Cooking and Recipes

There’s nothing quite like the delicious aroma of herb roasted chicken…especially when one of those herbs is rosemary!  I’ve discovered this delicious combination to create a dish that we enjoy.  I will serve it tonight with a spinach salad, squash from the garden (cooked with an onion from the garden), mashed potatoes and hot cornbread muffins.  The chicken will serve us tonight and there will be enough left over for sandwiches or a chicken salad.

 Herb Roasted Chicken

One 5-6 pound whole chicken, washed and dried inside and out

2 tablespoons butter

1 lemon

1/2 medium-large onion

2-3 garlic cloves

1 large sprig rosemary

1 sprig thyme

1 sprig basil

1 sprig sage (a few leaves)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt the butter in a microwave safe dish.  Chop the herbs and add to the butter.  Add the salt and pepper to the herb mix.  Raise the skin all around the chicken (without tearing if possible) and insert the herbs and butter, spreading it out as much as you can.  Smooth some of the butter on the outside of the chicken too.  Insert 1 lemon (quartered and seeds removed), 1/2 onion and the 2-3 garlic cloves into the cavity of the chicken.  If you have kitchen twine (I was out), tie up the legs and tuck the wings beneath the chicken.  Place it in a roasting plan and cover loosely (tent) with foil.  Roast in 375 degree oven for about 2 hours or until golden and meat tests done with a meat thermometer.  Enjoy!

Here we have the herbs straight from the garden:  

sage, thyme, sweet basil and rosemary…

along with an onion from the garden.  

Also one fresh lemon and 2-3 garlic cloves.

Kosher salt and my favorite, Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper

Melt two tablespoons BUTTER in a covered bowl in the microwave…

Add the chopped herbs, the salt and the pepper to the butter…and mix together

Raise the skin up around the chicken, without tearing,

  insert the herb mixture and spread as much as you can.

Place in a roasting pan and bake at 375 degrees for two hours…

covered loosely with foil.

Tender herb-roasted chicken…

with the distinct flavors of lemon, onion, garlic and herbs…

It started with a lemon tree in the greenhouse, lots of sunshine…and water of course.  I wish I could say the lemons are as large as they look in the photograph below, but they’re actually only about two and a half inches now…and growing.  We cut one and shared it in our tea this afternoon.  Meyer lemons are so good!

They did inspire me though.  I purchased a couple of large Meyer lemons and made one of our favorites:  Lemon Scottish Scones.  The recipe is here.  Or you could try my recipe for delicious Lemon Pudding Cake here.  Or Lemon Yogurt Loaf here.  Each one is scrumptious – especially enjoyed on the front porch with a cup of hot tea and a windchimes symphony.  Anytime you’re cooking with farm fresh eggs with golden yolks, the results are golden and delicious!

This morning,  the sweet – but not so subtle – note indicated that he was definitely wishing for an apple pie.  Since he had purposely stopped at the grocery store for 8 large Braeburn apples yesterday, who was I to say no?!  😉


Tonight’s dessert:  delicious apple pie made from my favorite recipe in “The Joy of Cooking”…


I may never buy granola bars again.  My daughter makes these homemade granola bars and they are delicious!  You could substitute any fruit you’d like – dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries or dates.  I think any of them would be scrumptious.  Here’s the recipe and enjoy!   

Homemade Granola Bars  

2 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup wheat germ*

*The second time my daughter made these delicious granola bars, she was out of wheat germ and I think I liked them better that way.  I added the whole 1/2 cup and I think it was a little too much.  Next time, I’ll reduce it to maybe 2 tablespoons for the healthy effect.  😉

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup raisins (or you could probably try any other favorite dried fruit – like blueberries, dates or cherries)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup honey

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins and salt.  Combine the wet ingredients.  Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla.  Using your hands, mix well.  Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.  Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.  Enjoy!

The last time I saw my beautiful granddaughter Maggie was October 15, 2011.  Since then, Maggie and her Mom  and Dad have moved from their beloved Chicago to Dallas, Texas.  They are settling in nicely and Maggie is growing so quickly.  I see photographs, of course, but you can’t cuddle and talk to a photo very well.  I love the occasional i-Pad talks, but I still can’t reach through the screen and hold her!

I’m flying Saturday morning to Dallas for a wonderful ten days.  Her Mom and Dad have asked me what I would like to see or do in Dallas.  Truthfully, the only “sight” I care about in Dallas is Maggie!  I want to hold her and play with her and read to her.  I want to take her for long strolls around their historical neighborhood.  I want to hear her laughter.  I’ve happily volunteered to “babysit” so Mom and Dad can actually have a date night out.  This sweet visit enables me to begin a relationship that will last a lifetime…which means flying as often as possible to see her so she doesn’t forget me in between visits!

Maggie in her stroller… 

We were in the mood for molasses cookies.  I have a great recipe for the best molasses cookies ever.  The problem was:  I couldn’t find the recipe anywhere.  I looked in all the obvious places and still no luck.  In my mind, I could picture the ancient “cookie book” that is literally falling apart but that didn’t help.  I still couldn’t find it.  I resorted to the internet and picked a recipe that was described as “delicious” and looked simple enough.  When it comes to a favorite cookie, I don’t recommend doing that.  My ten hens feasted on the worst molasses cookies that I’ve ever had.  They didn’t seem to notice.

So, last night, I delved (searched and dug deeply) into the well-used hard drive of my computer.  Years ago, I had created a family cookbook in memory of my beloved Mama and thought I remembered including that recipe.  No doubt, the goats heard me yelling YAAAAY! all the way from the pasture when I found it.  The macho logger tree farmer is used to me doing that, so he didn’t even look up from his book.

I’m sharing this recipe with you.  If I ever lose it again, I figure I will have cast my bread – uh, cookies – upon the waters and I will have this recipe for all time.  Enjoy!  They’re worth the effort and time it takes to make them. 

Dianne’s Favorite Molasses Cookies

2 & 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 level teaspoons baking soda (don’t heap these)

2 tablespoons hot water

1/2 cup Crisco soft shortening (make sure it’s fresh!)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup molasses (I use Grandma’s Molasses – unsulphured)

1 egg

6 tablespoons cold water

1/2 cup seedless raisins (or more if you’re a raisin lover)

Start heating oven to 400 degrees.  Follow directions closely for the best cookie!  SIFT together the flour, ginger, cinnamon and salt.  Dissolve soda in hot water.  Mix the Crisco shortening, sugar, molasses and egg until creamy.  Mix in flour mixture alternately with the cold water; then mix in the dissolved soda and all but a few raisins.  Drop by rounded tablespoons – 2″ apart – onto greased cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with remaining raisins.  Bake 12 minutes or until done.  Makes about 2 dozen.

Every Thanksgiving when I was growing up, Mama would make a “Fresh Apple Cake”.  Labor intensive, the three-layer cake included spices, freshly cracked pecans, raisins and a lot of fresh apples.  Although it would have been delicious without any icing, as I recall she made a rich caramel frosting for it.  Needless to say, it was superb and didn’t last long!

A couple of Christmases ago, I discovered this easy, scrumptious apple-raisin cake.  This was our dessert for tonight, cooked in a large cast iron skillet with no icing.   It is so good and brings back apple cake memories of long ago…

Yankee Pot Roast is quickly becoming one of our favorite meals.  True, there is some prep work involved but it’s worth it in the end.  It is a delicious meal!  It’s essentially an entire meal in a Pampered Chef stoneware bowl or dutch oven – whatever you have.   Tonight, I’m serving it with a small tossed salad and hot cornbread muffins.

Every time I prepare this, I’m reminded of the time, years ago, that my older son brought home his precious fiance to meet us.  She grew up in upper New York state and I thought it would be a fun idea to surprise her with Yankee Pot Roast.  The funny thing is that she had mentioned to my son that she was hoping for some good Southern cooking!  In the end, I prepared both and we all fell in love with her…and, thankfully, vice versa.


Here they are…the ingredients all assembled and ready to become delicious, tender Yankee Pot Roast.  The only thing missing are 2-3 fresh stalks of celery which I didn’t have.

Yankee Pot Roast

One 3-4 pound beef roast, or larger depending on size of family of course ( this one was a 2 & 1/2 pound eye round roast).  Rump roast is hard to find here but is my preference.

Kosher salt (about 1 tablespoon)

Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper

3-4 fresh carrots (or more if you’re cooking a larger roast)

2-3 fresh stalks of celery (or more for larger roast)

4-5 large Idaho potatoes (or more for a larger family)  (washed, peeled – or not – and cut into quarters)

2 cans Beef Broth or 1 large box of beef broth

1 & 1/2 cups good red wine (This one is a merlot from Columbia-Crest in Washington state.  Reasonably priced and good for this dish.)

1 large onion cut in quarters (the small onions above came from our garden so I used what I had)

4-5 cloves of fresh garlic, minced

1 tablespoon of Herbs de Provence (if you’re not using fresh herbs also, increase to about 1 & 1/2 or 2 tablespoons)

3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and fresh thyme

2 sprigs of fresh tarragon  (all the fresh herbs came from my garden this morning)

Flour – Just enough to dredge roast really well.

Liberally sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt and Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper all over roast.

Dredge flour on all sides of roast.

Preheat the Extra Virgin Olive Oil…

Saute the vegetables just to give them a little color…


Remove the vegetables to a separate bowl and brown the roast on all sides on medium-high heat.


Remove the roast and add the beef broth to the hot pan. Stir to “deglaze” the pan or get all the good pan drippings off the bottom of the pan. Add the red wine to the beef broth and stir briefly.


Combine the roast, carrots, onions, minced garlice, celery and herbs in stoneware bowl or dutch oven. Pour the beef broth/wine mixture over it. Cover tightly with lid and foil. Bake at 325 degrees for about 2 & 1/2 hours and then add the potatoes cut into quarters. Bake for another 1 hour or until potatoes are tender.

Tender pot roast with fragrant rosemary, thyme and tarragon…

It was a simple Sunday night supper – a crock of homemade baked macaroni and cheese with Tillamook sharp cheddar, a pan of roasted Autumn vegetables and hot, crisp cornbread.  Simple but delicious.  The gratifying thing about the roasted vegetables?  Most of them came straight from our garden, all but the carrots.  To tell the truth, I actually felt like a frontier woman… 

Roasted Autumn Vegetables

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spray stoneware pan or a cookie sheet with sides with Pam or vegetable spray.

1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks

1 zucchini, washed and sliced

1 yellow squash, washed and sliced

1 onion, peeled and cut into chunks

4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

1 green or red pepper, washed and sliced

4-5 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1/4 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1/4  teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper

Liberal sprinkling of Roast Vegetables & Fries Spice Blend

A little Kosher salt if taste prefers

2 sprigs of  FRESH rosemary

1 sprig of FRESH thyme

You could also add 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks to the mix.

 Combine all prepared vegetables in large bowl and toss with olive oil.  Then sprinkle the pepper, spice blend and herbs over vegetables and toss again to coat them all well.  Spread into prepared pan.  Bake for about 30-35 minutes, stirring/tossing every ten minutes or so to coat vegetables.

Cook until slightly browned and vegetables are tender.

We awoke to the sound of raindrops and the sweet smell of rain.  After a long dry summer, it is welcome.  Granted, a few months into the rainy season, we may be complaining, but for now, I am so glad to see rain.  The temperature has dropped and it feels like Autumn…my favorite time of the year.  I love everything about Autumn

The minute the temperature drops and there’s a nip in the air, one of the first things I do is drag out the soup pot!  This recipe is for one of our favorites.  Although I’ve never been to Italy (it’s on my bucket list), this soup is from Italy’s Tuscany Central region.  They serve a wonderful version of this soup at the Olive Garden restaurant.  Although we must drive an hour and a half to Eugene to eat at the Olive Garden, occasionally we do just that.  Otherwise, I make it at home – a very close version actually.

Tonight, I’m serving it with Romano Garlic bread from the Lighthouse Bakery.  The macho logger tree farmer picked up a fresh apple pie at Kruse Farms, so dessert will be a fitting ending to this delicious soup!  He also picked up the ingredients to make the last melon fruit medley of the season…complete with several different types of melons and seedless grapes.


Zuppa Toscana…Italian Sausage & Potato Soup

1 pound ground Italian sausage

(these were mild Johnsonville Italian sausage links and I removed the casings)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers

(you can add more if you like extra spicy)

1 large white onion, diced

4 tablespoons lean bacon pieces

5-6 small cloves of garlic put through a garlic press = 2 tsp. garlic puree

9 cups water

5 teaspoons of “Better than Boullion” Chicken Base dissolved in 1 cup boiling water

(in addition to the 9 above)

1 cup heavy cream

1 pound sliced or 3 large potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)

1/4 of a bunch of Kale

Seasoned pepper to taste

Salt to taste

Saute the sausage (removed from the casings if you’ve used links) and crushed red pepper together in a large pot.  Drain the excess liquid and place meat on paper towel lined dish.  Place in refrigerator as you prepare the remainder of the soup.

Using the same pan, saute the bacon, onions and garlic over medium heat until the onions are soft – about 15 minutes.

Add the 5 teaspoons Better than Boullion chicken base to the 1 cup boiling water to dissolve.  Add this mixture and the 9 cups of water to the pot.  Heat until it starts to boil.  Add the sliced potatoes and cook until potatoes are soft, about half and hour.

Add the heavy cream and just cook until completely heated. 

Stir in the sausage and the kale.  Let all heat thoroughly.  Taste to adjust salt/pepper. 


Everything is here to make the soup except for the 2 tablespoons of lean bacon pieces.  You will be removing the casings from the links to make about 1 pound of Italian sausage.  I notice there are only two Yukon Gold potatoes in this photo,  but I actually used three large ones.  Next time, I think I’ll add a couple more potatoes!


Fresh and crisp Kale…delicious in soups.


This is sooo much better than boullion cubes!  Comes in beef and ham base as well.

Hot and a little spicy with the red pepper flakes. 

Delicious – especially served with garlic bread!






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