Better Homes and Gardens 9 x 13 The Pan That Can

The pan that can what?

9 x 13: The Pan That Can (Better Homes & Gardens Cooking)It is true, most of us have 9 x 13 inch pans, in our kitchens and I agree with the authors of this book, we tend to use it, for many different kinds of recipes.  In this book, it is demonstrated how much use you can get out of this baking dish by sharing a variety of recipes.

I have mixed emotions about the book and I don’t think, there is a necessity to zero in on the pan, especially when many of the recipes can be made in difference shapes and sizes.  On the other hand, this is a gimmick to sell another cookbook and I did buy it.  Silly me.

New information has come my way in this written work.  I had no idea that a 9 x 13 holds 3 quarts (volume) and I should have known this.  This is a shallow pan so it cooks faster than a round 3 quart pan.  If you are in a hurry, this is the pan to use.

The book is has a large soft cover and it is more sturdy than your usual soft-cover book.  There are not many photos and that makes it a loser, for me.  I love photos both for clarification and inspiration.  The few photos, there are, are all together from page 96 to 112.  Each page has one photo and the photos are adequate.  The page number of the recipe is found on the corresponding photo page.

I do like the recipes.  There are few mixes which is a blessing for me.  Kosher recipes are stymied many times when the recipe has some mix that is not kosher and does not have an equivalent.  (The exception is the use of canned soups.)

I looked up the reviews on the book and the seem to agree with me, too few pictures, great recipes, and needs a hard cover.  The directions are clear, ingredients accessible, final dishes looking good……

The Contents are awesome with sections that focus on a particular type of dish like lasagna.  Some recipes that appealed to me, just looking at the titles are Southwest Spaghetti Pie, Baked Chicken Marsala, Mississippi Corn Bread Salad, Chocolava,  Smoked Salmon Lasagna. 24 Hour Dilled Vegetable Salad and Coconut Almond Delight Bars.  There are almost 400 recipes and many of them appeal to me.

Taco Pasta Taco Pasta Hazelnut-Crusted Turkey BreastHazelnut Crusted Turkey Breast  Carrot and Zucchini Bars  Carrot and Zucchini Bars

I think, I have to make some recipes from this book and get back to you.

Artichoke-Herb Tart with Polenta Crust

I joined a new group which I am really excited about.  We will follow the book  Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients from Martha Stewart and the editors of Whole Living Magazine (Dec 28, 2010). We can use a recipe from this book or any recipe using the targeted ingredient.

The first 15 weeks will be in the following order, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, kale, mushroom, spinach, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, tomatoes and winter squash.  This is the first section, vegetables and is followed by fruits, grains and legumes, nuts and seeds, eggs, yogurt and fish.  This comprised the first section of the book.

My favorite section is the recipe section where I found one appealing recipe after another except for the first one, artichokes, this week’s ingredient.  I have never cooked an artichoke and I doubt I ever held one that was uncooked until, this week.  It is exciting to meet a new vegetable and it is also intimidating because we are talking about artichokes which are prickly and as far as I am concerned, difficult to break apart.  On the upside of the artichoke, it is amazingly healthy and incorporating it, into one’s diet helps protect you, in many ways.

I went online to You Tube to see what I could eat from this vegetable and how to prepare it.  Frankly, it is too much work to bother with although I did just that.  It is snipping, pricking one’s finger, using a lemon quickly to avoid browning the vegetable, getting the choke out and finally discerning which parts are edible and which are not.  Three videos later, I was not confident but willing to give it a try.

I had not idea what I could make with it and I still had not received the book so I was on my own.  I found a recipe that looked interesting on the Cupcake Muffin blog.  She did a beautiful job with this polenta base recipe topped with a custard topping with artichokes sandwiched in between.  I added spinach to that layer and I liked the addition.

The recipe is  from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, a book which sits on my shelf and I didn’t think to look in it for a recipe.  I will take if off the shelf now.

Artichoke-Herb Tart with Polenta Crust (adapted from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals)
Serves 3-4

For the crust:
1 cup vegetable broth
1-3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 cup polenta
2-1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese (or another hard cheese such as Pecorino Romano), grated on the large holes of a box grater
1 large egg, at room temperature
Several grinds black pepper

For the filling:
1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
2 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
Several grinds black pepper
2 12-ounce cans artichoke quarters in water (without spices), drained and rinsed (I used the real artichoke.)                                                                            1 cup spinach, squeezed dry
3 ounces crumbled goat cheese  (I was out of goat cheese and use Feta instead)
2-1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese (or another hard cheese such as Pecorino Romano), grated on the large holes of a box grater

1. Make the crust.  Bring the broth and water to a boil in a large, non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the salt.  Whisk in the polenta gradually, and continue to whisk for 30 more seconds.  Decrease heat to low, cover, and cook for ten minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon every couple of minutes (polenta will be very thick by the end of this process).  Remove from heat, cover, and let sit 10 minutes, stirring a few times.  Stir in the cheese, egg, and pepper until well combined.
2. Grease a 10-inch tart pan and place on a cookie sheet.  Spread the polenta into the pan with wet fingers, re-wetting your fingers as needed.  Try to create an even layer on the bottom of the pan and about 3/4 inch up the sides (no need to be perfect).
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
4. Prepare the filling.  Whisk together the yogurt, eggs, green onions, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.
5. Create an even layer of artichoke quarters on the bottom of the crust . Layer spinach on top of artichokes. Sprinkle the goat cheese on top, and then gently pour the filling over, smoothing it out with a rubber spatula.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
6. Bake until the top is golden brown and the filling is set, about 45 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.  Cut into slices and serve .

Please check the following blog to see what they did with the artichoke.

Jill – SaucyCooks
Sarah – Everythinginthekitchensink

Sweet Potato Balls-Better Than Meat

If I had a photo of these with spaghetti and sauce or without the sauce, you would have thought they were meat.  They don’t taste like meat although, they do look like meatballs.  They don’t taste like sweet potatoes either.  They have a tinge of sweetness from the potatoes but I don’t think that you would guess what they were made of.  I imagine the nuts are what dilutes the sweet potato taste.  Blending all the ingredients leaves a little heat but mostly just deliciousness.


2 large sweet potatoes or yams, cubed
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup GF oats
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon smoked red paprika
1 teaspoon minced onion
1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces


Preheat oven to 400 degrees .
Place sweet potato cubes in medium-large bowl and cover with the water.
Microwave for 12 minutes.  If you have a powerful microwave, cut the time a minute or two.  Start checking for doneness at 8 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, combine the remaining  ingredients together.
Combine the sweet potatoes, nuts, spices and oats and put into food processor.  Run until well blended.
Remove the mixture and shape into balls.

Bake in 400 degree F. oven for 20 minutes.


This is linked to Mop it up Mondays

Hats Off to Mario Batali

  Mario Batali and his family for taking on a real challenge, to eat for no more than $1.48 a meal per person, for one week.  This is the equivalent of someone on food stamps.  He made it clear, this is not easy to accomplish. Rice and lentils were staples, during the week. Beans and pork also were on the menu and for his teens, peanut butter and jelly


“One lesson: forget organic and anything pesticide- or hormone-free. “The organic word slides out and saves you about 50 percent.”  Convenience is also out the window.  No longer, could he grab a quick and easy food, when in a hurry.

The way food is rising in cost, I doubt, this will be able  to be accomplished, for too long.  Think about what a dollar and half buys you, today and then imagine with rising costs, what it will cover, in another year.  This brings up, all the people who are eating like this, not by choice but by necessity.  No longer, does this only apply to those on the streets.  It applies to working families, seniors and children.

There are many blogs on frugality where you can find recipes and bargains .  Frugal Dad has a list of 50 blogs that stress this topic and give lots of tips.

This is a time to see what those of us who can help other, can do.  I may never have been wealthy but I have always been able to share.   I am thankful for this.

Judging Others

For years, I have worked on not judging others and if I do, I attempt to clamp my lips together and not let my thoughts out.  Easily said and not so easily done.  No matter what I actually do, what I know, is that judging is wrong. 

If it is wrong, why do we hear, wherever we go, people judging others, sometimes, people they know for five minutes.  As an example, you are in a store and the clerk gives you the wrong change.  Your friend comments on how foolish, the clerk is.  What do you say?  Do you shrug it off?  Do you agree or do you give the benefit of the doubt.

I think, that is what it is all about.  If we give the benefit of the doubt to others, much will not annoy us.  In the case of the clerk who gave the wrong change, what difference does it make to us, how smart she is or perhaps, how honest she is?  We don’t know her.  Most likely, she was tired after a hard day’s work or she has something on her mind.  I think, we have to ask ourselves, what mistakes, we have made and how they could be perceived.

Apply this to  people you love.  How many arguments and battles would be avoided if one gave the benefit of the doubt.  Judaism teaches us that until we stand in the place of another (which is impossible) we have no right to judge.  That speaks volumes about how to treat judgements. 

Before I get into why I am discussing this, not judging does not mean, not looking at an act and if it wrong, doing something about it.  If your friend is beating her child, the action is unacceptable and judging that act is certainly fine, particularly if you can do something about it.  Look carefully at the line between judging the person and judging the action.  They are easy to confuse but they are distinct.

OK, so why is this bothering me?  I am doing report cards and that means judging.  A child earns his/her grade.  I don’t give it to anyone.  On the other hand, there is a lot more to it than that.  It is June and I have a child who overcame great obstacles to finally, at the end of the school year, succeed.  After a year of failure, he did well in something and he has the ability to succeed a lot more.  When I mark his report card, how do I handle it?  Do I simply average his grades and voila, we have a mark for his report card. – OR- do I look at this stupendous progress against all odds, and give him a grade that reflects only this.  That child needs to know, I see his progress and that he has earned something better than, before.  As much as I am a stickler for rules, when it comes to a child and making a positive difference, in his life, I will go for it and that child will have his grade fudged a little to stress the end of the year, rather than the whole third term. 

So, grading report cards, is not as simple as averaging marks, taking in class participation and extras.  For me, it is a challenge, one I hope I pass to benefit the children.

This is linked to Wordless Wednesdays

Confetti Baked Chicken

After baking this, I decided, it looked too busy, as if confetti had fallen down from the ceiling onto the chicken and that is how it got its name.  The sauce, it is cooked is, is truly delicious and I would use it, on meat and vegetables, as well as poultry.

Confetti Chicken



  1. Position rack in the center of the oven.

  2. Preheat oven to 350F.

  3. Mix together Dijon mustard, basil and honeySmear the chicken with this mixture.

  4. Arrange chicken in a shallow roasting pan or baking dish just large enough to hold it in a single layer.

  5. Sprinkle the pieces with finely chopped onions, bell peppers,  salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, half the basil, and 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon and paprika.

  6. Pour orange and pineapple juice around the chicken.

  7. Bake, basting once, for 30 minutes until the chicken is tender and golden.Add more orange juice or pineapple juice if the pan seems dry.

This is linked to Pennywise Platter

un-Fried Rice

This was fantastic to make.  I did cook the onions in a tiny bit of olive oil but the rice was boiled and never put in that frying pan.


  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper,  diced
  • 2 1/2 cups previously cooked rice with vegetables (I purchase this combo, ready to cook, in the store)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or to taste,
  • 1 /4 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste, optional
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Place 2 cups of rice and vegetables in 2 1/2 cups of soup or water.  Cook, according to package directions.

While the rice is cooking, heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion and green onion, stir-fry for about 2 minutes, until softened.  Add red pepper and cook an additional minute.  Add vegetables to rice.

In the skillet, pour droplets of beaten egg which should firm up quickly.  After a minutes, move egg bits around and remove.  Add the egg to the rice .

This is linked to $5 Dinners

I Stand Alone

I feel almost sad that I stand up to our society today.  I am referring to cell phones. 

Yes, I do have a cell phone which is almost ten years old and doesn’t even take photos.  It is terribly outdated but then, it is rarely on.  I use it, only for outgoing calls.  I don’t want to be a slave to the telephone.  I don’t want it going off during class.  I don’t want my real-life conversations interrupted.  I, even want to get through this post without interruption. 

I see the value of being able to be reached, at any moment, and I certainly understand the value of making phone calls, whenever necessary.  While the smart phone or whatever it is, people mostly use, certainly is considered progress, in a variety of ways, it is also, in my opinion, a detriment to society.

Is it right to use a cell at work?  How much time do people spend on it, when they are supposed to be doing something else, they are being paid for?

Have you sat at a dinner in a restaurant or a party and looked around?  What do you see?  I was at an engagement party, the other day and I looked at the ten people, at my table, each either texting or checking the ding that just rang.  While, they talk to those around them, their fingers work the buttons and they are simultaneously having another conversation, at your expense.  Who are they really paying attention to?  You?  The person at the other end of the text message? No one?

It was a beautiful day and I took a walk and person after person, walking in the other direction, looked like they were muttering to themselves.  No, they were talking to someone.  Then, there was the couple, holding hands, walking along, each speaking to someone else, ignoring each other.  How romantic.

How many people talk to each other, anymore?  We have emails and texts… need for human conversation.  Will our children be able to speak intelligently?  They will know how to play games, send emails that look like this, “how r u? Want to c a movie? Meet u later.”  No need to spell.

Driving while texting or even talking is a distraction and certainly dangerous to others.  How many people do you know who text while they drive?  It almost makes me want to stay off the road?  Is it a lack of respect for human life to be so glib about driving?

Are we going forward or backward?

Let me end my rant by telling you that I did not write this to insult anyone or reprimand you.  This is a pet peeve of mine and I would like to know, if others feel this way.  I would also like to know, how to handle a person you are speaking with, who is taking call after call and texting, while you attempt to impart information?

Final questions……do we really have that much important material to convey?  What are people talking about?  Is it important?