Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Abandonment Issues

Please don't think I have them. I haven't abandoned this blog. I just have run smackdab into 1) my new full-time job, 2) a hectic holiday schedule, 3) digging out from 18 inches of new snow (okay, okay... actually Mr. Doughboy does the digging out; I watch from the window), 4) Doughnut Hole #6's pending return tomorrow from a 20-day trip to Europe, and 5) Doughnut Hole #3's pending return on December 22nd from two years in New Zealand.

So... I'll get back to this when things calm down. I've got a killer new recipe for Blueberry Dumplings to share with you, not to mention my holiday baking.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Packing on the Pounds

I have a favorite Snickerdoodle Cake. I love it. However, some complain that it is too dry for their taste. Since one of those complainers was coming to dinner the other night, I figured I better come up with something 'not so dry.' I decided to try a Pound Cake approach to Cinnamon Cake and see if that would be any better. I wouldn't say it was better (because I love my Snickerdoodle Cake recipe) -- but it was at least as good!

Brown-Sugar-Cinnamon Pound Cake (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
8-oz. Philadelphia brand Whipped Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Spice Swirl cream cheese, room temperature
3 c. granulated sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
Cinnamon Glaze

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly spray a 12-cup bundt pan with baking spray, such as Baker’s Joy.

Place butter and cream cheese in mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar, increase mixer to high speed, and beat for 5 minutes, until mixture is light and airy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and cinnamon, then flour and salt all at one time. Beat just until incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan and even out the top. Bake until cake is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean, 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove cake from oven to a cooling rack. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely. Glaze with cinnamon glaze.

Cinnamon Glaze
1 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Mix ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Crackers and Crumbs

Specifically graham cracker crumb crusts. For pies and cheesecakes. Does everyone know how to make a basic graham cracker crust? I thought I did -- for years. It was super easy. You went to the grocery store straight to the baking aisle and you bought one from Keebler. And, while I've still been known to do that in a pinch, there are drawbacks. First, the tin they come in is so thin that when you slice the pie, you often slice right through to the countertop. Bummer.

So, I thought I'd give you some basic, starting off recipes for graham cracker and other assorted crumb crusts that you can make from scratch. They are simple and inexpensive.

All you need to do is combine the ingredients and then press them onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased pie tin. Also, depending on what type of dessert you are planning, you then either bake the crust for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees and let it cool before filling it, or you chill it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. NOTE: if you are making a cheesecake, you will need to increase the proportions accordingly, depending on if you are using an 8-inch or 9-inch springform pan.

To press the crust into the pie tin, I use the flat side of my measuring cups.

For a Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups (about 24 squares) graham cracker crumbs
1/4 C sugar
1/3 C butter, melted

For a Chocolate Wafer Crust:
1 1/4 C chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C butter, melted

For a Vanilla Wafer Crust:
1 1/2 cups (about 30 cookies) wafer cookie crumbs
1/4 C butter, melted

For a Gingersnap Crust:
1 1/2 C gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/4 C butter, melted

For an Oreo Cookie Crust:
1 1/2 C Oreos (about 15 cookies)
1/4 C butter, melted

This is just meant to be a starting off point for you. You can add other ingredients as well to vary the flavors. For example, when I make a gingersnap crust, I often reduce the amount of gingersnap crumbs by 1/4 C and add 1/4 C of finely chopped pecans. Also, when making a crust for cheesecake, I will add finely chopped almonds and reduce the amount of graham crackers crumbs accordingly.

For Sunday dinner this week, I made a Chocolate Mint Cream Pie with an Oreo Crumb Crust. It was a quickie pie. Didn't get a photo until I only had one slice left. The picture isn't great, but at least it gives you the idea of how it looked.

Chocolate Mint Cream Pie
1/2 C cold milk (I used whole)
1 small pkg. instant chocolate pudding
2 3/4 C whipped topping, divided
1 pkg. (4.7 oz) Andes mint candies, chopped fine and divided
1/4 tsp mint extract
2 drops green food coloring
recipe for 1 Oreo crumb crust

Make the crumb crust and press into pie tin. Chill in refrigerator while you continue with the recipe.

In a small bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let rest for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Fold in 3/4 C whipped topping until well combined. Fold in 3/4 C mint candies.

In another bowl, combine extract and remaining whipped topping; add food coloring and stir well until no streaks of green remain. Spoon pudding mixture into prepared crust. Spreak whipped topping mixture over pudding layer; sprinkle top of pie with remaining mint candies. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'll Explain Later

What the concoction is between those two slices of bread. But right now, I want to talk about those two slices of bread.

You see, I go through phases. Phases where I madly bake desserts (all fattening). Phases where I bake breads from scratch. Phases where I bake breads using a breadmaker. Phases where I don't even set foot in the kitchen and everyone who lives in the Pastry Shoppe (otherwise known as my house) subsists on day after day of delivery pizza and cold cereal.

Well, for the past five weeks, I have been back at full-time work. It has seriously cramped my baking hours. So I flipped back into bread machine phase. I've been going through recipe after recipe looking for bread recipes that can thrive using the 'delay' function on my bread maker since I haven't been around to knead dough or watch it rise. (My goodness that makes my past life sound so very exciting, doesn't it?)

Anyway, I found this one on Tasty Kitchen and it turned out quite tasty indeed. It has a sweet maple flavor. I bet it would be delicious as French toast. The above sandwich was very good as well. I don't have a photo of the whole loaf because, well, it didn't last long.

Maple Cinnamon Oat Bread (adapted from Tasty Kitchen)
1 1/4 C warm milk
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp Kosher salt
3 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
3/4 C rolled oats
2 C bread flour
1 C whole wheat flour
2 tsp yeast

Add the ingredients in the order suggested by the manufacturer of your bread machine. Choose the basic/white bread cycle with light crust setting.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When Sweet Isn't Good Enough

Let's talk sugar. It's essential for good baking. I think one of the reasons I like freshly fallen snow is because it looks like the lawn is covered in sugar. That's a happy thought!

Flavored sugars can boost your baked goods to an even greater flavor. I decided, what with Christmas baking around the corner, I needed to replenish my stock of flavored sugars. So I made up three different flavors this morning: vanilla sugar, orange sugar and lemon sugar. (I had wanted to make up some lavendar sugar, but I think I delayed too long and my friendly neighborhood supply of lavendar has likely been buried in snow. Sigh.)

Vanilla sugar simply deepens the flavors of most baked sweets. I particularly like to use it when I make my favorite Honey Vanilla Challah bread.

I have a delightful recipe for Orange Berry Muffins. I like to use Orange sugar to increase the orange flavoring in those. I also have a recipe for a Chocolate Orange Bundt cake that tastes just like those Chocolate Oranges they sell at Christmastime. (You know the ones -- you bang them against the table before you unwrap them and the chocolate breaks apart in "slices" shaped just like orange slices.) Well, using Orange sugar instead of regular sugar in that recipe brings out the subtle orange flavor that is hiding just behind the chocolate.

Lemon sugar can be used in any baking recipe that calls for lemon zest. I particularly like to use it in when I make sugar cookie dough.

So, here are my flavored sugar recipes. Easy peasy. I snapped the photo above so you could wonder what kind of weird science experiments I was doing on my back porch. Said jars have now been shaken and set in the pantry. Six days from now, boy oh boy, we're gonna have some yummy sugary stuff goin' on here at the Pastry Shop.

Vanilla Sugar (muliply measurements as needed)
2 C granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, cut in half, split open and seeds scraped

Place the sugar in an airtight container. (Sometimes I use ziplock bags, other times I use canning jars.) Scrape the seeds directly into the sugar. Stir to combine well. Then place the pod halves in the sugar. Shake to combine. Let sit 5-6 days, shaking the container at least once each day.

Orange Sugar (ditto regarding measurement multiplication)
2 C granulated sugar
zest of 2 oranges (be careful not to include the white pithy stuff - yuck!)

Combine all together in an airtight container and shake well. Let sit 4-5 days, shaking container at least once a day. Using a sieve or sifter, pour sugar through sieve and into an airtight container. Discard orange zest caught in sieve.

Lemon Sugar (double ditto regarding measurement multiplication)
2 C granulated sugar
zest of 3 lemons (same advice regarding bitter, icky pithy stuff)

Combine all together in an airtight container and shake well. Let sit 4-5 days, shaking container at least once a day. Using a sieve or sifter, pour sugar through sieve and into an airtight container. Discard lemon zest caught in sieve.
***Disclaimer: There are a lot of ways to prepare citrus sugars. Some people actually prefer to put half the amount of sugar into a food processor along with the zest. Pulsing a bit combines the flavors and breaks the zest down into very small bits. They then put the sugar/zest combo into the airtight container and add the other half of the sugar and combine well before sealing it up. That works more than fine. In fact, the citrus flavor is even stronger in sugar prepared that way. I'm just lazy and don't want to have to clean my food processor so I don't do it like that.
If you roll the food processor route, you might want to either up the amount of sugar or lessen the amount of zest, depending on your preference for strength of citrus taste.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Football and Baking

(I wrote this on Saturday, but posted it today)
Yes. That's what I said. Football. and. Baking. They go together at my house. If there's a BYU football game, I'll be watching it -- either in the stadium or on TV. Well, today it's on TV.

While I watch, I bake. Yes, BAKE. The floorplan of my house allows me to watch TV from the kitchen with no problem at all. So, today the TV's on, the volume is up and my KitchenAid mixer is doing its thing. The oven is preheated and my experimental Buttermilk Cake is just minutes away from being taste-tested. I am a happy girl.

Buttermilk Cake with Berries in Ginger Syrup
For the Cake:
2 C cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 C buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bottom of a buttered 9x2 round cake pan with parchment paper. Spray PAM onto paper.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5-6 minutes). Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Set mixer to low speed and beat in all of the buttermilk, just until combined. Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing after each addition just until combined. Do not overbeat batter.

Spoon batter into cake pan and smooth the top. Bake until golden, about 40-45 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edges of cake to loosen it from pan. Invert onto rack then invert back onto a cake plate.

For the syrup:
3/4 C ginger ale
3/4 C water
3/4 C sugar
2-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and coarsely grated
1 1/2 C raspberries
1 C blackberries or 1/2 C blueberries

Bring ale, water, sugar and ginger to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking until mixture reduces to about 1 cup (about 15 minutes).
While syrup is simmering, place berries in a deep bowl. Pour hot syrup through a fine sieve onto the berries, then stir to combine them. Make sure the berries are covered in the syrup. Let berries stand at least 20 minutes, but no more than 2 hours before serving.

To assemble:When cake is cooled, lightly pierce the outside edge of the cake with fork tines. Drizzle just a bit of the gingered syrup along the outside edge of the cake. Next, place soaked berries in the center of the cake. Add a dollop of whipped cream on top of the berries.
Note: this cake can tend to be a little bit dry for my taste, so when I serve individual slices, I drizzle a bit more of the ginger syrup on the edge of the cake slice that doesn't have berries on it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Undeserved Labels

This dessert is called Oatmeal Yucks. That couldn't be further from the truth. These are delicious. Kids love them. Well, my kids do. I'm not sure exactly where they got their name, but rumor has it a small child saw a grown-up cutting and serving them up. The melted marshmallow was making long strings of white from the 9 x 13 pan to the serving plate. The kid looked at that and said, "Yuck!" And apparently it stuck.

So, all these years later, they are still called Oatmeal Yucks.
Oatmeal Yucks
1 C brown sugar
1 C vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 C oatmeal
2 C flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
1 pkg chocolate chips
1/2 pkg miniature marshmallows
Cinnamon sugar

Combine together the sugar, oil, egg and vanilla. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Then, pour on the marshmallows. Spread them around so they cover any places where the dough is not covered with chocolate chips. Crumble the remaining half of the dough on top of the chocolate/marshmallow layer. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Let cool before slicing into bars.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The End... As We Know It

Fresh fruit season has come to an end. The peaches are all gone. The apple stand I pass going to work has been closed the past two days. Sigh. Deep, deep sigh. Oh well... it gives me a reason to start looking forward to next year.

While perusing my photos I found these. I hadn't realized I'd never posted this recipe. I adore this recipe. It is delicious over sweet shortcake biscuits for a summer brunch. It is also delicious over a decadent poundcake for dessert.

Warm Berries and Peaches Compote (adapted from Morning Food)
For the fruit mixture:
2 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 small or 1 large peach, peeled, and cut into eighths
3 cups raspberries
1 tablespoons raspberry syrup
1 tablespoon water

To prepare the fruit: Combine the blueberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, and salt in a non-aluminum saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, simmering until the mixture thickens and a sauce forms, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Add the peaches and cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat, and gently fold in the raspberries, raspberry syrup and water. Set aside.

Shortcake Biscuits
2 cups flour
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-teaspoon-sized pieces, and frozen
2 cups and 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, divided
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To prepare the biscuits: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a food processor, place the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend briefly. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Pour mixture into a bowl, add 1 cup of the cream, and combine with a fork until moistened. Immediately turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead about 10 times. Small lumps of butter should be visible. Roll out to a 3/4-inch thickness. Keep dough in a square shape. Cut into 6 pieces and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Mix the egg yolk with 2 tablespoons of cream and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and brush on the tops of the biscuits. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Use the final 1 cup of whipping cream to whip up (along with some powdered sugar). Slice the biscuits in half, pour some fruit compote over bottom half, add a dollop on top of the fruit mixture. Place the other half of the biscuit on top and serve.

Or, if you prefer:

Pound Cake (from Sweet Melissa)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 C sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 C cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C heavy cream, at room temperature
6 Tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and salt until smooth. In a separate bowl, whick together the flour and baking owder. In a small bowl, stir together the vanilla and heavy cream. Melt the butter and let it sit to cool slightly.

Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and whisk together until mostly incorporated. Pour half of the cream mixture over and whish until mostly combined. Repeat with one-third more of the flour, followed bythe remaining half of the cream mixture and the remaining flour. Do not overmix! Pour the melted butter over the batter and fold in gently until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes befure removing the cake from the pan.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

With A Little Help From My Friends

It really helps to have foodie friends. Especially ones that have food blogs. I have to give a serious shout-out to Rookie Cookie. Not only did she save me from a boring dinner Monday night with her Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes, but she also posted a delicious-sounding recipe for Swirled Chocolate Pumpkin Gingerbread.

As I read through that one, I kept thinking, “Flake, not only would that be delicious as written, but imagine it with Dulce de Leche instead of chocolate.” For three days I spun it around in my head. Finally last night, I made it, just a bit modified from Rookie's original.

Mr. Doughboy and I were at another friend’s house for dinner and a movie. I kind of took over her kitchen and said, “Don’t worry about dessert. I’ve got it covered.” After making myself at home pulling out flour, sugar and spices from her cupboards, I whipped out the can of pumpkin puree, a bottle of molasses, and a container of dulce de leche that I had brought from home. (Well, okay, actually I forgot the dulce de leche so Mr. Doughboy ran home to get it. As you can see, dessert production is a full-family commitment.)

Fifty minutes later, we were all blissfully eating this delectable gingerbread -- warm out of the oven.

Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Gingerbread
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup boiling water
4 Tbsp dulce de leche, divided
Whipped cream, for serving

Set oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, white pepper and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix until incorporated. Stir in molasses and pumpkin. Stir in the boiling water. Add the flour mixture and stir until well incorporated.

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Place two 1-Tbsp dollops of dulce de leche on top of the batter and, using a butter knife, swirl to incorporate. Pour on the remaining batter and then top with the final two dollops of dulce de leche. Use the butter knife again to swirl the dulce.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's the Great Pumpkin...

Pumpkin season is upon us. From now to Christmas, there will be pumpkin custards and brulees, pumpkin pies, pumpkin breads, pumpkin cookies... even pumpkin soups.

I figure... why fight it? Here's my first contribution: Pumpkin Pie Cookie Bars. They make up quick and have that creamy pumpkin pie-type middle.

I took them over to Hen Pecks, because she's laid up in bed after knee surgery. While we dished, her husband snatched up the goodies and went into the dark recesses of the house, where he was ghoulishly glowing by computer light. Though we couldn't make out his features in the darkness, his voice came through just fine.

"AMAZING," he said, after taking the first bite out of these delectable fall treats.

Pumpkin Pie Cookie Bars
Cookie Layer
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Pumpkin Pie Layer
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan and lay a piece of parchment paper across the pan, so that it extends beyond the pan slightly.

To make cookie layer:
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffly. Add eggs, and vanilla until beat until smooth.

Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan. I used my hands to press the dough down into the pan.

To make the pumpkin layer:
Combine all the ingredients together in a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment. Mix until it is well combined. Pour over the cookie layer and smooth out. Combine white sugar and cinnamon in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.

Bake for 33-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. Let the bars cool completely (about an hour).

Use the parchment paper to lift the bars out of the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into bars.

Friday, October 23, 2009


...I won't make a mess. I'm wearing my apron!"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm Not Laughing At You

Really, I'm not. When I say "Snicker," it has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with this cake. Snickerdoodle Cake.

This is a shortcut cake. Rather than make the batter from scratch, I use a cake mix and then doctor up the other ingredients. But the result is delish... especially if you are a cinnamon freak like I am.

Snickerdoodle Cake
1 pkg plain white cake mix
1/2 C sour cream
1 C whole milk
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Cut two circles, 9 inches in diameter, out of parchment paper and place them at the bottom of each cake pan.

Combine the cake mix, sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, blend on low speed to incorporate all the ingredients. Increase the speed to medium and beat for two minutes. The batter will be thick. Divide the batter equally (or as close as you can get it) between the two prepared cake pans. Smooth with a spatula.

Bake the cakes until they are golden brown and spring back to the touch, about 28 minutes. When they are done, place the cake pans on a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a rack and remove the cakes from the pans. Then turn them back over on another rack so they are right side up again. Cool completely. When cooled, frost with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It Just Warms Your Soul

Chili... on Halloween. When I was a little girl, my mother always made homemade chili for us to eat before we went out trick-or-treating. She said it would help keep us warm while we went door-to-door. I think she did is as a fallback to her own childhood when going trick-or-treating on October 31st in Ogden, Utah usually meant some really nippy weather.

She forgot, of course, that my brother, sister and I were having our childhoods in San Diego, California. Different thermometer issues entirely.

But, nevertheless, the tradition stuck. All the while my kids were of ghoul and Dracula ages, I also prepared my own chili and sent them out with "warm" bellies to beg candy from the neighbors. Of course, I had the good sense to live in Utah so chili was, again, a logical choice.

October Chili
4 cans kidney beans, undrained
1 can pinto beans, undrained
1 lb ground beef
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (remove the seeds if you don't want the 'bite.' I, however like the "bite" so I leave them in)
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes (with juice)
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp basil
1/8 tsp allspice
1 bay leaf
1 sweet red pepper, diced

In a large frying pan, brown ground beef with onion, green pepper and jalapeno pepper. Meanwhile, put all other ingredients, except the sweet red pepper, in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Stir together to combine. Drain the fat off the meat mixture and add it to the stockpot. Mix well.

Bring chili to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for about 45-50 minutes. At 30 minutes, add the diced sweet red pepper. Cover again and continue simmering.

Taste before serving and adjust salt or sweet flavor as needed. Serve with shredded cheese on top and a dollop of sour cream, if desired. (And, yes, if anyone is asking... I always desire it.)

Note: If you want to make this in a slow cooker, follow the instructions as written except drain off the liquid from the cans of tomatoes and add the red pepper along with all the other ingredients. Cook in a slow cooker for 4-5 hours.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bob Marley and I...

... we be jammin.'

Now that the stress of my test is over, I'm back to reviewing all the hard work I put in at harvest time this year. We have four different flavors of jam to look forward to: raspberry, blackberry, peach and apricot.

Notice the difference between these jars of homemade jam. (Well, besides the fact that one is blackberry and the other is raspberry.) As you can see, the blackberry jam was sealed differently than the raspberry. Rather than do a hot water bath to seal the jars, I simply poured the hot jam into the jars, put the lids on and then inverted them onto the lids. They sat out overnight upside down like that. Next morning, I flipped them back over, checked that each lid sealed and tucked them away in the cold storage room downstairs.

Kind of trippy, isn't it? Seeing the headspace at the bottom of the jar instead of the top.

So, all y'all who say you can't can because you don't have a canner? Well, that excuse won't fly around these parts. You could still make jam using the "invert" method.

Blackberry Jam (thanks to Sure Jell Pectin)
6 cup blackberries
1 each package powdered pectin
8 1/2 cup sugar

Sterilize canning jars and prepare two-piece canning lids according to manufacturer's directions. To prepare fruit, sort and wash fully ripe berries; remove any stems or caps. Crush berries. If they are very seedy, put part or all of them through a sieve or food mill. To make jam, measure crushed berries into a kettle. Add pectin and stir well. Place on high heat and, stirring constantly, bring quickly to a full boil with bubbles over the entire surface. Add sugar, continue stirring, and heat again to a full bubbling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim. Fill hot jam immediately into hot, sterile jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids.

To process the jam, either 1) place the jars into a water bath canner with boiling water. Make sure the jars are covered by at least one inch of water. Boil for 10 minutes. Then remove the jars from the canner and set them on the kitchen counter. As they cool, you will hear the lids "pop" indicating that the jar is sealed.

Or 2) immediately after adjusting the metal canning lids, turn the jars upside down on the counter and leave them for 12 hours.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Favorite Winter Soup

has to be this one. It's so delicious. It tastes even more deeply satisfying when served in a bread bowl. To experience it at its best, however, take that bread bowl and sit yourself down on the hearth of your fireplace with a warm fire going and look out the window at the snow falling. Yep... that's the absolute best time to eat this soup.

Creamy Potato Cheese Soup
4 C diced potatoes
1 C diced celery
1 C diced carrots
1/2 C chopped onions
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 C butter
1/2 C flour
1 quart milk
2 tsp. salt
1 lb grated cheddar cheese
2 C chopped ham

Boil the vegetables and parsley together in 3 cups of water for 10 minutes. DO NOT DRAIN OFF LIQUID.

Meanwhile, make the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and salt and whisk until well incorporated. Add the milk and whisk together. Bring to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling, add the cream sauce to the vegetables.

Add the cheese cheese and 2 cups chopped ham and stir until cheese is melted and all ingredients are combined.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Yep, that's me. Sorry. I've got a huge test I have to take no later than Monday, but possibly tomorrow. Huge. My ability to buy groceries depends on this test. My ability to pay for the gas that heats up my oven depends on this test. My ability to pay for the internet connection that allows me to update this blog depends on this test. So... yeah... it matters to all y'all that I pass this test.

So, miss me if you must, but send a prayer upwards that my little gray brain cells store all the info I'm reading. I'm praying for total recall when test time comes.

Look at it this way: If I pass, I'll celebrate with alfajores, bread bowls full of yummy soup, snickerdoodle cake, ginger spiced peaches, brioche, Mormon Margarita cupcakes, croissants and lots of other "let's get back to baking" menu items.

P.S. Yes, most days I've been studying with My Favorite Cookies and a mug of delightful Hot Cocoa warming my bones and waking up my brain. I am also enjoying the fruits of my earlier labors. After picking raspberries and blackberries this summer, I made up some Raspberry ganache and put it in the freezer. This week I've used it to make Raspberry Chocolate Hot Cocoa.

Okay, okay... I've got time to at least give you that ganache recipe.

Raspberry Ganache
8 ounces dark chocolate (I used Hershey's Special Dark Baking Bar)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 C raspberries, pureed and strained to remove seeds.

Bring raspberry puree to room temperature. Finely chop chocolate into small pieces (use a serrated knife for best result). Use a double boiler, or if you don't have one, place the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl on top of a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate. Cool to 100 degrees F.

Melt the butter and allow it to cool to 100 degrees F. When the temperature of both the butter and the chocolate are at 100 degrees, pour the butter into the chocolate. Stir to combine. Use small circular strokes to minimize the amount of air incorporated into the mixture. Next stir in the raspberry puree using the same small strokes.

When the mixture reaches 70 degrees F., it is cool enough to use as frosting, glaze or in a pastry bag for piping. If you want to store the ganache for later use, place it in a tightly covered container and freeze it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A.D.D. in the Kitchen

Can you say "distraction?"
So, I go downstairs to start my alfajores. I realize I've already eaten all the dulce de leche I made earlier this week. (Okay people, I had help. Me and a friend ate it all. I'm not at liberty to say which one because she doesn't want to share the label of 'oinker' with me.) So... time to make more dulce. But I'm madly studying for a test I have to take next week. I don't have time to be watching a pot of dulce and stirring every 20 minutes for the next 2 1/2 - 3 hours. So I decide there's more ways than one to skin a cat... or more to the point, more ways than one to make dulce de leche.

I open a can of Sweetened Condensed milk. Pour it into a pie tin. Cover the tin with aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the pie tin inside my roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with boiling water 1/2 inch up the sides of the pie tin. And set the timer to bake my dulce de leche for 1 hour and 20 minutes. After it is done, I will let it sit for a few minutes and then pour it into a glass bowl and use my electric beaters to whip it up nice and creamy. (By the way, if any of you decide to make dulce de leche this way, remember to check your pan every 30 minutes and refill the boiling water so it doesn't boil dry.)

Next I will be baking the dough for the alfajor cookies. But, before I start, I realize I am FREEZING! It is so stinkin' cold. So I decide to have some hot cocoa. Then I start thinking how nice it would be to have REAL hot cocoa, not that powdered nonsense.

So, 1 hour and 20 minutes later, the timer goes off for the dulce de leche and I am still fiddling with the hot cocoa recipe I am concocting. It's become an obsession. I want it creamy. Strong chocolate taste, but still sweet.

Crud! I forgot to make the alfajor cookie dough (it has to chill for at least two hours).

So, y'all will have to wait until tomorrow or Monday before I post the alfajores. Sorry. But here's a KILLER hot cocoa recipe. The ABSOLUTE best hot cocoa on the planet. Bar none. The secret? Use chocolate ganache as the chocolate base, not cocoa powder. What a difference! This hot cocoa is so tantalizing it should be labeled "liquid sin." I've had three mugs of it already while I study. I called HenPecks and told her to get her bee-you-ti-ful self here and try it. (She's been a little cold in her home office the past couple of days. I figure she needs to thaw out.) As you can see, she got a little anxious. Look real close. Yeah, chocolate drool.

Not that I blame her. This stuff is to die for good.

Liquid Sin Hot Cocoa
8 oz. dark baking chocolate (you choose how dark you want it)
1 C heavy cream
4 C whole milk
1/2 C cream
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp - 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Start by making chocolate ganache. Chop 8 ounces dark chocolate into very small pieces. I used 52% cacao, however, if that is too strong for you, consider using a semi-sweet chocolate baking bar. (I find using a serrated knife works best for chopping the chocolate small enough to best facilitate the melting.) Put the chopped chocolate into a medium bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil. When it has risen to the top of the saucepan (but before it boils over -- duh!), remove it from heat and pour it over the chocolate bits. Let it sit for one minute. Then, using a rubber spatula, stir until the chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Set the ganache aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a boil over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved in the milk mixture. Next add the cocoa powder and whisk (or use an immersion blender if you are blessed to have one) until cocoa is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour in the ganache. Let it sit for a minute or two. Then stir 4-5 minutes until it is well combined. Finally, add the vanilla and stir well.

Serve immediately. Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Reheat on the stovetop or microwave.

I tend to top my hot cocoa with whipped cream, but you could also add marshmallows, if you are so inclined.

Now, consider this recipe a master recipe. Imagine all the things you can do with it. If you like strong chocolate, consider using bittersweet chocolate for the ganache. Or, add another tablespoon of cocoa powder. If you like a milder chocolate, use a semi-sweet or milk chocolate bar for the ganache. How about adding some orange flavor extract? Yum! Also, consider making a Raspberry Ganache and voilá, you have raspberry chocolate hot cocoa.

Other options would be to flavor the whipped cream. Cinnamon Whipped Cream would be decadently good. Or, add a little chili powder and cinnamon to the milk and you've got a delicious Mexican hot chocolate drink. Yum! The possibilities are endless.


I can't talk right now. I got my mouth full of cookie."

While the Cookies Are In the Oven

I'm busy this morning making Alfajores because, well, that's what I want to eat. Tonight we are going to Mr. Doughboy's mission reunion and that's got me thinking about my mission and that takes me straight to Argentina in my mind and that takes me straight to alfajores. (Now you know how my mind works. Try and keep up, eh?) I'm all ready with my dulce de leche to put between two of the cookies (more on that later) and chocolate to bathe them in when they are done. I love that in Spanish they call it "bathed" in chocolate (bañado de chocolate). Wouldn't you just love to have all your food bathed in chocolate? It sounds so much more luxurious than "covered" in chocolate!

Oops, got sidetracked there. Anyway, so while we wait for those to be done, I thought I'd give you another larder posting.

Tomato Sauce. My own, homemade tomato sauce. It is so easy and so quick to put together. The taste is so refreshing. Most of us are used to that slow-cooked taste of tomato sauce. But this is a sauce that tastes straight from the garden. I canned this sauce to be used as a base for pasta sauces. You can either freeze it or can it if you have lots of tomatoes still to store up for the season. The secret is to use the ripest, most flavorful tomatoes you can get your hands on. (Italian plum tomatoes work best, in my opinion.)

Tomato Sauce
6 lbs fresh, ripe, flavorful tomatoes, peeled and quartered
3/4 C olive oil
2 small onions, peeled and diced

Remove the majority of the seeds from the tomato quarters. Puree the tomatoes in a food processor. Set aside. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. (I used my Dutch oven.) Add the diced onions and saute until it is translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the pureed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook about 10 minutes. Taste the tomatoes and when they don't taste "raw" anymore, they are done.

Ladle the tomato mixture into hot sterilized canning jars and process in a water bath processor for 40 minutes (50 minutes if you live up in the high altitudes like I do). Or ladle the sauce into freezer containers, let cool to room temperature and freeze. You can keep this sauce in the freezer for up to 6 months.

This recipe makes about 6 cups of sauce.

Come back later today and I'll have the alfajores posted.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Just a Sampling

In case you haven't noticed, I've been posting quite a few "larder-type" entries the past few weeks. It's not because I've sworn off cakes, pastries, breads and pies. Ah, no. Never! It's because it's harvest time here in these parts and that means storing up for the seasons to come.

The above beauties were called to "represent." I didn't grab the bottles that turned out the best; I simply grabbed the ones that were front and center in the cupboard. Who knows but what more photogenic peaches or apple slices were left behind just because they got shoved to the back of the shelf.

I've been stocking up my larder and my pantry so that we have deliciousness waiting for us throughout the winter and early spring. During the late summer, I have canned fruits, canned sauces, made jams, frozen fresh vegetables, mixed my own spices and am now in the middle of making my flavored sugars.

For the next few days, I'll go through the recipes for the remaining items I haven't yet shared.

Today we are talking about Amish Sweet Ketchup.

I'd never had it before, but after trying out a couple of recipes I found, I combined quite a few ideas and came up with one that I think is a keeper. To me, however, it doesn't taste so much like ketchup as it does a very sweet barbecue sauce or marinade. So, make some up and try it with whatever meat dish you usually sauce up or marinate. (I'm thinking it will be delish with a pork roast. As soon as the weather is cold enough to make me crave a pork roast for Sunday dinner, I'll use this sauce and let you know.)

Amish Sweet Ketchup
12 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch diced slices
4 medium onions, peeled and finely diced
1/2 C water
6 lbs tomatoes, quartered (I used Roma)
1/2 C + 2 Tbsp vinegar
2 C packed dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground allspice
1 Tbsp whole cloves
1 Tbsp celery seeds
2 tsp ground mace
1 tsp salt

Place the celery, onions and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Vegetables should be barely soft. Meanwhile, cook the tomatoes in a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, partially covered, for about 25 minutes. The consistency should end up being almost like a puree. Add the cooked celery mixture and continue cooking until all vegetables are completely softened, about 15 more minutes.

Strain the mixture in small batches through a sieve. Press down firmly to extract all the liquid. Place extracted liquid into another nonreactive saucepan. Stir in the vinegar, brown sugar, and all spices. Bring to a boil. Continue boiling until mixture thickens somewhat, about 15-20 minutes. Stir often to keep mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Allow the ketchup to cool and then ladle it into jars. Ketchup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. You can also pour the hot ketchup into hot sterilized canning jars and process using a pressure canner.

Amish Sweet Ketchup is quite thin in consistency compared to what we normally consider ketchup around these parts.

Jump to it, my friends. Autumn has come... at least to my neck of the woods. Here's proof:
The harvest will soon be over. Get your canning and storing up done.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oh the Joy of It

Oatmeal in the morning. No, seriously. Oatmeal. Yum. Autumn has arrived here on the mountain and the air is crisp. That means we need warm starts to the morning. This is one that will get you going.

There's a story behind this recipe. The first time I made it, I added bananas in it to kind of bind it all together. Bad idea. Very. Bad. Idea. So, since then, I have tweaked it and I like the result.

Almond Joy Oatmeal
2 C rolled oats (I don't have quick oats)
3 C milk
1 C water
scant 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 C mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 C sweetened coconut flakes
1/4 C almond slivers, toasted
4 tsp almond butter (optional)

In a medium size pan, heat the oats, milk, water, and salt over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to simmer, add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and sugar. Stir until incorporated. Pour into a serving bowl and top with the almond butter, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, and slivered almonds.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Secret Craving

Anything Argentine. Wait... everything Argentine. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of Argentina at least once. The food, the music, the people, the architecture, the culture, the language. I long to go back and hear the musical lilt of Castellano spoken on the street. To walk through the neighborhoods as the patterns of the 'baldosas' (sidewalk tiles) change from house to house. To see the bright colors of the fresh fruit and vegetables in the produce shops (verdulerías). To smell the fresh breads and pastries each morning in the bakeries (panaderías).

I went to Argentina three times in my life. Added together, I lived there for two years. I would go back in a heartbeat. Half a heartbeat. It pleases me beyond measure that (thanks to my ex-husband) my children are half-Argentine. It pleases me even more that they have renewed contact with one of their paternal uncles who lives about a half-hour from my home. They are getting a glimpse into the Argentine style of life and family as they spend time with, eat meals with and simply be with him.

What fun it would be for me to travel to Buenos Aires with them now that they are young adults and introduce them to the sights, sounds, tastes and energy of that part of their heritage.

Why is all this nostalgia being related on a food blog? Well. Three simple words. Dulce. De. Leche. Nothing takes my mind back to Argentina faster than dulce de leche. Since I can't go there, I've decided to bring a little Buenos Aires into my home today. My very first day in Argentina, I was given a container of dulce de leche as a gift. I promptly went out to the neighborhood frutería and bought a couple apples and a banana. After slicing up the apple, I spread dulce de leche on each apple wedge. It was like eating a caramel apple without the stick and without the mess getting on your face. Did the same thing with the banana. Put a bit of dulce de leche on it, bit it, more dulce, another bite. Voilá... caramel-dipped banana without dipping it.

So today, I'm making dulce de leche. Yes, you can buy it in almost any latin market. In fact, about 15 miles north of me is this lovely Mercado Latino run by a Mexican family I know. (The color isn't exactly subtle, is it?)

They always stock dulce de leche, tapas for empanadas, and yerba mate (pronounced mah-tay) --the three staples of an Argentine existence -- for their Argentine customers. Normally, when I need a "tango fix", I'll go there and pick up a few familiar products. But... today, I'm staying home, spending NO cash, using what I've already got on hand, listening to my tango CDs by Carlos Gardel and Astor Piazzola and making my own dulce de leche.

Dulce de Leche
4 cups milk (I use whole milk)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Pour the milk into a heavy-bottom sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add the sugar, baking soda and vanilla. Whisk to ensure the sugar dissolves completely. (You don't want gritty dulce de leche, so whisk thoroughly.) Cook on medium low until it turns into caramel. This will likely take 2-3 hours. Stir it occasionally.

You will know when it is done because it will have the delectable deep tanned color that California blondes flaunt and California redheads secretly envy. When the mixture is that beautiful deep caramel color, it is unmistakeably dulce de leche. Some people like it runny; others like it thicker (I'm a thicker girl myself). But at the very least, when you pour some onto the center of a plate, it should stay in place and not make a puddle. That's how you'll know it's ready.

Dulce de leche is extremely versatile. It can be used as a spread for toast in the morning, as a drizzle over fruits or ice cream, as a filling for pastries. It can be spread in between layers of a cake or in between cookies for a caramel-type sandwich cookie. It can be used in frosting recipes. And, amazingly, it is delicious when used to thoroughly coat and cover your fingers all the way down to the second joint... and then, straight into your mouth! Yep, the truth is out. The main purpose of fingers is to be the utensils you use to eat dulce de leche.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Adding to the Rack

The spice rack, people. The spice rack. There are so many spice and herb combinations that we pay way too much for when we buy them at the store. So many of them can be made at home. I thought I'd give you a few. Most dried spice combos will last for about six months.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/4 C ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Apple Pie Spice
1/4 C ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Garlic Salt
Three parts salt to one part garlic powder

Italian Seasoning
2 Tbsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp marjoram
2 Tbsp dried basil
2 Tbsp dried rosemary
2 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried sage

Taco Seasoning
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
4 tsp salt
2 tsp tumeric
1 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
Use about 2 Tbsp of this mix per 1 pound of hamburger when making tacos.

Cajun Seasoning
2 tsp white pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp ground red pepper
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp black pepper

Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 Tbsp paprika
2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp granulated garlic
1 Tbsp granulated onion
1 Tbsp coarsely ground coriander seeds
1 Tbsp dill
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried fennel

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

Sometimes I just can't come up with a good, quick idea for dinner. I was feeling in a bit of a lazy culinary mood. Chicken wasn't floating my boat. It was too late (and still too warm) for pot roast. The pork chops weren't defrosted. And pasta? Well, let's just say Mr. Doughboy isn't exactly a pasta afficionado like I am. I decided to have my favorite meal bail me out. In case you were wondering, my favorite meal is breakfast.

Since our kitchen is still blessed with the presence of fresh peaches, I decided peach pancakes were in order. Yum! I found this recipe on Hot off the Garlic Press. (Can I just say? That's a delicious site.) She cooked hers up as waffles -- a fabulous idea -- but I didn't have time, so I did pancakes. And since it is my belief there's no such thing as too many peaches, I decided to use a peach compote along with maple syrup.

These were a big hit. As Mr. Doughboy was biting into his stack, he had a bit of a time warp and began reminiscing about early fall mornings and the peaches his mom would serve for breakfast. This recipe definitely has his stamp of approval.

The pancakes cook up so beautifully with the pieces of peach in them. I'm including a close-up shot of an unadorned pancake so you can see those tempting peach pieces just calling your name. And if you aren't into lumpy, compote type toppings, try this with peach syrup. That would be divine, I'm sure.

Sour Cream Peach Hotcakes (from Hot Off the Garlic Press)
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Unsalted butter
2 peaches, peeled and diced, plus extra for serving
Maple syrup

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet or griddle over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Distribute a few pieces of diced peaches on each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with hot peach compote/syrup, butter and maple syrup.

Peach Compote
5 large peaches, peeled and sliced
1/3 C granulated sugar
1/3 C brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp butter
1 C water

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat. When peaches begin to release their juices, mash them into the sauce. Continue to cook until it begins to thicken.

Note: Mr. Doughboy used just the peach compote on his pancakes. I, however, drizzled just a bit of maple syrup on top of the pancakes as well. Oh baby! It was SO GOOD.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Message to Santa

After working on this blog for almost two months, I have started to keep a running list in my head of all the kitchen gadgets I would like to have. I thought maybe, since Mrs. Santa is such a wonderful cook and baker, she likely reads lots of food blogs (including mine). I figure this is the most efficient way to get my Christmas list to my... er, I mean her jolly husband.

The Flake's Christmas Wish List
World Peace (doesn't hurt to suck up, right?)
A new lens for my camera (Canon G10)
A ceramic spoon holder to sit on the stovetop
A hot air corn popper
A Cuisinart ice cream maker (2-quart please)
Lots and lots of mismatched dessert plates (antiques, Deseret Industries bargains, single settings -- all to be used in my food porn photography collection)
Three 8x4 (not 9x5) bread loaf pans
A white cake plate (raised)
A microplane zester (sigh, drool)
A spice rack complete with empty bottles (I know just the one and have it marked at Amazon.com)
Assorted serving platters
Fat French Chef decor accessories (the little portly guys with chef hats)
My very own Flirty Apron (www.flirtyaprons.com) Well, okay, I want more than one. I want FOUR! Two for me (laundry rotation, don't ya know) and two matching little girl sizes to keep on hand for Mae and any other future granddaughters to use when we bake together. Well, hmmm... actually... I also want one for Katie, Juliann, and Rachael to have on hand at our house when they come over and help in the kitchen. You can see where this is going, right Santa? Every new girl that arrives into the family (through birth or marriage) is going to need their own Flirty Apron. Oh heck, Santa, just buy me stock in the company.

Football's A'Poppin'

College football. Oh yeah! I love it. Mr. Doughboy and I usually have season tickets to our team. But this year, well... oops, we let the deadline lapse and didn't realize it in time. When Mr. Doughboy went down to see if we could still get tickets, there were no season tickets left. We were lucky to get tickets to three of the home games, but that was it. Sad day!

So... now we're doing the TV fan thing for the games we can't see in the stadium. Last Saturday I popped some popcorn to enjoy during the game. Some Cinnamon Caramel Corn. Yum!!!

Cinnamon Caramel Corn
1/2 C butter
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C light corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Over medium heat, combine first 5 ingredients and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda. Stir well. Pour over 4 quarts popped corn. Stir to coat well. Bake in large roaster or pan for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on waxed paper to dry.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Telling Myself I'm On a Health Kick

It's still a dessert. It still has sugar and butter. But, hey, there are pieces of fresh fruit in there... and the topping tastes like granola. That counts for something, right?

Around here we love fruit cobblers and fruit crisps. Each year during peach season we help ourselves to lots of these warm desserts. I have a "go-to" recipe for peach crisp that we all enjoy. But today, I decided to try something a little different. You see, I had some Cinnamon Honey Butter still in the fridge and I wanted to use it up. So... I decided to use it instead of just regular butter when making the topping for the Peach Crisp. It definitely changed the flavor and the texture (what with the honey in it). I'm not sure Mr. Doughboy liked it. It's different and his first reaction to different is, well, doubtful. But, the more I ate it, the more I liked it.

Here are some of the differences I found: This topping comes off a bit chewy, like some honey granola bars. There isn't a lot of liquid in the fruit/sugar mixture, so the texture of the peaches is front and center along with the taste. The honey definitely makes it a different type of sweet. The pecans also give it a bit more flavor that what your brain is expecting. All in all, I like it. The granola taste gives it a breakfast-y kind of option, too. I had some this morning, at room temperature. It was yummy.

Granola Peach Crisp (enough to fill a 2-quart casserole dish)
For the filling:
4-5 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
For the topping:
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C + 2 Tbsp oatmeal
1/4 C Cinnamon Honey Butter, cut into pieces
1/4 C pecan pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the filling ingredients and stir to combine. Pour into baking dish and spread evenly.

In a medium bowl, combine all the topping ingredients EXCEPT the pecans. Use your hands to mix together, incorporating the butter until the topping mixture is a bit lumpy. Crumble topping over the fruit mixture. Sprinkle the top with pecan pieces.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. If you'd prefer, you can serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Excuse My Kanye-like Interruption...


Okay, back to your regular blog-reading programming.


... You got any fruit I can use for a Carmen Miranda hat?"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Support Your Local Soccer Player

I do. Every year since 2004 I've had one player or another from the high school girls soccer team show up at my door selling frozen cookie dough as a fundraiser for their soccer team. Well, I'm all over all things cookie. More than that, I'm all about girl power, so every year I've bought over-priced cookie dough. This year is no exception. It arrived last week... and since I no longer have any teenagers living in my house, the frozen dough is still here. Well, at least the box is still here. Let me check. I'll be back in a minute... ... ... Yep, no bites taken out of any of the frozen cookie dough pieces. Ahhh bliss.

I'm going out visiting teaching today with my new teaching partner and my new visiting teaching teachees (I'm sure that's not a word, but I don't know what else to call them). I don't have time to whip up anything from scratch, so Salem Hills soccer players to the rescue... I'm baking up a batch of this frozen Chocolate Chunk Cookie dough. Pretty nifty. Individually frozen pieces all ready to go in the oven. No mess in the kitchen. Of course the taste isn't exactly homemade, but at this point who cares?

They're cookies and they'll be warm when we drop them off. Good enough.

Obviously I don't have a recipe for these, however all of the previous cookie dough recipes I've posted can be frozen and used at your leisure. Just roll them in a long tube shape, wrap them in plastic wrap and place them in your freezer. Voilá. Cookies on demand.