Saturday, May 31, 2008

Yogurt Cheese Experiment

Yogurt is one of those phenomenally good for you foods that everyone should incorporate into their diet. The more I read about it, the more I am intrigued with not only its nutritional impact, but also ways to incorporate it into recipes and cooking. So, this led to me trying to make yogurt cheese.
Let me begin by apologizing for the yellow tint to my pictures; the yogurt I used wasn't quite that color, but the lighting in my kitchen is not great. I started by lining a colander with cheesecloth. Then I added a 32 oz of plain Stonyfield Farm Organic Yogurt. I set the colander in a bowl to catch drainage, and covered the top of my colander lightly with plastic wrap. Then I set the whole kit and caboodle in the refrigerator.

Over the next 24 hours I poured out drainage from the pan every now and then, and watched as all the liquid on the yogurt slowly came away. This is what the yogurt looked like after draining for a full 24 hours:
It is very similar to cream cheese, and I look forward to using it in recipes! I measured out the yogurt cheese, and ended up with 1-3/4 cups of cheese.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mocha Cocoa Cake

If you are a fan of chocolate, this is the recipe for you! Not only is it healthful (yogurt, canola oil, and no eggs), but this cake is moist, rich and positively decadent! I have found that it bakes well in both cake pans and cupcake pans, and it is a cake that holds well for a few days. Enjoy!

  • 1 ¾ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • ¾ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ c. nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 5 Espresso (7 ½ ounces total)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ c. vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch Bundt pan.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large mixing bowl. In another large bowl, mix together the sugar, yogurt, espresso, and oil until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and mix together just until blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smooth with a spatula, and bake 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes before removing from the pan.8 servings

Cupcakes take about 15 - 20 minutes in the oven.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Butterbur's Open Faced Tomato Sandwiches

Ah, tonight I had a veritable feast of foods! A bowl of left-over corn chowder, romaine salad tossed with balsamic vinegar, and open faced tomato sandwiches. Pure contentment!

1 serving
1 English Muffin
1 wedge Laughing Cow Cheese
fresh Basil
fresh Oregano
thinly sliced onion
thinly sliced tomato
freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground sea salt

1. Cut English Muffin in half. Toast the two pieces.
2. Divide the Laughing Cow Cheese in half. Spread half a wedge on each Muffin half.
3. Press fresh Basil and Oregano leaves into the cheese.
4. Top with onion slices.
5. Top with tomato.
6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Corn Chowder

It was unseasonably cool outside today, and when I went outside in the late afternoon, the only thing I could think was "soup". So today was the day of Corn Chowder. This recipe comes from The Joy of Cooking. I have included both the original recipe, and then the changes that I generally make.

Saute slowly until lightly browned:

1/2 cup chopped salt pork
Add and saute until golden brown:
3 Tablespoons chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 Tablespoons chopped green pepper
Add and simmer:
1 cup diced pared raw potatoes
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 bay leaf
When the potatoes are tender, in about 45 minutes, combine until blended, bring to the boiling point, and add to the above:
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup milk
Heat about 5 minutes and add:
1-1/2 cups hot milk
2 cups whole-kernel corn
Reheat but do not boil the soup. Serve it sprinkled with
Chopped parsley

* * *
My changes:
  • I like to use bacon in this recipe. I saute 4-6 pieces in the bottom of a large dutch oven. Then I add green pepper, onion and a garlic clove. I always add way more onion to this soup.
  • I usually omit the celery (if I feel too guilty about that, I add celery seed sometimes).
  • If I have lots of time, I add the raw potatoes as called for. If I don't, I partially cook them in the microwave and throw them in with bacon when it is browning.
  • I enjoy adding grated cheese to the soup after it is done cooking.
  • Canned corn works well in the recipe, but frozen or fresh is awesome!

Washington All-Purpose Flour Biscuits

I was looking for something quick to throw together to have with corn chowder, and found that this recipe worked perfectly. These biscuits are nice and salty, and went well with the soup!

  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Place in bowl. Stir to blend.

  • 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons shortening)

Add. Cut into flour until crumbly.

  • Scant 2/3 cup milk

Add gradually; stir to make a soft dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface. Knead gently 6 to 8 strokes. Roll or pat to one-half thickness desired in baking biscuits. Cut with floured cutter. Place on baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Butterbur is the new diet food!

Ah, the Internet! I love to going to "Yahoo!" and "Google" to try searches on different words to see what pops up. When I went to "Yahoo!" and searched for "Butterbur" I pulled up this fascinating link: Calories in Butterbur, Canned. Evidently I am the equivalent of a diet food! If this is confusing, it might be helpful to know that Butterbur is a plant that has medicinal properties. I am not named for this plant though, my name hails from J.R.R. Tolkien's epic masterpiece The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Interesting. You never know what you might learn from the Internet...yours humbly, Butterbur.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This has to be one of my favorite peanut butter cookie recipes. I always add at least half a bag of chocolate chips to the batter before I bake them. These cookies are best left on the pan for at least a couple of minutes after they come out of the oven. They are tender and delicious, so be careful to not overbake them!
½ cup shortening
½ cup sugar
5 Tbsp brown sugar
Cream shortening and sugars.
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
Add eggs and vanilla until blended.
peanut butter ½ cup
Add peanut butter.
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
Combine flour, soda and salt. Add to mixture. Mix till well blended. Spoon onto pan, flatten with fork. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Curry Chicken

This recipe came in handy tonight as I had some broccoli in the fridge that needed to be used. I've not done much with curry, so it was a nice and tasty change of pace.
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 Tablespoon reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 cup sliced fresh carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fresh broccoli florets
4 green onions, thinly sliced

1. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, curry and red pepper flakes. Stir in broth and soy sauce until smooth; set aside. In a large nonstick skillet or wok coated with nonstick cooking spray, stir-fry chicken in 1 teaspoon oil for 5-6 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove and keep warm.
2. In the same pan, stir-fry carrots and garlic in remaining oil for 1 minute. Stir in broccoli; cook 2 minutes longer. Add onions; cook 1-2 minutes longer.
3. Stir broth mixture and stir into vegetables. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Return chicken to pan; heat through.

Yield: 4 servings
Calories: 1 cup equals 194 calories
Butterbur's Notes: I used cauliflower with the broccoli, and used left-over cooked chicken

This recipe comes from The Taste of Home Cookbook.

Creamy Citrus and Vanilla Rice Pudding

Well, yesterday for supper I ate at a fast food taco place (which shall remain nameless) and found that whatever was in my burrito did not make my stomach very happy today. So, I'm going easy on my stomach for lunch. This recipe from Reader's Digest Fight Back with Food: Use Nutrition to Heal What Ails You seemed to fit the bill. I have included both the full recipe, and the single serving recipe below. It was very comforting! Yours humbly, Butterbur.
4 cups rice milk
3 strips (3 x 1/2 inch each) orange zest
3 strips (3 x 1/2 inch each) lime zest
1 cinnamon stick, split lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup basmati, jasmine, or texmati rice
1/4 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a large saucepan, stir together the rice milk, orange and lime zests, cinnamon, and salt. Add the rice, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stir occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks.
3. Uncover the rice and cook, stirring frequently for 15 minutes, or until the rice is very tender. Whisk some of the hot rice mixture into the egg mixture to warm it, then whisk the egg mixture into the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until the pudding is slightly thickened.
4. Transfer the pudding to a bowl and stir in the vanilla. When cool, remove the orange zest, lime zest, and cinnamon stick. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until serving time.

Makes 4 servings
Calories per serving: 279
My single serving version:
Follow the directions above, but use the following amounts:

1 cup milk
1 strip orange zest
1 strip lime zest
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 cup rice
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 egg yolk
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Strawberry Pancakes

I keep finding strawberries for a good price at the grocery store, and so I end up with several packages in the refrigerator. I've been eating them plain and with vanilla yogurt, but this morning I decided to try them in pancakes. Blueberries better beware, because strawberry pancakes are wonderful! I love to top mine with a little syrup, but I can only imagine what whipped cream would be like on these!
1-1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder

1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons salad oil
fresh strawberries, chopped

Sift together dry ingredients. Combine egg, milk, and salad oil; add to dry ingredients, stirring just till moistened. Stir in strawberries. Bake on hot griddle. Makes about 12 dollar-size, or eight 4-inch pancakes.
To make one serving, follow the instructions above, but use the following amounts:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoons salt
1 egg white
1/4 cup milk
1-1/2 teaspoon oil
fresh strawberries, chopped

I used whole wheat flour, and olive oil when I made them :) Yours humbly, Butterbur.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Butterbur's Chicken Stock!

Today I pulled apart what was left of the roast chicken from the other night. Most of it I loaded up into packages for the freezer, and when I was finished I was left with bones and scraps. I decided to try making chicken stock in the crockpot. This idea gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, as I am getting lots of use from one chicken. This is what I added to my crockpot:
  • chicken bones, scraps etc. from the roasted chicken
  • broccoli stems (the really thick, heavy part of fresh broccoli- I always end up wasting this, so I hope that it will work)
  • carrots (hunks)
  • onion (hunks)
  • garlic cloves (chopped)
  • fresh chives
  • fresh oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • celery seed
  • bay leaf
I then put the crockpot on low and let the chicken stock simmer for a very long time. After it cooked into happy chicken goodness, I strained the liquid a couple of times and put it in the fridge. Once I skim the fat from the top tomorrow, I'm planning on freezing it into 1/2 cup increments for future use. Yay chicken stock! Yours humbly, Butterbur.

Biscuit Adventure

OK, I had some chicken salad in the refrigerator, and wanted something to eat it with that wasn't store bought bread. Here is the recipe that I found in The New Basic cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.

Roasted Red Pepper Biscuits
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
pinch of sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 red pepper, roasted and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes, and using two knives, a pastry blender, or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3. Add the half-and-half, and stir to blend well. Then incorporate the roasted pepper.
4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 30 seconds. Pat it out until it is 1 inch thick, and cut out rounds with a 2-inch cookie cutter.
5. Arrange the biscuits on a baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and allow them to cool.
Yield: 6 biscuits

That is the base recipe, but of course, I had to play with it. Here are my changes to the recipe:
  • cut the recipe down so that I was only making 1/4 of the dough. I ended up with 2 biscuits
  • used whole wheat flour
  • used skim milk instead of half-and-half
  • used jarred roasted red pepper- next time I will cut it into smaller pieces then recommended
  • used a hamburger patty shaper to make large, flat biscuits
  • baked for 10 minutes

Once the biscuits had cooled, I topped one with chicken salad. Yum!

Yours humbly, Butterbur

Why I Can't Get Anything Done

Exhibit A: The photos included with this post show something small, white and furry. It would lead you to believe that the cat in the photo is small and sweet. In fact, this is a picture of Juniper, the most frustrating animal to have in the kitchen. Yes, she is an affectionate, kind friend during the majority of the day, but when it comes to spending time in the kitchen she is very much underfoot. Juniper climbs on the furniture, trips me in the kitchen, and chews on anything she can find. She is, however, an unbiased judge when it comes to tasting food. That, in of itself, makes her priceless. Yours humbly, although apparently conflicted, Butterbur.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Artichokes Beware

Well, I finally did it. I managed to successfully eat an artichoke that I bought from the produce department. I learned some important lessons though:
1. Artichokes hurt. There are lots of prickly things on the outside, and just when you think you've evaded all potential harm, the insides have them too.

2. When the instructions say "melon baller" or "grapefruit spoon", that is important to know. Using a blunt edged teaspoon will not make getting the weird fuzzy stuff out of the center easy. (It doesn't work "just as well")

3. Artichokes have weird fuzzy stuff in the center of them. Very disturbing.

4. If you accidentally remove all of the lovely tender leaves from the middle, you can tuck them back inside and steam it anyway.

This is definitely worth trying again! Yours humbly, Butterbur.

Butterbur's Broccoli Chicken Wrap

What to do with leftover roast chicken? Hmmmm....tortillas.....
1 serving

1 wedge of Laughing Cow Swiss Cheese
1 Tablespoon chopped onion
1 Tablespoon chopped green pepper
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh chives
Large piece of broccoli (fresh)
3 oz roast chicken
salt and pepper

1. Combine cheese, onion, green pepper, garlic and chives in a bowl. Mash together to make a paste. Salt and pepper to taste.
2. Cut broccoli so that you have have the florets to work with. Chop into tiny pieces. Add to the cheese mixture and mash together until combined. I like to go heavy on the broccoli, so that the mixture in the bowl is mostly broccoli coated with the cheese.
3. Spread the mixture in the middle of the tortilla. Top with sliced roast chicken. Season with a little more salt and pepper.
4. Wrap the mixture with the tortilla, then chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the flavors to combine.
5. Enjoy.


The question has been posed many times: why on earth would a cat cook? It's a fair question; felines are not usually known for their prowess in the kitchen. We are renound more for our hunting abilities. I understand the confusion in this matter, but when faced with the prospect of fleshy, uncooked meat and dry, crunchy bugs.....I think you'll understand why I must cook. If that isn't a fair enough argument, please refer to the picture below:
When faced with the dry, uninviting "cat chow" in my bowl every morning, noon and night, there is no other alternative but to cook. I hope that your food adventures are as flavorful as mine! Yours humbly, Butterbur.

Butterbur's Roast Chicken


1 whole chicken
a few garlic cloves

1. Place chicken in roasting pan.
2. Pierce chicken in several places. Work cloves of garlic into the pierced spots of the chicken.
3. Salt and pepper the chicken.
4. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about an hour and a half to two hours. Make sure that the juices run clear and that the meat does not have a pinkish tint before you eat.


Mexican Clay Pot Coffee

Mexican Clay Pot Coffee

4 cups water
3 cinnamon sticks
3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ cup coarsely ground coffee

Combine ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil (about 5 minutes). Use small strainer over cup and pour from pot.

Note: Make sure you watch your coffee--it will want to boil over if it gets to going.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Carrot Cookies

Moist, delicious and no sugar! They make the kitchen smell wonderful!
(From Today’s Diet and Nutrition January/February 2008)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup walnut pieces
¼ cup raisins
1 cup shredded carrots
½ cup honey
½ cup canola oil
¼ teaspoon vanilla

1. Set the oven to 375 degrees and let it warm up.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, oats, sunflower seeds, walnut pieces, raisins, and shredded carrots.
3. In a different bowl, beat together the honey, oil, and vanilla.
4. Add the honey mixture to the flour mixture. Stir until they are well mixed and the flour isn’t dry anymore.
5. Dampen a paper towel with oil. Use it to wipe a cookie sheet until it is coated with oil.
6. Take a rounded teaspoonful of cookie dough at a time. Place it on the oiled cookie sheet. When you have used up all the dough, pat each ball down. Flatten it with your fingers, so the cookies hold together.
7. Place the cookies in the oven. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are light brown.
8. Using a potholder, remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Let the cookies rest for 1 minute. Using a spatula, carefully move the cookies to a wire rack, so they can cool.

Brownie Muffins

Brownie Muffins

1 box devil's food cake mix
1 can solid pack pumpkin (15 oz)

Mix the 2 ingredients together. Don't add anything else that may be mentioned on the box, such as eggs, oil or water. The mixture will be very thick and you will be tempted to add in other things to make the batter smoother. DO NOT DO THIS AS IT WILL RUIN EVERYTHING! Place batter into muffin tins (or mini muffins) lined with paper or sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes 12 regular or 36 mini muffins

Cookies from Cake Mix

How to Make Cookies from Cake Mix

Choose your favorite cake mix and add ½ cup vegetable oil and 2 eggs. To jazz it up, you can add other ingredients like raisins, nuts or chocolate chips. Mix well, then drop teaspoonfuls of dough about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Place in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees. Bake about 8 – 10 minutes and cool.

Note: Cookies are very soft- it helps to let them sit on the pan a couple minutes before placing on cooling rack.

Carrot Cake for a Crowd

Sugar, what sugar? You won't miss it in this cake!
Recipe taken from Get the Sugar Out by Louise Gittleman
Serves 8 to 10
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/8 cup oil
  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple in its own juice
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Scrub and grate the carrots. Measure 1 cup and set aside. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. In a blender, combine egg, oil, pineapple and juice, raisins, and vanilla. Process until raisins are finely chopped. Measure the flour, spices, salt, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Stir well. Add blended mixture and grated carrots to dry ingredients, mixing until batter is uniform. Spread batter into pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool. Refrigerate.

Calories: 272

Notes: When cut into bars or squares, this cake holds together very well (is dense).

Butterbur's Quick Fix Garden Patch Pizza

Ah, veggies. A nice diversion for the palate.
Makes 1 serving.
  • 1 slice whole wheat or other whole grain bread
  • 1 wedge of Laughing Cow Cheese (Swiss)
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1- 2 Tbsp chopped red onion
  • 1- 2 Tbsp chopped green pepper
  • A couple of broccoli florets, chopped into tiny pieces
  • Chives
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive Oil
1. Toast bread. Spread cheese evenly on bread.
2. Combine all veggies in a bowl. Add a splash of vinegar and oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and chives.
3. Top toast and cheese with veggie mixture and spread evenly.
4. Vegify.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Butterbur's Morning Jolt

Ah, caffeine
Makes 1 serving

1 heaping Tablespoon strong coffee
16 oz boiling water
1 Tablespoon chocolate drink mix

1. Add coffee to the bottom of a French Press. Pour boiling water on top, cover, and let stand for at least 3 minutes.

2. Add chocolate drink mix to the bottom of a coffee mug.

3. Push plunger down on French Press using even and consistent pressure. Pour coffee into mug. Stir well.

4. Add milk if desired.

Butterbur's Daily Grain

Health and Nutrition meet Ultimate Comfort
Makes 1 serving

  • 1/4 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/8 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, pineapple, dates, mango etc.)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons flax (if you don't normally eat flax, you may want to start with 1 tsp or less)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger

1. Soak 1/4 cup steel cut oats in 3/4 cup water overnight.

2. Add fruit, walnuts, flax, cinnamon and ginger to bowl and stir.

3. Microwave for about a minute and a half. Stir.

4. Microwave for another minute and a half. Stir.

5. Add milk if desired. Enjoy.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Ah, cooking. Is there any other delight in this world? I am hoping in this endeavor to share some of the recipes and foods that I find delectable (and there are many). Of course, there are the occasional blunders that one stumbles across when cooking (especially when lacking opposable thumbs), but I have high hopes that my posts to this blog will be of the utmost interest to those who take the time to read them. Yours humbly, Butterbur.