Wednesday, December 19, 2007

English Toffee

This is my mom's recipe that she has made for years. She makes it every Christmas and gives and it is just a part of my childhood. I love English Toffee because it has that almost burnt flavor and it is crisp and just slightly sticks in your teeth (if you make it right). Candy can be tricky because you have to know about the different stages. Soft ball, hard ball, hard crack, etc. A good definition of all of these stages can be found here. Toffee is cooked to a higher temperature so that it reaches the hard-crack stage. If you don't have a candy thermometer, which I didn't have until this year, you can test your candy by dripping a little of the mixture into a cup of cold water. When it is crunchy it is ready.

My original recipe looks like this
1 pound butter
2 cups sugar
2 Tbls. water

Cook over high heat.
Color of a new penny
Pour in pan.
Melt chocolate, pour over toffee. Nuts.

I think I will give a little more instruction here.

English Toffee

1 pound butter (I use salted)
2 cups granulated sugar
2 Tbls water
1 pound milk chocolate, chopped
1 cup finely chopped almonds (I used roasted salted and my mom always uses smoked)

Line a large rimmed cookie sheet with foil and set aside.

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter over med. low heat. When melted, add the sugar and water. Turn the heat to med. high and stir until sugar dissolves. The mixture will begin to bubble. Continue to stir until it reaches hard crack stage (305F on a candy thermometer). It really is about the color of a new penny.

Immediately remove from heat and our into prepared cookie sheet and spread evenly with a wooden spoon.

In a microwave, melt the chocolate in 30 second increments until it is fully melted. Pour over the toffee mixture and spread to cover evenly. Sprinkle with the chopped almonds.

Let stand until it is completely cooled. Break into pieces.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Homemade Oreos

Now how can you replicate an Oreo? When I was first married we used to buy Oreos and the entire bag would be gone in two days. They have that delicious crunchy chocolate cookie on the outside and the super fattening and sugar filled frosting in the center. I am a twist and lick person myself, but I also love dunking them in an ice cold glass of milk and then you get to drink the milk when you are finished with the little pieces of chocolate cookie floating around. So yummm...

I don't eat Oreos like I used to, but I still love them. This homemade version is a really great recipe. I thought the mixing process was odd for a cookie. You put it together backwards by adding the wet ingredients last and there is no "creaming" of the butter and sugar. This makes for a sandy textured cookie, crisp on the outside, but slightly chewy in the center. The frosting is really good too. Very vanilla tasting. This cookie is definitely hard to resist. A definite winner for a Christmas cookie.

Homemade Oreos
Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies
For the chocolate wafers:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 to 1½ cups sugar*
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg
For the filling:
¼ cup (½ stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Set rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees.
In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, (I used a mixer)thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar.
While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
To assemble the cookies, put the frosting in a large ziploc bag and cut off a 1/2 inch tip from the corner. Pipe about 1 teaspoon of filling onto the bottom side of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.
*These are really good small so be careful about sizing your balls of dough.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Caramel Candy Bars

I have been baking, just nothing new. I have a few favorites that people request which also make great holiday cookies. I came across this recipe because I was looking for a way to use up a 14oz bag of Kraft Caramels that I had in the cupboard. This was easy to make and was very delicious. I didn't use the nuts because not everyone likes nuts and I was sending these off to school with my husband. I was surprised at how well these bars held together because the dough was so crumbly. Nice and rich and overall a great recipe.

Caramel Candy Bars

1 bag (14oz) caramels
1/3 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick cooking or old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts or dry roasted peanuts

Heat oven to 350F. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick spray

Heat caramels and milk in 2 quart saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until smooth

Stir together, flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and egg in large bowl. Stir in butter with fork (I usd my hands) until mixture is crumbly. Press half of the crumbly mix in the pan.

Bake 10 minutes. Remove from the oven sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over the baked layer then drizzle with the melted caramel. Sprinkle with remaining crumbly mixture. Gently pat together. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 30 minutes. Loosen edges from sides of the pan; cool completely.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Giant Ultra Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

When my husband took a bite of these he immediately said, "Mmmm. These-are-so-good," with extreme empahasis on each word. I really think these are his new favorite. Even though chocolate chip cookies are such a basic kind of a cookie, it is still fun to try new recipes because they all come out so different. The special little addition in these is an extra egg yolk. The added fat gives them a great chew and that is how I love my chocolate chip cookies. CHEWY! I used these adorble little striped Christmas white chocolate chips. They were delicious as are chocolate chips I am sure. The butter is melted and so I just whipped the whole thing by hand. No electric appliances necessary. If you love chewy cookies you should really give these a try and they would make a great Christmas treat for friends and neighbors.

Giant Ultra Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 c plus 2 Tablespoons flour, spooned and leveled
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 c butter, melted and cooled to warm
1 c brown sugar
1/2 white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a mixing bowl whisk the melted butter and sugars by hand. About 2 minutes.

Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until it still has some flour streaks. Add the chocolate chips and stir until just incorporated.

Scoop into scant 1/4 cups and bake on prepared baking sheet for 15-17 minutes.

*I only put 4 on a pan at once. They need room to spread. Yields 18 giant cookies.
*Another note: I also like to use salted butter when I make chocolate chip cookies. I think they taste better a little saltier.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Lemon Bars

I love lemon bars. Desserts with citrus in them have the illusion of tasting like a "light" dessert. I think this is finally the lemon bar recipe that I will return to whenever I decide to make them. This is one of those things that I always try a new recipe for, but I have no complaints with how these turned out, except that I ate too many of them.

Lemon Bars


1/2 c butter, room temperature
1/4 c powdered sugar
1 c all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt


1 c sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 c fresh lemon juice (approximately 2 large lemons)
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 Tablespoons flour


Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F and place rack in the center of the oven. Spray an 8x8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

For Crust:

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the flour and salt and beat until the dough just comes together. Press into the bottom of your prepared 8x8 inch pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack while you make the filling.

For Filling:

Beat the sugar and eggs until nice and smooth. Add the lemon juice and zest. Fold in the flour. Pour the filling over the shortbread crust and bake for about 20 minutes, or until filling is set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

To serve: Cut into squares or triangels and dust with powdered sugar.

Incredible Brownies

These brownies were one of the best that I have ever made. They were so rich and very moist and ever so chocolately. I made them awhile ago and I know I haven't posted any baking delights of late, so I will make two posts today. Again, I know everyone has a preference for the "perfect brownie," but I happen to really like these. The cake flour makes them a little lighter and not quite as dense but still moist.


1 c pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 1/4 c cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
12 Tbls butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 1/4 c sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbls vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with foil and let it hang over the edges. (This makes for an easy lift out of the pan and then you can cut the brownies outside of the pan).

Spray foil-lined pan with non-stick cooking spray.

If using nuts, spread nuts evenly on rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven until fragrant, about 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.

Melt chocolate and butter in a alarge heat proof bowl set over a saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring cooasionally until smooth OR place the bowl in the microwave, heat butter and chocolate on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 more seconds. Stir and repeat in 15 second increments until mixture is completely smooth.

Gradually whisk in sugar to the chocolate mixture. Add eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with a rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and incorporated.

Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pand and smooth surface. Sprinkle toasted nuts (if using) evenly over batter and bake until toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, 30-35 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 2 hours, then remove brownies from pan by lifting foil overhang. Cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Yummy Turkey Treat

I found this at familyfun .com. It was so easy to put together and I loved how it turned out and the preschool kids loved it at our Thanksgiving feast.

Bosc pear (head)
Melon (body)
Cheese (beak and tail feathers)
Red pepper (snood, feet and side feathers)
Raisins (eyes)
Grapes (tail feathers)
Mini Marshmellows (Tail feathers)
Bamboo skewers

1. Stabilize the melon body by cutting a shallow slice off the rind to form a flat base. Using a section of bamboo skewer, attach a Bosc pear head to the melon, as shown. 2. Cut a cheese triangle beak and red pepper snood. Attach both, along with raisin eyes, to the head with sections of toothpick. 3. Cut red pepper feet and set them in place. (I used the yellow pepper)For tail feathers, skewer cheese cubes and red grapes, then insert the skewers as shown. Pin pepper side feathers in place with toothpicks. I then topped the skewers with mini marshmellows.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Pumpkin Crumble Bars

Here is my other pumpkin recipe and I'm sure that more will follow. I still haven't made pumpkin bread yet this year and it is one of my husband's favorites. These were de-licious. The filling is moist and custard-like, like a pumpkin pie, but I didn't think they were as spicy as the pumpkin pie that I make. Once again a crumble topping which I love. I think that I mostly love crumble toppings because I get to eat the crumbs that are left behind after I put the treats on a plate to serve. The recipes doesn't call for anything fancy, but the treats definitely look like a little extra effort was made to create them.

Pumpkin Crumble Bars

For the base and the topping:

1 1/2 c quick oats
1 1/4 c flour
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 c butter, room temperature


2 c pumpkin puree (You will need a large can)
2/3 c milk
1/3 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
[or 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice]

Preheat oven to 375F and lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

Combine the ingredients for the base. Beat until crumbly. Reserve 1 1/2 c of the crumb mixture for the topping. Press the remaining mixture into the greased 9x13 baking dish.

Bake at 375F for 10 minutes.

Prepare the filling. Beat ingredients until well blended. Spread over crust; sprinkle with the remaining crumb mixture. Bake for 25 minutes at 375F. Cool and cut into bars.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Pumpkin Cookies

I love making things with pumpkin. Last year I went crazy making things with pumpkin in them. This year I think I will back off a little. It's just that when you buy one of those big cans of pumpkin it can make 2 recipes of something. So I have made pumpkin cookies already and some pumpkin pie crumble bars (that I will post later). After making one recipe I then think, "What else can I make with pumpkin?" Then then cycle begins. I found this recipe to be really good. I've probably tried about 7 pumpkin cookie recipes in my lifetime because I never stick with the same one. I'm always looking for one that is better. This is the latest. I also tried to put in butterscotch chips which were okay. I'm finding that I'm not all that fond of butterscotch chips so I will never put them in again.

Pumpkin Cookies

2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
pinch nutmeg
1/2 c butter
1 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c pumkin puree
1 c chocolate chips
1/2 -1 c nuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whiss flour, powder, soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add the pumpkin and mix well.

Add the flour mixture to the cream mixture then stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Bake at 350F for 12-14 minutes.

*Be careful not to overmix the dough. It will be pretty sticky and they turn out sort of like little cakes. Store in an airtight container so that they do not dry out.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Witch Fingers

I made these to go along with our pasta dinner on Sunday night. I saw Martha Stewart do something like it with pretzel dough, but I wasn't up to venturing into the unknown so I used my pizza crust recipe. They turned out fabulous and even look a little bit gruesome. The almonds make disgusting looking fungus fingernails.
I made my regular pizza crust, but cut off bits of the dough and rolled them into finger shapes. It's pretty easy to shape because what witch has beautifully shaped fingers? You can't really go wrong here. I used kitchen shears to make knuckles and stuck an almond on for the fingernail. I didn't give them a second rise after I shaped them because I wanted them to stay long and skinny. A few turned out a little chubby.
I baked them at 400F for about 14 minutes.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Gingerbread Mummies

I've been baking, just not posting...busy I guess. I have a few things saved up though. These little treats are from my mom's gingerbread cookie recipe. I love this recipe because it is soft and I really love a soft gingerbread cookie and the spices are the perfect combination. You can adjust the amount of ginger to how spicy you want them. And the secret ingredient is vinegar. Seems a little unusual, but it makes them tangy.

I usually decorate these like little gingerbread men all decked out for the holidays, but I haven't baked anything "Halloweenish" yet and so I thought the mummy look was appropriate and also there is no need for a steady hand. I used white chocolate to frost them with which resulted in a super rich treat, needless to say my husband ate about 5 at once and then consumed a 1/2 gallon of milk. You could really use any roll out cookie dough and just decorate them like mummies. Chocolate or sugar cookie would be good too. Even a powdered sugar glaze instead of the white chocolate would make a great combination. I'm all about taking an idea and running with have fun! But you really should try this cookie recipe because it is a winner and a craving of mine this time of year. Forewarning: This is a HUGE batch of cookies. I cut it in half when I made it but the 1 egg is tricky. I just scrambled it a little and poured about 1/2 of it into the batter.

Rolled Gingerbread Cookies
1 c butter
1 c sugar
1 egg
1 c molasses
2 Tbls vinegar
5 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves

White chocolate chips and rasins for decorating.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, molasses, and vinegar. Sift in dry ingredients and mix together well. Chill for 2-3 hours. (I cheated and got away with 1 hour. You just want the dough to hold together as you roll it and they hold their shape better when the dough is cold.)

Roll dough into 1/4" thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Bake on parchment lined baking sheets for 5-6 minutes.

For crisper cookies, roll dough to 1/8" thick and bake until more browned on the edges.
Let cool. Melt white chocolate chips in double boiler or microwave. Put melted chocolate into a plastic baggie with the corner clipped off and drizzle white chocolate onto the cookies. Cut raisins in little pieces and use for eyes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Molasses-And-Buttermilk Gingerbread Squares

I made these for the boy that mows our lawn for us. He does a really good job and as a result receives really yummy trats. Actually, we have a gardener do the front lawn and this nice young friend of ours does the back. We do this because we don't want all of the nutgrass from the front yard to spread the to the back because of using the same mower. And we also don't want to pay a gardner to do both and he receives money, not treats. Apparently these are not the days when we can just trade goods for work.

Well, I must say that this is a really great cake. I know the title says squares, which gives the impression of a bar cookie. But this is a cake. The buttermilk makes it extremely moist and it has the perfect blend of spices. It was easy to whip up and is great served slightly warm.

Molasses-And-Buttermilk Gingerbread Squares

Nonsick vegetable oil spray
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 c mild molasses
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c (1stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c buttermilk
1 large egg

1 Tbls powdered sugar-for dusting

Preheat oven to 325F Spray 8x8x2-inch baking pan (I used 9") with nonstick spray. Sift flour , cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and soda into medium bowl.

In a large bowl, combine molasses, 1/2 c sugar, melted butter, buttermilk, and egg; whisk to blend.

Whisk in dry ingredients. Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake in preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack. Dust with powdered sugar. Cut cake into 16 squares.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Barefoot Contessa's PB&J Bars

I have had this recipe for probably over a year and I have always wanted to try them. Actually I have always wanted to try some of the Barefoot Contessa's recipes, but never have. I love peanut butter. I love peanut butter. I love peanut butter. You get the idea. Sadly I did not get a picture before they were all eaten, so here are a couple of links with pictures. I've noticed that lots of fellow food bloggers have baked them. Je Mange la Ville , Sugar Delirium , Alpineberry
So now you have three pictures to ooze over. My only wish was that I had a incredibly large glass of milk to down these with. They were so rich, not sweet, just rich. I loved the crunch of the peanuts on the top. I used strawberry jam, because we always seem to have an endless supply of it. The jam on the edges got nice and chewy. I love the edges of bar goodies because they bake chewier. Some people prefer the middle, but I'm a corner person myself.

Barefoot Contessa's PB&J Bars

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs, at room temp.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup jam or jelly
2/3 cup peanuts, coarsely chopped (salted or unsalted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9x13x2 inch cake pan with parchment and then butter and flour the parchment and pan.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside dry ingredients.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the peanut butter and mix for another minute. Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until flour is just incorporated.
Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small pieces of the remaining dough over the jam making sure to leave some of the jam exposed. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

While sorting through some old magazines, I came across this recipe from Cottage Living. It looked good and I wanted to make something new and I had all of the ingredients. This was a really great cookie. At first I thought they were going to be dry, but I was careful not to over bake them and they turned out soft. The cookies themselves are not overly sweet which is great because they are sandwiched with frosting. They have just the slightest hint of cinnamon to deepen the flavor and I will certainly make these again.

New Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/4 cups butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups oats, rolled or quick

Preheat oven to 375F.

Beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add egg and vanilla, beating well.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl and whisk together. Add to the butter mixture. Add oats; stir well. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with parchment papre. Bake at 375F for 9-11 minutes. Cool on pan 2 to 3 minutes. Remove cookies from pan and cool on wire racks.

Spread 1 tablespoon cream filling over bottom side of half of the cookies. Top with remaining cookies, right side up.

Cream Filling
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat ingredients together until combined and light and fluffy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Apple Muffins

Another delicious apple recipe...well, it is that time of year. I haven't tasted these yet but they smell delicious and who doesn't love a streusel topping?

Apple Muffins

Streusel Topping:

1/4 c flour
1/4 brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbls firm butter


1 c plus 2 Tbls flour
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/2 milk
5 Tbls butter, melted
1 large apple (such as jonathan, granny smith, golden delicious, red delicious) peeled, cored, and diced

Preheat oven to 400F. Place muffin or cupcake liners in a 12 cup muffin pan or grease the bottoms only of a muffin pan.

For Streusel Topping:

In a medium bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly, using a pastry blender or pulling 2 table knives through the ingredients in opposite directions. Set aside.

For Muffins:

Sift together, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, beat the egg, milk and the melted butter. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the chopped apple. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle each with about 1 Tbls. streusel topping. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 12 muffins.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Caramel Sauce

If I had known making caramel sauce was this easy I would be 5 times heavier. This tasted great with vanilla ice cream served over apple cake. It got reallr firm when it cooled on the ice cream, but was so good to bite into and it stuck in your teeth. You have to work quick and have the ingredients on hand so that they are ready to go.

Caramel Sauce
1 c sugar
6 Tbls butter (I used salted)
1/2 c heavy whipping cream

In a 2 or 3 quart saucepan, heat the sugar on high. It will start to look like it is getting dry and crumbly. Continue to whisk until it is all melted and is amber in color. Be careful, this is really hot.
Add the butter and stir until melted. This will bubble up alot and needs to be stirred briskly. Note:It is necessary to use a 2 or 3 quart saucepan so it will not bubble out of the pan.

Remove from the heat and add the heavy cream. Again, it will bubble. Stir until smooth.

Let cool in the pan for about 15 min. Pour into a glass container and cool to room temperature before refrigerating.

This may be stored for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm before serving.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Apple Cake

I love apple desserts; apple pie, apple crisp, apple cobbler, baked apples, and apple cake. The weather has been turning more fall like and this seemed like the perfect thing to bake. It has been awhile since I have baked with nutmeg because it just seems to go along with fall and winter. When I was little we used to go to Apple Hill in northern California and buy apples and apple sweets and celebrate the fall season. The smell of this apple cake brought back all of those memories and now I am anxiously awaiting for when fall will begin and we get to wear sweaters, jackets, and jeans...what am I talking about? You don't need a sweater in Bakersfield until January.

I don't really know if this is really a cake or more like an apple brownie. The top of it forms a crisp crust and the inside is very moist from all of the apples. The batter is super thick, but as it bakes the juices from the apples are released and creates this incredibly moist cake. It is great served with ice cream and topped with a little homemade caramel sauce.
Apple Cake
2 c sugar
1/2 c oil (I used canola)
2 eggs
4 medium apples, peeled and diced (Granny Smith are best)
2 c flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp soda

Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine the sugar, oil, and egg. Beat until well incorporated. Add the diced apples.
In a medium bowl mis the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and soda. Add to the apple mixture.
Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake for 1 hour. Cool before slicing.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

This is one of the easiest loaves of bread to make and it is so super tasty that you might just eat the entire loaf in one sitting. The bread flour gives it a great chew. I have a hard time making bread entirely out of whole wheat four. I just find it too dense for me. I like a combination of whole wheat and white flours better so that it is a little more fluffy. I made this loaf last week, but I'm making it again today because we are ready for more.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread

1 Tbls active dry yeast
1 c warm water (110F)
1 Tbls butter, melted
3 Tbls honey
1 c bread flour (all purpose is ok)
1 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, stir together the yeast and the warm water. Let it stand ofr 5-10 minutes, until foamy. Stir in the melted butter, honey, and flours. Add a bit more flour at a time if the dough is still sticky. Mine was and I added flour until it could be handled and was slightly sticky. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead into a smooth ball, about 2 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubles, 1-1 1/2 hours.

Remove dough and gently deflate. Grease a loaf pan. Roll dough into a 12 inch by 14 inch rectangle. Roll up dough and pinch seams and turn edges under so that it will fit into the loaf pan.

Cover with a dishtowel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F. Bake for 25 minutes at 4ooF. Let loaf cool before slicing.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Blondies with Toffee Bits and Chocolate Chips

I like bar cookies because I can just put all the dough in one pan and then is goes right into the oven where it is not touched until it comes out resulting in less eating of the dough. Whenever I make cookies I am tempted to eat all of the dough while putting the cookies on the cookie sheet. It goes something like this. A mound for the pan, a mound in my mouth, a mound on the pan, a mound in my mouth.

Blondies are the alter ego of a brownie. They are similar in that they are both bar cookies. I guess that is really it. Blondies don't have any chocolate and taste more like chocolate chip cookie dough without the chocolate chips. These are so good and ultra chewy. I usually prefer a brownie over a blondie, but I am starting to like blondies more and more. I topped these with toffee bits and chocolate chips before baking them just because I had some. The toffee melted all over the top and made them even more deliciously chewy and also very rich. I only tasted a little corner before they were whisked away to a History Club meeting. This is a great basic recipe that you could add anything to: pecans, walnuts, reeses pieces, peanut butter get the idea. Personally, I like them plain with ice cream and a little chocolate syrup.
Blondies with Toffee Bits and Chocolate Chips
1 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1 egg-slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c toffee bits*
1/2 c chocolate chips*
*substitute other mix-ins if desired. Instead of sprinkling, you could mix them into the batter.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine flour, baking powder, soda, and salt, whisk.
Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Add brown sugar and mix well. Cool slightly.
Add egg and vanilla. Blend well. Add flour mixture a little at a time and mix well.
Grease a 9x9x2" pan. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle with toffee bits and chocolate chips.
Bake 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I was talking on the phone to my mom the other day and she asked if I knew of a brownie recipe that required only cocoa and not melting chocolate. I thought it was funny how quickly I knew of a recipe and where she could find it online because I was out shopping and couldn't look for it at home. I guess this really is one of my hobbies. This recipe is the Hershey's Best Brownies recipe that is often found on the back of the cocoa box. I didn't actually use Hershey's cocoa when I made these, but it is a really great recipe. If you don't overbake them, they have the best wet, chewy texture that makes a brownie really great and that slightly crisp top. I like these brownies and they are a great one to serve with ice cream. Of course, everyone has a different view of what the perfect brownie should be, but I think these are great for what they are--easy, chocolatey, and chewy.

Hershey's Best Brownies

1 c butter
2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
3/4 c cocoa
1 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c chopped nuts(optional)-I opted out, so my kids would eat them.

Heat oven to 350F. Grease a 13x9x2 inch baking pan.

Place butter in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave 2 to 2 1/2 min. or until melted. (I usually do it in 30 sec. incremements. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well with spoon after each addition. Add the cocoa; beat until well blended.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt; beat well. Stir in nuts, if desired.

Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 min or until brownies begin to pull away from the sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Makes about 36 brownies.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Whenever Joey asks me to make cookies he is really asking for a snickerdoodle. He never has to say it, but I always know. I love snickerdoodles. My mom was always really good at making them when I was growing up. The cream of tartar gives them this great tangy taste. They are kind of a tricky cookie. Sometimes they turn out just right and other times they are completely flat. I prefer to use all butter. That's when you have to be careful that they don't spread too much. A combination of butter and shortening would help them to not flatten as much, but I love the taste and texture they have when it is just butter. I find that if I chill the dough long enough and make sure that I don't overmix it, they turn out perfectly. I have also discovered this really good Saigon Cinnamon. It is spicier than other cinnamons and makes a basic snickerdoodle over the top.


1 c butter, softened-but not too much
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 c flour
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Combine in a small bowl: 2 T sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon

In a medium bowl combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt and whisk together.

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and mix well.

Stir in the dry ingredients being careful not to overmix the dough. Sometimes mine is even a little crumbly.

Chill the dough for at least 1 hour.

Roll into 1" balls and roll in the suagr/cinnamon mixture.

Bake on parchment lined baking sheets at 375F for 8-10 min.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

World Peace Cookies

I don't know what to say about these cookies except that they are probably the best cookie I have ever eaten. They are not your typical chewy, crispy, or cakey cookie. They are a sable which is a French cookie and the name means sandy. They are crumbly, yet chewy at the same time and you slice and bake them. This gives them that uniform quality. The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan and I am dying to get her new cookbook Baking: From My Home to Yours. These cookies are also known as Korova Cookies. My sister was visiting this weekend and we decided to try the recipe out.

The recipe calls for a salt called fleur de sel, which is supposedly expensive and I have no clue where you would buy it in Bakersfield. Next time I will have to find it online. I hear the recipe is also that much better if you use dutch processed cocoa powder, but I also could not find that. This cookie is all about the ingredients. Use real vanilla extract (I used an awesome Mexican vanilla), a good quality cocoa powder, fine sea salt (if you can't get fleur de sel), great tasting bittersweet chocolate, and a nice tasting butter. I wouldn't bother trying these cookies without great ingredients. When I tasted them they actually tasted expensive--I don't know if you get what I mean. So now I have joined the numbers of people who are also in love with these cookies.
World Peace/Korova Cookies
1 1/4 cups all purpose Flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or dutch processed
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 Tbls) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp fleur de sel or 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits
Makes about 36 cookies.
In a small bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together.
In a large bowl, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt, and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
Pour the flour into the the creamed mixture and stir very slowly. At this point it is importnat to just get it combined. The dough will be dry and maybe a little crumbly--for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible. Add the chocolate pieces and stir in just until incorporated.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one have at a time, gently shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen up to 2 months.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Working with a sharp knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. ( The rounds are likely to crack as you are cutting them--don't worry, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them. They don't spread much.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes. It was the perfect time in my oven. Let them cool for a few minutes on the sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool. They will be really delicate until they are cooled.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Folsom Brambleberry Pie

Found 'em.

Picked 'em.

Baked 'em.

In a tiny little kitchen nestled in the rolling hills of Folsom, California, the now famous Anniebannie had her first lessons in the art of baking. She watched and learned as her mother masterfully concocted batch after batch of cookies, pies and other delectable delights. If you think Anniebannie is good, wait till you try my Folsom Brambleberry Pie!

Brambleberry Pie

Any berry that grows on thorny canes or trailing vines, called brambles, is considered a brambleberry (raspberries and blackberries are two examples). Mix berries with some sugar and a bit of thickener, and you have a deliciously simple pie.

Pie Crust:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup butter or margarine
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 cup cold water
1 tbsp. vinegar

Cut butter into flour and salt until crumbly. Whisk together egg, water and vinegar. Slowly add to flour and butter mixture with a fork until just combined. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for 10 minutes.

Berry Filling:

5 cups blackberries, raspberries or other brambleberries
1/4 cup flour
About 1/4 cup granulated sugar (Add to taste)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp. quick cooking tapioca
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt\
1 tbsp. butter

1. Put oven rack on the lowest rung and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly dust your counter and rolling pin with flour. Using half the dough gently role into 12 inch circle continually flouring rolling pin (1/8 in. thick). Transfer dough to 9-in pie pan, letting dough fall into place. Trim over hang to 1/2 inch, refrigerate.
2. Put berries in a large bowl. Sprinkle with four, granulated sugar, brown sugar, tapioca, lemon juice, and salt. Stir gently until berries are well coated. Taste and add more granulated sugar if you like.
3. Pour berry mixture into chilled bottom crust and dot with butter. With remaining dough roll out top crust and lay over pie and trim even with bottom crust. Fold top crust over bottom crust and tuck under rim of pan. Crimp edges together. Cut several vents in top crust and sprinkle with sugar. Put pie on a foil lined baking sheet to save your oven from bubbling berries. Bake until crust is browned and filling is bubbling, 60 to 75 minutes. (cover edges with foil if they become too dark before middle of top is nicely browned.)
4. Let pie cool until bottom of pie pan reaches room temperature, at least 3 hours. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if you like. Enjoy!

posted by anniebannie's mom

Friday, August 3, 2007

Chewy "Aloha" Coconut Cookies

After a wonderful trip to Hawaii, I have decided to make some coconut cookies. These were delicious. They are buttery, crispy, and chewy, which is my favorite kind of cookie. The dough base is similar to that of a chocolate chip cookie. They would be great with chocolate chips or nuts added to them as well...if only I had had some macadamia nuts. I always love a super simple cookie recipe with on-hand ingredients that have amazing results. These are them!

Chewy "Aloha" Coconut Cookies

1 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 c sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add the flour mixture, then mix in the coconut.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets (ungreased if not using parchment paper). They should be about 3 inches apart.
Bake for 8-10 minuntes in the preheated oven, or until lightly toasted. Cool on wire racks.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

This cake looks richer than it actually tasted. It was very good and perfect for a Fourth of July celebration. It requires no baking, one of those semi-homemade tricks, which is a major plus for the summertime. It went together fast, the ingredients are simple, and when it was all done it had a certain "wow" factor about it. I impressed people with something that required absolutely no effort. You could really use any sort of sauces that you want and fill it with any type of candy. This is how I made it this time, but I'm sure I will try it other ways too.

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

about 20 ice cream sandwiches
1 20oz container Cool Whip
1/2 jar caramel topping
chocolate sauce
2 Butterfinger Bars-crushed

Layer the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with 10 ice cream sandwiches and cut any to fit. Layer about 1/2 jar of caramel sauce over the sandwiches. Layer 1/2 the container of Cool Whip. Sprinkle one crushed Butterfinger on the Cool Whip. Layer more ice cream sandwiches to fit. Cover them with the chocolate sauce. Layer the rest of the Cool Whip. Top with the other crushed Butterfinger Bar. You can top with additional sauce if you would like. Cover and freeze until firm.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Raspberry Breakfast Granola Bake

When I first read this recipe it was pictureless and I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out. I thought it was a great recipe. Everything bakes together to make a solid and chewy dish. It's not too sweet because you can top it with maple syrup or honey. I served it plain and received rave reviews at a big picnic breakfast on the 4th of July. It went together in a cinch. It would also be good with bluberries or a mix of berries.

Raspberry Granola Breakfast Bake

1 egg
1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c milk
1 Tbls melted butter
1 c fresh raspberries (or frozen, thawed)
3 c granola
maple syrup or honey for topping

Preheat oven to 350F and spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick spray.

Beat egg, sugar, milk, and melted butter. Stir in the raspberries and granola. Pour into dish and bake for 45-60 min until set (Mine took about 50 min).

Serve slightly warm topped with honey or maple syrup.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

Another great winner of a cookie recipe. These are ultra chewy, which I LOVE! The honey adds such a great flavor. I didn't have any regular honey, but I had honey with orange oil in it. It the gave the cookies the yummiest orange flavor. I'm sure they would be great with regular honey as well, because that is what the recipe calls for. Make these cookies...they are sooo good.

Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

1 1/4 c flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 c softened butter
1 c light brown sugar
1/4 c honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3c old fashioned oats
1 c dried cherries (I'm sure rasins, craisins, dried blueberries, etc. would be great alternatives)
(I also added 3/4c white chocolate chunks because I had some leftover)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bow, cream butter, honey, and brown sugar until fluffy.

Add the eggs and vanilla and combine.

Gradually add the flour mixture. Stir in oats and cherries. (and any other add-ins that you choose)

Drop 1 tablespoon of dough at at time, 2 inches apart, on baking sheet. Bake 9-11 min. Cool on wire racks.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Basic Focaccia Bread

This bread was really easy to make and it is a basic recipe that you can really do anything to. I added my own topping of garlic and parmesean cheese. It had a nice texture, soft and a little chewy. I didn't think it was very salty, so you may want to add more, depending on what kind of topping you like on your focaccia. The parmesean added more salt to my bread and it was delicious dipped in marinara sauce. I thought the recipe was a little odd because at first you make a stiff dough that you add more water to until it softens and all the flour is dissolved. In the end, I probably added an additional 1/3 c water. This recipe really calls for eyeballing it.

Basic Foccacia Bread

1 tsp white sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
1/3 c warm water (110F)
2 c all purpose flour
2 Tbls olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

In a small bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 min.
In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with flour and salt; stir well to combine. Stir in additional water 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the flour is absorbed.. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly, for about 1 min.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 475F

Deflate the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Let it rest for 10 min for easier shaping.

Pat or roll the dough onto a lightly oiled baking sheet to desired shape and thickness. Poke the dough with fingers to make indentations in the bread. Brush the dough with olive oil and add desired toppings.

Bake in oven for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on desired crispness.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

With summer here it is most definitely ice cream season. Especially since we have already had some 100 degree days. Yikes! This recipe is so good, but be patient when making a custard based ice cream. Eventually it will be ready. The trick is tempering the eggs so that they do not curdle. A few weeks ago I was impatient and not paying attention and, oops, I had srambled eggs. This recipe tastes like strawberry cheesecake, but it's ice cream. I had this brilliant idea of putting the soft ice cream in a graham cracker crust to make an ice cream cheesecake pie. I didn't do it, but doesn't it sound so good?

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

from joyof

2 c half and half

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

4 oz cream cheese, room temperature

3 lrg egg yolks

2/3 c sugar

2/3 c strawberry puree (recipe below)

1 c fresh strawberries, chopped

Scald half and half over medium high heat in a saucepan. This means to heat the half and half until it is just bubbling a little on the edges. DO NOT let it boil.

Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, egg yolks, and sugar until light and fluffy. It should be about the color of butter and takes about 2-4 min if done briskly by hand.

Gradually pour 1/4 c at a time, the scalded mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk constantly so that the eggs do not curdle. Once the two mixtures have been mixed together, pour back into the sauce pan and cook at medium low. Stir it constantly with a wooden spoon. The mixture should start to thicken and will take about 15 min. Be patient. If you use an instant read thermometer it should read 170F. They way to describe the thickness is that it will coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Not done yet...


Immediately remove from heat still stirring until it cools slightly.

Add the vanilla and strawberry puree. Cover and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

Stir in 1 c strawberries at the end of the freezing. Pour into a container and cover and freeze until firm. This really allows the flavors to develop and make it scoopable.

Strawberry Sauce

This is a really simple sauce and only takes a few minutes. Extra sauce tastes great on pancakes, in plain yogurt, on top of cake...whatever you can think of.

1 - 20 ounce bag (570 grams) of frozen unsweetened strawberries or 20 ounces of fresh strawberries
1/4 - 1/3 cup (50 - 65 grams) granulated white sugar, or to taste
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, optional

If using frozen berries (like I did) let thaw completely. This will take a few hours. In a food processor, pulse the strawberries until smooth. Pour into a bowl and add the sugar. Start with a smaller amount and add more if necessary. This will make about 1 1/4 cups of the sauce.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Zambian Chocolate Chip Cookies

O.k., they're not really Zambian, but since I'm here in Africa, they can be! I actually carried all of the ingredients over here with me because chocolate chips are no where to be found here. This is a new favorite though. I think they baked better here than in my own oven at our apartment!

Here's the recipe, complete with metric measurements for all those Zambian bakers! :-)

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (120 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick) (115 grams) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch (1cm) pieces

1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (200 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup(130 grams) walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped
Adjust the oven rack to the top 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 300F (150C). Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat the sugars and butters together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda. Stir together the flour and salt, then mix them into the batter. Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon (5cm) balls and place 8 balls, spaced 4 inches (10cm) apart, on each of the baking sheets.

Bake for 18 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Make about 20 cookies.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

White Chocolate Chip Craisin Cookies

My sister discovered this recipe last Christmas and it has become one of my favorites. I have never been much of a white chocolate fan. I guess I am a dark chocolate snob, but after making these cookies I have completely change my ways and I now love white chocolate. It just hast to be paired with the right ingredients. It goes so well with the pecans and the craisins in these cookies. Instead of white chocolate chips I used a Ghiradelli white chocolate bar chopped up. Something about a large chocolate bar looks pretty to me...I must be weird. This is a great recipe that I encourage you to try.

White Chocolate Chip Craisin Cookies

3 c flour
1 tsp soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 c unsalted butter
1 c brown sugar
3/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbls vanilla
1c crasins
1 1/2 c white chocolate chips
1 c pecans, chopped (You could substitute another kind)

Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Slowly add the flour mixtures to the cream mixture. Stir until almost incorporated. Add the crasins, white chocolate, and pecans. Mix until everything is just together.

Roll into heaping spoonfuls and bake at 350F. The time varies. I made heaping tablespoonfuls and baked for 11 min. The recipe calls for huge cookies that you bake for 15 min. So you may want to watch the first batch, depending on how large you make them.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

This recipe was tough to come up with, but I think this is the closest I could get to how we make it. We've made it a lot and it had always turned out slightly different until we finally starting paying attention to how much of each ingredient we were putting in. This is one of my favorite sauces and it can be used in different ways. It makes a great lasagna or any baked pasta dish. It is a little time consuming, but you could always make extra and freeze it. I've done that before and it keeps really well and then throwing together lasagna is easy. We chop the ingredients in a food processor to make them really small, almost a puree, but you could certainly make a more rustic dish by chopping the vegetables a little more chunky. We've also experimented this way and it is also great. The vegetables are what give this sauce its flavor and make it one of our favorites.

Bolognese Sauce

1 large white onion
3 carrots
3 celery stalks
1 lb ground beef
3 cans tomato sauce with no herbs added
3-4 Tbls olive oil
3 Tbls Heavy Whipping Cream
Salt to taste
Freshly grated parmesean
1 lb pasta
In a large saucepan pour about 3 tablespoons olive oil.

In a food processor, or with a food chopper (or more labor intensive with a knife) finely chop the onion, then the carrots, then the celery. They should be very small.

Heat the pan to medium heat and cook the vegetables in the oil to soften. When they become soft and transluscent, add the ground beef and crumble it as you put it in. The meat and vegetables should cook together, add more oil of necessary. Salt the mixture and continue to cook until the meat is cooked through. Don't get the heat too high.

Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 45 min.

Stir in the heavy cream. The sauce will turn orange in color. Salt to taste.

Serve warm over pasta and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese. A really good parmesean will add saltiness to the dish, so don't put too much in the sauce.

Note: Good types of pasta for this dish are fettucine, penne, farfalle(bow ties), and rigatoni.
Another Note: I may have to make changes after my husband reads this:)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Very Yummy Guacamole

I absolutely love guacamole and there are always an abundance of deliciously ripe avacados in Bakersfield. I have found a recipe that I love and makes the best quacamole. It's simple and you can spice it up as much as you want. Be careful when dicing the serrano chiles. You may want to put plastic baggies over your hands and DON'T touch your eyes. I like guacamole that is a little chunky so I try not to mash too much.

When trying to find a ripe avacado, choose one that has a little give, but not so much that it mushes. It should be firm, but you can press your finger in and the indentation will stay.

Very Yummy Guacamole
adapted from Simply Recipes

2 ripe avocados
½ red onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1-2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh lime or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
A dash of freshly grated black pepper
1/2 ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped
Cut avacados in half and remove pit. Scoop out flesh with a spoon and place in a bowl.

Using a fork, mash the avocado. Add the chopped onion, cilantro, lime or lemon, salt, garlic powder, and pepper and mash some more. Add the chiles. They vary in hotness so start with a small amount and add to that after tasting. Keep the tomatoes separate until ready to serve.
Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent oxidation from the air reaching it. Refrigerate until ready.
Just before serving, add the chopped tomato to the guacamole and mix.
Serves 2-4.

Note: This recipe is just a guideline, really you should just do everything to taste. This is how I like it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Butter Cake

I made this recipe awhile ago, but I've been out of town and not baking. This made a killer strawberry shortcake. It was moist and just dense enough. The recipe would actually make two 9" round cakes or one 9x13" cake, but it was for a small dinner party. I halved the recipe and made one 9" round cake. It is so easy and incredibly delicious and you could do so much with it. I will absolutely make this again.

Butter Cake (From Land-O-Lakes)
3 c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 c sugar
1 c butter, softened
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 c milk

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl and set aside.

Beat sugar and 1 c butter in large bowl at medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally, until creamy. Add eggs, two at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 2 tsp vanilla. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture alternately with 1 c milk; beating well after each addition. (End with the flour)

Pour batter into greased 9x13" baking pan. Bake 45-55 min or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely

Note: A 9" cake will bake for 29-34 min. Make sure to grease and flour the 9" round pans or grease and line with parchment. This way they won't stick when you take them out of the pan.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cranberry Orange (Almond) Cookies

Another fabulous cookie recipe. I actually think these would be a great flavor at Christmas time. (A little hard to think about Christmas when it is only May). The orange zest adds just the right amount of orange flavoring. They are nice and buttery and just a little crumbly. The almonds were my own addition to the recipe because I have a friend who gave me a bunch. The toasted flavor gets spread throughout the cookie and because they are ground so finely, you are never actually biting into a nut but the flavor is there. You could also leave them out, but I think it was a succesful experiment and will definitely be making these again.

Cranberry Orange (Almond) Cookies

2c flour
1 1/2 tsp powder
1/4 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c butter
1 c sugar
1 egg
zest of one orange (1Tbls)
3/4 c toasted ground almonds (optional)
3/4 c dried cranberries

Toast 3/4 c whole almonds in the oven at 400F for 5 min. Toss then put them back in the oven for another 5 min. This enhances the flavor of the nuts. Let cool and then grind nuts into a powder in a food processor. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and orange zest. Gradually add the flour mix and the almonds. Stir until just incorporated. Stir in the cranberries. Drop dough into rounded tablespoonfuls on baking sheet and then flatten tops. Bake for 9-12 min. until edges are golden brown.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Caribbean Lime Coolers

I have been eyeing this recipe for some time and I just wanted to try it. I love lime in cookies. It adds this yummy zing that makes me want to keep eating them. Betty Crocker makes these premade cookie mixes in bags. I like to do things all from sratch, but when I just dumped all of the ingredients together and mixed I thought, "Wow, this was so easy and I only have to clean up one bowl. No measuring cups or anything!" Anyway, Betty Crocker holds a recipe contest using these cookie mixes and this recipe was one of their finalists. I love the Betty Crocker website because they have all of these great ways to use their cakes and cookie mixes to make something that looks and tastes original.

Caribbean Lime Coolers

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5oz) Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
1/2 c coconut (I used sweetened)
1 Tbls grated lime peel
3 Tbl lime juice, about 3 limes
6 Tbls butter, melted
1 egg
1/4 c powdered sugar

Heat oven to 250F. In a large bowl, stir cookie mix, coconut, lime peel, lime juice, butter, and egg until soft dough forms.
Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 9-13 min or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely, about 15 min.
With small strainer, sift powdered sugar over cooled cookies. (I left this step out. I wasn't in the mood to make another mess.)

Banana Cake

Am I the only one who always has tons of rotten bananas laying around? In an effort to get out of the banana bread rut (not that it is a bad thing) I looked for something new. Ok, so this cake was so good! I only got to taste a little bite, but I definitely wanted more. It is very moist and tastes like banana bread, but it is a cake. The recipe was accompanied with a cream cheese frosting recipe, but I left it off. I think it is delicious all on its own, but if you love frosting, go for it! I thought the low cooking time was strange and I had to leave it in a smidge longer than an hour, but it baked perfectly. I would suggest checking on the cake at the end so that you don't overbake it. It would ruin the moist texture. Joey took this cake to one of the zero period classes at the high school. They loved it and devoured it quickly.

Banana Cake

3/4 c butter, softened
2 1/8 c sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c buttermilk*
2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 c mashed bananas

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 c butter, softened
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 275F. Grease and flour a 9x13" baking pan. In a small bowl, mix mashed bananas and lemon juice, set aside. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. (Flour, milk, flour, milk, flour-end with the flour) Stir in banana mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

*If you do not have buttermilk here is a substitute. For each cup of milk called for, pour 1 Tbls vinegar into measuring cup and then fill to desired measure. This recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, so in a measuring cup first put in 1 1/2 Tbl of vinegar and then fill with milk to the 1 1/2 c line.

For the frosting: In a large bowl, cream 1/2 c butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1 tsp vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat on low spead until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth. Spread on cooled cake.