Recipe: Delicious Shortbread with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Shortbread is the food of the gods. This easy to bake, deliciously addictive, buttery and crumbly biscuit may be Scotland’s greatest vindication where cuisine is concerned. Traditional shortbread is made of nothing but awesome butter, sugar and flour and will save your ass when facing a sudden onslaught of uninvited guests. To go the extra mile, add fresh strawberries and whipped cream to make this an unforgettable dessert experience!

~ Basic Shortbread Recipe ~
(for about 30 or so biscuits)

  • 300g plain white flour
  • 200g butter (unsalted)
  • 100g white sugar
  • small pinch of salt
  • optional: some liquid vanilla extract

Add all ingredients in a bowl and knead with your bare hands until the dry crumbly mass sticks together. Roll the dough (I prefer 5-6mm for thickness but no less than 3mm) and cut into whatever shape you prefer. I’m lazy, so I do uneven squares.

Place on the baking sheet and bake for 15-20mins at 180°C. Once the biscuits start turning a dark golden around the edges, remove from the oven and leave on a cooling rack for at least 15mins.


We already ate a few…

This is where you’re done with the basic shortbread recipe – but we’re just halfway! For divine foodgasm, slice up some fresh strawberries and give them a nice tumble with a bit of powder/icing sugar in a bowl. Next, whip up some cream until light and fluffy.

~ How to serve ~

I like to do three layers of biscuits (still slightly warm after baking) per person or serving. Use a small dessert bowl and start off with some strawberries on the bottom. Break one biscuit in half (or quarters depending on size) and then cover with a spoonful of whipped cream. Rinse and repeat until you’re satisfied with the quantity. Always finish with cream and strawberries on top.

Congratulations – you have officially entered shortbread heaven! OMNOMNOM


Fair warning: guests will be back for more.


Recipe: Seasoned Wild Rice with Tomato & Cucumber Salad

Lately I’ve been going back to the home-cooking of my childhood and some of my favorite recipes are all about the rice. Wild rice mix is a very satisfying option to plain white rice but it screams for color and flavors. For some reason I always loved acidic and vinegary combos with wild rice, so this is one easy and quick recipe to preparing a rice dish for yourself that’s both wholesome and very tasty!

~ Ingredients ~
(serves 2 people)

  • 375 grams of wild rice mix
  • 7.5dl vegetable stock / bouillon
  • 1 big carrot
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 red tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a (Nostrano) cucumber
  • Olive oil, white vinegar, slice of lemon


First off chop the onion, tomatoes and cucumber into small, same size cubes. I prefer Nostrano cucumbers for taste and less kernels but any salad cucumber works (I also remove the gooey kernels from the tomatoes). Mix everything in a bowl and add some olive oil, vinegar and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Put the salad aside to rest, ideally for about 30mins.


Bring your vegetable stock/bouillon to a boil while chopping the carrot into very small cubes. Add the wild rice and carrots and lower to medium temperature. Let the rice cook for ~20mins with only an occasional stir. Add a flake of butter before serving next to the tomato and cucumber salad. Enjoy the flavor combination of the sweet rice with that very fresh salad!


Repairing Relationships…with Vegetables

In my previous post, I mentioned that I haven’t always gotten along with mushrooms. Things have gotten much better between us, but that doesn’t mean I reach for new fungi every time I’m in the store. In fact, during my last weekly grocery run, I realized that mushrooms aren’t the only vegetable this vegetarian had avoided until recently, “recently” meaning within the past five or so years. (This revelation kind of made me think that I’ve been subsisting on iceberg lettuce, baby carrots, green beans for the past twenty years – bland, boring, and American, by golly!) And I’m not talking about utterly fantastical veggies like kohlrabi, salsify, and fiddleheads. I’m talking about fairly run-of-the-mill produce that I spent a long time skipping over simply because I didn’t know any better. Thankfully, vegetables tend to be quite forgiving after being long ignored, and here are five veggies with which I’m currently making, or trying to make decent inroads.


Brussel sprouts


Long the butt of jokes concerning their taste and general odiferousness, the first time I ever had brussel sprouts was three years ago. And I’m really not kidding about that. My parents never made brussel sprouts (that I can recall), and I never sought them out on my own. But then, a few years back I was looking expand my traditional holiday dinner fare and found a recipe for roasted brussel sprouts that couldn’t have been simpler. Sprouts, olive oil, salt pepper. Clean the sprouts, cut them in half, toss them in the oil and seasoning, roast a 400 degrees from 15 or so minutes. I was amazed at the tender, nutty, and flavorful results! I’ve since tried to make brussel sprouts more regularly. Granted, the smell from cooking them does linger, but the immediate deliciousness of eating them is worth the price of a few air fresheners.




Unlike my childhood that resided with the lack of with brussel sprouts, I did grow up with olives, LOTS of olives because my Dad really, really likes them. If there was one thing that was always, without fail, in our fridge, it was olives. And particularly the green Spanish olives with the pimento centers. (Perish the memories!) And because of that, olives ended up in so many recipes…so many recipes that I avoided because I hated olives! Oh my, how I couldn’t stand them as a kid! To me, they smelled bad and tasted worse, all sour and salty and yucky! Since becoming an adult, I have tried very hard to rectify this hatred, but it’s tough. Though I now don’t mind the way olives taste, their texture just doesn’t sit well with me. I’ve managed to accept sliced black olives, and only sliced black olives, on pizza and in pasta salad. But that’s as far as it goes…for now.




Asparagus is another vegetable that simple wasn’t around in my house growing up. As an adult, it was never on  my grocery radar – green beans, peas, broccoli – those were my “green” staples. But asparagus? Don’t you have to prepare it in some complicated manner? Doesn’t it smell funny? Isn’t it hard to cook? No, no, and no were the answers I discovered when I made my first batch of roasted asparagus about five years ago. Since then, it’s become my first “green” staple, when it’s in season, that is. (And even when it isn’t, the imported stuff isn’t that bad.) I’ll admit that I haven’t strayed too far in terms of asparagus recipes as I just like it roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper, but there’s plenty of time to get more esoteric.  Asparagus Lemon Gelato, anyone?




In my early years of vegetarianism, I discovered that avocados were good for more than just guacamole. They were just as excellent in their naked form cut to top a salad or mashed and spread on a sandwich. Helping the situation tremendously was that, at the time, I lived in a place where avocados were local produce and were always guaranteed to be ripe and ready to use. When I moved to a place where that wasn’t the case, I remained spoiled, and it didn’t help that the avocados in the big ol’ chain grocery store were hard as rocks and never seemed to ripen properly. Eventually, I stopped buying them altogether. What’s brought me back to them in the past couple years is hope…and maybe a few health concerns – fiber, vitamins, triglycerides, all that adult stuff.  And this tip about finding ripe avocados from Lifehacker has saved me from bringing home bad ones.




Like brussel sprouts, I couldn’t haven’t identified okra in a vegetable line-up until I was in my twenties. My husband, being the good southerner that he is, took great delight in introducing his Yankee wife to okra. The results? Um…ewwww, and that was with the fried variety! Worse yet was having it in soup or stew when the okra turned gooey.  Over the years I have gotten okra (usually frozen, sometimes breaded) at my husband’s request, but you couldn’t have gotten me to eat it, no way, no how. But considering how my palette has calmed down and matured (I guess), it seemed only natural that someday, eventually, I have to try okra whether I wanted to or not. And that time came last year when I reluctantly agreed to make a vegetarian version of a gumbo recipe that was already in our arsenal. Substitute veggie stock as needed, omit the seafood and chicken, and voila! I’ll be honest, it wasn’t half bad. Really, it wasn’t, and that was despite the gooey okra (which was nearly as gooey as I remembered it.)  Though I don’t feel ready to fully accept okra into my life, we’re going to try growing it in the garden this year. If we get a decent crop then I won’t have a choice. Okra or bust!


What foods (vegetables or otherwise) have you gotten to know better, and for the better in recent years? Any suggestions as to other oft-overlooked vegetables that should undoubtedly be in my kitchen?

While Cary’s happy to talk food here, she’s also pretty good at doling out words about video games at United We Game while simultaneously maintaining her own blog, Recollections of Play. You can also find an archive of fun, geeky articles from her and like-minded souls at Geek Force Network.

That Holiday Classic — Spanikopita!

In two days, we (read: Americans) will be engorging ourselves on a feast that only comes round once a year: Thanksgiving dinner. I’m talking sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, yeast rolls, stuffing/dressing/whatever you prefer to call it, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, ham (at least at my house) and, of course, spanikopita! Uhh, you mean…turkey?  No, actually I mean spanikopita, a classic spinach pie with Greek roots. I discovered this magical meal early on in my turn towards vegetarianism, and it became something of a holiday-only thing because of the limited availability of phyllo dough. Back then, the only time I could find phyllo dough was in November and December. Now, that quirky pastry dough is easily findable year-round, but I still tend to only make spanikopita during the holidays. Putting aside the difficulties of working with phyllo dough, spanikopita is a delicious, savory, and satisfying dish that can be equally enjoyed by all. (Seriously, and I’m not much of a fan of spinach!) Yes, you have to be a little easy on the papery phyllo, but the results are worth ten times the effort.

The recipe below serves 6-8 people and can easily be doubled or tripled (which might require 2 packages of phyllo dough). It’s made in an 8- or 9-inch pie plate, but you can also use a similarly sized square baking dish. Or, if you’re feeling brave and creative, you can also cut the dough and fold the filling into triangular “packets.” (Place them on a greased baking sheet and cook at the same temp and time.) But you’ll have to venture elsewhere online to find out how to do that — I just don’t have the skills and patience.



3 tablespoons olive oil olive oil
1 lb spinach washed and drained, or 10-16 ounces. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
6-7 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper
6-8 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten
3-4 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 package of phyllo dough, thawed (if obtained frozen)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8- or 9-inch pie plate with a little cooking spray.

2. In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat and add spinach. Let it wilt fully and then remove from the pan. Place on paper or cloth towels to cool and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Note:  If using frozen spinach, simply thaw and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

3. In same pan sauté scallions in remaining oil until soft. Add spinach back in along with parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well until spinach is warmed through. Remove mixture from pan to cool at least to room temperature.

Note:  Spinach mixture can be made up to a day in advance and stored in a tightly sealed container in the fridge.

4. Once spinach has cooled, stir in feta cheese and egg.

5. Unwrap and unroll thawed phyllo dough and place all the dough between sheets of damp paper towel. Basting each sheet carefully with butter, layer six sheets crossways — alternating between placing them left to right and top to bottom — in bottom of pie plate. (Some of the dough may hang over the edges and that’s okay.)

6. Place spinach and cheese mixture into pie plate and spread evenly. If your phyllo dough hangs over the edges of the plate, wrap it over the top.

7. Again basting each sheet carefully with butter, arranged 6 more sheets of dough on top of the spinach. (You can wrap or fold the dough in whatever manner you like to cover the pie, but none should hang over the edges of the plate, otherwise it’ll burn.)

8. Baste top layer with butter and cook for about 30 minutes, or until top is browned and filling is set.

9. Once done, cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into wedges.


Because of phyllo dough’s tendency to become soggy, spanikopita is best enjoyed the day it’s cooked. Leftovers reheat well enough, but the dough will not become as crispy as when it’s first cooked.

Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.

Vegetable stir-fry (with tofu and/or meat)

With gardening now officially done at our house, the time has come when we must deal once again with store-bought vegetables. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but you know what they say: “Once you go black, you can never go back!”

Um…that’s not… …right? …

Anyway, making stir-fries is one of my favorite ways to manage our vegetable intake during the winter. They’re quick, savory, and a little goes a very long way, especially with the addition of a protein such as tofu or chicken or whatever you like.  The recipe below heartily serves 3-4 people. And loners need not fret, because it re-heats very well as a leftover! (It also bears mentioning that you can use just about any combination of vegetables here.)

Vegetable stir-fry (with tofu and/or meat)


vegetable oil
1 small onion, shopped
1 chili, seeded and diced
1/2 of a red, green, yellow pepper, chopped
1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 small can bamboo shoots, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped if large
1 cup snow peas, chopped, or left whole if small
4-6 scallions, sliced into rounds
1 package of extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cubed and/or 1 chicken breast, chopped, or 1 small sirloin steak cut into strips, or other meat/fish

For sauce:
1/4-1/2 cup soy sauce (use more if you like a thinner sauce)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Splash of cooking sherry (optional)

Cooked white or brown rice

  1. Prepare 1-2 cups of white or brown rice in a style of your choosing.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together all sauce ingredients. Set aside.
  3. If using tofu, heat oven to 425 degrees and bake tofu for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. (Turn once if you remember. I never do. This process dehydrates the tofu a little, making it less mushy.)
  4. If using meat, in a hot wok or large frying pan pour in about a tablespoon of oil. Let it heat up over medium-high heat for a minute and then add the beef/chicken/whatever.  Sauté for about 5 minutes in just the oil, then add in a tablespoon or so of the sauce and cook for a minute more. Remove meat from pan keeping any remaining oil/sauce in the pan.
  5. Back in the wok, over medium-high heat, add in the onion, chili, pepper, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic. Sauté for 1 minute.
  6. Add in the broccoli and snow peas. Stir the mixture and sauté for a few minutes until the broccoli turns bright green. Add in the tofu and/or meat saute for about another 5 minutes until the snow peas and broccoli become tender.
  7. Pour remaining sauce over everything in the pan and stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes. (Any longer and the sauce will turn very dark and sticky.)

Top with fresh scallions and serve immediately over rice.

Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.

Recipe: Healthy Guacamole!

I know it doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well as Holy Guacamole! but this healthy treat is anything but holy. Add some healthy home-baked chips, and you have a tasty (mostly) guilt-free snack to occupy your mind while you wait in an endless game queue (you know who you are!). And this is so easy to make, you could whip up a batch while you wait. I’m not a fan of really spicy guac, so this has no spice or heat to it, but you can improvise and add your favorite pepper or spice. Red onion and fresh garlic are also nice additions.


1 medium avocado, Haas, peeled and pitted
15 oz can white beans, small, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 medium fresh tomato, diced
2 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste
8 oz baked low-fat tortilla chips


Combine avocado, beans, and lime juice in a food processor; process until blended and smooth. If you don’t have a food processor, mash ingredients together with a fork.

Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and fold in tomato and cilantro (or other added flavor enhancers). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Yields about 1/4 cup of guacamole and 1 ounce of baked chips per serving. Serves 8.

Honey-glazed Carrots with Sage

We’re all busy people.  We work; we tend to our families; we go out with friends; we raid with our guilds/save the universe/kill all the monsters; we try to sleep. Some days, the cycle is so maddening it’s not until moments before bedtime that you realize you haven’t eaten a decent meal all day (if you’ve eaten much of anything at all). Well here’s a super quick dish that you could easily squeeze in for lunch or dinner. It consists only of four ingredients — carrots, butter, honey, and ground sage — so it doesn’t require a fully-stocked kitchen. There’s a little chopping require, but you could whack through a bag of baby carrots if you don’t have regular-sized carrots. You will have to stand over the stove for a bit to make sure things don’t burn, but you’ll receive the lovely aromas of butter and sage, which are enough to calm even the most savage of souls. Granted, you’d want to include some protein and leafy greens with these carrots for a full meal, but having the carrots on their own is better than warming up that frozen something-or-other from the fridge or freezer. Plus, just think of all the wonderful beta-carotene! You need plenty of that to keep your eyesight sharp when raiding/saving/monster-hunting.

Honey-glazed Carrots with Sage


1 tablespoon butter
5-6 carrots, or about half a bag of baby carrots, roughly chopped
1-2 (or more) tablespoons of honey
1/2-1 teaspoon ground sage
salt and pepper to taste


1. Melt butter over medium heat in a skillet large enough to accommodate your amount of cut carrots.  Let the butter brown slightly and then add in the carrots. Stir to coat.

2. Sauté the carrots about 10 minutes, or until they can be easily stabbed with a fork (yet aren’t mushy). 

3. Drizzle in the honey a tablespoon at a time. Use enough so that it starts bubbling up around the carrots.

4. Continue to cook the carrots until the honey stops frothing and thickens up. Sprinkle in a little salt and pepper, and then add the sage. Stir.

5. Cook for a couple minutes more until you can just start to smell the sage.

6. Let cool for five minutes before serving.

Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.


I Ate This: Salad Potpourri

Everyday the fresh salad buffet at my workplace features some staple as well as different seasonal salads for the hungry customer base. Working in a clinic comes with its perks and having three healthy menus per day prepared by a brigade of diet chefs is definitely one of them. The salad buffet serves both as an alternative and recovery station to anyone passing on that warm lunch; leftovers from previous day menus will be utilized in salads of the next day. Needless to say, this keeps the salad buffet exciting as well as most viable. Almost any vegetable side can be turned into a yummie salad with some good olive oil and vinegar.

Friday lunch noms

Today’s plate: nut lettuce, basil tomatoes, beetroot, cervelas, beans, olives, egg and yesterday’s brussels sprouts. Who said salads were boring?

Baked Vegetable Enchiladas

Going for more inspiration from my most favorite and well-loved cookbook, Favorite Recipes: Vegetarian, here’s another crowd pleaser that falls firmly under the heading of “Tasty Tex-Mex That’s Mostly Good For You:” Baked Vegetable Enchiladas. Though making the sauce kicks up the difficultly level a little, the results are insanely delicious. (I guess you could use a canned enchilada sauce… I guess.) You might look at the ingredients and think that a vegetable medley in tortillas is hardly filling, but I beg to differ. Once you get everything together with the sauce and the cheese, and chips and salsa, I guarantee that a hearty meal awaits.

So the recipe below differs from the original mainly with the sauce, which called for crushed tomatoes to be mixed with everything and then reduced over high heat. Now maybe it was just my stove-cooking naïveté showing, but I had a repeatedly awful time with the red liquidy mixture popping out all over my white stove as it was boiling on high.  So I altered the recipe to use a thicker, canned tomato sauce (no seasonings, just tomatoes) that could be slow cooked over low heat.  Yes, it took longer to cook, but making it proved much less messy, plus it tasted wonderful in the end, so win-win. This sauce can be made well in advance and keeps in the fridge for about a week.  If you want to make the enchiladas all in one day, plan to cook the sauce for at least an hour beforehand.

Note that you can change up the veggies depending on what you have, keeping in mind that you’ll probably want to stick with things that won’t compete with the enchilada sauce. Squash and green beans, for example work well, but things like broccoli and kale don’t. (Too pungent.) Additionally, you can easily add cooked chicken, pork, or beef to the mix. Just work it up like you would for tacos and roll it up with the vegetables.

I can get eight enchiladas out of this meal, which serves four.  If you end up with leftovers, they keep well in the fridge and can be easily reheated.


Baked Vegetable Enchiladas

Enchilada sauce

1 28 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 1/3 cups vegetable broth
2 small red or green chili peppers/jalapenos, diced, seeds removed (or not if you like)
2 shallots, diced
1 T chili powder
1-2 T sugar
1 t salt


Place all ingredients into a large pot and stir well.  Bring to a boil then reduced to low.  Simmer, partially covered, for about an hour or until the sauce has reduced by about 1/3rd. Be sure to taste check as the sauce cooks to adjust sugar and salt levels.  The sauce should be sweet and tangy, but not overly salty or spicy, by the time it’s done.


2 T olive oil
2 leeks, each sliced in half lengthwise, and then thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup chopped onion
3-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup bell peppers (any colors)
1-2 carrots, chopped
½ cup fresh or frozen corn
8 oz. chopped spinach, cooked and drained, or frozen, thawed, and drained
½  cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup black beans
1 T cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

You’ll also need:

6-8 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, pepper jack, etc.)


(Veggies can be prepared in advanced and kept in the fridge for a few hours before cooking enchiladas)

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large sauce pan, heat oil over medium and sauté leeks, onion, and garlic for a minute or two, until you can just smell the garlic begin to cook.
  • Add peppers, carrots, and corn, and sauté for 7-10 minutes – carrots should be relatively soft.
  • Add in spinach and stir well.
  • Stir in peas, beans, cumin, salt, pepper, and cook for another few minutes until everything is well incorporated together.
  • Spray or coat bottom and sides of an 8 x 8, 9 x 9, or 8 x 11 (inches) baking dish
  • Place a few tablespoons of filling in each tortilla and roll.  Pack rolled tortillas tightly into baking dish.
  • Cover tortillas with a generous amount of sauce.  You may or may not use all from batch depending on the number of tortillas used.
  • Sprinkle cheese over and bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly.
  • Remove and cool for at least 10-15 minutes before serving.

Serve with chips, salsa, and/or guacamole.

Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.

Recipe: Spicy Peanut Roasted Butternut Squash

By popular demand, I’m going to share one of my favorite ways to cook butternut squash. This one requires a few special ingredients, but you can find them at most grocery stores, especially those selling organic goods.

This serves about 8 people. Cut the recipe in half for a single pan.


1 (approx 5 lb.) butternut squash, peeled and seeded
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup powdered peanut butter (you must go with powdered, not regular peanut butter)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (smoked rather than normal, much more tasty!)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with cooking spray.

Cut the peeled and seeded squash into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl. Drizzle squash with olive oil, then toss to coat evenly.

In a small bowl, mix together powdered peanut butter, garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

Using a silicon spatula, toss the squash while sprinkling the seasoning mixture over it. Continue to toss until all of the squash is well coated.

Transfer squash to prepared baking sheets, using the spatula to scrape the oil and seasonings from the bowl. Arrange the squash in an even layer. Roast 25 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the squash, then roast another 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and tender.