Showing posts with label Berried Secrets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Berried Secrets. Show all posts

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Grandma Mary's Bean Soup #Recipe @PegCochran

I've been trying to work my way through some of the food stocked in the big freezer we have out in the garage.  When something I use frequently--like chicken--is on sale, I will stock up.  But the freezer is getting a little too full and since it seems the apocalypse has been delayed for the time being, I thought I'd better start using some of the frozen food.

 While I was poking around I discovered the ham bone I'd saved from Easter dinner (I also found the ham bone I'd saved from the *previous* Easter's dinner but that's a story for another time.)  I always loved my mother-in-law's bean soup which she made after Easter with the ham bone, and fortunately I had the recipe so here it is!


2 quarts boiling water
1 bay leaf
8 peppercorns (I didn't count)
1 onion, peeled
3 whole cloves
1 lb. great Northern beans

I know there's an enormous divide among those who believe beans need to be soaked and those who don't.  I decided to be on the safe side and I soaked the beans overnight in cold water.

If there are any good bits of ham still clinging to the bone, or if you've saved some ham, cut it into bite-sized pieces and put it aside.

Put all of the above in a large soup pot, bring to a boil, skim the foam from the top and lower the heat to a gentle simmer.  Simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  My beans must have been very fresh because they only took 2 hours to become soft and tender.

Optional step:  Since I had time before dinner, I put the soup in the refrigerator until the fat congealed on top making it super easy to remove.

Congealed fat--so easy to skim off!

More Ingredients:

carrots, sliced
parsnip, sliced
onions, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Leftover cubed ham
salt and pepper to taste

You will note there are no quantities for some of these ingredients.  The recipe called for 6 carorts, 3 parsnips and 3 onions.  That seemed excessive especially given the size of my carrots.  I put in 1 parsnip, 2 carrots and 1 onion.  It made for a full pot of soup and I didn't think it needed anymore.  Use your judgment.  If you LOVE carrots, you can add more.

Add the above along with the ham to the soup pot and cook another 30 minutes or until the veggies are cooked.  Mine took forever.  Note to self: make thinner slices next time.

Add a sprinkle of paprika (about a teaspoon or to taste), stir and serve.  If you want to go all retro, enjoy with buttered saltines.  If you want to be very grown-up, serve with good crusty bread.

For more good recipes, and a good mystery, pick up a copy of Berry the Hatchet, #2 in my Cranberry Cove series!

Coming in September -- an all new series!


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Massaged Kale Salad #Recipe @Peg Cochran

I first read about the concept of "massaging" kale in the Huffington Post. It's not as kinky as it sounds--trust me, this is a G rated recipe!  Since I am always looking for new ways to get my husband to like kale, I decided to give it a try.  Ingredients are simple:

Bunch of kale
Olive oil - a tablespoon or two

First you need to remove the tough center stems from the kale.  The easiest way to do this is to fold the leaf in half and run your knife down the stem.  Then while the leaf is folded in half, you can slice across it to make salad-sized pieces.

 Kale stripped of its stems and cut into bite-sized pieces.  
This is pre-massage.  It looks a little tense, doesn't it?

Place your cut up kale in a salad bowl.  Add approximately one tablespoon of olive oil (quantity depends on how big your bunch of kale is.)  Add a sprinkling of salt to taste then begin the massage!  Rub the pieces of kale between your fingertips.  As you rub, you will notice the leaves become silkier and less "scratchy" to the touch.  Continue until you have massaged all of the leaves--it will take a couple of minutes.  The kale should be soft and silky and taste almost sweet.

 Ahhhhh.   Doesn't that kale look more relaxed now?  
This is the salad post-massage. 

Serve as is or add a dash of your favorite vinegar.


To celebrate the release of Berry the Hatchet, the second book in my Cranberry Cove series, I am giving away one copy to someone who leaves a comment below!

The entire town of Cranberry Cove is popping with excitement. Monica Albertson is baking cranberry goodies by the dozen and shopkeepers are decking out their storefronts for the first annual Winter Walk—an event dreamed up by the mayor to bring visitors to the town during a normally dead time of year.

But it’s the mayor who turns up dead during the grand opening ceremony, his lifeless body making its entrance in a horse-drawn sleigh. Monica’s mother and stepmother quickly become the prime suspects when it’s discovered that the mayor was dating both of them, and to make things worse, her half brother Jeff uncovers a clue buried near one of the bogs on Sassamanash Farm. Now it’s up to Monica to find out who really put the mayor on ice.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Saucy Spicy Baked Cod #Recipe @PegCochran #Giveaway

We've been trying to eat more fish since it is low in calories and good for you. Okay, I've been forcing my poor husband to eat more fish even though he doesn't care if it's low in calories and good for him!

Fish is expensive so we're sticking to the more mundane fish--no Chilean sea bass or anything like that. I've found that cod is reasonably priced and a fairly "meaty" fish so you don't feel like you want to go out for a burger or pizza after you've had it for dinner.

This recipe is super simple. I found it online somewhere and tweaked it a bit. It's quite tasty considering that cod is a relatively bland fish. I served it with a salad of massaged kale which I will tell you about in my next blog post--stay tuned!

2 cod fillets, (to serve two people -- ours were around 4 ounces each)
salt and pepper to taste
1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
chopped garlic--I used around 2 teaspoons
squeeze of lemon juice
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce--more or less depending on your tolerance for heat

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Rinse fish and pat dry

Combine olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and sriracha together and stir

Season cod with salt and pepper and pour the marinade over fish

Marinate in a baking dish for 30 minutes (turn the fish over halfway through)

Bake for approximately 20 - 25 minutes until fish is flaky


This is a super easy and healthy weeknight dinner!

I am so excited that book #2 in my Cranberry Cove Series will be out on May 3! Have you pre-ordered Berry the Hatchet yet? You know you want to catch up with Monica, Jeff, Gina and the gang!

The entire town of Cranberry Cove is popping with excitement. Monica Albertson is baking cranberry goodies by the dozen and shopkeepers are decking out their storefronts for the first annual Winter Walk—an event dreamed up by the mayor to bring visitors to the town during a normally dead time of year.

But it’s the mayor who turns up dead during the grand opening ceremony, his lifeless body making its entrance in a horse-drawn sleigh. Monica’s mother and stepmother quickly become the prime suspects when it’s discovered that the mayor was dating both of them, and to make things worse, her half brother Jeff uncovers a clue buried near one of the bogs on Sassamanash Farm. Now it’s up to Monica to find out who really put the mayor on ice.



If you haven't read the first book in the series, Berried Secrets, leave a comment below to be entered to win a copy!

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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Bailey's Irish Cream Cake #Recipe by @PegCochran

I know--St. Patrick's Day is over.  But it's always a good day to enjoy a cake made with Bailey's Irish Cream!  I made this to take to a St. Patrick's Day themed party.  I wasn't going to post it but it was such a hit that I wouldn't want you to miss out!

And it's easy!  Always a bonus.  The original recipe called for Frangelico liqueur as well as Bailey's but good luck finding that in your local grocery store.  Plus I didn't want to invest the money in it so...I fiddled with the directions and it still came out great!  Although this will put quite a dent in your bottle of Bailey's!  The original recipe called for putting Bailey's in the glaze as well but I thought that was a bit "de trops" as the French would say.  With all that alcohol you wouldn't dare light a match around this cake!  No birthday candles, please!

1 box yellow cake mix
1 box instant chocolate pudding mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
1/8 cup water
4 large eggs

1 cup powdered sugar
Approximately 1/4 cup milk or water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine the first 7 ingredients--cake mix through eggs--and beat until well mixed--approximately three minutes.

Pour into a greased (I used PAM) bundt pan or a tube pan (I still don't have a bundt pan).

Bake 40 to 50 minutes until the proverbial toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from pan and place on a wire rack or your cake plate.  Mix powdered sugar and milk or water to form a thick glaze (you may need to play around with the proportions) and spoon over the cooled cake.

Okay, I forgot to take a picture of the glazed cake but it was awesome! And the glaze got all over my pants as I carried the cake to the party on my lap in the car.  But no matter, I was a STAR!  Everyone loved it!

Eat and enjoy!

Out Now!

Coming in May!

Coming in September!

Do you like food, family and a mystery?  You'll love Lucille in A Room with a Pew!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Chicken Breasts with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Olives #Recipe @PegCochran

I found this recipe on-line.  It comes from Molly O'Neill of the NY Times.  I'm going to give you her original quantities--I adapted the recipe for me and my husband (plus one leftover for my lunch!)

I always think things cooked in foil packets are fun!  I've done fish like this, too.  Just be careful when you open the packet--lots of steam will pour out.

10 calamata olives, pitted and minced
8 sun-dried tomato halves in oil, cut into strips
3 tablespoons oil from sun-dried tomato jar or plain olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped basil or parsley (I used parsley)
salt and pepper to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine olives, sun-dried tomatoes, their oil and your choice of herbs in a bowl and mix.

Tear off four piece of aluminum foil large enough to hold the chicken breasts.  Spray with non-stick spray on the shiny side.  

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place each breast slightly off-center on foil pieces.  Spoon tomato mixture over each breast.  

Fold foil over chicken and crimp to make packets.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Let sit five minutes before serving.   

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Slow Cooker Granola #Recipe @PegCochran

Yes, the bowl in the picture is empty.  Do you know why it's empty?  Because my husband ATE ALL THE GRANOLA before I could take a picture of it!  Now isn't that a great recommendation??

This was super easy to make.  My granddaughter helped me, and it's something kids could make with a little adult supervision.  And obviously it tastes good!

I used steel cut oats in this because that was all I had.  I think I would prefer it made with rolled oats but obviously that didn't stop my husband from enjoying it!


6 Tablespoons applesauce (I used unsweetened)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups oats, uncooked
1 cup chopped pecans (or nuts of your choice)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Combine all but the oats, pecans and raisins in the slow cooker and mix well.

Add oats, pecans, raisins and mix well.  Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar and cook on high for three hours stirring occasionally.

Spoon granola on a cookie sheet and allow to cool.  (Line cookie sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up.)

Break into clusters and store in an air-tight container.  Or, eat it all right away!

I'm excited to announce that the ebook of BERRIED SECRETS, the first book in my Cranberry Cove series, is on SALE for $1.99 for a limited time only!

Barnes & Noble

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Mississippi Roast #Recipe @PegCochran

Okay, I'll admit it.  I had to sing that little ditty we learned in grade school in order to spell Mississippi!

Apparently there is a recipe circulating on the web for Mississippi Roast where you put a three to four pound chuck roast in a slow cooker, dump a packet of Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix and a packet of au jus gravy on top, add a stick (!) of butter, a handful of pepperoncini and cook for eight hours or until the meat can be shredded.  The result gets rave reviews and is certainly easy enough for a busy weekday meal.

The NY Times Food section came out with a less processed version of the recipe (they would, wouldn't they?) which is the one I decided to try.  It was very tasty although quite rich--next time I would dial back even more on the butter (the original recipe calls for six tablespoons but I had half a stick I wanted to use up so I only put in four tablespoons.)  I served it with mashed potatoes to soak up the gravy.  Hubby proclaimed it a "keeper."

1 3 to 4 pound boneless chuck roast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons neutral oil like canola
6 tablespoons butter (feel free to cut back on this amount)
6 to 8 pepperoncini
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

Rub the roast all over with the salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the flour over the roast and rub into the meat.

Heat the oil over high heat until shimmering.  Brown the meat on all sides--approximately 4 to 5 minutes per side to create a crust.  Place the meat in the slow cooker.  Add the butter and pepperoncini, cover and set on low.

While the roast heats make the ranch dressing.  Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, dill and paprika and whisk to combine.  Pour over the roast, cover, then cook on low for 6 to 8 hours (depending on your slow cooker) until the meat can be shredded.

Remove the meat from the slow cooker and place on cutting board.  Skim the fat from the gravy in the slow cooker.  Shred the meat with two forks and mix with the gravy.

Serve over noodles, mashed potatoes, rice or on sandwich rolls. 

Coming May 2016!  Available for pre-order now!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Baked Eggs #Recipe @PegCochran

A friend introduced me to the concept of baking eggs.  They make a wonderful breakfast or brunch dish or even supper when you've over indulged and want something light.  Best of all, they're very easy to make!

Eggs (as many as you need)
Optional items: ham, cheese, Parmesan, prosciutto

Generously butter an oven safe ramekin or gratin dish

 Add chopped ham or prosciutto

 Top with eggs (a double yolk--it's supposed to be lucky!)

 Top with a generous grating of cheese of your choice--in this case Parmesan.  Top with slivers of butter.

Bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until desired doneness.

                                                    Lucille's fourth adventure--out now!

"Fun, fast-paced, light-hearted cozy to relax and enjoy reading. It's always a treat to chuckle at Lucille and Flo and the scrapes those two ladies get into trying to solve a mystery."

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