Constant Growing Amazement Cooks!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lemon Magic Cake

This was my addition to our recipe Mediterranean Bon Appetit dinner.  David liked it but I thought it was just so-so.  Valene and I have made lots of lemon desserts through the years so they are a tough act to follow.  Good but I'm not rushing out to make it again.

Lemon Magic Cake
Lemon Magic Cake - one simple batter that turns into a 3 layer cake.  The popular magic cake now in lemon flavor.
Servings: 9
Author: Joanna Cismaru
  • 4 eggs at room temperature separate yolks from whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted, (1 stick )
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour (or 4 oz)
  • 1 3/4 cup milk lukewarm
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice  (note: I would double this)
  • zest from one lemon
  • powdered sugar for dusting cake
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F degrees. Grease a 8 inch x 8 inch baking dish or line it with parchment paper.
  2. Separate eggs and add the egg whites to a mixer and mix until egg whites are stiff. Place egg whites in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light. Add butter and vanilla extract and continue beating for another minute or two after which you can add the flour and mix it in until fully incorporated.
  4. Add lemon juice and lemon zest then slowly start adding the milk and beat until everything is well mixed together. Add the egg whites, a third at a time and gently fold them in using a spatula or a whisk, repeat until all egg whites are folded in, but there should still be white bits of egg whites floating in the batter.
  5. Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 40 to 70 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and the cake is firm to the touch. The baking time could vary greatly depending on the oven, so take a peek at around 40 minutes and see how it looks.
  6. Sprinkle some powdered sugar after cake has cooled.

Mediterranean Bon Appetit

Last night we had Bon Appetit at the Cook's.  Valene cooked a amazing Mediterranean dinner (from a Bon Appetit 2004).  Over the top amazing.  Just look at these pictures!  Truly, Valene's home is my favorite restaurant!!!!!  Delish!
White Bean Puree with Sun-Dried Tomatoes with Pita Slices
Makes 4 cups
  • 1 cup dried Great Northern beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 small onion, quartered
  • 2 4-inch-long fresh rosemary sprigs
          1 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup (or more) boiling water
          2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon wedges
  • Toasted pita triangles
Place beans in medium saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover beans by 3 inches. Let stand overnight.  Drain beans well. Return to saucepan. Add 4 cups water, onion, and rosemary sprigs. Bring to boil; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until beans are soft, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Discard rosemary sprigs. Drain beans and onion; cool to room temperature.
Using on/off turns, puree drained beans and onion, sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, and chopped rosemary in processor until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 3 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Puree until blended. With machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup boiling water. Thin with more water by tablespoonfuls if necessary. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Transfer white bean puree to wide shallow bowl; drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with parsley. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serve with toasted pita triangles.
Recipe by Zov Karamardian
 Skewered Rosemary Shrimp with Mint Pesto
Makes 24 Servings

Mint pesto

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoon (packed) feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped jalapeño chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (packed) fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  • 24 large uncooked shrimp (about 2 pounds), peeled, deveined, tails left intact
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 24 4-inch-long woody rosemary sprigs

For mint pesto:

Combine first 7 ingredients in processor. Using on/off turns, process until mixture is smooth. Add mint leaves and lemon juice; process until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Gradually add oil and process until mint pesto is smooth and creamy. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate.

For shrimp:

Preheat broiler. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper. Whisk oil, garlic, and parsley in medium bowl to blend. Add shrimp; toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Arrange shrimp in single layer on broiler pan. Broil until opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to large bowl; sprinkle with lemon juice and toss with 1/2 cup mint pesto. Starting at base end of rosemary, skewer 1 shrimp on each sprig. Arrange on platter and serve.
Recipe by Zov Karamardian
Mediterranean Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Herbs and Asparagus

Mediterranean Chicken


8 Servings
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (about 2 1/2 pounds)
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  • 1 1/2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms (such as oyster, crimini, and stemmed shiitake), sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeded, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 2 tablespoon (1/4 stick) chilled butter
  • 1 cup teardrop tomatoes (red and yellow)
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  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • Caper berries, halved (optional)
Preheat oven to 200°F. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, add chicken to skillet. Cook until brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to ovenproof plate and place in oven to keep warm. Discard oil from skillet.
Add 3 tablespoons oil to same skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until wilted and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add broth; boil until almost all liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add olives, plum tomatoes, garlic, shallot, and capers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Add butter; stir until melted. Mix in teardrop tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon mushroom mixture over chicken. Sprinkle parsley and pine nuts over. Garnish with caper berries, if desired, and serve.
Capers are flower buds from the caper bush, and caper berries are the fruit. They are about the size of an olive, and are usually pickled and sold in jars. They can be found at Italian markets, specialty foods stores, and some supermarkets.
Recipe by Zov Karamardian

Roasted Potatoes and Herbs

8 Servings
  • 4 pounds 2- to 2 1/2-inch-diameter Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, each cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 cup chopped shallots (about 5 large)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
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  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Add potatoes to large pot of boiling salted water. Cook 6 minutes and drain. Toss potatoes with shallots, oil, salt, and pepper in large bowl to coat. DO AHEAD Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly oil 2 rimmed baking sheets. Divide potatoes between prepared baking sheets. Roast 35 minutes. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons parsley and 2 teaspoons thyme over potatoes on each sheet. Using metal spatula, turn potatoes to coat. Roast until brown and tender, about 20 minutes longer. Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, and serve.
Recipe by Zov Karamardian

Spinach and Roasted Red Pepper Gratin


Makes 8 Servings
  • 4 10-ounce bags fresh spinach leaves
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large shallot, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat large deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches (about 10 cups at a time), sauté fresh spinach in dry skillet until bright green and wilted, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer spinach to strainer. Squeeze spinach dry; roll in kitchen towel to remove excess water.
Char peppers directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed, and slice peppers into 1/4-inch-wide strips.
Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, shallot, and garlic; cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk cream and eggs in large bowl to blend. Whisk in all cheeses, salt, and pepper. Stir in spinach, leek mixture, and 2/3 of roasted red peppers (reserve 1/3 of peppers for topping). DO AHEAD - Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Transfer spinach mixture to prepared dish. Bake gratin until knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Arrange remaining red pepper strips decoratively atop gratin and serve.
Recipe by Zov Karamardian


Monday, March 20, 2017

Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie

This is a killer dessert...truly meant for sharing because it is soooo rich!  I doubled all the ingredients because my dish was 8 by 6 1/2.  I also added a caramel and a chocolate sauce at the end.

Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie

For the graham cracker crust:
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/3 cup chocolate chips

For the cookie layer:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup crushed walnuts (yikes-  pecans for sure!!!)
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon butter
dash of cinnamon

vanilla ice cream, chopped nuts, chocolate sauce, and caramel sauce, for serving


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 6x6 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter and use a fork to toss crumbs together until they are evenly moistened. Press graham cracker mixture evenly onto the bottom of prepared baking dish. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and using a spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly over the graham cracker crust.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add milk, oil, and vanilla and using an electric hand mixer, beat together on low speed until combined. Beat in coconut and nuts. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter over crust. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

To serve, melt butter with cinnamon in a small skillet, until sizzling. Place a piece of pie on top of the sizzling butter. Top with ice cream, walnuts, chocolate, and caramel sauce.

Best if served immediately after removing from oven

Caramel Sauce

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 can (14 ounce size) sweetened condensed milk (other half is for the hot fudge sauce)
1/4cup margarine or butter, cut in slices
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk, more as needed

Combine the sugar and sweetened condensed milk in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.

Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves then remove from the heat. Add the butter and vanilla to the sugar mixture and beat well until the butter melts. Slowly stir in the milk and continue stirring until fully incorporated.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Hot Fudge Sauce
3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla.
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt chips and butter with the condensed milk and water.  Cook and stir constantly until smooth.  Stir in vanilla.  Makes 1 cup

Friday, March 17, 2017

Blue Cheese Coleslaw

Made this yummy salad for St. Patrick's Day.  We loved it!


Blue Cheese Coleslaw

Servings: 4
  • 2 cups cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 carrot (shredded)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 1 lemon (juice)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese (crumbled)
  • 1 handful parsley (chopped)
SOOOOO- I just used an Asian Slaw salad mix that had cabbage and carrot and some parsley.  I'm not a big parsley fan so it was just enough.  The dressing is good and the blue cheese (I'm sure I added more) was delish in it!!!!
  1. Mix the cabbage and carrot in a large bowl.
  2. Mix the mayo, sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  3. Mix everything together.
  4. Cover and let mellow in the fridge for a few hours.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Balsamic Roasted Cauliflower

Made this recipe for birthday dinners and we loved it!  Recipe from  It's a winner!

Balsamic Roasted Cauliflower


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite size pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil
  2. Stir the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and garlic together in a bowl. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat; spread the mixture onto the lined baking sheet.
  3. Stirring occasionally, bake in the preheated oven until tender, about 20 minutes.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies  recipe and picture!

You don't have to have pink cookies- but I added food coloring for Valentines day.

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies
(only five ingredients!!!)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 10 Oreo cookies, broken into pieces

  1. In the body of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed.
  2. Add the sugar and beat well.
  3. Add in flour, a small bit at a time, beating in on low speed, just until incorporated. Fold in oreos until evenly distributed.
  4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes, and up to 2 hours.
  5. 30 minutes prior to baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees .
  6. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Using a cookie scoop, scoop out 2 tablespoon sized balls of dough, roll them into rounds, and place them on the cookie sheet. Lightly press down on each cookie.
  8. Place pan in the oven to bake for 10-11 minutes, or until just golden at the edges. They will still be very soft when you remove them from the oven - that's a good thing!
  9. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 full minutes, then very carefully transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Caramel Apple Caramel Corn/Caramel Corn

Caramel Apple Caramel Corn
  • 1 cup unpopped corn kernels or 3 bags unbuttered microwave popcorn, popped with old maids taken out (now don't get mad...maids love to be taken out!)
  •  apple rings to taste- cut into pieces
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 (14 oz ) can of sweetened condensed milk
How to Make
  1. In an air popper, pop your kernels into a large bowl. Pick out any unpopped kernels.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt. Heat until melted and begins to boil. Once boiling, pour in your can of sweetened condensed milk and stir continuously for 5 minutes, to prevent burning.
  3. Remove from heat and pour directly over popcorn and apples, stirring until coated evenly.
This recipe originally calls for baking in a low oven but the result is more like cracker jacks...which is good too but I didn't like it baked with the apple pieces in it.  Loved it without.
My very favorite gooey caramel corn recipe (thanks Kaitlin-who calls me Aunti M.)-(the sugar, extra butter and cream basically make the sweetened condensed milk in the prior recipe.)
Best Gooey Caramel Corn
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup sugar   
1 cup karo syrup   
2 cubes BUTTER
4 Tbls cream  (can use evaporated milk)
Boil for 4 minutes then remove from heat and add 1 tsp vanilla- pour over popped corn