Saturday, November 8, 2008

First Time's a Charm

So, until today, I had never tried to make chili. As a matter of fact, for a large part of my life I didn't even like chili. I had a huge aversion to beans growing up and avoided eating anything that contained them. Well, as with pretty much everything else I thought I didn't like (don't worry, there wasn't much. I've never been super picky) I've learned after trying them again, that I do, in fact, like beans. My biggest problem with chili is that I love to put cheese and sour cream on mine, but since we keep kosher at home I wouldn't be able to have ground beef in my chili if I wanted to add sour cream and cheese. And I worried that I'd miss the beef. I considered adding fake beef, like the Morningstar Farms crumbles I've used before. But I've never really been a huge fan. They're alright, but I didn't want them in my chili.

I decided that I'd go ahead and look for a vegetarian chili recipe and atleast give it a shot. I don't have a whole lot of patience for searching through recipes and recipe reviews looking for the perfect recipe. Actually, it probably has less to do with patience and more to do with the fact that my 9 year old can be a bit demanding. So I don't always have a ton of time to sit at the computer searching through websites. Anyway, it all worked out perfectly because within about 2 minutes I found what looked to me like the perfect recipe on I really wanted a chili recipe that didn't include any seasoning packets and that also looked like it would be easy to adapt to my own liking. The recipe I found turned out to be perfect and I honestly don't think I would change a single thing from the way I made it. The recipe on allrecipes called for tofu, but i decided not to add it. Instead, I added just a little more beans and some frozen corn. It turned out amazing and colorful and I absolutley loved it. I am so happy that I have found my go-to chili recipe on the first try.

I think the one thing that really made me choose this recipe in the first place was the picture on the website. It looked exactly like what I wanted my chili to look like. And although mine came out looking a bit different, it ended up tasting exactly like I wanted my chili to taste. Which is what's really important, right? But it just proves the statement that we eat with our eyes :-) I'll link here to the original recipe here, but will type my adapted version below.

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

~1/4 cup olive oil
~2 onions, chopped
~1 green pepper and one red pepper, chopped (I happened to have a bag of frozen red, green and yellow pepper slices in my freezer so i chopped those up and used them instead)
~2 cloves garlic, minced
~8 oz frozen corn
~1 29 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (I also added a little bit more from some I had leftover from another black bean dish i made last week. not sure how much more I added though)
~1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (I didn't actually add the whole can because I was afraid if I added too much it would water down the chili. It would probably be ok to use the whole can though)
~1 tsp salt
~1/4 tsp black pepper
~1 tsp ground cumin
~2 tbsp chili powder (the original recipe called for 6 tbsp, but I did half the recipe and decided not to add 3 tbsp of chili powder. I don't like my chili super spicy)
~1 tbsp oregano
~1 tbsp cider vinegar

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft. Add peppers, garlic and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender.

Pour beans, crushed tomatoes and seasonings into pot, lower heat to low and simmer on stove top approximately 4 hours. Makes about 6 servings (This is a total guess. The original recipe says it makes 8 servings, but even just making half the recipe made a ton of chili).

Oh, and before I forget, I had an awesome helper in the kitchen today. Maura helped with everything from stirring the chili to baking the cookies. Thanks Maura!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Apple Spice Cookie Bars

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love when the temperature drops and I can start wearing my sweatshirts and jackets again. There is something about the air that I just love this time of year. But another reason I love this season so much is because of all the fall baking I get to do. Luckily, I have lots of friends and family and coworkers to share my goodies with so I don't have to worry about eating them all :-)

We started a new tradition last year of going to the apple orchard and picking apples. We went to a different orchard this year. It was much bigger and they had things besides apples for us to pick. We got a bunch of heads of broccoli and some bunches of fresh spinach. So exciting! I definitely see a quiche in my future...

But we came home with about 15 pounds of apples, and aside from having plenty of apples to snack on, I knew I'd want to bake something new and yummy. So I went blog surfing last night and came up with these tasty looking treats on Katie's blog. They looked amazing so I decided they would be the first thing I made with my apples.

I am so glad that I stumbled across this recipe. It is relatively simple and the taste screams fall. If you're like me and love fall baking, you must try these!

Katie's Apple Spice Cookie Bars (source: Good Things Catered)

2 c. plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
small pinch ground cloves
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 apples, peeled and diced
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 9x13 pan with foil and baking spray. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Whisk to combine well and set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, combine sugars and butter and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to combine. Add vanilla extract and beat to combine. Turn mixer on slow and fold in flour mixture a little at a time until just combined. Fold in apples. Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle top generously with cinnamon sugar.

Place in oven and bake until cooked through, when top slightly bounces back to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from pan, cutting and serving.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

World Day of Bread - Cornbread

I'm back in business! After months of not posting in my beloved blog, I'm back in the blogging world. I have to give some of the credit for getting me back into it to my good friend Chelle. If she hadn't told me about the World Day of Bread, I would have probably gone weeks or months without posting anything. So thanks for being the extra little motivation I needed Chelle! I am so excited to be participating in World Day of Bread. I love the smell of fresh bread baking in my home. And I have, sadly, not had a whole lot of time to do much bread baking lately. So I am going to use this event to help motivate me to make more time for trying different bread recipes in the near future.

My one and only issue was that I was afraid I wouldn't have time to make something and blog it before the deadline. I knew I definitely wouldn't have time to do a yeast bread. And I couldn't come up with any quick breads that I either hadn't tried yet or was interested in making. So I consulted my other good friend, Martha Stewart. Now I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook is a must have if you're as in love with baking as I am. Some of the recipes seem a little intimidating or daunting, but there's really something for everyone in here. And there are pictures for every recipe, which I love. But my favorite thing about this book is the detail. Martha has taken so much time to explain how things work and what tools you'll really need to do what. There is so much attention to detail in this book, that even a novice baker, like myself, would feel comfortable tackling even the most intimidating recipe.

So I went to my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook in search of a relatively simple, no yeast, bread recipe. There were so many options, but I decided on the cornbread. Cornbread is something that I have not mastered yet, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to try another recipe. The flavor of this cornbread is amazing. The only thing I may do next time is not use skim milk. I think a little milk fat would add some flavor and moisture. Outside of that, this cornbread recipe is very yummy and I will definitely be making it again.

Cornbread (source: Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook pg 51-52)

1/3 cup vegetable shortening, plus more for pan
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable shortening; set aside. Melt butter in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat; add corn. Cook, stirring occasionally, until corn has softened and some of the kernels have begun to turn light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the cornmeal. Using a pastry blender, cut shortening into mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add milk, egg and reserved corn; stir to combine. Do not overmix.

Transfer batter to the prepared pan and bake until the top begins to turn golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Martha's Notes: Sauteed corn moistens this cornbread, but you can moit it if you are using the bread in a traditional stuffing. For a spicy variation, add two medium jlapenos, seeded and finely chopped, to the corn before sauteeing. Cornbread is best served the day it is bakes, but it can be kept at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic, for up to 1 day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I've been a bad blogger...

I can't believe how long it has been since I've blogged.  I have about 3 posts that i've been meaning to get up.  But I just haven't been able to find enough time to devote to them.  I have pictures and stories of my trip to Japan, some cookies, and some other dishes I've made.  The pictures are sitting in my memory card in my camera waiting to be uploaded.  I am going to try to make some time to just sit down and do it.  Hopefully soon!  I miss my blog and I wish I had more time for it.  Hopefully now that Fall is just around the corner I'll have lots of inspiration to get back into blogging.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pasta in a Tomato Cream Sauce

I have been making this dish for a while now. I invented it on a whim about 5 or 6 months ago, but was never able to get a decent picture. And it seemed so simple that I never considered it blogworthy. Well, I made it again tonight after not having it for a while, and I decided that it's totally blogworthy. Mostly because of it's simplicity. But also because it tastes wonderful.

This is the kind of meal that can be thrown together in less than 30 minutes, is cost effective and sure to be something everyone will like. Any short pasta will work fine with this recipe, but I find that Rotini/Fusili works best. They just tend to hold the sauce better. I haven't tried it with spaghetti or linguini or any other long pasta noodles, so if anyone decides to give that a shot, I'd love to hear how it turned out.

I'd also like to say that I've made this sauce without the cream/half and half and cheese and it's really good that way too. So if you're looking to cut back on fat and calories, just leave out the cream/half and half and cheese. It will still be very yummy! I also like to mix it up with the herbs I use. Tonight I used dried oregano and fresh sage. I loved the sage in it and I think next time I'll just use sage.

And Mom, if you're reading this, you HAVE to try it. I think of you every time I make it because I know how much you'd love it.

Pasta in a Tomato Cream Sauce (source: my brain)

olive oil
1 (14.5 ounce) can Diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tso dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
about 6-8 ounces pasta (like I said, I prefer Rotini)

Heat medium skillet over medium high heat and drizzle about a tsp or 2 of olive oil into the skillet. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Meanwhile, start cooking the pasta in boiling, salted water. Add the tomatoes to the skillet and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the tomato chunks start to soften. With a spatula, lightly mash the tomato chunks to release the juices and soften the chunks. Continue to simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, approximately 5 more minutes. Add the cream and cheese and cook 1 more minute, or until cheese has melted. After the sauce has thickened to your liking, add the pasta to the skillet and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce.

Serves 2-3

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chocolate Ice Cream

Although the Vanilla Ice Cream recipe I posted below is easy and yummy, I have to admit that I am really not a huge fan of vanilla ice cream. I can usually only eat it with pie or brownies or some other kind of dessert. Or if it is drowned in caramel or fudge sauce. Chocolate Ice Cream, on the other hand, I could eat just the way it is every day of my life and never get tired of it.

This particular Chocolate Ice Cream recipe is not hard to throw together at all and results in a rich and creamy ice cream. It is perfect and I can't wait to make it again. Once again, this recipe comes from the user's manual of my ice cream maker :-)

Basic Chocolate Ice Cream (source: Cuisinart ICE 20 User's Manual)

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2 inch pieces (I used semisweet)
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the whole milk until it is just bubbling around the edges (this may
be done on the stovetop or in a microwave). In a blender or food processor
fitted with the metal blade, pulse to process the sugar with the
chocolate until the chocolate is very finely chopped. Add the hot milk,
process until well blended and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and
let the chocolate mixture cool completely. Stir in the heavy cream and
vanilla to taste. Chill for 30 minutes or longer.
Turn the machine ON, pour chilled mixture into freezer bowl through
ingredient spout and let mix until thickened, about 25 – 30 minutes.

I missed my blogiversary!

Yep, July 14, 2007 was the date of my first blog entry. And I missed my blog's birthday :-( I can't say I'm surprised though. I've had a couple of recipes that I've wanted to blog about this month, but I just haven't had the time. And I apologize for neglecting my blog so much. I feel lucky some days to have time to breathe. But I have a few minutes today and so I figured why not finally add those ice cream recipes that have been waiting to be put in my blog.

I bought myself a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker a while back and only really used it once. So when summer rolled around and it started getting really hot, I decided to break it out and get some good use out of it. I started with the Basic Vanilla recipe I had used before (it's the one in the user's manual from my ice cream maker ;-)), but decided to add chocolate chips to it, since my husband loves Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. I used mini chocolate chips which turned out to be perfect. This ice cream recipe is so simple and yummy that we have made it at least 3 times this season already.

Basic Vanilla Ice Cream (source Cuisinart ICE 20 User Manual)

1 cup whole milk, well chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract, to taste (I always use 1 teaspoon. I find anything more than that is overpowering)

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer or a whisk to combine the milk and
granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 – 2 minutes on low
speed. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste. Turn machine on,
pour mixture into freezer bowl through ingredient spout and let mix until
thickened, about 25 – 30 minutes.

To make chocolate chip ice cream, simply add about 1 cup of chocolate chips in the last 5 minutes of mixing.

Serve with a fresh, warm brownie :-)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I love pot lucks at work. It gives me a chance to bake something new and have people to share it with so I don't eat it all by myself. Everyone at work said they wanted cookies. And they requested the molasses cookies I made around the holidays. That sounded good to me because they are my favorite. But I didn't have all the right ingredients so I decided to try something new. And as common and "run of the mill" as Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are, I think I've made them once. And it was years ago and they didn't not turn out well. I don't know what I did differently, but I know I used this same recipe and that they were not good at all.

This time however, they were perfect. Soft and chewy, sweet but not too sweet. They are wonderful, and I will make these over and over.

Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (source: Quaker Oats by way of Bakingblonde's Weblog)

2 stick margarine or butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup raisins (bakingblonde soaked her raisins in warm water and vanilla for 10 minutes and i didn't not do this. i think i will next time though, because my raisins weren't as tasty as i'd hoped they'd be)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat margarine or butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes (mine took more like 15 minutes for some reason) or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wir rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Better Homes and Blondies

Blondies are kind of a staple dessert in my house. it's something that everyone here likes, and they're easy to throw together so they're perfect for those sudden cravings. Like the one I was experiencing tonight. But I haven't been super thrilled with the recipe I've been using. They always seem to come out raw and I can't seem to find the right baking time. So I've been planning on trying out a new recipe for while, but haven't gotten around to it.

I wasn't even planning on baking blondies tonight. I wanted to make some cookies, and I wanted to try a new recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook again. But when I saw that there was a recipe in there for blondies, I decided that blondies would be even better. I am SO HAPPY that I stumbled across this recipe. It is perfect. These blondies puff up quite a bit more than the other ones I usually make, so I was afraid they'd be too dry and cakey. Not the case at all. They are still gooey and soft and chocolatey and everything I've always wanted in a blondie. Needless to say, this will now be my go to blondie recipe :-)

Blondies (source: Better Homes and Gardens 75th Anniversary Cookbook)

2 cups packed brown sugar
2/3 cup (10 2/3 tbsp) butter
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup chopped nuts ( I omitted these)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13x9 baking pan; set aside. In a medium saucepan heat brwon sugar and butter over mudium heat until butter melts and the mixture is smooth, stirring constantly. Cool slightly. Stir in eggs one at a time; stir in vanilla. Stir in flur, abking powder and baking soda.

Spread batter in prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and nuts. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean (avoid chocolate chips). Cool slightly on wire rack. Cut into bars while warm.

Hot Milk Sponge Cake

This cake is a very popular one in my family. My dad loved it, and my Aunt Clare is almost famous for it. So it seemed only fitting that I should make it for her for her birthday this year. It was a big milestone birthday for her ( I won't announce her age here, out of respect) and the whole family got together to celebrate. We had tons of fun and the cake was a huge hit.

I'm glad that I decided to try to make it myself. I thought it would be complicated, but it wasn't. Aunt Clare told me that she usually uses half and half for the milk part because it makes the cake richer. But she said that using skim, or 1% or 2% would work just as well. So I decided to save myself a trip to the store and just use the skim milk I already had in my fridge. The cake was definitely rich enough with the skim milk and I will probably always just use skim, unless I happen to have some half and half on hand and I feel like being extra bad ;-)

I was always a bit skeptical about the use of unsweetened chocolate for the drizzle on top. But the frosting is so sugary, and the cake is so rich, that it really is a nice balance. I will definitely be making this again very soon!

Hot Milk Sponge Cake (source: my Aunt Clare)

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup half and hlaf (or skim, 1% or 2% milk)
4 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a tube pan or 2 cake pans (I used 2 9" round cake pans)

Sift together flour and baking powder; set aside

In a mixing bowl beat eggs with an electric mixer on high speed about 4 minutes or until thick. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium speed for 4-5 minutes or until light anf lfuffy. Add the dry mixture; beat on low to medium speed just until combined.

In a small saucepan heat and stir milk and butter until butter melts. Add to batter, beating until combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake in a 350 dregree oven for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

Butter cream frosting
5 tbsp butter, softened
2 cups confectioner's sugar
milk to obtain consistency

Beat butter until smooth. Slowly add confectioner's sugar, alternating with milk until spreading consistency is obtained.
(You may find that this recipe does not make enough frosting for your cake. I like lots of frosting so I made 1.5 of this recipe. so I used 10 tablespoons of butter and 3 cups of confectioner's sugar. I didn't really measure the milk too well, but I'd guess I used about 1/4 cup)

After icing cake with butter cream frosting, drizzle melted unsweetened chocolate on top and down sides in an interesting pattern.

Corn Muffins

The recipe for perfect cornbread continues to elude me. I was in the mood to bake some muffins the other night, and I have a ton of cornmeal to use up. So I decided to break out my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and give their recipe for cornbread a try. I find that I don't use my cookbooks a lot, and this particular cookbook does not get the attention it deserves. It's one of those cookbooks that is a staple in any kitchen. There are so many timeless, classic recipes in there, and I always seem to forget about it.

I'm glad I tried this recipe because it is quite good and very easy to throw together. It's a little crumbly for my liking, but still very tasty. And definitely still worth trying. I will definitely make these again.

Corn Muffins (source: Better Homes and Gardens 75th Anniversary Edition Cookbook)

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
2-3 tbsps sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil or melted butter

In a medium bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a small bowl combine eggs, milk and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened.

Spoon batter into 12 greased, or paper lined, muffin cups, fillinf cups two thirds full. Bake in a 400 degree oven about 15 minutes or until lightly browned anda wooden toothpick inserted in centers come out clean. Makes 12 muffins.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I've been tagged!

I'm usually really bad at actually posting these things :-) But I was tagged by Christina over at Nothing to see here! and I thought it would be fun to do it this time around :-)

The rules:
Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing ten years ago?
Graduating from High School :-)

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today?
1. Go to the store for some ingredients
2. Cook dinner
3. Bathe my daughter and put her to bed
4. Watch a movie with my husband
5. Eat some ice cream :-)

Five snacks I enjoy:
1. Doritos
2. guacamole and tortilla chips
3. soft pretzels
4. White Cheddar Cheez-its
5. Popcorn

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Buy a house
2. Build my dream kitchen
3. Have more children IMMEDIATELY
4. Quit my job :-)
5. Donate a large sum of money to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Places I’ve lived:
1. Baltimore, MD
1. Columbia, MD
LOL I haven't exactly moved around a lot :-)

Jobs I’ve had:
1. worked at a bakery
2. Cashier at a children's clothing store
3. Cashier at a toy store
4. After school daycare program
5. Cashier at a gift/card /book store
6. Bank Teller
7. Mom :-)

I am tagging:

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Chicken Fajitas

So, as simple as this dinner is, I've never made fajitas before. I guess I just wasn't sure of the technique. And actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure I've ever really eaten fajitas before. These were so good and easy to throw together. I really wanted to make them with a combination of red and green bell peppers, but when red bell peppers are almost $5 a pound, I will stick with green bells. Although I have to admit, I prefer the flavor of red bell pepper over green. If someone could enlighten me as to why red peppers are so much more expensive, I'd appreciate it :-)

Chicken Fajitas

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Asian Marinade
2 large bell peppers
1 small yellow onion
vegetable oil

Assemble marinade in a large liquid measuring cup and stir well. Put chicken in a large zip top bag and pour marinade over chicken. Let as much air out of the bag as possible, seal and marinade in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Slice the bell peppers and onions into thin strips and sautee in oil over medium heat until softened. I actually like to sautee them until the onions are starting to caramelize a bit.

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding leftover marinade. Grill chicken on either an indoor or outdoor grill ( I use my George Foreman) until juices run clear. Remove chicken from grill and slice into strips. Serve chicken and vegetables inside warm tortillas.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Basic Blondies

I have made these blondies countless times, but have never blogged them. This recipe was passed on to me by bakingblonde of Bakingblonde's Weblog. She is the queen of the blondies on The Nest's What's Cooking message board. These blondies are my go-to dessert for when we really want something sweet but don't have lots of time. They are so easy to throw together at the last minute, and as much as I love my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, I love when I don't have to get it messy. This is a one bowl dessert that is always a crowd pleaser.

The only issue that I have with this recipe is that it has no leavening agent and they always come out flat and a little raw tasting. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mind the ooey gooey undercooked chocolatiness. They're just a little hard to get out of the pan without squishing them. I think next time I will add a bit of baking powder and see if that does anything.

Basic Blondies

8 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8x8 pan. Mix melted butter with brown sugar and beat until smooth (I always just do this in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon) Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add salt, stir in flour, and add in any mixins (below)

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until set in the middle. Cool on rack before cutting.

Mix in ideas:
1/2 to 1 cup of chopped, toasted nuts
1/2 to 1 cup chocolate/white chocolate chips
mint/almond/any other extract of your choice in place of the vanilla extract

My favorite mix ins so far were a combination of toffee chips, almonds and dried cranberries. Yum! Tonight I just did about 3/4 cup of chocolate chips though. Rob and Maura like them best tat way :-)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Brown Sugar Pound Cake

I sometimes feel like I don't try enough new recipes. If I blogged every single time I baked something, including repeat recipes, I'd have well over 150 posts by now. But I tend to make the same baked goods over and over because they feel safe.

Well, I decided it was time to try something new. I have been wanting to make a pound cake for a while now and I knew that there were several recipes floating around my family. Mostly my aunts. I have lots and lots of aunts. My Dad had 7 sisters and my Mom has 2, and I have a couple of aunts related to me by marriage (my dad also had 2 brothers). So between all of them, I have enough recipes to last me a life time. I decided to refer to my family cookbook put together by one of my Dad's sisters. I found my Aunt Clare's Brown Sugar Pound cake recipe, and while it wasn't the traditional pound cake recipe I was looking for, it looked wonderful so I decided to give it a shot.

This cake is dense and rich and delicious. The brown sugar gives it a deep flavor that is amazing. You will definitely need a glass of milk though! The original recipe in my cookbook calls for a Caramel Rum Sauce to drizzle over the cake, but I skipped this because i was feeling a little lazy :-) However, the next time I make this for a party or get together, I will definitely try out the sauce because it sounds wonderful. This time I jsut dusted it with a little bit of powdered sugar.

Aunt Clare's Brown Sugar Pound Cake

2 sticks (1/2 pound) butter, softened
2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup granulated sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup of milk (Aunt Clare uses fat free half and half so that's what I used :-) )
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10" tube pan. In a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars and cream until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, and then add to the butter mixture alternately with milk or half and half, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the vanilla. Fill prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (my cake took only an hour and 15 minutes) Cool cake completely, then remove from pan. To serve, drizzle with rum sauce.

Caramel Rum Sauce
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp corn syrup
3 tbsp dark rum

Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Cover and continue to boil for 1 minute to wash sugar crystals from the sides of the pan. Uncover and continue to boil for 3-4 minutes without stirring. Cool slightly. Drizzle over cooled cake and serve.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Asian Marinade

I made a really simple dinner tonight of grilled chicken, roasted veggies and brown rice. I have no pictures because I left my camera at my Mom's house last weekend. But the chicken was so delicious, that I had to post about it.

I love Asian inspired marinades and I've used one that is slightly similar to this one for my chicken stir fry. I was actually sad to discard the leftover marinade tonight because it smelled so good. Looking back, I probably could have reduced it in a saucepan on the stove top and turned it into a glaze for the grilled chicken. Next time!

Asian-inspired Marinade (I used this for my grilled chicken tonight, but I'm sure it would be delicious on veggies or even shrimp)

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Combine ingredients in a large liquid measuring cup and whisk briskly with a fork or wire whisk. Add chicken (I used 3 boneless skinless breasts) and marinade ingredients to a large zip top bag and marinade in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. I marinaded mine for more like 5 or 6 hours. The longer the better. Grill or bake, as desired.

So easy and so delicious! I think I may use the leftover chicken in a salad tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Blueberry Cream Cheese Tarts

Today was the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon at my daughter's school and I signed up to send in a dessert. I thought I'd do a mini cheesecake recipe that I've made several times and always loved. It was a recipe I saw on an episode of Paula Deen's "Paula's Home Cooking" show a long time ago. This recipe is incredibly easy to throw together and is a really great dessert for picnics or cookouts.

The idea was that my daughter would just take the dessert with her on the bus and take it to the office at her school for me since i have to be at work so darn early every day...Not such a great idea. Poor Maura dropped the container of cheesecakes while she was waiting for the bus. She felt really really badly about it! So anyway, the cheesecakes didn't end up making it to school. I feel really bad about the teachers not getting their treat, but I'm sure there were other desserts, and what can ya do? It was an accident. And now I have 12 smooshed mini cheesecakes to tempt me in my fridge :-)

Here's a pic of the disaster:
And here's the recipe:

Blueberry Cream Cheese Tarts (source: Paula's Home Cooking)
~2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened (I usually use 1/3 less fat cream cheese and that works just fine)
~1 cup sugar
~1 tsp vanilla extract
~2 eggs
~12 vanilla wafers
~1 (21 ounce) can blueberry pie filling, or other pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liner in each cup of a 12 cup muffin pan.

Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Place vanilla wafer, flat side down, in each muffin cup. Spoon cream cheese mixture over wafers, filling liners almost to the top. Bake for 20-23 minutes. Allow tarts to cool completely. Serve with blueberry pie filling on top, or pie filling of your choice.

These are much better the next day, but should be chilled in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours before serving. Otherwise, they stick to the liners and become an awful mess. I learned that the hard way. Next time, I may try these with lemon extract instead of vanilla. I love the blueberry and lemon combo.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Ok, so I have this thing for lemons. I love them. I put lemon juice or zest in anything possible. But it wasn't always like that for me and lemons. For the longest time I didn't even like them. But I realize more and more that there are things that I *think* I don't like, only to find out that if I try them again, I do like them. Anyway, I digress. Back to lemons.

Lemon poppy seed muffins is one of the ways I realized my love for lemons. They're sweet and tart and I love the extra crunch from the poppy seeds. So when I started seeing other food bloggers making them, I realized that I needed to find a recipe and make them for myself (and for my mom. I totally plan on giving her some when she comes over tomorrow.)

When I found this recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours on Julia's blog, I knew I'd found a winner. These muffins are fantastic. Very dense, but moist and sweet and tangy. I love them and will be making them again sometime. Do yourself a favor and don't skip the glaze. It totally makes the muffins and brings them to a whole other level. Also, this was my first time ever glazing anything and I'm very happy with the results :-)

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (source: Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From my Home to Yours by way of Two Novice Chefs, One Tiny Kitchen)


For the Muffins:
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 T poppy seeds

For the Icing:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2-3 T fresh lemon juice


To Make the Muffins:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and the lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of the lemon strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the wish or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough-a few lumps are better than over mixing the batter. Stir in the poppy seeds. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold. Cool the muffins completely on the rack before icing them.

To Make the Icing:
Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and add about 1 1/2 T of the lemon juice. Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar, then add enough additional lemon juice, a dribble at a time, to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon. You can then drizzle lines of icing over the tops of the muffins or coat the tops entirely, the better to get an extra zap of lemon.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Super Simple Corn Muffins

I went in search of a corn muffin recipe today, and found several on I found one, in particular, that got some pretty great reviews so I decided to give it a try. They are so easy to throw together, and are pretty good. They are moist and tasty. I definitely recommend them if you're looking for something quick and easy.

Dot's Corn Muffins (source:

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup sour cream


~Line 8 muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
~In a bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
~In another bowl, beat egg and sour cream; stir into dry ingredients until moistened.
~Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full.
~Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
~Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


I realize that I made cookies for my husband for his birthday. And he didn't ask for cake. But the dog ate all the cookies, and I've been craving cake. So hubby got some cupcakes too! I have had my eye on a couple of yellow cake recipes. I never think of making yellow cake because I'm such a chocolate cake lover. But Rob loves yellow cake with chocolate frosting, so I decided to try a from-scratch recipe for the first time. I looked through blogs and cookbooks and finally settled on the Cook's Illustrated's recipe for Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake. But decided that I'd make cupcakes instead of one big cake. Cupcakes are just so much fun and I don't make them nearly enough. It's also a really great way to control portion size :-)

This cake is absolutely amazing. It wasn't too hard to pull together and it turned out fantastically. The recipe calls for cake flour, which I didn't have. And I didn't want to have to go buy any. So I searched around the web and found a substitution for cake flour using all purpose flour and cornstarch. It worked perfectly. Here's a link to the substitution on Recipezaar. The substitution worked out perfectly for me. The cake really was light and fluffy.

I used the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting. This is really some of the best frosting I have ever made and it complimented the light, fluffy yellow cake perfectly.

Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake (source: Cook's Illustrated)

2 1/2 cups cake flour (see link above for cake flour substitute)
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp table salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
3 large egg whites, room temperature

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 9x2 round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Grease paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soad, salt and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in a large bowl. In a 4 cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.

2. In clean bowl of stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to bowl and set aside.

3. Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fittes with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

4. Using rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

5. Bake until cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with a small knife, then invert onto greased wire rack and peel off parchment. Invert cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

This recipe can easily be turned into 24 cupcakes. Line 2 12 cup muffin pans with paper liners. Decrease bake time to 18-20 minutes.

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting (source:

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. Makes about 2 cups of frosting.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Black and White Cookies

So for those of you who don't know, my husband grew up in New York. Specifically the Bronx. So when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday this year, he said he wanted me to try to make authentic New York Black and White Cookies. Not exactly what I had in mind, but hey, it's his birthday after all.

So I started to think of where I might find a recipe. I picked up my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook and low and behold, there was a recipe! Not to mention wonderful tips and pictures (thank you Martha!) That's what I love about this book. Awesome step by step instructions and pictures for every single recipe. That being said, this is actually the first recipe I've made from this cookbook (that I received from a friend in December) I'm not very good at remembering to look through my cookbooks! I normally use online websites or recommendations from friends. Anyway, I've been meaning to bake something from this book since the day I got it and this was a perfect inaugural recipe :-)

Anyway, as I suspected, Martha did not disappoint me, or my New Yorker husband. These cookies were incredible. I'm considering making just the cookies again, without the frosting. They were just so sweet and cakey and delicious! One teensy adjustment that I would make next time is to not use lemon juice in the frosting. It was a bit overpowering. I think next time I'll just use milk. Martha says these cookies are better the next day and she is right. They were good the day I made them, but after sitting on the table wrapped in plastic overnight, they were even better. Well, the ones that were left anyway. See, my lovely dog ate all but 3 while we were sleeping. Argh! All that hard work. Oh well, I definitely learned my lesson about leaving the dog and the cookies out overnight :-)

Black and White cookies (source: Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup plus 3 tbsps sugar
2 large whole eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream
Black and White Icings ( recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of and electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, shortening, and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add whole eggs and egg yolk, one at a time; beat until combined after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the cream. Beat until just combined (do not overmix).

Use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop dough 3 inches apart onto prepared sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until the edges begin to turn golden and the centers are cakey and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer parchment and cookies to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove cookies from parchment and let cool completely.

On the flat side (bottom) of each cookie, use a small offset spatula to spread chocolate icing over one half of the cookie, creating a straight line down the center. Spread white frosting on the other half. Set cookies aside until icing is set, about 30 minutes. Makes about 18 cookies.

Black and White Icings

4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp light corn syrup
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder

Whisk sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 1 tbsp water in a bowl until smooth. Add more water, if needed, until mixture is slightly thicker than honey. Set aside half of the sugar mixture (for white icing). Stir cocoa into remaining sugar mixture to combine (for black icing); thin with water if needed. Use immediately.
Maura approves :-)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Chicken Cacciatore...I think??

When I came up with the idea for this meal, I really wasn't thinking of it as Chicken Cacciatore. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that that's pretty much what this is. I don't have onions or bell peppers in mine, which are 2 things you'd usually find in Chicken Cacciatore. But otherwise, it's pretty much the same. I actually can't take all the credit for coming up with this idea. Most of the credit has to go to my wonderful husband. Last week I made a very simple pasta dish that I watched Giada make on one of her Everyday Italian shows on The Food Network. We all loved it and Rob could not stop raving about it. He decided that it would be even better with chicken. So I started brainstorming and came up with what I guess is my own version of Chicken Cacciatore. It was delicious and I cannot wait to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Chicken Cacciatore, Kayte-style :)

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin or butterflied
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge lightly in flour. Cook in pan until browned on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan and cover.

Add broth and garlic to pan. Scrape brown bits off of bottom of pan. Add tomatoes and cook until softened. After the tomatoes have softened a bit, smash them with the back of a fork, creating a chunky tomato sauce. Add mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken back to skillet, season with herbs and salt and pepper, cover and simmer over low-medium heat about 20 minutes. Serve over whole wheat pasta.

Cheesecake Swirled Brownies

I have seen so many variations of this wonderful treat and have never made them before. Which is odd since they are 2 of my favorite desserts all wrapped up in one delicious little treat. But there's a reason for this. You see, neither my daughter nor my husband will eat anything even remotely related to cheesecake. So I have chosen not to make them up until this point because it would be extremely dangerous for me to have something like this in my house and be the only one to consume them.

I knew that we would be spending Easter with my family and I had planned on making a Blueberry Pie. But those plans fell through due to time constraints, and I needed a dessert that would come together a little more quickly. So I realized that I had a perfect opportunity to make my beloved Cheesecake Brownies and not have them staring at me from my kitchen!

My next job was to find a recipe. I decided that I wanted to use my Deep Dish Brownie recipe, since they're my absolute fave and the only brownies I ever make. So I surfed over to bakingblonde's blog, knowing that I'd find a great cheesecake component for my yummy brownies. So I just took the cheesecake part of her Cheesecake Brownies recipe, added it to my Deep Dish Brownie recipe, and VOILA! Cheesecake Brownies! Unfortunately, my aunt made me bring home the leftover brownies and I'm not going to embarrass myself by telling how many I've had since yesterday...

Cheesecake Swirled Brownies

Brownie Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cheesecake Ingredients:
7 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp pure Vanilla
1 egg

To make the brownies:
~Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8 inch square pan.
~In a large bowl, blend melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually blend dry mixture into the egg mixture.
For the cheesecake mixture:
~In bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla beat until smooth. Add egg and beat just until combined.

Spread 2/3 of the brownies batter into prepared pan. Dollop cheesecake mixture on top of brownie batter and dollop remaining brownie batter on top of cheesecake mixture. Run a knife through the batters, creating a swirl pattern. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a tester comes out with a few crumbs on it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Irish Soda Bread

I grew up in a big Irish Catholic family and St. Patrick's Day was always a big event in our house. We always went to the parade in Baltimore and my mom always (actually she still does) decorated the house with all kinds of Shamrocks and other green things. I even took a few years of Irish Step dance lessons and danced in the parade on a float a couple of years in a row. One thing I had never done, though, is make an Irish Soda Bread. So I decided to look for a recipe and give it a shot this year.

I searched blogs and websites and finally decided on a recipe I found on I really do love this site. It has become my go-to site for tried and true recipes. This recipe was amazing. It turned out more beautiful and delicious than I thought it would. The only issue I had was when it came time to knead the dough. The recipe says that the dough will be sticky. Well, that may very well be the biggest understatement of the century. In the future, I will let my KA mixer do the kneading. I will definitely be keeping this as my go-to Irish Soda Bread recipe. It was so yummy!

Irish Soda Bread (

1/2 cup white sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups raisins
1 tbsp caraway seeds (I omitted these because I couldn't find them in the store)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch round cast iron skillet or a 9 inch round cake pan (I used a cake pan).

In a mixing bowl, combine flour (reserving 1 tbsp), sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt raisins and caraway seeds. In a small bowl, blend eggs, buttermilk and sour cream. Stir the liqiud mixture into flour mixture just until flour is moistened. Knead dough in bowl about 10 to 12 strokes. Dough will be sticky (they aren't kidding!) Place the dough in prepared skillet or pan and pat down. Cut a 4x3/4 inch deep slit in the top of the bread. Dust with reserved flour.

Bake in preheated oven for 65-75 minutes. Let cool and turn bread onto a wire rack.

Tastes great toasted with butter or jam!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Honey Wheat Bread

I have actually already made this bread before. But I haven't made it since I started my blog. I guess I forgot how easy it was to make. This was my first yeast bread ever, and I think it is the perfect bread for someone who has never used yeast before. It is very easy and has very few ingredients. the only issue is that the instructions from left out a few helpful tips. First of all, it just says to dissolve the yeast in the warm water. It doesn't describe how long this will take or what it will look like. Basically, it takes about 10 minutes and the mixture should get foamy. This is called proofing. I didn't know this when I first made the bread, but luckily I was able to enlist the help of my nestie friends, so it was still a success.
Another thing I didn't know when I first made this loaf was how to shape a loaf so that it looks pretty. You'll notice from the white bread I made a while back, that I didn't learn this until recently :-) Actually, I believe Amber was the one who told me how to roll it out into a rectangle and then roll it into a log and tuck the ends in. My loaves turned out much better this time, so thanks for the tip Amber :-)
If you have never made a yeast bread before, but are interested in taking the plunge, I'd highly recommend this recipe. it is so easy and very delicious. It doesn't really make good sandwich bread because it's very sweet. But it's perfect for breakfast/snacks. I love to make it into French Toast. Yum!

Honey Wheat Bread (source:
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup honey (I used more like 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (I only ended up adding 4 cups of flour. 5 cups of flour makes this bread very dense)

Dissolve yeast in warm water. This should take about 10 minutes. The yeast is dissolved when the mixture is foamy. Add honey, and stir well. Mix in whole wheat flour, salt, and vegetable oil. Work all-purpose flour in gradually. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for at least 10 to 15 minutes (I let my KA Stand Mixer do the work for me here). When dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a well oiled bowl. Turn it several times in the bowl to coat the surface of the dough, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Punch down the dough. Shape into two loaves, and place into two well greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise until dough is 1 to 1 1/2 inches above pans (this should take about 45 minutes to an hour).

Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes.

Friday, March 7, 2008

My first award :-)

I can't tell you how honored I was to find out that Chelle has bestowed such a wonderful award upon me! Chelle is a very dear friend of mine, and I absolutely adore her blog. So when she told me that she was passing along the "You Make My Day" award to me, I was so touched. Chelle totally makes my day, everyday. She makes me laugh all the time and she is just about the sweetest person I know. Thanks so much Chelle!

I am now going to pass this award on to 10 people who make my day (Chelle, I'd totally give this one right back to you :-)) Elly, Meghan, Kate, Carrie, Jenny, Gillian, Renea, Ally, Danielle, and Lauren. Pass this award on to 10 people who make your day!!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Eat to the Beat - Custard Pie

Elly over at Elly Says Opa is having her first blogging event and she has named it Eat to the Beat. I am really excited about this one for a few reasons. First of all, this is my first blogging event. Second, this is Elly's first time hosting event and I am excited to be participating. Most importantly though, is that I think this is a really great idea and really gets people to be creative. I'll be honest though. I didn't think I'd be able to come up with anything. I'm not huge into music. I mean, I love music, don't get me wrong. But I'm sort of indiscriminate to the types of music I listen to. I'll admit to loving a song for a long time and not even knowing who is singing it...But I knew I wanted to participate. So I enlisted the help of my fantastic husband, Rob. And within about 5 minutes I knew what I was making for my entry.

Rob is a pretty big Led Zepplin fan, so for anyone reading this who may already know Rob, it should be no surprise that the first thing that came to mind was a Led Zepplin song. I, of course, had never heard of this particular song, but just from the title I knew what kind of recipe to search for:

Led Zepplin: Custard Pie
Drop down, baby, let your daddy see. Drop down, mama, just dream of me Well, my mama allow me to fool around all night long Well, I may look like I'm crazy, I should know right from wrong See me comin', throw your man out the door Ain't no stranger, been this way before See me comin', mama, throw your man out the door I ain't no stranger, I been this way before. Put on your night shirt and your morning gown You know by night I'm gonna shake 'em all down

Put on your night shirt Mama, and your morning gown
Well, you know by night I'm gonna shake 'em all down Your custard pie, yeah, sweet and nice When you cut it, mama, save me a slice Your custard pie, I declare, it's sweet and nice I Like your custard pie When you cut it, mama... mama, please save me a slice.

Chewin' a piece of your custard pie. Drop down

Easy enough, right? Now the only problem I faced at this point was that I'd never really had custard pie before, much less tried to make it. So I didn't have a tried and true recipe to go to. So off to I went to try to find a fancy, gourmet Custard Pie recipe. No luck. I couldn't find one. So I went to my trusty and found several. So after reading reviews and looking at pictures, I landed on what looked like the best one with the best reviews. I also found out that Custard Pie is extremely easy to make. Bonus points!!

I have also never made pie pastry from scratch before. So I went back to and found a really easy Basic Pie Pastry recipe. It was so easy to throw together and I am very happy about having an opportunity to make pie pastry for the first time. The pastry was a sinch to throw together and rolled out really easily. It resulted in a nice flaky pastry, and was really great for a beginner like myself. However, the flavor was lacking something and I will keep trying other pastry recipes until I find one that is just right for me. I do really recommend this recipe for those who are afraid of pastry dough though! It was super simple and I am no longer afraid.

I'm really disappointed because my pictures turned out really horrible. It's really hard to get a good picture with my camera. But this pie was so delicious! The pictures really do it no justice. I realized as I was measuring the milk that skim milk might not be the best idea for something like a custard pie. But it's all I had because it's all I ever have. And I think it turned out wonderfully. That being said, if I want to make it again (and I'm pretty sure I do!) and make it thicker and firmer I might try half and half or whole milk. My mom tells me that Custard Pie was my grandfather's favorite dessert and so I am dedicating this blog entry to his memory. I wish he could share a piece of this delicious pie with me!

Basic Pie Pastry (source - I am going to type up only the parts of the recipe I used. If you follow the link, it will give you the ingredients for a double crust pie and also the method to use if you are using a food processor.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 to 4 tbsp cold water

Hand Method
Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl and toss together with your hands. Add the shortening. With your fingertips, 2 knives or a pastry blender (i used my fingers), blend the ingredients together, working quickly, until you have a mixture of tiny, irregular flakes and bits about the size of coarse breadcrumbs. Sprinkle on the water, 1 tbsp at a time, stirring gently with a fork after each addition. Add just enough water for the dough to form a rough mass.

With floured hands, pat the dough into a smooth disk. The dough is now ready to use. It is not necessary to refrigerate the dough before rolling (inless you included some butter), although for convenience it may be covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Rolling our the dough:
Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick, or about 2 inches wider than the top of the pie dish. Try to keep the dough as roung as possible.

Transfer the rolled out pastry to the pie dish. Pat the pastry in around the egdes to fit the shape of the dish.

Egg Custard Pie (source:

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsps flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 eggs, beaten
1 recipe for a 9" single crust pie
1. Bake pie shell at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Set aside.

2. Combine melted butter, sugar, flour, milk, vanilla and nutmeg. Add beaten eggs and blend well. Pour filling into partially baked pie shell. I sprinkled the top of the pie with nutmeg and granulated sugar (about a teaspoon of each) before baking and it made for a really nice crust on top

3. Bake at 325 for 45-55 minutes (mine took more like 60 minutes) or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Do not overcook.