Yearly Archives: 2015

23 posts

Rosemary Baked Chicken WITH GRAVY

How beautiful is this chicken?  I took this photograph while standing on my dining room table.  I have a perfect place right by my back sliding glass door where the natural light is good for about four hours a day. I wanted to thank you for visiting my blog.  I see my stats rising and I see that most of you are return visitors.  I want you to know that I really appreciate it.     Here’s a chicken I threw together for the first time a few weeks ago.  It looks absolutely obscene with all the butter, doesn’t it? I stuffed the chicken with 1/2 and onion and some […]

New Video: Simple Vegetable Soup for Busy People

I keep soup like this in my house almost all the time.  I make a big pot once a week, and I eat it almost every day. It’s great for lunch.  You can add a little leftover chicken if you want to have a little protein.  Or some leftover pasta if you want more carbohydrates.  I also love to add 1/4 cup kidney beans, black beans or chick peas to my bowl of soup.  That’s a great way to bump up the nourishment! It’s really low in calories and it’s filling.  I eat it as a snack in the afternoon to keep me away […]

French-Style Thanksgiving Turkey (with Gravy)

Once again, Thanksgiving is upon us.   I must admit; as I was cooking this turkey for my blog I got little misty-eyed with gratitude.  Another year has passed with us all safe and well.  A hard year, yes, but one that yielded good things, ultimately. I’ve been cooking this particular turkey recipe for seven years now.  The smells of the fresh herbs, the butter and the white wine combine into this kind of magical formula that takes me back to every Thanksgiving past.   Little helpers clamoring into the kitchen….The excitement that Daddy is home… The pies, all lined up ready to be eaten. As a Marine […]

Fancy Cranberry Sauce

The days are clipping by so fast; it’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is in only two weeks.  The difficult-to-manage four-year-old turns five next week, which is just unbelievable to me. So, I’ve survived the “first five years” SIX TIMES OVER.  That’s a lot of tying shoes, a lot of boo-boo kissing and a lot of folding tiny clothes.  A lot of diapers and potty training and cleaning up accidents.  A lot of little hands reaching up to tug at my clothes, and arms outstretched asking “hold me”.  A lot of standing over a tiny person – the water running, rubbing two little squirmy, soapy hands in-between my grown-up […]

Classic American Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing

If you’ve never made a cake from scratch before, this recipe is a good one to get you started. I can’t claim to have a favorite cake, like I can’t claim to have a favorite child.  But….this one’s in my top 5… The chocolate icing has just a bite of bitterness to it and it pairs so nicely with the spongey vanilla cake. You can see from the photo above that more goes into a from-scratch cake than the “oil, eggs, water”, that you add to a boxed mix. It takes a little more time and just a smidge of skill to make […]

Mini Apple Breads

These great little breads are deliciously moist and cinnamon-ey. Plus, they mix up easily and keep well. The presentation is ADORABLE, if I do say so myself. My little daughters were thrilled with these, because they said they were straight out of a “My Little Pony” episode. Apple Valley? I don’t remember. I’ll ask them when they come home from school.  Should be any minute now….. They are perfect to hand out as quick breakfasts to your kids, to take to work, or for that bake sale you were roped into. Ha.   These Mini Apple Breads have been great […]

Vavich Family Buttermilk Pancakes

There’s really nothing to making pancakes from scratch. Three of my children have this recipe memorized, and my husband does too.  He’s pulls out all the stops on Saturday mornings and makes these.  He’s like a Transformer….  Marine most of the time, but on Saturday (if he’s home) he’s “Breakfast Time Daddy”.  I even wrote a jingle like from those commercials in the 70’s and 80’s.     This recipe makes about two-dozen pancakes.  So, enough for my family. Ha.  Actually, if the kids are really hungry we double the recipe.  If your family is smaller, you can half this recipe.  It will still work […]

Caramel Apple Slab Pie

People always ask me which kind of apple is best for apple pie.  Oh don’t get me started.  I love talking about apples almost as much as I love talking about Star Trek. I have had the fantastic fortune of being able to live in so many places.  One of the things that’s enabled me to enjoy the experience to the fullest, are the amazing variations I observe in nature, including, but not limited to, the local produce I’m able to try. I had a ball with the Bramley Apples in England.  Pies after pies and baked apples galore.  So tart.  So crisp.  So […]

My Best Pie Crust

 “Pie Crust Anxiety”. Oh yes, it’s real. Of all the topics of cooking classes I’ve taught and of all the time I’ve spent with students and friends in my own kitchen, I’ve witnessed an incredible amount of angst and trepidation over pie crust. It seems to be the American woman’s Achilles heel. “Pie Crust Anxiety” hits an all-time peak around the holidays.  Right about the same time all other anxieties come screaming out of nowhere and just come and sit on our heads like giant toads. I’ve deciphered that “Pie Crust Anxiety” stems from two different things: You feel pressure to perform […]

DIY Designer Cake Plate

I have always relied on the old adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention”.  It is exhilarating to create something on the fly – something that didn’t even exist an hour ago.  And most times, what necessity requires you to invent is far superior to anything that could have been handed to you.  Some of the best ideas I’ve ever had, and some of the best situations I’ve ever been in came directly from a place where I had to be completely self-reliant and/or work to get myself out of a pickle.   Like I said in the previous post, I didn’t have any disposable […]

An Old-Fashioned Cakewalk Cake for My Son

My fifth child is in first grade already!  I can’t believe it.  It seems like only yesterday that he was bounding all over the house in a diaper and a ninja costume. Every year my kids’ elementary school has an old-fashioned “fall festival”.  Think Pollyanna and the bazaar.  Really neat stuff. My son was so excited that his first grade class was in charge of the cakewalk.  He knows cake is “my thing” and he could not wait to see what I would come up with.  . I didn’t want to disappoint him with something below my skill level (believe me…he was watching), […]

True Love’s Beef Stew

I met my husband when I was only eighteen.  I may have been only eighteen, but I was smart.  I thought to myself, “He’s the one”.  And then I set about to convince him that I was the one for him. Since my only training in romance had come from Janet Jackson and Madonna songs, and since things didn’t seem to be working too well for those ladies, I decided to just the opposite of what their songs told us all to do. “What Have You Done for Me Lately”, by Janet Jackson made a big impression on me.  It was supposed to be empowering, I suppose, but […]

My 72-Hour Beef Broth

That’s right.  Seventy-two hours.  This is the kind of broth that will make a hundred dishes swoon-worthy.  This is the kind of thing you make when you really FEEL your food.  When you consider yourself an alchemist.  A rogue.  A guns-blazing, ax wielding badass of a cook. If you’re any kind of a pansy at all, turn away.  You can’t handle this truth.  I use two different kinds of soup bones for this broth, and a special touch which I’ll reveal in a minute.   First, observe the above.  We’ve got beef soup bones along with “meaty” beef soup bones.  Basically some ball and socket […]

Fresh Persimmons with Moroccan Rosewater and Okinawan Honey

Persimmons are in season right now in Okinawa. I’ve had several people ask me what they taste like. An orange? A mango? Yes. Kind of a combination of orange and mango, but with flesh like a mango. Sort of. The skin is firm and almost as thick as a mango’s skin. You definitely want to peel persimmons. They almost look like you could eat them like an apple, skin and all. But the skin is a little too tough to be palatable. I had a few persimmons left over from my trip to the market last week. Truly, these little […]

Fresh Tomato and Basil Soup

Back on my Carrot and Coriander Soup post, I said that almost every soup in the world starts with an onion.  Well, this creamy fresh tomato and basil soup would be the exception to that rule. Soup-making is such an important and useful skill. Clearly, these tomatoes are past their prime.  I wouldn’t want to put them on my salad, would you? That’s why having a few cooking skills in your back pocket is so nice.  You can really reduce the amount of waste your home produces by knowing how to use up fresh ingredients after they get a little wilted and worn. To make a […]

Banana Butter Rum Cake

It all started with seven overripe bananas and more rum than should be legal before noon. And it ended with this really delicious cake. But let’s start from the beginning. Hello. Nemesis. Oh, how I hate bananas.  Always speed-ripening.  Never the same from day to day.  Like avocados, but SO NOT avocados. And the pressure.  The pressure to make something out of these dang things when no one will eat them anymore. I will only eat bananas when I absolutely have to.  Like when I’m pregnant, living in a hot climate and in need of potassium.  I do like bananas when they are […]

Persimmon Pico de Gallo

It’s autumn in Okinawa.  While the leaves are not turning, and we are far from the light frost of the winter, you will find an abundance of Asian fall fruits in the local markets. Global cuisine.  It’s a new phenomenon.  We modern humans so well-traveled, and have such accepting palates, that we can taste a fruit from the far reaches of Asia and conceptualize that with a little cilantro and a good dash of jalapeno – it might just make a great pico de gallo. And indeed, it does make a delightful, delicious, sparkly dish. The persimmons just about jumped into my basket yesterday.  I saw them winking at […]

My Family’s Favorite Braised Beef

There’s nothing quite like coming home after a long day out and being greeted with the heady, spicy scent of this braised beef.  It cooks up so perfectly in the crock pot.  If you’re tired enough, and stressed enough, and overwhelmed enough, it may just bring a tear of relief to your eye. I’ve been making this beef recipe for about six years.  It was one of my first “hit” recipes.  There are many reasons to love it.  First, it’s easy.  “Set it and forget it” kind of easy.  Second, it’s delicious and special.  It’s Sunday-worthy, for sure.  Third, it’s economical.  You use top […]

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Pizza

I’ve been making pizza since I was about fifteen-years-old.  I seem to remember doing a how-to pizza demo for my tenth grade English class.  I think that was my favorite day of high school, ever. Even after twenty-five years of making pizza at least once a week, I still find the process thrilling. And the possibilities of toppings are endless.  I’m going to share my basic cheese pizza recipe that I make for my kids, but I’m also going to teach you how to make a VERY delicious and astoundingly easy roasted garlic and rosemary topping for your pizza. Roasting garlic is just about the easiest thing […]

Roasted Brussels with Bacon and Truffle-Infused Goat Cheese

Such a long and fancy name for something so easy to make. But delicious. This is the kind of thing you make when you want a quiet night in.  I consider it a main meal.  You eat it with a huge glass of wine while sitting on the sofa in your favorite jammies and watching your best and most favorite show. Tis’ the season for Brussels sprouts.  I used to hate these things.  Of course, if you boil them, they are mushy and gross. But if you roast them with, say BACON, then they really are not-too-shabby. Add one more little thing, like truffle-infused fresh goat’s cheese, and you’ve got […]