December 27, 2010

Corn Pudding

When I think of pudding, I think of rich warm homemade chocolate pudding. That's because I have a one-track dessert-focused mind. This corn pudding at least gave my mind a delicious detour to associate with the word "pudding."

I have had this recipe marked for several years and finally made it for Christmas dinner. It was delicious! It has a nice texture and excellent flavor. This shall be repeated in the future.

Corn Pudding
3 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. evaporated milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper
Dash of nutmeg
1 large egg
1 large egg white
6 Tbsp. oyster crackers, crushed
3 Tbsp. cornmeal
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tsp. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Combine 1 cup corn and 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. evaporated milk in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Combine remaining milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg and egg white in a large bowl. Stir in pureed corn mixture, remaining 2 cups corn, 3 Tbsp. crackers and cornmeal.

Spoon mixture into a greased 8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Combine remaining 3 Tbsp. cracker crumbs and melted butter together. Sprinkle evenly over dish. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Makes 8 servings.

Hot Mulled Wine

This was one of our Christmas beverages, and it's simple to throw together. I even made my own Mulling Spices.

Hot Mulled Wine
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1 bottle dry red wine
1 satchel Mulling Spices

Combine ingredients together in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and cook 20 minutes. Remove satchel. Serve warm. Serves 6.

Mulling Spices

This is a simple recipe to throw together and can then be used in a variety of recipes. I made one set of spices as a gift and used another for Hot Mulled Wine.

Mulling Spices
2 tsp. whole allspice
1/4 tsp. whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick-broken in half
1 (3 x1-inch) strip orange rind

Combine ingredients together in cheesecloth satchel (or the highly sophisticated coffee filter method).

Spanish Hot Chocolate

One of the many things I miss from Spain is the hot chocolate. I would often get a mug of chocolate after my classes, savoring the rich drink that was literally thick enough to eat with a spoon. This recipe replicates the flavor but is not quite as thick. I think I could adjust the thickness by adding more instant pudding, which I'll have to try in the future.

Spanish Hot Chocolate
1 1/2 cups milk
4 oz. dark cooking chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 Tbsp. vanilla instant pudding

Warm 3/4 cup milk in non-reactive pan over low heat. Add the chocolate, and stir until all the chocolate is melted.

In separate container, mix the remaining milk and vanilla pudding until blended. Add to the warm milk chocolate mixture, stirring until drink is thick. Do not let it come to a boil, and continuously stir. Remove from heat when thick, and whisk until frothy.

December 24, 2010


This was the other bread I selected for our Christmas breakfast. The original recipe called for 1/2 cup golden raisins and 1/2 cup glace cherries (halved). Since the cherries grossed me out in the grocery store, I opted for pomegranate-flavored dried cranberries to replace both items. (I didn't feel like buying golden raisins just for this.)

2 tsp. yeast
3 eggs plus scalded milk to equal 1 1/3 cups
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup wheat flour
3 cups bread flour
1 cup pomegranate-flavored cranberries
1/2 cup silvered almonds

Warm the eggs under hot tap water, and crack into a measuring cup. Cool the milk until warm, and add to eggs. Add yeast. Let stand 5 minutes. Add the salt, cardamom, sugar, butter, wheat flour and half the bread flour. Beat well. Cover, and let stand 15 minutes.

Knead in remaining bread flour until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl, and dough is soft and springy. Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Shape dough into a round loaf (or a Christmas tree pan if you desire). Cover, and let stand until doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Glaze loaf with egg wash. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the loaf is evenly browned. Cool on wire rack.

Optional: Glaze bread with powdered sugar glaze if desired.

Sesame-Soy Meatballs

This was the first time I ever made meatballs, which is somewhat surprising given how much I enjoy meatballs. Despite all the grease that accumulates during the cooking process, the meatballs are not greasy. They have a nice flavor, not overly spicy or salty. If you like spicier foods, you could increase the chile paste. They went well with seasoned couscous.

Sesame-Soy Meatballs
1/3 cup minced green onion
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil
1 Tbsp. chile paste
1/4 tsp. salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ground sirloin

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Combine first seven ingredients together, and then mix in the beef. Shape mixture into 20 (1 1/2-inch) meatballs.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs 4 minutes, stirring to brown all sides. (You may have to divide the meatballs into smaller batches, depending on your pan size.)

Arrange browned meatballs in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan. Bake for 7 minutes or until done. Yield: 4 servings of 5 meatballs each

Broa (Portuguese Corn Bread)

Although we haven't tried this bread yet, it's waiting in the freezer for us to get around to eating it. The loaf turned out well, a nice large round loaf that looks quite tempting. (It's not uncommon for me to freeze bread immediately after baking it if we have other bread out that we're eating.)

Broa (Portuguese Corn Bread)
2 tsp. yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. water
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. cornmeal
2 cups flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Sprinkle yeast into milk, and let stand 5 minutes. Add the water. In separate bowl, combine cornmeal, flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour, and add the wet ingredients (yeast mixture and olive oil). Knead until a firm, moist, elastic dough develops.

Cover dough, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down, and then let rest 10 minutes.

Shape dough into a round loaf. Place on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Sprinkle loaf with cornmeal. Bake 45 minutes, until golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.

Brandied Cherry Cupcakes

I regularly follow the Cupcake Project, and that's where I discovered the idea to ship cupcakes in jars. I also was intrigued by her Brandied Cherry Cupcakes, which I made for Christmas.

I cannot explain why these cupcakes are blue, but they appear to be blueberry or blue-food coloring tinted, which I assure you they are not. They are pretty delicious, though. For my frosting, I just combined butter, powdered sugar and some extra cherry juice I had on hand. (P.S. This is the frosting I taught my goddaughter to eat straight from the piping bag by tilting her head back and saying "Aaaahhh!")

Brandied Cherry Cupcakes

2 15-ounce cans of cherries in heavy syrup
½ cup brandy

Combine ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low.
Simmer for fifteen minutes.

Use a sieve to strain out the cherries. Reserve both the syrup and cherries.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
Brandied cherry syrup from above
Brandied cherries from above

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

In another medium-sized bowl, beat butter, sugar, and honey until well combined. Beat eggs and milk into the butter mixture. Alternately fold the flour mixture and 2/3 cup of the cherry syrup into the wet ingredients. Fold in all of the brandied cherries.

Fill cupcake liners approximately 2/3 full. (I used 24 regular size and 6-9 mini ones for the extra batter.)

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.

Cool completely on wire racks, and then frost.

Rustic Cabbage Soup

This was my method of using the head of cabbage I purchased, and I think I would have been better off just pan frying the cabbage for my family. The soup is really garlicky, like a garlic broth. Maybe if my beans would have been fully cooked, I would be more impressed.

Rustic Cabbage Soup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Pinch of salt
1/2 lb. potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
5 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups white beans, pre-cooked
1/2 medium cabbage, cut into 1/4-inch ribbons

Heat olive oil in large pot, and stir in salt and potatoes. Cover, and cook until they are a bit tender and starting to brown, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and onion, and cook for another couple minutes. Add the stock and the beans, and bring the pot to a simmer. Stir in the cabbage, and cook until the cabbage is the desired texture. Serve drizzled with Parmesan cheese. Serves 4.

December 23, 2010

Cheesy Potatoes

This is a family recipe from my mother-in-law. It's a favorite through the year and is especially popular during the holidays. This year, we're introducing my family to Cheesy Potatoes.

Cheesy Potatoes
2 lb. shredded hashbrowns
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
1/2 cup melted butter
2 Tbsp. minced onion
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 cups grated cheese
Crushed cornflakes to top

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix first eight ingredients together, and spread evenly into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Top with cornflakes. Bake 45 to 60 minutes, until cornflakes are golden and potatoes are hot.

Chocolate, Cherry & Hazelnut Biscotti

It's been a long time since I've made biscotti, and I nearly forgot how delicious those crunchy little tidbits are! This is a version with chocolate, wine-soaked cherries and hazelnuts, which is a good combination.Chocolate, Cherry & Hazelnut Biscotti
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup port or sweet wine
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet, and bake until golden, about 10 minutes, stirring once. Turn nuts onto a towel, and roll up towel to rub off the skins. Chop the nuts.

Microwave wine for one minute, and then add the cherries. Let stand for 30 minutes, and then drain well.

Place sugar and chocolate in a food processor, and process until chocolate is finely ground.

Place vanilla, egg and egg yolk in a large mixing bowl, and beat on medium until well blended. Add sugar/chocolate mixture, and beat one minute.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually mix in flour mixture, beating until just blended. Add in hazelnuts and drained cherries. (Dough will be very crumbly.)

Turn dough out, and knead several times. Divide dough into two equal parts. Shape each into an 8-inch roll. Place rolls on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and pat each roll to a 1-inch thickness. Bake at 350
ºF for 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on wire racks.

Reduce oven to 325

Cut each roll diagonally into 12 slices. Place, cut sides down, the cookies on the cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Flip cookies, and bake another 10 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack. Yield: 24 biscotti

Chocolate Babka

This recipe caught my eye immediately, but I waited until now to prepare it for Christmas morning breakfast. My favorite part of the bread now is how you can't tell from the outside that the loaf is swirled with delicious chocolate. (I'm pretty sure my favorite part after I taste it will be the chocolaty richness of the bread.)

P.S. This bread is amazing and looks so intriguing on the inside!

Chocolate Babka
1 tsp. sugar
2 1/4 tsp. yeast
3/4 cup warm milk
6 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/4 cups bread flour
5 Tbsp. butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. cocoa
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. butter, softened

Dissolve 1 tsp. sugar and yeast in warm milk for five minutes. Combine remaining sugar, vanilla, salt, egg yolk and yeast mixture in mixing bowl. Add 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour and all of the bread flour, beating with the dough hook until well blended. Add butter, beating until well blended.

Knead dough until smooth and elastic, adding remaining flour gradually as needed to prevent dough from sticking. Cover dough, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down dough, and let rest 5 minutes. Line the bottom of a 9 x 5 pan with parchment paper, and spray the sides with non-stick spray. Combine filling ingredients together.

Place dough on generously floured surface. Roll dough into a 16-inch square. Sprinkle filling on dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border on all sides. Roll up jelly-roll style, pinching seam and ends to seal. Holding dough by ends, twist dough four times as if wringing out a towel. Fit dough into prepared pan, twisting dough to fit into pan. Cover, and let rise 45 minutes or until doubled.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare streusel by combining those ingredients together to form coarse crumbs. Sprinkle streusel evenly over dough. Bake for 40 minutes or until loaf is browned and sounds hollow. Cool in pan 10 minutes, and then cool completely on wire rack. Yield: 16 servings.

Poolish-Style Pre-Ferment

This is a very moist sponge or starter for delicious wonderful breads.

Poolish-Style Pre-Ferment
4 cups flour
4 cups cool water
1/4 tsp. yeast

Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl. Beat or whisk together until well mixed and smooth, about 1 minute.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature until frothy and bubbly, about 3 to 5 hours.

Make sure the poolish is tightly covered, and refrigerate overnight.

You can use for baking (or freeze any extra for future baking) the next day.

Sweet Rustic Bread

Although this is called Sweet Rustic Bread, it is not the type of sweet bread you think of when you imagine banana bread or other dessert-like breads. This is a complex flavor that tinges more toward sweet than savory, but it comes in the form of a crusty, chewy bread.

Sweet Rustic Bread
2 cups poolish-style sponge
4 1/2 cups bread flour
5 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup cool water

Measure the refrigerated poolish, and let stand at room temperature one hour to remove the chill.

Combine all ingredients using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment.

Mix on slow speed 1 minute, and then switch to the dough hook. Mix on medium for 8 minutes. You may have to scrape the sides once or twice. The dough is very batterlike and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until it is 1 1/2 times its original size, about 3 hours.

The dough should be slightly stiffer at this point. Scrape it onto a heavily floured surface, coating your hands in flour as well. Knead the dough gently for a few seconds. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for another hour.

Prepare three baking pans by covering them with parchment paper and then sprinkling them with semolina or flour.

Fold and knead the dough gently for a few seconds. Pat the dough into a thick disk, about 6 inches in diameter. Cut the dough into 6 to 8 wedges with a knife. Keeping your hands floured, transfer the wedges to the baking sheets. Make sure there is plenty of space between each piece, and do not stretch the pieces. Mist the tops of the dough with cooking spray, cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough stand for 2 hours at room temperature or until the pieces increase to about 1 1/2 times their original size. Refrigerate them overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to bake. The dough should be double the original size.

Preheat oven to 475ºF. Place empty cast iron skillet on bottom rack of oven. Fill a water bottle to spritz loaves. Place loaves in oven, and quickly pour 2 cups hot tap water into cast iron pan. Quickly spritz the oven and loaves, avoiding the oven light.

After two minutes, spray the oven and loaves again. After 5 minutes, reduce heat to 425
ºF. Bake the loaves for 10 minutes, and then rotate loaves in the oven. Continue baking another 10 minutes. Loaves are done when golden brown with an internal temperature of 205 to 210ºF. Cool bread completely before eating.

Pate Fermentee

Ah, nothing like the word "ferment" in a recipe to make it sound appealing. Of course, all yeast breads ferment, which develops the variety of wonderful flavors. This is a starter for a variety of breads.

Pate Fermentee
1 3/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cup bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. yeast
1 1/4 cups cool water

Combine the flours, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add the water, and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough forms a ball. Knead the dough vigorously until it is soft, pliable and tacky but not sticky. Knead in a few extra drops of flour or water as needed to obtain this consistency. The dough is fully kneaded when it is between 77 to 80 degrees (feels neither warm nor cool to the touch).

Place the dough in a large clean bowl misted with cooking spray. Mist the dough itself lightly with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap, and let dough rise for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

Knead the dough for 30 seconds, form it into a ball, and re-cover the bowl the plastic.

Place the bowl into the refrigerator, and retard the pre-ferment overnight. It is ready to use the next day and may be frozen at this stage.

Fan Tans

These are decorative buttermilk rolls, which have a good flavor. They are fun to eat because you can pull the roll into different sections by separating the fan pieces. These were the second roll I made for Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Fan Tans
2 tsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. buttermilk
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. butter, melted

Sprinkle yeast and sugar into the buttermilk. Let stand 5 minutes to dissolve. Meanwhile, mix flour, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Create a well in the center, and pour in 2 Tbsp. melted butter and dissolved yeast mixture.

Mix until a soft dough forms. Knead until smooth, elastic and glossy. Cover the dough, and let rise until doubled, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Punch down, and let rest 10 minutes.

Roll dough into a rectangle, 12 x 20 x 1/2 inch. Brush with remaining 2 Tbsp. butter. Use a sharp knife to cut the buttered dough into seven strips, each about 1 3/4 inches wide. Place the strips in a vertical stack. Then cut the stack into eight equal sections or pieces.

With each of the eight pieces, pinch one side together to form the bottom of the roll. Place the pinched side facing down into a buttered muffin tin. Use your fingers to separate the top of the roll to fan out the pieces. Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden. Turn onto wire rack to cool slightly, but serve while still warm.

Partybrot (German Party Bread)

This was one of the rolls I created for Thanksgiving dinner with my family. It is made with a traditional Parker House Roll recipe, but is shaped and baked differently. These rolls were good, nice and soft with a crustier top and sides.

Partybrot (German Party Bread)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
1 cup milk
4 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
Egg glaze (1 egg yolk & 1 Tbsp. milk)
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Sprinkle the yeast into 1/2 cup of lukewarm milk. Let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, warm the remaining milk in a saucepan with the butter and sugar. Stir until the butter melts. Cool until lukewarm, and then beat in the eggs until evenly combined.

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and pour the dissolved yeast mixture into there. Mix in the flour to form a soft, sticky dough.

Knead the dough until smooth, shiny and elastic, kneading in extra flour 1 Tbsp. at a time if the dough is too sticky. The dough should be soft, not dry, so do not add too much flour.

Put the dough in a buttered bowl, and cover with a dish towel until doubled, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down, and let rest 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 19 equal pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Grease a cake or springform pan (about 9 1/2 inches in diameter) with melted butter. Arrange rolls into the greased pan. Cover with a dish towel, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Brush the top of the rolls with the egg glaze, and sprinkle with seeds. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden and hollow sounding. Turn onto a wire rack to cool slightly, and then wrap in a dish towel to keep warm. Serve immediately.

Scots Baps

These are incredibly soft breads, heavily dusted with flour prior to baking, which gives them a neat appearance. They are delicious slathered with butter while still warm. Then again, what isn't?

Scots Baps
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
3/4 cup water
2 tsp. dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. milk to glaze

Combine milk and water together. Take 1/2 cup of the liquid in a small dish, and sprinkle with yeast and sugar. Let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, and pour in the dissolved yeast. Mix in the flour. Stir in the reserved milk/water mixture as needed to form a sticky dough. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic.

Cover the dough, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down, and let dough rest 10 minutes. Then divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a flat oval, about 1/2-inch thick. Place on a floured baking sheet. Brush each bap with milk, and sift with a heavy dusting of flour.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Proof, uncovered, until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes. Sift another dusting of flour onto the baps, and use your thumb to press an indentation into the center of each bap. Bake 15-20 minutes until risen and golden. Cover with a dish towel 10 minutes, and cool on a wire rack.

December 19, 2010

Scotch Shortbread

I'm not sure why this is called Scotch Shortbread, as opposed to simply shortbread. It's my mother's recipe, and I love the buttery flavor of this simple recipe.

I made a double batch this year, since it does not create an obnoxious amount of cookies. (My double batch fit into one gallon bag. I created three variations this year, and I'll note my additions at the bottom of the posting.

Scotch Shortbread
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups sifted flour

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in flour. Chill several hours until firm.

Preheat oven to 300ºF. On ungreased cookie sheets, divide dough into halves. Shape each into a circle, 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick. Score with a fork or roll with a cookie cutter.

Bake 30 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Break apart and cool on wax paper.

Chocolate Shortbread
Add one package of hot cocoa mix to half of the dough. Knead in well prior to chilling dough.

Chai Shortbread
Add cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves in amounts of 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. to half of dough. Knead in well prior to chilling dough.

Almond Cookies

By now you're wondering how many favorite Christmas cookies and candies my family has, right? This was one of my dad's favorite Christmas cookies, although I'm not sure who can resist the buttery nutty flavor of these cookies. If you have ground pecans instead, those will work as well. These cookies taste best chilled, in my opinion.

Almond Cookies
1 lb. butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups ground almonds (1 lb)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon extract
3 cups flour
Additional powdered sugar to coat

Cream butter and sugar together. Add vanilla, lemon extract, almonds and flour, blending well. Chill dough at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Form dough into small crescents, and place on buttered cookie sheets. Bake 15 minutes or until edges are starting to brown. Carefully remove cookies from sheet, and gently roll in powdered sugar to coat. The trick is to get the cookies coated while they are still warm enough that the sugar sticks without breaking the fragile cookies. Do not place cookies touching each other, or they will stick together.

Cool completely on wax paper.

Peanut Butter Balls

This was the favorite holiday candy in my household and continues to be requested each year. This is my family's tried-and-true peanut butter ball recipe. Why mess with such a good thing?

Peanut Butter Balls
4 cups crunchy peanut butter
4 cups powdered sugar
4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 stick butter, melted
Chocolate to coat

Combine all ingredients together. Chill for several hours until firm. Shape into balls. Chill again to help them hold their shape ... and because your hands need a break. Dip balls into melted chocolate to coat them completely. Place on lined cookie sheets to chill.

Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and snacks until they are gone!

Spritz Cookies

This has been a holiday staple in my family for as long as I can remember. The favorite was always the green Christmas trees, but I like to have a variety of colors and shapes. You'll need a cookie press for these, but they're extremely easy to make.

(I remember my husband being intimidated by my mom's electric cookie press when we were dating. Now I have a squeeze-gun version, which I think would be less scary for a newcomer to the world of pressed cookies.)

Spritz Cookies
1 1/2 cups butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
4 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. milk

Thoroughly cream together butter and sugar. Add egg, vanilla and almond extract. Beat until smooth.

In separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Gradually add this to the butter mixture. Beat in milk until dough is smooth.

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Divide dough into portions, and use different food colors for each portion. Press dough through cookie press to create desired shapes onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7 to 8 minutes until edges begin to brown.

Cool for one minute on cookie sheets, and then cool completely on newspaper (lined with wax paper). Makes 5 dozen (little) cookies.

Spiced Vanilla Cookies

Lately I've tried at least one new recipe each Christmas season, and this year was no exception. After all, I have so many recipes flagged to try that I'm not sure how I'll ever get through them all. This year, I tried Spiced Vanilla Cookies.

These cookies are crisp and flavorful. They also contain less butter than most of my holiday creations, ranking them as the "healthiest" cookie I have. (Although I will always try to justify my chocolate-covered raisins because they are fruit!) They're good, but they probably will not become a regular in my holiday repertoire.

Spiced Vanilla Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1/4 cup light-colored corn syrup
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 egg white

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt together. In mixing bowl, combine sugar, butter and oil on medium speed until smooth. Add syrup, vanilla and egg white to sugar mixture, beating until well blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until just combined. Divide dough in two portions, wrap each in plastic wrap, and chill dough for one hour.

Working with one portion at a time, press dough into a 4-inch square between sheets of wax paper or heavy-duty plastic wrap. Roll dough to 1/16-inch thickness while still covered. Place dough in freezer for 30 minutes. Repeat with second portion of dough.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Working again with one portion of dough at a time, cut dough into 2-inch round circles. Place cookies 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on pans 5 minutes, and then cool completely on wire rack. Makes approximately 44 cookies.

Chocolate Peppermint Cakes (in Jars)

After I saw a posting about cupcakes in jars at Cupcake Project, I had to try it for myself especially with Christmas right around the corner. I bought all ingredients for the featured cupcake before I realized the cupcakes must be eaten within two days, which wouldn't work so well for mailing them to grandparents in Texas and Michigan. So, I created a chocolate peppermint cupcake recipe instead. (Don't worry, the Brandied Cherry recipe should be coming after Christmas!)

The cupcakes were moist with sticky bits of crushed candy cane. The frosting was delicious, although I can't give you an exact recipe. Unless I'm duplicating a recipe exactly, I usually combine powdered sugar and butter until it tastes good, temper it with milk and my extract of choice. Use your favorite buttercream recipe spiked with peppermint extract, and you'll be fine!

Chocolate Peppermint Cakes (in Jars)
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted & cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups water
3 candy canes, crushed

Grease a combination of half-pint mason jars or cupcake tins, totaling approximately 24 to 30 cupcake depositories. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium/high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, beating until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each egg. Beat in chocolate and vanilla.

Add portion of flour mixture, alternated with portion of water, beating on low after each addition until just combined. Continue alternating until both flour mixture and water are mixed into the batter. Stir in the crushed candy canes.

Divide batter evenly among cupcake tins and jars. Note: these cupcakes rise fairly well, so only fill jars 1/3 full. You'll want room for your cupcake and frosting!

Bake for 20 minutes, and then check cupcakes. Continue baking until a toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean. (Depending on the size of your cupcakes, they may take quite a bit longer.)

Cool cupcakes on wire rack. Frost. Share!


This recipe is extremely simple to make, as long as you have the patience to wait for it to steep several weeks. The final product is deliciously potent and keeps well in the freezer or refrigerator for a year ... but doubt you'll be able to make it last that long!

Note: We started with limoncello, but then we swapped out the lemons for limes to make limecello as well as oranges for orangecello. I personally don't have a favorite variety, but somehow the limecello seems to taste the strongest of our varieties.

4 cups vodka
1/2 cup lemon rind strips (about 7 lemons)
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar

Combine vodka and rind in a bowl. Cover, and let stand at room temperature for 2 weeks. Strain through a sieve into a bowl, and discard solids.

Combine water and sugar in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Add to the vodka mix. Stir to combine. Store in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator or freezer as it tastes best served chilled.

December 2, 2010

Almond-Stuffed Chicken

For the second consecutive post, the recipe didn't turn out exactly as I hoped. This chicken flavor was good, but perhaps my chicken breast was thicker than the recipe expected. It took much longer for my chicken to fully cook, to the point my chicken was much darker than a nice golden brown.

Almond-Stuffed Chicken
1/3 cup light garlic-and-herb spreadable cheese
1/4 slivered almonds, toasted
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
4 (6-oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. better
1 1/2 tsp. butter

Combine cheese, almonds and parsley in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cut a horizontal slit through the thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket. Stuff 1 1/2 Tbsp. of cheese into each chicken breast, and close with a toothpick. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken to pan. Cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan, cover, and let rest 2 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

December 1, 2010

Rustic Grains & Honey Pecan Bread

This was a slightly frustrating bread for me because ... it didn't rise well. Every now and then, I end up with a dense bread that refuses to rise, no matter how much warmth I give it within our sometimes chilly house. For this reason, I had a bugger of a time incorporating the raisins and pecans, so I ended up with probably only a third of them mixed within the dough. The bread is still edible, just not nearly as good as I imagine it could be. I'm sure it's not the recipe but rather something goofed on the baker's end.
Rustic Grains & Honey Pecan Bread
2 tsp. yeast
1 1/3 cups water
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/2 cup toasted Rustic Grains mixture
4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Heat the water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl, and add yeast. Let stand 5 minutes.

Add honey, butter, salt, rustic grains and half the bread flour. Beat well. Slowly add the remaining bread flour, and beat until a smooth dough forms. Cover, and let stand 15 minutes.

Knead the dough until soft and springy but soft to the touch. Gently knead in raisins and pecans. Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease a baking sheet. Turn dough onto lightly greased or floured surface, and punch dough down. Shape into two round loaves. Place the loaves, seam side down, on the baking pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375
ºF. Glaze with egg wash. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until golden. Remove from cake pan, and cool on wire rack.

November 30, 2010

Cardamom-Lime Sweet Rolls

Since I had lime zest from the Key Lime Pie, I decided to try this recipe for Cardamom-Lime Sweet Rolls. It sounds like an odd combination, but I enjoy both lime and cardamom. I made the rolls but froze them before baking to save them for a lazy (holiday, perhaps?) weekend.

Cardamom-Lime Sweet Rolls
2 1/4 tsp. dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 1/3 cups flour, divided

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. lime zest
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. cardamom
2 Tbsp. melted butter

1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. lime juice

Dissolve yeast into warm water, and let stand 5 minutes. Combine sour cream, sugar, melted butter, vanilla and salt together. Add to yeast, and stir to combine. Add two cups of flour to the mixture, stirring to form a soft dough. Gradually add remaining flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to hands as the dough is kneaded. Place dough in large greased bowl, and cover. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, about one hour.

To prepare filling, combine brown sugar, lime zest and cardamom together. Divide the dough into two equal portions, rolling each portion into a 12 x 10 square. Brush each piece of dough with melted butter, and sprinkle evenly with filling. Beginning with a long side, roll up the dough jelly-roll style, pinching the dough to seal the seam. Cut each piece of dough into 12 one-inch pieces. Place the 24 pieces (cut side facing up) in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. (Note: this is the stage where I froze my rolls for later baking.)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Uncover dough. Bake for 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack.

To prepare glaze, combine sugar and lime juice, stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over rolls. Makes 24 rolls. (Each is approximately 130 calories.)

November 28, 2010

Key Lime Pie

My husband and I discovered how much we enjoyed key lime pie in Florida, where we sampled key lime pie, key lime pie milkshakes, etc. Since then, I've made key lime cupcakes but had not made a pie until today. Key lime pie is incredibly easy to make and absolutely delicious. This is a lower-calorie version, although it still packs about 300 calories per decadent slice.

Key Lime Pie
1 reduced-calorie graham cracker pie crust
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 14-oz. can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. grated lime zest
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Using a blender, combine eggs and egg yolks. Add lime juice, milk and lime zest, and blend until well combined. Pour into pie crust. Bake 20 minutes or until edges are set. (Center will not be firm but will set as pie chills.)

Cool completely on wire rack. Cover loosely, and chill at least 2 hours. Once pie is chilled, make the meringue topping by beating egg whites on medium until foamy. Combine sugar and water in saucepan. Heat until boiling, and cook without stirring until a candy thermometer reads 250ºF. Pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over the egg whites, beating on high for 2 minutes or until stiff peaks form.

Cover chilled pie completely with meringue. Broil the pie until the meringue is lightly browned. Yield 8 servings.

Steaks with Pomengranate-Wine Sauce

With Christmas approaching, pomegranates are becoming more prevalent in the grocery stores, which means they're stocking up in my fridge. I remembered a recipe for steaks that involved pomegranates, which was our wonderful supper tonight. My husband was skeptical about the fruit with the savory meat, but he was impressed. The pomegranate sauce has a hearty flavor that enhances the meat.

Steaks with Pomegranate-Wine Sauce
2 steaks
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Dash of olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. minced shallot or onion
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup beef broth
2/3 cup pomegranate seeds

Season steaks with salt and pepper. Grill to your desired temperature while preparing the pomegranate sauce. To make sauce, heat small saucepan on medium. Add oil, and then saute onion for 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil, using a spoon to crush the pomegranate seeds as much as possible. Boil approximately 7 minutes, until the liquid is nearly gone. Remove from heat. Serve the steaks topped with the pomegranate mixture.

Hunter's Delight

Although my husband didn't get a deer this year, we have a bit of venison left in the freezer. I decided to try this easy, slow cooker recipe for Monday's dinner.

Hunter's Delight
1/2 lb. bacon, sliced
2 1/2 lbs. red potatoes, thinly sliced
2 medium onions, sliced
1 1/2 lbs. venison, cubed
2 cans cream-style corn
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 to 1 tsp. seasoned salt

In large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Drain. Place potatoes and onions in the slow cooker. Top with bacon and venison. In small bowl, combine corn, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and salt together. Spoon the corn mixture over the other ingredients in the slow cooker. Cover, and cook on low 6 to 8 hours or until meat and potatoes are tender. Serves 8.

November 21, 2010

Danish Pumpernickel Bread

OK, this may not technically be pumpernickel bread because I omitted the caraway seeds since neither my husband nor I care for them. This makes a rather large loaf of bread and was the final of my 3 breads from yesterday.

Danish Pumpernickel Bread
1 1/3 cups water
2 tsp. yeast
1/4 cup dark molasses
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. caraway seeds
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. 7-grain cereal
1 1/2 cup dark rye or pumpernickel flour
1 Tbsp. gluten
2 1/2 cups bread flour

Heat water until warm, between 105ºF and 115ºF. Pour into warmed mixing bowl, and add yeast and molasses. Let stand 5 minutes. Add butter, caraway seeds, salt, cereal and rye flour. Beat well. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Slowly add gluten and bread flour. Mix until dough forms. Knead on medium speed until dough is smooth and springy but soft to the touch. Cover and let rise one hour until doubled.

Punch down dough, and shape into rectangular loaf. Place loaf into greased 8 x 4-inch bread pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until loaf is golden. Cool on wire rack.

Carta di Musica

This bread translates to "music paper" in Italian. It's a native bread of Sardinia, eaten by shepherds through the centuries. The bread can be stored for several weeks without spoiling, although I doubt it will last that long.

By accident, I tried the bread with a dusting of cinnamon. (I was cleaning/organizing my spices, and a set my bread in a pile of cinnamon.) It is excellent and reminds me of pie surprise!

Carta di Musica
1 1/2 tsp. yeast
1 1/4 cups water
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Let yeast dissolve 5 minutes in warm water. Mix yeast together with flour and salt, kneading until dough is smooth and elastic. Let dough rise in clean, covered bowl for 20 minutes. Lightly flour a baking sheet, and place it in the preheated 450ºF oven.

Divide dough equally into 16 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to form a 6-inch circle. Keep remaining pieces of dough under a damp cloth. If the dough is resistant, set it aside for 2 minutes while you start rolling the next piece. Keep rolled circles under the damp cloth as well.

Bake each circle 10 minutes, turning them over halfway through baking. Let cool on wire rack. Makes 16 cartas.

November 20, 2010

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread

I had a wonderfully productive day today, both in the kitchen and in general terms. I baked three different bread recipes today, spending my rising and baking time cleaning/organizing all my kitchen cupboards. I now have more space AND three delicious types of bread.

I made a quick bread from my Bread Bible book by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Her recipe for Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread turned out amazing. I was impressed by my willpower to wait to try it as my dinner dessert, considering the bread was tempting me since 9 a.m. This is a dessert bread with consistency similar to chocolate cake.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bread
3 1/2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
3 Tbsp. boiling water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
13 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped medium-fine

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Whisk together cocoa and water until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Once at room temperature, whisk in vanilla and eggs until smooth.

In large bowl, combine cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix on low speed 30 seconds to combine ingredients. Add half the chocolate mixture and all the butter. Mix on low until all dry ingredients are moistened, and then increase speed to medium for stand mixers (high for hand mixers) for one minute. Scrape down sides of bowl. Gradually add remaining chocolate mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides of bowl, and fold in chocolate.

Fill 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 pan with batter, and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake the bread for 25 minutes, and then tent loosely with a piece of buttered foil. Continue baking for another 25 to 35 minutes (50-60 minutes total) until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Place on wire rack for 10 minutes to cool. Loosen edges of bread, and remove from pan. Cool completely.

Carrot Soup

I've been intrigued by the idea of carrot soup for a while now, and I finally tried it with the last of my garden carrots. It's a nice thick soup to use as an appetizer, rather than a main course. I really like the flavor, although I think I used a bit too much ginger when I eyeballed it-left my "sissy" mouth burning.

Carrot Soup
2 tsp. dark sesame oil
1/3 cup sliced shallots
1 lb. baby carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups fat-free chicken broth
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
Plain yogurt to garnish

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots to pan, and cook until almost tender, stirring occasionally. Add carrots, and cook 4 minutes. Add broth, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until carrots are tender. Add ginger, and cook another 8 minutes or until carrots are very tender. Cover, and let stand 5 minutes at room temperature.

Use a food processor to puree the soup. Serve warm, garnished with yogurt if desired. Makes 8 1/2-cup servings.

November 17, 2010

Pickled Brussel Sprouts

The reason I'm posting this is because I have no clue how I made my pickled brussel sprouts last year ... and they were the hottest canned item I created. So, here's my recipes from this year.

Pickled Brussel Sprouts
5 cups vinegar
5 cups water
1/2 cup pickling salt
2 Tbsp. celery seed
4 Tbsp. mustard seed
2 tsp. turmeric
Fresh or dried dill heads (optional)
Dried hot peppers (optional)
Lots o'brussel sprouts

Soak brussel sprouts in salt water for 10 minutes to drive out any bugs. Clean brussel sprouts, and make and x-shaped incision on the end of each sprout to allow brine to penetrate.

Prepare brine by combining vinegar, water, pickling salt, celery seed, mustard seed and turmeric. Bring mixture to a boil.

Meanwhile, place 1 head of dill and/or 1 hot pepper into each clean, prepared pint jar. Fill each jar with brussel sprouts. Add boiling brine to each jar, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add lids and rings. Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes.

Black Bean Soup

This is soup number two on my quest to quench my desire to use black beans. It's not that I'm hooked on the flavor of black beans as much as the recipes intrigue me. This was a good soup, still not as thick as I would have expected. I made it while recovering from an extracted, impacted wisdom tooth, so I appreciated something I could slurp without opening wide.
Black Bean Soup
1 cup dried black beans
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. cumin
14 oz. vegetable broth
4 oz. chopped green chiles, drained
1/8 tsp. salt

Sort, and wash beans. Cover with 2 inches water, and bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes, and then remove from heat. Cover, and let stand 1 hour. Drain beans.

Heat the olive oil, and add onion and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes or until tender. Add beans, water, oregano, cayenne, cumin, broth and chiles. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 hours until beans are tender.

Use a food processor or blender to puree the mixture until smooth. Stir in salt.

Serve soup garnished with shredded cheese, sour cream or other yummy garnish.

English Muffin Bread

This is a simple bread recipe that requires minimal effort. Tastes quite similar to English muffins and works well in grilled cheese. I ran out of regular flour, but it tasted fine with some whole wheat flour substituted.

English Muffin Bread
5 cups flour, divided
2 packages active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup warm water
Cornmeal to dust

In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt and baking soda. Add the warm milk and water. Beat on low 30 seconds, scraping the bowl occasionally. Beat on high 3 minutes. Stir in remaining flour, but do not knead.

Grease two 8 x 4-inch loaf pans. Sprinkle the pans with cornmeal. Spoon the batter into the pans, and sprinkle cornmeal on the top as well. Cover, and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Bake loaves at 375ºF for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to cool completely on wire racks.

Pickled Carrots

I was determined to put our carrots to good use this year, so I decided to try pickled carrots. I haven't sampled the goods yet, but they look pretty in their jars!

Pickled Carrots
2 3/4 lbs. washed/cleaned carrots
5 1/2 cups white distilled vinegar
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. canning salt
8 tsp. mustard seed
4 tsp. celery seed
4 hot peppers (optional)

Prepare canning jars according to canning instructions. Combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt together and bring to a boil. Boil 3 minutes, and then add carrots. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place 2 tsp. mustard seed and 1 tsp. celery seed (and 1 optional hot pepper) into each jar. Fill hot jars with hot carrots. (I used tongs.) Cover with hot pickling liquid, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Place lids and rings securely on jars.

Process in hot water bath 15 minutes. Makes 4 pints.

November 1, 2010

"Pumpkin" Pie Pudding

I'm trying to do better with trying new recipes and then blogging about them. (Yes, that requires a two-part commitment.) Here's the latest experiment with the butternut squash puree.

"Pumpkin" Pie Pudding
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1/2 can butternut squash puree
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Combine sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan. Add milk and egg, and heat on medium stirring constantly. Heat until mixture comes to boil for one full minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Combine remaining ingredients in a second bowl. Whisk into milk mixture on low heat, heating until warm but not boiling. Divide evenly into four serving dishes. Chill until set. Serve topped with whipped cream and candied nuts, if desired. Serves 4.

October 31, 2010

"Pumpkin" Pancakes

Pancakes are traditional weekend fare in our household. It's common to see chocolate chip pancakes served at the table, but occasionally I like to try a new recipe. Today's adventure was "pumpkin" pancakes (made with my seemingly endless supply of butternut squash). They made
the house smell fantastic and were tasty and filling.

"Pumpkin" Pancakes
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 egg
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
3/4 cup squash puree
Milk as needed to thin batter

Combine all ingredients together while griddle heats. Add milk last, and add 1-2 Tbsp. at a time until pancake mixture can be spooned onto the griddle. Cook pancakes on both sides until evenly cooked, making sure the pancake is fully cooked as these are thicker flapjacks. Serve warm with syrup or "pumpkin" butter. Makes 2-3 servings.

October 27, 2010

Slow Cooker Zesty Black Bean Soup

This is a tasty recipe, although for some reason my beans are not as soft as I'd have expected. My husband even ate it despite him proclaiming earlier he would not eat black bean soup. That proves if you make food and leave that as the only option in the fridge, people will at least try the food. This is the first of many black bean soup recipes I want to try, so hopefully you'll see more in the future with comparisons.

Slow Cooker Zesty Black Bean Soup
2 cups dried black beans, sorted and rinsed
10 cups water
8 cups vegetable broth
28 oz. stewed tomatoes, undrained
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
2 Tbsp. dried cilantro
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. pepper

In 4-quart Dutch oven, heat beans and water to boiling, and then reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Cover, and let stand 1 hour.

Drain beans, and place in slow cooker. Combine with remaining ingredients. Cover, and cook on low 10 to 12 hours.

Serve soup garnished with cilantro, sour cream and shredded cheese if desired. Makes 9 servings.

"Pumpkin"-Cinnamon Streusel Buns

This seemed like a suitable recipe for more of my butternut squash. I can't vouch for the flavor of these rolls as they're currently sitting in my freezer waiting for a lazy weekend ... like that will ever happen! I also can't guarantee I'll update this once I bake and devour the rolls, but they look delicious unbaked.

Note-I baked the cinnamon buns. They are delicious.

"Pumpkin"-Cinnamon Streusel Buns
2 1/4 tsp. yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 3/4 cup flour, divided
1/2 cup butternut squash puree
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. chilled butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. hot water
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Dissolve yeast in warm water, and let stand 5 minutes. Add 2 cups flour, squash, milk, butter, sugar, salt and nutmeg to the yeast mixture. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Turn dough onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes) adding flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to hands.

Place dough in large greased bowl. Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Punch down dough, and let rest 5 minutes. Combine 3 Tbsp. each of white and brown sugar with cinnamon and butter using a pastry blender or two knives.

Roll dough into a 12 x 10-inch long rectangle on a flour surface. Sprinkle with sugar mixture evenly. Roll up dough tightly, jelly-roll style, beginning at the long edge. Cut roll into 12 1-inch slices using a sharp knife. Place slices in a greased 9-inch baking pan. (Note: This is the point to freeze rolls for later baking if so desired.) Cover, and let rise 25 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. (If dough is frozen, let thaw overnight in fridge and let stand at room temperature prior to baking until dough doubles.) Bake rolls for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Prepare glaze by combining the glaze ingredients with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze on buns, and serve warm. Makes 12 rolls.

"Pumpkin" Muffins

These muffins are a healthy pumpkin muffin with plenty of flavor ... as always, I prefer muffins warm!"Pumpkin" Muffins
2 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar substitute
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup pureed butternut squash
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

In separate bowl, combine pumpkin, sour cream, milk, oil, vanilla, egg and egg white together. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture, stirring until just moist. Spoon batter into 18 muffin cups coated with non-stick spray.

Combine remaining sugars in a small dish. Sprinkle topping over muffins. Bake 23 to 25 minutes, until muffins spring back when touched lightly in the center. Remove from muffin tins, and cool on wire racks. Makes 18 muffins.

October 26, 2010

Roasted Beet Salad with Cherry Vinaigrette

This is a delicious, healthy salad that enhances the natural sweet, earthy flavors of beets. As a bonus, it's a gorgeous red color by the next day!Roasted Beet Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
8 beets (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
2 Tbsp. cherry balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Leave root and 1 inch of stem on the beets, and scrub them with a brush to remove dirt. Place beets on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes or until tender. Cool. Trim off roots, and rub off skins. Coarsely chop beets. Combine beets, onion and celery in a bowl.

In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients to form a vinaigrette. Pour over beet mixture, and toss gently to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Serves 6.

BS Cupcakes

This is the ultimate way to convince non-squash eaters that squash is indeed not poisonous! I converted a pumpkin cupcake/frosting combo from the Cupcake Project into an amazing way to utilize butternut squash. These cupcakes are moist and the perfect complement to the rich frosting.

P.S. My husband shared one of these cupcakes with my father-in-law, without sharing the ingredients. My husband then told me he knows that powerful feeling I experience when I trick him into eating something on his list of "poisonous" foods.

BS Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
1/2 heaping tsp. ginger
1/2 heaping tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butternut squash puree
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Whisk together flour, ground spices baking soda and salt.

In large bowl, combine the sugar, squash and eggs. Beat until smooth. Mix in the oil, rum and maple syrup. Slowly add the flour mixture, and stir together until fully incorporated. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake 20-25 minutes, until tested clean with a toothpick. Makes 12 cupcakes.

"Pumpkin" Butter Frosting
1/4 cup pumpkin butter (I used butternut squash butter. See previous post.)
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sifted powdered sugar

In saucepan, melt the butter and pumpkin butter together. Add brown sugar, and bring to a biol. Lower the heat to medium low, and boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk and the cinnamon and bring to a boil again, still stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm. Gradually add the powdered sugar, and beat until thick enough to spread. Schmear this rich frosting (similar to a penuche, but punched up) on cupcakes, and enjoy!

October 17, 2010

"Pumpkin" Gingerbread

This was the latest creation from my supply of butternut squash. It's not an overly rich bread, but it packs plenty of flavor. I think this would be great topped with "pumpkin" butter. My 1-year old niece loved this bread, so she must have great taste.

"Pumpkin" Gingerbread
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup wheat germ
1 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup butternut squash puree
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
5 Tbsp. oil
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Combine all dry ingredients together in medium bowl. In separate bowl, combine squash, milk, oil and egg until well mixed. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients, and stir until moistened.

Pour into pan, and bake 60 to 70 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool completely on wire rack.

October 11, 2010

Stuffed Stuff

Tonight I made ravioli for the first time ever, although I think it's cheating to use won ton wrappers. I made a pureed butternut squash filling with cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar substitute. I'm quite curious to see how they taste (as I didn't sample them yet), but I'm not sure calling them "pumpkin" ravioli will make my husband less cautious.

I also made semi-homemade apple turnovers tonight, using packaged puff pastry with a freshly made filling. Again, I haven't taste tested them yet, as they're sitting in the freezer for a later date.

Amish Apple Grunt

Hmm ... my boss just told me last week that I'm Amish because of the amount of baking and canning I do. (He also said I was the oldest 25-year-old he knows, which must be because I'm really 27.) Anyways, it only seems appropriate that I made this dessert with some of my fall apples. I think I might have overdid the apples since I didn't measure, but it was still tasty. Not my favorite dessert but worth repeating.

Amish Apple Grunt
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup sour milk or buttermilk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups apples, peeled and sliced
6 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Cream sugar and butter together. Add egg, and mix well. Add flour, salt, baking powder, milk and vanilla. Mix all together. Add apple slices, and pour batter into a greased 8 x 8 pan.

Combine the remaining ingredients (brown sugar through butter) together until it forms coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm. Makes approximately 6 servings.

October 10, 2010

"Pumpkin" Bread

Again, this was made with butternut squash puree, not pumpkin puree. Still has the same pretty orange color and slightly sweet taste. Makes a really large loaf of bread. This is a good moist bread, although the dough is quite sticky. (Note the cutting board made by my grandpa with the brand my dad and uncle created.)

"Pumpkin Bread"
15 oz. butternut squash, cooked and pureed
2 tsp. dry yeast
1/4 cup water (plus additional as needed)
2 tsp. honey
4 cups flour
2 tsp. salt
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. pepitas

Sprinkle yeast on top of 1/4 cup water. Let stand 5 minutes. Add honey and stir to dissolve.

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add yeast mixture along with butternut squash. Stir to create a dough. Once dough is manageable, knead on floured surface approximately 10 minutes, until smooth. Place in greased container, cover and let rise until doubled, approximately 90 minutes.

Punch dough down. Shape into round loaf. Cover with a towel, and let rise one hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425ºF. Combine egg yolk and milk. Brush the loaf with this wash, and sprinkle with pepitas. Bake 40 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow.

Popular Muffins

These were the first recipe of the fall with my abundance of apples. Although they were good, I would recommend perhaps increasing the sugar to 1/2 cup and adding more cinnamon and perhaps nutmeg or allspice as well to increase the flavor.

Popular Muffins
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 cup grated apple
1 Tbsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. applesauce
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Grease 12 muffin cups. Beat egg, and stir in milk. Mix apples with the oil and applesauce. Combine with egg mixture.

In separate bowl, combine cinnamon, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Fold into egg mixture until moistened. Fill muffin tins evenly. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. Immediately remove from pan, and cool.

"Pumpkin" Butter

So this really is not pumpkin butter, although it tastes remarkably similar to pumpkin butter. It's butternut squash butter, but my husband is willing to eat it if we pretend it's pumpkin butter. This was an experiment for me, but it turned out well. Definitely a recipe worth repeating!

"Pumpkin" Butter
5 cups butternut squash, cooked and pureed
1 1/2 cups apple cider
4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
4 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 cups sugar (or sugar substitute)

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot, and cook uncovered on high about one hour. Spoon hot butter into warm 1/2 pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes approximately 3 pints.

September 19, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl

Although this bread contains no whole grains, it's a delicious classic. Cinnamon raisin bread, perfect for toast. I had my best half marathon time yet (of my whole two times) with this as my breakfast of champions. (Not that it means anything, but it is really good!)

Cinnamon Raisin Loaf

2 1/4 cups plus 2 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1 3/4 water
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. honey
3/4 tsp. yeast

Make a sponge by combining these four ingredients, whisking two minutes to incorporate air. The sponge should be like a thick batter. Cover with plastic wrap, and leave sit between 1 to 24 hours.

2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. flour
1/4 cup dry milk
3/4 tsp. yeast

Combine the ingredients listed above together. Sprinkle this flour mixture on top of the sponge, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow this to ferment 1 to 4 hours at room temperature. (The sponge may bubble through the flour, which is perfectly fine.)

9 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup raisins (I used a combination of golden and regular)

Add the butter to the bowl, and mix on low speed with the dough hook until the flour is moistened enough to form a rough dough. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 20 minutes.

Sprinkle on the salt, and knead the dough on medium speed 7 to 10 minutes. The dough will not come away from the bowl until toward the last minute of kneading. Dough should be smooth and shiny and stick to your fingers. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 10 minutes.

Add the raisins on low speed for about 2 minutes. It's fine if they are not all incorporated, as they will be when you roll the dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover tightly, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. On floured surface, press dough into a rectangle shape, maintaining as many air bubbles as possible. Give the dough a business letter turn. Place dough in greased bowl, cover, and refrigerate 1 hour to firm the dough for rolling.

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. lightly beaten egg

Whisk together sugar and cinnamon. Remove dough from refrigerator, half of the dough at a time. Roll each piece of dough to a 7 1/2 by 14-inch rectangle. Using your fingers, press dough gently to indent to prevent air bubbles. Brush dough with egg, leaving a 3/4-inch margin on all sides. Sprinkle half the cinnamon mixture on each piece to evenly cover the dough. Roll the dough tightly, brushing the top with egg to hold the dough together as you roll. Tuck the ends underneath, and place in two greased 8 x 4 bread pans. Repeat for second loaf.

Cover the pans loosely with oiled plastic wrap. Allow them to rise 1 to 2 hours or until the center is 1 1/2 inches above the sides of the pan. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350ºF.

Bake bread 50 minutes or until loaves are a medium golden brown. Remove from oven, and brush tops with butter immediately. Remove from pans, and cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves.

Kiwi Sorbet

This is an extremely simple recipe to make, and it's delicious! Of course, like all homemade ice cream treats, it freezes completely solid. That helps justify eating as much of it as possible when it is freshly frozen!

Kiwi Sorbet
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
6-7 kiwis, peeled
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Bring water and sugar to a boil over medium heat to make a simple syrup. Remove from heat, and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Puree kiwis in food processor until smooth.

Combine cooled simple syrup, kiwi puree and lemon juice in ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions, letting it churn until you get your desired consistency.

Pain Tunisien (Tunisian Semolina & Olive Oil Bread)

This looked like a fairly easy bread that did not require me to grind wheat flour. (I know that's not a time-consuming nor difficult task. However, it's something I don't quite have the ambition to do today after running a half marathon.) Hopefully this bread will get my husband through the week at work.

P.S. My husband loved it! Said it was spectacular!

Pain Tunisien (Tunisian Semolina & Olive Oil Bread)

2 tsp. dry yeast
3/4 cup water, divided
1 1/2 cups semolina flour
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Egg wash made with 1 egg yolk & 1 Tbsp. water
4 Tbsp. sesame seeds

Sprinkle yeast into water in a bowl. Let set 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve. Meanwhile, mix flours and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour, and add the olive oil and yeast water. Either use electric mixer or wooden spoon until stiff dough forms. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover dough, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough, and let it rest 10 minutes. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Working on a lightly floured surface, shape each piece into a flattened round about 7 inches in diameter and 1-inch thick.

Place dough rounds on oiled baking sheets, and cover with a dish towel. Let rise until doubled in size, approximately 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400ºF. Brush loaves with glaze, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Prick loaves all over with toothpick to prevent air bubbles. Bake bread 30 minutes until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Turn onto wire rack to cool.

Cranberry Nut Muffins

These are good muffins, although my favorite use of cranberries is still the bread with cranberries, walnuts, bananas and such. Still, quick and easy. (And I'm nearly done with my supply of frozen cranberries!)

Cranberry Nut Muffins
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 cups cranberries

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease 10 muffin cups or line with paper wrappers. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the pecans, and make a well in the center. Put the remaining ingredients into a separate bowl, and mix those until thoroughly combined. Pour those ingredients and cranberries into the flour mixture. Gently fold ingredients together to form a moist batter.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling full. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Victorian Milk Bread

This is a good basic white bread, nothing spectacular. Of course, it still tastes better than processed white bread!

Victorian Milk Bread

2 tsp. dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Sprinkle yeast into water in a bowl. Let set 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve. Meanwhile, mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour, and add the egg and yeast water. Either use electric mixer or wooden spoon until stiff dough forms. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover dough, and let rise 45 minutes. Punch down the dough, and then cover and let rest until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Grease an 8 x 4 loaf pan with butter or butter spray. Shape the loaf into an "S" shape by shaping dough into a log and placing into pan, curling the ends to resemble an "S."

Cover with a dish towel, and let rise until it is about 1 inch above the pan, approximately 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400ºF. Bake bread 45 minutes until golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Brush loaf with butter immediately upon removing from oven. Turn onto wire rack to cool.

Swedish Dill Bread

I was able to make this bread with fresh dill from our garden, along with our red onions. This bread has a very strong dill flavor (good spread with cream cheese), and I love the color the onions provide.
Swedish Dill Bread
2 tsp. dry yeast
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. water
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
5 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
1 egg, beaten

Sprinkle yeast into water in a bowl. Let set 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve. Meanwhile, mix flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour, and add the dill, cream cheese, onions, butter, egg and yeast water. Either use electric mixer or wooden spoon until stiff dough forms. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover dough, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan with butter or butter spray. Punch down the dough, and let it rest 10 minutes.

Shape the dough into a loaf, and place in pan seam side down. Cover with a dish towel, and let rise until it is about 1/2 inch above the pan, approximately 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake bread 45 to 60 minutes until hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Turn onto wire rack to cool.

September 16, 2010

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

It all started many years ago when I determined my then-boyfriend should make me a fancy dessert, something like a raspberry cheesecake. He promised to make me this fabulous dessert ... at least that's how I remember the story. So, for the past six, seven, eight or somewhere in there years, I've brought up this infamous dessert to my boyfriend, who became my fiance, who is now my husband.

This past summer, after a weekend reconnecting with my high school friends, I came home to my husband smiling. To my surprise, my wonderful husband made me the best raspberry swirl cheesecake I've ever eaten to celebrate our fourth year of marriage. Trust me ... it was definitely worth the wait.
Even though I've never prepared this recipe, I'll vouch for it on behalf of my husband's baking skills. It's amazing! (I think he might have started an anniversary tradition!)

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs (approximately 2 rows from the package)
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 3/4 cup sugar
8 oz. raspberries
32 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Stir together cookie crumbs, melted butter and 2 Tbsp. sugar in a medium bowl. Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan (line pan with double layer of aluminum foil first). Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool in pan on wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325ºF.

Process raspberries in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Pass puree through a fine sieve into a small bowl, and discard the solids. Whisk in 2 Tbsp. sugar and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, beat in remaining sugar, adding sugar in a slow, steady stream. Beat in salt and vanilla until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until just combined.

Pour cream cheese filling over crust. Drop raspberry sauce by the teaspoon on top of cheesecake batter. With a toothpick, swirl the sauce into the batter.

Place cheesecake pan carefully into a shallow roasting pan. Carefully ladle boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the cheesecake pan. Place in oven, and bake until set but slightly wobbly in center, 60 to 65 minutes.

Transfer cake pan to rack, and let cool completely. Refrigerate uncovered 6 hours or overnight. Before unmolding, run a knife around the edges of the cheesecake. Serve with additional raspberry sauce and fresh raspberries.

September 10, 2010

Summer Squash & Corn Chowder

I made this chowder at my parents' house, referring to it as corn chowder. My husband even helped with the start of the chowder, until I shooshed him out of the kitchen to relax. Of course, the real reason for my kindness is that he believes (mistakenly) that he does not like summer squash. I know he doesn't like the idea of summer squash and in reality would not mind the dish if he didn't know it contained summer squash.

To prove my point, after he enjoyed his bowl of chowder, he made the comment that he'd even let me make that for him again. I laughed and asked if he realized it contained summer squash. The look on his face was priceless as he exclaimed I had poisoned him! So ... this recipe tastes like a corn chowder but is a great way to incorporate the plentiful summer squash. Also, this recipe works well if you add additional corn, squash or celery.

Summer Squash & Corn Chowder

2 slices bacon
3/4 cup green onions, divided
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 lb. yellow summer squash, chopped (and peeled if skin is tough)
1 lb. frozen (or fresh) corn
2 1/4 cups milk, divided
1 tsp. fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4-1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar

Cook bacon in large pan until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, and reserve 2 tsp. of drippings in the pan. Crumble the bacon, and set aside for garnish. Add 1/2 cup onion, celery and squash to the pan drippings. Cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

If using fresh corn, cook in boiling water and remove from cob. If using thawed frozen corn, proceed without additional cooking. Reserve 1 cup corn, and set it aside. Place remaining corn and 1 cup milk into blender. Process until smooth. Add remaining milk, thyme, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper. Process until just combined.

Add pureed mixture and reserved corn to the pan. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in 1/4 cup cheese into soup (optional). Stir in remaining 1/8 tsp. salt.

To serve, ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into four bowls. Top with crumbled bacon, remaining 1/4 cup cheese and remaining 1/4 cup green onions (or chives). Enjoy warm!

June 20, 2010

Birthday Cupcakes

No recipes this time (although the cupcakes were made from scratch), but I had to share the photos of the cupcakes I made for my brother's birthday and my mom's birthday!