The Sunday Recipe(s): Making Marinades and Dressings


Making Dressings and Marinades

When it comes to making a marinade or dressing, it’s pretty simple once you know the ratios involved. Anyone who has ever used the Good Seasons Italian dressing packets on a regular basis knows you put ¼ cup of vinegar in (white, cider, red wine, champagne – it’s all good) then add 3 tablespoons of water, pour the packet in and give it a swirl to reconstitute the spices, then add ½ cup of oil. (I use light olive oil.)

You can switch out the vinegar and put in lemon to make a pretty good lemon chicken in the slow cooker. (In fact, I put a stick of butter instead of the oil for the slow cooker.) I’ve also used it to marinate chicken for the grill. (Always marinate for three days in the fridge, for maximum flavor.)

I was trying to reduce my intake of table salt so I started experimenting with using a couple tablespoons of Tastefully Simple’s Garlic Garlic seasoning instead of the dressing packet. I put 2 tablespoons of water in a cup with the seasonings and let that reconstitute for an hour before adding ¼ cup lemon juice and ½ cup light olive oil. It turned out fantastic!

Here’s another great trick. If you have a stick blender, use that puppy to blend the marinade before putting it on the chicken, it keeps the marinade on the chicken while it’s sitting in the fridge instead of sloughing off so that it sits in a pool and you have to flip the container.

Now, if you don’t have the, somewhat expensive, Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic blend, what can you use? I found a DIY blend that is supposed to simulate Garlic Garlic here —

The other dressing and marinade I love to use is balsamic. The key here is getting a balsamic vinegar you really like. Basically, I’ve heard you get what you pay for when it comes to balsamic because aging is the key and the older it is, the more flavor it has. Personally, I love the fruit blended ones. We’re lucky in the Southern Tier of New York to have Crystal City Olive Oil which offers many wonderful balsamic vinegar flavors – I particularly enjoy their raspberry or cherry balsamic. It’s not cheap, but a little bit goes a long way.

To make a quick dressing for a salad, I take 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons of the balsamic in a small container, like a Tupperware midge, then fill to the first line with light olive oil, about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Add a few grinds of sea salt and half a dozen grinds of fresh black pepper. Cover and shake well. (I shake it again just before I put it on the salad.)

In larger quantities, this makes a fantastic marinade for steak. I use a thick, strong balsamic so I use 1 part balsamic vinegar to 3 parts oil. You don’t have to be perfectly exact, and you don’t need a lot to marinade a couple steaks. Again, for me, marinating for 3 days is optimum.

Go with the ratio and try some different combinations of vinegars or acidic fruit juices and butter or olive  oil, then add some herbs, based on what you like. I’m trying a Greek marinade on chicken this weekend. I’m sure it will taste fine and maybe I’ll tweak it later on.

And, I fell down a rabbit hole when I went to the Crystal City Olive Oil web site. They have recipes. You should definitely check those out, and, if you can’t find a good balsamic vinegar near you, they do offer shipping.

The Sunday Recipe: Vanilla Applesauce



This past week my munchkin and I were sick with the stomach flu and I discovered I had none of the recommended B.R.A.T. diet in the house for recovery. (Yeah, you don’t want to be running out to the store with the stomach flu.)

For those who don’t remember, B is for bananas, to which I am allergic. R is for rice, but apparently only white because the bran in brown can make matters worse. A is for applesauce, which is generally eaten as whole apples in our house. And T is for toast, but again only white bread which I rarely eat because it just doesn’t like me.

So, we had apples. Luckily, I’m well acquainted with a little kitchen magic to turn them to sauce. It’s a handy trick to master. My mother taught me years ago to add a teaspoon of butter and a bit of vanilla to please the young palate. I will venture to suggest that if you don’t do dairy, a teaspoon of any neutral kitchen oil will work.

Fat content, even a tiny bit, is a major trick in many recipes to make the tastes hit your palate in a very different way. It’s why just a touch of cream in coffee can make a big difference.

So many recipes use sugar but we’ve never found it necessary. We ate a couple bowls of applesauce today and I asked my daughter if she would call it sweet or sweet-tart. She said, “sweet!” There you have it.

One of the nice things about applesauce is it’s pretty forgiving, use what you have and just enough water to keep the apples from sticking to the pot. Make a big batch or a single apple. It’s all good.


  • 6 medium apples (Northern Spy or Granny Smith preferred. Other tart varieties will do.)
  • Water to cover the bottom of the pot.
  • 1 teaspoon butter or neutral oil such as light olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)


  1. Peel, core, and chunk up the apples into a medium pot.
  2. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Maybe 1/3 cup.
  3. Bring the water to a quick boil.
  4. Stir and cover the pot.
  5. Turn the heat to low.
  6. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  7. If the apples aren’t soft, give them a little longer.
  8. Mash the apples.
  9. Stir in the butter or oil and vanilla.
  10. Serve warm or chilled.
  11. Enjoy.

The Sunday Recipe: Coconut Oil Chocolates


Fruit & Nut or Coconut Chocolates

Years ago I came across a recipe to make chocolates out of coconut oil, cocoa powder, and Stevia. I used maple syrup instead and I’ve added different things. Recently I made fruit and nut bars with pecans and reduced sugar Craisins in cupcake liners, and smaller chocolates with coconut in them in mini muffin liners. Here’s my recipe. They are as good as anything I can buy, and slightly healthier, in my estimation. Plus, they make great little energy bites while I’m writing!


  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder (56 grams, packed tablespoons will yield a MUCH darker chocolate)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans & 1/3 cup chopped craisins OR ½ cup (40 grams) grated unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 cup cake liners or about 15 mini cupcake liners


  1. Heat the coconut oil gently in a glass bowl or measuring cup on 50% power for about half a minute.
  2. Stir in the cocoa powder.
  3. Add vanilla and a pinch of salt.
  4. Stir in any additions.
  5. I divided the cranberry and pecan ones evenly between 6 muffin liners.
  6. The shredded coconut ones made about 15 tablespoon sized chocolates in mini muffin liners. (Or would have if my daughter didn’t steal a spoonful to eat.)
  7. Refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
  8. Store in the refrigerator, especially in hot weather.
  9. Enjoy!

The Sunday Recipe: Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper Melange


Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper Melange

I remember serving this to my father many years ago, it was one of his favorite things that I cooked. I was surprised and elated when my young daughter loved it. She was the one who dubbed it “Veggie Melange.” If you have the option, get a red bell pepper with four ‘lobes’ on the bottom, they are better for cooking.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium sweet red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 medium zucchini squash or 2 small, chopped in about ½ inch chunks
  • 1 – 15 ounce can diced tomatoes (no salt added, or leave out the salt below)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 cloves of crushed garlic added in with the onions)
  • ¼ teaspoon of sea salt
  • Pinch of sugar


  1. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and pour in the olive oil.
  2. Allow to heat on medium while you dice the onion.
  3. Saute onion while you core and chop the bell pepper.
  4. Add the bell pepper, give it a stir, and turn the heat down a little bit, medium low now.
  5. Dice the zucchini and add to the pan. Stir and cover.
  6. Cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Stir and cook another 3 minutes.
  8. Add the diced tomatoes and seasonings. Stir and recover.
  9. Simmer 5 minutes.
  10. Stir and simmer another 3 to 5 minutes.
  11. Add anything you would like from options below and enjoy!

Optional —  Add a cup or two of cooked pasta or tortellini, add some chopped up leftover meatloaf, some meatballs, or Italian sausage. Stir in some cheese. These days I tend to serve it with Italian sausage but my daughter likes to stir in some cottage cheese.

The Sunday Recipe: Coconut Custard with Berries


Coconut Custard with Berries

I’ve made this with peaches, blueberries, raspberries, and even rhubarb. (Warning: Even though I LOVE rhubarb, the flavor just didn’t go with the coconut for me. Try that at your own risk.) Pictured above are raspberries in the top two and blueberries in the bottom two. It can be made, at the same time and temp, in a deep-dish pie plate instead of individual ramekins by simply doubling the recipe. I made a double batch because it uses a full can of coconut milk then just refrigerated half overnight and made the other half the next day. That way I could bake it in my toaster oven on the front porch to keep from heating the kitchen up. I highly recommend the blueberries, preferably fresh but frozen works too.


  • 1/2 can of coconut milk (cans are usually 13.33 to 15 ounce)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (sugar will work)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour (Almond flour, tapioca flour, and even cocoa powder have worked. If using cocoa powder, add a half tablespoon of tapioca starch or a teaspoon of cornstarch.)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup berries, fresh or frozen.


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place the four ramekins in a square baking dish, metal or glass work.
  3. Put one layer of berries in the bottom of the dishes.
  4. Heat 1 ½ cups of water for a water bath.
  5. Place the rest of the ingredients in a blender or bowl and mix thoroughly. (I used a stick blender.)
  6. Pour batter slowly over fruit.
  7. Pour hot water into pan around ramekins. (Be careful, the pan can now become quite hot.)
  8. Bake for 40 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and drain water. I do this by either removing the removing the ramekins to a towel using rubber covered tongs, or by using a turkey baster to suction the water out of the pan.
  10. Allow to cool then refrigerate for several hours.
  11. Serve as is or with whipped cream, or whipped coconut cream.
  12. Enjoy!

*Last Edited 7/8/2020

The Sunday Recipe: Upside Down Almond Sponge Cake


Upside Down Almond Sponge Fruit Cake

I’ve been using Laura B. Russell’s wonderful almond cake recipe for a couple years now. (If you want the original recipe, check it out here For this cake, I’ve combined her almond cake with a classic recipe for baked apple pancakes, and made a few changes. Rhubarb is wonderful in this, but I’ve also used frozen blueberries, halved sweet cherries, and drained canned peaches. It’s all good, simple, and gluten free.


  • 1 tablespoon butter (unsalted preferred)
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups fruit (rhubarb, blueberries, cherries, or peaches, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 6 ounces almond flour (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 5 large eggs (separated)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter in a deep-dish pie plate, either in the microwave or in the warming oven.
  3. Spread the butter around the plate and arrange the fruit on top in a single layer.
  4. Drizzle the maple syrup over the fruit.
  5. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if using.
  6. Separate the 5 eggs into 2 mixing bowls. (I highly recommend you do the actual separating over a small bowl and then dump the egg yolk into the one bowl and transfer the egg white into the mixing bowl.) If you don’t know how to separate eggs, here’s a simple 1-minute video on it.
  7. Mix the maple syrup into the egg yolks then stir in the vanilla and almond flour.
  8. Using a mixer, beat your egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. (Tip: for best results make sure your bowl and beaters are clean and dry, free of any oil.)
  9. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, about one third at a time. (Basically, folding means to use a large rubber spatula to stir up gently from the bottom.)
  10. Pour the mixture over the fruit and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Serve warm or cold, with or without whipped cream.

The Sunday Recipe: Enchilada Casserole


Enchilada Casserole

This is something that I have thrown together before with varied ingredients. This time I wrote it down. I used ground beef, but I’ve also used ground venison, and I imagine it would work just fine with chopped cooked chicken, soy crumbles, or even just leave the meat out altogether. With the beans and cheese, there is plenty of protein. I like to serve it with a little salad on the side, and/or chopped tomato, avocado, and sour cream.


  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup beef broth (or water with beef bouillon cube or powder)
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon chili powder depending on how spicy.
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 and ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 5 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (Monterey jack or Mexican blend)
  • 1 cup frozen corn


  1. Combine the tomato sauce, broth or water and bouillon, and seasonings in a medium pot over medium heat.
  2. Bring sauce to simmer and let it bubble gently for 15 minutes.
  3. Brown the ground beef or prepare other meat, if using.
  4. Mash or puree the pinto beans with ¼ cup of the sauce.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  6. Reserve ¼ cup sauce and ½ cup cheese for top of casserole.
  7. Prepare a round 1.75-quart casserole with cooking spray.
  8. Place ¼ cup sauce, without meat, in bottom of dish.
  9. Put one tortilla in dish.
  10. If using, now stir the meat into the sauce.
  11. Layer ¼ of sauce onto tortilla.
  12. Dollop ¼ of bean mixture on.
  13. Sprinkle ¼ of corn on.
  14. Sprinkle ¼ of cheese on.
  15. Place a tortilla on and press down lightly.
  16. Repeat steps 9 through 13, 3 more times.
  17. Spread reserved sauce on top of last tortilla.
  18. Sprinkle reserved cheese on.
  19. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
  20. Enjoy!

Mexican steps


The Sunday Recipe: Perfect Rice Pudding

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Perfect Rice Pudding

There is nothing more comforting to me than a perfect bowl of rice pudding, warm or cold. I’ve tried a lot of different recipes lately. I tried replacing some milk with whole cream, whole eggs versus egg yolks, butter or no butter, and different types of sugar versus maple syrup. In the end, I combined elements of several different recipes, along with my favorite ingredients, to create what is perfect for my palette. It is an utterly creamy, less sugar, gluten free, and wholesome dessert/snack. I hope you enjoy. (This is also a great way to use leftover rice from Chinese takeout. Raisins are a great addition too.)


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (white rice works too)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon


  1. In a sauce pot over medium heat, combine 1 and ½ cups of milk with maple syrup and rice.
  2. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining milk.
  4. After the rice mixture has simmered and thickened a little, whisk a quarter cup of the hot mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
  5. Do that 3 more times, to temper the egg yolks.
  6. Now stir the egg yolk mixture into the sauce pot.
  7. Return to a simmer for about 5 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat.
  9. Stir in butter, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  10. Enjoy hot or chilled. (I think it tastes better chilled.)

The Sunday Recipe: Oatmeal Muffins with Orange Cranberries

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Oatmeal Muffins with Orange Juiced Cranberries

Though my recipe is gluten free, I provide the original recipe at the bottom from my mother, directions are largely the same. I used Ocean Spray reduced sugar craisins for this recipe. These are perfectly scrumptious – crispy on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside. I really hope you give them a try. (Last time I made them, I used 1 tablespoon  cornstarch instead of tapioca starch, so I think either works.)


  • 60 grams dried cranberries (about 1/3 cup)
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 cup rolled oats (quick or old fashioned)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup light olive oil or melted butter
  • ¾ cup white rice flour (120 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Combine dried cranberries with orange juice in a glass container or measuring cup.
  2. Microwave on 50 % for one minute, just until warm.
  3. Allow to sit for at least ½ an hour, but preferably an hour or two. (May be put in the fridge for a more extended period.)
  4. When ready to make the muffins, strain the cranberries and set aside.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup then fill to the one cup mark with milk. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. (This is a substitute for 1 cup buttermilk.)
  6. Combine oats and milk. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  7. In a measuring bowl, whisk eggs.
  8. Add maple syrup
  9. Mix in light olive oil or melted butter
  10. Add white rice flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  11. Stir in cranberries.
  12. Mixture will be thin.
  13. Divvy up into a 12 muffin pan.
  14. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
  15. Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before running a thin knife around edge to lift out.
  16. Enjoy!


Original Oatmeal Muffin recipe ingredients from my mother –

  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup melted shortening or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt







The Sunday Recipe: Pasta e Fagioli


Pasta e Fagioli

Okay, so this is basically a cross between chili and soup. I refer to it as Italian Chili. It is perfect for cooler weather or to serve a crowd who needs nourishment.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 7 ounces carrots, sliced (couple dozen baby carrots, 2 large carrots)
  • 7 ounces celery, sliced (3 or 4 celery ribs)
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 32 – 64 ounces beef broth, depending on how soupy you like it (Start with 32.)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • ½ – 28 ounce jar spaghetti sauce, or 1 can of pizza sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot sauce or cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ cup elbow macaroni. (Gluten free works well.)


  1. In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrots in olive oil until softened.
  2. Push veggies to edge of pot and add ground beef.
  3. Chop the ground beef every few minutes until browned.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the pasta.
  5. Simmer for 30 – 60 minutes to meld flavors.
  6. Add the pasta and simmer until soft, about another 20 minutes.
  7. Enjoy.


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