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....