About Andrea

Hi I'm Andrea I love to cook and bake for my friends and loved ones. Especially comforting foods such as soup and bread and don't forget the sweet treats! I live on Cape Cod in Massachusetts in a coastal New England town where life is dictated by the seasons: going to the beach in the summer and shoveling snow in the wintertime. I am lucky to have my days revolve around my family: I have two children, a husband and a dog. My parents live right down the street in the house where I grew up. Life is good here and I always want to share it through a delicious meal and a friendly gathering. So, get out your soup pot and your baking pans and gather up your ingredients. Let's cook up some magic together!

Chicken Salad

chicken salad with lettuce on whole wheat bread on a white plate

 

Chicken Salad.

It’s pretty basic as far as a sandwich goes but it is a favorite for all the right reasons. A really good chicken salad has the perfect amount of mayonnaise so that it is not soupy, yet binds together. Mixing the chicken with the mayonnaise when it is still warm, allows the chicken to absorb some of the mayonnaise and stick together, a trick my mother, Val uses for her famously delicious potato salad, too. It needs to be flavorful but not overpowering. Curried Chicken Salad is great but when I need my fix, I prefer something easier on the palate, a taste that children and adults with more sensitive taste buds will enjoy, too. A little bit of lettuce for crunch and some soft white or wheat bread complete the experience and make it easy to pack in my cooler for a day at the beach.

 

Chicken Salad
(makes 4 sandwiches)

2 large chicken breasts 
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 rib celery cut into 4 pieces, plus 1 rib chopped fine
1/2 cup or more, Hellman's Mayonnaise
salt
pepper
8 slices sandwich bread
lettuce (optional)

Place chicken breasts in a sauce pan with about 1 inch of water. 
Sprinkle with celery seed and place 4 pieces of celery in 
the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
Cover, bring to a simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes 
until interior of chicken breasts is 165F. 
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Remove chicken from pan and chop/shred into small pieces.
Place in a medium sized mixing bowl and add chopped 
celery, mayonnaise and salt and pepper. 
Mix together and add more mayonnaise if needed.
Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
Divide chicken salad among 4 slices of bread. 
Top with fresh lettuce and the remaining slices of bread. 
Cut each sandwich in 1/2 and serve.
Refrigerate chicken salad for up to 3 days. 
Alternatively, serve over a tossed salad or 
eat out of the container while standing in the kitchen.

 

Garbage Can Cookies

cookies with chocolate chips, pretzels and Reese's Pieces on a white plate

We invented this recipe together. Declan wanted cookies with Reese’s Pieces after viewing the motion picture  E.T. the Extra Terrestrial for the first time. That movie made we want some of the peanut butter candy, too and reminded me how sad and weird the story is. The kids barely made it through without crying when they thought E.T. was dead. But we all made it to the end when E.T. went back into outer space and lived happily ever after.

Continue reading

Tart Breaker

wine glass with pink cocktail and lime garnish

 

What do you do when your husband refuses to wear his glasses while grocery shopping and he inevitably buys the wrong things? This may not seem like a terrible problem but when he brings home a pint of expensive organic blackberries instead of “good black olives”, it’s definitely not something you can substitute for the other. $4.00 worth of fresh, very perishable, blackberries and I don’t even like the taste of them! Continue reading

Kale, Pasta and Chickpea Stew

 

white bowl of Kale, Pasta and Chickpea Stew with Parmesan cheese

  Remember the campaign “Eat More Kale!” back in 2001? A crazy t-shirt designer named Bo Muller-Moore who clearly loved the stuff came up with this mantra to get America to eat healthy and to make a few bucks. I was so offended by it and it pissed me off. I really hated kale. Ever since I was a kid and my mother made kale soup for my dad (He was the only one who liked and requested it.), I had a deep dislike for its pungent, strong flavor. She grew it in her garden and tried to get us kids to like it, all in vain. We turned up our noses at Portuguese Kale Soup, a staple on Cape Cod. Which is weird considering that I absolutely loved to eat spinach which holds it’s own when compared with hearty, green, leafy vegetables. But I never wore a t-shirt that implored others to partake. Not even a Pop-eye or Olive Oil shirt which could have been acceptable considering I grew up in the 1970’s when Saturday morning cartoons were king.

Chocolate Chess Pie

Chocolate Chess Pie

  Although a Chess Pie is not much to look at, it is a truly decadent recipe using only humble ingredients from the pantry. A diamond in the rough, so to speak. It makes me feel like a queen when I indulge in a slice of this gooey, fudge bomb of a pie. It doesn’t matter that I am trapped in the house with my teenagers who make me want to pull every hair out of my head. This pie is like Calgon, it takes me away from all of their bickering, demanding of snacks, t.v. time, sulking and pouting.  I take a bite and savor a brief moment of solitude, locked in my office before they come knocking on the door, yelling , “Mo-om! Where are you???”

  No need to go to the supermarket for supplies, social distancing and wiping down carts, you likely have everything you need for this sweet treat already in your pantry. So, Keep Calm and Bake On.

chocolate pie topped with whipped cream and mug

Chocolate Chess Pie

makes one 9″ pie

1 unbaked pie shell (pie crust recipe to follow)

1/2 cup butter

2 (1) ounce squares unsweetened chocolate OR 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa and 2 tablespoons oil

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon flour

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Melt butter and chocolate in a small sauce pan over low heat. Remove and allow to cook for at least 5 minutes. In a medium sized bowl, combine sugar, eggs, flour, milk, vanilla and salt. Gradually add chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Pour into pie shell and bake for 40-45 minutes until puffed and cracked on top. Let cool for 20 minutes or so before serving or serve at room temperature. Top with whipped cream, ice cream or whatever your taste buds require.

Pie Crust

(makes enough for 2 pie shells)

2 cups flour, plus extra for rolling

2/3 cup Crisco

4 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

pinch of salt

1/2 cup cold water

Place flour in medium sized mixing bowl. Add Crisco, cubed butter and salt. Combine using 2 forks or a pastry cutter until mixture resembles small peas. Make a well in the center and slowly add water, gently stirring to combine. Add only enough water to bring mixture together. Pat crust into a ball and cut into 2 pieces. Flatten pieces into discs and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate up to one day, until ready to roll out. Or freeze for up to a few months. For the Chess Pie, roll out one disk, place in pie plate, crimp edges, pour filling into pie shell and bake.

 

 

Fancy Hors D’Oeuvres: Stuffed Celery

 

celery stuffed with cream cheese and olives in a fancy orange dish

My grandmother would invite us over for “cocktails and hors d’oeuvres” and sometimes dinner would follow.  She never said the word, “appetizers”.  How boring.  Although the hors d’oeuvres were often stale Triscuits and a can of Cheez-Whiz or or a tub of WisPride port wine cheddar, not exactly fancy stuff.  The cocktails were a base of vodka, whiskey or rum (your choice) and an array of mixers: cranberry juice,  ginger ale, Coke and 7-Up.  But sometimes, if it was a holiday or the night after a big party, there were other treats on the table. Continue reading

Chocolate Drizzle Shortbread

shortbread cookies drizzled with chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt  

Fika!!

Fika, the Swedish coffee break that happens at least once a day, is my new favorite excuse to enjoy coffee and sweets whenever I need to take a moment.  The aim is to find some sort of balance during the day in the pleasure of sipping a cup of coffee. Traditionally, sweets are eaten, as well, especially cinnamon buns but cookies and cakes are also invited to the party. It’s exactly the kind of thing that I enjoy doing in the middle of the afternoon to recharge my batteries.  And, like most Americans who find themselves rushing around all day, I can always use some more fika in my life.  One book I read on the subject suggested that fika could be considered a “caffeinated meditation”. Yessss. Taking a moment to relax, reflect, spend time with a friend or even to let the dog run around the yard while I put my feet up, that’s what I have learned is the essence of fika.  According to my research, fika in Sweden happens twice a day.  I can only hope to aspire to such a goal.  Until then, I will do my best to fika as much as I possibly can.

Here is a cookie recipe that keeps well and is easy to make to have fika sweets at the ready.  The balance of the dark chocolate, sweet shortbread and briny sea salt pair well with a cup of warm, slightly bitter coffee.

Chocolate Drizzle Shortbread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out.

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

10 tablespoons sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon Crisco or flavorless oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine flour and salt in a medium sized bowl.  Using a stand mixer, blend butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Add the egg and almond and vanilla extracts.  Mix to combine.  Add flour mixture and mix until all ingredients are combined.  Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Take dough out of refrigerator.  Dust a sheet of parchment or Silpat with flour.  Roll out dough into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick using a floured rolling pin.  place parchment or Silpat with dough onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until dough is longer shiny.

Remove par cooked dough from oven and gently slice into small rectangles about 1 1/2″ wide and 2″ long.  Place in oven and bake again for 7-8 minutes until edges are lightly golden.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before separating cookies.

After separating cookies, heat the chocolate chips and oil in a microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring in between each interval until mixture is completely melted.  Drizzle cookies with melted chocolate and immediately sprinkle with sea salt before chocolate hardens.  Allow chocolate to harden for a few hours.  Store in a sealed container for up to one week.

Enjoy your fika moment!

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy Cake

There are so many good reasons to make this cake. You might be really hungry or maybe you just love the flavors of chocolate, peanut butter and chewy caramel cookie candy on top. Perhaps you are on an all sugar diet and must eat sweets for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If you are looking for a fun snack or a lunchbox treat, this cake is for you, too. But most of all, if it’s a special kind of day that warrants a celebration, then make this cake. After all, a 51st birthday only comes around once in a lifetime. Continue reading

Tomato Jam

tomato jam in a white bowl with a silver spoon

At this time of year, after Labor day, when the nights are much cooler and the days are sunny and dry, we drift into the end of tomato season on Cape Cod.  Like many, I anticipate the arrival of tomatoes ripened on the vine, warmed by the sun, so juicy they sometimes crack open at the touch.  I cannot wait to make a tomato sandwich with slices stacked so high, I can barely get my mouth around it.  Tomato and cucumber salad, tomatoes with just salt and pepper as a side dish, tomato tarts and tomato pies.  The possibilities seem endless for this versatile fruit.  Until they don’t.  Until I get tired of all of the tomato recipes I cannot wait to make while I pine away thinking about them during cold winter months.  But I also cannot stand to see any go to waste.  That is why I now make tomato jam.  It’s fast, easy and works with all types of tomatoes even those sad looking store bought cherry tomatoes on supermarket shelves in February.  But the best tomato jam is made and devoured right now in September. Continue reading

My Favorite Recipe for Green Beans

fresh green beans in a colander

Before I ever saw this recipe, I could never imagine treating fresh from the garden green beans this way. Aside from quickly blanching them until bright green, adding a plop of butter and sprinkling them with sea salt, I never did much else before putting them on the table. Then, last summer I came across this recipe that implored in the head note for readers to just try it at least once considering that the longer cooking time and high heat was against the current popular way of preparing fresh summer vegetables with as little interference to their natural state as possible. I dared to dive in. Continue reading