PIckle Potato Salad

I was only going to post a link to the original recipe on FB, but when I went back to look at it, I realized I had modified it so much I need to write down what I did if I want to make it again. And a unanimous vote tells me I need to make it again! Unfortunately for people who don't cook that way, I'm a little vague on exact measures.


5 Russet potatoes the size of my fist, boiled, slighty cooled, cubed (3/4 to 1 inch cubes)
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely diced celery, including leaves

3/4 cup bread and butter pickle juice
"enough" oil
1 heaping tsp miracle whip
black pepper to taste

Mix salt into diced onion and let marinate for 30 to 60 minutes.
Squeeze and discard onion juice. Put diced onions in a strainer and rinse and squeeze out extra moisture (If you were putting this into anything other than a pickle-juice dressing, the salt would be just right without rinsing)

Put pickle juice in a large bowl, and drizzle in oil (to taste, I like about equal amts oil and juice) while whisking vigourously. When it reaches a good consistency (vinaigrette) add miracle whip and whisk until smooth and emulsified. It may get very thick at this point, but don't worry, it will be OK. Stir in onions, and then pour dressing over potatoes and celery. Mix and refrigerate.


Add 2 tbsps mustard to dressing.

Add 1/2 cup chopped pickles

Add bacon

Add chopped, hard-boiled eggs


Seriously, I don't even like banana bread, and when I tasted this I begged the cook for the recipe! Of course, no recipe goes through my hands unchanged and I never make anything the same way twice, but all I added to this was a hint of cinnamon and cloves. I have no idea where the original recipe came from, and I can't exactly figure out why this is so delicious. Perhaps the long cooking period brings out the intense banana flavor. I think there is a bit more sugar than typical, which probably is what makes the crust so deliciously crunchy. It definitely has more oil or butter than most recipes which contributes to it's moistness.

Best Ever Banana Bread

Sift together, set aside

1 ¾ c. flour
1 ½ c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
½ t. salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves


2 eggs
1 cup mashed overripe bananas
½ c. veg. oil or melted butter, cooled
¼ c. buttermilk plus 1 Tbs.
1 t. vanilla
1 c. chopped nuts

Add liquid ingredients to flour mix stirring until just combined. Add nuts. Pour into greased and floured 9 x 5 x 3 baking pan.

Bake 325 for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack before removing from pan.


2 or 2 & 1/2 bananas usually makes about one cup of mashed banana. Slice the leftover banana and layer in the middle of the batter or decorate the top of the bread with banana slices.

You can substitute ¾ tsp of ground cardamom for the cinnamon and cloves.

This took about 1 hour 45 minutes in my oven. If you put it in 2 smaller pans it would cook faster, I’d guess it would take an hour, but I’d start checking them at 45 minutes.

If you use chopped almonds (IMO, a rather felicitous pairing with bananas) you can add ½ tsp of almond extract to the batter.

A tbsp or so of grated orange zest would be nice with this, also.

Lime and Onion Chicken

I've been trying to recreate the flavor of Persian Chicken Kabobs with less work than the real recipe, and this time I got a "keeper"


1 large onion, sliced as thin as possible
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
4 chicken leg quarters

1 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup sugar

Cut off any large hunks of fat from the chicken legs and discard, or render and save for different recipe. Pull back the skin from the thighs and top of drumsticks and pierce the meat of each chicken leg in 10 or 12 places with a fork. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl or ziplock bag large enough to hold the chicken legs. Add chicken legs to the marinade and arange so legs are as completeley covered as possible. Marinate for one hour at room temp or 4 hours in fridge, re-arranging the legs occasionally so that all sides of the legs get some time in the marinade.

Remove legs from marinade and arrange on baking sheet, pulling skin back up to cover the meat. Don't worry if there are some slivers of onions stuck to the legs or under the skin. Bake at 350 for about 80 minutes and then turn heat up to 400 to crisp the skin for 10 or 15 more minutes. Meat thermometer should read 195 or 200 degrees. (I don't care if they say the correct temp should be lower, I like the fat to render on legs!! At that temp the meat should be almost falling off the bone, but not dry. Breast meat should only cook to about 160, though, if you are using that.)

While chicken is cooking, put leftover marinade and onions from marinade in a small saucepan. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until onions are very soft and translucent. Add 1 cup fresh cranberries (substitute 1/2 cup craisins or dried sour cherries, if desired) and simmer briskly for about 1/2 hour until cranberries pop and cook down very soft. Add up to 1/4 cup sugar to taste. If cranberries seem bitter add a dash or two of distilled vinegar or lime juice. If desired, add a tablespoon or two of rendered fat from the chicken legs to the chutney.

Serve with buttered basmati rice.

NOTE: the REAL Persian recipe would add about 1/2 teaspoon of crushed saffron to the marinade. I'm going to do that next time, but I wanted to get the acid balance right before I used the saffron. It is DELICIOUS even without the saffron!

You could also add some very thin lime slices to the marinade and cook them into the chutney.

Double Strawberry Bread Pudding

Strawberries were on sale at Produce Junction, 2 qts for 2 dollars! But then I had to figure out what to do with them. I've been making strawberry bread pudding for a couple of years, but it only just occurred to me to add extra strawberries on top, as in Smitten Kitchen's "Strawberry Summer Cake". And it also just occurred to me that if you BLEND the strawberries into the egg mixture, you don't need to pre-cook the strawberries so they don't come out half-raw. This was an experiment, but I don't think it needs any changes.


3 eggs
1 & 2/3 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1 pint strawberries, hulled
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tbsp lemon zest or a couple drops lemon oil

4 slices white sandwich bread, ripped into 1" chunks


1 pint strawberries, hulled and halved
1/4 cup sugar


Blend or process all pudding ingredients except bread until almost smooth. Pour into greased 12" square pan. Add bread chunks, stir gently and allow bread to absorb pudding mixture for 10 minutes. Top evenly with strawberry halves, cut side down. You may overlap strawberries slightly. Sprinkle strawberries with sugar.

Bake in a 325 oven for an hour to an hour an 15 minutes, or until center is set and a knife comes out clean.

Cool and refrigerate.

Serve with whipped cream or strawberry ice cream. If you serve it with strawberry ice cream, you can call it "Triple Strawberry Delight".

Dog at Thanksgiving

This should really be a tanka, but I don't do poetry. Just pretend it's blank verse or something like that...

Opportunistic dog refuses dogfood
Until all the leftovers are stored away
Just in case they won't all fit in the fridge.
But catfood makes a fine snack while she's waiting!

Barbecue Sauce

So I don't forget this by next year:

Add 1 tsp of Sambal Oelek chili paste to any barbecue sauce. Adds notes of heat, fruit and vinegar while brightening and lightening the flavor.

Up to 1 tbsp for serious fire worshipers.

Easy Gypsy Goulash

I've been fooling around with this one for a while, and I finally came up with a version that is easy and as tasty as some of the more complicated recipes.

Szekely Gulyas

Not really gypsy, and not really goulash, but that's the traditional name for the recipe. It is a traditional recipe from Szeged, Hungary.

2 lbs boneless pork shoulder, 1 inch cubed
1 onion thinly sliced
1 tbsp caraway seeds
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp minced garlic
3 cups low-salt chicken stock
2 lbs sauerkraut, drained, but not rinsed

Sour cream or Greek yogurt to garnish

Brown pork in a little oil along with the caraway seeds in a large dutch oven. Depending on size of pan, you might want to do this in two batches. When pork is almost browned, add onions and fry until soft and starting to turn slightly golden. Return all the pork to the pan, add the butter and when butter melts add the flour, stirring for a minute or two until flour is absorbed. Add thyme and paprika and cook for another minute, then add garlic and cook for 30 seconds before adding chicken stock. Bring to a full boil, stirring to dissolve the fond from the bottom and sides of pan and then cover and turn heat down and simmer for an hour.

After an hour, add sauerkraut, bring to a full boil and then turn down to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve with sour cream. We have recently been substituting Fage Greek Yogurt for sour cream, and I think it is better than any low or non-fat sour cream.

If desired (what I did tonight) you can add 3 red potatoes cut in 2 inch cubes when you add the sauerkraut. Traditionally this is served with potato dumplings, but I find dumplings a bit heavy for summertime meals.

I served this with some leftover watermelon-feta salad (Nigella Lawson) just because we needed to use it up, and I was surprised to find it the perfect compliment to the Goulash.

"Moroccan" bread pudding

New recipe I just invented. I have no idea if this is really Moroccan, but the flavor profile was stolen from there! And it was really delish.

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp orange oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups milk
2 tbsp butter

about 6 slices of white bread, torn into chunks
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup sliced almonds

Heat milk and butter until butter melts. set aside to cool slightly.

Beat eggs, add sugar and flavorings, and beat until combined.

Stir 1/4 cup of hot milk into egg mixture to temper it. Repeat. Then stir tempered egg mixture into hot milk in 3 batches. Put bread pieces in an 8 or 9 inch square pan. Sprinkle dates and almonds over top. Pour egg mixture over all. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes to absorb liquid. Microwave on high for 8 minutes, and then microwave on 60% power for 4 more minutes and repeat at 60% power until center is set and a knife or toothpick comes out mostly clean. Our microwave is only 850 watts, so if yours is stronger, you might want to start on 60% power setting.

Note: dates are fairly sweet. I think this is the right amt of sugar, but if you don't like things too sweet, you might want to make this with 3/4 cup of sugar instead of the full cup..