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

Oprah Minty

pineapple cocktail with mint and ginger served in a wine glass on a porch in the summertime

According to Oprah, she has become quite the entertainer especially at her home in Maui.  In fact, she featured a delicious sounding cocktail including pineapple infused vodka, fresh squeezed pineapple juice, smoked pineapple and lemongrass among a few other ingredients.  Yum.  But way too fussy for me to even attempt.   I mean, am I really going to juice the pineapple and smoke the discarded pieces?  Nope.   Continue reading

Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

cheesecake bars with swirled strawberry and fresh strawberry garnish on a white plate

When the local, native strawberries seem to be jumping off the vine during a more rainy than usual June on Cape Cod, I can’t help myself:  I must pick as much as I can carry home.  After paying a small fortune, I realize that I need to come up with some really good ideas for these luscious gems.  Strawberry jam is an obvious choice for me to make as I put up a batch just about every year.  Strawberry Shortcake and fresh strawberries at the ready to just pop into my mouth are favorites, too.  I came up with a strawberry smoothie including almond milk and Kefir for those who want to keep it healthy but what about those of us who love some sugar with our berries?  Strawberries and cheesecake is a classic combination but who has the time for cooking a fancy New York style cheesecake that takes hours of low and slow baking for the creamiest of textures?  Behold the Strawberry Cheesecake Bar.  Easy, portable, and incredibly creamy and delicious with just the right amount of sweet fruit. Continue reading

Campfire Strawberries

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It’s strawberry season on Cape Cod.  That time of year when the native berries are ripe and juicy, practically jumping off the vine, begging to be picked and popped right into your mouth.  It’s a short season as far as produce goes: just a few weeks and they are gone.  So, it’s important to drop everything and partake in these glorious red orbs at every possible moment.  Continue reading

Ginger Lemon Squeeze

Drawing of Ginger Lemon Squeeze recipe

Oh yeah.  Ginger and lemon.  Not too sweet, just the perfect amount of sour.  And did I mention that this one was invented for me by my husband and my sister in honor of my 50th birthday?  Yes.  But watch out, it will come up on you quickly.  I recommend Canton Ginger Liquor.  Keep it on hand in your arsenal, there are many delicious concoctions that can be made with it.

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Blood Orange Pie

fresh cut blood oranges and juicer

The first time I made this pie, I followed the original instructions which included the pith and the skin of the oranges and the lemon.  And it was oh, so bitter.  But in spite of the fact that I do not like bitter orange flavors like marmalade and such, I persisted and ate all of the pie, a small slice per day, until it was gone.  Not because I am stubborn, prideful and refuse to let my hard work go to waste (all these points are true), but because of the real reason: the crust was exquisite and shame on anyone who wastes a crisp, flaky homemade pie crust.  Shame on them. Continue reading

Crab Puff

TriscuitcrackersHellmansRealMayonnaisePhiladelphiaCreamCheeseBumbleBeeCrabmeatforcrabpuffIt’s really nothing to look at but delicious to eat.  A perfectly easy hot hors d’eouvre to serve with crackers or even Cape Cod Potato Chips.  I found the recipe in my grandmother’s recipe file.  While she wasn’t known for her cooking,  she certainly loved to entertain.  Her old file is filled with no shortage of quick and easy recipes mainly magazine and newspaper clippings affixed to recipe index cards with Scotch tape that is slowly disintegrating.  From recipes with Campbell’s soup as its base to more intricate ones like Swedish Meatballs and even one made with green jello, canned pineapple and cottage cheese, there is something for everyone…that is if you having a “Mad Men” themed party. Continue reading

My New Book: Notes From Val’s Kitchen: Stories, Food and Life on Cape Cod

  So, I wrote a book. Well, actually, I put together a collection of my favorite blog posts from 2008-2016.  Can you believe I have been writing this blog for that long?  I definitely cannot.  The posts are organized by subject instead of dates which makes for an interesting analysis of my thoughts on my childhood, motherhood, my family and, of course, my friends.  It’s all wrapped up in a paperback that you can snuggle up with in bed or throw in your beach bag.  The reading is light enough that you don’t need to think much about it and most of my musings include recipes, too.  So you can make a snack or a cocktail or both if you want something to go with the entertainment. Continue reading