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 Allrecipes.com. 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!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quick Curry Chicken

Oh, how we love curry! This recipe was inspired by one at Good Things Catered. It was easy, but not particularly quick with all of my additions :)
Nonetheless, it was a delicious meal and I would most definitely make this again!

Quick Curry Chicken

3 large (4 modest) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1 1/2 in cubes
1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion, cut into 1 in. chunks
1 summer squash, sliced about 1/4 in thick
1 large carrot, chopped into chunks
1 c. cranberry potatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 oz. red curry saute sauce

-In wide braiser pan over medium heat, heat 1 tsp olive oil until almost smoking
-Meanwhile, pat chicken breast dry and season with salt and pepper.
-Add cubed chicken to pan and cook until side has lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
-Flip cubes and cook until other side has lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
-Remove chicken from pan, place in covered dish, and set aside.
-Add 1 tsp of oil to pan, repeat browning with remaining chicken and set aside.
-Heat remaining oil in pan and add onion pieces.
-Cook, stirring occasionally until beginning to cook down, about 3 minutes.
-Add potatoes and carrots, cook until just beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.
-Add summer squash and cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables have begun to brown, about 5 more minutes.
-Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
-Deglaze pan with scant 1/8 c. of water, scraping browned bits from bottom of pan.
-Stir in chicken and curry sauce
-Turn heat down to a low simmer, cover pan and cook for 10 minutes, or until chicken has cooked through.
-Can be served immediately over fragrant rice.
Greta's rating: She loved this, but she loves anything with rice. She especially liked the cooked carrots, the squash- not so much.

Frosted Marshmallow Brownies

You want to make these.
You want to make these.
You want to make these.
Seriously, I don't even like marshmallows and these were heavenly! Another awesome recipe from the Baking Blonde.
The only change I made to the original recipe was to add just a dash of salt to the frosting. Fab-u-lous!

Frosted Marshmallow Brownies

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBS baking cocoa
3-4 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350.
Lightly grease a 9×13 pan with PAM
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla beat until fluffy.
In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa. Stir to combine. Add the flour mixture to creamed mixture. spread in greased 9×13 pan.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until center is set. Remove from oven and sprinkle with marshmallows, return to oven 2-3 minutes, or just until marshmallows are soft.
Remove from oven. Using a knife dipped in water spread the melted marshmallows evenly over bars.

3/4 stick butter
6 TBS Milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup mini marshmallows or 4-6 large marshmallows
1/2 cup Chocolate chips (maybe up to 3/4 cup depending how chocolaty you want it)

Combine ingredients (except marshmallows and chocolate chips) in medium saucepan and melt over medium low heat. Stir constantly until combined. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute.
Add marshmallows and chocolate chips
Stir until marshmallows and chips are melted.
Remove from heat. Allow to cool and thicken slightly (can set in sink of cold water to speed up process). Pour and spread over marshmallows on bars.
Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tortilla and Black Bean Pie

This is a great dinner! I found this recipe at Liz's Cooking Blog. I will definitely be making this again. I really appreciate it when I'm reading a food blog and recipe ratings are included in the post. I have decided to include my 2 year old's rating of each recipe from now on. I realize that finding meals for children can be tricky- so hopefully this will be helpful to some. I will start including Greta's rating at the end of each post :)

Tortilla and Black Bean Pie

  • 4 (10-inch) whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno chile, minced (I used about 1/4 c. canned chilies)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 ounces beer, or 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish (I used fresh chives instead)
  • 2 1/2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream and salsa, for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a paring knife, trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch springform pan, using the bottom of the pan as a guide. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeno, garlic, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add beans and beer to skillet, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in corn and scallions, and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Fit a trimmed tortilla in bottom of springform pan; layer with 1/4 of the beans and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat three times, using 1 cup cheese on top layer. Bake until hot and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Unmold pie; sprinkle with scallions. To serve, slice into wedges and serve with sour cream and salsa.
Greta's rating: She loved this! She did pick out a few of the onions, but ate a ton of it!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Strawberry-Lime Stuffed Cupcakes

Ok, so a few posts ago I said I had found the perfect summer cupcake...I was wrong. These are the perfect summer cupcake, by far! I stumbled upon this recipe at Milk & Honey. I took her suggestions into account and made some alterations to the original recipe. The result was amazing- fluffy white cupcakes with a tangy center and flavorful frosting! You MUST make these for your next picnic

Strawberry-Lime Stuffed Cupcakes


1 1/2 cups cake
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
14 T. cup unsalted butter, melted (1/2 c. plus 6 T.)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest
3tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 drop green food coloring
6 large ripe strawberries, hulled (or 12 small)
Green sanding sugar (I used plain white)
Fresh mint leaves or candied leaves (I omitted)


Equipment: 6-cup jumbo muffin tin (I used 12 regular sized tins with smaller strawberries)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.

In another medium bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until light and foamy, about 2 minutes. While beating, gradually pour in the butter and then the vanilla.

While mixing slowly, add half the dry ingredients, then add all the milk, and follow with the rest of the dry ingredients. Take care not to over mix the batter. Divide the batter evenly in the prepared tin.

Bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove. Cool on the rack completely.

For icing: Mix the confectioners’ sugar and lime zest in a medium bowl. Add the lime juice and mix with an electric mixer to make a firm but pourable icing. (If needed, add up to 1 teaspoon more juice, but take care if the icing is too loose it won't set properly.) Add food color to make a pale pastel green icing.

To assemble: Remove cupcake from its liner. Cut and remove a strawberry (coned) shaped portion of cupcake from the top of each cupcake, leaving about 1/2 to 1-inch of cake in the bottom. (This was where I cut off my tops.) Stuff each cake with a strawberry and cover with a little bit of cake. Spoon and spread icing over the top of the cupcakes. Sprinkle with green sanding sugar. Top with small mint leaves or candied leaves.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Streusel Topped Blueberry Muffins

We have TONS of blueberries right now. I think my 2 year old may be addicted. So, in an attempt to keep her off the sauce :) I decided to use some of them for muffins. The original recipe I found was on allrecipes.com . This time I decided to make a healthier version and they really turned out awesome!

Streusel Topped Blueberry Muffins
1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 T. all-purpose flour
2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. lemon zest
1/2 c. skim milk
2 T. all-purpose flour
3 T. granulated sugar
2 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
2 T. butter, diced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners.
Combine 2 c. of flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. In small bowl, sprinkle 1-2 T. flour over blueberries, set aside. (This simple trick will keep you from having purple batter)
In large bowl, beat applesauce and 3/4 c. sugar. Beat in eggs, vanilla and lemon zest. Fold in dry ingredients alternately with milk. Fold in blueberries. Do not over work batter. Spoon into muffin cups.

Combine 2 T. flour, 2 T. brown sugar, 3 T. sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Cut in butter using fork or pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter in muffin cups.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chicken with Artichokes and Avgolemono

Here is another great recipe from Elly Says Opa!
My husband loved this so much he wants me to add it to the rotation of our "regulars". The lemon and artichokes make this dish very tangy and the texture of the sauce is fabulous! I will add more dill next time, however.

Chicken with Artichokes and Avgolemono

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 pieces bone-in chicken (I used 3 chicken breasts)
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1.5 cups chicken broth
Dill, to taste (I used 3 T. fresh dill)
1 cup artichoke hearts
1 egg
1 lemon, juiced
a little cornstarch
salt and pepper

Heat a pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and then brown in the hot oil. Remove the chicken, and add the diced onions to the pan, cooking until translucent. Stir in the garlic until fragrant. Add the chicken broth, being sure to scrape up all the browned bits as you deglaze, and bring to a boil. Add the dill, chicken, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

Add the artichoke hearts and continue to cook, this time uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the artichokes are tender. Season to taste if necessary.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, lemon juice and a little cornstarch. Slowly add a couple ladles full of the broth from the pan (I find it easier to plate the chicken first, so you don't have to maneuver around that) to the egg-lemon mixture, whisking constantly so your eggs don't scramble. Then, slowly add that mixture back into the pan, again whisking constantly. Stir until thickened. Pour the avgolemono sauce over the chicken and artichokes (and rice!)

Raspberry-Pecan Panini

My Mother in law is a fabulous cook. After the birth of each of my children- she was at the door with a fridge (and freezer) full of delicious food! This is one of the sandwiches she prepared for us. It is so simple, but wonderful. This would be great for a brunch or even a baby shower.

Raspberry-Pecan Panini
Sourdough bread, sliced
Provolone cheese, sliced
Seedless Red Raspberry Preserves
Chopped pecans
To assemble the sandwich, spread the raspberry preserves on one side of the bread. Sprinkle with pecans. On other side place cheese. Spread outside slices of bread with butter and grill in a panini press or George Foreman grill.

Kid Approved!!!

Breakfast Spaghetti

This is a variation of a recipe my Mom made for us growing up. This is great for breakfast or dinner and a great way to use up leftover spaghetti noodles.

Breakfast Spaghetti

1/2 c. chopped onion

1/2 c. diced bell pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

Olive oil

3 1/2 c. cooked spaghetti

2/3 c. sharp cheddar, shredded

3 eggs

salt and pepper

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Parmesan cheese, shredded

Saute onion, garlic and pepper in olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. When onions are not quite translucent add spaghetti noodles. Stir. Add eggs one at a time stirring constantly to make sure egg does not burn. Add cheddar. Stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crumbled bacon and Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Arista Di Maiale and Rosemary-Smoked Gouda Polenta

What a delicious dinner! This recipe is from The Joy of Cooking. The original recipe is for a roasted pork loin, but pork butt roast was on sale- so I used a different cut of meat. My husband ate soooo much of this meat- the flavor is absolutely great. The butt roast did have to cook much longer than a loin, but it was worth the wait. I served this with a Rosemary-Smoked Gouda Polenta. I always thought I didn't like foods made with corn meal. It turns out, I don't like bad foods made with corn meal. The Polenta is quick and easy. The recipe is from Elly Says Opa! She has a plethora of amazing recipes! Check it out :)

Arista Di Maiale
(Roast Pork Loin)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
4 t. chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
2 t. olive oil
3 lb. pork loin

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Make deep slits in meat and stuff with garlic mixture. Rub remaining mixture over top of pork. Rub meat with olive oil. Cook in 450 degree oven for 10 minutes and turn heat down to 275. Cook an additional 40-85 minutes (or longer if using butt roast)

Rosemary-Smoked Gouda Polenta
4 c. chicken stock
1 c. cornmeal
ground pepper
2 sprigs rosemary
2 T. butter
4 oz. smoked gouda

Bring chicken stock, rosemary and black pepper to a boil. Slowly whisk in cornmeal. Cover and cook an additional 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Corn and Apricot Muffins with Orange Essence

I've been wanting to try this recipe from my Inside America's Test Kitchen cookbook. I've made a few changes just to save time! They turned out great. What an awesome addition to a home cooked meal.

Corn and Apricot Muffins with Orange Essence
2 c. Unbleached AP flour
1 c. fine ground, whole grain yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. dark brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 c. sour cream
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
2/3 c. apricot preserves, warmed slightly
2/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. grated orange zest
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
In second bowl, whisk eggs until well combined. Add sugars, whisk until homogenous. Add melted butter in 3 additions, whisking after each. Add half the sour cream and half the milk. Whisk to combine; whisk remaining sour cream and milk. Set aside
In small bowl combine 2/3 c. sugar with 1 1/2 t. orange zest. Rub together using fingers until well mixed and light orange. Set aside.
Combine flour mixture with egg mixture using a rubber spatula until just combined and evenly moistened. Do not over mix.
Spoon approximately 2 T. of batter into each muffin tin. Top with about 1 t. of apricot preserves. Then cover each again with remaining batter (about 2 T. again). Before baking sprinkle a portion of the orange sugar over each mound of batter. Bake until light golden brown, about 18 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes then using a paring knife lift each onto a wire rack to cool. Serve warm.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

Tonight, my husband asked for some fresh cookies (he never does this). I've been wanting to try this recipe from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook, Baking From My Home to Yours, for awhile now. This recipe is fabulous and easily replaces our old favorite recipe!

Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters


3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup peanut butter- chunky or smooth
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or chunks

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Whisk together the oats, flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients, beating only until blended. Mix in the chips . If you have the time, cover and chill the dough for about two hours, or for up to 1 day.

If the dough is not chilled, drop rounded tablespoonfuls two inches apart onto the baking sheets. If the dough is chilled, scoop up rounded tablespoons, roll the balls between your palms and place them 2″ apart on the baking sheets. Press the chilled balls gently with the heel of your hand until they are about 1/2″ thick.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 7 minutes. The cookies should be golden and just firm around the edges. Lift the cookies onto cooling racks with a wide metal spatula - they'll firm as they cool.

Repeat with the remaining cooling the baking sheets between batches.

Quick and Easy BBQ Chicken Pizza

Quick and Easy BBQ Chicken Pizza

8 Whole wheat Pita bread halves
2 Garlic Cloves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 c. Cooked, cubed Chicken
1/3 c. BBQ sauce
Onion, sliced
Colby Jack cheese
Parmesan cheese

Preheat Oven to 425. Lay pita bread out on baking sheet to form 4 mini pizzas. Drizzle each with Olive oil. Rub the pita bread with a cut garlic clove and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss chicken in BBQ sauce and place 1/2 c. on each pizza. Top with onion, shredded Colby Jack and Parmesan cheeses. *Mince garlic cloves and sprinkle on before baking if desired* Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Pina Colada Cupcakes

We decided to go on a family picnic today. What a perfect excuse to try a recipe for Pina Colada Cupcakes! I found a recipe at Good Things Catered, but did not have all the ingredients- so I made many substitutions. The next time I make these- I will toast the coconut topping and call them Toasted Coconut Cupcakes.

Piña Colada Cupcakes

2 1/4 c. sifted cake flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
2 large eggs
1/2 c. pineapple juice
1/2 c. milk
2t. rum extract
1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
Pineapple frosting
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 T. plus 1 t. pineapple juice
2 c. powdered sugar
Extra shredded coconut to top

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with baking cups.
-Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
-Combine pineapple juice and milk in small bowl, mix to combine and set aside.
-Place sugar and oil in mixer and mix until well blended.
-Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
-Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
-Stir in rum extract and fold in coconut.
-Spoon batter into prepared pans.
-Sharply tap the pans once on counter top to remove air bubbles.
-Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
-Cool in pans 10 minutes on wire racks, and remove from pans. Cool completely on wire racks.
-When cupcakes are completely cool, frost with frosting and roll tops in shredded coconut.

Turkey Kafta

This dish was found at Culinary Infatuation.
It is traditionally made with lamb and beef, but Ally made it successfully with ground chicken and I had some ground turkey- so I thought I'd give it a try. This really was great- the cucumber-yogurt dipping sauce is great for a summer night!

Chicken Kafta

1 lb ground chicken (or turkey)
1/4 cup grated onion
2 tbs. fresh chopped parsley
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. olive oil
1.5 Tbs. bread crumbs (I used this because the grated onion made the meat rather wet)
salt and pepper to taste (I would use 1/2 t. salt at least next time)

Preheat oven to broil
Mix all ingredients together and shape into oblong patties. Lightly oil an oven safe grill pan and arrange the patties on top. put in broiler and cook for about 5-6 minutes each side. (the temp may vary so keep an eye on them.)

Serve with a simple puree of cucumber, mint, and yogurt.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe is terrific and I will most definitely be making it again! This will be a perfect recipe for a fall evening. I found it at Lindsey's Kitchen. My changes are noted below.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Lime Crema
2 halves roasted butternut squash
2 cups vegetable broth (I used homemade chicken stock)
1 teaspoon garlic powder (I used 2 minced garlic cloves)
1 teaspoon onion powder (I used 1/2 c. chopped onion)
1 teaspoon curry powder
Salt and ground black pepper
Lime Crema, recipe follows
Lime zest, to garnish, if desired

Scoop flesh out of butternut squash with a spoon. In a medium saucepan, combine broth, flesh of butternut squash, garlic powder, onion powder, curry powder, salt and pepper. Set pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer, about 10 minutes. Puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Ladle into bowls. Serve with a dollop of Lime Crema and garnish with extra lime zest, if desired.

Lime Crema:
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream (I used 4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese)
1/4 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice (I used the juice of 1/2 of a lime)

In a small bowl, combine sour cream, lime zest, and lime juice. Whisk to combine. Serve over Curried Butternut Squash Soup. Serve with crusty bread.