Cranapple Walnut Cake

WIN_20140929_084943 (2)Most people who know me today would have a hard time believing this but there was a time when I didn’t cook or bake. I ate out at least twice a day and if I cooked at all it was open the can, dump into the pan and heat kind of thing. I totally bought into the idea that cooking was too complicated and time consuming, especially if you were cooking for just yourself.

So what changed? I changed when I found Mollie Katzen’s The Moosewood cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest on the library shelves. These cookbooks were unlike anything I had ever seen before. First of all they were vegetarian. I wasn’t vegetarian but the idea of meatless meals intrigued me. Second, all the recipes were handwritten and the illustrations hand drawn. The books were just beautiful to look at. There was something about these cookbooks that pulled me into the kitchen.

I don’t remember the first recipe I ever tried from the cookbooks except for the fact I didn’t really like it. The next recipe I tried, Italian tomato sauce, became one of my all-time favorites and was the first recipe I ever adapted for small batches. The more I cooked from The Moosewood Cookbook and Enchanted Broccoli Forest the more I discovered I enjoyed cooking and baking and I was pretty good at it which drew me into the kitchen even more. Today I cook and bake almost every day.

Mollie Katzen inspired me to start cooking 15 years ago and she still inspires me to cook today. This recipe incorporates one of my favorite fall fruits, fresh cranberries, into a very moist, spiced cake. Unlike most cakes, the batter is very thick so take care to spread the batter evenly into the pan. I love this cake plain but it would also be good with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Cranapple Walnut Cake

¾ cup plus 2 TBS packed brown sugar
4 TBS canola oil
1 large egg
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
1 medium apple, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup fresh whole cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 6” cake pan with non stick cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, oil, and vanilla. Stir well to combine. Add the egg to the wet ingredients; stir well to combine. In another small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until blended. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until combined. Fold in the fruits and nuts. The batter will be very thick. Spread the batter into the prepared pan, taking your time spreading it into place. Bake on the center rack of the oven 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s The Heart of the Plate

Mom’s Chicken Noodle Soup

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No one I have ever talked to about blogging has ever said one dang word about what to do when I sit down to write a post and the words don’t come. What to do when I can’t find one interesting thing to say or story to tell.

That’s where I am. I can’t find anything to say. If you knew me, you would know that just doesn’t happen to me…ever. I decided to post a recipe anyway, figuring it is the food that matters. The words will return in time.

Chicken Noodle Soup

2-3 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
2 stalks celery sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2-3 tsp chicken bouillon, or to taste
2-3 cups egg noodles
2-3 quarts water

In a large kettle or soup pot, add water and chicken. Let the chicken cook over medium heat for one hour. Skim any foam that forms with a spoon. When the chicken is cooked, remove from the pot and let cool. Meanwhile,add the bouillon, celery, carrots and egg noodles to the pot. Bring to a boil. Cook until the noodles and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the skin and bones from the chicken and then chop the chicken into chunks and return to soup. Enjoy a big bowl by itself or with an egg salad sandwich.

Adapted from my Mom’s recipe

Tatertot Hotdish

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I live in North Dakota so hot dishes, aka casseroles, are common. They are quick, easy, generally inexpensive, and usually appeal to kids and adults. What casseroles are not, is very healthy. Hot dishes usually rely heavily on cream of crud soups and salty seasonings packets.

Tatertot hotdish will never be a completely healthy food but we can make it healthier by making our own cream sauce instead of using cream of crud soup. I love to use Cabot extra sharp Vermont cheddar cheese in this recipe but you can use any flavorful cheese you like.

Debby's Tatertot Hotdish

½ lb ground beef
½ cup frozen mixed vegetables
3 TBS butter
3 TBS flour
½ cup milk
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup cheddar cheese
¼ cup finely chopped onion

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef until no longer pink; drain and set aside. Turn the heat to low and melt the butter. Add the flour to the butter, whisk and cook 3 minutes. Gradually, add the milk and broth. Add the onion. Whisk the broth mixture constantly until it starts to thicken. Add the cheese and whisk until melted. Stir in the ground beef and vegetables. Transfer the mixture to a 3 cup baking dish and top with the tater tots. Bake for 40 minutes.

What to Do With Leftover Egg Yolks #2 Flan

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Ever since I posted my two angel food cake recipes, I have been looking for recipes that use the leftover egg yolks. The recipes are out there but they aren’t easy to find. So I was delighted to find the lovely blogger at Food and Family (formerly Forty Something. Ca) has compiled a list of recipes using one to twelve egg yolks, along with information on how to freeze and store them. So check out the post. I have a leftover egg yolk recipe for you as well. It’s called Flan. Flan is a creamy baked custard that is usually covered in caramel sauce.

The first step in this recipe is to melt the white sugar to make the caramel sauce. It isn’t hard to make, just remember, once you pour the sugar into the pan, keep stirring it. If you don’t the caramel will burn. Trust me, this is not good.

You know what else is not good? Skipping cooking the flan in a water bath. The water bath may seem like an unnecessary step but if you cook the flan without it the flan will be tough, rubbery on the outside and really undercooked in the middle.


  • Difficulty: Intermediate
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5 TBS sugar
½ cup light cream (I used skim milk)
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla

Heat 4 tablespoons sugar over low heat in a small skillet until the sugar is melted and forms a light amber colored liquid. Pour into a 1 cup custard cup and swirl to coat the bottom and sides with caramel; set aside. Beat remaining sugar, light cream, egg yolks, and vanilla. Pour into the custard cup and place in a small baking dish. Pour boiling water to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted ½ inch from the edge comes out clean. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve run a thin bladed knife around the edge and turn upside down on to a plate.

Adapted from


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This weekend marked my last trip to the farmers market for the year. I had a hard time not buying everything in sight. I really didn’t have a plan. I was just buying what looked good to me at the time. When I got home, I realized I had everything I needed to make ratatouille.

The amazing thing about this recipe is that, other than salt, this recipe has no seasoning and it is so flavorful. Of course, the better tasting your vegetables, the better tasting your ratatouille . So get out your sharpest knife and take advantage of the awesome end of the season produce.


1 medium onion
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound)
1 small zucchini
½ large red bell pepper
2 to 3 medium tomatoes

Peel and cut the onion in half length wise, then into fairly thick slices. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy skillet. Saute the onion. Partially peel the eggplant, then cut into even sized chunks, about ¾ inch square. Cut the zucchini into ¾ inch pieces too. Toss the eggplant and zucchini with the onions and saute together, stirring frequently. As they brown and the pan gets dry, pour in the remaining olive oil and all the bell pepper, cut into pieces of the same size. Salt everything and let it cook, covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Roughly chop the tomatoes, add them to the skillet and cook slowly another 10-15 minutes, covered until everything is tender and intermingled. Taste and add salt if needed. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top. 2-4 servings

Adapted from The Pleasure of Cooking For One