Here is a medley of out-of-the-ordinary recipes to pick up that cooking desire that many cooks relish with the cooling seasons. The candied tomatoes are a nice treat that can be used in so many delightful recipes — from salads to soups to pasta dishes. They even add a nice flavor to the frittata and maybe the bread. Experiment and see what delightful combinations you can arrive at with these tasty candied tomatoes. They’re great just by themselves also.

There’s something about carrot cake with cream cheese icing that most people enjoy, and here is a recipe that adds a little bit more zip with a touch of fresh ginger and rum soaked raisins. The cream cheese icing is so easy to make and much less expensive than buying it prepared.

A frittata for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner is a nice treat from the usual meal and is full of healthy fall vegetables. The broccoli and fruit salad is a nice combo with it and offers a change in textures.


Candied Roasted Tomatoes

These are oven roasted tomatoes with some sugar and olive oil and they taste almost like candy. They are roasted in a 250 degree oven for several hours until their edges have a lacy golden crust. They can be used as you would use sundried tomatoes. They are good in salads, on breads, potatoes, pasta, fish, and soups. Refrigerate up to 5-6 days after making them or freeze them in an airtight container up to 3 months. This recipe can be doubled. When layering the tomatoes on the baking sheet keep them away from each other a little bit and let the EVOO drip to the bottom of the pan. Save the oil after roasting, it’s great when used in salads or on bread or pasta.

2 pounds ripe, medium-sized tomatoes (plum or Roma tomatoes will not have as much taste as regular tomatoes)

1 cup EVOO, olive oil

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2-3 teaspoons Kosher salt or coarse salt

Ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cut tomatoes in half crosswise and lay them out on a baking sheet with the cut side facing up. If you’re using large tomatoes cut them into 4-8 wedges depending on their size. Drizzle a good amount of olive oil over them. Sprinkle the coarse salt and some ground black pepper over the tops. Then sprinkle the sugar on top.

Roast in oven for 4-5 hours until they are shriveling up but are still oily and juicy. Remove and let them cool. Transfer to a glass dish and pour the oil from the pan over them. Let them stay at room temperature uncovered for 3-4 hours to have the flavors mellow. Leave the oil on the tomatoes when storing. To serve, drain the oil off and eat them at room temperature.


Broccoli Salad with Pineapple and Raisins

4 cups fresh broccoli florets (1 large bunch of broccoli)

2 stalks of celery, chopped

¼ cup chopped sweet or red onion

1 8-ounce can pineapple tidbits, drained, reserve 2 tablespoons juice

1 cup dark raisins

1 cup sliced almonds or chopped walnuts

1 cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

1/3 cup granulated sugar

¼ cup crumbled crispy bacon (Optional)

Drain pineapple reserving 2- tablespoons of the juice. In a large bowl toss together pineapple, raisins, celery, onion, and broccoli. Add almonds.

In a small bowl whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar, and reserved pineapple juice. Pour over broccoli and toss. Sprinkle top with crumbled bacon. Refrigerate and serve cold.


Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches on Raisin Bread

Makes 1 sandwich

2 slices raisin bread

23 tablespoons butter, softened

2 slices deli baked ham

2 slices, yellow American cheese

1 small apple, peeled, cored and cut into very thin slices (Optional)

Butter outsides of 2 slices of raisin bread. On the first slice of bread layer cheese, one layer of thin apple slices, ham then cheese. Cover with second slice of buttered bread and place in a frying pan on medium heat. Fry until golden on the outside. Turn over and cook on the opposite side until golden and cheese is melted. Placing a small heavy plate on top of the sandwich while cooking helps to keep the sandwich together and to cook through evenly. Serve hot and cut into halves or quarters.


Fruit and Nut Trail Mix

1 cup walnuts

½ cup unsalted peanuts

1 cup raisins

½ cup coarsely chopped dried apricots

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup M and M’s

Combine all ingredients together, mix, and store in an airtight container.


Scallop Ceviche with Mandarin Oranges

1 pound sea scallops, coarsely chopped into ½ (one half) inch pieces

1/3 cup lime juice

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

¼ teaspoon sea salt

½ small red onion, finely chopped

1 avocado, cut into small cubes

1 can mandarin oranges, drained and cut in half crosswise

1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno chile (Optional for spicy ceviche)

In a pot of boiling water flash cook whole scallops for 30 seconds and remove quickly, put into ice water to stop cooking, drain and cut into small pieces.

In a bowl fold together scallops, salt and lime juice. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so until scallops turn opaque. Add mandarin orange pieces, onion, cilantro, and avocado; gently fold in until well blended. Serve with tortilla chips.


Spinach and Zucchini Frittata

(Frittata is Italian for omelet with cheese, vegetables and pasta or potatoes which is slowly cooked starting on the top of the stove then is placed in a hot oven. Be careful of the hot handle when removing from the oven. Use some ice cubes on the handle to cool it down.)

Serves 4-6

1 small sweet onion chopped

2 tablespoons EVOO, olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

10 small potatoes, thinly sliced

8 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons milk

1 cup grated or chopped zucchini

1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained

Salt and pepper, to taste

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Sauté chopped onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan. Add the sliced potatoes and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add chopped garlic and cook until potatoes are done. Fold in spinach then add chopped zucchini. Set aside and let cool a bit.

In a bowl whisk together eggs, milk, Parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste. Add this mixture to frying pan and fold in until evenly distributed letting mixture fall to the bottom of the pan. Heat the mixture over low-medium heat until egg mixture is about half set. Put the whole pan in a 400 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes until frittata is puffy and golden. With potholders carefully remove pan from oven and let the frittata cool for several minutes. Cut into quarters and serve along with some fresh fruit salad.

Helpful Hint: For an added treat add some of the candied tomatoes, chopped.


Sweet Basil, Dill and Onion Bread

1 ¾ cups unbleached flour

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup sour cream

½ cup milk

3 tablespoons EVOO, olive oil

½ cup walnuts, chopped

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons fresh sweet basil finely chopped or 2 teaspoons dried sweet basil

1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped

¼ cup sweet onion chopped, sautéed (Optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, garlic powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl whisk together eggs, sour cream, milk and oil. Stir this into flour mixture and mix until just moistened. Fold in nuts, cheese, sautéed onion, basil and dill.

Pour into a greased 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. In a 350 degree oven; bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes then turn out and place on a wire rack.


Carrot Cake with Ginger and Raisins

2 cups unbleached flour

1 ½ to 2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or Chinese Five-Spice

Pinch of salt

3 cups finely grated or shredded carrots

4 eggs

2/3 cup canola oil

¼ cup orange juice

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 cup raisins

½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

Cream Cheese Icing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans and line bottoms with baking parchment paper.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In another bowl whisk together eggs, oil, orange juice, ginger, and grated or shredded carrots. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture, then fold in raisins and nuts. Pour batter into greased pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 15 minutes, remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Frost layers with cream cheese icing.

Helpful Hint: Soak raisins in ¼ cup rum for an hour or two, drain and mix raisins into batter.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened

1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 to 5 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar.

With an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, vanilla and 1- tablespoon heavy cream until fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar. If icing is too thick add some more cream slowly and little by little.


Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival — winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012; placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing and winning second place for her Sweet Blueberry Pepper Jelly in 2015; and winning first in 2016 for her spoon blueberry muffins with apricot sauce and second for her blueberry crisp squares — and has won various other contest awards — including three blue ribbons at the 2016 Cape Fear County Fair — for her blueberry cheesecake, muffins, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.