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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bundt Cake

In celebration of some friends' anniversary, I made this cake while babysitting for them at their house. So far, they don't seem to mind being guinea pigs for my baking adventures. They have reported that this cake was good, so I'll take their word for it. (I trust their tastebuds!) I added some chocolate ganache to the cake, which made for a rather nice presentation.

This recipe hails from Culinary in the Desert Country, which he adapted from Canadian Living. It seems to be quite a keeper. I forgot my camera, so no pictures to share yet; however, Joe has a good photo on his blog so you can see what it looks like.

For the filling:
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the cake batter:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water
3 ounces quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
12 tablespoons sour cream
12 tablespoons butter, softened
1 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F.

To make the filling:
In a large mixing bowl, beat peanut butter, cream cheese and butter until combined. Add egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until combined. Mix in vanilla. Be sure to scrape down the sides. Pour in sugar and flour, mix until combined. Fit a pastry bag with a large plain tip and scoop the filling into the bag. (I didn't use a tip on the pastry bag, and it worked just fine.) Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the batter:
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In a medium metal or glass bowl, add cocoa and whisk in boiling water. Add in chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Mix in sour cream.

In large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs, one at a time, and then beat in vanilla. Alternatively mix in the dry ingredients and the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until combined with each addition.

Spray a bundt pan with a nonstick spray that has flour included (like Baker's Joy or Pam with Flour). Spoon a little less than half of the batter into bottom of the bundt pan. Using the pastry bag that has the peanut butter mixture, carefully pipe a ring of the filling over the center of the chocolate batter. Pour the remaining batter on top and gently tap the pan to remove air bubbles.

Bake until top springs back when lightly touched or a toothpick comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs attached - about 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Place a wire cooling rack on top of the cake and carefully turn over - remove the pan and let cool completely.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps

I said previously that the holidays make me feel all "Martha Stewarty"; to prove my point, here's one of the goodies I'm giving as gifts this year. And, yes, it's a Martha recipe (slightly adapted). It's pretty simple and easy to double (or triple) the recipe, but it's also somewhat time consuming since you have to roll them out & in sugar twice. These cookies received my husband's nod of approval, so they pass the "share-able" test. Plus, I think they look neat, too. *One warning: your hands will get very chocolatey.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons instant coffee (or espresso powder)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled (I used semisweet chocolate chips)
1 tablespoon milk
confectioners sugar, for coating

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare baking sheets with parchment or a Silpat. (Do this while your hands are still clean!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, coffee (or espresso), baking powder, and salt. In a stand mixer (the dough will fairly stiff), beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low speed, gradually add dry ingredients; beat in milk just until combined. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.

Place confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl; working in batches, roll balls in sugar twice. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 12 to 14 minutes; cookies will still be soft to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

I'm Back!

My apologies to those who kept checking this blog over the past week to find no updates whatsoever. I wasn't trying to be a slacker; on the contrary, I've been a very, very busy girl. I completed my final 3 courses and will graduate tomorrow (finally!) with dual graduate degrees. Oh, and I've been trying to get up my Christmas decorations, clean the house, and, yes, do some baking. Okay, I've been doing lots of baking, so much that I didn't stop to take pictures. (We're talking non-stop, all day long yesterday!) So, I'm back, at least for a week. I'll be out of town during Christmas, but I'll try to post some of the recipes of the goodies I'm giving as Christmas gifts. In case I don't get back here before Dec. 25, I'll wish you a Merry Christmas! I hope you celebrate with lots of family, friends, and good food!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Since I have 5 major projects to complete before Dec. 12 (not including all the holiday stuff I have to do), I will likely not be posting until the 12th.

Then, it's an all-out baking frenzy.

Oh, and now that I have my Blogging By Mail swap partner, I have to get my BBM package ready, too.

I love this time of year. Makes me feel all Martha-Stewarty. :)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Vanilla Caramel Popcorn

Since popcorn is one of my favorite snacks, and I like trying out new recipes, this weekend included a rendezvous with my oven to make this recipe from bakingsheet. Serendipitously, I, too, had a measuring mishap during the process, though mine was due to misreading rather than being startled. I used 2 Tablespoons instead of 2 teaspoons of molasses. (I scooped some out and added a bit of corn syrup back to get the ratio somewhat correct.) I also added some nuts to the mix. We found the extra molasses and nuts to be wonderful. I would have had a picture to share, but unfortunately, the popcorn was devoured too quickly. So, without further adieu, here's my modified version of Vanilla Caramel Popcorn.

8-10 cups popcorn, un- or lightly-salted (I used air popped)
1 cup almonds, chopped (medium pieces, about 1/4 inch)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
4 tsp molasses (original recipe calls for 2 tsp)
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Pop the corn and let cool. Line a 10x15 pan with lightly greased foil or a Silpat. Preheat oven to 250F. Place glass bowl in oven to warm while making the caramel.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, molasses and butter; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 250F and is at hard-ball stage (use a candy thermometer). This will take 2 to 3 minutes.

In the meantime, transfer popcorn and nuts to the now-warm glass bowl.

Remove pan from the heat and immediately stir in salt, baking soda, and vanilla. (Warning, the mixture will foam!) Pour the mixture over the popcorn and nuts, stirring until most of the kernels are coated. Pour mixture onto baking sheet.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring (and if necessary, spreading out) every 15-20 minutes.

Let cool and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Chocolate Buttermilk Scones with Raspberry Filling

This recipe hails from a former public tv personality, Father Dominic, of Breaking Bread. We saw the episode with these scones, and my husband had to try them. In short, he thought they were fabulous. Personally, I'd use seedless preserves, but if you like the seeds, by all means, go ahead and use regular preserves. Or use strawberry preserves. Either way, these will taste wonderful.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup milk chocolate morsels, chopped fine
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup raspberry preserves

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl; stir to mix well. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in finely chopped chocolate. Combine buttermilk and egg in a small bowl; whisk until well blended. Pour into flour mixture; stir with a wooden spoon until just moistened. Do not overmix.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface ; knead gently 8 or 10 strokes. Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, pat each piece into a flattened 8-inch round. Place one round on a lightly greased baking sheet or jelly-roll pan. Spread preserves on top of the round. Place the second round on top of the preserves. Using a large knife or metal spatula, cut into 8 wedges, wiping the knife after each cut.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until firm on the edges but still slightly soft in the middle. Let cool on a wire rack, then cut wedges apart before serving.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Vermicelli Pudding

I saw this Indian-inspired recipe on The Saturday Early Show's Chef on a Shoestring (CBS) quite a while ago. This dessert is not overly sweet, but it does have an interesting texture combination of the pasta and nuts. I preferred it warm, but it can be eaten warm, room temperature, or cold. If you reheat it (if there's any left), just add a little milk or cream.

1 Tbsp. ghee or butter
3 Tbsp. mixed nuts, chopped (I just used cashews)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups (5 oz) vermicelli, broken into short lengths
1 1/4 cups milk
2/3 cup canned evaporated milk
5 Tbsp. white sugar

Heat the ghee or butter in a heavy saucepan and fry 2 tablespoons of the nuts for a few minutes, until golden brown. Add the vermicelli and fry until it begins to turn golden, taking care not to over-brown it. Add both the milks and the sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, scraping down the sides of the pan to return the creamy
residue into the milk. Simmer for 12-15 minutes until the vermicelli is soft. Remove from the heat and pour into individual serving bowls. Sprinkle with the mixed nuts. Allow to cool thoroughly then chill in the refrigerator if serving cold, or you can serve it warm.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Okra Pancakes

This is another Martha recipe. While some might not be a big fan of okra, I (and most of my family) really like it. I would bet that you could use frozen okra for this recipe, but be sure to slice it thinly (no bigger than 1/4 inch thick rounds) and use the non-breaded kind. Also, I didn't have any peanut oil, but olive oil worked well for me. These are an excellent side dish, especially in the summer when they are in season.

1/2 cup stone-ground white cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt, plus more for serving
1 tsp. baking powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (~1 small onion)
2 cups thinly sliced okra (~ 1 pound)
Peanut (or olive) oil for frying

In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the baking powder. Whisk to combine. In a second bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. It should resemble the texture of loose mashed potatoes; if not, add a little more water.

In a small bowl, combine the onion and okra. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Toss to combine, and fold into the batter.

In a cast-iron skillet, heat 1/2 to 1 inch of oil to 340F. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, spoon the batter by heaping teaspoons into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Use a slotted spoon to remove from oil. Drain on a wire rack or crumpled paper towels. Sprinkle with salt, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Blogging By Mail is back!

If you're interested, head on over to Dispensing Happiness and see the details. Then, email Stephanie with your info and have fun! I thoroughly enjoyed the last round of BBM, and I'm greatly looking forward to this one, too! So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sugar Cookies

These simple cookies are great plain, decorated with icing or sugar, or used in the Ravioli Cookies.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add baking powder and flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. The dough will by very stiff; blend last flour in by hand. Do not chill dough. Note: THe dough can be tinted with Icing Color. Add small amounts until desired color is reached. For chocolate cookies: Stir in 3 ounces melted, unsweetened chocolate (if dough becomes too stiff, add water, a teaspoon at a time).

Roll out dough into 1/8 inch thick. (You may need to divide the dough into 2 balls first.) Use desired cookie cutters to cut shapes from rolled dough. Place cookies onto parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 6-7 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve plain or decorated as desired.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Checkerboard Cookies

I first saw these cookies on Martha Stewart's website and became intrigued. I thought they looked like a lot of trouble and stashed the idea in the back of my mind. I volunteered to make cookies for the Fall Festival at my church and decided to give these a try. Yes, indeed, they are a bit of trouble. I think if you were making several batches at once, it would be much more efficient. However, the results were rather visually appealing (though perhaps not as perfect as Martha's). I didn't have Dutch process cocoa powder, so the flavor was a bit off (according to my husband). However, I think the kids will enjoy them nonetheless.
Checkerboard Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 large egg

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract, lemon extract, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, scraping down sides of bowl.

Turn dough out onto a clean work surface; it will be loose and crumbly. Knead dough by pushing small amounts away from you with the heel of your hand for 1 to 2 minutes. Divide dough in half. Sprinkle cocoa powder over one of the halves. Knead until cocoa has been fully incorporated. (This step can be avoided if making two batches; just add cocoa to one batch and leave the other plain.)

Place each half of the kneaded dough between two sheets of plastic. Using a rolling pin, shape dough into two 7-inch squares, about 3/8 inch thick. Using a sharp knife and a ruler, slice each square into nine 3/4-inch-wide strips.

Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Cover work surface with plastic wrap. Place three strips of dough on plastic, alternating white and chocolate strips. Brush tops and in between the strips with egg wash. Gently press strips together. Repeat, forming second and third layers, alternating colors to create a checkerboard effect. Wrap assembled log in plastic. Repeat process for second log, reversing color pattern. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or freeze 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F; line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Slice each log into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place on baking sheet. Bake until done, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven, and let cookies cool 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Mini Vacation

No recipes this week as I'll be out of town for most of it. Back on the 31st!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Buttercream Icing

Great for decorating cakes, this recipe is straight from Wilton.

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter or margarine*
1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approx. 1 lb.)
2 tablespoons milk**

Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep icing covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

YIELD: 3 cups

*Substitute all-vegetable shortening and 1/2 teaspoon Wilton No-Color Butter Flavor for pure white icing and stiffer consistency.

**Add 2 tablespoons light corn syrup per recipe to thin for icing cake.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Wedding Cake

Sorry, no recipe today. Instead, I thought I'd share some photos of the wedding cake I made for some friends. The cake is Carrot Cake with Buttercream Icing. There were two and a half 11x15 inch sheetcakes (2 layers) in addition to these cakes, too.

The wedding was beautiful...congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Smith!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ravioli Cookies

It's a silly name, I know, but they received rave reviews from coworkers. And, they're easily customizable to suit any taste. Since I don't like chocolate, I haven't actually tried one of these cookies, but I am planning to try these with white chocolate. I'll post how they turn out.

Basic Sugar Cookie Dough
Rolling Pin
Waxed or Parchment paper
Pizza Cutter
Hershey's Miniatures

Unwrap the Hershey's Miniatures and break each bar in half.

Roll out the sugar cookie dough between sheets of waxed or parchment paper to 1/8 inch thick. Use the pizza cutter to cut 2-inch squares. Place one half of a chocolate in the middle of every other square. Carefully flip the adjacent square onto the chocolate and press the dough down around it, removing air bubbles. (Air bubbles are bad and can cause the sides to "blow out", similar to normal ravioli.) Seal the edges with the tines of a fork. Transfer cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet (or use a silicone-lined baking sheet). Bake at 325F for 15-20 minutes, or until golden. Remove immediately to a cooling rack. Serve with milk. :)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Chickpea Crisps

I first saw this recipe on Martha Stewart. She called them "Paprika Chickpeas," but I felt that title was rather bland for such a recipe. They remind me of Corn Nuts, though MUCH better and not nearly as salty. I used the pimenton I received from Bri via Blogging By Mail, and it lends a nice, smokey flavor to this snack. I haven't yet tried it with other spices, but I'm sure a cajun or curry flavor would be delicious as well. *Update: Anne has already tried other spices with excellent results.* They're addictive, so you may want to double the recipe; just be sure to use 2 pans.

2 cans (~15 oz each) chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
3 Tbsp. olive oil (I used 2 and it was plenty)
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt (or 1 tsp. table salt)
1 tsp. pimenton (smoked paprika)

Preheat the oveb to 400F. Drain the chickpeas and dry thoroughly. Put into a bowl (plastic bags work well, too) and coat the beans with olive oil. Spread onto a baking sheet (1 layer) and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown, tossing every 5-7 minutes. Remove the pan and sprinkle with salt and spice; shake to coat. (I put them into a bowl - it's easier to coat them evenly.) Bake another 2-3 minutes. Cool on a paper towel lined plate and enjoy!

Thursday, October 05, 2006


1/2 cup butter
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
Dash salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter in 2-quart saucepan; add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium
heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil (10 to 12 minutes). Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until small amount of mixture dropped into ice water forms a firm ball or candy thermometer reaches 250°F (25 to 30 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared dish. Let cool completely. Remove from dish using parchment, and cut into sqares.

Recipe adapted from Land O' Lakes.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fruit Roll Cookies (Low Sugar)

1 cup margarine, softened
8 oz regular or reduced fat cream cheese, softened
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
10 oz all-fruit preserves (no sugar added)

In a large mixing bowl, combined margarine and cream cheese; beat until well blended. Gradually add flour, sugar, and salt. Mix well. On a lightly floured surface, shape into a ball or log; cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour for easier handling.

Preheat oven to 350F. Divide dough into 3 equal parts. On floured surface, roll each section of dough into a rectangle approximately 8x14 inches. Spread ~1/3 of the preserves on the dough. Roll up jelly roll style, beginning with one of the longer sides. Using a sharp knife, slice into half inch slices. Bake, flat side down, on a parchment lined cookie sheet about 1/2 inch apart, for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This is delicious in the spring or fall. It is the perfect accompaniment to crisp mornings that require a good cup of hot tea or coffee.

2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbsp. milk (optional)
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar (10X) (optional)
1 cup fresh raspberries or other fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter & flour a Bundt or rosette pan.

Cream butter until smooth and gradually add 2 cups of sugar on medium speed until light and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. (5-6 minutes) Add the eggs gradually and continue beating until the mixture is thick, fluffy, and doubles in volume. (4-5 minutes) Beat in sour cream and vanilla (2 minutes more).

In a separate bowl, combine 2 Tbsp. sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; sift the mixture twice. Carefully fold in the flour mixture with the butter mixture (half at a time) until smooth. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread to the edges. Sprinkle the cinnamon-walnut mixture evenly over the batter. Spread the remaining batter over the top, making the sides higher than the center.

Bake in the center of the oven until the top is set and springs back when touched and the cake pulls away slightly from the pan. (55-60 minutes) Let the cake cool for 1 hour. Unmold cake onto serving plate.

For Glaze: Whisk milk and confectioner's sugar until smooth. Garnish cake with fruit and drizzle glaze over cake.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Chicken Florentine Fettuccine Alfredo

No source for this recipe except my own head...I just came up with it one night. Not that it's anything extraordinary, but it is rather tasty. This serves 2-4 (depending on portion sizes - it was enough for dinner for the two of us and lunch for me the next day), but it's easily doubled.

1/2 lb. boneless chicken breast or tenderloin, cubed
1 tsp. minced garlic
~2 tsp. olive oil (couple of swirls around the pan, just eyeball it)
Good sized pinch of Kosher Salt & Cracked Black Pepper
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 jar Prego Roasted Garlic Parmasean Alfredo Sauce
~1/4 cup milk (or more as needed)
1 tsp. chicken boullion granules
1 10 oz. box frozen leaf spinach, drained & chopped
1/2 pound fettuccine, cooked according to package directions

In a skillet (preferably with straight sides), saute minced garlic and chicken in the olive oil over high heat. Add salt & pepper and cook chicken until no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Add butter and stir to coat chicken. Turn the heat down to medium. Add half jar of alfredo sauce, milk, and chicken boullion granules. Simmer over medium heat for a few minutes. Add about 7.5 ounces of the spinach. (Adding more milk if the sauce gets too thick.) Heat spinach through and serve over prepared fettuccine.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Five Things to Eat Before You Die...

This is a self-tagged meme (taken from Anne's Food & various other blogs - originated by Melissa at The Traveler's Lunchbox). This is hard since I love all kinds of food, but I'll give it a go.

(1) Buttermilk Biscuits & Cornbread with Home-Grown Tomatoes. Slice biscuits & cornbread in half, add butter, sliced ripe tomato, salt, pepper, and indulge. This has to be my favorite food of all time.

(2) Hazelnut Gelato. Delicious on its own, but much better if consumed in Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy.

(3) Fresh Pineapple from Central or South America. The best I've ever had I ate in Nicaragua.

(4) Eggs Benedict. My jaw dropped when I took my first bite of Eggs Benedict at the Peter Shields Inn in Cape May, New Jersey. Mmmm...so good.

(5) Homemade Peach Cobbler. A friend of my grandmother used to make this dessert for family gatherings when I was growing up. That reminds me, I really need to get the recipe...

I have many more that I could add, so I'll probably have to do another post some time. What are your recommendations?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

Excellent on Carrot Cake

1 (14 oz.) package white chocolate candy wafers (or almond bark)
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Melt candy wafers in the microwave using 20 second intervals. Allow coating to cool slightly, stirring occasionally (don't let it harden). In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese (preferably with a flat beater) until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the cooled coating until blended and smooth. Beat in the butter and lemon juice. After decorating your cake, refrigerate until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

Yield: about 4-1/2 cups

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Excellent Day (including BBM!)

I had such an excellent day yesterday that I can’t even think of an apt title for this post. After complaining about my hair for nearly four months (according to my husband), I finally got it cut during lunch...10+ inches to donate to Wigs for Kids. I absolutely love the way it looks & feels now. BBM PackageBut, that was only part of my excellent day. I arrived home after work to find my Blogging By Mail package had arrived! Brilynn from Jumbo Empanadas even included the BBM logo on the outside! Good things do come in small packages! I have never in my life seen such a well-packed box. How did she fit everything in there?! Oh, but you’re wondering what was in the box, right? Well, take a look...
BBM Goodies
Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies & Lime Cookies
Handmade wooden bowl & spoon (with my initials!)
Maple & Niagara Ice Wine Tea (in the glass tubes)
Canadian Blueberry Tea (white bag)
Small Jug of Canadian Maple Syrup
Maple Candy (shaped like a maple leaf!)
Four (4!) Packages of Tim Horton’s Coffee
Five (5!!) Sour Cherry Honey Sticks
Smoked Paprika
Canadian Flag Magnet (to hold my recipes, of course)
Sixteen (16!!!) Laminated Recipe Cards (including some family recipes!)
What a perfect assortment of goodies! The bowl & spoon are wonderful and absolutely ideal as I have a very strong interest in wood turning (no lathe yet, but it’s on the list for next year...maybe even Christmas). BBM Bowl & SpoonAs I’m sure many of us are, I’m a recipe collector, and these sound incredible! (I apologize for the plethora of exclamation marks, but I’m just too excited…) I mean, who wouldn’t love to try these right this minute: Caribbean Rum Shrimp, Chewy Skor Toffee Bits Cookies, Aunt Marg’s Yogurt Cake, Brussels Sprouts with Maple & Walnut Vinaigrette, Grilled Corn Salad, Aunt Susan’s Hash Brown Potatoes, Bri’s Mexican Chocolate Cookies, Whole Wheat Pie Crust, Mom’s Zucchini Bread, Family Cookies, and Aunt Rose’s Carrot Cake. YUM!

The funny thing was that I read Bri’s post about her BBM package, and when I saw the wooden bowl, I thought, “Hey, those are my initials.” Then, “What a great idea! That’s going to be a lovely gift, but I’m sure it’s for another BBM participant.” I noticed the Smoked Paprika (which I've been seeking as of late, to no avail) and thought the same thing. Little did I know the bowl and other package contents were on their way to Pam’s Pantry!

Before I turn this post into a novel, I want to say Thank You, Thank You, Thank You to Jumbo Empanadas!!! And, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You to Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness for coordinating everything. But, I do have a question...when is the next one & where do I sign up?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Carrot Cake (with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing)

4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. each nutmeg, cloves, allspice and salt
4 cups (approx. 1 lb.) grated carrots
2/3 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round pans. In a large mixing
bowl, beat eggs until foamy; add oil and vanilla and beat well. Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and salt together; add to egg mixture and mix well. Fold in carrots, nuts, raisins and pineapple. Pour into prepared pans and bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on cooling grid and invert on grid to cool. Assemble & frost with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing.

Makes 5 1/2 cups batter.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pineapple Cream Muffins

I received mixed reviews on this one, but I really liked them. Contrary to most other foods, these are not better straight from the oven. Instead, make them the night before and refrigerate them to enjoy the next morning.

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 1/2 ounces instant vanilla pudding (can use regular or sugar-free)
2/3 cups brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup sour cream (regular or low-fat)
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, with juice
1/2 cup oil

Preheat oven to 425F. Spray muffin cups or pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pudding mix, and stir in brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg and sour cream. Fold in the pineapple and oil. Add the egg-pineapple mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until moistened. Batter will be thick. Spoon into muffin cups and bake for ~15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted. (Muffins should be golden brown.) This recipe makes ~15 muffins. (I don't know why the odd amount, but you may want to bake in 2 batches for even cooking.)

Recipe from The Lamplighter Bed & Breakfast

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bacon & Baked Potato Soup

From KraftFoods.com

1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) reduced sodium chicken broth
1 1/4 cups milk
2 medium baking potatoes, baked, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I don't peel mine)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
8 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled and divided
3/4 cup shredded cheese (any kind you like)
2 Tbsp. green onions, sliced, divided
1/4 cup sour cream

Melt butter in heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Add onion and celery; cook and stir until crisp-tender. Add broth, milk, potatoes, salt and pepper; bring just to boil, stirring constantly. Slightly crush potatoes with back of spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Reserve 2 Tbsp. each of the bacon and cheese and 1 Tbsp. of the green onion for toppings; set aside. Add remaining bacon, cheese and green onion to soup just before serving; cook until cheese is melted, stirring constantly.

Serve topped with reserved bacon, cheese, green onion, and sour cream.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Peanut Butter Brownies

1/2 c. peanut butter
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. butter
1/2 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. almond or vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)

Combine peanut butter and butter, blending well. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating well. Stir in almond extract. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture; stir well. Toss in roasted peanuts (if using). Spread mixture evenly into a greased 9" square pan. Bake at 350F for 30-35 min. Cool completely in pan and cut into squares.

To double: use 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar. Bake in jelly roll pan for thinner brownies, or a 9x13 pan for thicker brownies.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Cappuccino Biscotti

Cappuccino Biscotti
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves, ground
1/4 cup brewed espresso, cold
2 tablespoons milk or cream
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and chopped

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend the flour, the sugar, the baking soda, the baking powder, the salt, the cinnamon and the cloves until the mixture is combined well. In a small bowl whisk together the espresso, the milk, the yolk and the vanilla, adding the mixture to the flour mixture , beating until a dough is formed, and stir in the hazelnuts.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, knead it several times and halve it. Working on a large buttered and floured baking sheet, with floured hands, form each piece of dough into a log 12 inches long by 2 inches wide and arrange the logs at least 3 inches apart on the sheet. Flatten logs slightly.

Bake the logs in a preheated 350F oven for 35 minutes and let them cool on the baking sheet on a rack for about 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300F. On a cutting board, cut the logs crosswise on the diagonal into 3/4 inch slices , arrange the biscotti, cut sides down, on the baking sheet, and bake them for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or until they are pale golden. Transfer the biscotti to racks to cool.

From BakingBits.com

Friday, September 01, 2006

Chocolate Raspberry Meringue Cookies

3 egg whites
1/8 tsp. salt
3 1/2 Tbsp. raspberry gelatin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vinegar
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Beat egg whites with salt until foamy. Add gelatin and sugar gradually. Beat until stiff, about 15 minutes.

Mix in vinegar, and fold in chocolate chips. Drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 250F for 25 minutes; then, turn off the oven. Leave in the oven an additional 20 minutes.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Blogging By Mail

I managed to squeeze in before the deadline for the upcoming Blogging By Mail event. Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness is the coordinator for this unique event. Food bloggers from all over the world are participating in a food care package "swap" of sorts. You are paired up with another blogger for the exchange (and, you don't have to worry about posting your "real" info online anywhere). I've already planned what I'm going to send for my first BBM package, but I haven't had a chance to make anything yet.

I'm really excited about this event. After all, who wouldn't want homemade goodies or something unique/different to try? And, who doesn't love care packages in the mail? I'll post what I send & receive in the coming weeks.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sticky Popcorn

Pop enough popcorn to make 2 quarts of popcorn.

Dump the following into a heavy iron skillet:
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. vinegar

Cook over medium heat until an amber color appears in the middle of the skillet.
When it becomes the size of your fist, pour over the popcorn & mix. After it cools completely, store in an airtight container.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Brie with Cranberry Chutney

Brie with Cranberry Chutney

1 cup fresh, frozen, or dried cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. finely chopped gingerroot (or 1 tsp. ground ginger)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
Vegetable oil
1 round Brie cheese (8 oz)
Slivered almonds, toasted (optional)
Crackers (optional)

Mix cranberries, sugar, vinegar, gingerroot, cinnamon, and cloves in 1-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling; reduce heat tow low. Cook uncovered ~20 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened. Cool slightly (it will thicken as it stands).
Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly brush ovenproof plate with vegetable oil. Place unpeeled cheese on center of place. Bake uncovered 8-10 minutes or until cheese is soft and partially melted.
Spoon half of chutney over the cheese. Sprinkle with almonds (if using). Serve with crackers (or a spoon...it's that good). Spoon remaining chutney onto cheese as needed, or save for future use.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Apple Tart

2 1/2 cups walnuts
1 1/2 cups pitted dates
3 green apples (i.e., Granny Smith)
juice of 1 lemon in 2 cups water
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. ground clove
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup raisins

Combines walnuts & dates in food processor. Process until well mixed and ground, but not smooth (~ 40 seconds). It should be a coarse texture when done. Press evenly into a 9-inch tart pan. Chill while making filling.

Slice apples by cutting into quarters. Cut out core and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Put into lemon water while you finish cutting apples. Drain well in colander when done.
Place apples in large skillet with the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently.
Remove apples with a slotted spoon from hot pan to a bowl and cool completely. Reduce the liquid still in the skillet to about half the volume and cool separately.
Spread apples evenly over the crust. Brush the syrup over the apples. Serve or keep covered & chilled until serving. Top with vanilla yogurt or ice cream.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Mimi's Cafe Carrot Raisin Bread

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large mixing bowl.
In another bowl, combine oil, eggs, molasses, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Add shredded carrot and mix. Add raisins and walnuts and mix well by hand.
Pour flour mixture until other ingredients and stir until combined. Pour batter into two ungreased 8-inch loaf pans. Bake for 60 minutes or until done.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Peanut Butter Balls

1 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter or margarine
Almond bark or other dipping chocolate

Mix together until well blended and roll into balls. Chill in the freezer between 15 -30 minutes. Using a toothpick, dip in melted chocolate.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Nutella Sandwich Cookies

This is Sam's favorite cookie, hands down. But beware; they're very rich.

1 stick unsalted butter (8 tbsp), room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Confectioner's sugar, for rolling out dough

Cream butter & sugar on medium speed until completely smooth (~3 minutes). Add egg & mix until well combined.

In separate bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and flour. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; mix on low speed until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl once. Chill the dough until slightly firm. Divide the dough into 3 balls. Roll out each between two layers of wax or parchment paper to 1/8-inch thickness. Chill. Use a 2-inch round cutter to cut out cookies. Space 1/2 inch apart for baking on parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet. Re-roll trimmings and chill. Repeat as long as you have dough.

Bake the cookies until you smell chocolate, about 12 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Fill with Nutella from the jar.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Fresh Vegetable Beef Soup

This makes a LOT of soup. I usually end up with a full 4 1/2 quarts. You could also add some pearled barley about 30 minutes before serving.

1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
1 small bell pepper, chopped (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup 1-inch pieces fresh green beans (I used canned)
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 sliced carrots
2/3 cup fresh whole kernel corn
2 medium unpeeled potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (~2 cups)
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
3 1/2 cups Beef Broth (or 2 14 oz cans of beef broth)
2 cans (14.5 oz each) diced tomatoes with garlic (or use plain tomatoes with 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

Mix all ingredients in 3 1/2 to 6 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 9 hours (or high heat for 4 to 5 hours) or until vegetables are tender.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Pink Stuff

This is THE holiday delicacy at my husband's family's gatherings.

8 oz. cream cheese (do not use low-fat or fat-free)
3/4 cup sugar
1 small package frozen strawberries
8 oz crushed pineapple, drained
1 large carton Cool Whip
Coarsely chopped nuts (optional)

Cream together cream cheese & sugar. Blend in strawberries and pineapple. Fold in Cool Whip. Fold in coarsely chopped nuts if desired. Chill & serve.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Peanut Butter Fudge

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup evaporate milk (do not use low-fat!)
1 Tbsp. butter

Mix & bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook it to soft ball stage.

4 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 Tbsp. vanilla

Mix well. Pour into oiled, paper-lined pan. Cool, slice, & enjoy.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Vanilla Raspberry Pavlova

4 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
1 1/2 cups cold fat free milk
1 pkg. (4-serving size) Jello Vanilla Sugar-Free Instant Pudding
1 cup thawed Cool Whip Lite
2 cups raspberries (can substitute any berries)
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 225 F. Beat egg whites & cream of tartar in medium bowl with electric mixer on high 5 minutes or until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form.

Spoon onto parchment-lined baking sheet (or use silicone mat). Using large spoon, make a 10-inch circle (or other shape) of meringue, slightly indented in the center to form a "crust" or shallow "bowl". Bake 1 1/2 hours. Cool.

Pour milk into large bowl & add dry pudding mix. Whisk 2 minutes or until well blended. Fold in whipped topping. Refridgerate 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Place meringue on serving plate. Spoon pudding mixture onto meringue, leaving a border of meringue showing. Place raspberries over pudding. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if using.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Chinese Noodle Salad

After making this salad for a while, I thought I'd better update the recipe. It seemed like the dressing made way too much for the salad ingredients and ended up making everything soggy. So, here's the updated recipe with better salad/dressing proportions. This makes a lot, however, so if just for a family meal, you might want to cut everything in half.

Chinese Noodle Salad

2 packages coleslaw mix (or 1 cabbage, shredded & 2-3 carrots, grated)
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup shelled sunflower seeds
2 packages Beef Ramen Noodles (dry), crushed

1 cup salad oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
2 seasoning packets from Beef Ramen Noodles

Mix first set of ingredients and add dressing ~30 minutes before serving.

Caution: it's very addictive.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Easiest Cheese Ball

2 8 oz packages cream cheese (do not use low/non-fat), softened
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 package dried beef, 1/4 inch dice (I use Armour)

Once cream cheese is soft, add dried beef, and use mixer to combine. Add half of green onions, mix, and taste. Add remaining green onions to taste. Form into ball, cover, and refrigerate overnight for flavors to combine. Serve with crackers.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Nutella Ganache

Note: This recipe has been updated here.

Nutella Ganache

1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup heavy cream

Cook in heavy-bottomed sauce pan over MEDIUM heat*, stirring constantly until the mixture is completely smooth (~7-10 minutes). Let ganache cool slightly (~ 5 minutes). Pour over warm Nutella Bundt Cake (or any kind of cake). Let the ganache cool completely before serving.

*Do NOT use HIGH heat; if you rush this, you won't like the results.

Nutella Bundt Cake (with Nutella Ganache)

I made this cake for Sam's 28th Birthday.

1 cup Nutella, divided
4 large eggs, divided
1 (18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour 10-inch Bundt pan.

In small bowl, whisk together 2/3 cup Nutella and 1 egg. Blend until completely smooth and set aside. In large bowl, using electric mixer on low speed, stir together cake mix, remaining 3 eggs, buttermilk and remaining 1/3 cup Nutella until moistened. Scrape down sides and beater(s) and increase speed to medium, beating for another 2 minutes.

Remove 1 cup batter and mix with reserved Nutella-egg mixture. Pour leftover batter evenly into prepared cake pan. Spoon reserved Nutella batter over it and, using a knife, gently swirl batters together to create marble pattern. Smooth top of cake and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. (Cake is done when moist crumbs cling to inserted wooden pick.) DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR TO PEEK; THE CAKE WILL FALL!

Allow cake to cool in pan for 15 minutes. When ready to handle, carefully invert onto cooling rack and remove pan. While cake continues to cool, make Nutella Ganache. Pour Nutella Ganache over cake, allow ganache to cool completely, and serve.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Indiana Garden Salad

I always double this recipe for gatherings.

1 can party peas
1 can French green beans
2 stalks celery, finely cut
1 medium onion, finely cut
1 can pimento, finely cut

Mix above and drain.

1 cup sugar (I use 2/3 cup)
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup salad oil
1 tsp. salt
dash paprika

Pour solution over salad. Let set overnight in fridge. Drain in colander over a bowl. Serve on lettuce leaves. You may use the solution again.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Islander Cheese Ball

2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
8 oz. can (can use more) crushed pineapple, well drained
1 Tbsp. green onion, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. (I use 1 Tbsp) Seasoned Salt
2 cups Chopped Pecans (or other nuts)

Mix cream cheese and pineapple with mixer. Stir in onion, green peppers, and seasoned salt. Add 1/2 cup pecans to mixture. Use remaining 1 1/2 cups of chopped nuts to roll ball in. Cover and chill. Serve with crackers.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Caramel Sauce

½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine in sauce pan; bring to rolling boil over medium heat. Cool. Serve with Apple Cake (on individual slices or pour over cake). Also good on ice cream (and anything else you can think of).

Apple Cake

3 cups sliced or chopped apples (can peel apples first, but not necessary)
1 ½ cups sugar

Pour sugar over apples, set aside, and stir occasionally for one hour. It will make its own syrup.

Combine in bowl:

2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon

Add to dry mixture:

Apples and syrup
¾ cup oil
2 beaten eggs
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Mix thoroughly by hand. Pour into greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees (or until done).
Best served warm with Caramel Sauce.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Caramel Cookie Bars

½ cup margarine (I use Blue Bonnet)
½ cup butter (one stick)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
18 graham crackers, halved

Line a jelly roll pan (15x10x1) with graham crackers. Combine margarine, butter, brown sugar, and nuts in medium saucepan. Bring it to a full boil over medium heat; boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Spoon boiled butter and sugar mixture over graham crackers. Bake at 350 F degrees for 13-15 minutes. Cool. Cut caramel graham cracker cookies into squares (or whatever shape you prefer).

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Cranberry Crunch Bars

1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
½ cup water
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup raisins

Combine sugar, cornstarch, water, vanilla, cranberries, and raisins in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Crumb Topping:
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup butter (melted)

Mix oats, brown sugar, flour, and melted butter until combined. Sprinkle ~ ½ of crumbs in bottom half of a greased 8-inch square pan.* Spread cranberry filling over the crumbs, and top with the remaining crumbs. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes or until edges are slightly brown and caramelized.

*For a 9x13 pan, I use one whole bag of fresh/frozen cranberries, 1 1/3 cup sugar, ~¾ cup raisins, 1 Tbsp cornstarch, 1 to 1 ½ tsp vanilla, and ½ cup water for the filling; for the crumbs, I use 1 ½ cups oats, 1 ½ cups brown sugar, ¾ cup flour, and ½ cup (one stick) melted butter. Bake at 375 F for ~ 35 minutes or until edges are slightly brown and caramelized.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Zesty Quinoa with Broccoli & Cashews

1 TB extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned or chopped
1/2 cup vegetable broth (could substitue chicken broth for non-vegetarians)
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used more vegetable broth)
2 TB lemon juice
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1 cup broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup roasted cashew pieces (I used chopped, unsalted pieces)
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, vegetable stock, wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Stir in the quinoa and salt. Reduce heat, and simmer covered about 20 minutes. Add the broccoli on top and simmer an additional 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove from heat, toss gently until combined. Add ground pepper and additional salt, if desired, to taste. Garnish with cashews and scallions before serving.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Strawberry Cake

This is the best Strawberry Cake I've ever eaten. Many thanks to C. Lang for the recipe!

1 box white cake mix
1 pkg. strawberry Jell-O
1 c. oil
½ c. water
½ c. strawberries (from semi-thawed 10 oz. pkg. frozen strawberries)
4 eggs

1 box confectioners sugar (1 lb.)
1 stick butter
rest of pkg. of strawberries (better if still frozen)

Mix cake ingredients for 4 minutes until smooth. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes (or until done). Test for doneness with toothpick. Bake in oblong 13 x 9-inch pan (or three 8-inch round pans), which has been greased and floured.

For icing, beat butter and add sifted sugar and strawberries. Cream together. Frost cake in pan, if desired, or as a layer cake.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Mary's Moist Banana Bread

3/4 c. butter
3 c. sugar
3 eggs
7 ripe bananas
1/2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 c. flour
3 tsp. soda
1 12 oz. container sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla
Pecans (optional)

Cream butter & sugar. Add eggs, pureed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla; mix well. Then add salt, soda, and flour. Mix. Add pecans (if using). Pour into greased and floured loaf pans (2 or 3) and bake at 300 for 1 hour.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Paul Bunyan Cookies

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
½ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup sugar
½ cup molasses
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 12-once bag semisweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper. Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, and salt in medium bowl.

In bowl of electric mixer, cream vegetable shortening and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add molasses, and beat to combine. Add eggs and mix until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture, one cup at a time, beating on low speed until dough comes together. Remove bowl and, using a wooden spoon, stir in chocolate chips, oats, raisins and walnuts.

Using a 2-inch scoop, drop dough onto prepared baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. Bake until firm, 15-18 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before transferring cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

English Toffee

1 cup butter (+ more for pan)
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp syrup
chocolate chips (optional)
chopped nuts (optional)

Butter a cookie sheet and line it with chocolate chips and nuts. Cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches 290 degrees on candy thermometer. Pour over chocolate chips and nuts. Let cool until firm, then flip over onto another layer of chocolate chips and nuts. Let cool completely. Break into pieces.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Sea Foam

1 cup sugar
1 cup dark syrup
½ tsp molasses
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp soda
Dipping chocolate

Cook to hard crack, 300 degrees on candy thermometer; stir, remove from heat. Add soda. Pour immediately onto well-buttered cookie sheet. Cool. Break into pieces and dip in melted dipping chocolate.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Pound Cake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter & flour Bundt pan.

Using electric or stand mixer, mix:
3 sticks butter
3 cups sugar
until light and fluffy (~5 minutes or so).

5 eggs (one at a time)
Beating just until the yellow disappears before adding the next egg.

Add, alternating a little at a time:
1 cup milk
3 cups minus 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Finally, add:
2 tsp vanilla
Mix well.

Pour into Bundt pan and bake for ~ 1 ½ hours or until done. Cool 10 minutes in pan before inverting onto serving plate.