Rice kernel, my formerly vegetarian child, has been going through a “meat” phase in the last year.  As we sit down to dinner, I frequently hear “Mmm. I want meat. I want more meat.” Minutes later, “more meat please.” I have to remind him that vegetables and starches are accompanying his meal.  To white he responds, “I know, I know. So I can have more meat?”
While I rarely delight in beef, the boys really enjoy stew. The weather is just barely turning cool in our area, so after scratching my head for recipe inspiration, I figured it is that time of year for stew.  For the less-beef-minded in our family (Claire and me), I threw in a healthy amount of shiitake and cremini mushrooms for a similar “meatiness” and a half a head of sweet cabbage, cooked al dente.  Serve alongside some bread for dipping, it is something the entire family can warm up around.
Mushroom and Cabbage Beef Stew
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  • 2 pounds Beef Stew Meat (sirloin Cut Into Cubes)
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 10 ounces, weight Cremini, Shiitake, White Button Mushrooms (or any you like)
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 cup Red Wine
  • 1/2 can Beef Stock
  •  Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 1/2 head of Cabbage, roughly chopped in large chunks
  • Bread, pasta or rice to serve


  1. Sprinkle flour over meat. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
  2. Drizzle olive oil in heavy pot. Sear meat over high heat in batches; remove to a plate when brown.
  3. Add onions and garlic to pan (without cleaning); saute for 2 minutes over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms and carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and stock.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir. Bring to a boil, then add back into the mix the browned meat. Reduce heat to low. Add thyme sprigs to pot.
  4. Cook and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. After that time, mix 2 tablespoons flour with a little water and pour into the stew. Allow to cook and thicken for ten more minutes. In the last few minutes, add cabbage.

Serve with bread, pasta or rice.

Note: You can easily cook this is a slow-cooked.  Sear the meat and vegetables, then place in slow cooker.  Cover with wine and stock (maybe some water so that the meat is submerged).  Cook for 4-6 hours.  In the last 5-10 minutes add cabbage.

I recall very few dessert recipes from my Mother’s arsenal.  She wasn’t much of a baker (Betty Crocker made frequent appearances) nor did she have a sweet tooth.  But this is one she prepared – and one that I am very fond of.  As a child, summers on Long Island were hot and humid.  I delighted in this soupy, slurpy, chilled dessert often.  And why not? The tapioca pearls glimmer in a rich coconut milk broth, studded with small pieces of sweet fruit.  It is satisfying and wholesome, yet surprisingly light.
Since we are headed into Fall, I should note that this dessert is just as a delicious hot or warm.  And if honeydew isn’t available, mango and pears are a fragrant substitute.
Tapioca Pearls with Honeydew and Coconut Milk Broth

  • 1/2 cup (75 g) small dried tapioca pearls
  • 4 cup (1000 ml) water


  • 1 3/4 cup (400 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) water or nondairy milk ( I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) regular sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 2 cups honeydew melon, peeled, deseeded and diced


  1. Bring water to a boil.  Carefully place tapioca in boiling water and stir for 1 minute.  Let cook for 6 minutes, covered, at full boil.  After 6 minutes, turn off the heat and leave the tapioca covered on the stove for 20 minutes.
  2. Drain tapioca in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold water.
  3. To make the “soup”, combine the coconut milk with 1/2 cup (125 ml) of water or nondairy milk in a large saucepan. Stir in the salt and the sugar and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
  4. As soon as the liquid boils, turn off the heat and stir in the drained tapioca pearls.  Remove from heat.
  5. You may serve the dessert warm or chilled.  If chilled, refrigerate the soup base and fold in fruit when ready to serve.

Amazing how half a year has elapsed since our last post.  Rice Kernel turned 5, enjoyed a delightful tour of summer camps, went to his first symphony, helped Grandpa dry dock a boat, graduated from his love of all things fire- and police-related, and began full-day kindergarten a week ago.  Let’s be honest, he had a few meltdowns and tantrums in between but, all in all, he’s done a great deal of growing – literally and figuratively.  Our little Claire started walking and a strong, feisty personality has emerged. It has been trying and funny at the same time.  She’s spitting out a few phrases and key words these days and enjoying her share of yummy foods.  Quite the eater, my second-born is nothing like her older brother – she doesn’t like vegetables and loves to eat socially.  

Although we’ve been cooking meals most nights, my time for baking has gone to the wayside.  Mostly it’s because I can’t concentrate long enough to keep track of ever-moving Claire. And even if I find a precious 10-15 minute span alone, I’d rather be doing something with Claire.  All this has left me with plenty of opportunity to sample store-bought cookie varieties.  All of which pale in comparison to the homemade variety, I think.

So recently, with a few past-their-prime avocados on the counter, I decided to bake up a batch of my favorite oatmeal cookies with avocado. I found the below recipe online – the cookies looked beautiful.  Although they are laced with avocado, you will never detect any guacamole taste in here! These cookies are fluffy, crispy on the edges, and full of oaty texture. Speckled with chocolate chips, they are a nice treat  for anyone, any day.  

Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies


recipe from Absolutely Avocados

yields about 3 dozen cookies

Print this Recipe!


1 Hass avocado

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

1 3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Cut the avocado in half and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. Add the butter and brown sugar. Cream together until fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Mix well until well combined.

Add the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Mix slowly then add the chocolate chips and oats. Be careful not to overmix here. Place the dough in the fridge to chill for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. After the dough has chilled, scoop out spoonfuls of dough on the baking sheet and press down gently with your hand to flatten. Bake for 18 minutes, until golden brown. Repeat with remaining dough.

Gingerbread Biscotti

I enjoy “gingerbread” flavors in traditional cookie form, so I don’t know why it took me so long to make this recipe!  Crisp and slightly spicy, these are a healthier option than the gingerbread men we see during the holidays and the gingerbread crisps from the grocery store.  I prefer my gingerbread more on the spicy side, however.  If you do, too, I would suggest adding another tsp of ground ginger or even some grated fresh ginger for some added zing.

Gingerbread Biscotti, from here


Lemon poppyseed is one of my favorite combinations in cake, scone, and muffin forms.  After rediscovering my affection for biscotti recently, I decided to infuse lemon and poppyseed into the traditional Italian cookie. 

Lemon adds a refreshing zing and the addition of poppy seeds do not go unnoticed.  The icing on the cake is literally the icing – a white chocolate lemon icing spiked with flecks of lemon zest.

I based my recipe loosely on this one, with the addition of 2 tbsp of poppy seeds (I like more!) and an additional tbsp of lemon zest in the white chocolate coating.


We are on a shrimp kick.  Full of flavor, these are delicious in a sandwich or served with some rice.  I omitted the spice for the kids and added a few slices of ginger along with the garlic, but it is most definitely better with some chilis!  (These are served on a bed of sauteed onions, which my Dad always enjoys with shrimp.)


Salt-and-Pepper Shrimp
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 tsp. granulated sugar
Pinch of Chinese five-spice powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced into rounds
4 large scallions (green parts only), sliced 1/4 inch thick
1-1/2 lb. large shrimp (26 to 30 per lb.), peeled and deveined, tails left on
3-1/2 Tbs. peanut or canola oil
1 small lime, cut into 4 wedges


  1. In a large bowl, mix the cornstarch, sugar, five-spice powder, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, chile, and scallions; set aside.
  2. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Line a small baking sheet or large plate with a double layer of paper towels. Add the shrimp to the cornstarch mixture and toss until evenly and thoroughly coated.
  3. In a heavy-duty 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Add half of the shrimp in a single layer. Cook without disturbing until deep golden and spotty brown on one side, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, quickly flip each shrimp and continue to cook until the second sides are spotty golden brown, about 1 minute longer. (The shrimp may not be cooked through at this point.) Transfer the shrimp to the prepared sheet. Add another 1 Tbs. of the oil to the skillet and repeat with the remaining shrimp, transferring them to the sheet when done.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the skillet. Add the garlic mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the chile and scallions are softened andthe garlic is golden and smells toasted, about 1 minute. Return the shrimp to the pan and stir to combine. Serve immediately, with the lime wedges.

Many biscotti recipes call for butter or oil.  It creates a “softer” biscotti.  To me, though, biscotti should be hard, worthy of dunking into a hot cup of tea or coffee without turning into complete mush.  This recipe is just right – sufficient crunch and texture without breaking any teeth!




3/4 cup (110 grams) blanched whole almonds
2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (230 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried fruit


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Toast almonds for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop coarsely. Set aside.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the sugar and eggs on high speed until thick, pale, and fluffy (about 5 minutes). At this point beat in the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the egg mixture and beat until combined. Fold in the chopped almonds and fruit.
  4. Transfer the dough to a well floured counter and roll into a log shape, about 12 inches (30 cm) long and 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) wide. You may have to flour your hands to form the log as the dough is quite sticky. Place on your baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).Transfer the log to a cutting board and cut into about 1/2 inch (1.25  cm) slices, on the diagonal. Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, turn slices over, and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.
  6. Makes about 20-24 biscotti.