine and more olive oil. Regardless, this recipe is definitely a keeper.

Next week, I will try the Epicurean.com recipe and see which dish comes closer to the one Mama made in Italy.

YOUR TURN: Have you tried to duplicate a dish from another country or another area of our country?

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