Category Archives: Recipes

A Take Two Holiday Tradition: Ninja-bread Cookies

Straight from our boat galley: an army of ninjas to attack your holiday cravings. Redolent with molasses, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves, your home will smell amazing and your kids will be delighted! Recipe below.

Ninja-bread cookies

Prep time: 2+ hours
Makes: Several dozen cookies (unless you are making a gingerbread army or building a gingerbread house, I recommend cutting this recipe in half.)

1 1/2 cups dark molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup butter, softened
7 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix molasses, brown sugar, water, and butter. Whisk in one cup of flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Stir in remaining flour. Place dough between two sheets of wax paper, flatten and put in the fridge or freezer to chill before rolling/cutting. Heat oven to 325°. Roll dough 1/4 inch thick on floured silicone mat. Cut with cookie cutters. Bake until lightly browned at edges (about 10 minutes). Cool and pipe with icing.

Easy Icing: Beat together 4 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 5-6 tablespoons milk or water until smooth, but not runny. Place icing in a plastic zip-top bag and snip a corner to pipe. Decorate with sprinkles, mini m&m’s, or currants.

Atlas Pasta Machine

Atlas Pasta Machine

We love this Italian-made pasta maker. It is made of high-quality stainless steel, durable, and easy to use and clean. We have several attachments; pictured is the combo spaghetti-fettuccine cutter. The secret is to use Durum-Semolina flour and to knead the dough well by sending it through the rollers (set to #1) a couple dozen times, folding after each roll, then rolling it successively thinner (#2, #3, #4, etc.). A basic recipe can be found below.

Fettucini

Pasta for Eight:

• 3 cups Durum-Semolina flour
• 1-2 cups white flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 egg
• 1 ½ cups water
• 2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix 3 cups of Durum-Semolina with salt. Make a well in the center of the flour. Crack egg into the water, add oil, and whisk. Add the liquid ingredients to the well in the center of the flour. Stir well, mixing until a dough ball forms. Knead several times with hands, adding flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Dough will be firm, but not dry. It should not stick to the hands. Break off small balls of dough and begin to send it through the pasta roller to knead, folding each time it goes through. When stretchy and smooth, roll it thinner and thinner, until it is ready to go through the cutter. Send it once through the cutter, separate the pasta strands and dry slightly before cooking. Drop into boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, or until it reaches desired doneness.

Mangoritas

I recently returned from a week-long trip to Naples to visit family. With the restrictions of COVID-19, I didn’t know if it would be possible, but I also see how fragile life is right now, and didn’t want to lose an opportunity to see our parents. We calculated risk and benefit and decided that I would go with some of the kids for the week before the 4th of July (Eli and Jay stayed to work). With things looking bleak in the state of Florida, it may be another long while before we see each other again.

4th of July

We have a quiet and comfortable place to stay while in Naples, as the family home, bought in 1955 by Jay’s grandfather, is kept as a place for family visits and holiday gatherings. We spent the time hanging out with Jay’s parents Al and Mary, my mom, my dad, my siblings (my brother and his wife who live in town and my sister who drove over for the day from the east coast of FL), and my nieces and nephews.

Kiddie Pool

Even the crew of Abby Singer came for a short visit. Summer drove down with Sky and Paige and made all of us deliriously happy.

Crew of Abby Singer

We shared meals with family members, we puzzled, we celebrated Independence Day, and we generally re-filled our love tanks after feeling so isolated during quarantine in the Keys.

2000-piece Star Wars Puzzle

We also kept a Naples family tradition: the opening of margarita season. Last year, I shared mango margaritas with Aunt Lisa, and this year, I plucked fresh mangos from the low-hanging branches of the tree in the backyard and made some for Summer and myself.

Mango Season

I don’t know how long the hard times are going to last, but the love of family and friends (whether together in person or in spirit) makes them bearable. I came home with some fresh-frozen mango and a happy heart.

Here’s the recipe for two large frozen Mangoritas, the taste of a Florida summer:

Mangoritas
  • 2 ounces Jose Cuervo Gold tequila
  • 2 ounces Cointreau
  • 2 limes
  • 2-3 large fresh mangoes (or 2 cups frozen mango)
  • Splash of orange juice
  • ice

To a blender, add alcohol, the juice of 2 limes, peeled and seeded mangoes (about 2 cups), and 2 cups of ice. Blend until smooth, adding more ice if too runny or orange juice if too thick. (If using frozen mango, add orange juice/water until you can blend smoothly.) Pour into margarita glasses, clink, and enjoy!

Caribbean Coleslaw Recipe

Not your average coleslaw: this zingy recipe will take your taste buds on vacation to an island rimmed with white sand beaches and coconut palms. I can almost hear the steel drums…

Caribbean Slaw

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons Turbinado sugar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon favorite hot sauce

1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil

1/4 cup water

Salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon each)

1 head of green cabbage, thin sliced or shredded

1 large ripe-but-firm mango, peeled and julienned OR

         1/2 pineapple, cut into small chunks

1 cup shredded or julienned carrots

1 cup thin-sliced red or green bell pepper

1/2 cup thin-sliced red onion

1/2 cup sliced almonds or sunflower seeds

Combine the Dijon, sugar, red wine vinegar, lime juice, garlic, hot sauce, coconut oil, water, salt, and pepper in a jar and shake for about two minutes to emulsify (or use a blender). In a large bowl, place cabbage, carrots, pepper, onion, and mango; toss to combine. Add dressing and toss again. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve chilled and sprinkled with almonds. 

Friday Night Pizza

pizza pepperoni

Friday Night Pizza is a long-standing tradition on Take Two, but it dates from my childhood. I remember my mom making homemade pizza on Friday evenings, or sometimes Dad would “cook” and we’d have Pizza Hut or Domino’s, and later, Papa John’s. It’s an easy meal to make for a crowd, and we have often invited friends and neighbors to join us for pizza night. I’m missing that right now–and missing all of you who have sat around our table and shared our Friday night tradition. If you want to try it on your own, look below to find the recipes for my pizza crust and homemade sauce!

pizza dough

Pizza Crust for Four 15-inch Pizzas

2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 cups unbleached white flour

2 teaspoons salt

3 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons yeast                   

3 tablespoons sugar

4+ cups unbleached white flour

  1. Mix flours and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Mix water, oil, yeast, and sugar in a separate bowl, stirring until yeast is dissolved. Allow to rest for a few minutes; yeast will begin to bubble.
  3. Add liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon. The dough will be very soft and sticky.
  4. Begin to add flour, one cup at a time, stirring after each addition, until the dough begins to form a ball and becomes too thick to stir.
  5. Turn dough out onto a clean, floured surface and begin to knead.* The dough will stick to your hands initially. Keep adding flour, folding it in as you knead. Eventually, the dough will be less sticky, but be careful not to add too much flour or the dough will be too dry. The goal is “tacky, not sticky.” *If you have a KitchenAid, use the dough hook and let the machine do the work!
  6. After kneading for 5-10 minutes, the dough should be soft and stretchy; if you take a small ball of dough and stretch it between two hands, you should be able to make a translucent “window” of dough you can see light through. If it tears instead of stretching, it needs more kneading!
  7. Once well-kneaded, sprinkle flour over the the ball of dough and cover with the inverted bowl or a damp towel. Allow to rise while you make the sauce, oil the pans, and chop the toppings, 30 minutes to one hour.
pizza sauce

Homemade Pizza Sauce

2 15-oz cans tomato sauce

1 6-oz can tomato paste

2 teaspoons dried oregano or 2 tablespoons fresh oregano

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic

  1. Put all ingredients into a Vitamix (or blender/food processor). If using a regular blender/food processor, mince the garlic first.
  2. Run on high for 30 seconds to one minute, until mixture is homogenous. Set aside while you chop toppings.
pizza oven

Top, Assemble, and Bake!

2 6-oz packages pepperoni

1 lb. Italian sausage or turkey sausage, browned and crumbled

1 cup each: sliced mushrooms, olives, green peppers, onions

8 cups mozzarella cheese

Other options: hamburger, bacon, and salami; chopped ham and fresh or canned pineapple; tomato slices and fresh basil; chicken, bacon, barbecue sauce and cheddar-jack cheese; chicken, black bean, corn, jalapeño, salsa, and cheddar cheese…et cetera.

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Space oven racks so you can get two pizzas in at the same time.
  2. Oil four 15″ pizza pans and sprinkle with corn meal. (If you don’t have four, place dough circles on oiled/corn meal-sprinkled aluminum foil and reuse the same pizza pan.)
  3. Once dough ball has doubled in size, divide into four equal portions and roll into balls.
  4. Sprinkle your kneading surface and the top of a dough ball with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll ball into a 15″ circle, adding flour as necessary to reduce sticking. Fold into quarters and transfer to pan; unfold. Prick all over with a fork. Repeat for other three dough balls.
  5. Pre-bake crusts for 5-10 minutes; they’ll begin to rise/bubble, but not brown.
  6. Remove hot crust, top with about one cup of sauce and desired toppings.
  7. Sprinkle with 2 cups of cheese.
  8. Bake another 10 minutes, or to desired doneness. Crust should be golden brown, cheese bubbling at the edges.
  9. Slice up and serve with “shakies”–red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese!
pizza margarita
Margherita: fresh tomato and basil

Favorite Treat on Take Two: Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup cream cheese (4 oz.), softened
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon flavoring
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 8-oz carton lemon yogurt (or plain yogurt + lemon zest)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Juice of one lemon
1-2 cups powdered sugar

Beat sugar, butter, and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla and lemon flavoring. Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a separate bowl and add to sugar/butter mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Gently fold in blueberries. Pour batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan (or two 8″ loaf pans). Sharply tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350° for 1 hour; check for doneness with a toothpick and bake additional 15 minutes if necessary (bake until toothpick comes out clean). Cool cake in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan and cool another 10 minutes. Whisk powdered sugar into the lemon juice little by little in a small bowl until desired consistency is reached (like honey). Drizzle over warm cake.

Taco Tuesday on Take Two: Homemade Tortillas

WARNING: A recipe so delicious you may never be able to use store-bought tortillas again and be stuck with a time-consuming cooking project every Tuesday…

Taco Tuesday on Take Two
Tortillas made by Rachel (age 9)

For 3 dozen 6-inch tortillas, you will need:

3 cups corn flour (masa harina)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cups wheat flour

Instructions:

  1. Pour the water and olive oil into a large bowl.
  2. Add the corn flour and salt and stir well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the wheat flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition, until the dough is stiff enough to be kneaded by hand, but still soft and pliable. It should resemble Play-Doh consistency, and it should roll into balls without sticking to your hands.
  4. Preheat a cast iron griddle (or lightly oiled skillet) over medium-low heat.
  5. Pinch off some dough and roll a ball about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place it between two pieces of wax paper or in a quart-size plastic bag cut along the sides.
  6. Use a tortilla press or rolling pin to flatten the ball to a 6-inch round.
  7. Peel tortilla off the lining and cook on the heated griddle, flipping after 30-60 seconds. Cook for an additional 30-60 seconds. It will bubble and get golden-brown spots. (Turn heat down if it seems like it’s cooking too fast or burning easily.)
  8. When done, place in a bowl lined with a cloth napkin–tortillas should stack without sticking.
  9. Fill with amazing taco ingredients and top with guacamole or pico de gallo!

Hummus is Yummus: A Favorite Passage Recipe

Hummus is Yummus
Spicy Hummus

2 cups cooked (or 1 can) chickpeas
1/3 cup sesame seeds (or tahini)
1-2 tablespoons water
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
Garnish: Fresh parsely, ground paprika, or cayenne pepper

Blend all ingredients on high in Vitamix (if using a food processor or blender, use tahini and mince the garlic).If too dry, add water or olive oil until consistency is thick and creamy. Sprinkle with parsley, paprika or cayenne if desired. Serve with pita, fresh veggies, or tortilla chips.

Homemade Granola

Delicious with yogurt and fruit, this is a simple granola recipe I have used for years. It makes a lot and stores well in mason jars or a large airtight cereal container. 

Homemade Granola

Prep Time: 4 hours

Makes: 13+ cups

8 cups organic rolled oats

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes or shreds

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup pumpkin seeds (raw or roasted)

1 cup sunflower seeds (raw or roasted)

1 cup pecans, broken or chopped into small pieces

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup raw honey

1/2 cup extra-virgin coconut oil

1/2 cup orange juice or 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate + 1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place oats, nuts, and seeds in a large bowl. Stir in salt and cinnamon. In a small pot, warm honey, coconut oil, orange juice and vanilla, stirring with a whisk to combine. Pour warm liquid over oat mixture and spread evenly onto 2 baking sheets. Place in oven on lowest temperature setting and slowly bake/dehydrate, turning granola with a spatula every 30 minutes. Bake 2-3 hours or until granola is golden-brown and beginning to crisp. Turn oven off and allow granola to cool in oven. When granola is completely cool, it should be dry and crispy. In an airtight container, it will store well for about a month (assuming it hasn’t been devoured by then). Helpful tip: If you don’t have hours to bake, you can turn up the heat to 300° and stir every 15 minutes and it should be done in about an hour.