Posted by: Rachel | December 22, 2020

a different sort of celestial conjunction

I had something similar to this pie in Italy a few years ago, and I never forgot. Orange and chocolate is a fairly usual pairing, especially in winter. But chocolate and lemon, which I love, is rarer. It is, in my opinion, a truly celestial conjunction!

This ricotta pie takes full advantage of the lemon ricotta that pops up in grocery stores here this time of year. If you can find it, fine. If not, no worries, just grab some regular (full fat, please) ricotta, a few lemons and we can go from there.

This rich, eggy, decadent, creamy pie is my idea of not just a dessert, but also a winter’s morning breakfast. Why not? It is delicious with a good cup of coffee or tea, and a slice will get you through until noon!

I think it is dreamy and hope you’ll like it!

Lemon Ricotta Pie

1 lb lemon ricotta (or 1 lb ricotta, well drained, plus zest of 2 lemons, finely grated)

1/4 C sugar (or 1/2 C sugar)

1 T vanilla extract (or 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 T lemon extract)

5 eggs at room temperature

1/2 C dark chocolate chips (the tiny ones work nicely)

(1/2 C candied lemon peel, chopped, optional)

one unbaked piecrust in a 9-inch pan

Preheat oven to 350F.

Put the ricotta, sugar, (and lemon zest) in a large bowl and mix well (a hand mixer works very nicely for this). Add the extract(s), mix in. Add the eggs, incorporating each well before adding the next. Stir in the chocolate chips and lemon peel. The mixture should be a bit stiff. Spoon or pour the mixture into the prepared pie pan.

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. It should be just set and a knife should come out clean. Let cool before serving, and refrigerate and leftovers.

Stay warm and safe, and enjoy the lengthening days!

Posted by: Rachel | November 7, 2020

when is a pizza not a pizza?

The answer may surprise you. Apparently, in the country of Georgia, there is something that is often referred to as Georgian pizza, but it really isn’t pizza at all.

It is, in fact, Khachapuri. The crust is make with yogurt, and is basically a sort of quick bread.

I’m lazy, though, which you know if you’ve been reading this blog for long. That’s why I use Trader Joe’s pizza crust. I stretch it out to fill a cookie sheet, and add a more-or-less traditional filling/topping.

The thing that makes this different from any pizza I’ve eaten (and that covers a lot of ground) is the egg. You grate and crumble your cheeses, and add an egg! It bakes up sort of somewhere between a quiche and an omelette – and it is delicious!

I like to use dill havarti and feta, lots of each. And, as above, you can top the cheese mixture with thin sliced ham or paper-thin onion if you’re so inclined. I often am.

The recipe I based mine on is from The Georgian Feast by Darra Goldstein. If you’re feeling creative you can chase the full recipe down online easily. If you’re lazy, though, like me, you can just do this:

1 pizza crust, 1 pound of grated cheese, 1 egg, thin sliced ham or onion (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350F. Roll and pat the pizza crust out to fill a cookie sheet. Beat the egg and add it to the cheese. Spread this over the entire crust. Lay the ham or onion on top. Roll the ends and sides up a bit so the cheese can’t escape. Bake at 350 for about 50 minutes. Let it cool (although it will smell fantastic), cut as desired and enjoy!

onion option:

This reheats nicely, and I’m sure it would freeze well, but I’ve never had any that stayed around long enough to find out! Let us know what combo’s you come up with, please!


Posted by: Rachel | October 9, 2020

soup, actually

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that even though it is called “and then make soup” it rarely has anything to do with soup. This time, though, it does, actually.

Bear with me here. It is more or less what passes for fall here in central Texas, meaning that temperatures are in the low 80s for the most part, and I’m getting close to turning my oven on again. I’m craving fall colors, flavors, and general seasonal je ne sais quoi. No pumpkin spice this time, I promise, but curry seems to fill the bill nicely.

I have been known to make soups for all seasons, but any butternut squash soup, while delicious, always seemed like an awful lot of work. Then I discovered that one can purchase pre-prepped (ie peeled, seeded, and chopped) butternut squash in the produce section of almost any grocery store.


I confess, I’m a lazy cook. There are things that I’m happy to give plenty of time to, like Indian Pudding, but that is cooking/baking time, not prep time. And I’ve come close to cutting myself while trying to prep butternut squash in the past. But now, well, oh happy day!

So, here is my answer to the squash-prepping dilemma. Enjoy!

Lazy Cook’s Butternut Squash Soup

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

1 smallish onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2-3 Tbsp curry powder of choice

6 or so cups of peeled and cubed butternut squash

2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth*

1 can of coconut milk

Heat the oil in a heavy Dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until soft. Add the curry powder, stir well, and cook for two minutes. Add everything else, squash, broth and coconut milk. Stir, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook covered for 20-30 minutes.

Once the squash is mashably tender, turn off heat and puree with a stick blender if available, or (carefully here… hot liquid and all) in a blender. Enjoy immediately, or over the next few days.


Honestly, that’s it. *I used chicken bone broth with good results. This is good and good for you, I like it hot or cold, and in my opinion it’s good for breakfast!

WordPress seems to have made changes since the last time I posted, and I have to figure out how to add photos, but suffice it to say this is a lovely fall color, smells delicious, keeps and freezes well, and overall I’m addicted!

Enjoy the season, stay well, and until the next time…

Posted by: Rachel | September 10, 2020

some thank yous and please and thanks again!

First, some thank yous:

Thank you to Shveta for arranging the AFBA happy hours, and particularly for this most recent one with Soley and Tequila Sheela. And many thanks to Soley and Tequila Sheela for providing us with the adorable and delicious “Awesome Organic Margarita” kits!

How cute is this?

adorable (and delicious!)

The three bottles come in a cute and well packed box, everything but the glass and the ice (oh, and bring your own lime). We had a grand time, and I learned a lot! And, this mango margarita appealed to my sweet tooth. The fruity, rich, tropical flavors went down all too easily in the Texas summer heat, I can tell you! And, I can imagine pouring this over something like poundcake, or ice cream, or… mmm! Makes me hungry just to think about it!

Nice (very nice!) gift idea, this. I have a little left over, but I don’t think it’ll be around for long. Delicious!

Now, for that please:

I’ve been blogging for ten years (yes, really – I’m astonished too!) and I’ve never asked for your support for a cause, but that is about to change. (You can stop reading here; I’ll never know, but I hope you will continue on.)

This year, well, everything is different. Some events stop, some events start or start anew, some adapt. This year the Texas MammaJamma Ride has adapted. This fundraiser ride, traditionally held in September in Martindale, a small, charming town south of Austin, has gone “virtual”. The part that hasn’t changed is the reason for the ride: all funds raised go to support local support programs and services for breast cancer fighters and survivors in Central Texas.

Last year I volunteered, handing our ride packets in Martindale. This year I’m participating. You know what’s coming next, right?

Please consider supporting me in supporting these local groups. There’s just too damn much cancer in the world. One in eight women will get (and hopefully be diagnosed early – get your mammograms!!!) breast cancer. And, men are affected too. Luckily, these groups are here, boots on the ground so to speak, for folks who are in need of care and support. And, while that looks different to everyone, there are lots of different kinds of support here, from free fitness programs (thanks Team Survivor!!) to Wonders and Worries, supporting kids as their parents go through a cancer journey, to our local Sustainable Food Center providing nutrition information, classes, and education… you can see the whole list here: MammaJamma Ride Beneficiaries

And now, I’m hitting you up. Yes, I am, shamelessly. Any amount will help. I’m about halfway to my goal, and there’s plenty of time for you to donate as the event this year starts next week and goes for 8 days. Its about the 1 in 8 women… So, if you have a buck or two (and yes, I know this isn’t the best year to be asking for money but that makes it all even more important), please consider supporting this event.

Or, sign up and join in! You don’t have to be in Austin to participate. Do your own fundraising – that’s fine by me! 🙂

If you can and wish to support me, though, clicking this sentence will take you directly to my fundraising page.

And finally, thanks again for reading, for those who’ve already donated, to those of you who can and will, and for your feedback and comments over these ten years. I appreciate all y’all (I’ve been told it is “all y’all”, not “all of y’all” – I think yinz is much simpler!).

Until next time – be well and stay safe!

Posted by: Rachel | August 14, 2020

a tomato-y three-fer

Tomatoes, especially home-grown, are a summer joy. This year we’re having a fine tomato season here in central Texas.

I bought several bags of Cidery raised produce from my friends at Texas Keeper. They opened for pick-up/take-out (they still are open, and they ship!!) and offered the community all sorts of goodies in addition to their ciders.

Anyway, I ended up with a wild variety of tomatoes – large, extra large (this is Texas, after all), some Romas, and some cherryish single bites. They were beautiful, smelled wonderful, and were more than I could possibly eat before they went bad.

So, I made sauce.

Now I know there’s that whole dip them in boiling water and skin them, then seed them, *then* cook them school, but I’m lazy. I just halved them. But first I added some olive oil, onion, and garlic to the pot, sauteed, and when everything was soft I added the tomatoes, some lemon thyme, and a bit of basil. Cooked it low and slow, and oh didn’t my kitchen smell heavenly!

soon to be sauce

Once everything cooked down, I fished out the tomato skins and pureed everything else. The resulting sauce was (she said modestly) terrific! So, that’s one.

I took the skins and laid them out on parchment paper and, yes, dehydrated them on the dashboard of my car. You know the drill, since we’ve done this before. Remember those blueberries? And that peach “leather”? So good…

But, you may ask, tomato *skins*? Really? Oh, yes! They dried into melt-in-your-mouth tomato crisps (for lack of a better descriptor). They dried out in an afternoon, and while I snacked on some of them, the rest I ground to powder in my spices-only coffee grinder. A pinch of this stuff really wakes up hard-boiled eggs! So, that’s two.

As I had more tomato sauce than I could use, I considered freezing it in my ice cube trays as I’ve done other times, but it was so good and fresh-tasting that I didn’t want to. You may think this sounds crazy, but trust me – it was amazing.

I had watermelon in the fridge, and it needed to be used up. I cubed it up, took out all the seeds I could find, and put it in my blender. I added about 1/2 cup of that (by then well-chilled) tomato sauce to roughly 2 cups of watermelon, and pureed it. The resulting liquid was the most astonishing combination of savory and sweet – my mouth didn’t know what to make of it! It was so good that I drank up all the watermelon and most of the tomato sauce and completely failed to take any pictures!

Was it a cold soup? Maybe. Was it a smoothie? Sort of, I suppose. Was it a bloody Mary base? Hmmmm, perhaps. Was it delicious? Definitely! So that’s three…

I hope you and yours are staying safe and finding good in this challenging (for a variety of reasons) time. Until next (and soon)… bon appetit!

Posted by: Rachel | June 13, 2020

better the devil you know, bis

Oh, that Devils River Whiskey… they’ve come up with something new and once again invited some of us Austin food bloggers to test drink it.

As before, they were *very* generous and sent me a few samples of the bourbons we’d already tried, as well as several samples of the new one they wanted us to try. Thanks!!

the devil you say!

Now I had a plan, really I did. It involved baking brownies with their bourbon. And I thought it made even more sense since this new flavor is not just bourbon, but *coffee bourbon*. And, since I love mocha, you see my thought? But, we all know about those well-laid plans, don’t we?

A friend had mentioned to me that she’d seen an article in the New York Times (All the News That’s Fit to Print, indeed!) about making ice cream in a mason jar. She sent me the link and, well, I guess you can guess where this is going.

Oh dear. Could it be easier? I think not, unless you have a close friend in a paint mixing department who lets you use one of their paint shaking machines. I don’t, so I got a pretty good work-out!

I followed the Times recipe exactly, except that I substituted the vanilla extract with coffee bourbon. Oh my… the only hard part is waiting for it to freeze!

Here’s all you do:

Shake it Up Baby Ice(d) Cream
1 C heavy cream
1-1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract coffee bourbon
pinch of salt

Put it all in a pint Mason jar or other pint container with a tight fitting lid (I didn’t have a glass jar, so I used a plastic container – worked fine), cover tightly, and shake until the liquid is doubled in volume and thick (but stop before you make butter!). This part took about 10 minutes. Freeze for three hours or more. Enjoy!
You could certainly add all sorts of things to this recipe – nuts, fruit, other flavorings, but I think I’ll just make this one again. It is *very* rich (duh, I know), but a bite or two (or three) is all you need at a sitting. And, if you did all that shaking, surely you burned a calorie or two, right?

Full disclosure: I must tell you that I made the brownies as well, but I’ll save that recipe for another day. Its hot here; I think I’ll go have a bite or two of ice cream and then perhaps a nap!

Stay safe, my friends…

Posted by: Rachel | April 28, 2020

better the devil you know…

Last week I attended, virtually of course, a happy hour. It was the monthly Austin Food Bloggers Alliance get-together, and this time our host/sponsor was Devil’s River Whiskey.

Now, if you know me, you know I’m not really much of a drinker. And if you know me well, you know I won’t drink when I’m out if I have to drive myself home. But you also know I’m curious. So, when the opportunity to participate from home showed up I grabbed it.

I must say, the folks at Devil’s River were very generous! They shipped me (and each of us, of course) a variety of their products, each product tagged with informative cards – very helpful for a neophyte like me!

I had no idea that bourbon had a “nose”. I thought that was reserved for wine (about which I also know very little). I’m not sure that *my* nose could discern what they described (“slightly peppery with ripe fruit, vanilla and nutmeg”), but I certainly did like the flavor.

My fellow bloggers mostly made fancy cocktails involving ingredients I didn’t have on hand. Me, I had ginger ale, so bourbon and ginger it was! I used Canada Dry with lemon. The bourbon cut the sweetness of the ginger ale, the ginger ale lightened up the bourbon. A fine marriage, in my opinion.

I’m looking forward to using the rest of the samples in different ways. I’m pretty sure there will be bourbon brownies, possibly bourbon-flambéed bananas, perhaps a chicken dish… I’m really more about eating than drinking. But I feel I have a new world of possibilities opening up here. Many thanks to Shveta, aka atx-bites for setting this up, and thanks again to Devil’s River Whiskey for expanding my horizons!

Posted by: Rachel | April 21, 2020

good and good for ya!

Sometimes the simplest foods bring comfort. For me, one of these things is carrot salad.

Now when I was a kid I must admit, I wasn’t a fan. That too sweet even for me shredded carrot and raisin with mayo stuff just wasn’t my cuppa. It was often soggy and just uninspired.

I was never really a fan of carrot salad until I had it in France. There you can buy it prepared in the supermarkets in little tubs, if you don’t have a kitchen. Divine!

I think the secret is two-part. One is the texture, the other is the dressing. Here’s the thing, this version, which is basically David Lebovitz’s recipe is as close to what I call perfect as I have found. And it couldn’t be simpler, really.

See how the holes are round? Makes all the difference!

If you only have a box grater, fine. But, if you want the French carrot salad texture that I crave (and it is very different, believe me), I find that using the grater that I use for hard cheeses does the trick. It creates the perfect slim rounded shred that makes me happy. The bites of carrot are crunchy, sweet, juicy, and did I say crunchy? Mmm…

So, here’s all it takes.

Franco-Texan Carrot Salade

1 carrot per person, grated
chopped parsley (ideally flat-leaf)
lemon juice
olive oil
pinch salt
3 pinches of sugar (opitonal)
pepper (optional)

carottes râpée

Mix the carrots and chopped parsley. Make a dressing with everything else. Add, but not too much – don’t drown those carrots!

All amounts are up to your taste. I like a dressing heavy on the lemon juice and easy on the oil. If your carrots are young and tender you can skip the sugar but I like a pinch (or 3) to balance the lemon. I also like lots of parsley, as you can see. I often leave the pepper out. One could, I suppose, add raisins or currants… I won’t tell.

In any event, good and good for you indeed. Take care of yourselves, stay safe, stay home, and more soon!

Posted by: Rachel | April 4, 2020

far too easy lemon bars

I must admit that it would be easy to give in to temptation and just bake my heart out, but I’m trying to be reasonable, which if you know me you know is not my best thing! Still, when life hands you lemons… well, you know.

So I started casting about for an easy (because I’m lazy) lemon bar-ish recipe. I found a ton of them! Seems I’m not the only one hungering for tart with sweet.

This is my riff on the one-bowl idea. (Un)fortunately it couldn’t be simpler. I think next time I’ll add a half tsp or so of lemon extract, and maybe some mini-chocolate chips, and yes, there will be a next time – these are good!

One Bowl Far Too Easy Lemon Bars

1 C flour
1/2 sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/4 C plain yogurt (not fat free)
3 T olive oil
zest of 1 lemon, chopped fine
2 T fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 or 9×9 pan with foil. Add all ingredients to one bowl. Mix well. Pour into the baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack. Cut in squares and demolish enjoy with tea on a rainy afternoon, or most anytime.

Posted by: Rachel | March 22, 2020

walk with me (Austin edition 1)

Stuck inside? Bored? (You must be if you’re reading this ;-)) Well, it is spring here and I thought you might like to share a bit of my morning walk. Here we go!

It has been raining. My neighbors have a red yucca in their yard and this morning it was, if not covered exactly, at least being visited by lots of big snails. I’ve never seen this before. Maybe they were trying to get out of the wet grass? No idea.

escargot, anyone?

Did I mention that it is spring? Oh, the flowers… everywhere! Some were pretty beat up from the rain, but lantana is tough.


Then there are bluebonnets.

wish this was my yard…

And wisteria. I wish you could smell it!

this just smells purple…

And, a very happy ladybug breakfasting on aphids on the artemisia that grows sort of wild around here.

I saw my first hummingbird of the season yesterday. If I can I’ll snag a photo for the next installment. That’s about it for now.
Stay well and stay in touch!!

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