Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Neighborly Gifts Part II

I knew I wanted a chocolate cookie to include in my neighborly holiday package and wanted something more than the standard chocolate chip cookies. I'd saved a few recipes for chocolate crinkle cookies yet I'd never actually had one! I wasn't truly happy with this recipe as it just did not contain enough chocolate for me. I added melted chocolate to my dough because it just didn't look dark enough. I think I'd add more than I did next time... or I might try another recipe! They were still pretty good though!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
adapted from Brownies for Dinner

1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
2+ ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
powdered sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Blend butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at at time and mix until smooth. Add cocoa powder, canola oil and mix. In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, salt and flour and add slowly add to mixture until just combined. Melt chocolate slowly in microwave and fold in to mixture.

Refrigerate cookie dough for 2+hours (or overnight). Roll dough into small balls (~1/2 to 1 inch) and roll in powdered sugar. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Neighborly Gifts Part 1

I decided to break out the neighborly cheer and make some goodies for my neighbors... one of my neighbors never answer his door so his cookies were brought in to my work holiday party! I spent last weekend baking up a storm... I made lemon-poppyseed cookies, chocolate crinkle cookies, oreo truffles and peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies (I think I forgot to photograph these-- next time!).

My first love is chocolate so I don't end up making many non-chocolate cookies or desserts of any kind. I had seen a lemon poppyseed cookie recipe a while back and bookmarked it... in the attempts to broaden my tastes. I think they turned out pretty well, very lemony... I just need to work on the icing a bit to make it less watery (perhaps I should at least measure how much lemon juice next time!)

Lemon Poppyseed Cookies
Baking Bites

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp poppyseeds

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in egg.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix until just combined, then stir in poppyseeds. Drop by 1-inch balls onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, until cookies are set and just begin to brown at the edges (the bottoms may be lightly browned, but not the top of the cookies)

Cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool before glazing.

Lemon Glaze
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tbsp lemon juice

Whisk together juice and sugar until icing is a smooth, pourable consistency. Add additional juice if yours is too thick to drizzle easily or additional sugar if it is too thick.

Drizzle over cookies. Cookies should not be hot, but it is ok if they are not completely at room temperature before frosting.

Cookies must be cooled to room temperature before being stored.

Makes 2 dozen.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Mint + Chocolate = Awesomeness

Last year, I was at the market and stumbled across Andes Mint Baking Chips... I thought in that moment, I had died and gone to heaven. I couldn't wait to get home and test those puppies out! I searched for recipes that already had mint chips in them and nothing tickled my fancy.

One of the first places I look to for recipes is the King Arthur site... and they pulled through like a champ! I've made these cookies probably a dozen times now and they are one of my favorites!

Andes Mint/ Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from King Arthur Drop Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, light or dark, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
3/4 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chip morsels
1 cup Andes Mint baking chips
1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment.
2) Beat together the butter, sugars, salt, vanilla, baking soda, and baking powder till well combined.
3) Add the egg, beating till smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat again till smooth.
4) Add the flour, mixing it in completely.
5) Beat in the milk, then the chips.
6) Drop the cookies by the traditional "tablespoonful" (actually about 2 measuring tablespoons) onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2" apart. A tablespoon cookie scoop works well here.
7) Bake the cookies for 14 to 16 minutes, until they're a light golden brown, and a bit darker around the edges.
8) Remove them from the oven, and cool right on the baking sheets.


Friday, December 18, 2009

The Making of a Meringue

I lost my camera battery charger... so until I find it, I am protesting cooking & baking... I'm really hoping it shows up soon! I think I only have a few more saved pictures to use as back-up until it resurfaces.

My BFF Kelly has passed along another fabulous recipe which her mother taught her how to make... meringues can be tricky and tempermental to make. Before I had my amazing saving-grace of a kitchenaid mixer, it was pretty impossible for me to get egg whites to the right consistency. This was my first time making them in a while so I still need to improve on them, but they are pretty darn good!

Meringues ala Joni S.
4 egg whites (best at room temperature)
1 1/2 cup sugar (start with 1 cup and continue up to 1/2 cup additional)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
12 oz chocolate chips (or whatever additives you like!)

Preheat oven to 300.

I find it easier to separate eggs when they are cold but it's easier to whip the eggs when they are at room temperature... so you if you separate them and then prep/ do some dishes for a half hour, that should be enough time to let them come to room temperature.

Whip egg whites until stiff, then gradually add sugar. Fold in remaining ingredients. Bake for 25 mins on parchement paper or brown paper bag.

I'm planning on making them with andes mint baking chips soon! You can substitute whatever you want and I'm sure it will taste great.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I hate the smell of bananas...

but I love banana bread! I peel the bananas really quickly so that I can get through the nastiness that is the banana smell. I've modified the recipe that my mom always made from The Silver Palate Cookbook. I'm really particular about the condition of bananas when I eat them so I tend to have a bunch in the freezer- once they are ripe (more than the perfect yellow, non-bruised banana), I won't eat them, so I tend to make a lot of bread!

Banana Bread
adapted from The Silver Palate

1 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (I use 3-4 whole bananas)
2 cups flour (1 cup all purpose; 1 cup white whole wheat)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (I use less)
1/2 cup sour cream (or buttermilk)
1 tsp vanilla
1/8+ tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp flaxseed, optional (I didn't grind it up, just threw it in whole)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray (you could make 1 large one instead)
3. Cream butter & sugar together.
4. Add eggs and beat well.
5. Add mashed bananas, mixing thoroughly.
6. Sift dry ingredients and add to banana mixture. Stir until just combined.
7. Add sour cream (buttermilk), vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon & flaxseed and mix until just combined.
8. Pour into prepared pans and bake 25-30 minutes or until knife comes out clean. This time, I baked the loafs for at least 35 minutes-- it still looked pretty gooey when I the buzzer sounded at 25 minutes.

These also make great muffins, both of which freeze well. With the muffins, I freeze them and pop one into the toaster in the morning. It's a great breakfast on the go!



Monday, December 14, 2009

Not the "lesser babka"...

To humor my husband, I'm using a Seinfeld reference! He will be so proud.
Happy Hanukkah!!! Our family had our celebration today-- my mom made latkes & applesauce-- both of which are always so good!


I made coffee cake again, this time correctly, with eggs... now that's what it's supposed to look like!


The other night, I was reading my Cooking Light magazine and saw a recipe for chocolate babka... I debated whether or not to make it since I already planned on the coffee cake but I'm glad I did. It was a lot of work and I felt the directions were kind of confusing, but it turned out to be pretty good!

Chocolate Babka
Cooking Light

1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 cup warm 1% low-fat milk (105° to 110°) skim milk (it's all I had)
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
7.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 2/3 cups), divided
5.85 ounces bread flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
5 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and softened
Cooking spray

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces semisweet bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, softened


1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and yeast in warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and egg yolk. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 6 ounces (about 1 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour and bread flour to milk mixture; beat with dough hook attachment at medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). Add 5 tablespoons butter, beating until well blended. Scrape dough out onto a floured surface (dough will be very sticky). Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add 1.5 ounces (about 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will be very soft).

I found these directions challenging-- I ended up kneading the dough completely with the mixer but I think it does need to be kneaded by hand more next time.
2. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let dough rest 5 minutes.

3. Line the bottom of a 9 x 5–inch loaf pan with parchment paper; coat sides of pan with cooking spray.

4. To prepare filling, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside.

5. Place dough on a generously floured surface; roll dough out into a 16-inch square. Sprinkle filling over dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edges. Roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam and ends to seal. Holding dough by ends, twist dough 4 times as if wringing out a towel. Fit dough into prepared pan. Cover and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

6. Preheat oven to 350°.

7. To prepare streusel, combine powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, and 1 tablespoon softened butter, stirring with a fork until mixture is crumbly; sprinkle streusel evenly over dough. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until loaf is browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool bread completely on wire rack before slicing.
I don't have a thermometer so I couldn't tell the temperature of the milk... I just guessed, which I'm assuming could affect the yeast. I also didn't have patience to let the dough rise enough since it took longer than I planned. In the end, it tasted really good, but definitely could have been lighter (less dense)!


Look at the chocolate oozing out of it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Leftover apple pie ingredients

I had some leftover dough from the apple pie from Thanksgiving and I wanted to use it up before it went bad. I decided to make an apple turnover! It was a really nice treat!

Apple Turnover

Leftover pie dough from apple pie
2 cups sliced apples
1/4 cup sugar
cinnamon, nutmeg & allspice

Preheat oven to 375.

Roll out dough into a circle. Mix sliced apples with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg & allspice. Place apples on half of the dough circle. Top with slices of butter and fold dough over the apple mixture. Fold the bottom layer of dough over the top and crimp closed. Brush with egg whites. Cut a few vent holes in the top. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown.




Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wild Rice is hard to find!

My BFF, Kelly, is an awesome cook... she is one of the people I aspire to be like because she creates meals without a recipe in front of her! I'm starting to do that more often but she is just an incredible cook and a truly great friend.

Photo from our rehearsal dinner

Kelly has told me all about her mushroom and wild rice soup that she creates... I'm always hounding her for her recipes-- she told me a bit about what how she makes it and I found a similar recipe on one of the blogs I follow so I mixed the two together. I had heard that Wild Rice was relatively hard to locate so I stopped at Whole Foods thinking that would be my best option... their bags of exotic wild rice were a ridiculous price! I walked out of there with a box of Near East Long Grain & Wild Rice. On the way home, I ran into Market Basket to grab an onion that I forgot on my first trip and decided to breeze down the rice aisle to see what they had. Low & behold, they had Reese Wild Rice which happens to be perfect since Kelly is originally from Minnesota, just like the rice! Kelly has also told me about her sweet potato biscuits that she has made several times and how she loves them. I came across a recipe for sweet potato rolls the other day so I knew I needed to try it.

Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup
based on my BFF Kelly's recipe & Sweet Cheeks in the Kitchen

olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup leek, chopped
2-3 tbsp butter
1 cup + 4 tsp dry white wine
4-5 carrots, peeled & sliced
3 celery sticks, sliced
12ish crimini mushrooms, sliced (you can use whatever & how ever many mushrooms you want)
5ish shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 large portabello mushroom, sliced
1 package wild rice, cooked
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
basil, cumin, chili powder, salt & pepper to taste
4 tsp flour

Sprinkle olive oil in a pot on medium heat. Add onions, garlic & leeks- cook for about 10 minutes. Add butter and stir. Add carrots & celery, cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and let sit for a few minutes. Add wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Add broth & spices, bring mixture to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Mix flour & remaining wine together. Add flour-wine mixture and rice, bring mixture to a boil again and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Salt & pepper to taste.


Sweet Potato Rolls
Recipe from; adapted from

2 1/4 tsp. (1 package) RapidRise yeast (you can use normal active dry yeast, but this is much faster)
2 tbsp. white sugar, divided
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
4 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup fresh, cooked and pureed sweet potatoes or canned sweet potato puree (I used fresh)
3 tbsp. margarine, softened
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
5 cups flour, or however much you need (I used 4 1/2ish cups)

  1. Dissolve yeast, warm water, and 1 tbsp. white sugar in a large mixing bowl. Let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Add remaining sugar, sweet potato, butter, salt, and eggs. Mix well. I used my stand mixer, because I think I think it’s easier to mix bread in it, but you can still make this without a mixer.
  3. Add in 4-5 cups of flour. The goal should be to get it form into a ball, but that never really happened for me. I think I had about 4 1/2 cups of flour and switched to the dough hook of my mixer and mixed for a few minutes to get it smooth. Turn out on a very floured surface and knead lightly for a few minutes. If you mixed with a dough hook you shouldn’t need to do this for too long/at all. The goal is to get smooth dough. Shape into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat the surface. Cover and let rise about 1 hour or longer (shouldn’t need more than an hour with the RapidRise yeast, but if you have time to let it sit longer, that’s better because it will develop more flavor). Alternately, you should be able to make these the night before and let them rise slowly in the fridge. Take them out of the fridge the next day and let stand for an hour before proceeding.
  4. Punch down, and allow dough to rest for 2 minutes. Divide into 16 to 20 balls (it was still sticky, so I had to make sure my hands were covered in flour the whole time), and place on a greased cookie sheet or in a 9×13 inch pan. Allow to rise until doubled.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees (F) for 12 to 20 minutes (depends on how big you made them). Serve warm, topped with butter.
Makes 16-20 rolls

I only baked 3 of these and froze the rest! I'm excited to have them another time. I really really liked them!!!



Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fettucini, Chicken & Broccoli Quick Dinner

This is a quick & easy dinner that you can whip together in 20 minutes! On the way home from the gym, I realized we didn't have dinner figured out. I ran into Market Basket & grabbed 4 ingredients and headed home.

Fettucini, Chicken & Broccoli

1 pkg whole wheat fettucini
1 chicken roaster (Market Basket has great Perdue roasters!)
2 heads broccoli
1 lemon, juiced & zested
garlic salt to taste

Boil water & cook fettucini as directed.

Steam broccoli (or prepare as you like).

Shred chicken in a large bowl, add fresh lemon juice. Combine broccoli, fettucini & chicken and mix together with lemon zest. Sprinkle garlic salt to taste. Enjoy with a nice glass of wine!


Monday, December 7, 2009

Eggs are essential...

Otherwise, your coffee cake will look like this:

Update: Here is a slice of coffee cake WITH eggs in it.

Last weekend, a group of high school friends had a brunch get-together. I offered to bring a few baked goods and spent the morning baking. I made Raspberry Pecan Muffins, the coffee cake pictured above and chocolate-chocolate chunk muffins. The coffee cake was a hit, even missing the eggs... the eggs would have held it together a bit more & made it fluffier but it still tasted good!

World's Best Coffee Cake
The Uncommon Gourmet's All Occassion Cookbook

1 cup sour cream
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp dried grated orange peel
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted (Danimal doesn't like nuts in his baked goods, so I omitted)
cinnamon-sugar for garnish

Combine the sour cream and baking soda and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9 inch tube pan (I use a bundt pan).

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and orange peel and beat well.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream to the batter.

Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts. Spoon into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top generously with cinnamon-sugar.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a rack and serve warm, or let cool and serve at room temperature.

12 or more servings

Chocolate Chocolate-Chunk Muffins
Smells Like Home
Original source: Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours

3/4 stick (6 tbsp) unsalted butter
4oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped 1 cup chocolate chunk pieces (Nestle)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 (350 for a dark nonstick pan) degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Melt the butter and half of the chopped chocolate together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; or do this in a microwave. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients and the melted butter and chocolate over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – a few lumps are better than overmixing the batter. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for about 20 18 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thanksgiving Recap Continued

In an attempt to recap the rest of Thanksgiving, here is my plate:

We had an incredible amount of food and each dish just complemented the rest! It was a great evening and I am already looking forward to next year! My mom and I made popovers from a recipe she received from a friend... through a quick good search, I believe I found the original recipe... so hopefully I credited it right! My absolute favorite dish is candied sweet potatoes from a recipe my aunt's mother used to make. I just love it!

My mom's BFF helped prep basil, julienne style, for our broccoli dish... look at what a great job she did!

I believe it's Laurent Tourondel's BLT recipe... 
12 to 14 popovers

4 cups milk (warmed)
8 large eggs
4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese

  1. Place the popover pan in the oven. Heat the oven and pan to 350F.
  2. Gently warm the milk over low heat and set aside.
  3. Whisk egg until frothy and slowly whisk in the milk (so as not to cook the eggs). Set the mixture aside.
  4. Sift the flour with the salt. Slowly add this mixture and gently combine until mostly smooth. Once the mixture and gently combine until mostly smooth. We mixed all the gruyere into the batter by mistake but it tasted really good that way.
  5. Once combined remove the popover pan from the oven and spray with non-stick vegetable spray. While the batter is slight warm or room temperature, fill each popover cup with 3/4 full.
  6. Top each popover with approximately 2 1/2 Tbsp. of grated gruyere. (We omitted this step as it was mixed in the batter.)
  7. Bake at 350F for 50 minutes, rotating pan half a turn after 15 minutes of baking.
  8. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan and serve immediately

Look at how light & fluffy they are!

Candied Sweet Potatoes
recipe from Mary Nevius (my aunt's mother)

6 medium sweet potatoes

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp grated orange rind (or cinnamon)
chopped walnuts

Boil sweet potatoes, with skins on, for about 30 minutes or until you can pierce with a fork. Once cooked, peel potatoes & cut lengthwise.

Combine butter, brown sugar, juice, salt & rind/ cinnamon and add to an electric skillet.

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring about 2 min. Add sweet potatoes to syrup & simmer 10 min spooning syrup over potatoes & turning. Serve hot, garnish w/ chopped walnuts.

I couldn't get a photograph of these that could capture the incredible goodness these potatoes are....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Recap

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone... at least we have some reminders of the day in our fridge that we are slowly enjoying. My parents hosted our family, my uncles, cousin and our family friends. After work on Wednesday, I rushed home to start cooking my share of the meal. Wednesday night, I made an apple pie, be it not the prettiest apple pie, but it tasted great. I learned that the oven time is NOT an alarm clock. I set it and lay down, thinking I'd just shut my eyes and rest while it was cooking... well, the timer went off and I must have been in a deep sleep because it did not register. The pie is cooked, not completely overdone, but definitely cooked more than I had wanted it to. After a great nights sleep, Thursday morning, I made spinach & artichoke stuffing. When I arrived at my parents house, I made the garlic roasted mashed potatoes. I also helped my mother with popovers! We had a gorgeous and delicious spread of food to consume. It was a great evening with family and friends.



Apple Pie
King Arthur


2 1/2 cups Mellow Pastry Blend or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons ice water

8 cups sliced apples
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup boiled cider or undiluted apple juice concentrate
2 tablespoons butter, diced in small pieces

1) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
2) Cut in the shortening until it's in lumps the size of small peas.
3) Dice the butter into 1/2" pieces, and cut into the mixture until you have flakes of butter the size of your fingernail.

4) Add the water, two tablespoons at a time, mixing with a fork as you sprinkle the water into the dough
5) When the dough is moist enough to hold together when you squeeze it, transfer it to a piece of wax or parchment paper. It's OK if there are some dry spots in the pile. Use a spray bottle of water to lightly spritz these places; that way you'll add just enough water to bring the dough together without creating a wet spot.
6) Fold the dough over on itself three or four times to bring it together, then divide it in half and pat it into two disks 3/4" thick.
7) Roll the disk on its edge, like a wheel, to smooth out the edges. This step will ensure your dough will roll out evenly, without a lot of cracks and splits at the edges later. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.
8) Lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan that's at least 2 inches deep. This will make serving the pie easier after it's baked.
9) Combine the sliced apples and lemon juice in a large mixing bowl. I sliced the apples really thin as suggested on the KAF website. It makes the slices look nice and clean and I personally think it tastes better.
10) In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, and spices. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples, and stir to coat them. Stir in the boiled cider or apple juice concentrate.

11) Roll out half of the pastry to a 13" circle. Transfer it to the prepared pan, and trim the edges so they overlap the rim of the pan by an inch all the way around.

12) Spoon the apple filling into the pan. Dot the top with the diced butter.

13) Roll out the remaining pastry to an 11" circle. Cut decorative vent holes, if desired. Carefully place the pastry over the apples.
14) Time to preheat the oven to 425°F.
15) Roll the overhanging bottom crust up and over the top crust, pinching to seal the two.

16) Flute the edges of the pie, then place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up the crust while the oven finishes heating.

17) Place the pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the pie for 20 minutes at 425°F, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for 40 minutes more, until you see the filling bubbling inside the pie. Check the pie after half an hour of baking time, and cover the edges with foil or a pie shield to keep them from browning too quickly.
18) When the pie is done, remove it from the oven and cool it completely before slicing.


Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
1 head of garlic
5 lbs Yukon Gold pototoes
1 container Cabot sour cream
2 sticks Cabot unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
Slice of the top of the head of garlic. Wrap in tin foil and roast in an oven for 50-70 minutes at 375.
Wash and peel the potatoes. Slice in 4 sections and place them in a stock pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until cooked. Test with a fork after about 13 minutes.
Drain the water, and return the potatoes back to the pot. Using a potato masher, encorporate the sour cream, butter and roasted garlic cloves until you get the a creamy and garlicy flavor. I used the whole container of sour cream and about 14 tbsp butter and about 10 or so garlic cloves. Salt & pepper to taste. I estimated how much I used but I don't like my potatoes too salty or peppery.
Stay tuned for posts about the popovers and a few other dishes!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Friends Thanksgiving

Every year for the past 4 years, a friend has hosted an annual "Friends Thanksgiving" where she gathers friends and has a feast of epic proportions. Everyone brings a dish to contribute and it is a nice smorgesborg. Several people now have standard dishes they are expected to bring.

Four years ago, I made a recipe at the suggestion of my sister and it has been a hit. Savory Spinach & Artichoke Stuffing is pretty great recipe as it is... I've only made a few adjustments but nothing huge. It's relatively labor intensive but I now have a system after making it so many times soI just get antsy because I can't wait to dig in! 

Savory Spinach & Artichoke Stuffing
Emeril Lagasee Food Network


1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 pounds spinach, washed (3 cups cooked and roughly chopped)
2 cups chopped yellow onions ends up being 1 onion
1 tablespoon roughly chopped garlic
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Emeril's Italian Essence, or other Italian seasoning blend
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 (8 1/2-ounce) cans quartered artichoke hearts, any tough outer leaves removed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream light cream
2 cups chicken stock broth
2 tablespoons lemon juice
12 to 14 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old French bread (1 loaf)
1 pound Brie, rind removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes  1 small (8 oz) round, regular Brie; 1 small (7oz) round, light Brie
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 30 seconds. Drain and rinse with cold water. Once cool, squeeze as much water from spinach as possible, then roughly chop, and reserve. I take a small handful of spinach, wrap it in a paper towel, and squeeze the water out. You can also use a clean dish cloth and twist to squeeze the water out.

I haven't found an easy way to remove the rinds besides using a long, sharp knife (not a Santakou knife) and a peeler. I didn't use a peeler this time but I have in the past and it's worked ok. The brie tends to melt easily so it's best to work fast and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, 2 teaspoons of Italian Essence, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the artichokes and cook, stirring, another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve.

Combine the eggs, cream, chicken broth, lemon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon Italian Essence, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Whisk to combine. In a large bowl or stock pot, combine the bread, spinach, artichoke mixture, brie, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and parsley and mix together. Add the liquid mixture to the bread/spinach/ artichoke mixture.  If bread does not absorb all of liquid immediately then let rest until this happens, about 20 minutes.
Pour the bread pudding mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan over the top and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake until firm in the center and golden brown, about 1 hour. Serve warm.

This picture was before being cooked

I thought I took a larger picture after it was cooked but I guess I didn't! I will update with better pictures after Thanksgiving when I make it again.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Channeling My Nana Ruby

My Nana Ruby is the person I picture when I am baking. She was an incredible baker, who made all our birthday cakes, bat/ bar mitzvah cakes and my parents wedding cake. She also had a killer apple pie! I remember sitting on a stool as a young kid and peeling apples... but I had to peel it in one piece and leave as much meat on the apple as possible. Nana Rubs also had this amazing chocolate cake that was our favorite. She called it Mississippi Mud Cake. Unfortunately Nana Ruby never wrote her recipes down and it was too late by the time we thought to ask her for it. I've been on a mission to replicate her Mississippi Mud Cake for a while... when I look for recipes called "Mississippi Mud Cake" it is definitely not what she made. We think she may have used part of the Hershey recipe so here I am...

Two of my coworkers are celebrating their 60th birthdays this year and my department is throwing a surprise party for them on Friday. I offered to make the cake. My goal for the winter is to take a cake decorating class so I can learn proper decorating techniques. All and all I think it turned out well. I'll update with pictures of a cake slice once we cut into it :)

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.


Chocolate Ganache Fillling
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tbsp butter

Chop chocolate and place in a bowl. Heat cream & butter on the stove. When cream boils, pour over chocolate and mix. I used a mixer to whip it for a bit as well.

Cake with a thick layer of whipped chocolate ganache

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2-2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat butter in medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk; beat to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Here is my pathetic attempt at cake decorating! Hopefully this doesn't get submitted to CakeWrecks- such a horrible job decorating... it was past 11pm at this point and I was a little delirious & hopped up on frosting!
This is the best picture I was able to take at the birthday celebration...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yummm.... Pancakes!

Danimal woke up this morning to a smell of something baking... he ran to the oven to see what muffins I whipped up. He came sulking out of the kitchen with the knowledge that I did not bake for him but that I made another batch of pumpkin pie biscuits for the pup. Therefore I was feeling guilty and made him some pancakes using some leftover buttermilk.

Oatmeal Pancakes
adapted from recipe received in middle school home-ec class

1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup fat-free buttermilk
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tbsp sugar
2 TB vegetable oil
1 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 egg

Beat all ingredients in a medium bowl with a hand beater until smooth (for thinner pancakes, stir in 2-4 TB of additional milk)

Using a non-stick skillet, lightly spray with cooking oil (or small dab of butter) and heat over medium-low heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the hot pan.

Cook until pancakes are puffed and dry around edges. Turn and cook other sides until golden brown. Serve with applesauce if desired.

Makes 10-12 pancakes.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Night Simplicity

After a long week at work, the last thing I want to do is spend Friday evening making dinner... Taco Salad is a quick and easy dinner to prepare in less than 20 minutes. This is a great dish for a light summer dinner and has the ability to be made year-round as the ingredients tend to be readily available. This has been a staple in my family's life for a long time!

Taco Salad
1 lb ground turkey (93/7)
1 pkg taco seasoning mix (low sodium)
1 head lettuce (or 1 bag of prewashed lettuce)
1 cucumber
1 box grape tomatoes (or regular tomato)
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 can black beans (or kidney beans, or both!), drained & rinsed
1 can whole kernal corn
1 avocado
bag of doritos (we used baked doritos)
Fat-Free Thousand Island dressing

In a pan, brown the meat. Drain excess liquid and add seasoning mix and water as directed by the package of seasoning mix. Cook til completed.

Slice tomatoes in half, length-wise. Peel cucumber & slice into rounds. I slice the rounds in half again so they are half-moon shaped. Drain & rinse the black beans & corn. Slice avocado, chop the bell pepper. Combine these ingredients plus lettuce in a large bowl.

Add ground turkey meat and mix together. Serve with crumbled doritos and Thousand Island dressing. We notice that the lettuce wilts faster if the dressing is added to it and the doritos get soggy. If you are planning on having leftovers, keep the doritos & dressing separate and mix as you go.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The most non-photogenic meal ever.


I've been busy this week! Monday evening was spent at the vet and then baking cookies to thank the clinic. Tuesday, I baked a Tollhouse Cookie Pie and a coffee cake for our friends and their family. The cookie pie recipe is on the fritz and I need to play with it to get it to work right. I ended up keeping that one because it didn't pass inspection. I didn't take any pictures so I'll make the coffee cake again soon and  post about it- it sure is yummy!

I spotted two recipes recently that enticed me and I wanted to try them out. Danimal looooooves artichokes so I knew I needed to test out Artichoke Chicken. The other, couscous with butternut squash & cranberry salad sounded like something I'd enjoy. All in all it was a decent dinner but I wasn't thrilled with the results.

Artichoke Chicken
Adapted from

1 (15 oz) can of artichokes, drained & chopped
3/4 cup 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 pinch garlic powder  3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (my package had 3)
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a medium bowl, mix together the artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, garlic, and mushrooms. Place chicken in a greased baking dish, and cover evenly with artichoke mixture.

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center and juices run clear.
 This recipe was just ok. I'm not a fan of creamy chicken dishes but I wanted to see how it could work. The chicken was moist and had a decent flavor but nothing great. Danimal rated it a 6 out of 10. I probably wouldn't make this again.
Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash and Cranberries

adapted from Erin's Food Files ( ) which was adapted from TheKitchn
Makes about 5 servings

1 medium butternut squash (or other hard winter squash), peeled* and cut into 1-inch chunks
3/4 cup uncooked cous cous  1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water  2 cups water
1 onion, diced
4-5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of one orange
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cumin
1-3 teaspoons salt--to taste
1 can garbanzo beans--rinsed & drained
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss squash with a bit of olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Roast squash, stirring occasionally, until tender - -about 30 minutes. Allow to cool before combining with other ingredients.

Cook quinoa as directed (my bag said add quinoa & water in saucepan, bring to a boil. Cover & simmer for 10-15 minutes). Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Saute onion in a skillet over medium-high heat until translucent. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, zest, spices, and 1 teaspoon of salt. In a large bowl, combine squash, quinoa, onions, garbanzo beans, and cranberries. Pour on the vinegar-oil dressing and stir to combine. Taste to check seasoning and add salt if needed. This salad can be served room temperature or cold.

I had never had quinoa before tonight and wanted to see how it would work with this recipe. I liked it but I think this recipe would be better and more substantial with couscous (as it originally called for)... next time I'm going to try it with Israeli couscous if I can find it at the store. Danimal wasn't a fan but he doesn't like butternut squash or dried cranberries.


Monday, November 9, 2009

A Tollhouse Bribe

I'm feeling a tad bit guilty right now. I took ninja kitty to the vet for his 2nd round of shots and stinky dog came along for the ride. While I was waiting for ninja kitty to come back from the back room (I heard the staff back there playing with him because he is so much fun... he was long done with his shots) I asked if they wouldn't mind trimming Stinky's nails.

Well.... he got his nails cut... but not without a scene. Stinky has come a long way with the nail trims but he had a minor setback tonight. He sounded like he was being tortured and made a huge mess in the backroom(sorry but it's the basis of the story)... and they didn't even charge us for the torture. The guilt set in... and I made the decision to come home and bake some bribe cookies so they will love us again.

I just whipped up some tollhouse cookies and packed most of them away to drop off tomorrow on the way to work... the rest mysterious disappeared ;p

Bribe Cookies
The Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon (or more!)

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the cinnamon. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Mine cooked about 11-12 minutes.


Friday, November 6, 2009


After a long week of work and crazy animals, it's nice to welcome in the weekend! Danimal is home from 10 days away! I needed a quick meal before I settled in for a long night of preparing a lecture I need to present tomorrow (yes, a Saturday!).

I whipped up Black Bean, Corn and Shrimp Salad with toasted pita chips. I love this meal- it's so easy & quick, yet zesty & colorful. I cut up whole wheat pita bread, first in half and then each half into 5 or 6 triangles, separating at the crease. I lay out the pita triangles in a single layer on a cookie sheet and lightly sprayed with olive oil spray and cooked it at 350 for about 7-9 minutes or until toasted.

Black Bean, Corn & Shrimp Salad
Cooking Light, July 2005)

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
1 1/2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
3/4 cup bottled salsa
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained


Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Add shrimp; toss to coat.
Coat pan with cooking spray. Add shrimp; sauté 3 minutes or until done. Add 1 tablespoon lime juice. Remove shrimp from pan. Add corn to pan; sauté 1 minute. Stir in salsa, cilantro, and beans; cook 30 seconds or until thoroughly heated. Stir in 1 tablespoon lime juice. Serve shrimp over bean mixture.