Category Archives: recipe

Desserts, tried and true

I hosted a going away party for our outgoing pastor last Monday. Who knew you could get 40 people in my house? There were six of us on the committee; we were each charged to supply a dessert and two bottles of wine. Being an overachiever, I made two desserts. The recipes have been here on the blog before, but I’m posting them again as things that are simple and that can go on a picnic or sit out on a buffet for a while and still look good! (This is not the time for homemade ice cream.) I like to experiment and try new things, but sometimes you need to go for the reliable old standards.

I baked a blueberry cobbler, which actually works well for a picnic dessert, too. Although I like it best with vanilla ice cream, a can of aerosol whipped cream will do in a pinch.


These are not blueberries from my garden. Mine are close, but they’ll be ripe in the next week or two. Store bought was the next best thing.

This is my favorite cobbler recipe. It’s fabulous with fresh berries, but I also make it with frozen berries from my garden throughout the year. If you use frozen berries, it will take an extra 10 minutes or so to bake. (Shout out to my friend Vickie, who sent me this recipe in 1986, when we still wrote letters via snail mail. I had just moved away to New York. I showed her the letter last month, and it really startled her that I still have it. It’s on my fridge.):

Berry Cobbler

For the batter:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 TBSP butter (I admit that I misread her 4 as a 9, and have been using 8 TBSP, or 1/2 cup, of butter. Yum. 6 is a good compromise.)
3/4 cup sugar (I reduce to 2/3 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
3 cups berries

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla; beat in egg until blended. Add flour mixure and milk–beat only until smooth. Spread in buttered 8 inch square baking dish; scatter berries on top.

1/4 cup soft butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour

Combine topping ingredients and beat until smooth. Drop teaspoonsful of topping over berries. Bake @ 350 degrees for one hour–toothpick should come out without batter, and top is golden. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, or both. Yields 9 servings, because I cut things in grid patterns. I can’t help myself.

I also made chocolate chip shortbread and cut it into 36 bite sized pieces. This is an old picture, so these are not the 36 squares!


Chocolate Chip Shortbread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips or butterscotch chips (I used mini chocolate, but I’ve also used butterscotch)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour and salt, and then beat these with the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in chips. Press into an ungreased 9 inch square pan.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool 20-30 minutes in pan on wire rack.

Score shortbread with sharp knife into desired size servings, but do not cut all the way through. Invert onto rack and cool completely. Break into pieces.

What are your go-to dessert recipes?

Obligatory knit content: Still knitting away on my Garland shawl. Repeat 12!


Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet

My Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of the migration of yarnies to Columbus, Ohio today. They say they’re heading there for TNNA, The National Needlearts Association summer trade show. But I think they’re equally excited to be in close proximity to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. I first encountered Jeni’s when I went to TNNA last year. I was hooked. I went to Jeni’s every day!

The kids gave me an ice cream maker last Christmas. Was it a gift for me, or a gift for them? Hmmm. I don’t use it a lot, but I love it when I do.

The first thing I made with it was Bourbon Vanilla ice cream, which was their ulterior motive for this gift. It turned out great; we put it in profiteroles.


This outing, we made Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet using Jeni’s recipe. It tastes just like a ripe pear, even with riesling in it. Delicious. (And do you sense a theme?) This was my favorite flavor in Columbus.


I used Anjou pears, and Brooks Winery‘s Tethys, a late harvest riesling. The wine was probably nicer than it needed to be, but drinking the rest of the bottle was great! (I did have help.) Here’s the recipe. (Thank you, Jeni, for allowing me to post this.)

Riesling-Poached Pear Sorbet
A surprisingly rich sorbet with the texture of a ripe pear; sweet Riesling notes shine on the finish.

This flavor works well even with underripe pears—you just have to poach them a bit longer. If your pears are superripe and juicy, you won’t need to poach them for more than a few moments.

Pairs well with: Cocoa Zin Ice Cream with palmiers and whipped cream.

Makes about 1 quart

6 medium Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, or Comice pears (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Riesling
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue cooking for 5 to 8 minutes, until the pears are soft. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Puree the pear mixture in 2 batches in a food processor until completely smooth. Force through a sieve.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Pour the sorbet base into the frozen canister and spin just until the consistency of very softly whipped cream.
Pack the sorbet into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Excerpted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan Books). Copyright 2011.

This is a fabulous book, full of innovative flavors. On to the next flavor! I’m missing TNNA, but my ice cream fix is here…

Shortcake, and yarn

I’m still between projects, trying to decide if I’m going to start something before the Garland KAL cast on Monday. I want to have the right needles free when it’s time to start!

The yarn is definitely ready. There was a drive-by yarning here Wednesday.


My Peacock and Janet’s Moody Blues. And the beads I bought at Shipwreck?


They look to be a perfect match. I have way more than enough. There are about 150 beads per strand, and I have 6 strands. I don’t know if you can tell, but the beads are clear, with a peacock lining.


There is still time to join the KAL; we don’t cast on until Monday. The coupon code for the discount on the Garland Shawl pattern is GarlandKAL. Join us! And if you’re local in Portland, join us at Twisted this Monday evening from 5-7 for a cast on party.

What else is occupying my thoughts?


Strawberry shortcake. (Please excuse the lighting; it was late at night.) Local strawberries are just coming into season, but I haven’t had any yet. I’ve been making do with California berries. Let’s just say I’m practicing for the real thing. Here’s my current shortcake recipe. They’re like my scones, only more butter, and no egg. Crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, especially when they’re still warm from the oven. They also reheat well in the toaster oven.

Strawberry Shortcake
serves 8

2 pounds fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
2 tablespoons sugar (or more, to taste)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or both

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together the strawberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and 3 T sugar. Cut the butter into pieces and then blend them into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Combine milk and vanilla and add to flour mixture; stir until just combined.

Using your hands, gently divide mixture into 8 equal size balls, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 – 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Cool on a rack, just a bit. To serve, split a warm shortcake in two, and serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or both.

What’s your favorite summer dessert?

I envy the heirloom tomato gardeners

Yet even with storebought tomatoes, this was delicious. Pretty as a picture, this is a perfect dish to take to an end of summer potluck.


Caprese Cannellini Pasta Salad

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I used half regular and half white balsamic, but either is fine)
12 oz farfalle pasta, cooked al dente and cooled
8 ounces fresh Ciliegine (cherry size) mozzarella balls, cut into quarters
5 Roma tomatoes, cut into chunks, or 1 10 oz package cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 oz can cannellini, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

In a large bowl combine pasta, mozzarella, tomatoes, beans, and basil. Drizzle with about half dressing and gently toss until thoroughly combined. Adjust seasonings as desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving toss with a little more dressing to refresh. Enjoy!

In other news, I’m a double lucky winner! Leslie at More with Les was giving away a copy of the Knitting 2013 calendar because she has two patterns in it. I won! And she also gave away five copies of her new e-book, Cheer. I was the fifth on the list, so I have that too. It has a great beginning. I have it as next in my kindle to read when I finish the current book. Thank you, Leslie!


The calendar is a collection of single sheets that come in a box. The box converts into an easel to hold the pages. Leslie’s patterns are for a hat and some fingerless mitts, which would be great for quick gift knits.


Aren’t they cute? I’m looking forward to paging through this calendar as the seasons turn. Speaking of which, it’s been comfortably cool here the past few days. I’m knitting with Malabrigo Merino Worsted, finally putting the finishing touches on a design I started back in May. Super cute. I look forward to sharing it with you soon! What’s on your needles? Are you thinking autumn yet?

Pie, pie, pie, pi

I’ve been trying to get this pie right for a while; this is the third attempt. Hat tip to Elizabeth at Savory Salty Sweet for the blueberry cream pie in a gingersnap crust that inspired this raspberry adaptation.


Raspberry Cream Pie in a Chocolate Cookie Crust

Cookie Crust
9 ounces chocolate cookies (I used Newman’s Organic Alphabet cookies. 7 oz package is a little skimpy; you’ll want more. What I really wanted was chocolate graham crackers, but I can’t find them anywhere)
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, with rack in the middle position.
Process cookies in a food processor until they are pulverized into small crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl and combine with the melted butter while stirring with a spatula. Stir until crumbs start to cling together.
Pour the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Using a spoon or your fingers, press the crumbs into the pan, evenly covering the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake the crust for 8 minutes. Remove crust from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Pastry Cream
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups milk
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan set over medium low heat, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, and pinch of salt. Slowly pour in milk while steadily whisking, making sure the cornstarch mixture does not clump up. Whisk in the egg yolks. Slowly whisk the mixture for 7 to 8 minutes, until it becomes quite thick. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in vanilla. Pour the custard into the baked gingersnap crust. Place in refrigerator to start cooling while you glaze the berries.

Glazed raspberries (Makes the red really pop, and helps keep berries perky)
3 cups fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons apricot jam

For optional chocolate drizzle
Some may call this gilding the lily, but it’s pretty and delicious, too!
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted (30 seconds at a time in microwave, stirring each time. It will still be pretty thick when melted, but do your best!)

Don’t rinse the berries; they’ll get all weepy. Thin apricot jam with water, and brush on raspberries with a pastry brush. Pile raspberries on top of custard. Using a fork, drizzle chocolate over all. Place pie in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, until custard has set and pie is thoroughly chilled.

Serves 6 to 8 people.

Here’s the history of these pies, so you know what not to do.

Version 1: I rinsed the berries, and they were very sloppy! I used Trader Joe’s Low Fat Cat Cookies because I couldn’t find chocolate graham crackers, and couldn’t get them to crush down enough. It was tasty, but the crust was too coarse in texture.


Version 2: I tried a graham cracker crust with a chocolate ganache lining under the pastry cream. It tasted great, but was a big sloppy mess under there because the ganache didn’t firm up the way I wanted. I had put it in the freezer to firm up, but it probably melted again when I put in the warm pastry cream, and didn’t have enough time to become solid again before I needed to serve it.



Back to the original chocolate cookie idea for version 3, as seen above! I made all the mistakes so you don’t have to. It’s good, but my favorite is still the original blueberry cream pie in the gingersnap crust. I just love blueberries.


And here’s the progress on my Blueberry Half Pi shawl. I’m on row 124. 20 more rows of easy-peasy gull wing lace, and then on to the hearts border. It’s hard to really see what it will look like when it’s all scrunched up on the needles like this, but I’m hoping it blocks into a big half circle of gossamer beauty.


What’s on your needles?

Berry berry good

Summer is definitely here in the Pacific Northwet, and it’s glorious. My blueberries are ripe, and I’m still trying to finish last year’s berries from the freezer. I’ve made cobbler from frozen berries a couple times in the last week for home and away, but the perfectly ripe berries in the garden called for a different treatment.


I saw a recipe for Blueberry Cream Pie in a Gingersnap Crust on, and I knew it would be the perfect way to enjoy our berries. Doesn’t it look grand? I tried it out on friends last week, and now I’m tweaking it for tonight. Better gingersnaps for the crust. (Trader Joe’s. No, I’m not making my own gingersnaps; it’s summer and this is supposed to be easy!) Whole milk instead of our usual household skim milk to make the pastry cream a little richer.

ETA: The TJ’s Triple Ginger Snaps and the whole milk made a huge difference. Perfection!

Raspberries are also ripe right now, and my friend Wendy was begging for people to come over and pick. I came home with 2 pints of berries, and decided they should be sorbet.


I don’t have an ice cream maker, but freezing it in a pyrex dish worked fine. It’s intensely raspberry, and tastes like summer!


Raspberry Sorbet, no ice cream maker
(makes 8 servings, or you can cut this recipe in half for four. I had lots of berries)

– 2 pints raspberries (about 12 ounces) rinsed and drained, or thawed from frozen
– 1 cup water
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 2 tablespoons honey
– 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

1. Place water and sugar in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool. (I did this the night before.)

2. Puree the raspberries, lemon juice, and honey in a food processor.

3. Combine the cooled syrup with the raspberry puree. Run the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds. (Yes, you really want to.)

4. Place sorbet in a shallow dish in the freezer, stirring by hand every 30 minutes until sorbet is frozen (about 2 hours). You can also do this with an ice cream maker, but I don’t have one. When sorbet is frozen, move it to a covered container to store.

sorbet trio

This was fabulous all by itself, but I think it would be outstanding as a mini-scoop of sorbet dropped into a flute of prosecco, and garnished with some blueberries. Can’t you just see it?

ETA: Next round I’m adding a tablespoon of vodka to lower the freezing point; this will help it keep from freezing too solidly. If you’re going to eat it right away, it doesn’t matter, but if you want to store it for a day or two, the vodka will help.

In knitting news, my Raspberry Vodka Lemonade sweater is out of time out, and I’m cruising down the first sleeve. I’ve gone back to dpns, and am much happier. I didn’t like the waving ends of the two circulars! Good thing there’s knitter’s choice…

What’s cooking?

A couple new designs in the works, but nothing to show yet. I really like both, though, and look forward to sharing them with you…eventually.

Who’s cooking?

Last Sunday, it was the boys. They moved the waffle station outdoors because it was a spectacularly beautiful day.

waffle station

They turned out great! Waffles, blueberry compote (trying to use up the rest of last summer’s blueberries before this summer’s crop), bellinis.


Yes, the yard looks pretty bad behind there. After brunch, the next phase began: Yard cleanup. This is the only thing I ever want for Mother’s Day, help in the yard!



We got the garage and shed roofs de-mossed and swept, and lots of weeding done.

(perspective is everything!)

And then we relaxed with dinner in the newly presentable space. Ahhhh.


Grilled scallops and shrimp on a bed of angel hair pasta and vegetables. No real recipe, but here’s the cast of characters:

Cooked angel hair pasta, drained
2 cups chicken broth, simmered with shiitake mushrooms and a bit of soy sauce
Stir fried vegetables: 3 heads baby bok choy, 1 red pepper, 1 cup snow pea pods. Add some sesame oil for depth of flavor, a couple ginger slices and some red pepper flakes for zing. When partially done, add some water and soy sauce, and steam until tender/crisp.

Pour the broth/mushrooms over the pasta to keep the pasta from getting too sticky (don’t make pasta too far ahead, or it will just be soggy). Assemble in shallow bowls: pasta/broth/mushrooms, top with veggies, lay the lovely scallops and shrimp on top. Eat!

ETA: I made this again, but no broth, just the stir fry, heartier pasta (so it doesn’t get sticky), and the scallops. We had to pan sear the scallops in olive oil and butter because it’s winter! Pour any liquid from the scallop searing pan into the pasta and veggies. Even better, I think.


Trunk Show time!

Tomorrow (Saturday, January 21) is trunk show day for PDXKnitterati and Knitted Wit at Kathy’s Knit Korner in Forest Grove. Stop by and see us! We’ll be there from 1-3 with lots of pretty samples, Knitted Wit yarns and PDXKnitterati patterns.

Kathy’s Knit Korner
1703 Pacific Ave.
Forest Grove, OR 97116

If you can’t make it out to Forest Grove, but you’re itching for some yarny fun in town, several Portland shops are waiting for you with bells on. The Seattle to Portland Yarn Train, due in on Saturday, has been cancelled due to storm damage (downed trees and more) on the tracks. I know that Cindy at Urban Fiber Arts is carrying on with her sale. If you’re local, you benefit! (edited for late breaking news: Amtrak says that they’ll have service on that line on Saturday, so we may have Seattleites, after all.)

What else is going on? You know all those ancient Greek tragedies, where the hero is brought down by his own hubris? I’m living a knitterly version of it. I’m working on a little design project. I liked my prototype that I knit out of stash yarn (purple), and felt ready to jump into the real thing with one little change planned. I was feeling pretty confident, as you know from my last post. Right now I’ve got a basket o’ chaos.

After knitting the first piece with the real yarn (green), I slowly realized that it wasn’t the real yarn after all. Slightly different weight, slightly different row gauge, and it turns out that it’s not the yarn it was supposed to be! A quick call to Lorajean confirmed it. Oops! It will fit me, though, so I’ll save it for later.

Do over. Started with the real, real yarn (blue!), and finished the first piece. (Again.) Thought of a change for the second piece, tried it, hated it, ripped it out and am finishing again. I should have just gone with my first (well, second) instinct. But it’s almost done, again. I do all the trial and error so you don’t have to!

And in other news, we’ve fallen under the spell of the chocolate mug cake, thanks to Pinterest, twitter, and Facebook. Social media is dangerous! Sorry for the lack of pictures, but we make them at night, the lighting is awful, and the cake doesn’t last long! We’ve tried two recipes in the last two days.

2 Minute Chocolate and Salted Caramel Mug Cake, sans caramels but with added ice cream and bourbon chocolate sauce, plenty for two people

One Minute Chocolate Cake (a single serving, but we shared with no problem)

There may well be a nutella mug cake tonight. The best part of it is that there are no leftovers to tempt you the next day. You just have to be able to stop making them…yeah, sure!

What’s new with you?

Traditions, adjusted

It’s Sunday afternoon, Thanksgiving weekend. I haven’t knit a stitch in five days. But I’ve played hostess to a house full of family, and it’s been fun. CollegeGuy was home from Orlando for the weekend, and it was great to have him around. Now he and all the guests have gone back home, so I’m taking a moment to catch up.

I haven’t hosted Thanksgiving in nearly 20 years. We used to round robin New York, St. Louis, Chapel Hill with DH’s family, but when we moved back to Portland from New York in 1995, Thanksgiving landed semi-permanently at my in-laws’ home in St. Louis. This year, I asked to have Thanksgiving here, so that the freshman CollegeGuy could come home for the holiday. I think he appreciated the chance to be home and see his friends, most of whom stayed on this coast for school. Our niece is in London for a semester abroad, so she joined us via skype on Thanksgiving afternoon.


I made the traditional meals on the traditional days. If it’s Wednesday dinner, it must be brisket. If it’s Saturday lunch, it must be minestrone. Saturday night is always turkey, redux. I didn’t want to rock the boat too much since I had absconded with Thanksgiving, but I snuck in a few changes. We had sausage/potato/kale soup on Thursday instead of sandwiches, bourbon caramel sauce with our apple pie, and I tried a new bourbon cranberry sauce (see end of post for recipe).

Friday was sunny and lovely, so we headed out to wine country for open house weekend. We went to Brick House Vineyards for a tasting. Lovely wines in a lovely setting. And I set up this picture (the family picture is another Thanksgiving weekend tradition).

brick house group

On Saturday, I took MIL and SIL shopping on trendy/funky Mississippi Avenue. I found this knitted frog dissection at Paxton Gate. High school biology would have been even more fun this way.


I’m so happy we were able to host this traitional autumn celebration here at home. Same same, but different! What are your Thanksgiving traditions?


Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

1 pound fresh cranberries
1.5 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup bourbon

Mix cranberries, sugar and cinnamon in bowl. Transfer to 9×13 baking dish.
Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Stir, bake another 30 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer to bowl and stir in bourbon immediately. Refrigerate. Enjoy!

Plum Crazy

September means plums, or more precisely, Italian prunes. I love them fresh…


and I also love them as jam.


This year I thought I’d try something different. I added a cup of chopped, crystallized ginger to the jam when it hit the full rolling boil, and finished boiling it for the prescribed minute. It’s delicious! But here’s the conundrum. I followed the usual Sure-Jell instructions, and the partial jar of leftover jam that I put in the fridge set up beautifully. The jam in the jars that I processed in the water bath canner for 10 minutes are all a little soft. Why are they different? I followed the recipe and instructions, and didn’t over-process the jam. But there’s something about processing it this time that made the set go soft. I’m guessing it has to do with the ginger cooking longer in the jam due to the processing, but I don’t know why. It’s still delicious, though, and not so runny that I would take it all out and re-process it with more pectin. And it’s a little thicker this week than it was when it first came out. Hoping that continues…

ruffle tank

And did you notice it’s the same color as my new ruffle tank? Just sayin’!