Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cheese Puffs

Cheese Puffs
makes about 2 dozen

1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups Swiss cheese, grated
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried parsley
In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt and pepper to a boil. Quickly add the flour and stir until it all comes together and forms a ball. Set aside and cool for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one a time and mix well after each one. Continue beating until mixture is smooth. Stir in Swiss cheese, mustard and parlsey. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

PB Butter Granola Bars

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
2 cups granola
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
In a bowl, mix together the honey and peanut butter until smooth. Add the granola and mix until well coated. Pat into a 8X8 greased pan and sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Place in a 350 degrees for 2-3 minutes or until chocolate is melted. Smooth out chocolate over the top of the granola. Chill until set. Cut into squares.

Choc Cupcakes

The Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes
6 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all purpose flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup cold water
Sift together the cocoa, sugar, salt, baking soda and flour. Set aside. Using a mixer, mix the eggs, vanilla, oil and cold water until creamy. Slowly add the dry ingredients until well incorporated. Scoop evenly between 24 lined muffin cups and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Frost with your favorite frosting.

Carmelize Onions and Carrot Ginger Soup

here are some easy steps to caramelize onions.

1. thinly slice 3 cups of onions.  in a large skillet heat 2 tbsps cooking oil over medium heat.  after oil is heated. add sliced onions, 2 tbsps sugar, and 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper.  reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring twice.

2. remove lid, and continue to cook uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes until desired color is reached.  anywhere from light tan to golden to deep brown.  do not cook past a mahogany color because the onions will be in danger of burning at that point.  transfer to a cool plate so the cooking process stops.

*serve over soups, with hamburgers, on pizza, omelette’s, you name it.
click here for recipe for carrot ginger soup with caramelized onions [as seen in top photo]

ginger-carrot soup

Rated : 
 by 1 person
Makes: 12 (3/4-cup) side-dish servings
Prep: 30 minutes Cook: 50 minutes 

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Ginger-Carrot Soup
cmtranfaglia says:
I have made this several times and love it! I don't particularly even like cooked carrots normally.......


  • 2  Tbsp. cooking oil
  • 3  cups thinly sliced onion
  • 2  Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/8  tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 8  carrots (about 1-1/4 lb.)
  • 1  sweet potato
  • 6  cups chicken broth
  • 1  cup half-and-half or light cream


1. For caramelized onions, in a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add sliced onion, sugar, and pepper; reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring twice. Add ginger. Cook, uncovered, 20 to 30 minutes more or until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally. Divide in half.
2. Meanwhile, peel carrots and sweet potato and cut in 1-inch pieces. In large saucepan or Dutch oven combine broth, carrots, and sweet potato. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 40 minutes or until vegetables are very tender. Add half of the caramelized onions. Puree until nearly smooth with handheld blender or process 2 cups at a time in a food processor. Add cream; heat through. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Top with remaining caramelized onions. Makes 12 (3/4-cup) side-dish servings.

PB Fondue

Peanut Butter Fondue
1/4 cup half and half (or cream if your feeling daring)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cups cream peanut butter
And whatever you wish to dip
In a heavy saucepan, heat the half and half, brown sugar and honey until boiling over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in peanut butter until smooth. Pour into a fondue pot or individual serving bowls.

Banana Choc Chip Cookies

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Field Guide to Cookies by Anita Chu
1 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups rolled old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift the flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together.  In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add half the flour mixture, mix, and then add the banana and mix.  Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until combined.  Mix in chocolate chips.
Drop tablespoon-sized balls onto the prepared baking sheets.  Bake in the preheated oven for 12 to 14 minutes, rotating halfway through.
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies

Cinn Candied Almonds

Cinnamon Candied Almonds
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup honey
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cups whole natural almonds
1. Spread the almonds out on a baking sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until lightly roasted. Keep a close eye on them to make sure they do not burn. Stir occasionally.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring the butter and the honey to a simmer, stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes. Add the almonds and simmer for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. In a large bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon until well combined. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the almonds from the saucepan to the sugar mixture. Mix until the almonds are well coated.
4. Transfer the almonds to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put under the broiler for just a few minutes, just until sugar melts and caramelizes.
5. Let cool and break apart if neccessary.

Homemade Graham Crackers

Homemade Graham Crackers
adapted from Martha Stewart
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup untoasted wheat germ
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
1. Whisk together both flours, wheat germ, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a bowl.
2. Put butter, brown sugar, and honey in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2-3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture, and mix until combined.
3. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and divide into quarters. Roll out each piece between two sheets of floured parchment paper into rectangles a bit larger than 9 by 6 inches, about 1/8 inch thick.
4. Using a fluted pastry wheel, trim the outermost edges of each rectangle, and divide into three 6 by 3 inch rectangles. Pressing lightly, so as not to cut all the way through, score each piece in half lengthwise and crosswise, to form four 3 by 1 1/2 inch crackers. Stack parchment and dough on a baking sheet and chill in freezer until firm, about 20 minutes.
5. Remove two sheets of dough from freezer. Pierce crackers using the tines of a fork. Transfer dough to large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees, rotating halfway through, until dark golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough. Let cool on sheet 5 minutes; transfer crackers to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Stroganoff with Braised Beef

{recipe: beef stroganoff}
1 lb sliced beef [using leftovers from the braised beef recipe, cut to bit size pieces] *
1 tbs oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2-3 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup beef stock/drippings [if using braised beef leftovers, use the remaining liquid drippings in the pan, strain first]
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp corn starch
1/2-1 cup sour cream [depending on preferred thickness]
preferred noodles
in a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  add sliced onions, garlic, and mushrooms and saute for a few minutes until mushrooms and onions are tender.  add 2 tbs of the fresh parsley and stir.  whisk corn starch in with the beef stock and add to pan with heavy cream and the sour cream.  stir well until incorporated bring to a boil.  boil for a few minutes until sauce thickens and add the cooked sliced beef and heat through.
serve over egg noodles and garnish with remaining parsley.
*note: if you did not make the braised beef recipe. you can also make this with 1 lb of beef browned, and store bought beef stock/broth.

Braised Beef
3-5 pounds cut of pot roast beef [can also use beef short ribs]
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
2 tbs grapeseed oil
1 small onion, diced
1-2 small carrots, peeled and diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 rib celery, chopped
1-4 springs of fresh thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 bottle of red wine [or red cooking wine]
1 10 oz can of good quality beef stock
preheat oven to 350 degrees
season the raw beef with salt and pepper.
in a large stockpot that is oven safe, place on the stove over medium-medium high heat. heat grapeseed oil and add beef.  brown on each side for about a minute or two allowing the beef to caramelize a little.  remove and set aside.�
add onions, carrots, garlic, and celery to remaining oil and cook and stir for about 5 minutes.  remove and set aside.  over medium heat, add to the pot the wine, and beef stock, and de-glaze the pan making sure to get all the flavorful bits from the bottom.  return the beef, and veggies around the beef.  cover with the lid and allow the liquid to steam, not boil for about 1-2 minutes. remove lid and replace with foil.
place in a 350 degree oven for 2-2 1/2 hours.  every 30 minutes check on beef and spoon liquid over the top.  remove foil the last 30 minutes.
after the beef has finished cooking, remove from oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting.  this will keep all the moisture in.

Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette

{simple balsamic vinaigrette}
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 tbs honey [depending on how sweet you like it]
1 tsp soy sauce
salt and pepper
whisk balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and honey, then slowly whisk in oil.  salt and pepper to taste.
enjoy on your favorite salad!  my favorite salad lately [pictured], is mixed greens, feta cheese, candied pecans and strawberries.  yum!

Blueberry Scones

Blueberry Scones
1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 cup oat flour (I ground my oats in my food processor)
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
Using a food processor, pulse the flour, ground oats, baking powder, salt, sugar and zest to combine. Add the chilled butter and pulse until the size of medium peas. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream and egg until smooth. fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture to combine. Gently mix in the blueberries. Don’t overmix. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pa into a flattened round disc about 6-7 inches across. Using a sharp knife, cut the disk into 6 even triangles. Place at least 2 inches apart onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Glaze the scones with heavy cream and sprinkle them with granulated sugar. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees or until lightly golden Remove to a wire rack to cool. Serve with freshly whipped cream.

Ice Cream bon bons

Ice Cream Bonbons
Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray June/July 2008
Makes 25
1 pint ice cream, any flavor
25 plain vanilla cookies, such as Nilla Wafers
1 pound chocolate, chopped
½ cup chopped nuts
Place the cookies flat side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Top each cookie with one small scoop of ice cream. Freeze until hardened, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a double boiler, heat the chocolate. Once melted, dunk each of the bonbons into the chocolate to coat and return to the baking sheet. Immediately sprinkle nuts on top. Freeze until firm. Keep stored in the freezer.

old fashioned lemonade

old fashioned lemonade
from children’s book - things to make and do 
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 cups water
1/2 - 2/3 cup lemon juice
Bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil, continue boiling for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, adding cold water, lemon juice to taste, and ice cubes.  For an added incorporation of lemons make these super easycitrus ice cubes (using lemons, of course!) to clink around that cold fresh glass.

Mango & Straw Smoothie

{mango + strawberry smoothie}
1 cup mango nectar
1 cup, cut up mangos, frozen [can use fresh]
1 cup strawberries, frozen or fresh
1 cup [2 scoops] vanilla frozen yogurt, or just yogurt
1 cup ice cubes
blend in blender. add more nectar if too thick.

Gummy Worm Dirt Cups

Gummy Worm Dirt Cups
sometimes known as: dirt cake
chocolate pudding
oreo cookies, crushed
gummi worms (we hold a special place in our hearts for the sour ones)
Fill each cup with desired amount of pudding, top with a worm or two, sprinkle some crumbled cookies on top and shock your guests with the deliciousness of an earth friendly dessert!

Oreo Choc Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies
recipe from Picky Palate
makes 2 dozen cookies
1 stick softened butter
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ Cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
8 broken pieces Oreo Cookies
1 Cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter, and sugars until well combined.  Add egg and vanilla until mixed well. Place flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl, stir to combine. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients then stir in oreos and chocolate chips until just combined. With a medium cookie scoop, scoop onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until cooked, but still soft. Let cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

5 min Jam

5 minute Jam
makes about 6 (8 ounce) jars
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1.59 ounce pouch Ball Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin
4 cups fresh fruit (I like strawberry, I just pulse them in the food processor for a few seconds)
Stir the sugar and the pectin in a bowl until well blended. Add the fruit and stir for 3 minutes. Ladle into clean jars. Let stand until thickened, about 30 minutes. Keep in the refrigerator for up to three weeks or freeze for up to one year.

Tomato/basil Bruschetta

Tomato/basil Bruschetta} - found on
1 loaf of crusty french bread - baguette
5 medium tomatoes, chopped
2-3 cloves minced garlic
juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped
salt and pepper
mix tomatoes [juice and all], garlic, oil, lime juice and 3/4 c parmesan cheese [reserve rest for late], basil, and salt and pepper to taste.
allow to stand for several hours to marinate. slice bread at and angle and brush one side with olive oil and broil in oven on each side until browned. [really watch, since they burn fast]
spoon mixture onto bread, and top with reserved parmesan. broil until cheese has just melted.
serve immediately.

Creamy Pesto Sandwich

Have you ever been in a conversation and a sudden craving comes over you that you just can’t shake for days? I got one of those cravings the other evening while talking about pesto with a few friends.  They were sharing their ideas and variations of pesto and I just couldn’t get the green stuff out of my mind.  So I did what any intelligent person would do; I went to the market, bought all the necessary ingredients, came home, and gave into that little craving until properly satiated.
creamy pesto
1 cup firmly packed basil or italian parsley
2 medium cloves garlic, roasted
1/2 cup parmesan or romano cheese (or pecorino cheese for a bolder flavor)
2 Tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, toasted
2 1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon cream or whole milk
salt and pepper, to taste
Roast garlic for a few minutes in 350 degree oven until aromatic.  In a food processor pulse the parmesan cheese until it is the consistency of bread crumbs.  Add the nuts and garlic until coarsely combined.   Add basil and process until combined.  While the processor is running slowly add the olive oil until a paste forms.  Add the cream/milk and pulse a few times to incorporate.
Spread on some sourdough bread and top with a slice of tomato and mozzarella cheese.  Toast until cheese is melty.  No that’s not a technical term, but it’s fun to use.
Other pesto variations:  Sun dried tomatoes, Roasted red-pepper, artichoke and lemon, spinach, anchovy, olive, mushroom, coriander, miso, anything you can think up.  Experiment and find a flavor you love. I think I like the old fashioned kind best.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Basil

{Roasted Tomato Soup with Basil}
adapted from this recipe
  • 4 lb tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, left unpeeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, minced [use only 1/2 tsp if you used dried]
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced [use only 1 tsp if using dried basil]
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 350°F.
Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in 1 layer in a large shallow baking pan and add garlic to pan. Drizzle tomatoes with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes and garlic 1 hour, then cool in pan on a rack. Peel garlic.
Cook onion, oregano, basil, and sugar in butter in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, and stock and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.
Purée soup in batches in a blender (use caution when blending hot liquids), then force through a sieve into cleaned pot, discarding solids. Stir in cream and salt and pepper to taste and simmer 2 minutes.
Divide soup among 8 bowls.

Spicy Fajitas

2 teaspoons chili powder
1½ teaspoon cumin powder
1½ teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Dash of ground chipotle pepper
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon black sesame seed oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 green pepper sliced thinly
1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
2 chicken breast, thawed and pounded to ½ inch thickness
Place chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap. With a rolling pin pound the chicken breasts until ½ inch thick.
Combine the chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion salt, cayenne pepper and ground chipotle pepper in a small bowl and rub onto thinned chicken breasts; let sit for a half hour.
In a skillet add a teaspoon of both the olive oil and sesame oil. If using a grill pan, omit the oils. Cook the chicken on both sides until no longer pink in the middle. Slice into thin strips, lay on a platter and place in a warm oven. Heat the remaining oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Add the pepper and onion slices with a dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté until peppers are softened. Add to warmed platter with chicken. Serve with tortillas, salsa, cilantro, guacamole, and anything else you’d like, just enjoy!

Banana Bars

Frosted Banana Bars
adapted from
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe banana
Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the wet batter.  Finally, mix in the mashed banana.  Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow the bars to cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 lb. powdered sugar
In a bowl, combine the butter and cream cheese.  Beat until smooth.  Slowly add the powdered sugar and mix until completely smooth.

Carmel Apples

2 ½ cups packed brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
½ cup butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
A few drops of vanilla
In a saucepan bring brown sugar and corn syrup to a boil, stirring constantly. Add butter, cooking until completely melted. Add sweetened condensed milk and vanilla, bring to a boil. Boil for at least 3 ½ minutes stirring constantly, or until just before the soft crack temperature on a candy thermometer. Test this by dropping a little bit of the caramel in a glass of cold water, take it out and test its consistency. If it rolls into a “soft ball” and doesn’t keep its shape out of water, it’s perfect. When it’s ready, immediately take the caramel off direct heat, and pour into a separate bowl. Allow to cool, stirring occasionally. When cool enough, dip cold apples into the caramel, allow to drip for a few seconds to allow excess caramel to drip off, set on wax paper in a refrigerator until completely set. Then decorate, slice, and enjoy!

Spider Web Cake

Spider Web Cake [from country living]
2 cup(s)flour
1/2 cup(s)cocoa
1 teaspoon(s)baking powder
1 teaspoon(s)baking soda
1 teaspoon(s)salt
3/4 cup(s)butter, softened
2/3 cup(s)granulated sugar
1/2 cup(s)dark brown sugar
1/4 cup(s)sour cream
2 teaspoon(s)vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup(s)milk
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour, two 8-inch-round cake pans (for layer cake; pictured), Set aside. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
  2. Beat the butter and sugars together in a bowl using an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Beat in the eggs. Reduce speed to medium-low. Stir the sour cream, vanilla, and milk together and add it in thirds, alternating with the flour mixture. Beat until batter is smooth, about 3 more minutes.
  3. Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center tests clean. For layer cake, it should take about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
  4. Trim cooled cake layers, if necessary, to make level.  I used thisvanilla cream to put in between the cake layers.

  5. To create a wickedly good web (as pictured): Pour Chocolate Glaze over the top of an un-iced layer cake. Spread the glaze over the cake’s edges and smooth the sides. Fill a small piping bag with three to four tablespoons of melted white chocolate, then starting at the center of the top of the cake, pipe the white chocolate in a spiral. Drag a toothpick from the center of the spiral to the cake’s edge. Repeat every 1 1/2 inches to create a web effect.
Chocolate Glaze Recipe
9 ounce(s)bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon(s)butter
1/2 cup(s)heavy cream
  1. Place the chocolate and butter together in a heat-proof bowl; set aside. Heat the heavy cream until it just begins to boil and immediately pour over the chocolate. Stir gently until smooth. Let sit until slightly thickened before using to glaze cakes, about 3 minutes. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes to set the chocolate.

Cheesecake Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes

Cheesecake-Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes
adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray November 2009
Makes 1 dozen cupcakes
one 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 large eggs plus 5 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup light brown sugar
Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with baking liners. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar for 3 minutes. Beat in 1 egg white and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
In a bowl, whisk the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, 2 eggs, granulated sugar, oil and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Whisk in the flour mixture.
Layer each muffin cup with some of the pumpkin batter, then the cream cheese mixture, then more of the batter. Bake until springy to the touch, 25 minutes. Let cool.
Using the electric mixer, beat the brown sugar, remaining 4 egg whites and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Fill a medium saucepan with enough simmering water to reach a depth of 1 inch; place the mixing bowl on top. Whisk the mixture until it registers 160° on an instant-read thermometer.
Transfer the bowl back to the mixer and beat at high speed until fluffy; lower the speed and beat to room temperature, about 5 minutes.  Beat in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag; pipe large rosettes on top of the cupcakes.

Mayo Pesto Sandwich

One day I made a great discovery.  I was making a batch of my favorite pesto sauce, and thought how good it would be to add it to a sandwich!  Then I realized you could just add it straight to the mayo and there you have it!  Pesto mayonnaise was born!
I couldn’t believe the amazing flavor it added to my sandwich (especially hot paninis!).  And, from that day forward, I was hooked!

All you have to do is add your favorite pesto [see my recipe below] to some good quality mayo.  About 1 part pesto to 3 parts mayo, mix and spread on your favorite sandwich!  Turkey avocado is a must try!
{basil pesto}
3 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh basil leaves [stems removed]
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 dash salt + pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
in a food processor, mince garlic
next, add the basil leaves, pine nuts, and salt and pepper, run processor
while the processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil through the feed tube until all ingredients are pureed
stop the processor and scrape down the sides
now add the parmesan cheese and mix it unto the rest of the mixture
cover and refrigerate until ready to use
keeps for 2-3 days in the fridge, but also freezes well.

hot coco gift!

celebrate: hostess/host gifts

November 25th, 2009 - by Deborah
Thanksgiving is almost here - are you ready??  I feel so blessed that I have all of my family nearby, so I don’t have to worry about hosting a whole Thanksgiving dinner.  All I have to do is bring some sweet potatoes and pie!  So what do you do for the host of your Thanksgiving meal?  Gifts!!  And of course, since this is such a food centered holiday, a foodie gift is the answer!
I chose to make hot chocolate - super easy, fast, and affordable to put together.  And you can make your own cute tags, or do what I did and use the ones from Blonde Designs (a new favorite website!)
Hot Cocoa Mix
serves 10
2 cups dry milk
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Mix all ingredients together well.  Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
When ready to make, add 3-4 tablespoons of the mix to about 3/4 cup of hot water or milk.  Stir and enjoy!

Rigatoni with Sausage & Zucchini

Rigatoni with Sausage + Zucchini
1 16 oz. box of rigatoni (I prefer Barilla or De Cecco)
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb. best-quality mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic*
1 medium red onion, halved and then sliced
1 lb. zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds (about 3 small)
sea salt + freshly ground pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. Cook pasta in a stockpot according to package directions. Drain, return to pot, and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet (preferably cast-iron), heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring often, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to a plate and set aside.
3. In the same pan, cook garlic, onion, and zucchini until starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with pepper and reserved sausage then cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.
4. Pour the sausage mixture into the stockpot full of reserved pasta and carefully toss. Mix in about 1/2 of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and then sprinkle the remainder on top just before serving. Enjoy immediately!
* Swiss brand Zyliss makes the best garlic press

stuffed mushrooms with sausage

{Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms}
2 large packages of white mushrooms [about 20 mushrooms], stems removed
16oz sausage, browned and drained
1, 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
3 tbs milk
4 stalks green onions, chopped
garlic salt [a few shakes or to taste]
preheat oven to 350 degrees
in a medium bowl mix together the browned sausage and the rest of the ingredients except for the mushrooms.
spoon the sausage mixture into the mushroom caps and place on a large cookie sheet.
bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

NO Bake Cheesecake

No Bake Cheesecake}
4 C. Graham Crackers,  (2 packages), crushed
4 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Melted Butter
Crush Graham Crackers, add Powdered Sugar, Melt Butter, Mix Together and spread into 9×13 pan or 9 inch spring form cake pan.
2  8oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2  cups Powdered Sugar
2 tsps Vanilla
6 Tablespoons Milk
1 1/2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
Mix all ingredients until smooth.
Fold in 16oz Whip Cream
Poor onto Crust
Refrigerate until ready to serve and top with your favorite pie topping!

Spiced Sugar Crisps

Spiced Sugar Crisps
adapted from Betty Crocker Christmas Cookies Jan/Dec 2009
makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
Heat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. On low speed, beat in flour, salt, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. Refrigerate dough about 1 hour or until firm.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. On ungreased cookie sheets, place balls 2 inches apart. Gently press bottom of drinking glass onto dough to grease, then press into granulated sugar and onto dough balls to flatten to about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are just beginning to brown and centers of cookies are set. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool 10 minutes.
In small bowl, combine powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and enough of the milk until glaze is smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle glaze over cookies.

Artichoke Dip

Artichoke Dip Recipe
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
  • 1 tbs lemon juiceOptional add on’s I like:
  • 3 tbs chopped bottled jalapenos, drained {a must for me! I like a little kick!}
  • 1/2 frozen package of spinach, thawed drained.  Or 2 cups fresh Spinach, chopped.
  • 1/2 cup chopped crab meat (canned or imitation)
Combine all ingredients above. Place in a shallow casserole dish. [9x9]
  • add 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes on top of mixture. (optional)
Bake about 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees, or until bubbly and slightly browned.
Serve with Tortilla chips, veggies, pitas.. whatever you like!

chicken curry

{Chicken Curry}
[adapted from this recipe]
• 1½ T Madras curry powder
• 1 tsp. turmeric
• 1½ tsp. cayenne pepper
• 1 tsp. ground ginger
• 4 large chicken breasts, cut in 1 -inch cubes
• 4 T olive oil
• 1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes [or you can used one 14 oz can. juice reserved]
• 6 cloves garlic (germs removed), finely chopped
.  2 T fresh ginger, finely chopped
• ½ cup coconut flakes
• ½ cup pineapple juice
• 2 cans (13.5 oz. each) coconut milk
• 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock or broth
• 1 cinnamon stick, 3 inches long
• 2 medium sweet potatoes or yams  (about 1 lb.), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
• 2 medium potatoes  (about 1 lb.), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
• 1 bunch cilantro, leaves only, roughly chopped
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine the spices in a small bowl. In a shallow container, coat the chicken with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and half the spices, 2 cloves of the chopped garlic, and 1 T of the chopped fresh ginger, and salt and pepper to taste. Marinate, covered or in a Ziploc bag, for 2 hours [or overnight], chilled. Preheat oven to 325°F. Warm the remaining olive oil in a large oven-safe pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan and brown on both sides [just a few minutes, the chicken will finished cooking in the oven], allowing the spices to toast and become fragrant; remove and set aside. Sauté the pineapple, garlic, and ⅔ of the coconut flakes, stirring, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the pineapple juice, coconut milk, chicken stock, cinnamon stick, remaining spices, sweet potatoes & potatoes, and chicken; stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then transfer to the oven, uncovered. Braise for 45 minutes, stirring the mixture twice. Remove the cinnamon stick and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve on top of jasmine rice, garnishing with reserved coconut flakes and cilantro.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Healthier Banana PB Choc Chip Muffins

“Healthier” Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins
4 Tablespoons softened butter
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 Cup plain low-fat vanilla yogurt
2/3 Cup sugar
heaping 1/4 Cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 Cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 Cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 Cup coarse sugar (I used Turbinado sugar)
1/2 Cup shredded sweetened coconut
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place butter, eggs, bananas, yogurt, sugar and peanut butter into a large mixing bowl. Mix to combine. Place all dry ingredients into a separate large bowl and stir to combine. Slowly add to wet ingredients along with the chocolate chips until just combined. Scoop into muffin tins lined with paper cups 2/3 way full. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and shredded coconut. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean from center.
12 muffins

Monday, January 4, 2010

Lion House Rolls

Lion House Rolls

2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
2 tablespoons dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or shortening
4-4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
1-In large bowl of electric mixer, combine water and milk powder, stir until dissolved.
2-Add yeast, then sugar, salt, butter, egg, and 2 cups flour.
3-Mix on low speed of mixer until ingredients are wet, then 2 minutes at medium speed.
4-Add 2 cups more flour; mix on low speed until ingredients are wet, then for 2 minutes as medium speed. (Dough will be getting stiff and remaining flour may need to be mixed in by hand).
5-Add about ½ cup flour and mix again, by hand or mixer.
6-Dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff.
7-(It is not necessary to use the entire amount of flour.)
8-Scrape dough off sides of bowl and pour about 1 T.vegetable oil all around the sides of the bowl so it is covered with oil.
9-Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in warm place until double in size.
10-(My note here- I just sprayed a clean large bowl with vegetable spray and put my ball of dough in there, turning to cover the dough with the vegetable spray.).
11-After dough has risen, sprinkle cutting board or counter with flour and place dough on floured surface.
12-Roll out and cut rolls in desired shape and size.
13-Place on greased (or parchment lined) baking pans.
14-Let rise in warm place until rolls are double in size (about 1 to 1 ½ hours).
15-Bake at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes or until browned.
16-Brush with melted butter while hot

Whole Wheat Bread

Emilie's Whole Wheat Bread

Makes 4 8/4 inch loaves.

7 c. whole wheat flour (grind your own if you have a wheat grinder)
2/3 c. vital wheat gluten
2 1/2 T. instant yeast

5 c. steaming hot water (120-130 F)

2 T. salt
2/3 c. oil
2/3 c. honey or 1 c. sugar (I like honey the best!)
2 1/2 T. bottled lemon juice

5 c. whole wheat flour

Mix together the first three ingredients in your mixer with a dough hook. Add water all at once and mix for 1 minute; cover and let rest for 10 minutes (this is called sponging). Add salt, oil, honey or sugar, and lemon juice and beat for 1 minute. Add last flour, 1 cup at a time, beating between each cup. Beat for about 6-10 minutes until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This makes very soft dough.

Pre-heat oven for 1 minute to lukewarm and turn off. Turn dough onto oiled counter top; divide, shape into loaves place in oiled bread pans. Let rise in warm oven for 10-15 minutes until dough reaches top of pan. Do not remove bread from oven; turn oven to 350 F and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on racks. This recipe can be halved to make 2 loaves.

*She ONLY uses Bakers Secret 8x4 inch non stick pans (we could only find them at Smith's grocery store, strange enough).

**Another tip..when the dough is put into the bread pans, squish the dough softly into the corners of your bread loaf pans. This will make your bread cook more evenly and not have the large lump in the middle of your loaf.

coconut shrimp

Coconut Shrimp (or Chicken)
3 c. shredded coconut
12 (16-20 or 26-30 ct.) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 c. flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 t. garlic powder
salt & pepper
Canola oil

Coconut Shrimp Method:
Lightly taost the coconut on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until coconut is slightly brown.

Butterfly each shrimp by splitting lengthwise down the center, cutting three-fourths of the way through. Dredge the shrimp in flour and then dip in egg. Press the shredded coconut into the shrimp and then fry in 350 degree canola oil until golden brown. (I found it was easier to brown in the oil and then finish cooking the shrimp on the bottom rack of my oven on broil for 1-2 minutes until cooked through).
Serve with Jalapeno Jelly or Pina Colada Dipping Sauce (or both!!).

Jalapeno Jelly:
1 c. red wine vinegar
1 c. water
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 green jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 small red bell pepper, minced
1 package liquid pectin

Place all ingredients, except pectin, in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the pectin and bring to a boil again. Remove from heat and cool.

Pina Colada Dipping Sauce:
4 oz. liquid pina colada mix
3 oz. sour cream
3 oz. crushed pineapple, drained

Mix ingredients together. Great for coconut shrimp

Pizza Crust Recipe

Pizza Dough
1 c. and 2 T. Hot tap water
2 T. Olive oil or vegetable oil
3 c. flour
1 t. sugar
3 t. salt
2 ½ t. yeast

Make sure you add the Hot tap water, yeast and sugar together. Allow to grow 5 minutes. Then slowly add the flour one cup at a time until each cup has been incorporated, and add the salt after the first cup of flour. You may not need to add all of the flour. Touch dough to make sure it is soft and bouncy to the touch. When it is, mix and let rise until it doubles in size.
For more Italian flavor add basil and garlic powder to the dough. This recipe also makes great breadsticks or cheese bread :)

Thai Beef Tacos with Lime Cilantro Slaw

Thai Beef Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Slaw
2 T sugar
3 t. ginger powder
1 t. sweet chili sauce (I made my own jalapeno jelly that works GREAT in this recipe--you can get the recipe on this blog, it's the one with the coconut shrimp)
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. lime juice (I like fresh)
4 T. rice vinegar
1 T. Montreal Steak Seasoning
A few shakes of sesame oil
3 lbs. boneless steak, trimmed (top sirloin works great--watch for it to go on sale :)

Cole Slaw:
1/2 c fresh lime juice
1/3-1/2 c. sugar (depending how sweet you like it)
4 T rice wine vinegar
2 1/2 t ginger powder (or fresh)
1 1/2 t sesame oil
1/2 t sweet chili sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. mayonnaise (I used fat free)
Salt & pepper
3 c. packaged angel hair slaw (or green cabbage--the cabbage you cut yourself holds up a little better to the sauce-but the package is nice on a busy night)
2 c. carrots, cut into matchsticks
1/4 c sliced green onions
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro

Remaining Ingredients:
10-12 (6-inch) fat-free flour tortillas (the fresh tortillas from Costco are the best with this recipe--they are soft, warm and yummy!!)

1 - To prepare steak, combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add steak to bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes.
2 - Prepare grill or broiler.
3 - Remove steak from bag; discard marinade. Place steak on grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray; cook 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across grain in to thin slices.
4 - To prepare slaw, combine juice and next 6 ingredients (through 2 garlic cloves) in a large bowl. Add slaw and next 3 ingredients (through cilantro); toss well to combine.
5 - Divide steak evenly among tortillas; spoon about 1/2 c slaw onto each tortilla. Fold in half; serve immediately. Yield: 6-8

Marinara Recipe from Meals to Deals

1-2 lbs. ground Italian sausage (spicy optional) Put more sausage if you like more of a meaty sauce
1 8 oz. mushrooms sliced
Garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (fresh or dried) About 1 T. of each seasoning. Do what you like!
Sauté the above ingredients while using a food processor to dice the carrots, celery and onions.
½ - 1 c. carrots finely blended/diced
½ - 1 c. celery finely blended/diced
½ - 1 c. medium to large white onion/diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 T. basil
1 T. sugar
8-10 (15oz. cans) of stewed or whole tomatoes or frozen/fresh tomatoes from your garden-if they are fresh, add a little sugar to balance the acidic flavor.
1-2 cans of tomato paste

Sauté sausage, onions & mushrooms until brown and tender in a large saucepan. Add diced carrots, celery and onions with 1 T. olive oil. Add the seasonings, except the basil, and cook until carrots, celery and onions are soft. Add tomatoes and the juice from the cans. For a smooth red sauce, puree all tomatoes and ingredients together in blender. Or for meatier sauce puree tomatoes only, and leave other ingredients in chunks. Allow sauce to simmer 2-5 hours on low, sauce should reduce about one third. Add basil right before serving. Simmer with out the lid on the pan! This freezes very well.

Balsamic Chicken Pasta

Balsamic Chicken Pasta
1 lb. penne pasta
3-4 tomatoes, diced or grape tomatoes
1 c. mozzarella cheese
Add below ingredients in sauce pan:
2 chicken breasts, sliced
4 T. butter
½ c. white onion
1 tsp. garlic
1 c. balsamic vinegar
½ c. sugar
2 tsp. basil

Sauté all ingredients until cooked (except cheese and tomatoes). Cook until thickened. Add mozzarella cheese and fresh tomatoes on top. Serve with cooked penne pasta. 

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
2 c. creamy or chunky peanut butter
1/2 c. butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. dry powdered milk
3 c. crispy rice cereal
1 pkg. milk chocolate chips

Cream together the peanut butter, butter, and powdered sugar. Add in the powdered milk and rice cereal and mix until incorporated. Put bowl of mixture in the fridge until ingredients firm up (about 1 hour). Pull out mixture and roll into round balls and place on a cookie sheet that is lined with wax paper. Put pan in the freezer for a couple of hours, or overnight. Take out peanut butter balls and dip in melted chocolate. Place chocolate covered pb balls back on to the wax paper and put in fridge until ready to serve.

Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies

Ooey Gooey Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies
Batter Ingredients:
2 1/4 c. sugar
½ c. butter (1 stick) softened
½ c. oil
1 T. vanilla
3 eggs
1 ¼ c. flour
¾ c. cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

Filling Ingredients:
1 c. creamy peanut butter
2 T. vegetable oil
1/3 c. sugar
2 T. flour
2 eggs
½ tsp vanilla

¾ of a bag of milk chocolate chips
3 T. creamy peanut butter
1 c. powdered sugar
¼ c. water
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt

Batter: Preheat oven to 350 and spray 9x13-inch pan. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add oil and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt - blend well. While beating, gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture – mix well. Evenly spread batter into pan.

Filling: In a small bowl cream together peanut butter and oil. Add sugar and flour – blend well. Add eggs and vanilla – beat until smooth. Carefully spread filling over batter in pan. Gently cut through layers to create marble effect throughout brownies. Bake for 30 minutes – do NOT over bake.

Frosting: While baking, in a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate and peanut butter over LOW heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients – mix until smooth. If frosting is too thick, add 1-3 T. water. Spread frosting over brownies immediately after baking. Cool in pan 2-3 hours before serving. Can top brownies with chopped peanut butter cups.

Coconut Curry Shrimp Stir Fry

Coconut Curry Shrimp Stir Fry
1 recipe Coconut-Curry sauce (below)
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used frozen and thawed them beforehand)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or canola oil
1 bell pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced (any type will do)
8 ounces snow peas, strings removed
1 cup bean sprouts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or you can use 2 t. powdered ginger)

Prepare the sauce and set it aside (I doubled the sauce recipe because we love lots of sauce). Toss the shrimp with soy sauce. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up any clumps, until curled and lightly browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a clean bowl.

Add 1 more tablespoon of oil to the pan and return to medium heat until shimmering. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in snow peas and bean sprouts and cook for one more minute.

Clear the center of the pan and add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, garlic and ginger. Cook, mashing garlic mixture into the pan with the back of a spatula, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in cooked shrimp. Whisk sauce to recombine and add to pan, bringing to a simmer. Cook until the sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Coconut Curry Sauce
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
1-2 teaspoons red curry paste (I used 2 teaspoons for a doubled recipe - this paste can be found in most grocery stores in the Asian foods aisle near the Thai ingredients)
3 T. teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Combine ingredients in medium bowl and use as directed.