Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Frozen Hot Chocolate

4 ounces of your favorite chocolate
2 teaspoons store-bought hot chocolate powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups ice cubes
sweetened whipped cream
chocolate shavings (optional)

Chop chocolate into small pieces and melt in microwave on low heat. Once melted, add hot chocolate mix and sugar, stirring constantly until thoroughly blended. Slowly add 1/2 cup milk, stirring until smooth. Cool to room temperature. In blender, place the remaining 1 cup milk, room-temperature chocolate mixture and ice. Blend on high speed until smooth and the consistency of a frozen daiquiri.
Makes about 4 8oz servings

Five-Minute Artisan Bread

Serves 4

Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance.

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (about 1-1/2 packets)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 6-1/2 cups unbleached flour, plus extra for dusting dough
  • Cornmeal

In a large plastic resealable container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm (about 100 degrees) water. Using a large spoon, stir in flour, mixing until mixture is uniformly moist with no dry patches. Do not knead. Dough will be wet and loose enough to conform to shape of plastic container. Cover, but not with an airtight lid.

Let dough rise at room temperature, until dough begins to flatten on top or collapse, at least 2 hours and up to 5 hours. (At this point, dough can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks; refrigerated dough is easier to work with than room-temperature dough, so the authors recommend that first-time bakers refrigerate dough overnight or at least 3 hours.)

When ready to bake, sprinkle cornmeal on a pizza peel. Place a broiler pan on bottom rack of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and repeat oven to 450 degrees, preheating baking stone for at least 20 minutes.

Sprinkle a little flour on dough and on your hands. Pull dough up and, using a serrated knife, cut off a grapefruit-size piece (about 1 pound). Working for 30 to 60 seconds (and adding flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to hands; most dusting flour will fall off, it's not intended to be incorporated into dough), turn dough in hands, gently stretching surface of dough, rotating ball a quarter-turn as you go, creating a rounded top and a bunched bottom.

Place shaped dough on prepared pizza peel and let rest, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it in lidded container. (Even one day's storage improves flavor and texture of bread. Dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions in airtight containers and defrosted overnight in refrigerator prior to baking day.) Dust dough with flour.

Using a serrated knife, slash top of dough in three parallel, ¼-inch deep cuts (or in a tic-tac-toe pattern). Slide dough onto preheated baking stone. Pour 1 cup hot tap water into broiler pan and quickly close oven door to trap steam. Bake until crust is well-browned and firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

Yummy Chicken Broccoli Cheese Onion Casserole

chicken broccoli onion mushroom casserole joyful abode recipe

You will need…

  • a bunch of broccoli, cut into florets and steamed
  • 2 onions
  • 1 package of mushrooms (a couple cups), sliced
  • 2 large chicken breasts, boneless skinless… cooked and cubed
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • about 1/2 cup of milk
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • French’s fried onions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sautee the onions and mushrooms. When I do this, I put the onions (chopped) into a pan with a couple tablespoons of water, and cover it to let it steam for a while. Then, when the onions are a little bit softer, I uncover the pan, let the water evaporate, and throw in a couple tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Then I toss everything around till the onions are browning. Then I add the mushrooms and let them cook… I like my onions really really cooked.

In a casserole dish, combine the broccoli, onions, mushrooms, chicken, soup, and milk. Mix everything. Top with cheese and fried onions.

Bake covered for 10 minutes, then uncover and let the onions on top get crispy (about 5 more minutes).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pumpkin Bread


1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 5 mini loaf pans (also makes great muffins).

In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake for about 30-40 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Make it Yourself: Hamburger Helper

8oz noodles
1T dried onion flakes
1/4t. oregano
1/2t. garlic powder
1/2t. basil
1/2t. salt
1 lb ground beef
3 1/2 c. water
8 oz tomato sauce

Brown beef and drain the fat.
Add water and bring to a boil.
Add noodles and tomato sauce.
Stir and simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve hot. Enjoy!

Make It Yourself: Shake And Bake

4 cups flour
4 cups ground crackers
4 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tsp garlic powder
2 Tsp onion powder
3 Tbsp paprika
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix well and store in the refrigerator in a covered container. This recipe equals 20 store packets.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


2 cups canned garbanzo
beans, drained
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt 2 cloves garlic, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pinch paprika
1 teaspoon minced fresh

1. Place the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl.
2. Drizzle olive oil over the garbanzo bean mixture. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley.

Mom's Banana Bread √

1 cup sugar
2 tblsp soft shortening
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
3 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts
1 cup smashed bananas (3 large or 4 med)

Heat oven to 350*. Grease a loaf pan or three 20oz cans. Mix sugar, shortening and egg thoroughly. Stir in milk. Blend dry ingredients; stir in. Blend in nuts and banana. Pour into pan or cans. Bake 60-70 minutes or until toothpick stuck into center comes out clean. (Crack in top of loaf is characteristic.) Cool thoroughly before slicing with a thin, sharp knife.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Garlic And Chive Bread

5 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon Butter
1 1/4 cup Milk
3 cups Bread Flour
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese -- Grated
2 tablespoons Fresh Chives -- Snipped
1 tablespoon Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Bread Machine Yeast


Saute garlic in butter for 1 minute. Cool. Add all ingredients to machine according to manufacturer's directions.

Cottage Cheese Dill Bread √

Cottage Cheese Dill Bread
(makes a 2lb loaf)
1 1/3 cups water
½ cup low-fat cottage cheese (try to choose a creamy or small-curd cheese)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp shortening
3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour, in the US)
2 tbsp snipped fresh dill
1 ¼ tsp bread machine yeast
1. Measure ingredients into baking pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer.
2. Insert pan into the oven chamber.
3. Select Basic Cycle
So easy, and this bread comes out great every time!

Chex Party Mix


6 tbsp. butter
4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 c. Rice Chex cereal
3/4 c. salted mixed nuts
1 tsp. seasoned salt
2 c. Corn Chex cereal
2 c. Wheat Chex cereal

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat butter in a 13 x 9-inch pan in oven until melted. Remove. Stir in seasoned salt and Worcestershire sauce. Add chex and nuts. Mix well. Heat in oven 45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towel to cool. You may also use pretzel sticks, Cheez-its crackers or Bean Chex.

Nutter Butter Cookie Truffles

Nutter Butter Cookie Truffles

1 Bag Nutter Butter Cookies
8 oz softened cream cheese
1 package Chocolate Bark (dipping chocolate in blocks)
1 square of the Almond Bark for drizzling (white chocolate blocks for dipping)

1. Mix ground oreos and cream cheese until well combined. Roll into 1 inch balls and place onto baking sheet or tray. Refrigerate overnight or until very firm.
2. Melt white chocolate according to package directions. Using 2 little spoons, dip balls into chocolate and place onto parchment paper to harden. Once dry, melt square of almond bark and spoon into the corner of a ziplock baggie. Snip the corner of the baggie and drizzle chocolate back and forth over the truffles. Let dry.
3. I enjoyed mine chilled in the refrigerator, but may be room temperature as well.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins
from Baking: from my home to yours

3/4 of a stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 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 the chopped chocolate together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; or do this in a microwave. Remove from the 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 molds.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Yields 12 regular sized muffins, 24 if you use mini muffin tins.

Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
inspired by Mark Bittman

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 small garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

Place all ingredients in the workbowl of a food processor. Pulse until you have a relatively smooth paste (I don't mind if it's a little chunky). Taste and season with more lemon juice and salt, if needed. Scrape down the sides of workbowl and pulse briefly to combine.

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Apple Cupcakes
9 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

2-3 apples, granny smith
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Rinse and core the apples. Place them on an ovenproof pan or baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes until soft.
2. Remove the apples from the oven, let cool slightly, then remove peel and mush the apple with the back of a fork. Measure out 1 cup of apple mush and set aside to cool.
3. Combine flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Crack the eggs into a separate, medium sized bowl and beat with a form to break up. Add the oil, apple juice, vanilla, and cooled apple mush and mix to combine.
5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until all ingredients come together.
6. Scoop into cupcake papers about 3/4 full so cupcakes will have a significant dome. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes, rotating the pan after 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Filling

4 ounces Philly cream cheese
1/4 stick butter
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Be sure to bring the butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours. Then beat the butter vigorously with an electric mixer.
2. Scrape the bowl and add the cream cheese and beat until combine.
3. Add the sifted powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Fill Cupcakes
1. Cut out a cone from each cupcake. Flip the cone and cut off the excess. Set the top aside.
2. Fill each cavity with the cream cheese filling.
3. Replace each top.

Thick Caramel

1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
6 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Bring the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk to a boil over medium-high heat stirring to combine.
2. With a wooden spoon, stir all ingredients together and then slowly add the heavy cream.
3. Continue to stir for about 20 minutes until the caramel reached 248 degrees. It is important to continuously stir the mixture and to allow it to reach temperature.
4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Transfer to a bowl and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes allowing the caramel to cool slightly.

Final Assembly
1. Using a small offset spatula, frost each cupcake with the caramel.
2. If desired sprinkle warm caramel with any number of toppings, like coconut or crushed nuts.
3. Transfer the cupcake into the freezer to allow the caramel to set without dripping over the edge of the cupcake paper.
4. Continue frosting and topping the cupcakes and try to work fast. As the caramel cools, it becomes less spreadable. If possible work in pairs and let your helper top the cupcakes and transfer them to the freezer. By the time you reach the last few cupcakes, you will not longer need to freeze them and you can take all the cupcakes out and transfer them to the counter.
5. Top off each cupcake with a popsicle or craft stick to finish off the look.

Bread in a Bag

* 1 Two-gallon, heavy-duty freezer bag
* 1 Twist tie
* 1 Quart-size plastic bag with 2 cups of all-purpose flour
* 1 Quart-size plastic bag with 2 cups of whole wheat flour. NOTE: To measure flour accurately, first stir the flour, and then spoon it into a measuring cup intended for dry ingredients and level with a knife.

* Two teaspoons of salt in a disposable container, such as a sandwich bag, small paper/plastic cup

* One package active dry yeast or fast-rise yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
* Two tablespoons sugar in small disposable cup or bag
* One tablespoon of vegetable oil, in small disposable cup, etc.,.
* 3 Disposable mini-loaf pan, 5 x 3 inches
* 3 One-gallon plastic bag, for transporting bread home

Recipe for Easy Wheat Bread

Mix in a heavy-duty (freezer) plastic bag:
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast or fast-rise yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)

Close bag, release air and work with fingers until completely blended. Let rest 15 minutes.

Open the bag and add:
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)

Mix well until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bag–about 5 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 5 to 6 minutes. Knead in just enough flour to make a soft dough; it should be a little sticky. If too much flour is added, the final product will be dry and low-volume. Divide dough into thirds. Cover with plastic bag. Let rest 10 minutes.

Press the dough out flat with fingertips into a 4 x 6-inch rectangle. Beginning at a short end, roll the rectangle up tightly like a sleeping bag. With fingertips, pinch the edge to the rest of the dough forming a seam. Fold over the two ends and pinch.

Place dough, seam-side down, in pan.

Cover with bag and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes. Bake in a preheated 350°F to 375°F convection oven 15 to 18 minutes; or in a 400F conventional oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove from pans; cool on wire rack.

The children also made homemade butter with an antique butter churn.

To keep the correct rhythm while turning the crank, the children chanted this authentic poem.

Such a simple way for kids to make a delicious mini loaf of bread. We made it again at home and put the entire amount of dough in one large loaf pan.

Beer Cheese Bread

   1      package       Yeast
3 cups Bread flour
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1 tablespoon Butter
10 ounces Beer -- flat
4 ounces American cheese
4 ounces Jack cheese -- cut in 1/4" cu

Warm beer and American cheese over low heat on top of stove or in microwave.
Cheese doesn't need to melt completely. STIR. Add all ingredients in the orde
r listed if you are using a home type automatic baking machine.
You'll want to start making your second batch before you taste the first loaf...
you'll want more, soon, like yesterday

Beautified PB&J

Peanut Butter & Jelly Mini Tarts
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes 12

24 wonton wrappers
4 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of crunchy peanut butter
3 tablespoons of butter, softened
2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1 cup of chilled heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup of strawberry jam (9 1/2 oz)
2 cups of fresh strawberries, quartered lengthwise

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Criss cross 2 wonton wrappers to form a star-like shape. Place each pair of wrappers gently but firmly into muffin tins. Bake at 325F until they lightly brown, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from muffin tins and cool on a wire rack. (Note: I would try a cookie or pastry crust next time, I did the graham one that epicurious suggested only to achieve burnt butter graham puffs, so the wontons were the quickest solution for me!)

2. In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, peanut butter, and butter in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add brown sugar and beat until incorporated.

3. Beat cream with vanilla in another bowl until it holds soft peaks, then fold into peanut butter mixture gently but thoroughly. Fill pastry bag (or a plastic bag in my case!) and refrigerate if not using immediately.

4. Distribute 1/3 cup of jam (about 1/2 tablespoon each) into bottoms of the wonton cups. Pipe peanut butter mixture on top of jam. Chill mini tarts, loosely covered with plastic wrap, until firm, at least 3 hours. Just before serving, stir strawberries with remaining 1/2 cup of jam with a rubber spatula until coated. Spoon over mini tarts. Serve immediately.

BBQ Potatoes in the Crockpot

heres a hint for you...bake your potatoes in your crock pot. if you are going to barbecue later in the day., put your taters in the crock in the morning over a plate, add bacon and spices to some water in the bottom..make sure taters DONT touch the water. also you can cut the taters in half, season, insert bacon slice, wrap back together with foil, and place in crock..cover with more foil and lid, set temp on llow and cook all day without worrying about them.  They taste like they were on the fire but werent! if you really like em smokey, add liquid smoke to the water in the bottom...use about an inch of water for a full 6 qt crock pot.

Bananas Foster Buns

Diane’s Buns

1 Tbsp dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1 tsp sugar

2 cups cold water

2 cups cold milk

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbsp butter

4 tsp salt

6-7 cups of flour

Combine yeast, 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 cup warm water, let stand for 10 minutes.

Scald milk, add sugar, butter and salt, stir until sugar has dissolved and butter has melted.

Add the cold water, stir and the mixture should now be lukewarm. Add yeast mixture, stir to combine, then gradually stir in 6 cups of flour, (add the seventh nearer the end, while kneading). The dough should be smooth and soft. Knead the dough until elastic, roughly 10 minutes. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, roughly 2 hours. Punch down the dough and use for whatever you like, especially Bananas Foster Buns or Sticky Cinnamon Buns...

Bananas Foster Buns

1/4 dough

2 medium bananas, one chopped, one mashed

1/4 cup butter, spreadable

1 cup brown sugar, plus a handful or so

3-4 Tbsp rum, or rum extract, plus a splash or two

1 cup golden corn syrup

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Pour corn syrup into the bottom of a rectangular baking pan, big enough to fit all the buns once cut and placed face side up (or down, really it’s the same thing). Splash a little rum in there if you please, and a nice sprinkling of brown sugar also. (I didn’t when I made them, but soon realized what an awesome addition that would have been once I pulled apart my first delicious bun!)

Roll out the dough on a slightly floured surface, to roughly 1/2” thick rectangle.

Combine rum and brown sugar. Spread butter, then mashed banana on the dough, followed by brown sugar and rum mixture, finally topped with the chopped bananas. Roll the dough lengthwise, pinching the seam to seal. I like to cut the small nubbly bits before cutting the rolls, usually I just bake them off and eat them straight away, without an ounce of guilt. But you can do as you please. Cut roll into twelve buns and place cut side up/down into the corn syrup lined pan.

Bake until golden brown and fragrant! Try not to over bake them otherwise your buns will dry out and be really hard (effectively ruining the buns - and now, who wants that?!) Invert the pan onto a plate immediately, careful though some syrup might spill. Eat immediately while still hot! That is an order! ... oh I suppose you don’t have to, but they are the best that way!


Banana Sticky Buns

Banana Sticky Buns
(Adapted from Jennifer, The Domestic Goddess)

1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F) + 1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
2 tablespoons unsalted butter – room temperature
2 large eggs
¼ cup buttermilk powder
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

Sticky Bottom:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter + 1 teaspoon for pan
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds

(Note: Jennifer uses a vanilla sugar glaze (follow the link above) on the sticky buns as well, but since I had extra Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting from making Joy's cupcakes, I just used some of that - SOOOO good!)


1. In a large bowl mash the bananas with the butter to form a very soft, ever-so-slightly liquid paste. Combine the yeast with the warm water and sugar. Let sit til foamy, 5 minutes. Add the eggs, buttermilk powder, brown sugar, salt and flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a rough mass forms.

2. Scrape it all together with a bench scraper and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Knead until it is smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary, about 5 minutes. The dough should be soft but not sticky.

3. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free spot (on top of the fridge works really well) until it doubles in size – about 1 ½ hours. (I got started on this in the evening, so I ended up putting the dough in the refrigerator overnight at this point).

4. Make the filling: in a small bowl, combine the sugars and cinnamon. Set aside.

5. Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to a 14- by 9-inch rectangle. Brush the surface of the dough with the melted butter, then sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon-sugar combination and press it into the dough lightly. Beginning at the long side, roll jellyroll style. Pinch to seal seam and set aside, covered in a warm spot while you make the sticky bottom.

6. Lightly butter the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. In a small saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar and honey, cook, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the cream and keep stirring until smooth and incorporated. Pour the mixture into the pan. Sprinkle with the almonds. Cut the buns into 12 pieces, about 1 ½ inches wide and arrange, cut side up in the pan with the sugar-butter-almond mixture. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 to 45 minutes (or over night in the fridge) or until doubled in volume.

7. Bake in a preheated, 350 F oven for 25 – 35 minutes, or until caramel is bubbling and tops are slightly browned. Meanwhile, make glaze or frosting (go check out Jennifer's and Joy's blogs for your choice - the sticky buns are really good without any glaze too). When the rolls come out of the oven, allow them to cool slightly and then drizzle with the glaze while they are still warm. Pull apart and serve warm.

Cheese Pinwheel Scones

Cheese pinwheel scones
recipe from this box

250g all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper – I used freshly ground black pepper
30g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
185ml milk

40g goat’s cheese, crumbled
40g grated parmesan cheese
40g grated mature cheddar cheese – I used the yellow mozzarella we have here, made with cow’s milk
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF. Grease or line a baking tray with non stick baking paper.
Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper into a large bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the milk and, using a flat-bladed knife, mix to form a soft dough. Add a little extra flour if the dough is too sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll out to form a 20x25cm (8x10in) rectangle. Sprinkle the goat’s cheese over the surface, then sprinkle over the parmesan, cheddar and parsley. Starting from the long side, roll the dough into a cylinder. Cut the cylinder into 10 equal 2cm (3/4 in) thick slices. Transfer the slices to a baking tray, spacing them 2cm (3/4 in) apart.
Bake for 10-12 minutes (mine took 28 minutes in the oven) or until golden and cooked through. Cool on a wire rack.
Serve warm.

Banana Cupcakes


225g Cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
150g butter
150g castor sugar
2 eggs, large
50ml milk
3 large bananas (mashed)

½ tsp banana essence (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 175 Degree C and line muffin pan with paper cups.
  2. Sift cake flour, baking soda and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter until light and creamy for about 5-8 minutes.
  4. Add sugar and continue to mix until light and fluffy.
  5. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  6. Stir in banana essence if you are using.
  7. Beat in mashed bananas and milk.
  8. Finally, fold in sifted flour into mixture.
  9. Divide batter evenly into paper cups. Bake for 20 – 25mins or till an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  10. Remove the pan from the oven. Rest for 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes from the pan. Cool on wire rack.

**NOTE** if baking in loaf, increase baking time to 50-60mins.

Sundried Tomato Biscuits


2 ½ cups of flour
4 teaspoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
2/3 cup of cold unsalted butter cubed
1 ¼ cups of heavy cream

For Sundried Tomato Basil - add in 1/3 cup of basil (chopped), 6 sundried tomatoes (diced), 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese (grated)

For Cilantro Spice - add in 1/3 cup of cilantro (chopped), 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the desired optional ingredients. Cut butter into the mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add cream until just combined. Dough can be dropped on to a parchment lined baking sheet or patted out and cut into biscuits. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. We liked the Sundried tomato ones better but I think the cilantro ones would be good as a breakfast sandwich biscuit.

Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate-Almond Streusel

Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate-Almond Streusel
Adapted with liberal changes from Epicurious

1 1/4 cups good quality chocolate chips
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup butter (one stick), melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large, very ripe* bananas, mashed
1/4 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8"x8"x2" baking dish.

To prepare the streusel, combine chocolate chips, brown sugar and sliced almonds in a small bowl. Set aside until you are ready to assemble the cake.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice. In a medium bowl, mix together melted butter and sugar. Once combined, add the egg and vanilla extract, followed by the banana mash, then the sour cream. Mix in the dry ingredients in three additions, stirring well between each.

To assemble the cake, pour half the banana batter into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle just less than half the streusel mixture over the batter, taking care to cover each corner. Gently spread the remaining batter evenly over the streusel, then top with the remaining streusel. The brown sugar is going to melt partially into a slightly crunchy crust, so be sure that the cake is completely covered.

Put the cake in the oven, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees F. Bake for 60-75 minutes, until cake has evenly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center** comes out crumb-free.*** Delicious warm from the oven or cooled.

*If your bananas are ripe before you're in the mood to bake, toss them in the freezer. They keep for what seems like ages, turn totally black, and defrost in minutes to a delightful glop that's perfect for baking.

**Try not to stab a chocolate chip with your cake tester. Having melted chocolate all over your toothpick makes it difficult to gauge the cake's doneness. Based on my experience, it's the top layer that cooks more slowly, so don't worry about stabbing your toothpick all the way to the bottom of the dish.

**If you get impatient and decide to take the cake out before it is done because you have, in fact, stabbed too many chocolate chips, you may find that the top half of the center of the cake is completely raw. If this happens to you, and you've already eaten a piece or three fresh out of the oven because it smelled so darn good... just put it back in the oven at 325 degrees for about 15 more minutes. Between the bananas and the sour cream there's so much moisture in this cake that it's practically impossible to overbake. And as it turns out, the double-bake method works just fine.

Banana Coconut Muffins

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed (3/4 cup)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Special equipment: a muffin tin with 8 (1/2-cup) muffin cups; paper liners


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line muffin cups with liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together bananas, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and 1/2 cup coconut in a large bowl until combined well, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened.

Divide batter among lined muffin cups and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup coconut. Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer muffins to a rack and cool slightly.

Asian Meatballs

1lb lean ground beef
½ cup white onion (minced)
1 egg
3 fresh garlic cloves (minced)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (grated)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons flour
1 (6 oz) Package rice stix (also called vermicelli rice noodles)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 fresh carrots (peeled into strips)
1 bunch of green onions (sliced into strips)
1 (14 oz) can of beef broth
soy sauce (to serve)

Step 1: Combine meatballs ingredients in a bowl, mix well and form 1 to 1-1/2 inch meatballs.
Step 2: Place the meatballs in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until fully cooked.
Step 3: Rinse the rice noodles until they go slightly soft and set aside. Slice the green onions into 1” strips. Peel the carrots and then use your peeler to peel all the way down the carrot making long thin strips.
Step 4: Heat sesame oil in a skillet over medium heat and stir fry vegetables for 3 minutes until the carrots go limp.
Step 5: Add beef broth and rice noodles to the skillet and bring to a boil. Cook while stirring until the beef broth is absorbed and the noodles are soft. Put meatballs on top of noodles or mix them together and serve with soy sauce if desired.

Baked Steak

sea salt & black or green peppercorns
1 T-bone or porterhouse steak, about 1" thick
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Crush the salt and pepper together coarsely, and sprinkle it on both sides of the steak. Press them gently into the meat so they stick. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet (that can go into the oven, because it will) and when it is hot add the steak. Cook it for a minute or two on each side, until browned.

Cover the pan loosely with foil. Place the pan with the steak in the oven, and bake it from 8 to 15 minutes, depending on how you like your steak. Eight minutes will be fairly rare; 10 minutes medium-rare; 12 minutes medium-well; and 15 minutes well-done.

Remove the steak from the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving, which allows the juices to redistribute themselves throughout the meat.


Ingredients (2 baguettes)
500g of flour
300ml of lukewarm water
10-20 g of salt
30g of fresh yeast
10-50ml of olive oil or melted butter

1. Dissolve yeast in the lukewarm water
2. Add yeast and water mixture to flour mixed with salt
3. Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
4. Knead the dough well for approximately 10 -15 minutes. In general the longer the better. When I want my baguettes to be divine I knead the dough for even 30 minutes.
5. Add olive oil or metled butter to the dough
6. Knead the dought for as long as 15 minutes.
7. Place the dough in the bowl that was previously slightly oiled with olive oil.
8. Let it rest for approximately 10 – 15 minutes and then work the dough again to evenly spread the carbon dioxide produced by yeast.
9. Let it rest for 10 minutes again.
10. Knead the dough again and let it rest for 10 minutes more.
11. Knead the dough and form two baguettes.
12. Place them on the baking paper on a baking tray

13. Let it rest for 20 minutes more.
14. Before placing them in the oven smear some water on their surface.
15. Bake at 180°C for approximately 30 minutes.

Bacon-Wrapped Baked Eggs with Cream Cheese Biscuits and Arugula

Cream Cheese Biscuits
  • 280g (2 cups) all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached

  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 55g (4 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

  • 240g (1 cup) cold buttermilk, preferably low-fat (I used coddled milk, or 240g milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice, left to stand for 10 minutes)

  • 110g (4oz or 1/2 package) cream cheese, softened

  • additional 140g (1 cup) all-purpose flour

  • additional 30g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 260°C (500°F). Sprinkle a baking sheet with the additional all-purpose flour. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda until well-combined. Scatter the butter cubes and cream cheese evenly over the mixture and cut into it with a pastry blender or rub it in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal (alternatively you can process it in a food processor, with 8 1-second pulses). Add the buttermilk and stir with a rubber spatula until just incorporated.

Working quickly with the wet dough, use a 1/4 cup (60mL) measure to scoop out level amounts of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. You should be able to make about 12 evenly-sized mounds. Dust the tops of the mounds with flour from the sheet. Pick up a mound of dough and gently shape into a rough ball, shake off the excess flour, and place in the prepared cake pan as photographed above. Brush the tops with melted butter, taking care not to flatten them. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 230°C (450°F) and continue to bake until deep golden, about 14 minutes. Cool in pan for 2 minutes, then take out of the pan and break apart (I sliced them cleanly with a knife), and cool for 5 more minutes.

Bacon-Wrapped Baked Eggs with Cream Cheese Biscuits
For a single serving, you will need:
  • 2-1/2 thick rashers of bacon

  • a half of a cream cheese biscuit

  • a small handful (about 20g or 3/4oz) of sharp cheddar cheese, grated

  • a small handful (about 20g or 3/4oz) of Gruyere cheese, grated

  • 1 large egg

  • minced fresh thyme

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Heat a large skillet over medium heat and fry the bacon for about 4 minutes or until brown but still pliable. Drain on paper towels. Reserve the bacon drippings. Line the sides of a 1-cup custard cup/ramekin with 2 slices of bacon, forming a collar. Place half a slice of bacon on the bottom. Place a biscuit half on the bottom, then sprinkle most of both cheeses over the top. Crack an egg in the center and sprinkle with the remaining cheese, thyme, and fresh-cracked black pepper. Bake until the egg whites are almost set, about 20 minutes (though I would definitely prefer it on the rarer side). Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cups, tilt on to the serving plate and slide the whole dish out.

Arugula with Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 60g (1/4 cup) balsamic vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings from the baked eggs above

  • 115g (4oz) arugula (rocket)

Whisk the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, and bacon dripping together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the arugula and toss lightly. Serve alongside the baked eggs.

Bacon Cheddar Tater Tot Casserole


  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tsp. Tabasco pepper sauce (optional)
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 10 strips bacon, fried and crumbled
  • 2-pound bag tater tots, thawed (brand of your choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8 by 8 by 2-inch square baking dish with the butter.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Add half of the cheddar cheese, the bacon and the tater tots. Mix the mixture thoroughly.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Bacon and Egg Pies

Bacon and Egg Pies
(adapted from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics I, page 158)

  • 1 sheet ready-made puff pastry (mine is 9.5 x 9.5 inches, you will have some scraps left over…use them for this!)
  • 6 strips of bacon (Donna rationed 2 rashers per person, but I felt we deserved 3 each)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (Donna used cheddar)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
  • 4 eggs
- Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
- Place bacon on a baking sheet and place in the pre-heated oven for about 8-10 minutes. You just want to get the edges a bit crisp. Remember you are going to be baking it again with the tart! When done, drain on paper towels.
- Thaw pastry (in my kitchen this takes two seconds so I make sure everything is ready before taking it out of the freezer) and cut to fit two 1-cup capacity pie dishes (I just used whatever I thought would fit).
- Spread mustard on the pastry bases and sprinkle with the cheese.
- Top this with three pieces of bacon for each pie. I like to curve them around so they will cradle the eggs.
- Break two eggs over each pie.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the eggs have set to your liking. Serve immediately.
- Serves two.

Dobos Torte

Chocolate butter cream:
4 eggs
7 oz (200 g)granulated sugar
3 ½ oz (100 g)bakers chocolate
2 sticks, and 2 Tbsp (250g) unsalted butter or margarine
No worries, it’s a recipe with eggs, but they get cooked. Prepare a double boiler.

Mix eggs with sugar for good 5 minutes, or until it’s frothy, then transfer to the inner sauce pan (duh) to cook over boiling water (reduce to medium heat). Stir almost constantly and cook until you see it starts to thicken a bit. Add chocolate, mix it in well, and cook another 2-3 minutes.
Transfer to a mixing bowl, and let it cool down, later put it in the fridge. And when completely cooled down (it will be quite sticky and thick) add pieces of butter, and mix until you get smooth, silky butter cream, mhmmmm… I use this for many cakes.

Later on, when you are ready to spread it on cake layers, you will sort of divide the cream into 6 sections, within the bowl. Math is everything, you want to make sure you have equal amounts on each cake layer.

For the sponge cake / biscuits:
6 eggs
6 Tbsp of sugar
7 Tbsp of flour
Separate the whites, and mix them with sugar for, again, good 5 minutes or longer, until they are so stiff that when you add the first yolk, it will not fall through ; )
Keep adding the yolks, one by one, and then gradually add the flour. I have then transferred this into a large measuring cup, and I have come up with a liter of mixture.

This has helped me make sure I use, as close as possible (approx 170 ml for each), equal amounts of batter to the spring pan, for each of the six layers.
So now, bake 6 separate layers, in a preheated oven @ 400 F, in a round spring form pan, aligned with parchment paper. Each time you will more than likely need to clean up the pan, and then do the next one. Oh, it's so worth it!

As you get them out of the oven cover them with damp paper towel, so they don't dry out; they are hard to handle without having to worry about them crumbling in your hands ;)
The last one, you will cut into 16 slices, and separate the slices ( I made a mistake and didn't separate them, so my caramel cooled on top of them in one piece like that, and then everything cracked when I was ready to top my cake, and had to cut through the caramel). Live and learn! : )

For the caramel:
7 oz (200 g) granulated sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Melt the sugar (caramelize it) over high heat, when it starts browning remove from heat, stir in butter, and lemon juice. Mix well, and return to heat, to cook until it's nice and dissolved. Pour over the sliced cake layer, and let cool down.

Now, spread the chocolate buttercream (5 sections of it) over the layers, and layer the cake. Even out the sides by cutting around---now is a good chance to get a taste of it, that is, if your kids are not around! : )
On the fifth layer you will also pipe on 16 buttercream flowers in the circle, and that is where you will arrange your sliced caramelized layer, slightly angling the slices as you go. Also pipe some buttercream in the middle, where the slices meet, it will look better. Fun, fun, and you're done!

Almond Biscotti

Almond Biscotti
Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 1999

They’re supposed to make 3 dozen, but my batch yielded at least 45

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or orange liqueur
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup whole almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped or sliced almonds

1 large egg white

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Mix sugar, melted butter, 3 eggs, vanilla extract, orange liquer and zest in large bowl. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir with wooden spoon until well blended. Mix in almonds.

Divide dough in half. Using floured hands, shape each dough half into 13 1/2-inch-long, 2 1/2-inch-wide log. Transfer both logs to prepared baking sheet, spacing apart. Whisk egg white in small bowl until foamy; brush over top and sides of each dough log.

Bake logs until golden brown (logs will spread), about 30 minutes. Cool logs completely on sheet on rack, about 25 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Transfer logs to work surface; discard parchment paper. Using serrated knife, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Arrange slices, cut side down, on same baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes. Turn biscotti over; bake until just beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.

Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Crispy Buttermilk Biscuits

Crispy Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 Tbs salt
1/2 cup shortening
Enough buttermilk to mix it (probably 1/2 to 3/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 425.
Mix dry ingredients. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse corn meal. Stir in the buttermilk until all is moistened. Knead on a floured surface - not too much - just until it is relatively smooth and workable. Roll out - not too thin - about 1/2″ or so. Pour vegetable oil on a baking sheet with sides. Cut the biscuits, dip them in the oil on both sides, and place them close together on baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes: 15-20 biscuits depending on how big you make them. Serve with cold butter and anything else your heart desires

Frittata / Omelette

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large Spanish onion, minced
3 baked potatoes, skin removed and roughly chopped
3 chorizos, grilled and chopped
1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
8 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil in a medium sized, deeper saute pan.
Saute garlic until golden, then add onions and continue to saute until translucent.
Add potatoes, chorizos and peppers and heat through.
*note* if you don’t have leftovers, I suggest baking the potatoes in the microwave or oven until done, and cooled, using canned roasted peppers, and for the chorizo, just saute it until cooked through before adding the potatoes and peppers)
Meanwhile, beat eggs with salt and pepper until beginning to froth.
Reduce heat to low, and pour eggs over meat and vegetables.
Stir around a bit, to permit egg to solidify slightly, then cover.
Using a spatula, press egg toward center occasionally, to form the rounded edge.
After about 10 minutes, when egg is beginning to set, carefully place a large plate over the saute pan (one that larger than the pan).
This is the tricky part.
I usually count to three and flip the tortilla onto the plate.
Please be careful not to burn yourself! It’s also important to make sure the egg is beginning to set before doing this, or you’ll have egg all over the place. Ask me how I know this. LOL
Wipe out saute pan, and add a bit more olive oil.
Slide the tortilla back into the pan and cover.
Repeat the pressing of the sides occasionally, and when the egg is really looking like it’s set, sort of “shake” the tortilla around in the pan a bit to prevent sticking.
This should take about 10-20 more minutes, depending on the size of your pan.
Repeat the “flip” process (I find that it looks prettier when you flip a second time).
Serve as desired. Here I’ve cut the tortilla into cubes to serve as tapas.

Buttercrunch Toffee

Buttercrunch Toffee

The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz

1 cup, almonds, toasted and finely chopped
1 tablespoon water
4 tbsp butter, salted or unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp packed light or dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips, or 3 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Using half of the chopped almonds, form an 8-inch circle in an even layer on an ungreased baking sheet.

Fit a small, heavy-duty saucepan with a candy thermometer, then add the water, butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar, mixing them together. Have the baking soda and vanilla measured and ready.

Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring as little as possible. When the mixture reaches 300F, remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the baking soda and vanilla. Mix just until combined; don’t overstir.

Right away, pour the hot toffee mixture over the circle of almonds on the baking sheet. Using as little movement as possible, spread the toffee to cover the circle.

Scatter the chocolate pieces over the toffee and wait 2 minutes to allow them to melt. Use a spatula to spread the chocolate into an even layer, then scatter the remaining chopped almonds on top, pressing them into the chocolate. Cool completely until the chocolate is firm. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, you may need to cool it in the refrigerator. Remove it once the chocolate has hardened.

Tasty Toaster Tarts

Tasty Toaster Tarts
From King Arthur Flour
Makes 9 toaster tarts (plus leftover dough trimmings!)

2 c flour
1 T sugar
1 t salt
1 c unsalted butter, cut into pats
1 large egg
2 T milk

Cinnamon Filling:
1/2 c brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 t cinnamon, to taste
4 t flour
1 large egg, to brush on pastry before filling

Make the Dough:
Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Work in the butter until the mixture holds together when you squeeze it, with pecan sized lumps of butter still visible. Mix the egg and milk, and add it to the dough, mixing just until everything is cohesive.

Divide the dough in half; each half will weigh about 10 ounces. Shape each half into a rough 3'' by 5'' rectangle, smoothing the edges. Roll out immediately; or wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Make the filling:
Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour.

Assemble the tarts:
If the dough has been chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to soften and become workable, about 15 to 30 minutes. Place one piece on a lightly floured work surface, and roll it into a rectangle about 1/8'' thick, large enough that you can trim it to an even 9'' by 12''. Laying a 9'' by 13'' pan atop the dough will give you an idea if you've rolled it large enough. Trim off the edges; place the scraps on a baking sheet, and set them aside, along with the 9'' by 12'' rectangle of dough.

Roll the second piece of dough just as you did the first. Press the edge of a ruler into the dough you've just rolled, to gently score it in thirds lengthwise and width wise; you'll see nine 3'' by 4'' rectangles.

Beat the egg, and brush it over the entire surface of the dough. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each marked rectangle. Place the second sheet of dough atop the first, using your fingertips to press firmly around each pocket of filling, sealing the dough will on all sides. Press the tines of a fork all around the edge of the rectangle. Cut the dough evenly in between the filling mounds to make nine tarts. Press the cut edges with your fingers to seal, then press with a fork, to seal again.

Gently place the tarts on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick the top of each tart multiple times with a fork; you want to make sure steam can escape, or the tarts will become billowy pillows rather than flat toaster pastries. Refrigerate the tarts (they don't need to be covered) for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Sprinkle the dough trimmings with cinnamon-sugar; these have nothing to do with your toaster pastries, but it's a shame to discard them, and they make a wonderful snack. While the tarts are chilling, bake these trimmings for 13-15 minutes, till they are golden brown.

Remove the tarts from the fridge, and bake them for 25-35 minutes, until they are a light golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow to cool on the pan.

Chinese Five Spice Honey Snaps

Chinese Five Spice Honey Snaps

Adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich

57 grams (4 Tbs) unsalted butter

96 grams (3 Tbs) honey

55 grams (¼ cup) sugar

¼ tsp Chinese five spice powder

57 grams (½ cup) all purpose flour, sifted before measuring

2 pinches of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter four baking sheets if you’ve got that many. If not you just won’t be able to drop all the batter before baking, which is okay, you’ll just have to work a little quicker to switch out baking sheets.

In a small saucepan, heat the butter, honey, sugar and spice powder over low heat, until the butter is melted. Remove the pan from heat and stir in flour and salt. Mix well.

Drop 6 teaspoons of batter onto each baking sheet, allowing planty of room for spreading. Place one sheet at a time in the oven and bake until they are golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. While they are baking, butter the handle of a wooden spoon.

When the first batch is done, take it out and immediately replace it with the next batch. Allow to cool for about 15-20 seconds, then lift one with a metal spatula onto the wooden spoon handle (or on a cooling rack if you don’t want to curl them). Lay the hot snap on the spoon handle and let it hang down. Fit as many as you can on the handle and let them stay there until they firm up, about a minute. Repeat for all 6 snaps of the first batch. If they harden before you can roll them, return the baking sheet to the oven for a few seconds to allow them to soften up. Do not bake more than 6 at a time or you won’t be able to keep up. Cool completely.

Note: Even a little too much flour may result in a thick and tough, rather than thin and crisp snap. Use a scale if you can.

Parmesan Poppy Seed Crackers


1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup white flour

4 teaspoons poppy seeds

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup grapeseed/vegetable oil

3 teaspoons soy sauce

3 teaspoons ice water (or more as needed)

1. In bowl, add flours, poppy seeds and cheese. Mix dry ingredients thoroughly together.

2. In separate bowl, whisk together oil and soy sauce and add to dry mixture.

3. Continue adding ice water a little at a time as needed until the dry mixture becomes a moist dough ball.

4. Wrap dough ball in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.

5. Oil cookie sheet and preheat oven to 325° F.

6. Break off piece of dough and lay between two plastic wraps. Roll out dough flat or until desired cracker thin-ness . Using plastic wrap will keep the dough from sticking to your rolling pin and your work surface. Occasionally, the plastic wrap will wrinkle in the dough. Remove one of the plastic wrap sheets from the dough and straighten it out again to remove wrinkles.

7. Once dough is rolled out, remove top layer of plastic wrap and cut dough to desired size with a sharp knife or pasta cutter.

8. Grab the plastic wrap on the bottom of the dough and flip it over on to cookie sheet. Remove last plastic wrap. Carefully separate the cut pieces of dough so that the crackers can have a crispy edge when baked.

9. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. DO NOT OVER BAKE because the Parmesan cheese will burn and become bitter.

10. Serve with cheese or your favorite dip!

Homemade Garlic and Olive Oil Baked Potato Chips

Homemade Garlic and Olive Oil Baked Potato Chips

2 large russet potatoes, washed, not peeled
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
few small pinches Kosher salt
small pinch Lawry’s Garlic Salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. With a mandolin on the thinnest blade or a sharp knife, slice potatoes into thin slices. Place sliced potatoes on paper towels to gently pat dry. With a pastry brush, very lightly brush the potatoes with extra virgin olive oil. Lightly sprinkle one side of the potatoes with kosher salt and garlic salt. Place seasoned side of potatoes down onto 2 large baking sheets that have been sprayed lightly with cooking spray then do the same to the unseasoned side. Place in oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove and flip each potato. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. If you have one baking sheet on the bottom rack, it will brown a bit faster so watch closely.

2. Remove chips and place onto a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes to finish crisping, then serve.

Solid Peanut Butter Cups

Solid Peanut Butter Cups

12 oz. melted chocolate (I used 9 ounces semi-sweet squares and 3 ounces white chocolate squares)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt chocolate according to package directions, taking care not to overheat. To the melted chocolate, add the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Spoon or pipe chocolate mixture into small baking cups. Refrigerate until set. Enjoy!

Dixe Bars

Dixie Bars


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 can sweetened condensed milk (300 mL)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 tbsp corn syrup
1 cup pecan pieces

4 squares semisweet chocolate
1 tbsp butter
24 pecan halves (optional)

Heat oven to 350 F.

Combine flour and sugar; cut in butter to form soft dough. Press evenly into an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden.

Combine milk, sugar, butter and corn syrup in heavy saucepan, cook and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat and boil for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly or until mixture thickens slightly and turns a caramel colour. Remove from heat; stir in pecan pieces. Spread evenly over base. Chill.

Partially melt chocolate with butter over low heat. Remove from heat and continue stirring until completely melted. Spread over caramel layer. Garnish with pecan halves.
Makes 24 bars.

Source: Baker's Best Chocolate Cookbook, 1995

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sesame Chicken Strips

1 c. mayonnaise
2 tsp. dried minced onion
2 tsp. ground mustard
1 c. crushed butter-flavor crackers (about 25 crackers)
1/2 c. sesame seeds
8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (2 pounds)

1 c. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. honey

In a bowl, combine mayo, onion, & mustard. In another bowl, combine crumbs and sesame seeds. Cut chicken into strips lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. Dip strips into mayonnaise mixture, the in the cracker mixture. Place in a single layer on a lrg greased baking sheet (I don't grease my baking stones). Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 - 18 minutes or until juices run clear. Combine sauce ingredients and serve w/ chicken strips. Yields 10-12 servings.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille

1 large head garlic, top sliced off to expose tips of garlic cloves

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 3/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 large, ripe tomatoes (about 3/4 pound), halved

1 small eggplant (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices

1 large zucchini (about 1/2 pound), trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices

1 large yellow squash (about 1/2 pound), trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices

1 small red onion (about 1/2 pound), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rings

1 medium red bell pepper, stem, seeds and ribs removed, cut in half lengthwise

1 medium yellow bell pepper, stem, seeds and ribs removed, cut in half lengthwise

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons freshly minced basil leaves

2 tablespoons freshly minced parsley leaves

1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme leaves

Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish

Preheat the grill.

Before preparing the vegetables, roast the garlic. Rub 1 teaspoon of the oil and a pinch of the salt and pepper onto the cut side of the garlic. Wrap in foil and place on the grill. Roast until soft and starting to caramelize, turning occasionally, about 25 minutes. Remove from the grill and let sit until cool enough to handle. Squeeze the pulp from the garlic skins and set aside.

Rub 2 teaspoons of the oil and a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper on the tomatoes. Place on the grill away from the direct heat (or on the upper rack) and grill until tender and starting to char, about 6 minutes, depending upon the heat. (The longer the tomatoes stay on the grill, the smokier flavor they will obtain.) Remove from the heat and, when cool, remove the skin and roughly chop.

In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, zucchini, squash, onions and bell peppers, and toss with 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Grill, turning, until marked by the grill and tender, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove with tongs and let cool. Dice into 1/2-inch pieces.

In the bottom of a large bowl, mash the roasted garlic and 1 teaspoon of oil to make a paste. Drizzle in the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, and the vinegar, and whisk to combine. Add the chopped vegetables, tomatoes and the herbs, and toss to coat. Serve at room temperature, garnished with Parmesan. (The ratatouille can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight to allow the flavors to further develop.)

Serve atop grilled bread.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 40-45 minutes

Ease of preparation: Easy

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, Food of Love Productions, 2007

Friday, February 1, 2008

Perfect Popcorn

Making popcorn from scratch can be tricky. Not only do you want as many kernels as possible to pop, but you also want to keep the kernels from burning at the bottom of the pan. Until my mother showed me her way of cooking popcorn, I usually took the easy way out and used (gasp!) microwave popcorn, which by the way, is not that good for you.

Mom's method of making popcorn not only pops almost every kernel, it also prevents the kernels from burning. She took it off of a Jiffy Popcorn box, she thinks. Here's how it goes:

  • 3 Tbsp canola, peanut or grapeseed oil (high smoke point oil)
  • 1/3 cup of high quality popcorn kernels
  • 1 3-quart covered saucepan
  • 2 Tbsp or more (to taste) of butter
  • Salt to taste

1 Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat.

2 Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan.

3 When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. (Count out loud; it's fun to do with kids.) This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.

4 Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.

With this technique, nearly all of the kernels pop (I counted 4 unpopped kernels in my last batch), and nothing burns.

5 If you are adding butter, you can easily melt it by placing the butter in the now empty, but hot pan.

6 Salt to taste.

Makes 2 quarts, a nice amount for two people, or for one hungry one.

Additional tips: From the comments section

a If you add salt to the oil in the pan before popping, when the popcorn pops, the salt will be well distributed throughout the popcorn.

b Fun toppings for the popcorn - Spanish smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, cayenne powder, chili pepper, curry powder, cumin, grated Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Zucchini 'Crab' Cakes

Zucchini 'Crab' Cakes

2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon Old Bay SeasoningTM
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying

1. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, egg, and butter or margarine. Stir in seasoned crumbs, minced onion, and seasoning. Mix well.
2. Shape mixture into patties. Dredge in flour.
3. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium high heat until hot. Fry patties in oil until golden brown on both sides.

reviews to note:
I live in Maryland, and these definitely do not taste like a real crab cake, although they did remind me somewhat of the frozen grocery store kind. A reasonable facsimile for vegetarians. Due to previous complaints of sogginess, I squeezed the zucchini after grating it, and used commercial dried (canned) bread crumbs because they are denser than fresh bread crumbs (the recipe didn't specify which type to use). Also, "seasoned" bread crumbs were noted in the body, although seasoned was not specified in the ingredients list, which caused some confusion. As a Maryland crab cake afficionado, I would not recommend you use seasoned bread crumbs as the seasonings would detract from the Old Bay. I'll make these again, but next time I will increase the dried bread crumbs to 1 1/8 cups to help counteract the sogginess and increase the Old Bay to 1 1/2 tsp. to enhance the flavor.

using a potato ricer to squeeze out the water from the spinach. I tried his idea with the zucchini and I can't tell you how well it worked.

I made a double batch of these (to freeze for later use), and baked them on a lightly oiled baking sheet. 400 degree oven, turning once after 12 - 15 minutes then baking an additional 12-15 minutes. The results were great. Less oil absorbed than with pan frying, and the "crab" cakes came out crispy and golden, with a lot less mess and work.

salt/drain the zucchini first. To avoid the raw zucchini/onion taste, saute the squeezed zucchini and onion for a few minutes before forming cakes.