Friday, August 31, 2012


A federal judge has restored early voting, for everyone, in Ohio: 

"On balance, the right of Ohio voters to vote in person during the last three days prior to Election Day -- a right previously conferred to all voters by the State -- outweighs the State's interest in setting the 6 p.m. Friday deadline.'"

Makes 30

This treat is an easy winner.

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
1 c. peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. milk chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tub (8 oz.) frozen whipped topping

Combine first four ingredients in large bowl; mix well. Press into foil lined 13x9-inch pan.

Microwave chocolate and  whipped topping in microwave-safe bowl on HIGH 1 min.; stir. Microwave 15 to 30 sec. or until chocolate is melted; stir until well blended. Spread over peanut butter layer.
Refrigerate 2 hours. Use foil handles to lift dessert from pan before cutting to serve.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Makes 16 truffles

Nothing is sweeter than the right to vote in a free country.

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Dutch-processed cocoa powder for rolling

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized glass bowl. Set aside. Heat the butter and cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until just boiling. 

Immediately pour cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 2 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth.  If the chocolate doesn't melt completely, place in the microwave for about 20 seconds and stir until completely melted.  Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or until firm.

Use a #70 scoop to measure out chocolate mixture by round tablespoonfuls; coat with cocoa powder.  Place on a parchment lined tray; cover and refrigerate until firm.  Enjoy with a glass of red wine!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Alternate Reality Ricotta Donuts

Nothing but lies coming from the GOP Convention.  Paul Ryan hasn't given a single clue how he would supposedly fix our nation's problems.  Duck and blame, duck and blame.  Coward.

Alternate Reality Ricotta Donuts (Sfingi)

Makes 6 dozen

No lie...these are amazing!

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
4 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 lb. ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp. vanilla
Hot oil for deep frying

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together; set aside.

Beat eggs for 1 minute.  Add sugar and beat until well blended.  Add ricotta and vanilla and mix well.  Add dry ingredients until well blended (batter will be fairly thick).

Drop batter into hot oil by tablespoonfuls and fry 1 to 2 min. or until golden brown (depending on your pan or fryer size, you can make 6 to 8 at a time).  Drain on paper towels and roll in granulated sugar while they are hot.

You can fry the sfingi in any oil that you like.  I prefer to fry them in Crisco because of the light texture, but canola oil also works well and is a healthier choice.

I like to use a #70 cookie scoop to portion out the batter into the hot oil.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

BROU'D Basil-Mint Iced Tea

Is it just a coincidence that Brewer sounds like brouha 
(Spanish word for witch)?

Jan Brewer says that Democratic politicians are race-baiting and that Republican politicians are racists.  She's right on one account, but only to save her own ass with her largely Hispanic constituency.

BROU'D Basil-Mint Iced Tea 

Even nice folks will enjoy this yummy herb-infused tea.

4 cups boiling water
4 tea bags
10 mint leaves
10 basil leaves
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
1 liter cold sparkling water

Pour water over tea, mint and basil in 2 qt. pitcher; let steep, covered, 5 minutes.

Remove tea bags.  Stir in maple syrup, then slowly add sparkling water.  Serve over ice. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hurricane Issac Punch

Hurricane Issac Punch
15 servings, 8 oz. each

Tasty as long as you're not on the Gulf Coast, but welcome if you're at the GOP convention.

1 bottle (750 ml) dark rum
1 bottle (750 ml) light rum
3 cups grenadine
3 cups orange juice
3 cups freshly squeezed lime juice

Mix all ingredients in 3-gallon punch bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, fill glasses with ice and punch.

Garnish punch bowl and drinks with orange slices and maraschino cherries.

Prepare ice cubes or a ring of ice from some of the punch mixture and float on top of punch bowl to keep cool without diluting.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

JUST A PRANK Grill-Roasted Pasta Sauce

One good joke deserves another:

"No one’s ever asked to see my tax returns."

JUST A PRANK Grill-Roasted Pasta Sauce

So much fun to prepare and serve, especially with garden fresh tomatoes.

4 lb. fresh ripe tomatoes, ends removed, quartered
8 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
20 basil leaves
1/2 cup packed Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 lb. hot cooked pasta

Heat grill to medium heat.

Toss all ingredients except pasta in deep foil roasting pan.   Place on grill and cook on INDIRECT heat 1 to 1-1/2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so.

Pour softened vegetables into large saucepot.  Puree using immersion blender.  Simmer 15 minutes or until desired thickness.  Add additional salt and chopped fresh basil if desired.

Toss with hot cooked pasta and serve with grated cheese.

Serve with a good loaf of Italian bread and crisp green salad.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

WHIPPING UP FEAR Fried Onions with Beer

My new favorite catch phrase:

Thank-you, Michael D. Higgins!

WHIPPING UP FEAR Fried Onions in Beer

Whip these up and have no fear…the party will be on, and they WON'T be serving TEA!

2 cups buttermilk

2 large Vidalia onions, peeled, cut into ½-inch thick slices, separated into rings
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. Kosher salt

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 egg
1 bottle (12 oz.) dark extra stout beer (i.e., Guinness)
Hot oil or shortening for frying (1-1/2 qt.)

Ranch dressing for dipping

Pour buttermilk over onions in shallow dish, turning to coat.  Refrigerate 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk 2 cups flour, cornstarch, baking powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper with beer.

Drain onions in colander; discard buttermilk.

Place bowl of batter to left of fryer, and a paper towel-lined baking sheet to the right.  Heat oven to 225°F.

Dip onion rings in batter to coat, shaking of excess.  Fry onion rings in hot oil (350-375°F) 2 to 3 minutes in batches of 5 or 6 until golden brown.  Transfer fried rings to towel-lined baking sheet, and store in oven between batches to keep warm.

Serve with ranch dressing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Double-Digit, Double-Fudge Muffins

I'm surprised that Claire McCaskill is only up by 10%.

Double-Digit, Double-Fudge Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

You'll want to double-down on these, so plan to double-down on exercise beforehand.

3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 stick butter, melted
2 eggs
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Heat oven to 375°F.

Mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.

Whisk yogurt, milk and butter in medium bowl.  Add eggs; whisk until combined.  Gently stir the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture until just combined, adding chocolate chips and nuts at the end of stirring process.

Spoon batter into 12-cup muffin pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. 

Let cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Great chocolate flavor, and not too sweet.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Medicare Issue Creamy Mimosas

Seniors in 3 swing states (Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin) trust President Obama with Medicare.

Medicare Issue Creamy Mimosas
Makes 8 servings

Issue?  WHAT issue?

2 cups orange juice
1-1/2 cups vanilla ice cream
1 bottle Prosecco

Blend orange juice and ice cream 30 seconds or until well blended. Divide mixture evenly into fluted glasses.

Slowly add cold Prosecco to glasses to fill.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lockstep Luscious Mud Pie

Romney is distancing himself from Todd Akin, but he quietly agrees with those who would deny women abortions under ANY circumstances.

Lockstep Luscious Mud Pie
Makes 8 servings

It's hard to be mindful of good intentions when this dessert is so decadent!

2/3 cup caramel topping

1 tablespoon bourbon

1 (9-inch) chocolate (i.e., Oreo) pie crust

1.75 qt. container chocolate ice cream, softened

1/2 cup chocolate chips, divided

1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans

Combine caramel topping and bourbon in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH 30 seconds or until soft enough to whisk until combined. Pour half of the mixture into pie crust and spread evenly with offset spatula. Freeze 15 minutes.

Spoon half of the ice cream over caramel layer, spreading evenly. Top with half of the chocolate chips and half of the pecans. Freeze 15 minutes; repeat layers. Drizzle with remaining caramel. Cover and freeze 4 hours or overnight.

Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

This ice cream pie is typically prepared with coffee-flavored ice cream, something I don't personally care for.  If you prefer, substitute 2 qts. coffee flavored ice cream, softened, for the chocolate ice cream.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Todd Akin does not have a monopoly on stupid, nonsensical, mean-spirited beliefs.


Don't be surprised if you adopt this as a healthy, inexpensive go-to meal.

1 lb. black beans, rinsed
1 chopped onion
6 cloves garlic
2 smoked ribs or neck bones
Hot cooked white rice
Fresh chopped cilantro

Place first 4 ingredients in 1-1/2 or 2-quart slow cooker; add enough water to cover by 2-inches.  

Cook on HIGH 6 hours (LOW 10 to 12 hours) or until beans are tender.  Remove bones and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pull meat off the bones, finely chop and add to the beans.

Serve beans over rice sprinkled with cilantro.

Make it spicy by adding 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper.

Monday, August 20, 2012

BEWARE THE CALM Bienenstich Cake

A most insightful article.  It really spoke to me as a Catholic-American.  I am not a one-issue voter; there are moral issues that don't include abortion.  It isn't wrong to care about those who already inhabit the earth.

BEWARE THE CALM Bienenstich Cake

Bienenstich literally means "bee sting".  

Pastry Cream
3/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1-1/2 Tbsp. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Cake Dough
1 envelope yeast, or 1-1/2 tsp.
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. honey
3 Tbsp. butter (50 g)
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 beaten egg, or 2 Tbsp.

Almond Topping
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 c. honey
4 Tbsp. butter
1 c. sliced almonds
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Pastry Cream:
Heat half and half and sugar on medium-low until almost boiling and sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.  Whisk the egg and egg yolk with flour and salt until smooth.  Whisk 1/4 cup of the heated half and half mixture into the eggs, then gradually whisk both together.  Stir over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens (do not boil) enough to coat a spoon. 
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and pour into bowl set over ice cubes.  Stir 1 minute to cool.  Cover with plastic wrap that is placed directly on surface of custard.  Refrigerate.
Mix yeast, flour and salt in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. 
In microwave safe bowl, heat honey and butter on HIGH 30 seconds or until melted; stir. Whisk in milk, then egg.
Pour milk mixture through feed tube and process 1 minute. Dough will turn into a shaggy ball that spins around the side of the bowl.  Knead dough on counter 2 or 3 times, then place ball of dough in a greased bowl.  Cover with a towel and let rise 1 hour or until doubled.
Almond Topping
Combine sugar, honey and butter in small saucepan.  Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 to 6 minutes.  Stir in vanilla and almonds, stirring quickly to coat.  Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature.
Bake and Assemble
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line 9x13-inch baking pan with foil and brush with butter.  On lightly floured surface roll dough into 9x13-inch rectangle.  Place dough in prepared pan. Spread honey-nut mixture evenly over top of dough.
Bake 25-30 minutes; cool completely.  
Whip the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.  Stir about one-third of the whipped cream into the cold pastry cream, then fold in remaining whipped cream.
Remove cake from pan using foil handles.  Using a serrated bread knife, carefully slice the cake horizontally all the way through, creating 2 layers. Remove the top half and set aside.
Spread all of the pastry cream on bottom layer, then cover with top layer. Serve immediately, or store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
It's no accident that I decided to prepare this recipe today.  It's cool in Chicago, and at this time of year the German community is gearing up for Oktoberfest celebrations.  My family and I volunteer at the Lincoln Square Oktoberfest every September, and the proceeds from our efforts enable us to take the children who sing for the German American Kinderchor of Chicago on a concert tour to Germany every four years.  My boys have sung in this choir since 2003.

Bienenstich Kuchen, from Shlegl's Bakery in Lincolnwood, IL, is always served at our Oktoberfest in Lincoln Square.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

BUILT WITH SUPPORT Fruit Steeped in Port

BUILT WITH SUPPORT Fruit Steeped in Port
Makes 8 servings

So easy, you'll make it all the time (and you won't need any help).

1 cup port wine
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 cinnamon stick
2 lb. mixed dried fruit (figs, dates, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears and prunes)

Mix wine, water sugar and zest in medium sauce pot.  Add cinnamon stick; bring to a boil.

Stir in fruit.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes or until fruit is tender and poaching liquid is slightly thickened.

Serve warm or chilled with poaching liquid.  

This is a great addition to a dessert buffet, sweet with a healthy halo.  Served warm, it's also a great topping for vanilla ice cream.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Trench Warfare Warm Lentil Salad

Trench Warfare Warm Lentil Salad
Makes 6 servings

Your family might battle over who gets the last serving!

1 can (14-1/2 oz.) reduced sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup dried baby red lentils, rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/2 small shallot, minced
1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
6 cups packed sturdy greens (kale, escarole, Swiss chard or mustard greens), washed and chopped
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

Heat broth and water to a boil in medium sauce pot.  Add lentils; reduce heat to simmer and cook until lentils are tender, about 7 minutes (do not overcook); drain.

While lentils are cooking, whisk oil, mustard, honey, vinegar, shallot, salt and pepper in small bowl.

Drain lentils; gently toss with greens in serving bowl.  Add dressing and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve.

I prepared this salad with 3 cups each of red Swiss chard and mustard greens and it was PHENOMENAL.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Chicago Compunction Chocolate Oatmeal

Not everybody in the Windy City is glad they voted for Obama.

Chicago Compunction Chocolate Oatmeal
Makes 1 serving

You won't regret having something delicious for breakfast.

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips

Combine milk, water, oats, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in 1 qt. microwave-safe bowl.

Cook on HIGH 2 to 3 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time (adjust cooking time as per preference for thinner or thicker hot cereal).

Pour into serving bowl and sprinkle with chips.

Really good with a pat of butter added along with the chocolate chips.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shameful Swift-Boat Strategy Salad

Well, Obama did provide an executive order, and he would have been responsible if any soldiers had died. 

This is par for the course for the GOP.  Swift boating again. 

Shameful Swift-Boat Strategy Salad
Makes 2 servings

Serve this fresh salad with pride!

1 romaine heart, chopped
6 red onion wedges
8 slices peeled cucumber
6 small yellow pear tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp. chopped chives
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. crumbled blue cheese
8 toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Italian vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Toss ingredients lightly in salad bowl.  

Serve immediately.

Lisa's Go-To Italian Vinaigrette

6 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. each sugar and salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. dried oregano
6 Tbsp. corn oil
6 Tbsp. olive oil

Combine all ingredients in jar or dressing shaker with tight fitting lid.  

Shake well to combine.  

Store at room temperature, shaking right before using.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Misfortunate Metaphor Matzo Ball Soup

I am so tired of all of the OUTRAGE and GOTCHA moments on BOTH sides of the political spectrum.  Please, make it stop so I can write about something important!

Misfortunate Metaphor Matzo Ball Soup
Makes 14 servings, 1 cup each with 1 matzo ball

Y'all gonna LOVE THIS!

1 Tbsp. olive oil
8 chicken legs & thighs, disjointed, skin removed
Kosher salt and pepper
1 Bermuda onion, sliced
12 cups boiling water
6 carrots, peeled and diced
6 celery stalks, diced
6 red potatoes, cubed
1 box Streits or Manischewitz Matzo Ball and Soup Mix
¼ cup fresh chopped curly parsley

Heat oil in large soup pot.  Add onion.  Cook and stir 5 minutes or until just starting to sweat and caramelize.  Add chicken in 2 batches, brown both sides on medium high heat, seasoning with Kosher salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and braise all of the chicken 20 min. or until chicken releases its juices.  Add boiling water to pot; cover.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer partially covered 30 minutes.

Strain soup.  Return strained broth to soup pot.  Remove bones from chicken and tear chicken into bite-size pieces.  Add chicken to broth with carrots, celery and potatoes.  Add 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper; stir and taste, add more salt and pepper if that’s your preference.  Bring to a simmer. 

Meanwhile, prepare matzo ball mix from box – you’ll need oil and eggs (discard soup mix or use later).  Roll matzo balls as directed and cook as directed, covered, in prepared soup. Stir in parsley just before serving.


I learned the trick about matzo balls from my friend Carol Smoler.  When I was learning how to make this soup many years ago, she advised me to buy the “matzo ball and soup mix” as opposed to “matzo ball mix”.  The matzo balls are less dense, more like what you get when you order a good bowl of matzo ball or mish mosh soup in a deli.  

My method for preparing chicken soup came from Edna Lewis, a great African American Southern cook.  She taught me to braise the chicken in a covered pot or skillet to get the rich color and flavor that makes this soup so great. NO BROTH OR SOUP BASE ADDED!