Saturday, August 29, 2009


Well hello!! I guess you probably thought I abandoned my blog since it's been ages since I posted anything. Well not true -- things have just be really hectic around here and since blogging is just a hobby, it tends to take the backseat most times. I don't really even know how big my audience is, or if I even have an audience, but if you're out there... here I am and I have been thinking about you.

I was inspired recently to make homemade Rugelach. Not sure why, other than I wanted a new challenge aside from the typical cake or cookie recipe. I started looking through my more challenging of cookbooks and found this recipe by Martha Stewart. I was impressed with myself and the end result was fantastic. I really liked the mixture of the walnuts, cinnamon, currants and chocolate chips. It was a yummy and interesting flavor. Yes, I said yummy! Here is the recipe, hope you enjoy it!

2 sticks (1cup) unsalted butter, room temp
8 ounces cream cheese, room temp
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch of salt
1 large whole egg, plus 3 egg yolks
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup (4 ounces) walnut halves or pieces
pinch of ground cinnamon
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (12 ounces) apricot jelly, melted
2 cups currants, mini semisweet chocolate chips or a combination
granulated sugar or sanding sugar for sprinkling

1. In a food processor, blend butter, cream cheese, on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt; beat until combine and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating to combine after each. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the flour to combine. Mix in vanilla. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 3 equal pieces and shape into flattened disks; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with racks set in upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl, combine egg with 1 teaspoon water to make an egg wash.

3. In a food process, pulse together the walnuts, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, the cinnamon and pinch of salt until finely ground; set aside. Working with one disk at a time, place dough on lightly floured parchment paper, and roll out into an 11-inch circle (about 1/4 inch thick), dusting lightly with flour as needed. Using a large dinner plate as a guide, cut around dough to make a perfect circle; trim off and discard scraps.

4. Brush the tops evenly with melted jelly. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the walnut mixture and a 1/3 of the currants/choc. chips. Using a rolling pin, gently roll over the rounds to press the filling into the dough.

5. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut each circle into 16 equal triangles. Starting from the wide end, roll up each triangle of dough; place on lined baking sheets, seam side down. Brush rolls with egg wash; dividing evenly, sprinkle with sanding sugar.

6. Bake two sheets, rotating halfway through, until the cookies are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining baking sheet. Rugelach can be kept in an airtight container at room temp for up to 4 days.

Eating them warm with a glass of milk is my favorite, but you come up with your favorite combination and let me know how it turns out. I really want to know -- really I do!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Battle of the raspberry bar

So after being challenged at work by a friend who questions my cooking skills, I had decided that anything I cook and/or bake from here on out would be brought to work and tested by this person. We will refer to them as PW -- and NO, it isn't the Pioneer Woman. So one day, not so long ago, PW requested raspberry bars. OK, so funny enough, I actually had an idea already about conquering the raspberry bar. I thought about trying Martha Stewart's jam bars and then I saw a fantastic recipe posted on Smitten Kitchen, but then as I looked further, I found a recipe posted by somebody and that recipe came from their 94 year old grandmother. I'm sorry, but a recipe from a 94 year old woman has to trump anything anybody else can least that is my opinion. The recipe couldn't have been simpler and the results were fantastic. They had a great caramelized chewiness and the sweet/sour layers w/the oat topping made for a great raspberry bar. I actually had some fresh raspberries on hand, so I chunked them up and threw them into the jam and that made all the difference. I will also be making the other recipes I mentioned and do a comparison to see which raspberry bar prevails. In the meantime, make these, you'll be glad you did!

The recipe is as follows:

1 1/2 cups oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1 12-oz jar raspberry jam or preserves (peach also can be used)

Mix together all dry ingredients. Mix in the melted butter. Press half of the oatmeal mixture into a greased 9 x 13” pan. Spread the jam on top (I stir the jam to make it more spreadable). Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cupcake with Cream Cheese and Lime Frosting

Lemons and limes remind me so much of Summer. They are two of my favorite citrus smells and flavors. I had some limes sitting around and I got the itch to incorporate them into some yummy cupcakes. I went out on a search and found many recipes, but in the end I settled on throwing something together of my own, hoping it would end with a delicious result. My son enjoyed the cupcakes plain and my brother-in-law and two older kids enjoyed them fully dressed in a fantastic cream cheese lime frosting. I took some before frosting and after frosting shots so that you would get a complete picture of the goodness from start to finish. Unfortunately the lighting for the frosted shots was much different than that of the un-frosted shots, so I had to play around in photoshop to try and achieve descent looking pictures. Considering my amateur status as a photographer, I think they turned out okay. I definitely know they could be better. I am especially proud of the Bokeh I captured.

The recipe is as follows:

1 box of vanilla or yellow cake mix (or your favorite homemade cake recipe)
4 limes
1 Cup cream cheese
2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temp
6 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 Cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

1. Bake the cake according the directions on the box. Add the juice and zest of 2 limes and incorporate into the cake batter. Fill the cupcake liners and bake according to box.

2. Cream the 2 sticks of butter in a mixer until smooth. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix on medium speed until just incorporated. Add the milk, vanilla and 2 more coups of powdered sugar and mix 1-2 minutes longer. Add the final 2 cups of powdered sugar and the juice and zest of the last 2 limes and mix until fully incorporated and consistency smooth, sand fluffy.

3. Using an off-set spatula or a piping bag, frost cupcakes once they are completely cooled. Eat immediately and refrigerate the leftovers.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Vanilla Yogurt with Pineapple and Nutella

Sometimes the simplest of ingredients makes the best recipe. After Pat and I worked on our first meal together Grilled Chicken & Veggie kabobs with Island Rice for this Blog, we came up with a fantastic dessert to end the meal. It was cool, refreshing and the right amount of sweetness. It wasn't too heavy and on a scale of 1 to 10 on the "satisfaction" scale, it was a 10 in my humble opinion. Be adventurous and make your own frozen yogurt or even ice cream. With 3 kids running around and a thunderstorm outside, it was not the right time for us to try and pull that off on top of making the meal. Give it a go and share your experience.

The recipe is as follows:


Frozen low fat yogurt (used vanilla)
1 jar Nutella
1 can Pineapple rings
Couple handfuls of sweetened coconut


1. Grill the pineapple rings long enough to warm and create grill marks. Toast the coconut in a dry fry pan until the color just turns light brown. In a bowl, place one pineapple ring. Scoop out and place the yogurt on top of pineapple (enough to make you happy).

2. Remove lid from Nutella and microwave in 30 second intervals until desired consistency is reached. Pour the Nutella over the yogurt (enough to make you happy). Sprinkle some of the toasted coconut on top.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chewy, Chunky Blondies

Dorie Greenspan strikes again! Man does that woman have skills. I made these wonderful Blondies last night to share this evening with friends. The recipe comes from the fabulous 'Baking' cookbook that my foodie pal Pat gave me for my 40th birthday last year. This book is like a portable cooking class right at your fingertips. She gives great tips and tricks of the trade and explains in detail the 'how to' in baking. If you like to bake or want to learn how, this is a great investment. Thank you Pat for this fabulous treasure. I hope you get a chance to make them, and if you do, leave a comment and share your thoughts. You could even get creative and put your own goodies inside. I did use the walnuts and coconut, but I used mini chocolate chips b/c it is what I had on hand. I promise you won't be disappointed and it's a nice alternative to the chocolate brownie if you are looking for something different.

The recipe is as follows:

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 1/2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store-bought chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips or heath toffee bits (I omitted b/c I didn't have any, but that's ok)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and put it on a baking sheet.

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

2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, or until well incorporated. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until they just disappear into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chips, nuts and coconut. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and use the spatula to even the top best as you can.

4. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the blondies comes out clean. The blondies shouldd pull away from the sides of the pan a little and the top should be a nice honey brown. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for about 20 minutes before turning the blondies out onto another rack. (warning, if bottom is still too hot, transfer will not go well) Invert onto a rack and cool the blondies to room temp right side up.

5. Cut into 32 bars, each roughly 2 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches.

Scoop out your favorite ice cream in a bowl on top of a blondie -- Delicious!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Veggie Migas

So it's Monday and time to implement the first night of my 'planned' meals for the week. I've never really been all that good at planning out my meals for the week. I have good intentions, but when the time comes, the feeling usually passes and I would rather eat out. With the help of my foodie pal Pat, I have been getting better and staying committed to my meal plans and not wasting the food sitting in my fridge. Tonight was a take on Rachel Ray's Mighty Migas. I made some slight modifications to the recipe to appeal to our personal tastes -- plus the fact that some of the ingredients I thought I had in the pantry were in fact not in the pantry.

The recipe is as follows:


3 Tbsp of olive oil
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (I omitted the jalapenos)
1 small red or green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 small white or red onion, chopped
Salt and black pepper
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
8 large eggs, beaten
1 cup crushed tortilla chips
1 10 oz sack (2 cups) shredded monterey jack or cheddar cheese
8 6-inch flour tortillas (soft taco size)
1 cup tomato sauce ( subbed 1 can enchilada sauce)
1 to 2 chipotle chilies in adobo, finely chopped (subbed small can chopped chilies)
A handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped


1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Add the jalapenos ( i did not add the jalapenos), bell peppers and onions and season with the salt and pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook a minute more.

2. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper and add to the veggies. Reduce the heat to medium low. Scramble the eggs not quite halfway, so they are still nice and wet. Add the crushed tortilla chips and scramble them in. Cover the eggs with the cheese and turn off the heat. Cover the pan loosely w/foil to melt the cheese and set aside for a minute.

3. Heat a second, dry skillet over high heat. Add the tortillas one at a time and sear for 30 seconds on each side to blister them.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the tomato sauce (I used enchilada sauce) and the chopped chipotle ( I used chopped chilies). Stir in the cilantro.

5. Place a mound of the migas on each flour tortilla and dot with the sauce. Serve immediately, two per person.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Blueberry Lemon Drizzle Cake

Well here I am the eve before a 4 day vacation from work and all I can think about is working in the kitchen. I've been wanting to try a recipe in a new book I just recently purchased, and now seemed like a good a time as any, plus the blueberries I bought were calling out 'Now or never lady', so hence the latest entry of blueberry lemon drizzle cake. This new book was apparently written in the UK because some of the measurements and ingredients were unfamiliar to me. For instance, "scant" or "golden superfine sugar" -- what are those? I am fairly new to the baking world, so these terms were unfamiliar to me. A few phone calls, googling and'ing and I was all caught up. The internet is truly a wonderful tool, oh and so is my foodie partner Pat. I made small modifications to this recipe. I used bread flour instead of self-rising and I had no golden superfine sugar, so I put light brown sugar in the food processor and ta-daa golden superfine sugar. Oh, well you can't really call this a modification, but I added a little extra lemon drizzle because I like that flavor oh so much. The result was really fantastic. The cake was moist and there were blueberries popping out everywhere. Lemon and blueberry always make a good couple. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

The recipe is as follows:

Ingredients -
8 oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
1 cup golden superfine sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour, sifted
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup ground almonds
7 oz fresh blueberries

Topping -
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 c golden superfine sugar

Directions -
1. Grease and line the bottom of an 8-inch square cake pan. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little flour toward the end to prevent curdling. Beat in the lemon zest, then fold in the remaining flour and almonds with enough of the lemon juice to give a good dropping consistency.

2. Fold in 3/4 of the blueberries and turn into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface, then scatter the remaining blueberries on top. Bake in a preheated oven, 350 degrees, for 1 hour, or until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into center comes out clean.

3. To make the topping, place the lemon juice and sugar in a bowl and mix together. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, prick it all over with a fine skewer and pour over the lemon cake. Let cool in the pan until completely cold, then cut into 12 squares to serve.