Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow Topping

  • Five or six nice sweet potatoes
  • Six or eight tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Three to five tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • One tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice from one small orange
  • Plenty of marshmallows

Wash the sweet potatoes, prick them with a sharp knife, and then bake at 375 until they are done -- about an hour, but less if they are smaller and more if they are larger. Stick them with a fork to see if they are done. The fork should slide in with no resistance.

Allow potatoes to cool a bit.

Grease a casserole dish large enough to hold all the potatoes when they're mashed up. Grease it with real butter.

Take the skin off the potatoes, and mash up the potatoes in a large bowl.

Once they're mashed, melt the butter, and add it in. Add everything else, except the marshmallows. Mix well. Taste. Maybe add some rum. Maybe add more salt or more ginger. Maybe a little cream or more butter? A little maple syrup sometimes is also a good choice. (I have literally never made this recipe the same way twice. Though the year I added cayenne pepper was a bad, bad year.)

When the mix tastes lovely, put it in the casserole dish and spread as flat as possible. Cook at 350 for about 15 minutes. Then cover it with the marshmallows and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the marshmallows are brown and toasty.

Eat up!

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Big Spaghetti

This is a red sauce which the kid and I have developed over the past year or so. It's our favorite for pasta at the moment.


One pound of ground beef
Some olive oil
Some Chianti
12 oz tomato paste
One onion
Two stalks of celery
Five or six cloves of garlic
Some oregano (fresh if you can get it)
Salt, pepper

(1) Put a little olive oil in the pan. Start the meat browning over a medium heat in this oil. Stir now and then, breaking up clumps.

(2) Dice the onion, slice the celery, smash and dice the garlic. Dump it all in a bowl as you work. Once the meat is browned, drain out most of the fat. Then mix in the chopped onion/celery/garlic. Add a little more olive oil, stirring well.

(3) Add the tomato paste. Fill the can the tomato paste came in halfway full with hot water, and stir that in too. Add some Chianti -- maybe a quarter cup? We don't actually measure. Stir some more.

(4) Add the oregano, a bit of salt, some pepper. Stir some more. Set to simmer for about half an hour. Taste it now and then -- you might need more Chianti or more salt or more pepper. If so, add those in.

(5) While the sauce is simmering, cook your pasta. Whichever kind you like best is fine!

(6) When the sauce and the pasta are done (try to arrange it so they're both done at the same time, but the sauce can simmer longer than 30 minutes if you need it to, so err on the side of the pasta), drain the pasta and serve it with the sauce. Parmesan cheese is also a nice addition.

You can store any leftover sauce and reheat it in a day or two, when you're ready for more pasta. I reheat in the microwave after adding a little more olive oil and maybe a little more Chianti.

Tabouli Two

This recipe is called Tabouli 2 because I already have one tabouli recipe here on the blog (basic tabouli).

This version still isn't traditional Tabouli, which is very heavy on parsley. But it's great for summers in Arkansas, when it's too hot to eat anything except cold food, and when your garden is putting out a ton of tomatoes and cukes.



  • About a cup of cracked wheat and/or one box of Tabouli mix
  • One half of a cucumber (English is best)
  • One stalk celery
  • Two bunches of green onions
  • One big juicy ripe tomato or several plum tomatoes
  • One can black beans (12 oz)
  • One lime
  • About a quarter cup of rice vinegar
  • A little fresh mint, a little parsley
  • Half a cup of excellent olive oil

(1) Put the wheat or the Tabouli mix into a glass bowl or four-cup measuring cup. Pour in a cup of boiling water. Stir. Cover and leave to sit for half an hour.

(2) Cut up all the vegetables into small bits. (About half the size of a standard dice.) Dump in a big glass bowl as you cut them up. Squeeze out the lime, and add its juice and the rice vinegar. Mix well.

(3) Open the can of beans and drain. Maybe rinse them as well. Mix the beans in with the vegetables. Chop the mint and parsley very fine and stir those in as well.

(4) Dump in the grain, and mix again.

(5) Add the olive oil. Mix very well.

(6) Cover the glass bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. (I put the tabouli into a giant Bell canning jar at this point, because that fits well into my fridge. If you do this, you can just put on the lid, instead of the plastic wrap.

(7) Let chill for at least an hour. Then NOM.

Keeps for several days, though mine is always eaten by the second day.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Excellent Banana Bread

This is the best banana bread ever, and fairly easy to make.

  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour (you can use ½ whole wheat or rye if you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup of full-fat Greek yogurt (use plain or vanilla – vanilla will make your bread sweeter)
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • Some cinnamon sugar (Plain sugar is an option)

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a standard loaf pan.

Put your bananas in a food processor or blender and blend until they are entirely puréed.

Next, separate your eggs. Reserve the whites.

Get a large bowl, and stir together the melted butter and sugar, along with the vanilla. Stir in the egg yolks.

Mix together in a smaller bowl the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir this gently into the sugar and butter mix.

Now fold in the puréed bananas; fold in the yogurt.

In yet another bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed to stiff peaks. Fold these very gently into the batter.

Pour into the greased loaf pan. Sprinkle the top heavily with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 350 for about an hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Eat with butter or plain, warm or cold. Also makes excellent PB & banana sandwiches.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Beef Stew (kind of)

This is like a beef stew. It's really stewed beef. My kid calls it "that meat thing," which I guess is as good a description as anything. It's a big favorite. Not very cheap, sadly.


  • About a pound and a half of decent beef -- I use flank steak, or some cut like that
  • One onion
  • Three or four stalks of celery
  • Several dried mushrooms, whatever kind you like
  • One can of crushed tomatoes 
  • One can of beef broth
  • Spices -- I like fresh thyme and a bay leaf, pepper, and salt
  • olive oil, or some other good oil


(1) Cut up the beef into small pieces, like half-inch to inch cubes, somewhere around there. When it's all cut up, brown it in some of the olive oil over a medium heat. When it's all brown, skim out the blood and gunk. Pour in the can of broth, lower heat a bit, and simmer while you work on the rest of the recipe. Stir every now and then.

(2) Dice the onion. Put it in a different 4 or 5 quart pan with a little olive oil and cook over a low to medium heat, stirring frequently.

(3) Meanwhile, wash and cut up the celery. Cut it up nice and fine. Put it in with the onions to cook.

(4) Break up your dried mushrooms, and pour a cup of boiling water over them. Let them steep a bit.

(5) Once your onions and your celery are nice and soft, add the can of crushed tomatoes. Stir.

(6) Add your spices. Stir some more.

(7) Add that beef & broth mix that's been simmering away all this time. Stir some more.

(8) Add the mushrooms and the water they've been steeping in. Stir some more.

(9) Cover and simmer for three or four hours.  Taste toward the end, and adjust spices. You can add some more pepper if you like it spicy! I like to add some of this as well, about 1/4 a cup, but it's imported and very pricey -- you don't have to use it.

Serve over rice.  Very high in protein, and very tasty! I never have leftovers when I make this.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


I read about these in a British mystery novel, and they sounded so good I had to have some. Since I live in exile in Arkansas, this required that I figure out how to make them, and make them myself.
So: several hours of research and trial later, here is the bap recipe, adapted for Arkansas / American use:


About 4 cups of King Arthur Bread Flour
2 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups of milk
1 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbs yeast


(1) Put two cups of flour in a bowl along with the 2 tbs of unsalted butter. Rub the butter into the flour until it is all mixed in.

(2) Add the milk, sugar, salt, and yeast, and mix – if you have a stand mixer, mix it in that.  Start out with the paddle and shift to the dough hook as the dough gets stiffer.  But you can also mix by hand.

(3) Add more flour, a quarter cup at a time, until the dough forms into a dense dough. Continue to knead until it is nice and springy.

(4) Put in an oily bowl and let rise until doubled in size – about an hour.

(5) Start heating your oven to 400 degrees F.

(6) Divide into eight pieces, and shape each into a round flat disc.  Place each on a greased cookie sheet – I cover my cookie sheet with a greased parchment paper. Cover and let rise for about 20-25 minutes.

(7) Bake at 400 until brown – about 15 minutes, maybe a little longer.

Eat with cold meat, or with jam, or honey and butter. SO GOOD.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich Ever

Not really cheap, though.  Sorry.


  • Rye bread: Get good rye bread.  Here in Fort Smith, we buy Pepperidge Farm Seeded Rye unless Dr. Skull had baked some lately
  • Brie: again, get good Brie
  • Softened butter.  Use real butter, not marge.  I'm begging you. Have it at room temperature.

Use about two ounces of Brie for each sandwich.

Cut it up.  Cut off the fuzzy white crust, whatever the hell that is, I don't even want to know.  Feed it to the dog.

Put the soft white innards, the good bit, into the microwave for about 11 seconds, just enough to gooey it up.

Schmear it on one slice of rye bread.

(If you're that kind of person, you can schmear a little mustard in here too, or add a slice of ham.  But purists like just the cheese.)

 Cover with another slice of rye bread.  Schmear the outside of both sides of the sandwich liberally with softened butter.  Really get it on there -- you want it pretty thick.

Fry in a frying pan, like your iron skillet or whatever, at medium to medium high heat, until both sides are crispy brown.

Better than crack.