Potato Bread from the Pioneer Woman


I really love home made bread, but am often a little disappointed with the results.  Not this recipe, which makes two loaves. We had this for supper with pan-roasted veggies and we’d eaten half the loaf when I realized I forgot to photograph it. It has a wonderful flavor and tenderness, and it was pretty easy.  I did vary slightly from the original recipe, but it turned out fine.


potatoes to yield of 1 cup mashed after cooking
6 ½ cups flour
3 Tbsp sugar
2 ½ tsp instant yeast
1 cup whole milk at room temperature or warmed
2 tsp kosher salt
½ cup potato water
4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature or warmed

Scrub potatoes well, and cut in half. Add to a pot of boiling water. Do not salt the water. Cook 20 minutes until very soft. Save about 3/4 cup potato water, and then drain the potatoes. Peel by squeezing the skin off. Mash in a small bowl and let cool.

If milk and butter are cold, warm them in a little pan until the butter melts and the milk is warmed a little.  Do let it cool if it has gotten too hot so it doesn’t kill the yeast when you add it in.

In a mixing bowl, add flour, sugar, yeast, milk, ½ cup potato water, salt, butter and mashed potatoes. Mix with a dough hook, scraping the sides down as needed. Knead for 6-8 minutes, or knead by hand for that length of time.  This makes a quite soft dough.  If the dough seems too dry, add a bit more potato water.

Cover with plastic wrap, and keep someplace warm for about 1 to 1 ½ hours. I kept it on the radiator with a kitchen towel folded underneath.  Thank you, old house!

Punch the dough down, divide in half and form 2 oval loaves on a baking sheet. Cover with parchment paper and let rise again for 30-60 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Remove and let sit until cooled. The recipe online said to make the loaves in loaf tins, and bake for 35 minutes. Couldn’t find my loaf tin, so I made them on a sheet pan.


Ina Garten’s Beef Bourguignon

This is a somewhat time-consuming dish, since it has to cook on the stove and in the oven, but well worth it on a cool, Fall evening. I’ve actually made this amazing dish twice in the last month! You may want to make it the night before since it takes a while to cook, but it is definitely worth the effort.


1 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ lb bacon or turkey bacon, cut into ½” slices
2½ lbs chuck beef cut into 1″ cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb carrots, scrubbed and sliced diagonally into 1″ chunks
2 yellow onions, cut into good sized chunks
2 tsp chopped fresh garlic or 1 tsp garlic powder
½ cup dry brandy (Ina calls for Cognac, but I didn’t have any.)
1 bottle dry red wine (Three buck Chuck worked fine.)
2 cups of beef broth
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1½ tsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried  (I used several stems of Thyme and fished out the stems later.)
6 Tbsp butter at room temperature
3 Tbsp flour
2 more yellow onions cut into quarters (Ina uses frozen pearl onions)
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced. (I used two containers, pre-sliced.)
A nice rustic bread, thickly sliced (I used an Herbes de Provence loaf.)
garlic cloves


In a big dutch oven, heat oil and saute bacon until lightly browned. Remove from pot. Dry beef cubes with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add beef to bacon drippings. If you’ve used turkey bacon, you’ll want to add a little more oil at this point.

Cook meat in batches, browning on all sides. (Actually, I did dump it all in and just stirred it occasionally, until the water had reduced and the meat was all nicely browned. I suppose a proper cook would be more patient. Alas…)

Remove the beef to the plate with the bacon. Add the carrots and the two onions cut into chunks to the pot. Add 1 Tbsp salt and 2 tsp pepper and cook 10-15 minutes until onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. Add the Sherry (or Cognac) and be ready with a lighter. Hold the flame just above the mixture and watch the blue flame burn away the alcohol. It’s pretty cool. Just be careful to have the pot away from anything flammable!

Add the bacon and beef back in along with any juices from the plate. Add the bottle of wine, and the beef broth. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, then cover and place it in a 250 degree oven for about 1½ to 2 hours until the meat and veggies are nice and tender. Remove pot to stove.

Mash together 2 Tbsp of butter and flour until you have a smooth paste and stir into the stew gently. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp butter and saute the second batch of onions for several minutes until they turn translucent. (Normally you would just add frozen pearl onions at this point, but I don’t really like them and my family is pretty picky about onions, so sauteeing them helps cut the oniony bite. Add the onions to the pot.

Wipe out the pan, and add 2 more Tbsp of butter. Saute the mushrooms for 10 minutes or so, until they are starting to brown and the water they have released is mostly dried up. Add to the stew pot.

Finally, give everything a nice stir, and check seasonings.

Toast the bread under the broiler until nicely toasted, then rub a raw clove of garlic on the toast. Place it in a flat bowl, ladle the stew over and serve. (Ina adds fresh parsley as a garnish, but I forgot and it was still pretty delicious.)

Apple Upside Down Cake

applesI love Fall, when apples are abundant! We always buy way too many, but upside down cake (who doesn’t love upside down cakes?) is a wonderful way to use them up. This recipe,  which  came in the mail from a clever local realtor, is dead easy and not overly sweet. I had Gala apples so I used those, but you could use almost any apple.

Caramel Base
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp Cinnamon

4 large apples, peeled and sliced
6 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp salt

6 Tbsp butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
½ cup milk.

In a skillet, heat caramel base ingredients together for 3-5 minutes over medium heat, until slightly thickened.  Pour into a quiche pan. Rinse and wipe out skillet and add butter, apples and 1/8 tsp salt. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened and spread evenly over the caramel in the quiche pan.

Cream butter and sugar and add vanilla and eggs. Blend dry ingredients and add by a third at a time, alternating with milk beating well after each addition.  Pour batter over the apples and bake for 35 minutes at 350.

Let cool for 10-15 minutes and flip onto a large platter.  Enjoy warm as is, or with a scoop of ice cream. Delish!

Spinach & Cheese Quiche

We had a full house in August, and for brunch one Sunday morning, I decided to make quiche. But I needed a hearty vegetarian version, as some of our guests don’t eat meat. This one was quick, delish and disappeared in no time!

I’ve posted a spinach and cheese quiche previously, but this one is a little different, and uses a lot more spinach and cheese.  (Whenever possible, I like to double or even triple the normal amount of vegetables in a dish, without compromising on the flavor.)

If you have the time, you can make a home-made pie crust, adding some of the same seasonings that are in the quiche, but a pre-made crust is so much quicker.

1 Pre-made pie crust, thawed

5 eggs
1 cup milk
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (a microplane makes it super easy!)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
4-5 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2-3 cups of sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Lay pie crust in a quiche pan and set aside. (It will be too small, but that’s fine.)

In a bowl, mix eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

In a large frying pan, melt butter. Add onion and saute until translucent and slightly golden. Add garlic and saute a couple of minutes more. Start adding spinach by handfuls, stirring as it wilts.

Scoop onion/spinach mixture into crust and smooth out in a fairly even layer. Sprinkle cheese over spinach. Carefully pour egg mixture over the spinach and cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes. Check to see if done by wiggling the dish slightly. If it is still “sloshy” in the middle leave in a few more minutes. It will continue solidifying as it cools.

Let cool 10 minutes and then serve.

Note: if I’d had them, I’d have sauteed and added a package of sliced mushrooms.  You can also try a different cheese – Gruyere or even part Gruyere would be delicious.  And you can use almost any vegetable, but make sure to dry it out through sauteing, or squeezing liquid out so it doesn’t dilute the egg mixture.


Ali’s Tom Kha Thai Soup

My son Ali made this soup for dinner at our house a couple of nights ago and I don’t think I’ve ever had better. It was so delicious that I kept taking a little more rice, and then a little more soup until I’d eaten way more than I should have!

This recipe makes a very large pot of soup, but it freezes well and taste even better the next day. Thanks, Ali for sharing this amazing recipe.


2 large onions, sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup Thai Tom Yum Paste*
4 cups chicken stock or veggie broth
4 cups water
6 Kefir Lime leaves*
1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 package fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced (can substitute button mushrooms)
2-4 Tbsp Fish Sauce* (to taste)
4 large or 6 small fresh tomatoes, diced
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
24 oz. coconut milk
juice from 1/2 lime
salt and pepper to taste

3 cups jasmine rice, cooked with 2 tsp salt


Heat olive oil in a large stockpot. Add onions and 1/3 cup water. Cook on low heat for 20 minutes until onions are softened, but not browned.

Add Tom Yum paste, stir well and cook for a minute or two. Increase heat to medium and add chicken stock, water and kefir lime leaves. Bring to a boil and add chicken and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are soft and chicken is cooked through.

Season with fish sauce to taste, and add fresh tomatoes. Continue to cook 3-4 minutes and add cilantro. Remove from heat and add coconut milk. Finally, add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in a bowl with a side plate of jasmine rice. (You can put the rice in the soup bowl first, but we love to take a scoop of rice and dip it in the soup.)

*If not available locally, these ingredients are available online. I’ve also seen the Tom Yum Paste referred to as Hot and Sour Paste. Substitute Tofu for the chicken and add it last with the coconut milk for a vegetarian version.

Spinach, Bacon and Cheese Quiche from Paula Deen

Something about the combination of spinach, cheese, bacon and eggs just sings to me, and this is a great dish for Sunday morning brunch because it comes together so easily. Paula uses Swiss cheese, heavy cream and less spinach, but the recipe is pretty flexible and we like this version a lot.


7 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups half ‘n half
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
a little freshly grated nutmeg (just a good pinch, really)
1/2 package bacon (or turkey bacon) diced, cooked and drained
2 1/2 cups chopped raw spinach
1 cup each Cheddar and Mexican cheese (Paula uses all Swiss Cheese)
Ready-made pie crust (or homemade) placed in a quiche pan

Mix eggs, half ‘n half and spices well in a medium sized bowl. In the quiche pan lined with pie crust, place the bacon, spinach and cheese. Pour the egg mixture over and bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Yum!

Sanibel Summer Salad

I first had this salad at Over Easy Cafe in Sanibel, and it’s so delicious I recreated it at home, with a few minor changes. (The original recipe includes mandarin oranges, diced red onions and chow mein noodles.) It’s become one of our favorite salads and always reminds me of sitting on the patio at Over Easy.


1 bag of mixed baby greens
1 pint of strawberries, hulled and halved
1/4 cup pecans (can used candied, but I like plain)
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup craisins
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup Sesame Crackers (Trader Joe’s has great Sesame Crackers.)
4 eggs, hardboiled, peeled and halved lengthwise

Any “sweetish” vinaigrette (Brianna’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette and Simply Dressed Pomegranate Vinaigrette are both good.)

Place greens in a large bowl. Top with everything but the crackers, eggs and vinagrette. Just before serving, toss the crackers over, add halved eggs and drizzle with vinaigrette. Delish!