Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sugar Cookies

Here is a very good basic recipe for sugar cookies. I know I am just about "cookied out" but this is a good one to save and try at a later time if you are feeling the same way I am! It is from the The Doubleday Cookbook. I don't know if I will get another chance to post a recipe before the New Year since I'll be away for a few days. My plans for New Year's eve are to be home with my husband and youngest son and bring in the New Year via Dick Clark!!!! I don't care to go out on New Year's eve. Hope all of you have a happy and safe New Year and let me know what your plans are!!!

This recipe makes approximately 7 dozen

3 3/4 cups sifted flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sift flour with baking powder and salt and set aside. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until just blended (lowest speed if you use mixer). If your kitchen is very hot, wrap dough in wax paper and chill about 1 hour (I always chill the dough for at least one hour) so it will roll more easily. Roll 1/4 of dough at a time on a lightly floured board to 1/16" - 1/8" thickness and cut with plain or fluted cutters (a 2" or 3" size is good). Transfer to baking sheets with a pancake turner, spacing cookies 2" apart. If you like, brush with milk and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake in top 1/3 of oven 8-9 minutes until pale tan. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Reroll and cut trimmings.

For softer cookies: Roll dough 1/8" - 1/4" thick and cut with a 3" cutter; bake as directed 10-12 minutes until edges are just golden.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!!

Just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. I had planned on posting an old sugar cookie recipe that I have been using for many years, but of course, time got away from me today. I feel as if I am totally baked out!!!! I finished up 3 different kinds of cookies and an apple pie. Here's an idea for anyone that might be baking a pie for tomorrow: why not try red or green sugar crystals on the top of the pie. I made an apple pie and it just looked so festive!!!! Well that is my "tip of the day!" Have a great holiday everyone!!!! Debbie

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dunkel (Dark) Gingerbread with Chocolate Chunks

This recipe comes from a German website which you can find here. This is a recipe that is great for a large crowd. It is dense and moist and goes a long way since it is quite rich. My husband loved this cake. The cake did take twice as long to bake compared to what the recipe states. Mine baked for a good hour. I also used a stout beer in this cake and would suggest that any dark German beer is fine. I found that when the cake cooled down to where it could be sliced and eaten (about two hours later) you could somewhat taste the beer. Almost like a tinge of bitterness. I waited again to taste it until the next morning and it was perfect. All the flavors had blended perfectly. So remember that this cake is best when served the next day and also a less strong beer might be better than a stout. It is definitely worth making and like I said, it would be perfect for a large crowd. I'll be back again tomorrow to post my favorite sugar cookie recipe that I started using about 25 years ago!!!!! Still have more cookies to bake and not even sure which ones I will be making. I'm not very organized....there are so many good cake and cookie recipes out there that I just can't decide....!!!!

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup dark German beer

1 cup molasses

1 tablespoon fresh ginger (I used 2 teaspoons ground ginger)

1 stick unsalted butter, softenend

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 (3 1/2 ounce) bar German dark chocolate, finely chopped

1/3 cup (about 2 ounces) finely chopped crystalized ginger (don't substitute for this)

Confectioners sugar to garnish, optional

Preheat over to 350 F. Generously butter and flour a 10 cup Bundt pan. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk together the dark German beer, molasses and ginger in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine butter, sugar and egg in a large bowl and beat at medium speed with a mixer for 2 minutes, or until mixture is light and fluffy. In 3 additions, alternately beat in flour mixture and beer mixture at low speed until batter is smooth. Stir in chocolate and crystallized ginger. Spoon batter into prepared pan, smoothing top of batter.

Bake 30 - 35 minutes (I baked mine 1 hour) or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Dust cake with confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Tip: I have found that when buying crystallized ginger it is about 1/3 of the price if you can find it at either an Asian grocery store or in the Asian food section of your local grocery store.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


These shortbread cookies are delicious and so easy to make. I made the dough the night before and baked the cookies the following evening. I brought them in to work the next day and they were gone before noon! They are very buttery tasting and just plain good. I will be making them again this week for my Christmas tray. Still haven't decided which other ones to make for Christmas day - there are just so many good ones to make. That is what I will be doing this coming Tuesday and Wednesday...baking, baking and then more baking. In fact as I am typing this, I have a spiced gingerbread cake in the oven that I am kind of leary about. It is a recipe from a German website which uses a cup of stout beer and and lots of crystalized ginger. I have absolutely no idea how this will turn out but since I like gingerbread I thought it would be interesting to make. It also calls for 3.5 ounces of chocolate so how bad could it be. If it is good I will post it because it is something different. I'll let you know how it turns out.

From the Dorie Greenspan book "Baking - From my home to yours"

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

2 cups all purpose flour

Decorating (coarse) sugar

Beat butter at medium speed until smooth and very creamy. Add the sugars and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. The mixture should be smooth and velvety, NOT fluffy and airy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the egg yolks, again beating until homogenous. Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour and continue mixing at low speed for 30 seconds more, just until flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. The dough will not clean the sides of the bowl nor will it come together in a ball - and it shouldn't. Work the dough as little as possible - it should feel like Play-Doh. Scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface and gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably longer. The dough can keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 months.

To bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove a log of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it and place it on a piece of parchment paper or wax paper. Whisk one egg yolk until it is smooth and brush some of the yolk all over the sides of the dough - this is the glue - then sprinkle the entire surface of the log with decorating sugar. Trim the ends of the roll if they are ragged, and slice the log into 1/3 inch thick cookies. You can make these as thick as 1/2 inch or as thin as 1/4 inch, but no thinner than that. Place the rounds on the baking sheets leaving an inch of space between them. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes. (My first batch I baked for 17 minutes and they burned - so watch carefully from 13 minutes on.) They should be pale on top, slightly golden on the edges and light brown on the bottom. Remove from oven and let the cookies rest a minute or two carefully lifting them onto a rack with a wide metal spatula to cool to room temperature.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cranberry Vanilla Coffeecake

This recipe comes from the December 2008 issue of Gourmet magazine. Right in time for the holidays! This is a very festive coffeecake to me since it has cranberries in it. I hardly ever use cranberries for anything any other time of the year except for November thru December. It's pretty simple to make. I used a 9 inch springform pan lined with parchment paper. I also am not familiar using vanilla bean so I substituted one teaspoon of vanilla extract and used that in the cake. I think it turned out fine. This is definitely best eaten once it has cooled or the next day at the latest. I had a slice this morning (the last of it) and it really had lost some of its taste. Just not nearly as good. This would be great for breakfast or even as an afternoon "pick me up" with some coffee. Enjoy!

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (6 oz) - I used fresh

2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, divided

2 larges eggs

1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in middle. Generously butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan. (I used a springform pan.) Line bottom with parchment paper and butter parchment paper. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a food processor with tip of a paring knife (reserve pod for another use if desired.) Add sugar and pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl. (I omitted this step since I used vanilla extract in cake.) Pulse cranberries with 1/2 vanilla sugar (I used plain sugar) in processor until finely chopped - do not puree. Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt. Beat together 1 stick butter and 1 cup vanilla sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down side and bottom of bowl. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture and milk alternatively in batches, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined. Spread half of batter in pan, then spoon cranberries over it, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Top with remaining batter and smooth top. Blend remaining 1/4 cup vanilla sugar with remaining tablespoon each of butter and flour using your fingertips. Crumble on top of cake. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted into cake (not into cranberry filling) comes out clean and side begins to pull away from pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely, crumb side up. Garnish with powdered sugar, if desired.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Do You Dare??

When I visited Natashya's blog Living in the Kitchen with Puppies today she had a challenge for other food bloggers....would they care to show their shelves of cookbooks to other bloggers so we can all show each what cookbooks we have in our collections. I definitely thought this would be fun. I really don't have that many, but the ones I do have are ones I really treasure. I buy some cookbooks at yard sales and some (if I really want it) I pay full price for at the book store. My most treasured ones are about 30 years old and are the Doubleday Cookbook, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. I have had them probably 30 years ( older than a lot of people reading this!) and they have NEVER failed me. I turn to them time and time again. If there is an ingredient I'm not familiar with, they will have it in there - what it is and what it's used for. Every recipe is a winner and I still use their recipe for sugar cookies. Can't find a better one ever. I have some newer ones also, like Dorie Greenspan's Baking from my Home to Yours. Another great book. So now you all have seen my collection!!!!! I'd love to see yours!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Sauce

Guess what I did with the leftover tomato sauce from my Chicken Cacciatore dinner? I used it on top of spaghetti squash! It was delicious! This was the first time I had made spaghetti squash and I still can't believe how simple it is to make and how tasty it is. Especially with tomato sauce. Here are some ways to cook the squash:

If you decide to cup it up before it is cooked let me tell you it is tough. That is the way I did it. I didn't realize at the time you can cook it whole. (Duh). It took alot of muscle to get this sucker cut but I did it. Make sure to cut it lengthwise in half or in quarters. Just remember not to cut it too small or you will have short strands. Remember to scrape out the seeds and pulp like you would with any squash or pumpkin. You then bake it with the rind side up for about 30 or 40 minutes. I put mine on a nonstick baking pan with a little water and cooked it at 375 degrees. When it's done you just separate the strands by running a fork through in the stem to stem direction.

If you decide to cook it whole it will take a little longer and you'll need to watch out for burns when removing the pulp and seeds. Remember to pierce the squash several times with a sharp knife so you don't have an explosion in the oven. You also bake it at 375 degrees.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Giada's Chicken Cacciatore

This chicken cacciatore recipe is definitely a keeper. It's the first time I've used white wine instead of red for this recipe and also it calls for capers. I love capers! I found it at Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. It's a recipe that is originally from Giada De Laurentis. The oregano, basil, garlic and capers just blend so well together. I did not have fresh basil so I used dried instead. I did use fresh parsley which I added when the dish was almost done. I also used a whole cut up chicken. I served this over pasta. Delicious!!!!

4 chicken thighs

2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise

2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1/2 cup all purpose flour for dredging

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3/4 cup dry white wine

1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

3/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth (I used regular)

3 tablespoons drained capers

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves (I used 2 teaspoons of dried basil)

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly. In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over a medium high flame. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano (I also added basil at this point.) Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs. (Mine took closer to 45 minutes for all.) Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and sauce.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Balsamic Roasted Red Potatoes

I had a large bag of potatoes that I needed to do something with and quick. They were at the point of growing "eyes." Not pretty when that happens. I really don't know how they even lasted as long as they have around here. I love potatoes and could eat fries every night (but I restrain myself). Anyhow, I came across this recipe the other day at allrecipes. I'll tell you that since I discovered the world of food blogging I rarely look at my poor cookbooks. And believe me, there are a lot of them around here. My husband collects cookbooks (that is a story for another post though - it would be a long one!). These days it seems that most of my recipes come from somewhere on the net, be it another food blog or recipe site. It's not that I don't read my cookbooks anymore because I do. I just seem to get distracted by recipes and pictures of food on the net. I just want to make what I see right away!!!! Almost like a form of ADD cooking!!! Getting back to the potatoes they are very good. I didn't have thyme or rosemary on hand (seems like everything BUT that) so I used basil and oregano instead. I also omitted the nutmeg since I didn't know how that would taste with the two spices I substituted. These are definitely woth trying to see if you like them.

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered (I used baking potatoes)

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed (I used basil)

1 teaspoon dried thyme (I used oregano)

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (I omitted this)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, onion and garlic; toss to combine. Add the thyme, rosemary and nutmeg; toss well. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until potatoes are hot.

Transfer to a 15 x 10 x 1 in. baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are golden and almost tender. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper; toss well. Bake 5-8 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Apple Cake

This is the last of the apple recipes for a while. I baked this back when I sat here with almost a bushel of apples!!! The cake was a very good cake but I did not add enough apples. The batter had looked very thin to me and it looked like it was all apples and not enough batter. I should have trusted the recipe as it was written and added the amount of apples it called for. I'm sure it would have been even better. I would make this again just using more apples. I found this at Confessions of a Tart.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 to 4 large apples or 5 smaller ones

confectioners' sugar for dusting

Peel and core apples, then slice them thinly. Prepare an 11 inch tart pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you don't want the apples to brown, you can squeeze some lemon juice on them, but there really is no need to since they go in the batter anyway.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a small bowl. Melt the butter and let it cool. In a large bowl combine the eggs and sugar. Using a mixer, mix on medium speed until batter becomes pale and thick.

Add in the slightly warm, melted butter and vanilla extract. Mix until well blended then add apples and stir until the apples are coated. Add in the sifted dry ingredients until well incorporated.

Pour into the prepared tart pan and place into the preheated oven for 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, dust with confections sugar. This is best servied while it is still slightly warm. Can also be served with whipped cream.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Stir-Fry Broccoli and Beef Tenderloin

I made this dish last week and it was delicious. Both my husband and son raved about it and I will definitely be making this again and again. Maybe next time I will try this with chicken or shrimp. I think both of them would be fine. I found this recipe at My Kitchen Snippets. It's another great food blog that I check all the time.

1/2 pound of beef tenderloin or flank steak, sliced thinly into bite-sized pieces

1 pound of broccoli-cut small

1/2 red pepper cut into bite size pieces (I used a whole pepper)

1/2 yellow pepper cut into bite size pieces (I used a whole green pepper)

1 small onion - cut into bite size pieces

1 clove of garlic-chopped

1 tbsp of chopped ginger (I used 1/2 tsp ground ginger)

Marinade for beef:

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp of cooking wine (I used semi sweet red wine)

1 tbsp cornstarch

For Sauce:

2 tbsp oyster sauce

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp of pepper

1 cup chicken stock (more or less depending on how much sauce you like)

1 tsp cornstarch

Marinade sliced beef for thirty minutes. Mix all the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Heat pan with about 2 tbsp olive oil. When oil is hot, add beef and stir-fry until it is nearly cooked. Remove beef and set aside. In the same sauce pan, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil, stir-fry garlic, ginger and onions until fragrant and lightly brown. Add in the peppers and broccoli and stir fry for a minute. Add in the sauce and bring it up to a boil. Cook until the broccoli and peppers are cooked but still slightly crunchy. Lastly, add in the beef, stir fry for a few seconds or until sauce and everything is well mixed. Check seasoning. Serve with rice.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chicken Tetrazzini IV

Another great recipe from allrecipes. My husband has been requesting this for years and I have never made it. It is so simple to make and it is great for leftovers or for making the day before and then just popping it in the oven the next day. This goes well with a side salad and also some crispy bread. I am a sucker for great bread and I definitely over did it last night. I ate more bread loaded with butter than anything else! We had an Italian bread with this and I just love the ends (the elbows I call them!) I can't resist them! Enjoy!

1 (8 ounce) package spaghetti, broken into pieces

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream (I used evaporated milk)

2 tablespoons sherry

1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms, drained

2 cups cooked chicken

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (I used a bit more to cover top)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Meanwhile in a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, and gradually stir in chicken broth and cream. Return to heat and bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add sherry, then stir in cooked spaghetti, mushrooms and chicken. Pour mixture into the prepared baing dish and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven until bubbly and lightly browned.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

An Award!

Katherine from smoky mountain cafe has passed on an award on to me! Thank you Katherine! She has a great blog with lots of wonderful recipes. Please stop by and visit her site. You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Favorite Old Fashioned Gingerbread

Welcome December!!! Now with Thanksgiving behind us, we have Christmas to concentrate on and all the great foods (especially cookies) that Christmas brings. I absolutely love baking Christmas cookies and cut out sugar cookies are my favorites. As soon as I make some I will definitely post them. But for now let's start the season with some gingerbread. I don't know why I haven't made this before. It is just so easy and absolutely delicious! It definitely reminds me of the holidays. This is a very moist gingerbread. The recipe comes from allrecipes. I have found lots of good recipes on there lately.

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 egg

1 cup molasses

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 inch square pan. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, and mix in the molasses. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake 1 hour (mine baked 45 minutes and was done) in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan before serving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Poppy Seed Bread

This recipe comes from The Taste of Home Recipe Book. The date of the book is 1994 so it is an older one. I absolutely love this bread. I've made this several times in the past but this is the first recipe I've come across where it has a glaze using 3 extracts. Normally, I've seen these breads with a lemon glaze. This reminds me of the 5 Flavor Pound Cake that I've made. You don't have to make the glaze though. This is a very good bread even without it. Since this recipe makes two loaves I used an 8 x 4 inch pan and also a 9 x 5 inch pan. It worked out fine, however, the bread rose a bit more and had a real nice crack in the 8 x 4 inch pan, so you may want to use two of those (if you have 2, I only had one). It also states to let the breads cool in their pans. I don't like doing that for fear that I will never get them out in one piece!!! I'm leaving early on Thursday morning for the holiday so I hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving (don't know if I will have a chance to post tomorrow.) Enjoy the holiday and all the good food that goes along with it. We can all worry about our waistlines (and hips and thighs) after the holidays. It is really hard to resist all the good treats between now and Christmas...Enjoy!!!!!!

3 cups all purpose flour

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 eggs, light beaten

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1 1/2 teaspoons butter extract


3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon butter extract

In a large bowl, combine first five ingredients. Add eggs, milk, oil and extracts. Pour into two greased 8 1/2 in x 4 1/2 in loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes. Cool completely in pans (I cooled 10 minutes and removed.) In a saucepan, bring all glaze ingredients to a boil. Pour over bread in pans. (I poured over bread on rack and put wax paper under it.) Cool for 5 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Baked Acorn Squash

This recipe is so simple and tasty that I don't know why it has taken me so long to finally make it. I have always loved squash but just never got around to cooking it myself. After making this recipe, I'm sure all that will change. It is just sooo good. I think it could almost pass for a dessert. Almost....but not quite!!!! I came across this on Simply Recipes but you can kind of just use this as a guide since it's so simple to make. I will be having this again soon. I made 4 halves and my husband and I had one each. My youngest son did not care this at all so the next night we warmed up the 2 that were left. They were ok but not nearly as good as when they were freshly made.

2 Acorn squash

2 Tbsp butter

4 Tbsp brown sugar

4 teaspoons Maple Syrup

dash of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a strong chef's knife and perhaps a rubber mallet to help (I used the rubber mallet - these things are tough), cut the acorn in half, lengthwise, from stem to end. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the center of each half. Score the insides of each half several times with a sharp knife. Place each half in a baking pan, cut side up. Add about a 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the baking pan so that the skins don't burn and the squash doesn't get dried out. Coat the inside of each half with 1/2 tbsp of butter. Add a dash of salt if you are using unsalted butter. Add a tbsp of brown sugar to the cavity of each. Dribble on a tsp of maple syrup to each half. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until squash is very soft and the tops are browned. Do not undercook. When finished, remove from oven and let cool a little before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas. (serves 2 to 4 depending on how much squash you eat)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I have never had popovers before. I heard of them but really had no clue what they were. They are similar to dinner rolls but these have no yeast in them. Since I have a fear of baking with yeast (I've never made homemade bread before) this was a good recipe for me to try. Maybe this will be a first step into finally deciding to try and make bread. We'll see. We had these on the side this evening with turkey, acorn squash (which I will have on my blog in a few days) and potatoes. Since we will not be here Thanksgiving and will be at the beach instead, I decided to make a turkey dinner now because I don't want to miss out on making turkey! You can have the popovers plain or with some butter or jam. They are crispy and flaky on the outside with sheets of thin dough on the inside. Really good. If I were not as full as I had been by the time they were ready I would have had more than one. My husband (who found this recipe and gave it to me to try) says he thinks they would be good cut in half with a scoop of ice cream in them or filled with cream like a cream puff. I think you can really do lots of other things with them besides just having them with dinner. This recipe is from Wegmann's monthly magazine. I urge you all to try this. It doesn't get any more simple than this and once you taste one you can just imagine all the different things you can do with these. I think I will add some sugar to them the next time I cook them.....

5 Tbsp Wegmann's Pure Olive Oil, divided (I used evoo from Aldi's - any good one will do)

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

4 large eggs

2 cups whole milk

You'll need: Two 12 count cupcake tins, baking sheet and vegetable cooking spray.

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Place cupcake tin on baking sheet. Spray every other cupcake form with vegetable spray; add 1 tsp olive oil. Place in oven 10 minutes; make sure there is 5 inches of space between oven racks/top of oven. As this heats, make the batter. For batter: Blend salt and flour in large bowl. Set aside. Whisk together eggs and milk in separate bowl. Slowly whisk egg /milk mixture into flour mixture, blending until well combined. Pour batter into oiled forms until each form is 3/4 full. Bake 40-45 minutes (without opening oven door) until golden and puffed. Poke a hole in each popover with fork to release steam. Serve immediately.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread

This is an absolutely delicious pumpkin bread. The flavors are very bold and will not disappoint! I found this recipe on allrecipes. It is one that has gotten 5 stars and been reviewed by over 2,000 people. I like trying ones like that because they will usually be very good. How can sooo many people be wrong! The only change that I made was what many of the reviewers recommend and that was substituting 1/2 cup applesauce and using only 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. I think next time I will use the full cup of vegetable oil instead. I think it will be fine. I like these types of breads very moist. I don't think I would add anything to this bread like nuts, or chocolate chips because the bread is really very good on its own.

1 (15 ounce) can of pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup water

3 cups white sugar

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 7 x 3 inch loaf pans.. (I used two 9 x 5)

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

Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Katherine of Smoky Mountain Cafe has tagged me to reveal 7 random facts about myself. Well here goes!
I am a huge dog lover. (All animals really)
My favorite food would be chocolate cake.
My favorite drink is a strong cup of coffee or a cafe mocha (hence the food blog name!)
I am a big horror movie fan.
My favorite author is Ann Rule and I can't wait for her new book to come out.
Hate to admit this but I am a big wrestling fan and watch it with my youngest son!
I sing all the time and wish I had a good voice but I really don't. But it doesn't stop me......

Friday, November 14, 2008

Alsatian Apple Tart

Even after this recipe I still have apples left!! This comes from the Dorie Greenspan book "Baking - From My Home to Yours." It's very good. It has a European flair (at least to me) and it is not too sweet. The custard that is poured over the apples is delicious. This took a little while longer for me to bake than what the recipe states so just watch it carefully for the last 10 minutes or so. It is definitely a dessert that needs to be eaten the same day or at the latest the next day. It's so good so it may not even last till the next day!!!! Here is the recipe for the tart dough and then the filling.....

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, confectioners' sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in - you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses - about 10 seconds each - until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change - heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and , very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Butter a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust has baked. Don't be too heavy handed - press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. For a partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack (keep it in its pan).

For the Filling:

1 pound medium size firm sweet apples, such as Golden Delicious (I used Fuji)

1 9-inch tart shell made with the Sweet Tart Dough, partially baked and cooled

3/4 cup heavy cream

6 tablespoons sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

About 1/3 cup apple jelly plus 1 teaspoon water, for glazing or confectioners' sugar for dusting (I used the confectioners' sugar)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with partchment or a silicone mat. Peel the apples, cut them in half from top to bottom and remove the cores. Cut the apple halves lengthwise into thick slices (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick) - I cut mine thinner - and lay them in the tart shell, arranging them in overlapping concentric circles and mounding a few slices in the center. If the apples stick up above the rim of the crust, so much the better. In a 1 quart measuring cup with a spout (for convenience) whisk together the cream, sugar, whole egg, yolk and vanilla and pour mixture over the apples. Bake the tart for 50 to 55 minutes (mine took 60), or until the apples can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife and the custard is set. (If a knife inserted into the custard comes out clean, then it's done.) Transfer the tart to a rack and allow it to cool to just a tad above room temperature or to room temperature. If you want to glaze the tart, bring the jelly and water to a boil. Using a pastry brush and a light touch, cover the top of the tart with the hot jelly. If the apples and custard have separated, use the glaze to fill in the cracks. If you are not glazing the tart, just dust the top generously with confectioners' sugar.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Deep Chocolate Pound Cake

This cake comes from the October 2008 issue of Bon Appetit. Most of you can probably make this cake with your eyes closed. Very easy. My husband did not care for it at all. My oldest son loved it. So I guess it's just a matter of taste. It's a little on the dry side but that could my fault. I may have overbaked it a bit. It's a decent pound cake. It reminds me of something in between a chocolate "bread" and a cake. I didn't have any mini chocolate chips so I just used regular ones. If you are looking for a very easy chocolate recipe, I would recommend trying this one.

I am debating whether or not to renew my subscription to Bon Appetit. I have noticed that there are more advertisements than anything else lately. I recently subscribed to Cuisine At Home, a cooking magazine with NO advertisements....very nice!!!! (Oh, I'm also not done yet with all the apples recipes....there are more coming and I STILL have more apples in the fridge....!)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt (I used regular salt)

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons boiling water

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in medium bowl. Whisk sour cream and milk in small bowl. Sift cocoa powder into another small bowl. Whisk in honey and 2 tablespoons boiling water until smooth. Cool completely. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in another medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in vanilla. Add cocoa mixture; stir until smooth, occasionally scraping down bowl. Beat in flour mixture alternately with sour cream mixture in 2 additions each until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 8 minutes. Remove cake from pan and cool.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Caramelized Apple Crumb Cake

(Please forgive the way this picture came out....don't have any decent ones of this cake to post and this recipe is worth posting!)

As you can tell I still have a ton of apples here. I am in the process, believe it or not, of making an apple tart while I am posting this apple cake. So there will be more apple recipes in the near future!!! I don't know where this recipe came from since it has been photocopied with no name of a book or magazine. I am assuming it is from a magazine or newspaper. My husband found this a while ago and gave it to me to try. It is really, really good. Good enough that it is worth the trouble to make it. This is a little more time consuming than some other recipes since you have to cook the apples first and then you have to remember to layer them onto the batter after 15 minutes of cooking and then cook another 15 minute and layer the topping. The end result is worth the time it takes. If you do decide to try this, I have to say that I baked this at least 15 to 20 more minutes than what the recipe suggests. So keep an eye on it and don't worry if it is taking longer than what the recipe states.

For the apples -

4 or 5 medium cooking apples. I used Fuji. I find they really work well.

Juice of half a medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate (I used 2 tablespoons orange juice and it worked fine)

1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the topping

1 cup flour

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

For the cake

18 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the baking dish

1 1/2 cups plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup low fat or whole buttermilk (I used 3/4 whole milk with 1 1/2 tbs vinegar)

For the apples: Peel and core the apples and cut into 1/2 inch dice. Toss them in a large bowl with the lemon juice and orange juice concentrate until they are evenly coated, then add the cinnamon and sugar, tossing until well incorporated. Melt the butter in a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the apple mixture; increase the heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the apples begin to caramelize yet are not too soft. Remove them from the heat and let them cool. (If the apples have released a lot of liquid, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl, then boil the pan juices to reduce them until they are thick and syrupy. Combine with the apples to cool.)

For the topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Use 2 forks, a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut the butter into the dry mixture, forming a crumbly topping; set aside.

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with a little butter. Combine the butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium high speed and beat for 2 minutes, until well incorporated. Reduce the speed to add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and the remaing 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar in a separate bowl or on a sheet of wax paper. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternate additions of the flour mixture and buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Mix just until combined, being careful not to overmix. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and spread the carmelized apple mixture in a single layer over the entire cake layer. Then sprinkle half of the topping over the apples. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Remove the cake from the oven and sprinkle remaining topping evenly over the cake. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool before slicing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Chocolate Stout Cake

I've seen a number of recipes lately for chocolate stout cake and just had to try to make one. This cake turned out great. It is very easy to make. You do not taste the stout at all (thank goodness). I think what it does is make the cake very moist, dark and dense, and that is a GOOD thing!!! This recipe calls for a cream cheese frosting. The frosting is good but not one of my favorites. I absolutely love marshmallow frosting and may try that next time. The recipe comes from Start Cooking but you can also find the recipe below. I did not tweak this at all since I have never baked using stout before. The recipe is great as written! (It is orginally from Nigella Lawson.)

8 oz of Guiness Stout beer

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 tbs vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsps baking soda

Preheat over to 350F degrees. Line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper, bottom and sides. (I only lined the bottom and it was fine). Make sure bottom of pan is greased before you add the parchment paper. Also grease sides of pan. I used Pam with flour.

Pour Guiness Stout into a 4 quart saucepan. Add the butter. Over medium heat stir or whisk until the butter has melted. Whisk in the cocoa powder and the sugar. Once the sugar has melted, remove the pan from heat.

Crack the eggs into a small dish, then put the eggs into a medium bowl. Add the vanilla extract, sour cream. Whisk these three together. Pour the egg mixture into the chocolate. Whisk until it is well blended.

Add the flour and baking soda. Whisk everything together until it is totally blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake cake for 45 to 50 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool completely. Do not remove cake from pan until it is cold. (I ran a knife around sides of cake about 5 minutes after I removed it from oven to make sure the sides were not sticking.)

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, softenend

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbs heavy cream or milk

Put cream cheese into medium size bowl and sift 1 cup confectioner's sugar over it to remove any lumps. Using an electric mixer, whip the cheese and sugar together until it is fluffy and smooth. Whip in 1 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk in small amounts. Beat until you have a spreadable consistency. Spread frosting on the top of the cake, starting at the middle and fanning out to the top edge of the cake. The sides of this cake do not get frosted. The cake, once it is frosted is supposed to be reminiscent of a pint of stout -- a dense, dark bottom with a frothy white top!!!! (I also added bittersweet chocolate shavings to the top of my cake.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fresh Apple Pound Cake

It's apple time here again. We took a ride up to the mountains again this past Sunday and picked up more apples. So I have another half bushel. I'm once again searching for apple recipes and came across this one at A Yankee in a Southern Kitchen. You can get the recipe either here or below. I didn't make any changes other than using prepared sweetened coconut and also adding a little cinnamon. It's very good and got rave reviews at work and from my husband. It did not last long!!!

2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup butter, melted

4 large eggs

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

3 cups tart apples, (I used Fuji), peeled, cored and diced

1 cup fresh grated coconut (I used sweetened packaged)

1 cup chopped pecans

2 1/2 tsps vanilla extract

Butter and flour a 10 inch tube pan and set aside (I used a Bundt pan). Preheat over to 325 degrees with the rack positioned in the middle of the oven. Combine the melted butter, oil and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat the ingredients with a wooden spoon or whisk till well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time beating until mixed. Measure the flour, setting aside 1/2 cup for the apples. Add the baking soda and salt to the flour mixture and sift together to combine the dry ingredients. Using a little at a time of the dry ingredients add to the oil/butter and sugar mixture combining well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix till incorporated. Sprinkle the remaining flour over the apples and toss till coated. Then add the pecans and coconut and toss gently but thoroughly till mixed well. Fold the apples, nuts and coconut into the batter. Pour into the prepared tube (Bundt) pan. Batter will be thick. Tap on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hr 20 mins or until a tester comes out clean when put in the center of the cake. Do not open the oven till 1 hour of baking time to test. Let cool for about 10 or 15 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powder sugar when completely cooled.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An Award!!!

I was given this award from Katherine of Smokey Mountain Cafe and I am so thrilled. It makes me feel good to know that people are reading and enjoying my blog. I know I am certainly having fun cooking and blogging about it and going to all the other food sites! This has become something that I look forward to every day and I find myself constantly thinking of what to cook up next and write about.
I would like to pass this award on to 5 other fellow bloggers who sites I enjoy very much. They are: Jersey Girl Cooks,
These blogs are an inspiration to me. They are wonderful and I hope you will all pay them a visit and enjoy them. Thanks again Katherine!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chicken Spaghetti

Halloween was certainly fun this year and I was freezing by the time we had finished trick or treating! I did learn something new -- when you have been out for about two hours trick or treating and the night is winding down, people are desperate to get rid of any remainging candy that they have. Maybe they are afraid they will end up eating it themselves? Who knows. I just know that my son did extremely well the last half hour!!! People were literally telling the boys to please takes several handfuls and some even started dumping candy in their bags!!! I was just hoping some would be Almond Joys. My husband and I both love them and my son doesn't so that works out really well. Needless to say we have all been "digging" too much already in the candy bowl (and it is a big bowl at that!). But we all had so much fun and that is what Halloween should be all about.

This recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks! I'm sure you have all heard of her blog. It is great. I love the step by step pictures. I have not yet figured out how to add more than one picture for each post (yes, I am that computer illiterate). But I am not giving up -- maybe someday I will figure it out. I am glad that I have figured out this much, believe me. You can go to her blog if you like for the recipe or just follow what I have written below. It is the same as what is on her blog but without the step by step pictures. This is really a good meal and very "kid friendly." My son loved it and my husband liked it. He said it reminded him of chicken tetrazinni. He prefers that compared to chicken spaghetti. He was also worried about the calories and I can't say he is wrong. It is a very rich dish but very good. I don't worry about calories when I cook. If the dish is too rich, I just don't make it that often or have a bit less on my plate. I like to enjoy food. Don't you agree?

2 cups cooked chicken

2 cans cream of mushroom soup

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup finely diced green pepper (I used 1/2 cup at least)

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1 - 4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained

3 cups dry spaghetti, broken into 2 inch pieces

2 cups reserved chicken broth from pot

1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (I omitted this)

salt and pepper to taste

1 additional cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Cook 1 cut up fryer in large pot and cover with water. Bring to boil and simmer for about 45 minutes. When chicken has cooled, pick out the meat to make two cups. (I had extra and froze to use for another time). Cook spaghetti in same chicken broth until al dente. Do not overcook. When spaghetti is cooked, combine with remaining ingredients except 1 cup additional cheddar cheese.

Place mixture in casserole pan and top with remaining sharp cheddar. Cover and freeze up to 6 months, cover and refrigerate up to two days, or bake immediately: 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until bubbly. (If the cheese on top get to be too cooked, just cover with foil.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween Everybody!!!!!!!!

Wishing you all a very safe and fun filled Halloween! I will be rummaging through my son's goodies and hope he gets lots of Almond Joys and Mounds! He does not like coconut but I do!!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hershey's Chocolate Cake

I made this cake for my oldest son's birthday (24 years old - I still cannot believe I have a son that old!!!!). It was simple and delicious! I love all things chocolate and this one is near the top of the list. The frosting was a bit too sweet but that was probably my fault. I had forgotten to add the vanilla (this is typical of me - it happens quite often!) so that could be the reason but it was still really good. You can find the recipe on the Hershey website or any number of Hershey cookbooks. This is probably one of their most popular cakes.

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat over to 350 degrees and prepare 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 with mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

To make frosting, stir melted butter into cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin Muffins

This is the same recipe that has been on many food blogs since last week. It is the one from Dorie Greenspan's book - Baking, From My Home to Yours. I think I normally would have waited to post this since it has been posted by so many recently, but I am going to go ahead and post it now since it's the perfect time of year for this. The muffins came out great. Normally muffins are at their best when they are freshly baked and eaten fairly soon but these were better the next day, like a cake would be! I did omit the raw sunflower seeds that Dorie used for a topping and replaced this with a sugar glaze that I made using powdered sugar and milk. I just drizzled this on once the muffins cooled. My husband and coworkers loved them but they were not a hit with my son......he loves pumpkin pie but was not even interested in trying these. Oh well, I am making a pumpkin pie tonight so he will enjoy that!!!

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Pinch of ground allspice

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup moist, plump golden raisins

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Topping: About 1/3 cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds, for topping (I substituted a drizzle made from powdered sugar and milk)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 400F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until soft. Add both the sugars and continue to beat until light and smooth. One by one add the eggs, beating for a minute after the eggs are incorporated, then beat in the vanilla. Lower the mixer speed and mix the pumpkin and buttermilk. With the mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients in a steady stream, mixing only until they disappear. To avoid overmixing, you can stop the machine early and stir any remaining dry ingredients into the batter using a rubber spatula. Stir in the raisins and nuts. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle a few sunflower seeds over the top of each muffin.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the pan, then carefully remove each one from its mold and finish cooling on the rack. (If you are using the drizzle, allow muffins to cool.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake is a Mexican dessert that is totally delicious! It translates into 3 milks cake. I first had this in a buffet style restaurant and had no idea what kind of cake it was. When I asked what kind of cake this was the waitress explained it to me and I have been wanting to try making my own ever since. It is super easy to make and the only thing I would definitely recommend is to keep it refrigerated and always serve it cold. It tastes much better that way. This recipe comes from Martha Stewart. The only thing I did differently was not to scrape the skin of the cake after baking. I simply poked holes in it (reminded me of a jello poke cake). Anyhow that worked fine. I would also recommend using a tiny bit less of all the three milks. When I had this in the restaurant it was not quite as "wet" and I prefer it that way.

Unsalted butter, room temperature for baking dish

6 large eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1 cup all purpose flour, sifted

1 (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 (12 ounces) evaporated milk

1 cup whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavey cream

1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Preheat over to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. In another bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold whites into yolks until almost combined. Gently fold in flour (do not overmix).

Spread batter in prepared dish. Bake until golden and pulling away from sides of dish, 20 to 25 minutes. Using a small knife, scrape skin from top of cake; discard. (I poked holes instead when cake had cooled.) Cool cake 20 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the three milks; pour evenly over cake. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

To serve, prepare topping: In a mixing bowl, whip heavy cream with sugar to soft peaks. Chill cake and cut into squares; serve topped with whipped cream.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Torte di Mele (Apple Cake)

This recipe comes from Susan over at It's an Italian apple cake that is wonderful. The only difference in my cake is that I substituted apple juice for the Calvados. I had been wanting to make this cake for a while and with all the apples I have had from my mountain weekend, this was the perfect time for it. I will definitely make this again. And again....and again!!!

4 eggs, separated
2lbs Golden Delicious apples, peeled and sliced (about 6 apples)
juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup Calvados** (I used apple juice)
1 cup sugar
12 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose four, sifted
2 Tbsp baking powder (this is correct)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon

To coat pan: 1 Tbsp butter 1 Tbsp sugar (make sure to do enhances the flavor)

Preheat over to 400F. Place sliced apples in a medium bowl; add lemon juice and Calvados (juice) and toss well. In a medium glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form, about 5-6 minutes. In another medium bowl, combine butter, sugar and egg yolks. Mix with a hand mixer until well combined. Add sifted flour, baking powder, spices and mix until well combined.. Fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, then fold in the apple slices.
Coat a 9-10 inch springform pan with cooking spray. Add 1 Tbsp of butter in small pieces to the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sugar. Pour the batter on top and smooth it out with a spatula. Bake for 10 minutes at 400F. Then bake for 50-60 minutes at 325F or until a knife inserted comes out clean and the top is golden brown and puffed up.

**Calvados is an apple brandy

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chicken Piccata

This is one of my favorite ways to make chicken. I just love lemon, capers and wine and this dish has all three! The recipe comes from the magazine Cuisine at Home. I saw a bunch at a yard sale and bought them for ten cents each! I had read another blog recently that stated they had never had a bad recipe from the magazine yet so I decided to subscribe to them. There are also NO advertisements in the magazine which I think is great. There's also lots of step by step pictures which always works better for me!!! Kind of fool proof! I served the chicken with rice on the side but I think pasta would also work well.

4 chicken cutlets, pounded thin
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp capers, drained
2 tbsp unsalted butter
fresh lemon slices
chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)

Season cutlets with salt and pepper then dust with flour. Spray a saute pan with nonstick spray, add vegetable oil and heat over medium-high. Saute cutlets 2-3 minutes on one side. Flip the cutlets over and saute the other side for 1-2 minutes with the pan covered. Transfer cutlets to a warm plate; pour off fat from the pan. Deglaze pan with wine and add minced garlic. Cook until garlic is slightly brown and liquid is nearly gone, about 2 minutes. Add broth, lemon juice and capers. Return cutlets to pan and cook on each side 1 minute. Transfer cutlets to a warm plate. Finish with butter and lemon slices. Once butter melts, pour sauce over cutlets. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Apple Pie

Well I have made 2 apple pies this week and one apple cake. The pies did not last long at all. One was devoured at home in about a day and the other at work in a few hours!!!! This is a basic apple pie. It is pretty simple to make (even for me with my "fear" of making a pie crust) and is really good. I don't care much for raisins and also left out the chopped walnuts the recipe calls for. I just like plain old apples in my pie!!! The recipe comes from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book. It has lots of great recipes in it. I think I need to watch how many cook books I really need. I've bought a few new ones lately and find "reasons" why I need to have them. But all it takes is for me to see a really good recipe and picture and I am sold! I find lots of great books at thrift stores and yard sales. Found an old Home Economics Cookbook from 1963 that features only desserts. It has at least 500 (or more) dessert recipes and tons of variations for making chocolate cake, pound cake, carrot cake, etc. It was 90 cents! Now that is a buy! Do any of you buy older cookbooks? I find them really enjoyable to read and some of the old recipes are interesting! The first cookbooks I ever had were Doubleday Cookbooks, which is a two volume set from Doubleday Book Club. They were printed in 1975. I have used them hundreds of times and swear by them. Whenever I was confused as to what an ingredient was or a cooking term or anything that really pertained to cooking, I turned to these books and found my answer. I still have them and they are used, abused, dirty, have stains, folded pages and I love it!!! You know a cookbook is good if it is beaten up!!! Well here is the apple pie recipe......see what happens when I start talking cookbooks...I go on and on!!!!

1 recipe Pastry for Double-Crust Pie

6 cups thinly sliced, peeled cooking apples (I used Fuji's)

1 tbs lemon juice (optional)

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbs all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup raisins or chopped walnuts (optional, I used neither)

Prepare and roll out pastry. Line a 9 inch pie plate with half of the pastry; set aside.

If desired, sprinkle apples with lemon juice. In a large mixing bowl stir together sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add apples slices and, if desired, raisins or walnuts. Gently toss to coat.

Transfer apple mixture to pastry lined pie plate. Trim pastry to edge of pie plate. Cut slits in remaining pastry; place on filling and seal. Crimp edge as desired.

To prevent overbrowning, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake in 375F oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes more or until top is golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Pastry for a Double Crust Pie

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

2/3 cup shortening

6 or 7 tablespoons cold water

In a large mixing bowl stir together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea size.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the water over part of the mixture; gently toss with a fork. Push moistened dough to side of bowl. Repeat, using 1 tablespoon water at a time until all the dough is moistened. Divide in half. Form each half into ball.

On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten 1 ball of dough. Roll from the center to the edge into a 12 inch circle.

To transfer pastry, wrap it around the rolling pin. Unroll into a 9 inch pie plate. Ease pastry into pie plate being careful not to stretch pastry. Transfer filling to pastry lined pie plate. Trim pastry even with rim of pie plate.

Roll remaining dough into a 12 inch circle. Cut slits to allow steam to escape. Place remaining pastry on filling; trim 1/2 inch beyond edge of plate. Fold top of pastry under bottom pastry. Crimp edges as desired. Bake as directed in individual recipes.

Note: I chilled my dough in freezer for 15 minutes before rolling out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Taco Casserole

This is about the best taco casserole I have had to date. I made this last week and it was gone before I knew it. This is from Betty Crocker's Best of Baking. It's the first recipe I have tried from this book so I am looking forward to making many more good ones. I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of using 2 teaspoons instead of 4 for the chile powder. My youngest son does not care for food too spicy. He did love this so I would definitely call it kid friendly!

1 pound ground beef

1 can (15 ounces) chili beans

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce

2 tbs taco, picante sauce or salsa

2 to 4 tsp chile powder

1 tsp garlic powder

2 cups coarsely broken tortilla chips

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sliced green onions (about 5 medium)

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 cup shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese (I used monterey jack and it was very good)

Shredded lettuce and taco sauce, if desired

Heat over to 350F. Cook beef in large skillet over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until brown; drain. Stir in beans, tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons taco sauce, the chile powder and garlic powder. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.

Place tortilla chips in ungreased 2 quart casserole. Top with beef mixture. Spread with sour cream. Sprinkle with onions, tomato and cheese.

Bake uncovered 20 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Arrange additional tortilla chips around edge of casserole if desired. Serve with lettuce and taco sauce.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mom's Best Banana Bread

It's another banana bread recipe so I guess you can tell that I have a weakness for banana bread. I cannot resist a good banana bread recipe...especially one that is different and turns out really good. This one is pretty basic but one of my favorite. It is moist and flavorful and the kind of recipe you can fool around with a bit and add your own touch to. This is one of those recipes that just always turns out good. It's from a cookbook that is called the Vale Centennial Cookbook 1888-1988.

I did get a ton of apples from my trip to the mountains this past weekend. I have just baked an apple pie that I will post soon. I am a reluctant pie maker. I have a "thing" about making the pie dough. Kind of like a phobia....I think I just need practice. I have only made a few pies in my life (I could count the number on one hand, so that should give you a clue). But if I keep practicing I'm sure things will get better. I used to just "give up" immediately if a cake or pie or whatever I was cooking did not turn out exactly like it looked in the cookbook. I'm serious, I'm not kidding. Many a dinner or dessert would be thrown into the trash in a fit of anger. When I think of that now, I just start to laugh. I think I FINALLY learned at the ripe old age of 51 that it takes practice....lots of practice and trial and error and then things turn out looking and tasting pretty good. Anyhow, back to the apples.....I will be looking for apple recipes so you should be seeing plenty of cakes and pies and so forth using apples!!!!

1/2 cup butter or margarine (I use butter)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup sour milk*

1 cup bananas (3 medium)

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp soda

1/2 tsp grated lemon rind (I do not use this)

3/4 cup nuts

Sift all dry ingredients together. Cream butter and sugar and then add eggs. Mix in sifted dry ingredients alternately with the mashed bananas and sour milk. Add nuts. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 F for 50 to 60 minutes or until done.

(*two teaspoons lemon juice to 1/2 cup milk to sour, or you can use two teaspoons of vinegar instead of lemon juice.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bill's Ricotta Hotcakes

These ricotta pancakes are to die for!!!! They are wonderful. Maybe I feel this way because I have never had ricotta pancakes before, but I cannot wait to make them again. I was told that they are also very good with some lemon zest. I made a few minor changes which I will put in parenthesis in the recipe but other than that I followed Bill's recipe pretty closely. You can find it at or here. I found these to be very light. They are great with a little powdered sugar and some syrup.

I am leaving for the mountains for a few days to attend an apple festival! Be prepared for many apples recipes within the next few weeks!!!

1 1/3 c ricotta (I used one cup)

3/4 cup milk

4 eggs, separated (I used 3 eggs)

1 c AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

a pinch of cinnamon (optional)

a pinch of salt

butter for pan or griddle

Place ricotta, milk and egg yolks in a bowl and combine

Sift flour, baking powder and salt (and cinnamon, if using) into a bowl. Add to the ricotta mixture and mix until just combined

Place egg whites in a clean dry bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. With a large metal spoon, fold the meringue through batter in two batches

Heat a large non-stick frying pan, cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Lightly grease with butter and drop two tablespoons of batter per hotcake. Don't cook more than three per batch. Cook over a low to medium heat for two minutes, or until hotcakes have golden undersides. (These won't bubble like ordinary pancakes do so you need to be careful and check them.) Turn hotcakes and cook on the other side until golden and cooked through.

Transfer to a plate. Dust with icing sugar and serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pumpkin Cake Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

This recipe definitely spells autumn. This is just delicious and very cake like. The frosting is not too sweet and is perfect with the cake bars. I'm not that big on cream cheese frosting but it is perfect for this. This recipe comes from I've had lots of success with them lately. Anyhow I am glad that these cake bars are gone because I found myself nibbling on them constantly (like morning, noon and night).....!!!

4 large eggs

1 2/3 cups white sugar

1 (15 ounce) can of pumpkin puree

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground cinnamon

6 ounces cream cheese

6 tbs butter, softened

3 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat over to 350F degrees

Grease and flour one 9 x 13 inch glass pan (I used a nonstick one)

In a mixing bowl , beat together the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; add to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly

Spread into the prepared pan

Bake at 350F degrees for 25 to 30 minutes

Remove from oven and allow to cool

For the frosting: beat together the cream cheese , butter and confectioners' sugar. Evenly spread over the bars after they have cooled

Friday, October 3, 2008

Tomato Vodka Sauce

Now this is a sauce that rocks!!! It is fantastic and so simple that I don't know why I never tried making it before. I've had vodka sauce in restaurants but just never thought of making my own. I found this recipe at and the only thing that I changed was adding 1 large minced garlic clove and I only used half an onion and also minced that. I used a can of crushed tomatoes versus the diced tomatoes the recipe calls for and also added 1 tsp of sugar to combat any acidity from the crushed tomatoes. My Italian grandmother always added a pinch of sugar to her sauce so I figure she must have known something because her sauce was always fantastic. I just wish I had some of her other recipes. When you are young you just don't think to ask these things and then when you are older and they are gone you wish you had....Anyhow, if you want a simple sauce to make that is delicious, I would definitely recommend this. It is also "kid approved" since my 9 year old son loved it!!

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 (28 ounce) can peeled and diced tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup vodka
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound penne pasta
Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil, add onion and saute for several minutes until transparent. (I added my garlic at this point for about 1 or 2 minutes). Add tomatoes and cook for 25 minutes or until almost no liquid remains in skillet, stir frequently. I used crushed tomatoes and also cooked the same amount of time and it worked fine. Increase heat and add cream, vodka and red pepper flakes; boil for 2 minutes or until thickened to sauce consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add penne and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Bring sauce to a simmer and pour over pasta; toss to coat. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese; serve.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Jewish Apple Cake

There is a reason why this post has a picture of the cake still in the cake pan. I'm sure you all know why --- it came out one big mess!!!! I had found this recipe while checking out pictures on Tastespotting and it looked delicious. It was still in the pan in that picture, and also a mess. But it looked just soooo good that I had to make it. Pete over at stated he had taken the cake out too early and that is why it crumbled all over. Now I did exactly as he stated and let the cake cool in the pan completely and it literally sealed itself to the bottom. When I finally did get it out the entire top of the cake was still in the pan. But I am posting it because it is THAT good. I really think it will come out fine if you let it rest in the pan maybe 45 minutes or so. Or perhaps baking it in a 9 x 13" pan and just cutting out squares. I am trying it again. There are also similar ones at Allrecipes and none of them stated that there was any difficulty getting the cake out of the pan. It's the season for apples!

3 cups flour

4 1/2 tsp baking powder

4 eggs

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

2 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup orange juice

2 cups plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided

3 tsp cinnamon

4 granny smith apples, cored, peeled and sliced

1. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the butter, 2 cups sugar, vanilla and mix. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and baking powder. Add to the egg/butter mixture, alternating with the orange juice.

2. Pour about 1/3 of batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Lay down about 1/3 of the sliced apples, fanning them out to cover the entire layer of batter. Top with a bit of the mix of 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon.

3. Repeat this until you have run out of batter and apples. The top of the cake should have a layer of apples, cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350F for 1 hour. Cool for a short time before loosening the sides with a knife. Allow to cool completely before removing the cake from the pan. (I would disagree since mine was cemented to it by that time).