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Blueberry muffins and some creativity

16 Oct

One of my all time favorite muffins is blueberry, where as most of the high school students prefer chocolate chip. Everyone worked together learning the muffin method by preparing a blueberry recipe which includes creamy yogurt and a cinnamon sugar topping. Then they branched out on their own to create personalized recipes by choosing from a variety of “mix- ins”, such as cranberry, strawberry, coconut, pineapple, mango, coconut and of course chocolate chip. As always, I am impressed with their creativity, although my vote still goes to the gooey, tart blueberry.



Blueberry Muffins


2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 egg
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
2. Mix the dry ingredients ( flour, baking powder, salt and sugar) together in a large bowl.
3. Whisk wet ingredients ( yogurt, egg and oil ) together in another bowl.
4. Measure cinnamon and sugar for topping in a small bowl.
5. Using a rubber spatula, empty the wet ingredients into the well of dry ingredients.
6. Mix gently with spatula, just until combined and all ingredients are moistened.
7. DO NOT OVERMIX! This forms gluten and makes it tough and chewy.
8. Gently stir in blueberries, over stirring will turn everything purple!
9. Scoop into muffin tins and sprinkle the tops evenly with cinnamon – sugar topping.
10. Bake ON THE TOP RACK for 25-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the center and tops are golden brown and crisp.


Whole Wheat Silver Dollar Pancakes

6 Oct

Thanks to period 1 for this delicious photo op!


3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and make a well in the center. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, milk, oil and vanilla until fluffy. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredient well and mix just until combined. Do not over-mix – some small lumps are okay.

Pre-heat a DRY (don’t grease it) non-stick pan for 2 minutes on medium heat. (When making pancakes for the first time and learning to adjust the heat, oil or butter to grease the pan can burn and smoke)
Pour about ¼ cup batter onto hot pan. You can fit 2 per pan. Do not make a giant pancake, it takes too long, the edges burn and center stays raw. Let pancakes cook until the edges start to dry out and a few bubbles form in the center. Use the corner of your spatula to lift the edges of the pancake and check underneath. They should be light, golden brown. If batter gets on the spatula, clean it off with hot water otherwise it will transfer the raw batter to the cooked side.

Flip each pancake ONE TIME! Don’t press down on pancakes after they’re flipped, this will make them dense and chewy. Remember, pancakes rise like any other cake – would you push down on a cake that just came out of the oven? It will take less time for the second side to cook, about 30 seconds to a minute.

Lower-Fat Brownie Cookies with Buttermilk

5 Oct

One of the first labs I work on with my high school students is a basic macaroni and cheese recipe. During evaluation, students find that each group has a slightly different color and consistency, but overall the finished products are pretty similar to each other. It is an easy and forgiving recipe which allows the students wiggle room for over measured cheese or under measured flour or milk. As with most recipes in the “cooking” category, you can be flexible and switching up some of the cheddar with American isn’t a big deal. On the other end of the spectrum, in the “baking category”, accuracy is essential. A little more baking soda, under measured flour or even the temperature of the ingredients can vary the finished product greatly. In our measurements lab this week, students prepared this Lower-fat Brownie Cookie recipe to practice accurately measuring ingredients using the correct tools. During evaluation, it was apparent in every one of the classes, that each group, even though they used the same recipe, had very different end results. Some changed shape very little, due to over measured flour or under measured liquid. Some had off flavors, revealing a mix up between baking soda and powder. Some spread very much and baked up like a lace cookie due to too much butter or buttermilk. But overall, most of them were delicious despite their differences and we all learned the importance of accurate measuring.

These cookies are 73 calories each and bake up just as the name suggests, a fantastic combination of brownie and cookie in one! Enjoy!


(Original cookbook source is unknown)

Lower-fat Brownie Cookies  –

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or add 1/2 teaspoon vinegar to whole milk to sour it)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Nonstick cooking spray or nonstick baking mat
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


  1. In a small bowl stir together flour and baking soda and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt butter and remove from heat.
  1. Stir granulated sugar, cocoa powder and brown sugar into melted butter.
  2. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla until everything is combined and moistened.
  1. Stir in flour mixture until just combined, no flour should be visible.
  2. Let cool and roll into a log. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill dough 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat cookie sheets with cooking spray or place on a nonstick baking mat. Roll into tablespoon sized balls. Set on cookie sheet 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges are set, dough make still look wet. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.


Dutch Cocoa Cookies

25 Jan



Sometimes a pair of shoes can really make or break your day. My shoes broke me today. Most of the time, when I come home exhausted, I can make something happen in the kitchen if I resist the urge to sit first. Stop at the store on the way home, walk in the door and get things cooking. DO NOT LOOK AT COUCH. I was fairly productive this week in the dinner department, even accomplishing some recipes I usually only tackle on weekends. But today all I really wanted was a slice of pizza and these cookies for dessert. The radio said its the coldest week in New York in 17 years, so getting out of the car and into the pizza place didn’t happen. And if it weren’t for the shoes I wore today, I would be making these cookies instead of just drooling over the pictures. If you were more sensible in your wardrobe choices today and you have some energy this Friday night, you should make these. They are the perfect combination of crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside with just enough chocolate flavor to warm you up.

Dutch Cocoa Cookies
Adapted from Grammy’s Chocolate Cookies –

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • coarse sugar for dipping


  1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter,  sugar, and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix to combine. Gradually add dry ingredients, and combine with mixer on low speed. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and chill until dough is firm, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or grease lightly. Roll dough into 2 inch balls. Dip top of each ball into coarse sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake until set on edges, about 8 -10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
2 Jul

Lessons in Food


As I sit down to write these recipes tonight, I’m absorbing all the smells, sounds and sights of this time of year. I can hear and feel a slight rumble of pre-4th of July fireworks in the background, followed by car alarms. Fireflies flicker outside my window and I can see the neighbors kids playing man hunt on the lawn. My skin still has the sweet smell of suntan lotion and sand and as I climbed the stairs to the second floor, I can’t help notice that even in this new house, the upstairs “summer smell” is the same as my childhood home. It’s a smell that flashes me back to summer sleepovers, when my cousins and I ran up the stairs to grab sheets and pillows to bring downstairs to build forts in the air conditioned living room. Then there is taste. What does summer taste like? Salty beach lips… grilled corn in your teeth… burnt marshmallows… ice cream and the…

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Sam’s Amazing Salmon

16 May

People always ask me what my favorite meals are and where I like to eat. Although there are a few places I like to go out to, most of my favorite dishes are ones made by friends and family. One of the most memorable things I have had in a long time is this recipe from my Aunt’s friend Sam, that he brought to her 4th of July party. Like an episode of the Food Network’s “The best thing I ever ate”, I couldn’t stop talking and thinking about this salmon for weeks after I had it. It was a beautiful whole salmon, steamed over a flavorful liquid and accompanied by a fresh, bright mango salsa. It was plated with a trio of different dipping sauce options and served cool. I ate my weight in salmon that day and even at night, when everyone else had switched to dessert before the fireworks, I was stealing more from the fridge instead of ice cream.

Although I was able to get the recipe from Sam awhile ago, life has been busy and I have yet to share it with you. I decided to share it with you tonight, because unfortunately, I found out that Sam has been sick in the hospital and needs to have surgery tomorrow. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do, and that you say a prayer that he has a quick recovery and can share more great recipes with us as soon as possible.

Salmon and Mango Salsa – served with Dill, Chipotle Pepper and Honey Mustard dipping sauces

In Sam’s Words exactly:

Select a salmon fillet to suit your taste and of a size to fit your need. If you don’t have a poaching pan ( an asparagus cooker works very well too), you can use a deep frying pan as long as you use a wire rack so the salmon does not rest in the liquid. In the bottom of the pan, place a mix of 1 cup of water to 2 cups of white wine. I prefer Sauvignon Blanc or a similar white wine of full body and taste.

Rub the salmon with salt, white pepper and bit of finely minced tarragon and place on a rack in the pan so the salmon is not resting in the liquid. Over medium heat, cover the pan and steam/poach the salmon fillet.

Once the liquid begins to boil, continue cooking for about 10 minutes, depending on the size and thickness. When cooked through, turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature with the cover on. Place in the refrigerator for 3 hours or up to a day to cool completely.

Remove from rack and surround it with mango salsa.

Mango Salsa

2-3 ripe mangoes, diced small

1/2 red onion, finely diced

2-3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

the juice of 2-3 limes, freshly squeezed

2 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed

freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to stand at least one hour or up to a day to allow the flavors to blend.

Note- this also works out very well with using ripe papaya, pineapple or guava.

Dill Sauce

In a bowl, combine 6 oz sour cream with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. Finely chop a handful of fresh dill and add to sour cream.  Mix in 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Mix by hand rather than in a food processor otherwise it becomes runny. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Chipotle Sauce

In a bowl, combine 6 oz sour cream with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. In a food processor finely chop a chipotle pepper ( canned in adobo sauce ) with 2-3 tablespoons of the sauce from the can. Add to sour cream mixture. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Honey mustard sauce

In a bowl, combine 6 oz sour cream with 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. Add 5-6 tablespoons Dijon mustard ( smooth, not with mustard seeds) and 3-4 tablespoons honey. Mix in 4 tablespoons freshly squeeze lime juice. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Thank you Sam and get better soon!

Homemade Pierogi

1 Mar

Why Pierogi are awesome:

1. Pierogi is both the singular AND plural form of these delicious Polish dumplings. I know, you were calling them pierogies…me too.

2. They have aliases – They’re also known as varenyky in the Ukraine, taskice in Croatia, koldunai in Russia, pelmeni in Romania, gombac in Hungary and knedle in Czechoslovakia. Basically, they are sooo awesome, everybody has their own version.

3. They float to the top when they are done – Built in timer!

4. They are dumplings made of pasta-like dough, stuffed to the brim with mashed potatoes, enriched with sour cream, laced with creamy cheeses and often FRIED or BATHED in butter! I think we’ve said enough.

You buy your pierogi? From a lovely woman named Mrs. T? Those are great, don’t get me wrong, but these…these are a labor of love…and they are worth it. During my cultural foods class’s Eastern European unit we ( 20 teenagers and one crazed teacher ) make these in two 40 minute periods, you can TOTALLY do this. The first time I taught this, I tried a recipe from a student’s Polish grandma. Unfortunately Grandma recipes are rarely written down in specifics and are hard to replicate. The second year I did it, I found out that Martha Stewart’s mom was quite the perogi expert and Martha’s website features an adorable video of them making them together. Martha’s mom, Mrs. Kostyra, just seems like the type of grandma you can trust and you can, this recipe is pretty straight forward and my students and I were able to pull it off. The original recipe left us with a lot of filling leftover, leaving me to believe that we were probably not skilled enough to stuff them as much as Martha’s mom did. If you find yourself with leftover filling DO NOT DESPAIR! They make AMAZING potato croquettes. Refrigerate, roll into balls or cylinders and bread with flour, egg and then breadcrumbs. Fry or bake until golden brown. Two treats in one. Good deal.

Potato Pierogi – adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Recipes

For the dough:

  • 1/2 large egg ( scramble and divide)
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

For the filling:

  • 5 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced small
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted – Plus 3 tablespoons for frying
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese grated
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • cornmeal


Make the dough:

In a medium bowl, whisk egg. Add sour cream, and whisk until smooth. Add milk and water, and whisk until combined. Slowly add 2 ½ cups flour and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.

Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and work in remaining 1/4 cup flour as you knead. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes, the dough should be elastic in texture and no longer sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest while you prepare filling.

Make the filling:

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Season with salt. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Cook until fork-tender. Drain and mash with a potato masher. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter and the cheeses and continue to mash until well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lay a clean linen towel on your counter, and evenly distribute cornmeal on it to prevent sticking.

To roll, cut and fill dough:

On a floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Using a glass or cookie cutter measuring 2 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out about 30 circles. Gather dough scraps together, rolling them out again, and continue cutting.

Form filling into 1- 1/2-inch balls, and place a ball in the center of each dough circle. Holding a circle in your hand, fold dough over filling, and pinch the edges, forming a well-sealed crescent. Transfer to linen towel. Continue this process until all dough circles are filled.

To cook pierogi:

Place a large pot of salted water over high heat, and bring to a boil. Place pierogi in boiling water in batches. They will sink to the bottom of the pot and then rise to the top. Once they rise, let them cook for about a minute more. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with 3 tablespoons of butter. Sauté boiled pierogi until golden brown and crisp on the edges. Serve immediately.