One-Pot Spicy Sausage and Tomato Pasta

Photo credit: © Debra M. Kirsch 2020

Delicious recipe from Chicago Tribune Health & Family section, which turns out to be a recipe from @kitchn, which I really love. The thing that grabbed me about this was the fennel. It’s an ingredient I don’t use much, so I put this on my shopping list. This packs a wonderful, cumulative punch of heat, I highly suggest giving it a try. Plus, it’s ready in 30 minutes!


Photo credit: © Debra M. Kirsch 2020
Photo credit: © Debra M. Kirsch 2020
  • 12 oz smoked andouille sausage
  • 1/2 medium fennel bulb
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 12 oz dried linguine pasta
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


  1. Cut andouille sausage crosswise into 1/2 inch rounds and thinly slice 1/2 medium fennel bulb. Place both in straight sided skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté lightly. Add 4 cups of water, dried pasta, 2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil stirring, and turning pasta with tongs to prevent sticking, until the pasta is al sentence and the liquid is mostly evaporated. This is about 10 minutes. Meanwhile tear fresh basil leaves and add the last two minutes of cooking.
  3. Remove from heat and taste, seasoning with more salt as needed. Garnish with fresh basil.
Photo credit: © Debra M. Kirsch 2020

Mushroom Flat Bread

Photo credit: ©️Debra M. Kirsch 2020

When I looked in fridge for lunch today, there wasn’t anything obvious, so I got to work and started some pizza dough. I figured by the time I decided on some topping ideas and pulled a salad together, the dough might be ready. I cut the rising time a little short, but I didn’t notice any impact from that, I still got a wonderful, thin crust, with the just the right amount of chewiness.

I went with my favorite pizza dough recipe from Bobby Flay, it hasn’t let me down yet! There is some leftover to freeze too!


1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/4-ounce packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 1/2 teaspoons salt


  1. Whisk 1 1/3 cups warm water (105 degrees F) and the sugar in a bowl; sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the olive oil.
  2. Whisk the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture. Gradually stir with a wooden spoon to make a rough dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, dusting with more flour if necessary. Form into 2 balls. Brush 2 large bowls with olive oil, add a ball of dough to each and turn to coat with the oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour, 30 minutes. Roll out and top as desired, or wrap in plastic wrap and freeze up to 1 month.

For the toppings I went with caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms, crumbled Boursin cheese, shredded parmesan and mozzarella, and topped with fresh chopped thyme and scallions.

Roll the dough out very thinly and sprinkle cheeses and onions & mushrooms all around. Bake pizza on middle rack at 450 F for 10-12 minutes, until Cheese is bubbly and crust starts to brown around the edges and on the bottom.

Photo credit: ©️Debra M. Kirsch 2020

Ham and Cheese Quiche

This is such a staple, along side a fresh green salad, it makes a wonderful lunch anytime of year. Enjoy it all with a favorite glass of white wine as a mid-day meal on the weekend, or with a creamy cappuccino for brunch!

Photo credit: ©️Debra M. Kirsch 2020

• 1 (9-inch) frozen ready-to-bake pie crust (MUST be deep dish)

• 1 tablespoon butter

• 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced

• 1 teaspoon minced garlic

• 4 large eggs

• 1 cup half-and-half

• 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning or herbs de Provence

• Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

• 1 and 1/2 cups diced/cubed cooked ham (leftover holiday ham or store-bought)

• 1 cup swiss cheese, freshly grated (I used gruyere.)

• 1 cup cheddar cheese, freshly grated

• Optional garnish: chopped chives

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place unwrapped frozen pie crust on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

2. Add the butter to a nonstick pan and melt over medium-high heat. Add in the diced onion and cook 3-5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add in the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove, set aside, and allow to cool slightly.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Then whisk in the half-and-half, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Gently stir in the cubed ham and both cheeses. Stir in the cooked onion and garlic. 

5. Pour filling into the pre-baked pie crust (still on the baking sheet) and bake on the lower oven rack for 35 to 42 minutes, or until set (it might be a little jiggly in the middle)

What you can do with Crystalized Ginger

Photo credit: ©️Debra M. Kirsch 2020

A grabbed a box of crystalized ginger at the store the other day, it just called out to me, and I’ve been snacking on it ever since. I started looking around for ideas of ways to use it, besides to up the game on the gingersnaps I have plans to make. Well, there are lots of creative and yummy ideas to give a try.

  • Chop and add to batter for cookies, such as ginger snaps, or quick breads like gingerbread, orange bread or banana bread.
  • Melt butter with diced Crystallized Ginger, fresh lemon juice and sliced green onions in a saucepan. Spoon over hot rice and serve with chicken or fish.
  • Sprinkle finely chopped pieces as a finishing touch on apple pie a la mode or a whipped cream-topped brownie.
  • Combine diced Crystallized Ginger with nuts, brown sugar and spices for a baked apple or pear filling.
  • Add chunks to a stir-fry for a sweet and spicy bite.
  • Dip Crystallized Ginger pieces in melted chocolate. Let cool and serve as a special after dinner treat.
  • Add to water and sugar mixture to make ginger-infused simple syrup. Strain before adding to drinks, such as iced tea.
  • Sprinkle diced Crystallized Ginger into fruit salad for a spicy, zesty flavor lift.
  • Add to a homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest.

These ideas and more recipes can be found here

London Fog Sandwich Cookies

Photo credit: ©Debra M. Kirsch 2020

I don’t know where I found this recipe, it’s been saved in my “Notes” on my phone for quite awhile. It’s one of those “cheater” recipes that uses a cake mix as the base. But the Earl Grey Buttercream is totally homemade and balances it all out, flavors and effort!

The cookie and the frosting taken individually, I wasn’t impressed with, kind of worried actually, but together they work. Cooking and baking adventures aren’t always perfect, so I thought it was realistic to share this one, too. I think the buttercream came out lovely, I might try it with macaroons, it could be really good there.

London Fog Cookies


2 boxes of devil’s food cake mix

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

2/3 cups of vegetable oil

Confection’s Sugar for rolling


Mix the cake mix, eggs, vanilla, and oil into a mixing bowl and mix very well. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for one hour. While the dough is chilling now would be a good time to start the butter for the Earl Grey buttercream as shown below! Preheat the oven to 375. Roll cookies into small balls about the circumference of a nickel. If you weigh them, they should be about 15 grams. Roll them into confectioner’s sugar. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and tap the tops of the cookies to flatten slightly. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, pipe a dollop of Earl Grey buttercream on the bottom of one cookie and top with a second to make sandwiches.

Earl Grey Buttercream

2 egg whites

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar

2 and 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (separated!)

5 bags of Earl Grey tea


Gently melt 2 sticks of butter in a saucepan and bring to a slight boil. Steep the tea bags into the butter and let them sit for 15 minutes in the melted butter. Squeeze the tea bags to extract any butter absorbed into the tea bags. You should notice some dark brown liquid coming out of the tea bags. This is the butter infused into the tea. Make sure to get as much of it out of the bags as possible. Discard the used tea bags. Stir the melted butter and pour into a bowl and put into the fridge for 30 minutes. This will firm up the butter but keep it soft/spreadable like room temp butter. When the cookies are cooling, put the egg whites, sugar, and tartar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix very well. Place over a double boiler. Gently cook the mixture until it comes to 160 degrees, whisking often. Immediately place the bowl onto the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat well for about 8 minutes until heavy peaks form. This takes 5 to 8 minutes. Change the whisk attachment to the paddle attachment. At this point, the melted butter that was in the fridge should NOT be melted but spreadable like room temperature butter. Give it a good mix. If it’s still melted and not the consistency of spreadable butter, put it back into the fridge or freezer to firm up some more. The other half a stick of butter should be room temperature. Slowly add a tablespoon or two of the butter (doesn’t matter if it’s the infused butter or the regular butter) to the frosting beating well after each addition. After all the butter is added, beat the hell out of it until it’s the consistency of frosting. Should only take a few minutes.

Chef Lidia Bastianich’s inspired Chicken Caccitore

Photo credit: Debra M. Kirsch ©2020

We came across a wonderful cooking show the other night, and it inspired me to jump up and make this wonderful fall meal, Chicken Cacciatore. It was actually quite easy and though I didn’t have any mushrooms on hand, the dish was absolutely delicious!

Here is the direct link to the recipe, check it out and enjoy!

Spatchcock Pesto Chicken

Photo credit: ©Debra M. Kirsch 2020

I saw perfectly sized whole young chIckes at the market the other day so I grabbed one. I love to dress these in this manner, it really results in an evenly cooked bird that is flavorful and juicy, and it cooks in less time.

If you have never spatchcocked a chicken, it is quite easy, here is a quick step by step guide to it.

Once your chicken in ready, just pat dry, place skin up on a roasting pan. Next, use your finger to lift the skin from the meat, but don’t remove it, this is so the pesto can be placed under the skin. I used pesto from the refrigerated section of the store, if you want to make your own, go for it! Stir up the pesto so it is easy to spoon, and insert it under the skin, working it all over the meat of the breast, thigh, and leg the best you can. You can rub some on the top to give the skin some yummy flavor, it will crisp up beautifully.

Place the chicken in a 425°F for 45 minutes, it will crisp up and cook evenly. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5-8 minutes, a great time to pull together some stir fry, or your favorite, veggies. This recipe can be adjusted to use herb butter under the skin with the the chicken surrounded with all kinds of vegetables, for a great one pan meal.

Photo credit: ©Debra M. Kirsch 2020

Enjoy this on a crisp fall night with a glass of wine and you are sure to impress your family or friends.

Heirloom Tomato Tart

Photo credit: ©Debra M. Kirsch 2020

I saw this recipe in a Facebook group that I’m in, a group for bakers to share during these crazy times of Covid-19. It looked really good and fairly straightforward so I gave it a go, it is originally from The New York Times. One of the best things of the “Covid Era” has been the amount of time I have been able to spend in Michigan, surrounded by plentiful fruit stands and local markets. The heirloom tomatoes have been beautiful, and my favorite stand has lots of produce grown by local Amish farmers, so I grabbed a few and gave this a try.

I was a little lazy and used a store bought crust, which necessitated a bit more custard filling, so this came out more like a quiche than a true tart, so next time I’ll go all in and break out the tart pan. Here’s the recipe, jump on the bandwagon and give it a try!

The best thing about Taco Tuesday is leftovers for Taco Salad Thursday

Photo credit: ©Debra M. Kirsch 2020

The best thing about making turkey tacos, are the leftovers! Everything thrown together makes a fast, easy, and delicious lunch later in the week.

I just chop up some romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado, and use up any leftover diced white onion, then toss it all on a plate. Top it with some warmed up leftover taco meat, and some shredded cheese, and dress with taco sauce. BAM! Perfect on a fall day and very easy clean up, too!

Copy Cat French Silk Pie!

Photo credit: Debra M. Kirsch 2020

After seeing this recipe shared by a friend on Facebook, I just had to try it. French Silk pie from Baker’s Square, formerly Poppin Fresh in my high school days, has to be my all time kryptonite. In HS we used to buy a whole pie, and grab a couple of forks, and watch it disappear. Of course, today’s metabolism is not what it used to be so one slice is my daily limit.

I brought this over to our neighbors’ house for dessert and it was extremely well received! So lucky there is another French Silk fan so close!

This is the recipe, and it’s pretty spot on.

If you are concerned about the use of raw eggs, they can easily be pasteurized first. My local grocery didn’t have any already pasteurized eggs, and they are more expensive. Directions for that are I’m edged in the recipe, but basically you put your large eggs in a pan, cover with water, and bring them up to 140 degrees F and hold that temp carefully for three minutes. The eggs hold the same consistency as raw, do this does not effect the recipe at all.

©️Debra M. Kirsch 2020