Off the Mat and Into the Kitchen

Easy recipes for everyone.

Banana-Coconut Cream Pie

IMG_1392This is one of my favorite pies and I’ve cut back on sugar.

Banana-Coconut Cream Pie

The Pie Crust: (This is Julia Child’s Pate Brisee fine, the only way I make pastry)

2 cups unbleached pastry flour or all purpose (I used organic)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1-1/2 sticks or 6 oz. unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1/4 cup chilled shortening
1/2 cup ice water, plus droplets if needed

**Have everything ready before beginning
Put the flour, salt and butter in food processor bowl and pulse (5-6 clicks) roughly breaking up the butter. Add the shortening and pour in the half cup of water as you pulse until the dough is loosely formed. It should look like a bunch of small lumps and holds together in a mass when you press together. (It should not mass on the blade of the processer). Keeping the dough cold, dump out on a board and lightly knead with the heel of your hand. You should be able toes the smeared lumps of butter. Form into a ball and cover with plastic wrap to refrigerate for 2 hours.

Using only half the dough, roll out and gently place in pie dish. Crimp the edges and prick all over the inside with a fork. Cover the inside with foil wrap then add a cup or two of dried beans or baking weights if you have them.

Bake at 450 F for 15-20 minutes. Place on rack to cool removing beans and foil first.

The Pudding:

1/4 cup granulated sugar (I use organic)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (my preferred salt)
2-1/4 cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten (safe the whites for meringues)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup of coconut

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and the salt in a medium saucepan and whisk until incorporated. While constantly whisking, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of the milk until smoother. Whisk in the egg yolks and remaining milk.

Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking often, until the pudding begins to thicken and just starts to bubble, about 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and switch to a rubber spatula. Stir constantly, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until the pudding makes visible ribbons when drizzled over the surface, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract until the butter is melted and completely incorporated. Cover the pot with a lid or plastic wrap and place in fridge to cool.

When cooled to room temperature, stir in coconut.

The Assembly:

Slice one large or two small bananas crossways and place them in pie crust beginning at outer edge and working your way in.

Pour pudding over the bananas and spread evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge to cool completely.

The Topping:

1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons banana liquor (I used this instead of sugar)

Whip up 1 cup of heavy cream until thick then pour in the banana liquor and continue whipping until you have firm peaks. Spread over cooled pie and return to fridge until ready to slice.


Note: If you want to save calories, use the egg whites and make a meringues instead of the whipped cream.

Butternut Squash Soup

I think this is the best Butternut Squash Soup I’ve made.  All the flavors blended nicely and it is  velvety smooth.  Serve with a spinach salad and a simple dressing, a thick slice of whole grain bread from the bakery and a small chunk of cheese.  M-mm, great weekday dinner that can be made ahead on the weekend.

I made this soup with whole milk because that is what I had in the fridge and needed to use it.  BUT, whole  milk has 8 grams of fat and 12 grams of sugar where half and half has 3.5 grams of fat and only 1 gram of sugar making the half and half a lot healthier.   You can always add just 1 cup of half and half and one cup of water if 2 cups of half and half are too rich for you.

Butternut Squash Soup

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large vidalia onion, chopped

1 medium-large apple, peeled, cored, chopped

2 butternut squash, baked until tender

8 sage leaves, sm.- med., finely minced

1-1/2 tsp. ground ginger, good quality

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 large clove garlic, finely minced

3 cups chicken broth, good quality, low sodium

Zest of one orange

2 cups whole milk or half and half (organic)

salt and pepper to taste

Pumpkin Seeds for garnish (optional)


Bake the two butternut squash at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Sauté chopped onion in olive oil on medium-low heat until just beginning to caramelize then add chopped apple and continue to sauté until tender.  Add finely minced sage leaves, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1-1/2 tsp. ginger, and finely minced garlic.  Sauté 5 minutes.

Add butternut squash and stir together.

Add chicken broth and simmer for 10-15 minutes then add orange zest, salt and pepper and stir.   Blend with a stick blender until smooth with absolutely no lumps.   Finally, add 2 cups whole milk or half and half and simmer until warm making sure not to boil.

Allow to sit in the pot covered for an hour or so then reheat (again without boiling) and serve.

Sprinkle a few pumpkin seeds in center of soup for garnish.



Scottish Shortbread Cookies


A friend of mine from “way back when” gave me this recipe many years ago and I’ve been making my shortbread cookies with it ever since.  Unfortunately, it had been lost for some time and I located it just before this Christmas in my recipes on a CD from an old computer.

This year I divided the dough in half, with one half I made the cookies as in the recipe  below. but with the other half I rolled out the dough and sprinkled 1 teaspoon of almond extract over the dough and kneaded it in.  Then I made small thumbprint cookies by rolling 1 inch balls and making a depression in the center with my thumb.  Then I filled the depression with seedless Rasperry/Blackberry jam.  After baking at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes and then cooling, you can drizzle almond flavored glaze over the tops.

Almond Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tbsp. cream or milk

1 tsp. almond extract

Beat together glaze ingredients until smooth. Add more liquid to think out or add more confectioners’ sugar to thicken to desire consistency.  Drizzle over cooled cookies with a fork.  Glaze will set within a couple hours.

Scottish Shortbread Cookies

1 pound butter

1 cup superfine sugar

1 pound rice flour

2-1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add rice flour and beat  in.  Add flour gradually.  Dough should be light and hold together but should not stick to your hands.  Add more flour if necessary.  Knead lightly.

Press into a pan or mold or roll out and using a cookie cutter cut out cookies.  Dough should not be more than 1/4 inch thick.

Bake at 275-300 degrees for one hour.

Mum’s Peanut Butter Cookies

My mother always made these cookies when I was growing up and we all loved them.  I hope you do, too!

Mum’s Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup butter1/2 cup brown sugar1/2 cup peanut butter

1/3/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1/2 tsp. water

1 egg

Cream both sugars and butter until light and fluffy.  Add egg and peanut butter beating until well blended.  Add baking soda mixture and blend well.  Add flour all at o nice and blend well.  Drop by teaspoon on baking sheet.  Press down with back of fork to flatten a little.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.





Want to protect yourself from winter colds? This tonic is for you:

It’s my favorite drink throughout autumn and winter. It is deliciously warm and it boosts the immune system to protect us against colds and flu.

You’ve probably heard about the amazing health benefits of both ginger and turmeric. Ginger contains several antioxidants that help prevent and fight many diseases, and turmeric has especially powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

This combination of lemon, ginger and turmeric has an alkalizing effect on the body. Plus, it promotes glowing, radiant skin.

If you’re having food cravings or you’re feeling hungry in between meals, you can also drink this tonic as well as lots of water before you reach for a snack.

I make this tonic once a day in fall and winter, usually in the afternoon. But, it’s also great to drink first thing in the morning, about thirty minutes before breakfast. It will help cleanse your liver and give you more energy for your day.

What you need for one person:


1 ½ cup of hot water

3 slices of fresh ginger

½ tsp turmeric powder or one slice fresh turmeric root

½ lemon

1 tsp raw honey

 What you do:

Place ginger slices and turmeric in a mug, and add the hot water. Let it steep for five minutes.  Squeeze in lemon and stir in raw honey.

Enjoy this warm, golden tonic!



French Apple Cake

French Apple Cake

This recipe is absolutely delicious and very easy to make. If you aren’t a big lover of rum I think using 1 tsp. of almond extract in its place would be just as good. This recipe comes from Once Upon a Chef.

Serves 6-8


1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling over cake
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. dark rum
2 sweet baking apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used 4 MacIntosh)
Confectioner’s sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch spring-form pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
Using a handheld mixer with beaters, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl after each addition. Beat in vanilla and rum. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chopped apples.

Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle top with 1-1/2 tbsp. of granulated sugar. Bake the cake for about 35 – 40 minutes, or until cake is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool until just warm then run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan. Removes sides of pan.

Dust with confectioner’s sugar after cake has completely cooled. Cake can be served warm or room temperature with or without whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Sweet-Potato, Apple and Carrot Soup (revised)

I have revised this recipe because I had cut back a little on the sugar and spices in the first recipe. I worried that it might be too spicey for some but I think it took away from the flavor of the recipe. Please try this version as I think it is better and more to the way I would prefer it. **All the spices in this recipe are anti-inflammatory so you get a little help with arthritis pain.**

This easy and simple soup makes a great dinner with an arugula salad sprinkled lightly with a good olive oil and shaved parmesan and fresh ground pepper.

Serves 6 people


1 Large Sweet Potato, diced
1 Large White Potato. diced
1 Large Apple, cored and diced
5 Medium-large Carrots, peeled and sliced
1 Small Onion, peeled and diced
1 Can Pure Pumpkin Puree
2 Medium Bay Leaves
2 Tsp. Ground Ginger
2 Tsp. Curry Powder
1/4 Tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 Tsp. Turmeric
1 Tsp. Garam Masala (can be found in spice section of grocery store)
1 Tsp. Salt, pepper to taste

Place in large pot, cover with water and bring to boil. Cook until tender. Do not drain.


1 Cup Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream or Half and Half (if counting calories, use all milk)
2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar

Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and remove bay leaves. Using a hand blender, blend until smooth and creamy. Use a blender or food processor if you don’t have a hand blender. Soup will be thick but if you want to thin it out use chicken stock or milk.

Return to pot, place back on heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve with the Arugula Salad on the side and some nice, fresh 12-grain bread. Enjoy while soaking up all the vitamins and beta-carotene!

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are, hands down, the best chocolate chip cookies!  I make them as gifts but I love to make them for myself.  Try them right out of the oven, yum!  After the first day I like to warm them in the microwave for a few seconds and pour a big glass of milk.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies


1-1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1-1/2 tsp. baking powder

1-1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

1 cup peanut butter

2 large eggs

1 – 12-oz. bag of semisweet Ghiradelli chocolate chips

1 cup Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Pulse 1 cup of the oats in a food processor until fine.  Whisk together in a large bowl the ground oats, the remaining 1/2 cup whole oats, all the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In the large bowl of a KitchenAid using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and peanut butter and beat together.  One at a time add the eggs beating well after each addition.  Gradually add in the flour mixture until well blended.  Add all the chocolate chips and the nuts mixing until well-blended.  Chill cookie dough for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325F.

Using an ice-cream scoop, drop balls on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart pressing down  lightly with back of spoon.

Bake in center of oven for 15 minutes or until golden.  Remove cookies to a rack in a single layer to cool.


Healthy Sweet-Potato Carrot & Apple Soup

This is a very simple and easy recipe for a quick dinner.  Serve this with a tossed green salad on  the side.

INGREDIENTS:     6 servings

1  medium white potato, peeled and diced

1  medium sweet potato, peeled and diced

1  large apple, cored and diced

5  medium – large carrots, peeled and sliced into coins

1  small onion, peeled and diced

1 can pure pumpkin puree

2  large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2   medium bay leaves

1  teaspoon ginger powder, or fresh grated ginger

1  teaspoon curry powder

1/4  teaspoon of nutmeg

1/2  teaspoon turmeric

1/2  teaspoon garam masala  (optional)

1  teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste

Cover all ingredients with water and cook until tender in a covered pot


1  cup chicken broth

1  cup whole milk    (for a richer consistency add 1 cup of heavy cream or half and half)

1  tablespoon brown sugar  (optional, but rounds out the taste)

Bring everything back to a low boil then reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and remove pot from heat.  Using a hand blender, blend the soup while in the pot until nice and smooth and velvety.  If you don’t have a hand blender you can use a blender or food processor.

Return to heat and bring to simmer, adjust seasonings if necessary.   If the soup is too thick  add a little more chicken stock,  milk or cream to taste.

Serve with your favorite salad and soak up all the vitamins and beta carotene!