Saturday, November 22, 2008


I was looking for a recipe for fudge, but did not have any evaporated milk on hand...I quickly discovered that there are few recipes for fudge that do not include this ingredient-so, I made my own!


1/2 c. milk
1 3/4 c. sugar
3/4 t. salt

1 c. chocolate chips
1 1/2 c. miniature marshmallows
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 t. vanilla (or peppermint) extract
*nuts, dried fruit, etc. optional

Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil and cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Stir well and quickly pour into greased 8x8 pan. After fudge is set, cut into squares.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Italian Meat Pie

This is a recipe of my Mothers. This is an ideal meal to make for guests who are less adventurous in their eating. The flavors are familiar but the dish is put together in a slightly different way. While this recipe does not photograph well, it is an easy crowd pleaser!

Italian Meat Pie
1 1lb. ground beef (I use turkey)
salt and pepper
Italian seasoning
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 pkg. dried spaghetti mix
8 oz. sour cream (I use light)
8 oz. shredded mozzarella
1 pkg. crescent rolls (I use reduced fat)
garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown meat in a little oil. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Add onion and garlic and stir until just softened. Remove from heat and add tomato sauce and spaghetti mix. Stir and spread into 9 x13 casserole dish. Spread sour cream evenly over meat mixture. Sprinkle cheese over sour cream. Unroll crescent rolls over top of casserole and stretch to fit dish. Brush with melted margarine and sprinkle with garlic salt. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until crescent rolls are done.

Greta's rating: yum.yum.yum.yum!

Monday, October 20, 2008


What? You’ve never had a kolache? Around here, most people have had a kolache. Most people actually have their own family recipe that is “the best”. The kids and I spent Sunday afternoon in Wahoo at my parents. My Dad thought it would be fun to make some homemade kolaches, but to knead and partially rise the dough in the bread machine. We were so excited to see our results! If the bread machine yielded delicious kolaches, we would have found a precious shortcut to a long and laborious recipe. So? How were they? Awesome!

We used the dough recipe from my Grandma Swanda. The dough can also be used to make clover leaf rolls, crescent rolls- just about anything. We did the fillings Grandma Hain style. Her secret for good poppy seed filling is a little grape jam mixed in. But, you can use an type of filling. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and now that Dad has discovered a quick and easy way to make kolaches, I think we’ll be making them a lot more often!

Grandma Swanda’s Kolache dough

1 1/2 c. Milk (Evaporated or whole milk)

6 T. Margarine, softened

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

3 T. sugar

1 1/2 t. salt

1T. plus 3/4 t. dry active yeast

4 1/2 c. flour

fillings of your choice

Warm milk in microwave or on stove top. Place warm milk, eggs, margarine, salt and sugar in bread machine. Cover completely with flour. Pour yeast on top of flour. Turn bread machine on dough setting.

When dough is done- roll into 2″ balls and place an inch apart on greased cookie sheet. Cover with tea towel and rise 30 minutes or until double in size. Place fingers in center of dough ball and pulling outward, create a well for the filling. Repeat on each ball. Fill each with filling. Cover and let rise another 30 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Chocolate-glazed Pumpkin Cookies

My husband is so cute. He took a bite of one of these cookies, sighed and said, "I love fall." These are soft and very tasty. I like that there is very little spice in these and you can really taste the pumpkin.

Chocolate-glazed Pumpkin Cookies
2 c. flour
1/2 t. soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 c. pumpkin puree
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 375. Whisk dry ingredients together. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light. Add egg; beat, until smooth. With mixer on low alternately add flour in two parts and pumpkin in one. Beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Do not overmix. Bake until puffed and golden- about 15 minutes. When cookies have cooled, melt chocolate either in microwave at 30 second intervals or over double-boiler. Drizzle over cookies and cool in refrigerator until chocolate is set.
Reference: Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine.

Cheese Muffins

These were pretty darn good, and I must say they were even better at room temperature than piping hot. I think my 2 year old ate about 3 of these herself! If I make this recipe again- I will definitely add some garlic. The recipe is from the Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Cheese Muffins
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 T. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3 c. shredded colby-jack
1 egg
1 c. milk
1/4 c. melted butter

Combine dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients. Mix together and bake in 12 greased muffin tins at 375 for about 15 minutes.

Garlic-crusted Pork loin

I don't usually care for pork. This recipe was great and a snap to pull together! The prep time is literally 10 minutes or less. I served this with cheese muffins and a raspberry balsamic salad.

Garlic-crusted Pork Loin
1.5 lb boneless pork loin
1 T. olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
4 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Mince garlic and sprinkle with salt. Use chef's knife to create a paste on cutting board.
Place pork on baking sheet and rub with oil and garlic paste. Season with additional salt (if desired) and pepper. Bake for approximately 45 minutes.
Reference: Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine.

Greta's Rating: Surprisingly, she really liked this!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Runza Casserole

I live in Nebraska. The home of the Runza. For those of you who have never had a are missing out. This is a great recipe for a Bierock (runza) casserole. I got the recipe from a friend.

Runza Casserole
1 lb. ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1 small onion, diced
3 c. shredded cabbage
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 c. shredded cheddar
1 pkg. crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 375. Brown meat. Drain. Add onion and cabbage. Simmer until very soft- this may take awhile. Add soup and stir well. Stretch 1/2 of one can of crescent rolls to cover 8x8 pan. Spread meat mixture on top. Sprinkle cheese. Stretch remaining crescent rolls to cover top. Bake as directed on roll package.
Greta's rating: She loved this! Actually, my 9 month old son loved this too!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tomato Pie

This is the second time I've made this recipe and it is just as wonderful as I remembered. I had a lot of tomatoes, so this was a great way to use some of them up. The original recipe calls for a pre-made pie crust, but I think they have a funny aftertaste. I used a family recipe for the pie crust and it was just perfect. This recipe is amazing, easy and very rich. Enjoy!

Tomato Pie
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 recipe Aunt Claudia's Pie crust (see post below)

Prepare and bake pie crust. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tomatoes in colander. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 10 minutes. Use paper towels to pat off excess moisture. Layer the tomato slices, basil, and onion in pie shell. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the cheeses and mayo. Spread mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. To serve, cut into slices and serve warm.

Reference- Paula Deen.

Greta's Rating: She liked the crust and tomatoes, but must not be a fan of basil :)

Aunt Claudia's Pie Crust

This is the perfect pie crust for a quiche or savory dish. I received the recipe at one of my bridal showers about 6 years ago. It is from my husband's Great Aunt Claudia.

Aunt Claudia's Pie Crust
1 c. flour
1/3 c. Crisco (I used unsalted butter)
1 t. salt

Combine ingredients in bowl and mix with pastry blender until small pieces form. Add 7 tsp. water and mix with a fork (I used 8 t.) Dough will form a ball. Roll dough and place in pie pan. Bake at 450 for 8 minutes.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken

Who doesn't love spinach and artichoke dip? When I found this recipe at Joelen's Culinary Adventures, I couldn't wait to make it. I have made a lot of substitutions from the original recipe because we were out of Parmesan AND cream cheese. This would be even better as Joelen originally made it, but was still amazing! If you've never ventured over to her blog- I'd highly suggest it. She does a TON of entertaining and always has a plethora of fabulous recipes!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken
4-6 chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/3 c. light vegenaise (or light mayo)
1/3 c. light sour cream
3/4 c. shredded mozzarella
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can artichokes, chopped
3/4 c. defrosted frozen spinach (1 c. frozen= about 3/4 defrosted)
salt and pepper to taste
dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 c. panko

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place seasoned chicken breasts in baking dish. combine all other ingredients except panko. Top each chicken breast with the artichoke mixture. Sprinkle with panko and bake for 25-35 minutes or until juices run clear.

Greta's Rating: She loved it!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Toasted Coconut Shortbread

This recipe is absolutely scrumptious! I made these for family that we had visiting this weekend. The aroma of buttery coconut lingered in our house for hours and these little shortbread cookies tasted even better than they smelled. I found this recipe on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody.

Toasted Coconut Shortbread

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread coconut on baking sheet. Bake until coconut is light golden, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Cool completely.
Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugars in large bowl until well blended. Mix in salt and vanilla. Beat in flour in 2 additions. Stir in toasted coconut. Gather dough together; divide in half. Flatten each half into disk; wrap each in plastic and chill at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out 1 dough disk on lightly floured work surface to scant 1/4-inch thickness. Using 1 3/4- to 2-inch-diameter cookie cutters, cut dough into rounds. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Repeat procedure with remaining dough disk until all of dough is used.
Bake cookies until light golden, about 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.

Friday, September 26, 2008

French Onion Soup

Fast. Easy. Fabulous. Low calorie. I don't think I need to say anything else!

French Onion Soup
2 T. butter
2 c. thinly sliced yellow onions
4 c. beef broth
2 T. sherry
1 t. Worcestershire
salt and pepper to taste
6 slices crusty bread
1 c. shredded Swiss, Gruyere or Jarlsberg cheese

Melt butter in large saucepan. Add onions. Cook, covered over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes, or until golden. Stir in broth, sherry and Worcestershire. Bring to boiling. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Preheat broiler. If you have oven safe bowls, ladle 1 c. of soup into bowls top with bread and cheese and broil until bubbly. If you do not have oven safe bowl. Just broil the bread and cheese on a baking sheet and place in bowl of soup when ready.

Reference: Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Chocolate Marshmallow Bars

In honor of The Office season premiere- I just had to find something sinfully delicious to make. This recipe fit the bill! These are very good and I will definitely make these again. I found the recipe on Good Eats n' Sweet Treats.

Deluxe Chocolate Marshmallow Bars
from Esther Shank, Taste of Home's Holiday Get-Together 2006
3/4 cup butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp baking cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups miniature marshmallows

1-1/3 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter
3 tbsp butter
2 cups crisp rice cereal

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until fluffy. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture. Spread in a greased 9x 13 pan.
Bake at 350F for 18-25 minutes or until middle is set. Sprinkle marshmallows evenly over cake; return to oven for 2-3 minutes. Using a knife dipped in water, spread the melted marshmallows evenly over cake. Cool.
For topping, combine chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and well blended. Remove from heat; stir in cereal. Immediately spread over bars. Chill.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Snobby Joes

I don't like sloppy joes. I don't like ground beef. It dawned on me that maybe I don't like sloppy joes because I don't like ground beef. I was right. I loved these! I found this recipe at Gillian's Goodies. If you like lentils, you should definitely give these a try!

Snobby Joes

1 cup uncooked lentils
4 cups water
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small red onion, cut into small dice
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into small dice
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. sea salt
1 (14 1/2 oz.) diced (no salt added) tomatoes
1/4 c. tomato paste
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. prepared Dijon mustard
4-6 rolls, sliced in half

1. Pour the lentils and water into a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.
2. When the lentils have about 10 minutes left, preheat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for 7 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and saute another minute.
3. Stir in the cooked lentils, chili powder, oregano, and salt. Add the tomatoes (I diced mine up a little more prior to adding them). Cook 10 minutes. Add the maple syrup and mustard; heat through.
4. Turn off the heat and let the pot sit for about 10 minutes. Serve open-faced with a scoop of the lentil mixture on each slice of a roll.

Greta's rating: She wasn't wild about these. I think I'll add cheese to hers next time!

Almond butter Chocolate chip Cookies

A couple weeks ago, I found a recipe for peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that had cream of wheat in the dough. This really intrigued me. I've tried many, many "healthier" chocolate chip cookie recipes and this one is great! I used almond butter in place of the peanut butter and 2 egg whites in place of the egg replacer. These are delicious, just be careful not to burn them as the tops do not turn golden as they bake.

Almond Butter/ Chocolate Chip Cookies
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup smooth almond butter
1/3 cup (5 tbsp. plus 1tsp.) light margarine, softened
1/4 cup egg substitute (I used 2 egg whites)
1/2 cup cream of wheat cereal, uncooked
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat brown sugar, almond butter, margarine, & egg whites until fluffy. Mix in cereal & vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Combine. Fold in chocolate chips. Chill in
refrigerator for about 5 minutes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Peach Dump Cake

I must admit that I absolutely *love* it when people post comments on my blog. It makes me feel great that people are actually interested in what I'm making! But, the main purpose of this blog is very selfish. I started this as a way for me to get rid of all my paper recipes- a way to keep track of which recipes we love. We rarely eat out, so I do A LOT of cooking and baking. But I only will post recipes that we really enjoyed and would make again and again. So, there is my big disclaimer...This recipe is really nothing fancy at all (any bachelor could make it), but it is sooooo good and very easy. Great for a cool fall night.

Peach Dump Cake
large can sliced peaches in syrup
white cake mix
1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted
1/2 c. chopped pecans
vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350. Pour can of peaches, syrup and all in 9x13 pan. Evenly sprinkle cake mix over peaches. Drizzle melted butter over cake mix. Sprinkle pecans on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool slightly and serve with ice cream.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Easy Thai Chicken Pizza

This is a quick and easy meal that I make often for dinner. I use our favorite store bought peanut sauce, but you could use any or make your own.

Easy Thai Chicken Pizza

4 Whole wheat tortillas
Olive Oil
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove
2 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or cubed
5 T. peanut sauce (I use House of Tsang)
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 c. red onion
2/3 c. shredded mozzarella
2/3 c. shredded Parmesan
1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly rub 4 tortillas with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut garlic clove in half lengthwise and rub cut ends on each tortilla. Toss chicken in peanut sauce and divide evenly on tortillas. Top each tortilla with carrot, onion and cheeses. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown. Serve with fresh cucumber on top. Makes 4 individual pizzas.

Greta's rating: She loves this meal, but always drinks A LOT of milk with it as it is a little spicy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cream filled Chocolate Cupcakes

When I saw these adorable cupcakes on Annie's Eats, I could not wait to make them! Who can resist a chocolate cupcake filled with cream and topped with chocolate??? Not this gal. I recently discovered a great vegan chocolate cupcake recipe in the cookbook Crazy about Cupcakes, by Krystina Castella. I figured with all the chocolate and cream filling, if I made the actual cupcake a little healthier no one would notice. Boy, was I right! This is a great combination.

Cream filled Chocolate Cupcakes
-Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
-Cream Filling
-Chocolate Frosting

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes
6 T. applesauce
2 1/4 c. water
1 t. vanilla
2 T. white vinegar
2 1/2 c. flour
2/3 c. cocoa powder
2 c. cane sugar
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking soda

Preheat oven to 375. Insert liners into medium cupcake pan. In large bowl mix wet ingredients. In separate bowl combine dry ingredients. Gradually add dry ingredients, beat well. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely.

Cream filling
6T. unsalted butter, softened (I used Earth Balance, worked great!)
1 1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
3/4 c. Marshmallow fluff
1 1/2 T heavy cream

Combine all ingredients and beat until fluffy. Reserve 1/2 c. filling. Transfer rest of filling to pastry bag fitted with Bismark tip. Gently insert decorating dip 1/2" into the top of each cupcake and lightly squeeze in some of the filling.

Chocolate Frosting
1/4 c. heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 T. unsalted butter, softened

In small saucepan over medium heat, heat cream until steaming. Remove from heat. Add chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add butter and stir until smooth. Dip cupcake tops in frosting. Spoon reserved filling into pastry bag fitted with very small plain tip and pipe curlicues across center of each cupcake. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to set frosting.

Eggplant Basil Sandwiches

If you are a fan of eggplant Parmesan, you must try this dish! The recipe is from the cookbook From Asparagus to Zucchini. I found this recipe in our CSA's weekly newsletter and immediately knew I had to try it. We loved this!

Eggplant Basil Sandwiches
1 firm, medium eggplant, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4" slices (about 20-24 slices)
kosher salt
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. minced fresh basil
3/4 c. soft bread crumbs (I just used store bought)
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
2 large eggs
vegetable oil

Optional: Lightly salt eggplant slices with kosher salt, place in colander and weigh down slices with a heavy pot. Let stand in sink at least 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
Mix cream cheese and basil in small bowl until smooth. Combine bread crumbs, slat, and cayenne on shallow dish. Crack eggs into separate shallow dish and froth with a fork. Spread eggplant slices with herbed cheese using about 2 t. on smaller slices and slightly more on larger ones. Make sandwiches with slices. Dip in egg, then coat in crumbs. Heat oil 1/8" deep in large skillet over medium heat. When very hot, fry sandwiches until crisp and golden about 3 minutes per side. Serve warm. Sandwiches can be kept warm in 225 degree oven while remaining sandwiches are being cooked. Serve with thick tomato sauce. Makes 8-10 small sandwiches.

Greta's rating: Eeeew! She would barely try this!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Chocolate Mint Eclairs

I've completed my 3rd Daring Bakers challenge!
This one was quite easy and a lot of fun. This months recipe was chosen by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK. I decided to make a chocolate-mint eclair and used this recipe to make the pastry cream and added mint chips when I added the chocolate, then drizzled melted mint chips over the top of the chocolate glaze to garnish! I would definitely make this recipe again, but probably find a glaze that has a few less steps :)

Chocolate Mint Eclairs

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)
• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature
1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the
2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium
and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very
quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You
need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough
will be very soft and smooth.
3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your
handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time,
beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.
You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do
not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you
have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it
should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.
1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking
sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the
piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Chocolate Glaze
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1 cup or 300g)
• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature
1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.

1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly
 in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.
2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tamale Pie

This is my first time trying a recipe from a Moosewood Restaurant cookbook. This Tamale Pie comes from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites. This was absolutely delicious! I will be making it again.

2 t. Olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
3 T. minced garlic
1 T. cumin
2 t. coriander (I omitted)
1 t. oregano
1-2 T. water
1 c. peeled diced carrots
1 c. diced bell pepper
1 c. diced zucchini
1 small chile seeds removed (I omitted)
1 c. crushed canned tomatoes (15oz can) (I used fresh, crushed tomatoes)
1 ½ c. kidney or black beans
4 oz. grated cheddar
¾ c. cornmeal
1 T. flour
½ t. salt
1 t. powder
¼ t. soda
2 egg whites
½ c. buttermilk
2 T. oil
sour cream

Warm oil in saucepan add onion and garlic. Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add cumin, coriander, oregano and water to prevent sticking. Add carrots, cover and cook 5 minutes. Add peppers, zucchini, and chile cover and cook 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and beans, cover and simmer 5-10 minutes remove from heat add salt and pepper to taste. Preheat oven to 400.
Prepare 2 qt casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread mixture in bottom of dish. Sprinkle with cheese.
In bowl combine flour, meal, salt powder and soda. In separate bowl combine egg, milk and oil gently fold wed ingredients into dry . Pour on top of veggies bake 30-35 minutes. Garnish with sour cream and scallions.

Greta's Rating: Greta really liked this- she enjoyed every element of it.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is one awesome cookie recipe! I found it at of all places! The recipe had 15 reviews and all were 5 stars, so I figured I couldn't go wrong. Quick and easy, I would give these 5 stars myself!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup chunky or smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cream butters, add sugars. Mix in egg. Add dry ingredients and stir in chips. Bake at 350 for about 10minutes.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Magnolia Cupcakes

Have I ever had a Magnolia Cupcake? No. But this recipe is great and that is all I need to know.
I made a few adjustments because I did not have self-rising flour- I've noted them below. This recipe is from Macaroni and Cheesecake.
Yum! A perfect treat for a Saturday afternoon.

Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes
Original Source: Allysa Torey's More from Magnolia: Recipes from the World-Famous Bakery and Allysa Torey's Home Kitchen

3/4 cups self-rising flour (I used 1 1/4 c. AP flour plus 2 T., 1 t. baking powder and a pinch of salt)
1/2 and 1/8 cups all-purpose flour (this amount included in total above)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 1 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.
In a small bowl, sift and combine the flours. Set aside.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
Vanilla Buttercream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 to 3 cups confectioners' sugar (I used 2 c.)
1/8 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Best Pizza Dough

This is the best pizza dough recipe I've found!
I first saw this recipe on Annie's Eats. This dough made my BBQ chicken pizza better than ever!

Basic Pizza Dough


½ cup warm water (about 110°)

1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast

1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting

1 ½ tsp. salt

olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl


Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

To bake, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form both pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal. Top as desired. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining ball of dough or freeze for later use.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cherry Cobbler

My Aunt Connie from Texas came to visit last night. You know your very favorite Aunt that you have always had a special affinity for? That's my Connie. She always calls me "her little Sherri" and I love it!
Anyway, we ordered pizza from a local pizza joint and I made a cherry cobbler for dessert. The original recipe is for a cherry rhubarb cobbler- I skipped the rhubarb. The ginger in this recipe is what makes it spectacular. My husband said this was his favorite dessert ever!

Cherry Cobbler

4 C. Fresh Cherries, pitted and halved
1 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. ginger
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. flour
3 T. brown sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ginger
6 T. unsalted butter
1/2 c. whole milk

In large bowl, toss cherries with other filling ingredients. Set aside.
In separate bowl combine all topping ingredients except for milk. Use pastry blender to combine until crumbs are about the size of peas. Add milk and gently fold in with fork. Pour filling mixture into greased 9" round deep dish pie pan. Form 1 1/2" balls with dough and place staggered on top of filling. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes.

Reference: Whisk and Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Monday, August 18, 2008


This is the best kind of recipe...easy and awesome! I love naan and had no idea it was so easy. I found this recipe at Liz's Cooking Blog. I think I'll try adding some fresh garlic next time!

  • 2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup ghee or oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  1. Whisk the warm water with the yeast and sugar until the yeast is dissolved. Cover and let stand in a warm place for 10 minutes.
  2. Sift flour and salt three times into a large bowl add the yeast mixture, half of the ghee or oil and all the yogurt. Mix into a soft dough then knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover and let stand in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough is doubled in size .
  3. Punch down dough then knead for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 6 pieces. Let rise for an additional 10-30 minutes if you have the time. Roll each piece out into 8 inch round naans.
  4. Brush the naan with a little of the remaining ghee or oil. Heat oil in a large flat skillet. Pan fry naan one at a time for about 2 minutes on each side or until puffed and just browned, adding additional oil as necessary.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

I received the cookbook Barefoot Contessa At Home for Christmas from my Mother a couple years ago. Since then, I have slowly been working my way through the book. I don't even like cornbread and I loved this! I cut the recipe in half and it made way more than enough for my husband, 2 friends and our daughter.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish, 3 scallions
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Greta's rating: She loved this!

Pots de Creme

What an EASY delicious dessert! Anyone can do this and it is soooo good and literally took me less than 5 minutes to prepare. The recipe is from Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Pots de Creme
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla
8 oz. hot, strong coffee

Place chocolate chips in blender. Top with eggs and vanilla. Blend until fine. Slowly pour VERY HOT coffee into blender and blend until smooth. Pour into cups or glasses and refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Serve with whipped cream.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ok. I was wrong.
The chocolate chip cookie recipe on the butter crisco container is NOT the best chocolate chip cookie recipe.
This is.
I was asking around for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe and was referred to this recipe by Baking Illustrated. I actually think I've made it before!

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 18 large cookies.

These oversized cookies are chewy and thick, like many of the chocolate chip cookies sold in gourmet shops and cookie stores. They rely on melted butter and an extra egg yolk to keep their texture soft. These cookies are best served warm from the oven but will retain their texture even when cooled. To ensure the proper texture, cool the cookies on the baking sheet. Oversized baking sheets allow you to get all the dough into the oven at one time. If you’re using smaller baking sheets, put fewer cookies on each sheet and bake them in batches.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Brownie Cupcakes

This recipe is from the blog have cake, will travel.
She has great vegan recipes. I am not a vegan...or even a vegetarian, but I really enjoy using her recipes because they are much healthier even if you do add eggs and milk!
This is a versatile recipe that you could really play with. Another thing I love about Celine's recipes is that they usually about 1/2 of what most recipes make- so this recipe only makes 6 cupcakes. Which is great for those of us who don't know when to stop! I've tried making these cupcakes 2 different ways which I will note below along with the original recipe.

Brownie Cupcakes
for 6 standard cupcakes

1/3 cup jam of choice (I've used raspberry jam or even left over homemade chocolate sauce)
juice from 1/2 medium lemon
1 t pure vanilla extract
2 T agave nectar (I used pure maple syrup)
1 T safflower oil [any mild-flavored oil will do]
3 T unsweetened almond milk [or whatever milk alternative you have]
pinch fine sea salt
1/4 cup raisins (I omitted, but these would be great)

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour [spoon and level]
2 heaping T cocoa powder
1 T instant coconut powder [optional]
1 T egg replacer powder or arrowroot (I used 1 egg)
1/4 t baking soda
1/8 t baking powder

preheat oven to 350F, prepare a standard muffin tin with cupcake liners.
in a large bowl, stir together jam, extracts, agave, oil, milk alternative, salt, raisins.
in a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, coconut powder, egg replacer powder, baking soda, and baking powder.
combine the two preps, stirring until you don’t see flour bits anymore, but being careful not to overmix.
scoop out batter into prepared liners.
bake for 18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
place on cooling rack. let cool completely before storing.

Penne a la Betsy

Well, here's another recipe my husband has asked that I make again...and often. I can see why this is a popular recipe. It is good and pretty mild, so I would definitely make this one for a crowd. Next time I will most likely add some sun dried tomatoes to the sauce. The recipe is from the Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Penne a la Betsy

1 lb. fresh shrimp
3 T. butter
3 T. olive oil
1 lb. whole wheat penne
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 c. chicken stock (or chardonnay)
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 c. heavy cream
fresh basil
Parmesan cheese to taste (I know, a faux pas- but delicious)

Cook shrimp in 1 T. oil and 1 T. butter in large skillet. Once shrimp is opaque, remove from heat. Prepare penne as directed on package. Chop onion and mince garlic. Add 2 T. butter and 2 T. olive oil to skillet and add onion and garlic. Add stock, tomato sauce and cream. Remove tails from shrimp and chop into bite sized pieces. Chiffonade basil. Add shrimp and basil to sauce. Season with salt and pepper and toss with pasta. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.

Greta's rating: she ate the pasta- put did NOT like the shrimp.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Muffin Top Bars

These are great guilt-free bars. The inspiration is the chocolate chip cookie recipe on the back of my vanilla rice milk carton. I've made this recipe as chocolate chip cookie bars before and was also pleased. I wouldn't recommend making this dough into cookies (even though that is what the original recipe says it is for) -the texture is much more a muffin. These bars are great for when you are in the mood for something sweet, but they do not contain any dairy or sugar. My daughter actually prefers these to chocolate chip cookies but she prefers fresh fruit to chocolate chip cookies, so that is no surprise!

Muffin Top Bars
1 c. AP flour
1 c. Whole wheat flour
1 T. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. vanilla rice milk
3/4 c. pure maple syrup
3/4- 1c. fresh or frozen blueberries
Decorative sugar (optional -just makes it a little more muffin like)

Combine all ingredients except blueberries in large bowl and stir. Fold in blueberries. Spread into greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes. Cool. Cut into bars.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

My second Daring Bakers challenge is complete!
The recipe was definitely a "challenge", not because it had any techniques that were new and unfamiliar, but because it had so many steps! This was a fun challenge and I'm glad I got the chance to do it, but at the end of the day- my husband and I both agreed that there was just a little too much going on with this cake.
The Praline buttercream was divine, but I think would be much better suited for a simple cake where it could be the star.

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream
From Great Cakes by Carol Walter
1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped
Filbert Genoise
Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.
1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)
Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan. (I used 2) 9" pans and had 4 total layers)
Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.
Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.
Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.
Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.
With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.
Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.
*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup
Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers
1 cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur
(I used Kahlua)
In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.

Praline Buttercream
1 recipe Swiss Buttercream
1/3 cup praline paste
1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)
Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.
Swiss Buttercream

4 lg. egg whites
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice
1 tsp. vanilla
Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a elevtric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.
Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.
Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become toooooo soft.*
On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.
Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.
Wait! My buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.
Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.
Praline Paste
1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless
2/3 cup Sugar
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.
Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.
Apricot Glaze
Good for one 10-inch cake
2/3 cup thick apricot preserves
1 Tbsp. water
In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.
Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.
Ganache Glaze
Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake
6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional, I used Kahlua)
¾ tsp. vanilla
½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed
Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.
Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!
Assembling Cake
Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.
Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.
Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.
Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-ich blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.
Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.
Garnish the cake with remaining buttercream.
Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.
Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Baking blonde strikes again! Here is another fabulous recipe from her blog. I made a few changes and cut the recipe in half. This was delicious and really easy to throw together. I highly recommend using unsweetened shredded coconut in place of oats. These were absolutely perfect! I would not change a thing about the way I prepared them.

1 cup Unbleached Flour
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut (original recipe calls for oats)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 T. margarine or butter, softened

1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping (I used hot caramel sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons Unbleached Flour
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I omitted)
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350°F.
Grease 8x8-inch pan.
Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In large bowl, combine all crust ingredients; mix at low speed until crumbly. Reserve half of crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture in bottom of greased pan.
Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine caramel topping and 1 1/2 tablespoons flour; blend well. Remove partially baked crust from oven; sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. Drizzle evenly with caramel mixture; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Return to oven; bake an additional 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until filling is set. Cut into bars.

Coconut Shrimp with Raspberry-Lime sauce

What a lovely dinner for a summer night!
The recipe for the shrimp is from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

Baked Coconut Shrimp
24 fresh or frozen jump shrimp in shells
2 T. cooking oil
1 1/2 c. unsweetened, shredded coconut, toasted (5 minutes at 350 degrees)
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 T. sugar (I would use 2 T. next time)
1/2 t. salt
3 slightly beaten egg whites

Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Peel and devein, leaving tails intact. Rinse shrimp; pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.
Spread oil on the bottom of 15x10x1" baking pan. Set pan aside. In large shallow dish combine coconut, cornstarch, sugar, and salt. In another small shallow dish place egg whites. Dip shrimp into the egg whites; coat with coconut mixture, pressing the mixture firmly onto the shrimp. Arrange shrimp on prepared pan. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until shrimp is opaque and coconut is golden, turning once. Serve with sauce.

Raspberry-Lime Dipping Sauce
1/2 c. Mayo
3 T. seedless, red raspberry jam
2 t. lime juice

Mix ingredients well. Chill until ready to serve.
Greta's rating: She ate it up! She really liked the dipping sauce :)

Dorene's Whole Wheat Bread

My friend Dorene says this is the best bread recipe and she is a wonderful baker/cook so I've been very excited to try it. But, once I had all of the ingredients in the bread machine, I quickly realized that my bread machine had died! Kitchen Aid to the rescue! I think that making this bread with the mixer actually was a shortcut. I made one small change to the ingredients which is noted before, and I've seen a recipe almost identical to this one that uses milk (at room temperature) in place of the water, so I think I'll try that next time. This bread is perfect for sandwiches. The crust is delightfully crusty and the middle is soft, but dense!
Dorene's Whole Wheat Bread
1 1/4 c. warm water
1 T. Vegetable Oil
2 T. Honey
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. bread flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1/4 c. wheat gluten
1 1/2 t. active dry yeast

For bread machine: Add all ingredients to machine in order given and start on whole wheat setting. Makes a 1.5 lb. loaf.
For the oven: Combine ingredients in mixer fitted with dough hook. Stir until ingredients form ball. Remove and knead by hand on floured surface for about 1-2 minutes. Place in greased bowl and cover. Let rise for 1 hour. Shape dough into loaf shape by folding sides under and ends under. Place in greased loaf pan messy side down. Using back of hand, press dough into loaf pan. Cover and let rise one hour. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies

When I thought about making brownies with peanut butter frosting- I thought it may be a bit much. WRONG.
The frosting recipe is based on Barefoot Contessa's recipe from the Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook. I've used this recipe countless times and it is especially great on the chocolate angel food cake here. But you'd have to double the recipe and add 1/3 c. heavy cream. The brownie recipe is from These are amazing! The texture of the brownies is perfect with the fluffy peanutbuttery frosting!

Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.
Peanut butter Frosting
1/2 c. peanut butter
3 T. butter
1/2 t. vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar

Beat butters, salt and vanilla. Add sugar. Frost cooled brownies.

Bruschetta Chicken

I wanted to use up some of my fresh basil-so I created this recipe!

Bruschetta Chicken

2 or 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (depending on size)

1-2T. Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Garlic powder

1/2 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

6-8 fresh basil leaves

sliced (or shredded)mozzarella cheese

grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Sprinkle each side of chicken breasts with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook chicken in oil until both sides are browned (turn only once) About 3-4 minutes each side. Remove to baking dish. Set aside. Add onion and garlic to skillet. Cook until onion is almost translucent and add tomatoes. Stir until combined and spoon over chicken. Cover each breast with 2-3 basil leaves. Then layer mozzarella slices on top of basil and grate fresh Parmesan over top. Bake for 10-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Greta's rating: Eh. She wasn't crazy about this one. She ate all of the cheese and some of the chicken, but the tomatoes were a no go.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

Another fabulous recipe from the fabulous Peabody! I did not have Tahitian vanilla beans, as the original recipe called for- but had some leftover domestic vanilla beans. This is the perfect sugar cookie- a little crispy around the edges and soft in the middle.

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
3 Tahitian vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped out (I used domestic vanilla beans)
1 egg
½ tsp cream of tartar
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
coarse sugar for decoration

In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add in the vanilla bean seeds and beat for another 30 seconds.
Add in egg and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 30 seconds.
Sift together flour, cream of tartar and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until incorporated.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass(you may want to grease it to avoid sticking) press down to make cookie flat. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake at 350F for 8-9 minutes. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes and them move to wire rack to completely cool.

Adapted from Caprial’s Desserts by Caprial Pence

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bananas Foster Crumb Cake

What a warm and fuzzy kind of recipe! I will be making this again once it is a fall. The recipe is from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody.

Bananas Foster Crumb Cake

For the Crumbs:
5 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
½ cup chopped walnuts

For the Bananas:

2 TBSP unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 TBSP banana liqueur (I used 2 T. vanilla extract)
2 TBSP dark rum (I used 1 T. rum flavoring)
2 large bananas, sliced in rounds

For the Cake:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
6 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter an 8 inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.

For the Crumb: Put all the ingredients except the nuts in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture forms clumps and curd and holds together when pressed. Scrape the topping into a bowl, stir r the nits and press a piece of plastic against the surface. Refrigerate until needed.

For the Bananas:

Combine the butter and sugar in a flambé pan or skillet.
Place the pan over low heat either on an alcohol burner or on top of the stove, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
Stir in the banana liqueur(I used 2T. vanilla), then place the bananas in the pan.(if not using liqueur, just add bananas)
When the banana slices soften and begin to brown, carefully add the rum (I used 1 T. rum flavoring, and then removed from heat). (again, if not using rum, simply take bananas out at this time)
Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum.
When the flames subside, lift the bananas out of the pan and place aside to cool until needed.

To make the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Add the butter and, with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the sugar with the butter at medium speed until light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beat for about 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla extract. Don’t be concerned if the batter looks curdled-it will soon smooth out. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, the flour in 3 parts and the buttermilk in 2(begin with the dry ingredients). You will have a thick, cream batter. Add the banana fosters mixture and mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds. You don’t really want chunks of bananas, you want them integrated like you would in banana bread.
Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth the top gently with the spatula. Pull the crumb mix from the refrigerator and, with your fingertips, break it into pieces. There’s no need to try to get even pieces-these are crumbs, they’re supposed to be lumpy and bumpy and every shape and size. Scatter the crumbs over the batter,. Pressing them down ever so slightly.
Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden and thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool just until it is warm or until it reaches room temperature.

Before serving drizzle with caramel sauce. I used premade sauce, but have a great caramel sauce under the dessert "Dorene's Cake".

Blue Cheese Rolls

If you like blue cheese....even just a little- these are heavenly! I will definitely use this easy, fast delicious recipe many, many times in the future. These would be great as an appetizer or with a meal. The recipe is from The Pioneer Woman Cooks! If you have not visited her website- please do. It is a lot of fun and her recipes have step by step photos and instructions that are great for beginner cooks! I split this recipe in half and it was MORE than enough for my husband, daughter and I.

Blue Cheese Rolls

2 sticks butter
4 to 6 ounces crumbled blue cheese
2 cans flaky biscuits

Combine butter and cheese on baking pan. Place into 350 oven for a couple of minutes, or until butter is melted. Remove from oven and stir. Cut biscuits into fourths, then toss in butter mixture. Bake on same pan (or different, if you prefer) for 8 to 12 minutes, or until golden. Eat warm.

Greta's rating: She could not get enough of these!