Wednesday, December 1, 2010

If you're happy and you know it...

These were fun to make and made me very happy!
No specific recipe...just sugar cookies (THICK sugar cookies) and royal icing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

pumpkin doughnut muffins...

3 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
1 3/4 sticks butter; room temp
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Grease well 12-16 muffin cups. In a medium bowl combine dry ingredients; whisk to combine. In another small bowl whisk together pumpkin and buttermilk. In a large bowl cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed. With the mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of pumpkin mixture, and beat to combine.
Spoon approx. 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup and bake about 30 min, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar and cinnamon. Let muffins cool about 10 min.
Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan and brush with melted butter (or dunk in melted butter) and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture.

If you are in need of ONE MORE pumpkin recipe...this is the ultimate. Serve as breakfast on Thanksgiving morning or as a different dessert. You will not be disappointed. Recipe (adapted from the great Martha Stewart) says it makes 12, but I got 16.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

ghost pops...

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Melt white chocolate and free form ghost shapes with the back of a spoon. Lay lollipop sticks in the center and cover with a little white chocolate to secure. Let dry a few minutes and use mini chocolate chips for the eyes.
Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

delicious dinner rolls...

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp butter; room temp
4 cups flour

In a large mixing bowl dissolve yeast in warm water with the sugar. Add salt, butter and 3 cups of flour. Mix until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough, adding more flour if needed. Dough will be soft and a little on the sticky side. Knead by hand or in mixer with the dough hook until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size; about 45 min to 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, measure out dough for 12 rolls. Shape each into a ball (flour cup and hands if necessary). Place in a greased 9x13 pan. Cover and let rise until double in size; about 30-35 min.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15-20 min or until tops are golden brown. Spread a little butter on top of warm rolls.

This could not have been easier. The dough whips up quickly. Depending of the warmth of your house they will rise quickly, as well. I cheated a little on the second rise and put them in a warm oven. It only took about 15 min for them to rise. Bonus!
My kids said I could make them every day and they would never get tired of them. 'Nuff said.

Friday, October 1, 2010

cupcakes for the teachers...

...mid-term parent/teacher conferences...
the teachers get a nice luncheon
I donated cupcakes
...if it helps out my two 7th graders...even better!!

*chocolate toffee caramel cupcakes*

*Use your favorite chocolate cake recipe (if that happens to be a box mix...even better...ahem!)
*fill cooled cupcakes with caramel ice cream topping (it helps to warm it up a little)
*frost with buttercream frosting
*drizzle with more caramel
*sprinkle with crushed toffee bits

*lemon cream cupcakes*
*bake up 24 vanilla cupcakes and add the zest of one lemon to batter before baking
*when cool insert cream filling:
2 tsp very hot water
1/4 tsp salt
1 (7oz) jar marshmallow cream
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Dissolve salt in hot water and allow to cool. Mix next 4 ingredients until well combined. Add water and whip until fluffy.
Put in a pastry bag with a large tip and insert into the top of the cupcake, squeezing in a little cream filling.
*Pipe or frost with lemon buttercream:
3 Tbsp butter; room temp
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp milk
(double if piping frosting on)

*classic red velvet*

50 cupcakes packed up and ready to go!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

delicious greek orzo...

1 cup uncooked orzo
1/2 cup diced cucumber; seeds removed
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/3 cup fresh minced parsley
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup diced tomato (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped, pitted Kalamata (or black) olives

Cook orzo according to package. Drain. Combine orzo, cucumber and onion in a large bowl; toss well. In a separate bowl combine parsley, lemon juice, oregano, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir well with a whisk until incorporated. Pour over orzo and add remaining ingredients. Toss gently to coat. Serve with grilled pita bread (brush with olive oil, sprinkle on a little kosher salt and warm through on grill.)

This salad is the perfect Summer time dish. Served as the main course (with a little grilled chicken added), as a delicious side dish, or light lunch...happiness! If you haven't given orzo a shot before now, this is the perfect recipe.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

cheese platter & sugar cookies...

I hosted a bridal shower for my niece about a month ago (ahem...) and am FINALLY getting around to posting a few of my favorites.

The cheese platter is just an assortment of great cheese...chard's of parmesan (the good stuff), a wedge of blue cheese and a delicious brie. Pair all of those with some parmesan and thyme crackers, slices of green apple and candied pecans Yum.

I was so happy with the way the cookies turned out. The monogrammed cookies are easier than they look. I just printed out a lot J's in a font I like in the size I needed and covered the paper with wax paper. Then piped white chocolate on (basically tracing the J's), add sprinkles before it dries and then pop on top of the wet frosting.

This is just the beginning of the sugar cookie madness. Teacher appreciation week was last week and I helped out with the luncheon...100 flower cookies! I'll post soon(ish!)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

white chocolate cupcakes w/white chocolate buttercream...

1 1/4 cup cake flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 Tbsp butter; room temp
1 cup sugar
3 large egg whites; room temp
1/2 cup chopped white chocolate pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper cupcake liners.
Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl set aside. In a small bowl stir the milk and vanilla together.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until smoothly blended and light in color, about 3 min. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed and in 3 additions add the flour mixture and milk mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth. Fold in white chocolate. Set aside.
In a clean large bowl and clean beaters on medium speed, beat the egg whites until foamy, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and continue beating until the egg whites look shiny and smooth. Stir in about 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the cake batter, Use a rubber spatula to fold in the remaining egg whites just to blend into the batter.
Fill each paper liner about 2/3 full with batter.
Bake about 20 min, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

white chocolate buttercream:
3 oz white chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup butter; room temp
4 oz cream cheese; room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Melt white chocolate in microwave (starting at 30 sec, then 10 second intervals stirring in between). Stir until completely melted and smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat until smooth, about 1 min. Add powdered sugar, mixing until the frosting is smooth (thin with milk, if necessary). Frost cooled cupcakes, top with white chocolate curls (or chocolate chunks) and dust with powdered sugar.

These are lovely, yummy little creations, I must say. The white chocolate cream cheese buttercream (say that three times fast) just takes these over the top. To be completely could substitute a white cake mix here. I've done it (in a pinch) and was not disappointed. These would be a fabulous Easter dessert...that is if you haven't had enough chocolate bunnies, jelly beans & peanut butter eggs...just sayin'.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

amazing beef stir fry = love on a plate...

1 1/2 lbs beef sirloin, top round or flank steak
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic; minced
2 cups asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup edamame

3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp corn starch
2 tsp grated gingerroot
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine ingredients for stir fry sauce and set aside.
Thinly slice steak across grain into strips (you can place meat in freezer for about 15-20 min to make this a little easier.)
Heat a large skillet over med heat. Add olive oil and onions and cook until onions are soft. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Add beef and cook to desired doneness (3-7 min) Add asparagus, broccoli and sauce and cook until crisp tender, stirring frequently. Lower heat and if needed put a lid on skillet and steam vegetables until done. Add edamame and warm through.
Serve over or along side rice (jasmine would be perfect, brown or white are delicious, as well!)

Loved, loved, loved this meal. This was lick-the-plate clean delicious. Did I actually lick my plate clean? Maybe...
This has been inducted into the hall of fame of favorite recipes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

mini marbled pound cake(s)...

1 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp butter; room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs; room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
2/3 cup buttermilk
5 Tbsp cocoa powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder & salt. Set aside. Grease and flour four 5 1/2 x 3 x 1 1/2 (approx) mini loaf pans OR one 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.
In large bowl cream butter and sugar until fluffy (3-4 min). Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing to incorporate after each one. Stir in extract(s).
Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour. Set aside 1/3 of batter.
In a small bowl combine cocoa powder and 6 Tbsp HOT water. Mix until smooth. Add to reserved 1/3 batter. Stir until well combined. Fill prepared pan(s) by alternating spoonfuls of each batter. Swirl with a skewer or cake tester.
Bake 40-45 min (for one cake) or 20-25 for small cakes (check after 15 min) or until cake tester comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool. Invert after 5-10 min. Let cool completely and top with icing glaze.


1 1/2 Tbsp butter; room temp
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 tsp milk
Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth and pourable (add more milk if necessary.)

I have been making this cake for years and was surprised that I have not shared it! This is a moist, delicious cake. Best part is, it comes together pretty quickly. I like making it into small loaves so I can get rid of 3/4 of it thus not downing it myself...just kidding...sort of...
Make it. You will love it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

cool, crisp lettuce wraps...

1 1/4 lbs ground turkey
1/2 of a medium red onion; diced
1/2 cup diced carrot
2 cloves of garlic; minced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 green onions; diced
1 can water chestnuts; diced
salt & pepper
pre-made Hoisin sauce
1 head iceberg lettuce

Cook onion and carrots (season with salt & pepper) in olive oil over med high heat about 4-5 min. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds more. Add turkey and cook until browned and onions are soft. Season with salt & pepper. If turkey and veggies are sticking to the pan add 1/4 cup water to deglaze and cook until water is absorbed. Add green onion and water chestnuts and cook just until warmed through (you can add 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce at this point, or serve it on the side)

I've been wanting to try home made lettuce wraps for a while and have been looking for that "perfect recipe." There are LOTS of great recipes out there...but most of them call for a lot of ingredients. I like to keep things simple. I just thought about what I like in a lettuce wrap (crunch, great flavor, salty sauce) and this is what I came up with. I did not add the Hoisin sauce (found in small jars by the Asian food in the grocery store) to the cooking process, but I wish I had. We just used it as a sauce drizzled in the wraps. This recipe is so versatile. If you like mushrooms or sprouts...throw 'em in!
We all (well...5 out of 6 of us) LOVED them. I have one picky eater. Stinker.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

artichoke goodness...

Cut stems off of artichokes. With a sharp knife cut of tip of artichoke. Using kitchen scissors cut spikey tips off of leaves. In a large, shallow pan pour 3-4 inches of water and add artichokes. Cover and let steam 40-45 min, adding additional water if necessary. Serve with melted butter.

I've been wanting my kids to try artichokes in their truest form for a while. I am so happy that they gave it a try and even happier still that they LOVED them! There are many thicker, richer sauces traditionally used to dip the leaves in, but I prefer melted butter. It is definitely rich, but it only takes a little bit of butter to give it great flavor.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


2 (15oz) cans Mexican-Style stewed tomatoes (recommended: S&W brand)
1 (4oz) can chopped green chilies
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 bunch green onions (stems and bulbs)
1 tsp garlic salt or powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp vinegar

Using a food processor (or blender), blend tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, cumin, Worcestershire, and vinegar. Add onions and chilies. Stir and serve with chips.

Yes, I made a double batch. Yes, it's almost gone. Yes, it's that good!
(Thanks for the recipe Tauna!)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

roasted chick peas...

1 15oz can chick peas (garbanzo beans)
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Drain and rinse chick peas, and pat dry completely with a paper towel.
Combine all ingredients in a plastic bag, making sure to thoroughly coat. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 30-35 min, shaking the pan every few minutes to prevent burning. When they are done they will be crunchy on the inside and out (not soft in the center).

These are an AMAZING snack. Talk about filling and good for you. When they are completely crunchy they lose that typical chick pea flavor (which can be good or bad depending on your taste preference) and become more like a nut. You could play with this and add other spices. Cumin and chili powder or garlic salt would be dee-licious. Also, if you wanted it to be even lighter you could use olive oil spray instead.
It may seem a little tedious to have to shake the pan occasionally (I did this every few minutes) but it really is worth it. They will burn fast...and it ain't pretty if that me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

valentine delectables...

If you are in need of some sweet ideas for the special day, here are a few of my favorites:

Shortbread hearts with dark chocolate drizzle

bon bons

coconut macaroons

peppermint cream puffs


Friday, February 5, 2010

glazed toffee bon bons...

1 cup butter; room temp
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs; room temp
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 bars (1.4 oz) chocolate covered toffee (Skor candy bars); crushed

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup white chocolate chips

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Beat first four cookie ingredients together on med speed until light and fluffy. On low speed mix in dry ingredients. Pour in candy bar pieces; reserving 1/3 for topping cookies. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet, one inch apart.
Bake 10-14 min (check after 10) or until edges just start to brown. Immediatetly remove to a cooling rack.

For the glaze:
In a saucepan heat butter, brown sugar and milk over med-low heat; stirring frequently, until mixture just comes to a boil and sugar is dissolved. Stir in powdered sugar; beat with a wire whisk, if necessary, to remove lumps. Immediately dip tops of cookies in the glaze (cookies do not need to be completely cooled, just firm and set). Place back on rack and let stand about 10 min until glaze is set. (If glaze starts to thicken or set in pan just reheat over med-low heat and stir with a whisk.)
Place milk chocolate chips and white chocolate chips in separate bowls and heat 15-30 seconds in microwave to melt, stir frequently. Place melted chocolate in plastic bags and snip a little bit off of the corner (or use a spoon) and drizzle over cookies. Top with remaining candy pieces.

There isn't much to say about these cookies except that the effort is totally worth it...they are AMAZING!!
recipe from Taste and Tell

Thursday, January 14, 2010

basics...homemade bread

2 cups lukewarm water
1-2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp yeast
5-6 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp softened butter

Pour warm water into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add sugar. Sprinkle in yeast. Do not stir. Let sit about 10 min until yeast is dissolved and bubbly. Add 5 cups of flour, salt and butter. Mix until combined. Knead, adding 1/2 -1 cup more flour if necessary. Shape dough into a ball, cover and let rise until double in size (1-3 hours depending on warmth of location). Punch dough down and divide into two equal pieces and place into greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise again until double. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 min. Remove from oven, let sit in pans for a few minutes. Take yummy warm bread out of pans and smother with butter and honey or jam or cinnamon sugar, etc.

Oh my, oh my. I have to say in the world of homemade bread it doesn't get much better than this. It is easy, relatively quick and so, so good. I got this delicious recipe from my friend, Christie. For a much better (and more entertaining) tutorial click here. Thanks really know how to speak my language.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

basics...the baked potato

baking potatoes (russets)
olive oil
kosher salt or garlic salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Scrub potatoes thoroughly and pat dry. Prick each potato with a fork a few times. Rub each potato with olive oil (the amount is up to you, just don't over do it) and sprinkle with choice of salt and pepper.
Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 40-60 min, or until tender. Let sit a minute or two and make a slit across the top of each potato and push ends together to open nicely. Top with butter and sour cream...and anything else that sounds good.

Sometimes the simplest, most basic things are the BEST! These potatoes are so versatile. A baked potato bar makes a great meal. The skin gets nice and crisp and's almost better than the insides!