Monday, December 5, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Cake 
Maple Frosting
This is pretty much the best pumpkin spice cake I have ever had. I think the frosting is what pushed this one over the edge for me. I don't usually lick frosting before it is on the dessert (that's what Ryan is for) but this one made me rethink my stand on being a non-frosting-licker. The candied pecans didn't hurt, either--next time I will double the pecans! 
For the cake: 
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
3/4 cup brown sugar 
3/4 cup sugar (you can use all brown sugar if you prefer, so 1 1/2 cups)
12 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs
15 oz. can pure pumpkin puree (about 1 1/2 cups)

*the original recipe also suggests using Garam Masala or Chinese 5 spice for more complex flavor

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
12 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2-3 cups powdered sugar

For the pecans:
1 cup whole pecans
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
pinch of kosher salt

For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 9x13 baking dish, set aside.
Mix all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pour in the melted butter, pumpkin puree, and eggs. Mix together until completely incorporated and smooth.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes until the cake bounces back when pressed and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
For the frosting:
Place cream cheese, butter, maple syrup, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until light and creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until desired consistency. If you need to thin it out a bit just add milk a teaspoon at a time. Refrigerate frosting until ready to use. 
Spread over cooled cake. 
For the pecans:
Place the pecans in a skillet over medium heat, drizzle with syrup and sprinkle with salt. Keep the pecans moving until all the syrup is clinging to the pecans and begins to crystallize, this will take several minutes. The nuts will become glossy when they are done. The syrup coating will harden up a bit as they cool. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Once cooled, sprinkle over the frosted cake. 

Store the cake in the refrigerator, it will keep for several days...if it lasts that long.

Recipe adapted from 'A Spicy Perspective'.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Almond Cake

  • This cake is rich, yet subtle. The delicate almond flavor makes it seem fancy. I was so surprised how much Ryan and I liked this cake given our chocolate tendencies. Perhaps next time I can add a raspberry puree.
  • 1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup almond paste, cut into half-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Grease an 8-inch round (or square) cake pan with vegetable spray. An alternative is to butter and flour the cake pan.

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, cake flour and baking powder and set aside.

    Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and almond paste on high until smooth, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined and light and fluffy. Raise speed to high and add the vanilla, eggs and yolks, 1 at a time. Mix until well combined. Reduce speed to medium and add the sour cream and dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

    Pour the batter into prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool. Remove from pan and dust with powdered sugar.

    Recipe from Giada De Laurentis

Baked Beans


The recipe that converted Ryan the-baked-beans-hater to Ryan I-want-to-scarf-down-the-entire-dish.

8 slices bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3/4 cup ketchup

3/4 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 twenty-eight ounce cans red beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Put a heavy-bottomed pot (with a lid) over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until the fat renders and bacon begins to crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes more. Stir in the ketchup, tomato puree, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and cayenne and mix well. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the beans until well coated, cover, and bake in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the lid and continue baking until sauce thickens and the beans begin to brown, about 15 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Serves 10-12.Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of Dave Lieberman.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Balsamic BBQ Sauce

This is yet another winning recipe from Giada De Laurentis.

I LOVE balsamic vinegar and turning into a sticky, tangy, sweet barbecue sauce is genius! I have only used this on chicken but she also recommends using it for New York strip steak.

1 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To make the sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15-20 minutes.

For the chicken (or steak):
Place a grill pan over medium heat or preheat your BBQ. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Lightly coat with some of the BBQ sauce using a pastry brush. Place the meat on the grill. Place the remaining BBQ sauce, still in small saucepan, over low heat or on the edge of a BBQ grill and allow to gently simmer while the meat cooks.
Cook the chicken about 8 minutes per side. Cook the steaks starting at about 4 minutes per side until a meat thermometer read the desired temperature (120 for medium rare, 135 for medium-about 6 minutes per side, 155 for well done-about 9 minutes per side). Continually brush the meat with BBQ sauce every few minutes. Remove the meat from the grill and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Serve with the heated BBQ sauce alongside.
Alternately, the chicken can be baked in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375. Place the chicken skin side up in a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.
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Peach Crumble Pie

This pie is so satisfying and delicious. It has three steps to making it but each one is easy and can be made at different points during the day. Then put it all together and bake when you get a chance.
I used white peaches because that is what looked good at the Farmers Market, I have made it twice with the white peaches and it's fantastic.
You must serve with vanilla ice cream. Don't even consider not doing it.
  • For The Crust:

    • 1 1/4 cups flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
    • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • For The Filling:

    • 3 pounds peaches, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch slices (8 cups or about 8 peaches)
    • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons flour
  • For The Crumble:

    • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup flour (spooned and leveled)
    • 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

    1. Make crust: In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, and granulated sugar until combined. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining (I just use a whisk and then mix in the butter with my fingers--it's faster and uses less equipment). Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons ice water. Pulse (or gently knead) until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time); do not overmix. Form dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to overnight)--in a hurry I stick it in my freezer for about 20 minutes. And I am always in a hurry!
    2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly flour a rolling pin and work surface and roll out dough to a 12-inch round. Place in a 9-inch pie plate, fold overhang under, and crimp edges.
    3. Make filling: In a large bowl, toss together peaches, brown sugar, and flour until combined.
    4. Make crumble: In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, and oats; using your hands, work in butter until large clumps form.
    5. Transfer peach filling to pie shell, then sprinkle crumble evenly over top. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until juices are bubbling and topping is golden, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 1 1/2 hours before serving.
  • Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart, Everyday Food magazine.
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  • Grilled Romaine

    I am constantly on the look out to find new ways to incorporate more veggies into our diet and for them to taste good and be interesting. Here is one of the latest.

    Heads of romaine thrown on the grill. Brilliantly simple.

    Wash and dry lettuce (leaving heads whole)

    Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt, and pepper.

    Throw on the barbie rotating every few minutes until you get nice grill marks and the leaves just begin to wilt. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper before serving.

    The result: lettuce that actually tastes good!
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    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Maple Mousse, April DB Challenge

    The April 2011 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container.
    Maple Mousse:

    1 cup pure maple syrup
    4 large egg yolks
    1 package (1 tablespoon) unflavored gelatin
    1 1/2 cups whipping cream


    1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).
    3. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
    4. Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.
    5. Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
    6. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.
    7. Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.
    8. Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.

    For my "edible container" I chose to make my favorite pie crust, pat-in-the-pan pie crust.

    I sprinkled the mini desserts with chopped pecans and then I drizzled some of them with chocolate syrup.

    These little beauties turned out absolutely wonderful. The maple mousse was delicious and could be used for a multitude of desserts. Yum!

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Simple Sesame Noodles

    These noodles are so quick and easy. They almost make me want to learn to use chopsticks.


    Ryan can't get enough of these. If left unattended I believe he would eat the entire bowl.

    True story.

    12 ounces, fluid thin noodles, cooked and drained (I used Japanese Soba noodles)
    ¼ cups Soy Sauce
    2 Tablespoons Sugar
    4 cloves Garlic, Minced
    2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
    3 Tablespoons Pure Sesame Oil
    ½ teaspoons Hot Chili Oil
    4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
    2 Tablespoons Hot Water
    4 whole Green Onions, Sliced Thin

    Whisk all ingredients (except noodles and green onions) together in a bowl. Taste and adjust ingredients as needed.
    Pour sauce over warm noodles and toss to coat.
    Sprinkle with green onions and toss.

    Recipe from Pioneer Woman.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    White Chocolate Coconut Brownies

    Rich. Decadent. Addicting. Yes, yes, yes.

    These little beauties are quite a treat. If you are looking for a change from regular old brownies (not that there's anything wrong with those) then give these a whirl.

    I consider these a fancy dessert (pinkies in the air!). Meaning you could take them somewhere where you want to impress people with your fancy baking skills.

    1 1/3 cups flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    11 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghirardelli white chocolate chips)
    1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
    1½ cups sugar
    ½ cup packed brown sugar
    5 eggs, at room temperature
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    1 cup shredded coconut

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9×13 pan. Line the pan with parchment paper.

    In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and salt together.

    Put the white chocolate and butter in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.

    Add 3 eggs to the white chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

    Sprinkle the flour mixture and the coconut over the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour and coconut mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it and the top is dark golden brown. Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares and serve.

    Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    Flaky Dinner Rolls

    These rolls were so amazing. The recipe only makes 12 rolls, definitely not enough! It would be wise to double it.
    These rolls seem special. Like the type of rolls that only come out on holidays. That's really not fair.
    I hereby grant permission for these rolls to be served anytime of year, regardless of the festivity level. Serve them on Arbor Day. Serve them for Daylight Savings Time. Serve them on Tuesday.
    Just do it.

    3 tablespoons sugar
    1 package dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
    1 cup warm fat-free milk (100° to 110°)
    3 cups flour, divided
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    3 tablespoons butter, softened
    Cooking spray

    Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm milk in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture; stir until a dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface (or use the dough hook in your Kitchen-Aid). Knead until smooth (about 5 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands, or the sides of the bowl (dough will feel slightly sticky). Cover dough with plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes.

    Roll dough into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured baking sheet. Gently spread butter over dough. Working with a long side, fold up bottom third of dough. Fold top third of dough over the first fold to form a 12 x 3-inch rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap; place in freezer for 10 minutes.

    Remove dough from freezer; remove plastic wrap. Roll dough, still on baking sheet (sprinkle on a little more flour, if needed), into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Working with a long side, fold up bottom third of dough. Fold top third of dough over the first fold to form a 12 x 3-inch rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap; place in freezer for 10 minutes.

    Remove dough from freezer; remove plastic wrap. Roll dough, still on baking sheet, into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Beginning with a long side, roll up dough jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Cut roll into 12 equal slices. Place slices, cut sides up, in muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat tops of dough slices with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

    Preheat oven to 375°.

    Bake dough at 375° for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan, and cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Serve rolls warm.

    Recipe from Cooking Light

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Meringue Coffee Cake, March Daring Baker's Challenge

    The March 2011 Daring Baker's Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria's Collection and Jamie of Life's a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.
    For the dough:
    4 cups flour
    1/4 cup sugar
    3/4 tsp salt
    1 pkg. yeast (2 14/ tsp.)
    3/4 cup whole milk
    1/4 cup water
    1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
    2 large eggs at room temperature

    For the filling:
    1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1/4 tsp cinnamon
    1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

    For the meringue:
    3 large egg whites at room temperature
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    1/2 cup sugar

    To make the dough:
    In a large mixing bowl (I used my Kitchen-Aid), combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast.
    Combine the milk, water, and butter and heat just until the butter is mostly melted. (I used the microwave but you can also do this in a saucepan on the stove.)
    With your mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup of the flour and beat for another 2 minutes.
    Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Switch your whisk attachment to your dough hook. (You can also hand knead the dough on a well-floured counter.) Knead the dough on low for 8-10 minutes adding as much of the 1 1/2 cups of flour as necessary to keep it from sticking. The dough should be soft, smooth, and elastic.
    Place the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.

    To prepare the filling:
    Chop the nuts and set aside. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Measure your chocolate chips and set aside.

    To prepare the meringue:
    Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue.
    In a clean plastic or metal bowl combine the egg whites and salt and beat on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and beat until foamy and opaque (several minutes). Add the vanilla and the 1/2 cup of sugar--1 tablespoon at a time as you beat--until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

    To assemble the coffee cakes:
    Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working with one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough covered in plastic wrap), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling evenly over the meringue (half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips).

    Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.

    Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.

    Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and filling.

    Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with an egg wash:

    1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

    Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

    Serve by cutting into slices and sprinkling with powdered sugar and cocoa powder (optional).

    This is best served the same day.

    Sunday, March 27, 2011

    Swedish Pancakes

    I first had Swedish Pancakes at the Railroad Cafe. It was a glorious morning!
    With four little kids we don't make it out of the house for breakfast often--or ever, actually! I enjoy recreating our favorite breakfasts that we have eaten out before. The kids ALWAYS request I make their favorite pancakes but when I am feeling really selfish I will make these for Ryan and I and the kids can just have cereal if they don't want the Swedes (ooooh, I am SO mean!).

    I made the batter before I went to bed so they were a snap to make in the morning. This recipe makes about fourteen 10" pancakes, I can easily eat four myself.

    These are typically served with Lingonberry sauce (you know, like you can get at Ikea). I don't really care for Lingonberries so I made my own sauce with raspberry jam and sour cream.

    Swedish Pancakes

    3 eggs
    2 cups milk
    1 1/3 cup flour
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    6 tablespoons butter, melted

    Beat eggs with 1/2 cup of milk with a mixer until frothy (several minutes). Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder and add all at once to the egg mixture. Beat until smooth (batter will be heavy). Add remaining milk and butter and beat until smooth. Batter should be fairly thin. Add more milk if necessary.
    Heat one or two (I get bored waiting between batches) 10" skillets over medium heat, or until water flicked onto the surface sizzles. Lightly grease the pan with cooking spray (only necessary before your first pancake, the butter in the batter will keep the pan greased).
    Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and swirl the pan around so the batter spreads out to the edge and makes a large, thin pancake.
    Cook for about a minute until the edges are beginning to brown then flip over to continue cooking on the other side. I use tongs to flip them over.
    Fold the pancake in half and then in half again so it's a quarter of a circle and slide onto your plate. Repeat with remaining batter.
    You can preheat the oven to 200 F to keep the cooked pancakes warm until you are ready to serve.

    Simple Raspberry sauce:

    Mix together equal parts raspberry jam and sour cream. You could also use plain Greek yogurt for a healthier alternative.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

    Shrimp, shrimp, shrimp. I love shrimp!
    This is a fast way to prepare shrimp with lots of flavor. Plus it looks fancy. I can't wait to make this again!

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 medium onion, diced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 (14.5-ounce) cans of no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with their juices
    1/4 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1 tablespoon finely minced fresh dill
    1 1/4 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)

    Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

    Heat the oil in an oven proof skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 5 minutes, until the tomato juices thicken.

    Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley, dill, and shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the feta over the top. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through and cheese melts, about 12 minutes.

    Serve over rice.

    Recipe from Ellie Krieger

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Moon Pies

    What came first? The Moon Pie or a Smore's? Beats me!
    All I know is these are a delicious and fun treat.
    I had to make this recipe as soon as I saw it. I love me some Smore's and these seemed to be an inside out sort of Smore's.
    I shall never tire of reinventing, reincarnating, recreating, or even genetically altering a Smore's. And now I present to you...

    Moon Pies

    For the Cookies:
    2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
    ¾ cup light brown sugar
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2¼ cups flour
    ½ teaspoon salt

    For the Marshmallow Filling*:
    2 egg whites
    Pinch cream of tartar
    Pinch salt
    2/3 cup light corn syrup
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

    For the Chocolate Coating:
    12 ounces (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
    ¼ cup vegetable oil

    1. To Make the Cookies: With a mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, add the egg and the vanilla extract, and beat to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour and the salt, and mix just until a soft dough forms. Divide the dough in two, shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

    2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line at least two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. Working with one disk at a time, roll out the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 1½-inch diameter round cutter, cut out the rounds and place them on the prepared baking sheets, about ½ an inch apart. Refrigerate the cookies (on the baking sheets) for 10 minutes.

    3. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on the pans for a couple of minutes, and then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

    4. To Make the Marshmallow Filling: Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the the egg whites with the cream of tartar and the salt until firm peaks form, gradually increasing from medium-low speed to medium-high speed as the egg whites gain volume. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, boil the corn syrup over high heat without stirring until it registers 230 to 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer (thread ball stage). Slowly drizzle the hot corn syrup into the egg whites and beat at high speed until glossy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low, beat in the vanilla extract and the powdered sugar.
    *I found this made enough marshmallow filling for double the amount of cookies so I ended up tossing half of it, next time I will double the amount of cookies.

    5. Using either a pastry bag or a spoon, mound about 1½ tablespoons of marshmallow filling into the center of a cookie. Top with another cookie and press lightly to spread the marshmallow to the edges. Repeat with the rest of the cookies.

    6. To Make the Chocolate Coating: Using a double boiler or in the microwave on 50% power and in 30 second increments, melt the chocolate and vegetable oil together and stir until completely smooth. Place the assembled cookies on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax paper. Spoon the melted chocolate over each cookie so that it runs down the sides and covers most of the cookie. Allow to set at room temperature for about 2 hours (or refrigerate to speed up the process). Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

    Recipe found on, adapted from

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Cajun Red Beans and Rice with Drop Biscuits

    I make no claims about the 'authenticity' of this dish; all you need to know is it's delicious.

    This meal has earned a place in the meal rotation of late. It's relatively fast and simple and always satisfying. I need to remember to double it so I can have enough for lunch the next day.

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    6 oz. (or more) chicken andouille (or other chicken sausage), chopped
    1 green bell pepper, chopped
    1/2 an onion, chopped
    2 or 3 stalks of celery, sliced
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt-free Cajun seasoning
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 (15-ounce) can red beans (kidney beans), rinsed and drained
    1/4 cup water
    1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    4 cups cooked rice (I use brown)

    Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onion, bell pepper, and celery to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add Cajun seasoning, salt, oregano, and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Partially mash beans with a fork. Add beans, 1/4 cup water, and tomatoes to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in pepper. Serve over rice.

    Drop Biscuits

    2 cups flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1 tsp sugar
    1/2 tsp salt
    4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
    1 cup skim milk

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

    Lightly grease a muffin tin with cooking spray.
    Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.
    Blend in cold butter using a pastry blender (I like to use my hands). Mix in the butter until the dough resembles coarse meal. Add in the milk and stir just until moist.
    Spoon the dough into the muffin cups.
    Bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

    Recipes from Cooking Light

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Chewy Peanut Butter Butterscotch Squares

    Whew! That is a long name for something so simple. I have seen some people refer to these as "Scotcheroos". That is certainly shorter but I am not committed to it yet....

    I made these a couple weeks ago and instantly became addicted. I had to make another batch yesterday because I couldn't get them out of my head. This rarely happens to me.

    I suggest you try them at once!

    6 cups rice krispies
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup honey
    1 cup peanut butter

    12 oz. bag butterscotch chips
    12 oz. bag semisweet chocolate chips

    Measure rice krispies into a big bowl. Set aside.
    Add sugar and honey to a medium saucepan. Heat pan over medium heat until just boiling. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and stir until all incorporated. Pour mixture over the rice krispies, stirring until all coated.
    Pour into greased 9X13 pan and smooth out the top with your hands (carefully, it may still be hot!).
    Melt the butterscotch and chocolate chips together, stirring until totally combined. Quickly pour over the (slightly cooled) rice krispies layer and use a rubber spatula to spread the chocolate to all the edges and smooth it out.
    Refrigerate for them to set up faster, but they will set up if left on the counter for a couple hours, as well.


    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Florentine's and Chocolate Panna Cotta

    I participated in my first Daring Baker's Challenge this month.

    The February 2011 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

    Chocolate Panna Cotta
    Recipe actually from Bon Appetit:
    1 cup whole milk
    1 tablespoon (envelope) unflavored powdered gelatin
    2 cups whipping cream
    1/2 cup sugar
    5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (3/4 cup)
    1/2 tsp. vanilla
    Pour milk into a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the top, set aside for 2-5 minutes.
    Place a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir in cream, sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a low boil. Remove from heat.
    Add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk the milk/gelatin mixture into the chocolate cream mixture. Whisk until gelatin has dissolved.
    Transfer to ramekins or nice glasses for serving.
    Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.

    Nestle Florentine Cookies
    2/3 cup unsalted butter
    2 cups quick oats
    1 cup sugar
    2/3 cup flour
    1/4 cup dark corn syrup
    1/4 cup whole milk
    1 tsp vanilla
    pinch of salt

    PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Line baking sheets with foil.

    MELT butter in medium saucepan; remove from heat. Stir in oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla extract and salt; mix well. Drop by level teaspoons, about 3 inches apart, onto foil/parchment-lined baking sheets. Spread thinly with rubber spatula.

    BAKE for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks. Peel cookies off foil or parchment paper.

    After baking and cooling the cookies, I melted a cup of chocolate chips in the microwave and spread about a tablespoon of chocolate onto a cookie and sandwiched it with another cookie.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Welcome to my newly redesigned blog!

    With a little (okay, a lot of) help from my very talented hubby my blog has an awesome new look!
    Enjoy these pictures of some Valentine's treats I made this week.

    This was my first attempt ever with royal icing. They turned out good enough for my first try. It's certainly a labor of love, and best to be worked on after the kids have gone to bed!
    Ryan has been wanting me to make red velvet cupcakes for a while. I thought Valentine's Day was the perfect occasion for a heart-shaped (or is that Mickey?) cupcake. I also had a breakthrough while making the yummy cream cheese frosting; I licked the spoon clean, unheard of for me!

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Oreo Cupcakes

    These cupcakes are a fantastic treat, especially for Oreo-lovers. I prefer to store them in the refrigerator so the frosting is firm. Yum!

    For the cupcakes:
    24 Oreo halves, with cream filling attached
    2¼ cups all-purpose flour
    1 tsp. baking powder
    ½ tsp. salt
    8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 2/3 cup sugar
    3 large egg whites, at room temperature
    2 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 cup milk
    20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped (I quarter them)

    For the frosting:
    8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
    6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 tbsp. vanilla extract
    4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
    2 tbsp. heavy cream

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line the wells of two cupcake pans with 24 paper liners. Place half an Oreo in the bottom of each liner, cream side up.
    In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir together with a fork to blend and set aside.
    In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend in the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla extract.
    With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Add the milk and beat just until combined, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.

    Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

    To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla extract. Beat in the confectioners' sugar until incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add the heavy cream to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

    Frost the cooled cupcakes. Can decorate with cookie crumbs or half an Oreo.

    A glimpse of the delicious inside and bottom of the cupcake. These are so good!!

    Giant (or not) Double Chocolate Cookies

    These cookies really hit the spot when it comes to a chocolate craving. The original recipe calls for these cookies to be portioned out to 1/4-pound pieces of cookie dough, resulting in 12 giant cookies. I thought such giant cookies would be too dangerous to have lying around so I made them smaller and got 2 dozen instead.

    1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cubed
    1¼ cup sugar
    2 large eggs
    ½ cup dark cocoa powder
    2¼ cups all-purpose flour
    ¼ tsp. coarse salt
    1 tsp. baking powder
    2½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Blend in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in the cocoa powder until well blended. Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead briefly by hand to be sure the ingredients are well combined.

    Divide the dough into 4 ounce portions (or divide into 12 equal pieces). Roll each portion of dough into a ball and flatten just slightly into a disc. Place on the prepared baking sheets, a few inches apart. Bake 16-20 minutes (decrease baking time to 12-14 minutes for smaller cookies). Let cool on the baking sheets 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

    Recipe found on
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    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Sweet Corn Muffins

    Let's just cut to the quick:
    1) these are basically cupcakes masquerading as muffins and
    2)they blow cornbread out of the water (in my humble opinion).

    1 1/2 cups flour
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup Albers® White or Yellow Corn Meal
    1 Tbsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. salt
    1 1/4 cups milk
    2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    1/3 cup vegetable oil
    3 Tbsp butter or margarine, melted

    PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Grease or paper-line 18 to 20 muffin cups.
    COMBINE flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine milk, eggs, vegetable oil and butter in small bowl; mix well. Add to flour mixture; stir just until blended. Pour into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 full.
    BAKE for 18 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool slightly. Serve warm.
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    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    PW's Potato Skins

    Hmmm, let me think of a time that wouldn't be good to serve can't think of a time that these would not be well received and promptly devoured.

    8 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
    8 russett potatoes, scrubbed clean
    canola oil
    kosher salt
    1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
    1 cup sour cream
    4 green onions, sliced

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    Rub the potatoes liberally with canola oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour; until the potatoes are fork-tender.
    Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise. With a cookie scoop or spoon, scrape out the inner flesh of the potatoes, leaving a small margin of potato in the skins.
    Brush both sides of the potato skins with canola oil. Salt both sides liberally.
    Place the skins cut side down on the pan and return to the oven. Bake for 7 minutes and flip the skins to the other side. Bake for 7 minutes more, or until the skins are crispy.
    Sprinkle potato skins with cheese and bacon and return to oven just to melt the cheese.
    Just before serving, spoon 1 tablespoon of sour cream on each skin and sprinkle with sliced green onions.
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    S'mores Bars

    The many forms that S'mores can take on pleases me very much. These are a super fast, crowd-pleasing dessert.

    3 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
    1 cup graham cracker crumbs
    ¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
    1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
    1½ tsp. vanilla extract
    Pinch of salt
    1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
    2 whole graham crackers

    Line an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Lightly butter the foil. Place the butter in a heatproof bowl and microwave until melted. Mix in the graham cracker crumbs and stir with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Pour the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and press firmly into an even layer on the bottom of the pan.

    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the condensed milk and chocolate chips. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. (You can also do this in the microwave stirring after 15-second increments). Off the heat, stir in the vanilla and salt. Pour the chocolate mixture over the graham cracker base. Working quickly, spread the chocolate into an even layer and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle the marshmallows over the top of the chocolate. Gently press down so that the marshmallows become partly embedded in the chocolate. Break the whole graham crackers into small pieces and stick into the chocolate mixture between the marshmallows.

    Cover and refrigerate the bars until firm, about 4 hours (can also put in freezer briefly to cool faster). Use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Use a large sharp knife to cut into squares or rectangles. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Recipe from Williams Sonoma

    Roasted Chicken Provencal

    This was so delicious, I think I could commit to eating it once a week for life. That's saying something considering I have a hard time repeating recipes. Aside from the fact that this calls for chicken thighs rather than breasts it's really quite healthy. We did feel a couple changes were in order from the original recipe; namely, increase the amount or carrots and tomatoes. The tomatoes became so amazingly sweet I could eat a whole bowl of them on their own. I tend to always want for more veggies. The original recipe called for Nicoise (or Kalamata) olives which would have made me go over my weekly budget so I opted for capers, and they were perfect in this dish.

    3 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
    6 plum (or Roma) tomatoes, seeded and cut into 6 wedges
    4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
    Cooking spray
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
    2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided (I used dried--just use a bit less)
    1 teaspoon salt, divided
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
    6 (6-ounce) skinless chicken thighs
    24 niçoise or Kalamata olives or 2 tablespoons of capers

    Rosemary sprigs for garnish (optional)

    Preheat oven to 425°.

    Place potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots on a rimmed cookie sheet coated with cooking spray. Drizzle vegetable mixture with olive oil; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary, 1 teaspoon thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss gently, and spread into a single layer on pan. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes. Remove vegetable mixture from pan, and keep warm.

    Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped rosemary, remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken and olives/capers to pan. Bake at 425° for 35 minutes or until chicken is done. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired.

    This recipe was adapted from Cooking Light.
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