Saturday, July 18, 2009

White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Cookies

I learned something new when making these cookies, I don't really like white chocolate. So for the second half of the batch I added some semi sweet chocolate chips to the dough and those were fantastic. According to a friend of mine if you like white chocolate they taste good both ways.

White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Cookies:
adapted from ATK recipe

2 c. plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled until warm
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 c. macadamia nuts, chopped

-Adjust oven racks to upper & lower -middle positions & heat oven to 325.
-Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
-Whisk dry ingredients together; set aside.
-Mix butter & sugars until thoroughly combined.
-Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla until combined.
-Add dry ingredients & beat at low speed just until combined.
-Stir in chips and nuts.
-Roll scant 1/2 cup dough into ball.
-To portion dough, I use a cookie scoop, or two teaspoons work too.
Leave plenty of space between each ball.
-Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft & puffy, about 12 minutes depending on size.
-Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking and place on wire rack to cool.

BBQ Sauce

I would like to say that I chose to make Saint Louis style sauce because I'm from Saint Louis, however that wouldn't be completely true, I chose it because I had all of the ingredients on hand. Either way this sauce is great, and I've already made it twice, and have a bottle of it in the fridge. From now on I plan to make our own sauce, not only does it taste better but we do not eat it enough (at home) and I regularly have to toss out half empty bottles. So far I've made put this sauce on chicken for Dan and Quorn "chicken" for myself. St. Louis Barbecue Sauce Source: Background information: St. Louis Barbecue Sauce is thinner and has more of a tangy flavor than its Kansas City cousin. Being at the crossroads St. Louis style barbecue has many influences, so there are a number of ways of making this style sauce.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 c ketchup
4 T water
4 T apple cider vinegar
4 T. brown sugar
4 ½ tsp. yellow mustard
1 ½ tsp. onion powder
1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. cayenne (less if you don't want it to be spicy)

1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat.

2. Stirring occasionally and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Sauce should be thin, but not watery. Allow to cool.

4. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

5. Sauce is better if allow to sit for a day. (Personally I think it taste the same, we always eat some of it the first day that I make it.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Meal Plan May 18th - 22nd

Monday: Snobby Joe's with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli
Tuesday: Skyline Chili

Wednesday: Black bean burgers w/ red roasted potatoes & corn on the cob
Thursday: Chicken & Spinach in a Multi-Grain Pita

Friday: Quesadillas

Monday, May 11, 2009

Meal Plan May 11th - 15th

Monday: Penne alla not-ka
Tuesday: Spinach & Mushroom Quiche with a potato crust
Wednesday: Tacos
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: Eggplant stackers with red roasted potatoes

Monday, April 13, 2009

Oreo Torte

Happy Easter everyone! I made this torte for our Easter celebration. At first I suggested making Dorie's Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte, but Dan informed me that he does not like peanut butter in his desserts. According to him peanuts belong at the ballpark NOT in dessert. He said that the concept looked good and asked if I could make something similar. So after some searching I came across Alton Brown's Chocolate Mousse and decided to combine the two together and make some changes to better suite my family's taste. Be warned that this torte has an intense chocolate flavor that is best paired with a tall glass of cold milk. So for those who have seen this torte in the peanut butter version and thought that it looked good but were disappointed because you or a family member have a nut allergy I hope you enjoy my improvised version.

Oreo Torte:

Source: adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte & Alton Brown’s Chocolate Mousse. My changes are in bold.

For the crust:
32 Oreo cookies, finely processed into crumbs (I used an entire package)
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I used an entire stick)
Small pinch of salt

For the crunch:
½ cup almonds, toasted & chopped (see notes below)
¼ c. cup mini chocolate chips
2 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon (I might have used more, but I didn’t measure)
Dash of ground nutmeg
For the filling:
1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 c heavy cream (can be reduced to 1 ½ c.)
16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (could easily reduce to 8oz to produce less filling, I made a 10 inch torte and had about a cup and a half of leftover mousse.)
Chocolate Mousse Recipe
10 Oreos roughly chopped

For the ganache:
½ cup heavy cream
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 10-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet. Combine the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling.

Chocolate Mousse:

1 ¾ cups whipping cream (reduce to 1 ¼ c.)
12 ounces quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (this can be reduced if you do not want an intense chocolate flavor)
3 ounces strong hot chocolate (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon dark rum (can be omitted if necessary, although not including it will change the flavor of the mousse.)
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon flavorless, granulated gelatin

Chill 1 ½ cups whipping cream in refrigerator. Chill metal mixing bowl and mixer beaters in freezer.
In top of a double boiler, combine chocolate chips, coffee, rum and butter. Melt over barely simmering water, stirring constantly. Remove from heat while a couple of chunks are still visible. Cool, stirring occasionally to just above body temperature.

Pour remaining ¼ cup whipping cream into a metal measuring cup and sprinkle in the gelatin. Allow gelatin to "bloom" for 10 minutes. Then carefully heat by swirling the measuring cup over a low gas flame or candle. Do not boil or gelatin will be damaged. Stir mixture into the cooled chocolate and set aside.

In the chilled mixing bowl, beat cream to medium peaks. Stir ¼ of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining whipped cream in two doses. There may be streaks of whipped cream in the chocolate and that is fine. Do not over work the mousse.
Hot chocolate:
½ c whole milk
2 tsp sugar
½ oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped
½ tsp vanilla

Heat milk, and add chocolate, sugar, and vanilla. Heat until chocolate is thoroughly melted.
To prepare the cream cheese filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in 1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a separate bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Wipe out (do not wash) the mixer bowl, replace the whisk with the paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about 1/4 of the whipped cream just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, carefully fold in the remaining whipped cream. Combine the cream cheese mixture and the chocolate mousse together, by gently folding them together. Continue working with a rubber spatula gently combine the chopped Oreos into the mousse. Scrape the mousse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

To finish the torte, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan. Bring the ½ cup of cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and smooth.
Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the crunch topping over the top and chill to, at least 20 minutes. When the ganache is firm.

To make the crunch, in another small bowl combine the almonds, mini chocolate chips, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss with a fork to mix and sprinkle over the top of the torte. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove the sides of the spring form pan before serving.
Toasting the almonds: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, prepare cookie sheets by lining it with parchment paper and lightly spraying it with Pam. Evenly distribute the chopped almonds (I chopped mine in a food processor) and bake for 7 minutes. Allow to cool completely before using, this allows the almonds to restore their crunch.
Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Healthier White Bread

So I stuck to my promise of making another loaf of bread using the bread machine. I served this bread with the creamy tomato basil soup, it's the bread I used for the grilled cheese sandwich pictured with the soup. If you are not able to use the bread within a few days, slice it and seal in zip lock bag in the freezer. I think the next time I make this I will add more Italian seasoning and basil to give it more flavor.

Healthier White Bread:

Source: Bread Machine: How to prepare and bake the perfect loaf. By: Jennie Shapter

generous 1 1/2 c. water
4 1/2 c. white bread flour (I used 2 c. wheat flour & 2 1/2 c. white flour)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 T sugar
2 T butter
1 tsp. rapid rise active dry yeast
2 tsp. basil (I added)
1 T. Italian seasoning (I added)

Follow directions based on the directions of your bread machine.
I choose: basic bread with a medium colored crust.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

This was oh so good, very comforting. This soup keeps for a week in the fridge, and reheats well. Perfect alone or with a grilled cheese sandwich. I will definitely being making this again, and I'm a bit sad that I'm out of leftovers. Also, I highly recommend using fresh tomatoes instead of canned, yes it's more work but very well worth it.

Cream of Tomato Soup:

Food Network: Sara Moulton

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and finely diced (I used 2 small carrots)
2 tablespoons flour
2 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, or 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, juices reserved (I used fresh)
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 cup light cream or milk (I used 1/2 c. heavy cream & 2/3 c. milk-2%)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large non-reactive saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
2. Add onion and carrot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes without allowing to color.
4. Add tomatoes with their juices, broth, tomato paste, basil, thyme and bay leaf.
6. Bring to a boil.
7. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer stirring frequently, 15 minutes.
8. Remove and discard bay leaf.
9. Puree soup until smooth using an immersion blender.
10. Return to pan and stir in cream.
11. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
12. Simmer until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes, and serve.

Banana Muffins

These muffins are not only good but also guilt free with less than 1 gram of fat per muffin. Even though they are on the healthy side I still didn't want 22 muffins in the house, so I sent a dozen of them to work with Dan were they gobbled them up. These have a great flavor when following my additions and pretty dense.
Banana Muffins:
Source: Joy of Baking
My changes are in bold.

1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
(I added an additional ½ tsp)
¼ tsp nutmeg

2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 ripe large bananas, mashed well, I used 4 medium bananas
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (I added an additional ½ tsp.)
Optional: 1 cup (115 grams) walnuts or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place oven rack to middle position. Butter and flour (or spray with a non stick vegetable/flour spray) the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nuts (optional). Set aside.
3. In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas (I mashed mine in my kitchen aid), eggs, melted butter, and vanilla.
4. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, lightly fold the wet ingredients (banana mixture) into the dry ingredients just until combined and the batter is thick and chunky. (The important thing is not to over mix the batter. You do not want it smooth. Over mixing the batter will yield tough, rubbery bread.)
5. Use a cookie scoop to evenly distribute the batter into the lined muffin pan.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool and then remove the muffins from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. These muffins can be frozen.
Yield: 1 - 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf or 22 muffins

Curry Lentil Soup

I promise, this soup taste much better than it looks in this picture. This recipe is a first for two reasons, I've never made anything with lentils or eaten anything with curry in it. I'm happy to report that preparing lentils was very easy. This soup was very filling, I would even say hearty. I was surprised that the soup had a texture similar to a stew and it was thick as though it had meat in it. I served this soup with tomato basil bread, it also makes great leftovers.

Curry Lentil Soup:

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp curry powder (I used 2 tsp.)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper (I added more)
1 tsp chili (or cayenne) powder
1 qt, vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 cup lentils
1 large carrot, chopped (I used 2 large carrots)

1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky. Reheat soup if necessary.

Optional: stir in 1/2 a lemon's worth of juice and 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tomato Basil Bread

Confession: Before making this bread I had not used our bread machine, ever. Dan had the machine before we met and he uses it when making pizza dough or bread. Before now I have always made bread by hand (with help from the kitchen aid), I'm excited to say that I will be baking bread from my couch again in the near future. Not to say that I will give up making bread the old fashioned way (I've made bread by hand too). The same day that I made this bread I also made Curry Lentil Soup for dinner, they surprisingly went together well.

Tomato Basil Bread

(Source: Brooke at ...And A Cookie For Dessert)

1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/4 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil (I used a basil paste)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups all-purpose flour
1-3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

In bread machine pan, place all ingredients in the order suggested by manufacturer. Select basic bread setting. Choose crust color and loaf size according to bread machine directions (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed). I added 1 T of water.

Blueberry Coffee Cake

I almost always publish my posts as I finish them, somehow this one slipped through the cracks. I made this last August and thought that I had lost the recipe, until now I had no I idea that I had the post almost finished and that I just needed to write about it (the hard part). I'm so happy that this recipe is not lost forever because I could not remember where I had found the original recipe. Now that I have found it I can make it again and share the recipe with all of you. This coffee cake is so freaking good, I know that I say almost the same thing about everything I make, but for the most part I only blog about foods that turned out well.

Blueberry Coffee Cake:

Source: All Recipes

For the crumb topping:
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar for dusting


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Coat a Bundt pan well with cooking spray.
3. Make the streusel topping: Mix 1 brown cup sugar, 2/3 cup flour, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut in 1/2 cup butter or margarine; topping mixture will be crumbly. Set aside.
4. For the cake: Beat 1/2 cup butter or margarine in large bowl until creamy;
5. add 1 cup white sugar, and beat until fluffy.
6. Beat in egg and vanilla.
7. Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt; add alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.
8. Spread half the batter in the prepared pan. Cover with berries, and add remaining batter by tablespoons.
9. Cover with streusel topping.
10. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes, until deep golden brown.
11. Remove pan to wire rack to cool.
12. Invert onto a plate after cake has cooled, and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins

These muffins were delicious, and did not last long in my house. I took a few to school to give to a classmate and she said they were excellent. These came together quickly, and would freeze well if I had any leftover. Dan worked from home the day that I made these, so I'm sure that was part of the reason that they went so quickly. Or its because I have a weakness for baked goods, something that I should work harder at overcoming.

1 cup rolled oats (I use oatmeal)
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. Grease and flour a muffin pan, or use paper liners.
3.In a small bowl, combine oats and buttermilk, and let stand 5 minutes.
4.In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
5.In a large bowl, beat together the egg, oil, brown sugar and vanilla.
6. Blend in the oat mixture. 7. Stir in the flour mixture, just until moistened.
8. Fold in strawberries.
9. Fill muffin cups 2/3 to 3/4 full.
10. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Yield: 16 muffins

Monday, February 16, 2009

Meal Plan Feb. 16th - 22nd

Monday: "Fried" Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Steamed Broccoli
Tuesday: Salad
Wednesday: Pork steaks and Yucca with Garlic Mojo
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: Black bean burgers and potato salad
Saturday: Curry Lentil Soup
Sunday: Dan is making dinner, not sure as to what he will make yet.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Goat Cheese & Leek Cakes:

I wanted to make these after we had something similar at a restaurant in Savannah over New Years. The ones at the restaurant were better, the problem that I had with making these was that I used a tart white wine. These would be better using either Riesling or omitting the wine.

Goat Cheese & Leek Cakes:
Source: Emeril Lagasse

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped leeks
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
Salt and pepper
1 pound goat cheese (I used 4 oz)
2 tablespoons white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc) (I highly recommend greatly reducing the amount of wine or omit it all together because it gave the cakes a very intense flavor)
1 cup flour (I used ½ c)
1 cup fine bread crumbs (I used ½ c)
2 eggs, beaten (I used 1 egg)

1. In a saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil.
2. Add the leeks and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Saute 2 minutes.
3. Remove from the pan and turn into a mixing bowl.
4. Stir in the cheese and white wine.
5. Form the mixture into 4 (2-ounce) cakes.
6. Season the flour and bread crumbs with (original recipe did not specify but I used 2 tsp.) Bayou Blast
7. Dredge the cakes in the flour.
8. Dip the cakes in the beaten eggs, letting the excess drip off.
9. Dredge the cakes in the seasoned bread crumbs.
10. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes.
11. In a saute pan, heat the remaining olive oil. When the oil is hot, lay the cakes carefully in the oil.
12. Pan-fry the cakes for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
13. Remove from the oven and drain on paper-lined plate.
14. Season the cakes with Bayou Blast.

Bayou Blast

Emeril's Essense Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
Source: Emeril Lagasse

1 ¼ tablespoons paprika (when dividing I forgot to divide this for the 2nd time so you can cut this in half)
1 ½ tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp black pepper (I used white pepper)
1 ½ tsp onion powder
1 ½ tsp cayenne pepper (I used crushed red pepper flakes)
1 ½ tsp dried oregano (I only used 1 tsp because that’s all I had)
1 ½ tsp dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Oreo Cheesecake Ice Cream

I have had fun the past 2 weeks making some treats out of this book (The Ultimate Ice Cream Book) that I received from my friend Amanda for Christmas during my anniversary board's elfster exchange. (She also got me some barefoot Contessa fudge sauce that I look forward to trying soon, I wanted to taste it when it got here and Dan thought that was a bad idea to eat it from the jar.) Anyway, this ice cream is delicious and very easy to make.

Ice cream chilling tip: I put my ice cream batter in a metal bowl and place that bowl into an ice bath into the refrigerator. This speeds up the cooling process so that you can churn your ice cream sooner.

Oreo Cheesecake Ice Cream
Source: The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by: Bruce Weinstein

1 c sugar
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c milk
1 1/2 c heavy cream
7 oreos, chopped


Beat the sugar and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Set aside.

Bring the milk to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan. Slowly beat the hot milk into the cheese mixture. Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and place over low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon until the custard thickens slightly. Be careful not let the mixture boil or the egg will scramble. Remove from the heat and pour the hot custard through a strainer into a large clean bowl. Allow the custard to cool slightly, then stir in the heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate until cold or overnight.

Stir the chilled custard, than freeze in 1 or 2 batches in your ice cream machine according to the instructions. Stir the crushed oreos in by hand after removing the ice cream from the machine. Ice cream should be soft served and ready to eat now, or freeze for at least 2 hours for a firmer ice cream.
Yield: 1 quart

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Meal Plan Feb. 8-14th

Sunday: Leek & Goat cheese cakes
Monday: BBQ chicken, steamed broccoli, and corn on the Cobb
Tuesday: leftovers
Wednesday: spaghetti & meatballs
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: tofu with brown rice
Saturday: eating out

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Superbowl Sundaes

While trying to come up with an idea of what to make for dessert on Superbowl Sunday, I thought of the idea to make sundaes and thought that it was a cute play on words. It also gave me the opportunity to make vanilla bean ice cream again (I made it for Thanksgiving too) so there is now a picture to go along with the original post. I buy my vanilla beans online at because they have a larger selection and the price is so much cheaper. I bought eleven beans for $18.10 (including shipping), at my local grocery store they cost $7-8 per bean. Plus I like that they vacuum seal them at Beanilla so they stay fresh so much longer.
Superbowl Sundaes:
Sliced Banana

Monday, February 9, 2009

Caramel Sauce

Caramel Sauce:
Source: The Ultimate Ice Cream Book

1 c heavy cream warmed
1 c sugar
½ c water
1 tsp vanilla

1. Place the cream in a small saucepan set over low heat. Cover and keep warm while making the caramel.
2. Combine the sugar and water in a large, heavy saucepan and place over medium heat.
3. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is clear.
4. As the syrup boils, use a wet pastry brush to wash down any sugar crystals that form on the side of the pan.
5. Continue to cook without stirring until the syrup is golden brown.
6. Immediately remove from the heat and slowly add the warm cream, stirring constantly.
7. The caramel will split and rise up, so do this carefully.
8. The sugar may also form a clump on the bottom of the pan. If this occurs, return the pan to low heat and stir until the caramel dissolves into the cream completely.
9. Let simmer for 2 minutes.
10. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
11. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yields: 1 1/3 c.

Chocolate Sauce

Chocolate Sauce:
Source: The Ultimate Ice Cream Book
¼ c unsalted butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
¾ c. sugar
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c heavy whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla

1. Melt the butter and chocolate together over a double boiler or in a large metal or glass bowl over a pan of simmering water.
2. Combine the sugar and the cocoa in another bowl.
3. Stir the heavy whipping cream into the sugar & cocoa and mix until a thick paste forms.
4. Stir the chocolate paste into the melted chocolate and butter.
5. Cook the mixture over simmering water for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
6. Whisk in the vanilla.
7. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yields: 1 ½ cups

Vanilla Cream

Vanilla Cream:
Source: Giada De Laurentiis - food network


1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar (I used 4 T)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I omitted)


In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream until it forms soft peaks. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks.

Red Potato Soup

The original plan was to follow this recipe, but as it came along I ended up making several changes. Click on the link to see the original recipe. The soup came out good but after the changes it does not taste like O'Charley's soup. I think that it came out a little spicy, which can be controlled by the amount of hot sauce that you add.

Red Potato Soup: adapted from:

24 oz red potatoes, cubed unpeeled)
2 tbsp
3 cups whole milk
1 cup buttermilk
8 oz package
Velveeta cheese, melted (I used reduced-fat)
½ tsp.
white pepper
½ tsp.
garlic powder
several shakes of hot pepper sauce
pinch of salt
pinch of onion powder

1. Dice unpeeled red potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes.
2. Place in large saucepan; cover with water and bring to a boil.
3. Let boil for 10 minutes or until 3/4 cooked.
4. In a separate pan, combine melted butter and flour, mixing until smooth.
5. Place over low heat and gradually add milk & buttermilk, stirring constantly.
6. Continue to stir until smooth and liquid begins to thicken.
7. Add melted Velveeta.
8. Stir well.
9. Drain potatoes and add to cream mixture.
10. Stir in pepper, garlic powder and hot pepper sauce.
11. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
12. Blend soup with either a stand or immersion blender. (Be sure to leave some chunks)
13. Cook vegetarian bacon in a non-stick skillet, cook each side for about 3 minutes, “bacon” will be crispy.
14. Chop “bacon” and top the soup with it.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Need a way to use up leftover buttermilk, then these biscuits are for you. I have been meaning to make these for the past several months but I keep forgetting when I have buttermilk. In my opinion these biscuits are much better than the ones that come in a can, and the way that I look at it the are also healthier. I justify this because you get a larger biscuit for the same amount of fat or possibly even less (not 100% sure because I have not compared the nutrition info for both). When I served these I made them into egg & cheese biscuits and served the leftovers with boysenberry preserves.

Buttermilk Biscuits:

Source: Alton Brown

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup buttermilk, chilled

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don't want the fats to melt.)
3.Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
4. Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times.
5. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, (I used a drinking glass) being sure to push straight down through the dough.
6. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they don't (original directions say for them to touch) touch.
7. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting.
8. Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes. (mine baked faster, about 12 mins.)
Yield: 10 biscuits

Nutritional Information:
Calories 145.2
Total Fat 5.3 g
Saturated Fat 2.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.9 g
Cholesterol 8.6 mg
Sodium 427.5 mg
Potassium 64.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20.8 g
Dietary Fiber 0.7 g
Sugars 1.2 g
Protein 3.4 g
Calculated using SparkRecipes

Peanut Butter Cookies with M&M's

About two weeks ago I had a craving/desire to bake some cookies, so I started searching through some blogs that I follow when I came across this recipe on Annie's blog ( and I knew that I needed to try these. I add M&M's because I have them on hand, and also because I love chocolate chip cookies with peanut butter M&M's. Anyways these cookies are awesome, and you really should put them on your must make list. I sent 2/3 of my batch to work with Dan and meant to send some to my neighbor's but ended up eating the rest myself, oops.

* I halved the original recipe.
Source: adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
small pinch of grated nutmeg
1 stick (4oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth) (I used smooth)
¼ c + 2 T sugar
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ c M&M’s (my addition)

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Whisk (I sifted) together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

Working with a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for a minute or two, until smooth and creamy. Add the peanut butter and beat for another minute. Add the sugars and beat for 3 minutes more. Add the egg, beating for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl and, on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they just disappear. Mix in the M&M's. You’ll have a soft, pliable (mushable, actually) dough.
I used a cookie to scope to form my cookies and places them onto greased cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. When done, the cookies will be lightly colored and still a little soft. Let the cookies sit on the sheets for a minute before transferring them to cooling racks with a wide metal spatula. Cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the remaining dough, making sure to cool the baking sheets between batches.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Stuffed Shells

I make these shells in large batches because they freeze and reheat well. In the past I have added soy beef crumbles to this recipe, (1 bag Morning Star Farms)

Stuffed Shells:
My Original Recipe
7 oz spinach
1/4 c diced white onion
1 T garlic
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. basil
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 T Parmesan cheese
1 T Romano cheese
8 oz mozzarella cheese
1 lb ricotta cheese

28-30 jumbo shells cooked to slightly firmer than al dente
1 jar pasta sauce (or homemade)
extra cheese to top pasta

1. Bring water to a boil
2. Saute onion and garlic
3. Add spinach, basil, oregano, and Italian seasoning, cook thoroughly over medium heat
4. Cook shells to slightly firmer than al dente
5. Transfer cooked spinach to a large mixing bowl
6. Add cheeses to the spinach mixture
7. Stuff shells and place in a lightly greased 13x9 glass pan
8. Cover shells with tomato sauce
9. Top with mozzarella, Parmesan and Romano cheeses
10. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

Red Roasted Potatoes

Roasted Red Potatoes:
My Original Recipe

1 lb red potatoes (1 inch dice)
1 T diced white onion
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp Italian seasoning

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees (I used our toaster oven)
2. Wash and dry potatoes, dice potatoes into 1 inch cubes and place into a small bowl
3. Add diced onion, garlic, basil, oregano and Italian seasoning
4. Mix potatoes by hand.
5. Spread the potatoes into a single layer onto a greased cookie sheet (I used Pam)
6. Spray the top of the potatoes with Pam (helps with browning)
7. Bake for 25 minutes
8. Broil for additional 2 minutes if not browned to your liking.

3 Servings

Meal Plan: Jan. 11th-17th

Sunday: cheese burgers (veggie for me), red roasted potatoes, and corn
Monday: stuffed shells (Snow crab legs for Dan)
Tuesday: black bean chili
Wednesday: homemade pizza
Thursday: fajitas
Friday: grilled tofu with peanut sauce, white rice and black beans
Saturday: leftovers

Meal Plan: Jan. 5th-9th

Monday night: tacos
Tuesday: Skyline Chili
Wednesday: Chicken, white rice & steamed mixed vegetables
Thursday: Whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce topped with cottage cheese
Friday: leftovers

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

I halved this recipe and it made 8 rolls (the recipe claims that it makes 12 for the entire recipe). These are by far the best cinnamon rolls, so much better than the type in the can, which in my book makes them worth the effort. Dan loved them, so I know I will be making them again.

Clone of a Cinnabon

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup margarine or butter, melted (I used butter)
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast (also known as fast rising, rapid rising, or instant yeast)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Bread Machine Directions:
Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
Alternate directions using KitchenAid mixer:
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warmed milk, along with 1 tsp sugar from the 1/2 cup white sugar. Let stand, covered, about 10 minutes, until foamy.
2. In the bowl of your KitchenAid mixer, add the yeast/milk mixture, eggs, melted margarine, 3 cups bread flour, salt, and remaining sugar; mix on medium speed with the flat beater until combined.
3. Switch to the dough hook and start kneading the dough on speed 2.
4. Add 1/2 cup of bread flour at a time, until the dough becomes soft and elastic and no longer sticks to the bowl (approximately 4-1/2 c). This will vary depending on the humidity of your kitchen, but you can definitely start to see when the dough stops sticking to the sides. It will start to follow the dough hook around as it spins and will start flopping around the bowl in a large ball. After you reach a total of 4-1/2 cups, start adding the flour a tablespoon at a time so you don't risk adding too much flour.
5. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp towel for approximately 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. (Heat your oven to 150°F, turn it off, and then let the dough rise in the warmed oven.
6. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
7. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
8. Roll dough into a rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup melted butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture.
9. Roll up dough (lengthwise) and cut with a bread knife into 12 rolls (I use fishing line to cut the rolls) (approximately 1-3/4" each, or three finger widths).
10. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. (If you want to make these the night before, follow the instructions up to this step but then cover and refrigerate your rolls before the second rise. In the morning, take them out of the refrigerate and allow them to rise before baking.)
11. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.
12. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). (Or bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.)
12. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
13. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
14. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

German Chocolate Cake

I made this cake last summer for my dad's birthday. I attempted to make the coconut pecan icing, but burnt it when I walked away to check, oops. So I had to settle for using store bought icing because I was in a time crunch. Let me know if you want the icing recipe and I can add it to the post.

German Chocolate Cake:

1/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2-1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk*
Pecan halves(optional)
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9-inch round baking pans.
2. Stir together cocoa and water in small bowl until smooth; set aside.
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Stir together flour, baking soda and salt;
add to butter mixture alternately with chocolate mixture and buttermilk, beating just enough to blend.
Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks.
Cool completely.
Prepare cocconut icing (or use the premade stuff like I did); spread between layers and over top.
10 to 12 servings.

* To sour milk: Use 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus milk to equal 1 cup.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

While looking through food pictures to see what else I needed to blog I came across these cinnamon apple muffins that I made back in October for a staff meeting. These muffins are delicious and they freeze very well in an airtight zip lock bag. To defrost, I microwave for about 1 minute with a glass of water to add moisture. Note: These muffins are very dense.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins:
adapted from
4 cups apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I used 4 Gala apples)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup applesauce (or canola oil) – (I used applesauce)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. pure almond extract
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
6 tsp. butter, room temp.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly grease two muffin pans and set aside (my batch made 30 muffins).
Peel, core and slice the apples.
Cut into good-sized chunks, about 1 inch in size.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer until fluffy.
Add the applesauce or oil and beat until combined.
Add the vanilla and almond extracts, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Beat until thoroughly mixed.
Next, add the flour and sugar and mix on low just to blend.
Then turn the mixer to high and beat until mixture is smooth.
Fold in the chopped apples, mixing by hand so the apples do not get too broken up.
Divide the mixture between the two muffin pans.
It is easiest to spoon the batter into the pans.
To prepare the topping, combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Cut the butter into the mixture with a fork until all ingredients are moist and crumbly.
If you don’t mind a little mess, it is faster to use your hands.
Sprinkle equal amounts of topping on each muffin.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes on the center rack of the oven.
The muffins should feel fairly firm when touched in the middle, or bake an extra 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pans.

Blueberry Muffins

While looking through food pictures to see what else I needed to blog I came across these blueberry muffins that I made back in October for a staff meeting. These muffins are delicious and they freeze very well in an airtight zip lock bag. I had one around Christmas time and they still taste great. To defrost, I microwave for about 1 minute with a glass of water to add moisture.

Blueberry Muffins:
Alton Brown

25 ounces cake flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 Heavy pinches salt
2 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 cups yogurt (I used plain, and blueberry)
3 cups fresh blueberries
Vegetable spray, for the muffin tins
Preheat oven to 380 degrees F.
In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In another large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, egg and yogurt. Add the dry ingredients reserving 2 tablespoons of the dry ingredients and toss with the blueberries. Stir mixture for a count of 10. Add 2 cups blueberries to mixture and stir 3 more times. Reserve the 1 cup of blueberries.
Using a #20 ice cream scoop, add the mixture to greased muffin pans. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of berries on top of muffins and press down lightly. Place into the oven and increase the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 16 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Remove from oven and turn out, upside down on tea towel to cool completely. Serve immediately or store in airtight container for 2 to 3 days.