Monday, March 23, 2009


Halushki is a Gallaher family tradition. At our family reunion every year in July, one of my lovely aunts is bound to whip up a crock-pot full of this yummy wonder, and it's always a big hit. Even people who typically scowl at cabbage generally like halushki - must be something about the large quantity of butter that's involved. It's regularly served at the folk festivals that are so prevalent in Western PA during the summertime, and I love wandering around the festivals with my mom and sister, munching on halushki and funnel cakes. Yum.

I wish that I had a "grand finale" photograph of this dish, but alas, I forgot to snap one. Maybe next time.

1 head of cabbage
1 large sweet onion
2 pkgs. of home-style dumplings (you could substitute egg noodles if you can't find dumplings in your local grocer's freezer section)
1 c. butter or margarine
1 t. salt (kosher salt, if you have it)
1/2 t. pepper (or to taste)

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Dice the onion into small pieces, and chop the cabbage into strips about 1x2 inches (it doesn't have to be exact by any means).

2. Melt the butter in a frying pan, and saute the diced onion on medium-low. Meanwhile, drop the cabbage into the boiling water and cover, cooking until it's just tender (about 5 minutes). As the cabbage begins to soften, remove it in batches from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a crock pot.

3. After the cabbage is all cooked, allow the water to come back up to a boil and add the dumplings. Cook them for a few minutes until they're barely done (we're basically just looking to thaw them here...they'll cook more in the crock-pot. If you don't have a few hours to let everything meld together in the crock-pot, give them an extra few minutes in the boiling water). Drain the dumplings and add them to the crock-pot.

4. The onions should be golden and smell awesome at this point. Throw them into the crock-pot as well, and stir everything together. Add salt and pepper to taste, and allow to cook for a few hours (or however long you have) in the crock-pot on low. Be sure to stir every 20 minutes or so, because the sides will cook faster and burned cabbage doesn't smell good.

Harry's Fresh Produce

I've lamented recently on my inability to get to the farmer's market, since they are typically only open on the weekends (or they're further from my home than I'm willing to travel for a tomato). So imagine my delight when I realized that an apparent farmer's market vendor opened up a small store in a new strip mall virtually across the street from the aforementioned flea market selling cheap, fresh, and sometimes unusual produce. Harry's Fresh Produce is located on the south side of Beach Boulevard, just west of Peach Drive, and a little less than a mile east of Southside Boulevard (in the T-Rex strip mall with that horrible dinosaur with the scary eyes). The prices are reminiscent of the farmer's market (think $0.79/lb. for all varieties of tomatoes, $3.00 for 30 eggs, $1.00 for a block of tofu, and $0.99/lb. for those really cute miniature "apple bananas"), I'm guessing I could probably find those obscure ingredients for the Asian recipes I've been dying to try, and the sales clerks (whom I'm guessing may double as the owners) were very helpful in identifying the produce varieties with which I was currently unfamiliar. I'm always one to support small, local businesses, especially when they can offer me fresher products at a lower price! In any case, give them a try if you're looking for produce in the Southside area. You'll be glad that you did.

Snickerdoodle Chip Cookies

This is a traditional snickerdoodle recipe modified from Betty Crocker to include some yummy cinnamon chips (snickerdoodle chip cookies are on the left - I've gotten great mileage from this one photo! It also features brownies and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies). I think the chips definitely add something to the cookie. Although the recipe originally said to bake at 400 degrees, I baked them at 375 degrees and they turned out perfectly.

1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter or margarine, at room temperature
1/2 c. shortening
2 large eggs
2 3/4 c. flour
2 t. cream of tartar
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. cinnamon chips
1/4 c. sugar
2 t. ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat together the sugar, butter and shortening until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs and blend until combined. Stir in the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon chips.

2. Stir the topping ingredients together in a shallow bowl. Taking a teaspoon of dough at a time, roll the dough into a ball between your hands. Roll the dough balls in the topping and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 8 minutes or until slightly brown around the edges. Immediately remove the cookies from the cookie sheet to cool.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Brownies are one of my all-time favorite desserts. In fact, I like them so much that occasionally I don't have a box of brownie mix in my pantry because I use it up too fast. That lead me to thinking that the mix cannot be all that difficult to replicate with ingredients that I already have in my pantry. If I can recreate things with pantry staples, I'd much rather do that than to have one extra box in my pantry (which anyone who's been to my house can attest is rather full already!). The recipe below uses cocoa, which is a cheaper alternative to baking chocolate. I always add extra chocolate chips to my brownies, because I don't think you can go wrong with extra chocolate. If you feel like this might be going overboard, by all means, leave them out.

This recipe is a great "base" recipe that you could easily doctor up to your own preferences. Most of the ingredient amounts below are doubled from typical brownie recipes, because I found that I kept doubling the recipes to fit my 9x13 pan. If you're making brownies in an 8x8 pan or a 9x9 pan, you could halve the recipe. The amounts listed below will make a super-thick, fudgy brownie that will probably take another 5-10 minutes to cook if you use the smaller pan. If you want to get creative, top the brownies with mint frosting and a chocolate coating, as in my sister's famous (or shall we say, infamous) Creme de Menthe Brownies. Or you could sustitute the chocolate chips for peanut butter chips and top the brownies with peanut butter frosting.


1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (regular cocoa, or mix half regular with half dark chocolate)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (use more or less, depending upon your preference)
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs (or 1 c. egg substitute)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 9x13-inch baking pan with butter, or spray it with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients. Stir in the oil, vanilla, and eggs, stirring just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Do not overmix the batter! Mixing it too much will make for a cakier brownie, while undermixing will keep your brownies fudgy and dense. Pour the batter into the prepped pan.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. One trick for determining their "done-ness" is to pick up the pan and tilt it. If the center starts oozing one way or the other, they're not quite done. If it doesn't ooze, pull them out! (You could always use the toothpick method, too...a toothpick inserted into the center should come out with little crumbs on it, but no gooey batter. Although, I never have toothpicks around to utilize this method; hence, the tilt and ooze method evolved.) Let the brownies cool before cutting them into squares (Brownies in the center, below. The other cookies are oatmeal chocolate chip on the right and snickerdoodle chip on the left.).