Monday, December 31, 2007

Tis' the Season for Exhaustion

It is now New Years Eve, and thank God for that because holidays that last this long are a bit too much. The non-stop eating and the very late nights have lead to Josh and I being lethargic and bordering on the grumpy side. I think it is because we are out of routine and we haven't eaten enough veggies!

So tonight we will have some yummy food with dear friends and ring in another new year. After that, I hope to stop baking and start cooking up a storm from my dear Rachael Ray who never fails to have easy recipes that are perfect for after work.

My postings have been non existent and I do apologize. I had a very successful baking Christmas with only one eggnog fudge flop. I think everything else turned out really well and I found a new favorite or two which I promise to share. Maybe my New Years Day will be quiet enough to get this done.

I did receive a gluttony of cookbooks for Christmas this year - three Paula Deen's, a Nigella Lawson, a Dorie Greenspan and a Jamie Oliver. Very excited about them all.

Happy New Year, happy new recipes.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cheaters Eggnog Bundt Cake

Free Image Hosting at <a href=We had a whirlwind weekend of Christmas activities to usher in my favorite holiday. I don't think I could have fit more events into two days if I tried.

Friday we picked out our Christmas tree in possibly the coldest weather we have had yet. Matthew put his arms around each frozen pillar of tree and helped Amanda and I pick based on the girth, not the shape, of the White & Nova Scotia Pines. It was definitely a gamble and at $65 - yes, I did pay that for a Christmas tree - I was hoping it would be beautiful. Turns out, the girth trick did work because my tree is 6 feet of perfectly spaced branches laden with my 1950's glass ornament collection. I am in love with this tree.

Saturday night we decorated my parents tree and we had a full house to do it. My sister brought over her new pup and my mom's dog was there as well. Organized chaos! It was for this night of festive fun that I decided to bring the dessert.

Eggnog was a must ingredient but other than that, I had no idea. It was on one of my favorite sites Taste of Home that two lovely ladies came to my aid with a quick and easy cake. I will admit that the central ingredient is a box vanilla cake mix and I am very sorry to disappoint any baking purists, but the results were well worth the shortcut.

This cake, when warm and first glazed, reminded me of an eggnog Krispy Kreme donut, but once it cooled off, the trademark heavier bundt cake texture came through. The flavors are fantastic and I have nothing to add to this recipe. Just glaze it once when it has come out of the oven and then drizzle glaze over it again when it has cooled.

Eggnog Bundt Cake
Ingredients - Cake:
4 Tablespoons butter or margarine
1 packaged yellow cake mix
1 1/2 cups commercially prepared eggnog
2 eggs
1 teaspoon rum extract
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Ingredients - Glaze:
2c. powdered sugar
2T. melted butter
3T. eggnog
1t. vanilla

Directions - Cake:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cake mix, eggnog, eggs, rum extract, nutmeg and melted butter on low speed for 30 seconds or just til moistened. Beat on medium for 2 minutes or until smooth. Pour into greased bundt pan.
Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.
Brush with half of the eggnog glaze.
Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Drizzle with remaining glaze.

Directions - Glaze:
Combine the glaze ingredients in a bowl, whisk well. Add more eggnog if needed for a consistency that will drizzle from a spoon.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pass The Rumballs!

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usRumballs are one of my favorite Christmas treats. I could eat a dozen in no time. Maybe I like them, not only for their taste, but for the fond memories I have of my Grandma when I make them.

It was at her house that I first learned how to mix the ingredients and shape the balls so they were all even. Grandma does not think that rumballs made with graham crackers are even remotely the real deal so I have come to learn that the extra expense for the Nilla wafers is worth the end result. While Grandma still bakes each Christmas, the rumballs have fallen to me and I make far too many each year. I think we were still eating them in February last holiday.

That's not to say I won't make just as many this year, but I will not keep them hidden. We were all so afraid of running out that I tried to ration us. And I guess a bit too much. This year, let the rumballs - made with Nilla wafers - flow.

There isn't too much to say about the recipe. I find that the rum and corn syrup amounts are not completely accurate and you have to adjust as you go. The dough should be not too wet - too much rum - and not too sticky - too much corn syrup. So whisk in the rum and corn syrup mixture and use your hands to knead it in. If it is not making balls that easily roll together, you need more liquid. Dry rumballs are terrible, plus the powdered sugar coating will absorb some of the moisture so err on the side of sticky rather than just barely holding together.

Also, the ingredients need to be really finely ground so use a food processor. Grind the nuts until they are wet and sticking together. This will really help the balls form.I store mine in an airtight - do not use cheap Christmas tins for this - container so that they age but do not dry out in any way. Be prepared when you open the lid, they will smell really strong after a few weeks.

I made three batches the other night and that is tons. Hope someone eats them. What am I saying? They will be gone before I know it!

Grandma's Bourbon Walnut Balls
Makes 36
2 1/2c. finely ground vanilla wafer crumbs
1c. finely ground pecans or walnuts
3 T. Cocoa powder
1c. powdered sugar
1/2c. bourbon or rum
3T. corn syrup
Confectioners sugar to roll the balls in

Mix the first 4 ingredients in a bowl.
Whisk the corn syrup and rum or bourbon together. Pour into the dry ingredients.
Mix with your hand until sticky but solid walnut size balls form. Add more of the wet ingredients if needed, starting with more corn syrup.
Roll balls into powdered sugar and store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Make Ahead Dinner

With all the Christmas entertaining coming up, I wanted to put some dinners in the freezer that I could pull out at a moments notice, heat and serve. These stuffed shells are so simple and I spent last night building two foil baking pans full.
The easiest way to serve them is with a big salad and crusty garlic bread but I am going to serve them on the weekend as a side dish with an italian chicken parmesan or veal parmesan and a salad.
There really isn't much to say about the recipe. I eyeballed the amounts more or less and you can do the same. Just make sure that the mixture is stiff so that it doesn't leak out of the shells.
The big trick is not to overcook the pasta. Cook them until they are too firm to eat and not too soggy - about 7 minutes.
I used the pre-shredded Italian blend Kraft cheese but a mixture of parmesan and mozzarella or just mozzarella will work really well. I also used canned spaghetti sauce to make it quick and easy.

Ricotta Spinach Stuffed Shells
Makes 24 shells
1 box jumbo pasta shells
3c. ricotta cheese
1c. drained, chopped spinach
2c. grated cheese
1 egg
2c. tomato sauce

Cook pasta shells in boiling water until not quite al dente. Discard any broken shells.
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In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, egg and 1c. cheese.
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Spoon 1c. sauce into the bottom of the baking dish.
Scoop filling into the shells so that they are full but not overflowing. Place open side up in the baking dish.
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Spoon remaining sauce over the shells and then sprinkle with remaining cheese.
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Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Or wrap pan in foil and freeze for up to one month.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fruitcake for the Fruitcake Haters

Free Image Hosting at <a href= What is there to say about fruitcake really? Most people despise it, and for good reason. I will agree that fruitcake, on average, is a dry, dense brick with nothing for flavour but the sickly sweet afternotes of old candied fruit. Sounds appetizing doesn't it? It certainly doesn't look appetizing. Have you ever seen fruitcake in a store? Nothing is as unappealing as that.

I will admit to buying store fruitcake last year. The recipe was a new one and I will never use it again, by the way. Fruitcake Rumballs promised to be delicious and I believed the catchy descriptions. I crumbled the storebought cake into the food processor with cocoa and rum and tried to make a dough that I could roll. Bottom line, the balls were lumpy and wet and the only one who ate them was my mom, I think out of obligation. For future, I will stick to my tried and true rumballs and leave the store's fruitcake to the Boxing Day bargain shoppers.

So after my fruitcake issues, you might wonder why I am posting a fruitcake recipe. I hate fruitcake like the next person but this recipe from my Canadian Living Christmas cookbook is a wonderful cake. The book claims it will win over all fruitcake haters and they were right. Except for the few in my family who refuse to eat glazed fruit no matter what, I managed to pawn off many slices and people came back for seconds.

The trick to this recipe is the dough that binds it together. There is more of it than most fruitcakes I have made and it is not cloyingly sweet, nor is it molasses bitter and dark. The orange and almond flavor is prevelant and the cake is delicious. I use more raisins and nuts than fruit to make sure my family will eat it. I would highly recommend you give this one a try in the coming weeks. Just make sure you leave a good 3 weeks for it to mellow before serving.

A couple notes since I made it on the weekend...
I used the full amount of nuts and raisins and only 6 cups total of fruit - mixed candied and mixed peel. If you are using whole fruits like the recipe calls for, then use the full amounts. If you are using the tiny diced mixed fruits you can use alot less and should or else there will not be enough batter to go around.
Use metal loaf pans if possible. The glass ones that I used took a lot longer to cook, 3.5hrs, and I found that the cake does not cook as evenly.
Let the cakes cool for as long as possible before removing them from the pans. They should be completely cool, otherwise the cake starts to have small cracks.
Once the cakes are on a board and out of the pans, brush all the surfaces with rum or orange juice or a combination of both.
I stored mine wrapped in plastic wrap and two layers of tinfoil. After a few weeks, brush them with your choice of liquid again.

Give this recipe a shot, it might surprise you.

Light Orange Almond Fruitcake
Canadian Living Christmas Cookbook
3 cups mixed candied fruits
2 cups golden raisins
3/4 cups candied green cherries cut in half
3/4 cups candied red cherries cut in half
1 1/2 cup chopped candied pineapples
1 1/2 cup coarsly chopped blanched almonds
1 cup candied lemon & lime peels
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbsp coarsly grated orange rind
1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange liqueur or orange juice

Grease and flour two 9x5 in. loaf pans; Set aside.
In large bowl, combine the fist seven ingredients; toss with 1/2 cup of the flour. Set aside.
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Mix remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, orange rind and almond or vanilla extract, beating well.
Add flour mixture alternately with orange liqueur or juice. (Three additions of dry, two addition of wet) Mixing just until flour is incorporated. Fold in fruit mixture. The batter will be very thick.
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Pour into prepared pans, smoothing tops. Place a shallow pan half filled with boiling water on bottom rack of oven. Bake cakes on center rack in a 250 (yes, 250) degree oven for 2 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserter into center comes out clean. (This make take as long as 3 hours.) Cover loosely with foil if cakes start to crack. Let cool completely in pans.
If you wish, wrap in two thicknesses of cheese cloth soaked in brandy and in some aluminun foil until ready to eat.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Simple Applesauce Cake

Free Image Hosting at <a href= My fridge turns into an abyss for half used jars of food. I don't know how it happens but eventually I will clean out the fridge and find the tomato sauce I had had so many plans for, or the capers (who uses capers?) that would have been perfect if only I had known where they were.
So that is how this half full jar of applesauce came to be. I needed part of it for the Caramel Apple Cake I made the other day and then stuffed the jar into the fridge and forgot about it. Now, a week later, I need to use it up and I don't have a single applesauce cake recipe. Enter Martha Stewart and her wealth of recipes on the website. A quick search led me to this cake which I am now in love with.
The cake is very simple with subtle flavors. I like it because you can pick up a slice and snack on it, or top it with icecream (we used Chapman's Eggnog icecream) and serve it warm as a delicious dessert. I put the whole cake together in minutes and, what I love best, all the ingredients are staples in my pantry.
I upped the spice and omitted the cardamom in the original recipe, adding allspice instead. Other than that, I did nothing to it. Simple, quick and delicious!

Applesauce Cake
Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine
3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 cups applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and honey until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture; beat just until combined. Beat in applesauce.
Generously coat a nonstick 9-inch tube pan with cooking spray. Spoon batter into pan; smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (but slightly wet), 50 to 60 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Turn out of pan onto a cutting board or baking sheet; invert cake onto rack, top side up. Cool completely.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Christmas Already!

As you can see from the picture on the left, Christmas is now upon us. Or at least that is what the catalogs and department stores would have you think. In reality, they have been eagerly hoisting the holiday on us since October 15th. What exactly is so appealing about an artificial tree and light strung garland stuck in amongst jack o' lanterns and witches garb? Seems like such an odd juxtaposition.
Nevertheless, Christmas is now an almost three month holiday. My LL Bean catalog came in October, christmas Cd's emerged in Costco shortly after. I have even begun to Christmas shop, and did much of it on the Thanksgiving weekend. Why? Because sales are aplenty in the fall and stores love early shoppers. They know that even though you break the bank in November and swear you are done, you will be back the last week of December for that "one extra thing". It's a gold mine.
To sum up this little diatribe, I do love Christmas and all it offers. I will begin my Christmas baking this weekend and won't stop until the third week of December. So here is to weeks and weeks of yummy smells and new, hopefully successful, recipes.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Baking With Rachael Ray

Free Image Hosting at <a href=Can Rachael Ray bake? My guess is no. Well, at least not well enough to make the cake featured in her November 2007 magazine. She must have realized that all good magazines need a dessert recipe, or two, and hired a pastry chef to fill this gap.
At any rate, I had to try the cake for my Dad's birthday because a chocolate fan he is not. Caramel on the other hand, is a favorite and this cake looked like it would fill the bill. I love the idea of fruit fillings instead of even more icing.
So the cake was easy to make and tasted delicious. Hard to slice, I found, but I think a serrated knife would have worked so much better, as the cake is delicate and the apple slices need to be cut through as well.
A few quick tips for the cake-
I used the Pam Baking spray again, and again I was pleasantly surprised. The cakes fell right out of the pans, no crumbling issues at all.
The tops of the cakes are a tad wet looking. If you try and get rid of that look, you will burn the rest of the cake. Don't rest the cake upside down to cool because the wet spot will stick to the board and not let go.
Freeze the cakes for a half hour or so before frosting so the wet spot firms up and doesn't stick to the icing knife.
To ice it, run a two inch strip of frosting around the top edge of the bottom layer and then pile the apples in the middle to avoid leakage.
I used about 4 cups of icing sugar in the frosting but I also used more caramel sauce. The frosting is definitely a preference thing and it firms up really well in the fridge so don't worry about making it too thin to get the desired flavor.

Caramel Apple Layer Cake
Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine

2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 sticks (1 pound) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 crisp apples (about 1 pound), such as gala, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup store-bought caramel sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°.
Generously grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
Using an electric mixer, combine the flour, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, the baking powder and salt.
Mix in 2 sticks butter at low speed until the mixture is crumbly.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, 1/2 cup cream, applesauce and vanilla. Mix into the flour-butter mixture at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans.
Bake until springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to release the layers, invert onto the rack and let cool completely.
In a medium skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat.
Add the apple slices and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar and cook, stirring often, until the apples are tender and the juice is syrupy, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons cream and simmer for 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let cool.
Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 2 sticks butter and the caramel sauce. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar to taste, and until light, creamy and spreadable. Place in the refridgerator if too soft.
Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate; spread the apple filling evenly on top, then cover with the remaining cake layer. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, cover the top and sides of the cake with the caramel frosting, swirling the top to make a decorative pattern.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Do You Daydream In Cookies?

Free Image Hosting at <a href=Sometimes you buy something just for the sake of buying it, or because it is a new product you have never seen before. Both of these reasons would apply to the ridiculous - although cheap - purchase I made in Target a few weeks ago. Now bear in mind that we do not have a Target in Alberta. This is a glorious store that trumps Wal-Mart in every way. So you can't blame me for being dazzled by the lights and sheer amount of amazing products.

It was in the Halloween candy aisle, while looking for mini Almond Joys, that I came across Hershey Kisses Candy Corn edition. You can read more about them at Candyblog although I think they give the kisses an unfair review.

True, the candy is not chocolate in any sense. And true, doesn't taste like chocolate but then again, I didn't really expect it to. What you do get is a creamy confection that is a cross between real candy corn and butter flavored wax. Now before you say "yuck" I would suggest a taste. They are extremely addictive. I had to put the bag away before my "taste for research purposes only" went any further and I did not have enough left for cookies.

And I did want them for cookies. I envisioned yummy candy kisses cookies in butterscotch flavor perhaps? Well, apparently there are very few original Kiss Cookie recipes on the net. Almost every one I found was peanut butter and very little variation from the theme. So after hunting for days and days for the perfect recipe, I finally, and quite by accident, stumbled upon this one on the Martha Stewart website. She used mini peanut butter cups in the middle, which I think would be far more delicious than my freaky Kisses. What I loved about her recipe was it was simple, and promised a softer cookie. I did not like the idea of a hard as a rock peanutbutter cookie with a soft Kiss centre.

Well, the cookies were amazing. So amazing in fact that Josh thought about them all day at work. Justin devoured them, and Johnson ate entire cookies in one bite. They are heaven. Soft and chewy, peanutbuttery and smooth. The candy corn centre was rich and a perfect balance with the cookies.

Because we do not get the candy corn kisses in Canada, I will use the Caramel Chocolate Swirl Kisses instead. These cookies will definitely have repeat peformances in my house.

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
Martha Stewart, Makes 3 Dozen
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar, for rolling dough
36 chocolate kisses or mini peanut butter cups, chilled and unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using an electric mixer, cream peanut butter and butter in a mixing bowl until smooth.
Add brown sugar; beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed.
Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until incorporated.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture in two batches.
Scoop off dough by the tablespoon; roll into balls. Place granulated sugar on a plate; roll balls in sugar, coating completely. Place 2 inches apart on a nonstick insulated baking sheet.
Bake until cookies begin to puff up slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
Press one peanut butter cup in center of each cookie. Return to oven; continue baking until cookies are golden brown and chocolate has begun to melt, about 3 minutes more. Let cool at least 10 minutes on baking sheet before transferring cookies to rack to cool completely.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Mom's Halloween Birthday

Free Image Hosting at <a href= It is my Mom's birthday. On Halloween, I know. We actually like having her birthday on Halloween because it gives us a good excuse when we are trying to get out of another brutal Halloween party. This way we can hand out candy to the cute little kids, and then turn out the lights and watch a movie when the older, more obnoxious 'trick or treaters' come around. This year A & J opened their home to the party. A good idea because they are in a new neighborhood with lots of young families so we had adecent turn out of cute little kids. It also gave A a chance to practice her baking skills with me as we attempted my mom's birthday cake. I say attempt because I hate making layer cakes. I never end up with an even looking tower. It's always lopsided or one layer is careening off the top.

To stack the deck in my favor, I chose a cake from my beloved Paula Deen. Her cakes look amazing, are easy to prepare and I am sure cannot fail. This specific one is out of her Christmas Baking 2007 magazine which mom picked up for me in the States. I have poured over this magazine so many times that I probably know where every recipe is in it. The cake turned out really well with nice, even layers. The icing tasted really yummy the night we made it and was ten times better the next day. I think I will use it on cupcakes in the future. The layers of cake were light and moist and did not rise up with too much of a dome so the cake stayed flat. Next time I will partly freeze the layers first before icing as it was a little difficult with them slightly warm. I used the Pam Baking spray again and the layers fell out of the pan perfectly.

When we sliced the cake open, it looked so even and delicious. It tasted even better. The cake went a long way. It is quite rich and half the cake fed 9 people generously. Looks like alot of work, really wasn't. Oh, and the orange and black balls on top are malt balls, Halloween edition. Ciao!

Chocolate Malt Cake
Paula Deen's Holiday Magazine
Ingredients for cake:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup malted milk powder - such as Ovaltine
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Malted Milk Balls for garnish

Ingredients for icing:
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup malted milk powder
5 cups powdered sugar

Directions for Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 - 9" cake pans.
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder.
In a small bowl, combine milk and malted milk powder, stirring to dissolve.
Add milk mixture, oil and eggs to flour mixture, beating at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
Add sour cream and vanilla, beating until just combined.
Pour batter evenly into pans, and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool and then remove from pans. Spread icing between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with malted milk balls.

Directions for icing:
In a large bowl, beat butter and cocoa powder at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
In a small bowl, combine cream and malted milk powder, stirring to dissolve. Add cream mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed to combine. Gradually beat in icing sugar until spreadable.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sweet Potato Bourbon Poundcake

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usCan I tell you how much I love sweet potatoes? And bundt cakes. I make alot of Bundt cakes. Not on purpose really, but I find they are very easy to make and always turn out beautiful and delicious. When I found this recipe last week it seemed like the perfect autumn cake to make while I had Saturday to myself.
Yes, I had the whole day completely to myself. No Josh, no guests, just me. With all that free time I managed to get alot of housework done and make the applesauce that I have posted, below. While the applesauce simmered away, I made this cake. The best part about bundt cakes is you can mix them up in minutes and then throw them in the oven for an hour and not worry about them. I have never had one burn or be too dry.
This cake could be compared to a carrot cake but without the overwhelming vegetable taste. It definitely is dense and not sweet which, for having 1.5 cups of sugar in it, was a bit surprising. Nevertheless, it is very subtle and would go quite well with whipping cream. We ate it with good vanilla icecream.
I really don't have much to add to this recipe.
The original recipe called for very little spice so I upped it quite a bit. Even with the additions, I think it could even use some more.
I roasted the sweet potato in the oven which meant I had to let it cool for a while in the fridge before adding it to the egg mixture. If you have sweet potato left over from dinner, this would be a much easier step.
Also, the syrup mixture looks like alot but if you baste the cake with it right out of the oven and while still in the pan, then you will get the bottom of the cake nice and moist. I turned the cake out of the pan while barely warm and basted it probably three more times flipped the right way up. This kept it really moist and held the pecans to the top a little better.

Sweet-Potato Bourbon Bundt
"Bundt Classics" by Dorothy Dalquist

1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup cooked sweet potato
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup bourbon or apple juice
1 tablespoon baking powder (yes, a tablespoon)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
Nonstick cooking spray with flour
1 1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together brown sugar, butter, and eggs until very light and fluffy.
Add sweet potato and vanilla; beat to combine.
Combine flour, baking powder, pie spice, and salt in a bowl.
Add half the flour mixture to the mixer and mix until just incorporated.
Add the milk and combine.
Add the remaining flour and combine.
Finally, add the bourbon and 1 cup chopped pecans and stir in just until incorporated.
Lightly spray a 10 or 12 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray.
Sprinkle bottom of the pan with 1/4c. chopped pecans. Pour in cake batter.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.
Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.
Brush cake with bourbon syrup.
Serve cake slices with any remaining syrup.

Bourbon syrup:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Boil for about 5 minutes
Add 1 T Butter
2 T Bourbon
1 tsp. vanilla
Boil for another 2 minutes, until beginning to thicken

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Have Apples ... Make Applesauce

Free Image Hosting at <a href= The apples were still mounded on my kitchen table. I looked at them often and wished they would disappear. Not that I wish I hadn't bought them. Quite the contrary. I have had rave reviews from the strudels and my grandma was thrilled to make applesauce and pies. I just wanted them out of my house so I didn't have the project hanging over my head. Every day they sat there I lost another one to mush.
So enough is enough. I turned them into applesauce for the freezer. There were plenty to make a pie or two but I think they might have been a bit past their pie prime. Applesauce is quick and easy and will be most appreciated when we have roast pork in the winter.
As per usual, I have to try a new recipe. My grandma's recipe worked really well but I also have frozen cranberries to use up and this is the perfect opportunity to use them.
This recipe comes from Joe at Culinary in the Country. If you have not had a look at his blog, you really ought to. I love his writing style and the food he makes. He gave this applesauce a rave review so I knew it would be good.
I don't really have any hints or comments for this recipe. It was extremely easy and delicious. I used my immersion blender to make the applesauce extremely smooth but if you like the chunks, use a potato masher.

Chunky Spiced Cranberry Applesauce
10 cups cubed peeled apples
1/2 lemon
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

In a large bowl, add apples and cover with cold water - squeeze juice from lemon half into bowl and then place the lemon with the apples. Set aside.
In a Dutch oven, add cranberries, sugar, maple syrup, water, cinnamon and nutmeg - bring to a boil while stirring occasionally.
Cook until the cranberries pop, about 3-5 minutes.
Drain apples and discard lemon half. Add apples to the pan.
Cover, reduce heat and simmer until the apples are soft, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the cover and bring back to a boil - cook until very thick, about 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and use a potato masher to mash the apples.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Twist on the Pumpkin Muffin

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Everyone is making pumpkin muffins. Even my sister, who almost never bakes, joined in and made a batch the other night. Justin proclaimed them "really good" which is a triumph for her. I am very impressed. So yes, everyone is making pumpkin muffins.

I have a multitude of recipes that could have done the job last night. Some are tried and true and some I am nervous about, so I haven't made them yet. But this recipe was different from all the others. It contained no fat and only 2T. of sweetener. I was skeptical to say the least.

The recipe read like a big mistake. No fat, very little leavening and whole wheat flour to boot? These would be bricks. Bland, tough bricks. Maybe it is my previous experiences with whole wheat flour in muffins that I have such a preconceived notion of what they will be. While I love the nutty flavor of whole wheat, I despise the leaden quality it brings. Usually I just use half whole wheat in my recipes - the ones with oil in them! This recipe was too sketchy and I almost backed out of the whole project.

Good thing I followed through. These muffins are fantastic. Moist and all the texture of a regular muffin. Plus, for any Weight Watchers point counters, they are only 1.5 points a piece! Wow, pretty good for a muffin.

A few notes -
I changed the spice amounts so that there was more depth of flavor. The original recipe would have been a bit bland and I think the amounts posted in the recipe below could still be kicked up a notch.
The recipe calls for molasses but mine has expired (does molasses even expire? who knew?) so I doubled up the honey amount.
I did add chocolate chips but only because I was worried these would be an utter failure and I thought the chips might save them.
Next time I will sprinkle them with brown sugar and cinnamon before baking because the tops are not pretty in any way and I think the added crunch will be nice.
Also, the muffins harldy rose at all so feel free to fill the pans pretty full.

Be adventurous and try these out. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Whole Wheat Spice Pumpkin Muffins

2 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp molasses
1 egg
1 egg white
½ cup water
1 can (15 oz) canned pumpkin
Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Double sift all the dry ingredients, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Set aside.
Whisk the egg, egg white, honey, molasses, and water in a large bowl. Mix in the pumpkin.
Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just mixed (you don’t see anymore dry ingredients). Don’t over mix!
Spread the muffin batter evenly into 2 6-muffin pans sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
Bake for approximately 18 minutes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Apples Everywhere

Free Image Hosting at <a href=Ok, so I went a bit overboard. I will admit it. But the woman selling them was so friendly, and they looked so amazing and then we were offered 20% off because my Grandma is a senior. How could anyone say "no" to 50 lbs of orchard fresh apples for only $15?

Well I couldn't, and didn't and so here I am stuck with this enormous case of Gala and Granny Smith apples. They are so fresh and smell so good. I am addicted to the idea of baking with them, but finding the time and the energy is a whole other thing. This is one of those times where I want to quit my job and stay home to work on projects that I enjoy, like baking. Josh always reminds me, though, that not everything about staying at home is as fun as baking. I will agree with him there.

In any event, I started thinking about what I could do with my autumn bounty. Applesauce was an easy choice and I made soup pots full of the stuff with my Grandma. We made it quite simply - she never uses a recipe - just some sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest. I suppose it is like apple butter and less like the applesauce you get in the store, but homemade isn't supposed to taste like the canned stuff or I would have bought a can and saved myself all this work.

What I really wanted, though, was my Apple Strudel recipe. I have made this strudel once, when I was in college and needed to study for a midterm exam. Baking was a wonderful diversion and I think I was drowning in apples at that point as well. This was a strudel recipe made with phyllo dough and the perfect combination of rum, raisins and spices. Every slice was heaven and both strudels were devoured within hours of coming out of the oven. Flash forward years later and I want that recipe. I search high and low, through stacks of Bon Appetit's and Gourmet magazines. Epicurious searched for the beloved recipe and came up empty. Even the Epicurious Community tried to help me but, alas, they did not know of the version I was looking for. So I gave up, found a new version on some obscure cooking website and wished I had the one I really wanted.

As dumb luck would have it, I did find the recipe, and just in time too. For some reason I had set aside a stack of magazines with recipes that I intended to make this year. Stashing the stack beside my bed, I did not search it for the Strudel recipe because I knew I had already looked there. Apparently, not hard enough. In a moment of boredom while watching the election polls, I flipped through the Bon Appetit November 2002 that was set on top. Low and behold, there was the article about the amazing Greek baker, and, better yet, there was my recipe! Hallelujah, my strudel is saved.

Cutting to the chase of this story, the strudel is to die for. I know the dough is phyllo which is a big no-no in my puritan German grandma's mind but the filling is exactly how she would make it, and tastes so much like the Apple Strudel I eat at the local German deli. So consider this the No Pastry Required, Easy Way Out, German Apple Strudel. And if you are Greek, you will prefer this version better anyway.

Nothing really to add to the recipe other than that I used pecans mainly because I know very few people who like walnuts. I don't use as much butter as the recipe calls for because I find the juices from the apples and the rum soak in to the phyllo layers and hold them together regardless of puddles of butter. One other suggestion, I let the apples sit in the cooking juices for about an hour and then use a slotted spoon to remove them onto the phyllo. If you use all the cooking liquid, your strudel will be a soggy mess.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. I know I do.

Apple Strudel with Walnuts & Raisins
Bon Appetit 2002

6 apples, peeled, cored, halved, sliced lengthwise, slices halved crosswise
2 1/2T. fresh lemon juice
1/4c. butter
1/2c. sugar
1/2c. brown sugar
1/2c. brandy or rum
1 t. cinnamon

1/3c. walnuts
3T. sugar
1/4c. raisins
1t. cinnamon

12 sheets phyllo, thawed

1/2c. butter

Toss apples and lemon juice in a bowl.
Stir 1/4c. butter and brown and white sugar in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until butter melts.
Add apple mixture and brandy. Simmer until apples are tender and juices are 1/2 evaporated. Stir in cinnamon. Cool completely.
Combine walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse until walnuts are coarse. Stir in the raisins.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.
Melt remaining butter in a saucepan and set aside.
Place one phyllo sheet on the work surface with long side parallel to the counter edge. Brush lightly with butter and top with second phyllo sheet. Brush with butter and sprinkle with a few tablespoons walnut mixture. Repeat this process two more times, ending with a plain sheet of phyllo brushed with butter.
Spoon apple mixture into a log about 2inches from the short sides and the one long side of the phyllo stack.
Fold the short sides in and then roll the strudel up, jellyroll style as tightly as possible.
Place seem side down on the baking tray and brush with butter, sprinkling with sugar.
Slice the strudel with 4 slits, just through to the filling.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until lightly brown and juices are bubbling.

Monday, October 15, 2007

An Autumn Cake

Wow what a whirlwind month September was. Heck, so is this month for that matter. Usually by now I have baked enough to feed an army but that is not the case this year. I also lost my food guinea pigs, with the closing of Josh's office. Now where to send the goodies?

To get back into the swing of things, I chose a simple pound cake that would be comfort food and a reminder of the wonderful, cozy season we are now in. This cake comes from the October 2007 Bon Appetit and I am sure many of you have made it already.

Just some quick notes on the cake: I used Pam's Baking spray for the bundt pan and I am in love with this product. The cake slid out perfectly, no breakage at all. I also upped the amount of Maple extract to 2 tsp. and I put this in the recipe below. In my opinion, it needed even more but I like strong flavors. I also did not put in the espresso in the glaze as the original recipe called for. It seemed out of place and I am not a fan of coffee in dessert. Other than that, the cake was delicious, although quite plain. Definitely not too sweet at all. We served it last night with a small scoop of vanilla icecream and it made a wonderful dessert.

For my next project, apple strudel. I made the mistake of going to the closing Farmer's Market near my house and I now have 40lbs of apples to contend with. When will I ever learn

Brown Sugar and Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Maple Glaze

Bon Appetit October 2007

1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons maple extract
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons (or more) whipping cream

Preparation for cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 12-cup Bundt pan. Spray pan generously with nonstick spray. Dust pan lightly with flour. Mix chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons flour in medium bowl. Sift remaining flour with baking soda, baking powder, and salt into another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract and maple extract. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chip mixture. Transfer batter to prepared pan, spreading evenly. Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 1 hour. Cool cake in pan on rack 30 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.

For glaze: Combine powdered sugar, maple syrup and 2 tablespoons cream in medium bowl. Whisk until smooth, adding more cream by 1/2 teaspoonfuls if glaze is too thick to drizzle. Spoon glaze decoratively over top of cake; let stand at room temperature until glaze is firm, about 1 hour.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


So I have not disappeared off the face of the earth.
Yes, I want to bake, and very badly but the timing has not been right.
As with many bloggers, the school year is upon us. Luckily for me, I finished school years ago and do not feel the dread. My dear Josh, however, is back in night school to finish his Management degree. This means we finish work at 5pm and then sit in rush hour traffic to get him to campus by 6pm. I would love to say this has no real impact on me, other than inconvenience, but that is not so. Josh studies late at night, every night, so I pick up the household slack. Yes, a toilet brush has replaced my spatula.
Thursday we leave for Montana on our yearly jaunt to the States for Thanksgiving. Oh, how I love to shop at Target! When I am back on Tuesday, I will divulge my yummy purchases such as the new Kraft Caramel Bites I have heard so much about. Then never fear, my annual autumn baking frenzy will begin. I have many new recipes, mainly Paula Deen, to try out and blog about. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dare I Say "Rachael Ray"?

I know, I know. There is no Foodtv personality that insights stronger feelings than Rachael Ray. I will not even attempt to enter that minefield but I will say this: she is annoying, her show is annoying, her food is wonderful.

Sometimes Bon Appetit and Gourmet, as yummy as their recipes are, seem just too involved and fussy for a weeknight supper. I need something quick, something that uses ingredients that are in my house and won't take longer than an hour tops to create. Enter Rachael Ray. I have two of her cookbooks which I use on occasion but I also find her website to be very helpful. Less Rachael, more recipes if you know what I mean. If we have some random ingredient lying around the house that may go bad within days, I hop on her site and search the recipes. It is in this way that I came across this corn "stoup" - I know, I know, where does she get these dumb names?

What I like about this soup is that it is hearty, flavorful and packs a big vegetable punch without feeling too vegetarian. Josh and Justin will eat veggies, but they don't really want to know that they are. It's a fine line. Ultimately, this soup won them over in a big way. I threw some 'take and bake' bread in the oven and served it along side for an easy meal after the hockey game on Sunday night. There would be pictures except it was eaten too fast for the camera. Mine looked alot like the pic on the website, honestly.

Quick notes:
I used a food processor and finely chopped the red pepper and onion to make the soup less chunky and a little creamier. The guys seemed to like that.

In order to make it a little healthier, I skipped the cream and added a can of skim evaporated milk. Just remember to cook the soup with the broth only and add the evaporated milk at the very end. The long cooking time tends to make it seperate and curdle.

I also dropped the two cups of milk/ cream and just used the can of milk. That would have been far too much liquid. Add a cup of milk, or a cup of cream or whatever you like.

The only thing I would have added if I had some available, is chopped up kielbasa sausage. I know it negates the vegetarian aspect but it would have made it a little hardier and added a little something extra.

Harvest Corn "Stoup"

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 pound small potatoes, cut into small chunks
4 to 5 large ears corn, kernels scraped from the cobs, or one 10-ounce box frozen corn
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, finely chopped
5 to 6 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons flour
One 32-ounce container (4 cups) chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
Hot pepper sauce

In a medium soup pot, heat the olive oil, over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp at the edges.

Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.

Add the potatoes, corn, zucchini, thyme, bay leaf and paprika and cook for 4 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour into the pot, stir and cook for 1 minute.

Gradually stir in the broth and simmer until thickened a bit.

Stir in the milk, cream and parsley and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes

Season the corn choup to taste with salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My First Contest

It's true. Browniebabes is the first food blog contest I have entered. Funny that the baked good I despise most of all turned out to be the feature of the chosen contest. Ah, well. You have to start somewhere. Now that I have the hang of it, I am hoping to enter many more. It is always fun to be given a challenge.
Thanks Myriam for the event. Check out the entries and the winner at Once Upon A Tart.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Baking A Classic

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usMore laundry last night. I am starting to think that my clothes multiply while I am at work. I swear I just put in a load of jeans two days ago. This is ridiculous. I wouldn't mind so much if all of our clothes were wash and wear but, being a downtown office job household, all of our weekly clothes have fancy tags with specific instructions. I break the rules constantly resulting in shrunken and mishapen shirts but, for the most part, I try not to ruin our wardrobes. It's a long, boring and thankless job.
In order to break up the tedium, I baked. What a shocker, I know. Making something new from my pile of recipes is so therepeutic. This little gem is a classic. I wrote about it previously on this blog when I was dieting and practically dreaming about cake. Well, I am still dieting so the entire cake was packed up for Josh's office without so much as a bite snuck. It sure smelled good though. And why shouldn't it? The lovely Ina Garten herself made it. Nothing she touches has ever flopped I am sure.
The only thing I did not do was make the Chocolate Ganache glaze which I included in the recipe anyway. Ganache is not a favorite of mine and I am too nervouse of wrecking it to waste the chocolate chips. Besides, I doubled the orange syrup and that made it sweet enough. I would suggest doubling the orange syrup and glazing the cake with half of it right when the cake comes out of the oven. It will soak in right away and make wonderful bubbling noises. Then I glaze it again when the cake is almost cool so that the syrup forms a nice crust. This is the technique I use on all of my bundt cakes and I think it works very well.
My only other issue, as per usual, is that my stove temperature must not be right. It took one hour and 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Not one hour as stated in the recipe. I think, though, in this case it might not be my oven but the recipe that is wrong. I have never made a bundt cake that only took one hour to bake. At any rate, use a knife or a toothpick to check for doneness at one hour.

Ina Garten’s Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake
½ pound unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs at room temperature
¼ cup grated orange zest (from 4 large oranges)
3 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¾ cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups good semisweet chocolate chunks
Syrup: ¼ cup sugar ¼ cups freshly squeezed orange juice
Ganache: 8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips ½ cup heavy cream 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.
3. Sift together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 2 tablespoons flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.
5. For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Twist on the Marshmallow Brownie

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usI don't like to mess with recipes. Sometimes I will add chocolate chips or change the type of liquer used, but for the most part I stick to what is written. Baking is too much of a science to mess with it, and while I admire greatly those cooks who can create and change a recipe, I know it will never be a skill of mine.

Somehow, though, shortly after making the Butterscotch Marshmallow Blondies, I got the brainstorm to rearrange the chips used and create something new. I won't say that this is the brownie winner of winners, but I would make it again with some changes especially because I like the taste of brownies better than blondies.

The only difference I made to the blondie recipe a couple of posts down is to switch the chocolate chips in for the butterscotch and the butterscotch in for the chocolate chips. The only problem with this is that I think butterscotch chips are genetically made different than their chocolate kin and work well as a dough base, whereas the chocolate chips kept the dough kind of dry.

You will also notice in the picture that the marshmallows blew up in the oven and left craters in the top of the brownies. There goes all the gooey marshmallow goodness in the middle of the bars. To remedy this, and I wish I would have thought of it earlier, I would have mixed the marshmallows into 2/3's of the dough and spread into the pan and then spread the remaining 1/3 dough over the top so that the marshmallows were encased inside. That would have been brilliant and way yummier.

So the bottom line is, the switch was do-able and delicious, it just needed more fine tuning. All in all, I love this recipe whether I eat it as chocolate or butterscotch.

Eight interesting things...

I have been tagged by Trish at One Tiny Pink Kitchen to tell everyone eight things about me you may not know. I also have to tag eight more people which may be challenging as I think most blogs have this entry by now.

These lists are always difficult for me because I assume that most of my life is either an open book or extremely boring and of no interest to anyone, especially when I could insert a recipe in here instead.

1. I have a fascinating and useless degree in Sociology where I focused most of my time on Youth and Family studies, especially interested in the male female parenting roles. Can we say yawn yet?

2. I took the LSAT exam right out of college with the high aspirations of law school. My marks were amazing but sadly, I lacked "life experience". I still to this day am not sure what that means. Apparently I did not feed enough orphans and house enough homeless people. The suggestion that a trip to Africa might help my chances was even batted around by the admissions clerk.

3. I am crazy and hopelessly in love with the long running Frasier series. There is something about the dry humor that I love. This leads into #4....

4. I want two dachshunds named Niles and Daphne in honor of my two favorite characters. Plus, they will both be fixed to continue the true nature of those characters ... they can never find love with one another. If only that had been true on the show.

5. I visit Whitefish, MT every year for Thanksgiving. Mainly because I love to shop in the States where everything is cheaper and cooler and Ben & Jerry's comes in more than 10 flavors.

6. My husband and I went to Disneyland for our honeymoon. We have been teased mercilessly about that, but the thought of laying on the beach is not appealing to two people who can hardly sit still long enough to finish a tv show. We had an amazing time and I would recommend it as a honeymoon to anyone. Romantic and most of all, fun.

7. I am easily placated with KitKats. Josh has figured this out and now uses it as a weapon against me.

8. My favorite job in the whole world is bartending. I think I would do it as a career if the bank would recognize the salary and give me a mortgage. That and if bars did not require so little clothing to do the job.

Ok, so that is 8 random facts about me. I guess this wasn't as hard as I thought. I have enjoyed reading everyone else's lists. It's funny what we all like and don't like and do and don't do in our spare time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dozens of Cinnamon Blueberry Muffins

Blueberries do eventually go a little squidgy - yes, that is a word - and, while I can drown out the ripened texture with yogurt for breakfast, you must admit when a fruit is going bad and bake something with it. Unfortunately, I only had 1 cup of fresh blueberries so I had to add some wild frozen ones but that only made the batter slightly blue and had no bad effects.

These muffins are more like a spice cake, think coffeecake maybe. But they were absolutely delicious. I doubled the recipe to ensure there were enough for Josh's entire office and by noon 2 dozen had been consumed. I count that as a success.

My alterations were slight. I had less than a cup of buttermilk so I substituted heavy cream for the rest. Calories, calories. I think milk in general will work because the real point of the buttermilk is to add liquid to the dense batter. If I had milk in my house I would have tried it for sure. I also used a cup of whole wheat flour, you know to offset the cream effects. I don't think using all whole wheat flour will work because it is so dense and you might end up with bricks but the half and half method worked really well and added a nutty undertone.

All in all a successful night in the kitchen. I am very pleased. By the way, Josh took the pic in his office, note the floppy discs in the background.

Blueberry Cinnamon Muffins
Yields 18 muffins
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh wild blueberries or frozen wild berries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or line muffin tins with paper liners.
In large bowl or electric mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Scrape down sides of bowl, then beat in vanilla.
In separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Add flour mixture to batter in three additions, alternating with buttermilk in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
Gently fold in blueberries.
Spoon batter into muffin cups about two-thirds full. Bake in centre of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops are golden and spring back when lightly touched and a wooden skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Do Not Open The Oven Door

Josh has been making shakes for breakfast at work. Maybe not a well rounded meal, but liquid breakfast is better than none at all. Trouble is we have issues with deciding how many bananas one person can consume in three shakes a week. Obviously eight is too many. Suffice it to say, I have so many bananas in my freezer that I am consumed with finding new recipes to use them in.
This muffin recipe was highly rated on Allrecipes and I can never turn away from a popular recipe. I didn't eat one but the guys devoured them and that is usually a good sign. I also used mini chocolate chips which I think are better in muffins, they don't overwhelm the same as the big ones.
As for this posts title, and you will notice in the picture, I opened the oven door one too many times and they sunk in the middle. It makes them look terrible but didn't hurt the flavor. I think my oven needs to be tested, the temperature is constantly off by five or ten minutes of bake time, hence the opening of the oven door.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 12 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter.
Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Browniebabe of the Month

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usI really do have a love - hate relationship with Brownies. I love eating them, I hate making them. So it was with great trepidation that I decided to make an entry for Browniebabe of the Month hosted by Once Upon A Tart.
I am not sure what I do wrong exactly. They burn, they sink in the middle, they stay goo-like, they taste like a bad chocolate cake. In every way, my brownies to not make the mark. Well I cant say that entirely. My Malt Brownies are delicious and I wrote a whole post on them, but I do not think that that is a norm with me. The humidity in the air must have been just right or maybe I greased the pan properly or maybe my eggs were fresher than normal. Whatever the case, they worked and I have had at least three failed attempts since. What a big disappointment.
You will notice that my entry is from the blondie family, and for good reason. I honestly think it is the cocoa that is messing me up. I don't think I can properly see what color the batter is turning in the oven. Are they getting too dark? Are they still way too fudgy? So maybe without the chocolate base, I had the chance of being successful.
Turns out, my theory may have been correct. They turned out really nice. I know the pic isnt great, but you have to take my word for it. Even Justin, with a definite hangover, managed to eat an entire one and declared it delicious.
I didn't make many changes to the recipe except to add more baking time. The recipe can be found in various forms on Allrecipes by searching Marshmallow Brownies or Butterscotch Blondies.
Just be forwarned the mixture, before baking, looks like not even close to enough batter and way too many marshmallows. But never fear, those marshmallows turn into the gooey Blondie product in the end.

Marshmallow Butterscotch Blondies
1/2 cup butter
1 cup butterscotch chips
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan.
Using a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Pour in the butterscotch chips, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, stir together the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
Mix in the melted butterscotch chips, then the flour, baking powder, and salt until smooth.
Stir in the marshmallows and chocolate chips last.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking pan. The batter will barely cover the bottom of the pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in preheated oven. Cool, and cut into squares.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chocolate and Laundry

A night at home and piles upon piles of laundry to do. I don't think that laundry is ever a chore that you can fully say "I'm done!" and walk away. Sadly, no matter how much I wash, there is always twice as much spilling out of the basket. Now I wish I had taken bathrooms when Josh and I first divied up chores.

In amongst the sorting and folding, I felt like chocolate last night. Well I felt like baking and the chocolate craving followed. Here I thought we had bought so many groceries and yet I found myself with very little cocoa and flour and no chocolate chips to be found. That made my choice of recipes quite limited so I settled on these peanut butter chip brownie cups. These are circulating throughout the blogging world but I think they actually originated on Allrecipes. I have a few versions in my files but this one seems to be the best. I would certainly use smaller muffin papers so they look prettier but Josh's office is not picky about such things. They just want to eat. The reviews were raves and I honestly don't have any suggestions to make them better. The recipe said I would end up with 16 and I had 26, I guess it depends how big you make them. Mine were 4 bites, give or take. Actually, if baked in the mini foil papers for Christmas they would be very yummy one biters, though I think the bake time would need to be played with. Also, 25 minutes was perfect, not too gooey and not too dry.


Peanut Butter Brownie Cups Makes 24
1 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package Peanut Butter Baking Chips

Heat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 24 muffin cups with paper or foil bake cups.
In large microwave-safe bowl, place butter. Microwave until melted.
Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs; beat well. Add cocoa; beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat well. Stir in peanut butter chips.
Divide batter evenly into muffin cups; Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until surface is firm; cool completely in pan on wire rack.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chocolate Chip Cookies - by Josh!

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Another busy weekend. Amanda had her bachelorette at a dueling piano's bar. If you haven't tried a place like that, you really should. We stayed out late and A was officially inducted into the "married ladies" club. Funny how bachelorettes always remind me of Barbara Streisand singing "I'm Sadie, Sadie, married lady, that's me!". Of course the rest of the weekend was spent with R & J or sleeping after all the partying. Suffice it to say, I did not bake.
Josh, however, was home all of Sunday. I have come to the conclusion that giving him a day to himself once a month is beneficial not only to our relationship but to the general state of our apartment. He cleaned the entire thing, from top to bottom. Everything was put away, including 3 dishwasher loads. Yes, our kitchen was that bad and no, I am not embarrassed about it. Weeks are busy, ok? And I hate cleaning dishes at the best of times, let alone when I get home at midnight.
The best part of all was his baking. Josh rarely ever bakes. He is the cook extraordinaire in our home and the baking only comes out when a massive craving hits him. Last time it was cinnamon buns, last night it was cookies. I keep a file on my computer of all the recipes I come across in my travels and want to try. This Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe can be found on Allrecipes somewhere and it shouldn't be too hard to find because it is getting rave reviews. I have to say this is now the new CC cookie recipe in our house. They are amazing. Chewy and moist and full of chips. Josh isn't the biggest CC cookie fan and he devoured these. He tweaked the recipe a bit, mainly in baking temperature and the size of the cookies. Bottom line, you have to make these. They are just too good.
Hopefully I will be the next one tempting your taste buds. We did a massive grocery shop on the weekend to build up my baking staples stock.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.

Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.

Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.

Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 12 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Brainstorm

So not much of anything has left my kitchen the last few days, save for an egg or two. Life has been so hectic with Grandma and Matt moving on the same weekend. I really do need to bake for both of them though, while they are busy unpacking.

The reason for this post is to recap the brownie disaster of the other day because I have had a total brainstorm. I left the pan of brownies in the fridge to try and harden. Unfortunately the unappealing shortbread layer is now as hard as a rock and useless altogether. The gooey coconut layer, though, has been peeled from the crust and devoured by Josh and I. It reminds me of a Bounty bar in all its glory and I am totally in love. The texture is chewy yet firm and I can easily cut that part into bars. So I am going to remake that layer in a 9x13, cut it into squares and dip them in chocolate for Christmas. Brilliant.

OK, I know you can't really try this nut job recipe because I haven't posted it. And I would, except the stupid piece of paper it was printed on has mysteriously disappeared. I will find it tonight. New goal.
Update: Found the recipe under my piles of unpaid bills. Fabulous.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another Flop - Brownies, What A Surprise

So I really want to try all the recipes floating around my house, really I do. But I am starting to shy away from the strangers. They aren't so friendly lately.

Last night it was getting late and I really wanted to make brownies for Josh to take to work. I pulled out a new recipe that I had found in my Grandma's cupboard when we moved her. For some reason we had never made it before which shocked me because Grandma is big on bar cookie recipes, even though many of them have not worked for her either. This one came from a Robin Hood Flour magazine insert, though, which makes me wonder why it wasn't better. Normally the recipes that come from product labels and their adverts are quite good.

OK, so this one was partly my fault and partly the recipes. I am going to post the recipe eventually so that someone else can maybe try it and see if it was actually all my fault. Chances are it was. The recipe is in two parts: a chocolate shortbread crust and then a gooey egg and coconut mixture that is supposed to ooze into the shortbread layer during the second baking. The shortbread layer tasted bad when I made it - not enough sugar maybe and too much shortening? - but I baked it and it came out really nice. The second layer I messed up. It calls for eggs and brown sugar to be beaten as if you are making a pecan tart filling. I only had white sugar and figured that there would be no harm, so much coconut and chocolate chips were being added that they would even it out. Not so. The white sugar made a coconut meringue type substance that baked crispy on the top of the brownie and stayed gooey in the middle. When I tried to cut the darn things, the crisp layer seperated from the gooey layer which seperated from the shortbread layer.

Josh and I did taste the final result and it was quite good, the shortbread layer was actually a welcome change from the intense sweetness of the coconut layer. I think if I saved it and served a heap of vanilla icecream over top, no one would notice the unattractive nature of the squares. (Josh did manage to cut 4 squares that looked presentable). It definitely would be a good brownie icecream pairing.

So try them out if you think the brown sugar mistake might have been the only problem. Like I said, Robin Hood flour has never steared me wrong before. Must have been me.

Black Bottom Coconut Dream Bars
1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2c. shortening
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

Combine flour and sugar. Add shortening and chocolate, mix until blended. Press into ungreased 9" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

2 eggs
1 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2c. coconut
1c. chocolate chips
1/2c. walnuts
1t. vanilla

Beat eggs until thick and light in color. Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.
Mix flour and baking powder, fold into egg mixture.
Stir in coconut, chips, nuts and vanilla. Spread over baked crust in pan.
Bake 35 minutes or until light brown. Cool and cut into bars.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Peanut Cookies

Nothing is better than warm cookies and milk, seriously nothing. I am a big fan of chocolate chip cookies in all their forms but I get bored of the same old same old Tollhouse recipe. So while going through my November back issues of Martha Stewart ('cause it is never too early to plan for Thanksgiving!) I came across this variation on the theme.

Martha has given me so many wonderful cookie recipes over the years and I think my favorite is still the Torie's Chocolate Chip that I have blogged about previously. In this case, she combines the classic flavors of peanut butter and chocolate and adds the seductive twist of cinnamon. Ever had a Cinnamon Kitkat? Pure genious. There is nothing like spice with chocolate.
I kept these cookies small so that I would have alot to give away and so that they would be two-biters for while we played cards with R & J this weekend. I highly recommend making them bigger just because I think they look nicer, but if you want to set them along side a bowl of vanilla icecream, or just devour them as little muncheables, then tiny is perfect.

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Peanut Cookies a la' Martha
Makes about 5 dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
Put butter and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until combined, about 2 minutes.
Add sugars; mix 2 minutes. Mix in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips, peanuts, and vanilla with a mixing spoon until well distributed. Refrigerate dough until it is slightly firm, 15 minutes.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Space balls 2 to 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly.
Bake until just golden, about 13 minutes.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

I Made Dinner ... Really

Ok ok so I have been completely lazy when it comes to cooking dinner. For some reason it does not excite me the same way that baking does. I want to be interested and Lord knows I have a thousand cookbooks from the queen of quick dinners, Rachael Ray, but my best laid plans are never realized. This is proven by my freezer which is bursting at the seams with meat, fish and poultry that I will never use. What sad freezer burned garbage they make. And that is wasteful, wasteful Emily!!! You must use up the tilapia. You must cook the 10 lbs of prawns.

We were home last night, so I did cook. The tilapia unthawed in the sink and Josh made his amazing roasted potatoes and onions. We made dinner and it wasn't that bad. Definitely superior to the box of KD we devoured late the night before.

I was completely inspired by Definitely Not Martha who made fish and chips with her tilapia, and while I didn't use her recipe and it probably didn't taste as good, it sure gave me a good idea. Because tilapia that has been poached is completely flavorless and boring.

I wish I had a recipe but I really don't. The fish was coated in a mixture of cajun seasoning and breadcrumbs. I fried it up in a little oil in a pan.

The cubed potatoes and onions were coated in butter, garlic, cajun seasoning and rosemary and I roasted them at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. Easy peasy.

The one thing, though, that was yummers was the dip for the fish. I guess you could call it a tartar sauce but it had no pickle so that is sort of a lie. I also put it on my potatoes, it was that good.

1/2c. mayo
2T. dijon mustard
1T. ancho chili sauce
Mix in a bowl and serve.

So dinner was dead easy, Josh ate it and raved about it plus I used up the damned tilapia. Best of all, I have lunch for today that does not consist of hard boiled eggs or salad. What a relief!



So this is driving me crazy... why does my blog have all the quick edit tools showing when I am not signed in??? And why do some of the text in my posts disappear until you highlight them? Esp. the title of some posts and the last two or three lines.
I am not computer literate by any means and this whole blogging experience has been quite a learning curve. For the most part I have been able to solve all my issues but these two I cannot seem to fix. Suggestions anyone?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The "Diet" Cupcake

With the summer here, I seem to notice more than ever when I have gained some poundage. It seems like every decadent morsel I put in my mouth instantly shows up in my ill-fitting clothes. Problem is, I am not one to ditch dessert. I cannot. It is too wonderful and I would miss it too much. Josh and I are not have as liberal with the sweet stuff as we used to be and I will attribute that to the fact that I rarely keep the baking in the house. We have also tried to have "lighter" desserts if there are such things and I have to admit I think we are being duped. Two of my favorite icecreams claim to be so low fat and low sugar and I am not sure how they can be when they taste that good.

To further the "light" dessert cause, I have been searching Weight Watchers websites and for some good recipes. This little ditty was listed mainly because the fat is eliminated. The sugar and flour, however, are still front and center. And of course, no one really takes into account that a cupcake is really nothing without frosting. I was completely lazy - as if using a cake mix isn't pure laziness on its own - and I used a container of Betty Crocker vanilla frosting. Whatever the calories are in that product I can only guess.
The recipe cannot be easier. I poured the mix into a bowl, poured in the soda and the egg and beat for two minutes. The batter was extremely lumpy and the minute I poured in the soda some sort of creepy chemical reaction occurred, causing the dough to foam and begin to rise. The batter was also a bit thinner than normal but that did not seem to affect it. I baked for 20 minutes and ended up with nice domed cakes, not overflowing the pan as they normally do.
My only concern - and I will have to wait for Josh's office feedback to confirm - is that the warm cupcakes stuck to the wrapper in the worst way and crumbled the minute you picked it up. Yes, yes I did have to taste one. Quality control and all! The flavor, though was pretty good. Not an intense rootbeer flavor but not exactly vanilla either. I hope that the flavor has intensified through the night.
So to recap, the cupcake is full of carbs and minus a few grams of fat. Kind of a bust when you think about what the goal was. Nevertheless, I give you the Diet Pop Cupcake. Guaranteed to fool the tastebuds but certainly not the waistline. Enjoy but eat at your own risk!

Diet Pop Cake
1 package vanilla cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
1 can diet rootbeer
1 egg
Pour all three ingredients into a mixer and beat on medium for 2 minutes. Bake in paperlined muffin cups for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
I have also heard that diet Dr. Pepper with chocolate cake mix is delicious as well.
11am, Josh's office sends an update. The cupcakes are good but not my best. Haha, it's a cake mix, how can that possibly be amazing? However, the crumbly texture is gone and they are not sticking to the liners. Also, they seem to fool the health conscience because the one "dieter" in the office absolutely loved them. A mixed review...

In Search of Comfort Food

It was a long weekend here in Canada. Sadly, it rained almost the entire time. I feel bad for all the optomistic campers out there who are convinced that the sun will shine as soon as Friday 4pm arrives. They are not so lucky, and while I will admit that leaving town for the three days even in a rainstorm is better than staying at home with not much to do, this weekend proved to be a lazy one. We spent most of it with R & J as usual, but this time they were kid-less which allows for lazy afternoons on the patio and trips to local pubs. The weekend also gave me time to bake yet again, still unphased by the brownie-cookie incident.

Rain always has a way of sending me in a search for a homey comforting dessert of some kind. Cookies and cake won't do it, a light fruity dessert is better for al fresco picnics of which there were none this weekend. No, I wanted something substantial that smelled like my Grandma's house. The only person that I could think of to fill this request was Martha Stewart.

As an aside, I have received many ribbings about my Martha obsession. But to them all, I gladly say that I would not be half the cook, baker and general homemaker if not for her tips and recipes. I have probably 6 years worth of back issues sitting in various piles around the apartment and nothing cheers me up more when I am searching for that "home" feeling.

While flipping through the October issues I have collected - and yes I know it is August right now - I came upon an entire article on the humble Bread Pudding. The basic recipe as well as 4 variations were included and I just knew that this was the recipe I was after. It was simple and would smell delicious and also feeds a crowd.

I made the Banana Rum version but the original is just as good. The secret ingredient I used was the Cinnamon Crunch bread from my local bakery which definitely was dense enough and flavorful enough to stand up to the rest of the ingredients. I would recommend using a denser loaf of bread and preferrably something a bit more exotic than basic challah although that is the easiest option. The recipe came out a bit too soupy and not as eggy as it should so I have tweaked it just a bit and come up with what I think is a fantastic bread pudding. A drizzle of caramel sauce and perhaps some whipped cream would also not go amiss.

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Martha Stewart's Bread Pudding
Banana Rum ingredients optional

1 large loaf bread - challah or dense sweet white bread
2c. milk
2c. cream
4 eggs
1 T. vanilla
1c. sugar
1t. cinnamon
1t. nutmeg
3T. rum
3T. butter
1/2c. brown sugar
2 large bananas, sliced

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Cut the bread into one inch cubes and set aside. Butter a 9x13 casserole dish and set aside.
Heat the milk and cream over medium until just starting to simmer. Remove from heat.
Whisk together the eggs, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Slowly add the warm milk, by ladlefulls, whisking well so as not to cook the eggs. Poor the mixture over the bread and stir to combine. Place mixture in greased dish and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until the top is brown and the middle is hot and bubbling.

For the rum banana version, add the rum to the custard mixture. Saute the bananas in the butter and brown sugar until soft. Stir the banana mixture into the bread and custard.

Friday, August 3, 2007

An Almost Disaster

Matt asked for cookies. And how can I say no? As Mr. Editor now, he can call the shots plus I certainly don't mind this type of request.

I wanted to make something I hadn't tried before, naturally, so I pulled out "White Chocolate Brownie Cookies". Let me start off by saying that the recipe looked off from the get go. The proportions of flour and eggs were strange and the chocolate was definitely in overload. But I have made many off ingredient recipes that have totally worked and the picture looked so convincing that I blindly forged ahead.

As an aside, Josh and I have decided to curb our grocery bill spending as it has become horribly out of control. We both have grandiose plans for work week dinners that never come to fruition and I end up throwing out alot of produce. We also have a horrible habit of shopping brand name and for top of the line ingredients. All of this has caused a constant sucking on our budget and is not really necessary. So we have picked the same magic number that most couples our age seem to choose - $400 a month. I thought that was alot of money, turns out it isn't. So when I had to spend $6 on Cadbury Dream Bars and use 2 cups of chocolate chips for this recipe, I suddenly realized how much out of my budget that is and how important it was that this recipe turn out right.

Well the whole thing was quite a disaster. The recipe says to beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla for 15 minutes until it looks like plaster or has doubled in volume. It was also supposed to be thick like merengue. With the egg yolks in the mix, how is this supposed to be possible? I did beat it forever but it stayed liquid and only slightly doubled. Then you fold in the chocolate and butter gently and finally the puny 1/2cup of flour. Well the mixture was extremely thin, like cake batter, and I was very skeptical. The final step is to let it rest in the fridge for 5 minutes to let it grow air bubbles and look like mousse. It did rise, slightly but as soon as I stuck a spoon into it, the air deflated and it turned soupy again.

Enter Josh, who cannot possibly understand why a recipe will not work. He insisted I bake a batch of "cookies" to see if they would work. I compromised and spooned one tablespoon of the stuff onto the cookiesheet and it spread out immediately into a 6" pancake with a sad chunk of white chocolate sticking up from the pool. Seven minutes of baking later and I had a flat, burning pancake that was stuck to my sheet.

In utter frustration I greased a 9x13 pan and dumped the remaining batter into it. The name on the recipe is "Brownie Cookie" so why not make brownies? And sure enough, it did make brownies. Average, would never bake them again, brownies. The top of the batch formed a sticky skin that sticks to your fingers and then underneath that is a fudgy brownie type substance filled with my wonderful white chocolate. Oh well. Sometimes you have to just throw in the towel.

I will not post the recipe because I think it is inherently flawed and would not want to foist that upon you. Suffice it to say, they were yummy enough to eat but not yummy enough to make again.

Josh emailed to say that the office loved them but I think they don't want to hurt my feelings for fear I may stop sending baking altogether. Some people are so silly....

Thursday, August 2, 2007

An Update...

So it has been 8 months now since I started blogging. Honestly, I thought I would have given up by now. How much pleasure can one really get from an online journal that, potentially, no one will read? And how many foodie bloggers can there possibly be in the world? Do they want to read my recipe rantings? Apparently so. In fact, foodie blogs are quite the going concern in cyberworld. Turns out that other apron wearers, from time to time, remove themselves from their Kitchen Aids and log on. I can not tell you how many hours of pleasure I have derived from this community. The recipes I have found, the advice I have taken and just the general food knowledge that I have filed away. What I had assumed was a rather odd hobby - that is collecting and then trying hundreds of recipes just to see if I can conquer them - is actually an international passtime. It also attracts some very friendly and encouraging personalities.
All in all, I think this has been a very rewarding and therepeutic experience and something I will definitely continue, if only for my own pleasure.

Please, please, please feel free to try - and blog about - the recipes on my blog. What are recipes for, if not to share?

It is partly to help other foodie bloggers get their start, and partly because I want to find some more "must read" blogs, that I am adding The Leftover Queens Foodie BlogRoll list to my blog. I have found some wonderful blogs in here and I hope that all of you do as well.