Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sauteed Zuchinni & Squash

This simple dish is so flavorful that it makes you really think why you don't make it more often!

Sauteed Zuchinni & Squash

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 cups yellow squash, sliced
2 cups zuchinni, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Slice zucchini and squash thin. Heat oil in a saute pan until hot. Add onions and tomatoes and saute until onions are tender. Add zucchini and squash, immediately stir to coat squashes well. Add salt and pepper. Lower heat and continue to cook until vegetables are tender. Serve immediately (if it sits to long it will become mushy).

Chili Meatloaf & Potato Casserole

I made this recipe for dinner along with some sauteed squash. The casserole was delicious but I should have more thoroughly read the instructions about the size of the pan. I used a 9x13 but you should definitely use something smaller. Other than that it was quite tastely, kinda like a shepard's pie texan style!!

Chili Meatloaf & Potato Casserole

1-1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup saltine cracker crumbs
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. salt

3 cups prepared mashed potatoes
1 can (11 ounces) whole kernel corn with red and green peppers, drained
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 cup shredded taco seasoned cheese

Heat oven to 375*F. In a large bowl, combine meatloaf ingredients, mixing lightly but thoroughly; gently press into bottom of 9-inch square baking pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until no longer pink and juices run clear. Carefully pour off drippings.

Meanwhile in medium bowl, combine all topping ingredients except cheese. Spread over meatloaf to edges of pan; sprinkle with cheese. Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Applesauce-Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

This recipes intrigued me because of a couple things, one black pepper in a cake & cardamom...ooh and the fact that you don't need a mixer for this recipe!! Verdict? Very pronounced cardamom flavor--in a good way, very moist and very delicious. I served it with a scoop of vanilla icecream. YUM-O!

Applesauce-Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake
Adapted from Food&Wine

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
One 12-ounce bag semisweet-chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Crème fraîche, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the granulated sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, salt, cloves and pepper. Whisk in the applesauce, eggs, oil and melted butter. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached.

Transfer the pan to a rack and let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then invert it onto the rack and let cool completely, about 20 minutes. Sift confectioners’ sugar over the cake, slice and serve with crème fraîche.

Polenta Fries

So I rushed out of the house last evening without even taking a pic of the polenta fries that I took to my carpoolers party. These are just soo simple & easy to make. I love polenta and first saw PBS-Everyday Food make this along with some chili-rubbed beef flank. They are nice and crispy and go great with meatloaf or even some other kind of meat dish. Trader Joes has polenta in a tube for less than $2 so whenever I'm there I just pick up a tube so that when I'm at a loss for a side dish, out comes the polenta fries!!
Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Baked Polenta Fries
Adpated from Everyday Food

2 (18oz each) plain prepared polenta
2 Tbsp olive oil
Course salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning or dried oregano

PReheat over to 450*F degrees. Unwrap and cut each tube of polenta in half crosswise. Then cut each half lengthwise into 8 wedges.

Drizzle olive oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Place polenta wedges on baking sheet; season with salt and pepper, and turn gently to coat with oil. Arrnage wedges in a single layer.

Bake, turning once with a thin metal spatula, until golden and crisp, 45-50 minutes. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Transfer to a shallow dish, and toss with Italian seasoning before serving.

Serving: Serves 4

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hard-Boiled Eggs Stuffed with Tomato, Onion, and Olive Oil

I'm headed over to my carpoolers birthday party and of course I get asked to make my infamous 'deviled' eggs. I found this recipe when I was searching for something 'different' to make for my housewarming party last year. This recipe has gourmet written all over it! I tried it and its been my 'signature' party food since. Its sooo easy and yet the flavors are just so robust it makes me want to go to the Greek Islands (not that I haven't been wanting to go there for YEARS!).

Hard-Boiled Eggs Stuffed with Tomato, Onion, and Olive Oil
Adapted from Leite's Culinaria

12 large eggs, hard boiled
1/2 cup good-quality, preferably organic, tomato paste
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1. Peel and halve the eggs being careful not to break the whites. Scoop out the yolks and mash 6 yolks with a fork.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the tomato paste, the mashed egg yolks, the olive oil, and the onion.
3. Season with salt and pepper, and spoon or pipe the mixture back into the hollowed-out whites.
4. Serve.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I had only 2 VERY ripe bananas sitting on my fruit plate and I didn't know what to do with them! I didn't have enough to make my usual banana bread so I start my search! Aha! Found this recipe and killed two birds with one stone...healthy & only calls for 2 bananas! SCORE! While I must confess they are not nearly as screamin good as the banana bread recipe I usually make, this recipe has much more healther ingredients with still a very good solid banana taste--oh and don't forget the chocolate chips!!! Yum-O! ENJOY!

chocolate chip version

butterscotch chips version

Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
Adapted from CL membr emncar

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ or ground flaxseed
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or butterscotch chips)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Oil 24 mini muffin cup pan with cooking spray. Whisk together flours, wheat germ, baking powder, and salt. Combine bananas, eggs, sugar, oil, milk and vanilla. Pour liquid ingredients into dry; stir until moist. Stir in chips. Spoon into pan and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and a tooth pick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 36 mini muffins.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Balsamic Chicken

I made this chicken dish tonight and YUM-O! It was perfect with broccoli & rice pilaf! Very easy to put together and the outcomes was outstanding enough that you could easily serve this during the week and your boyfriend would think you slaved over a stove for hours! ahem!

Courtesy of Everybody Likes Sandwiches

Balsamic Chicken
Adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches

6-8 skinless chicken thighs
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, sliced thinly
salt & pepper
1 T dried rosemary
1 c balsamic vinegar
6 cloves garlic, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a 9x13 baking dish, toss around onion slices and olive oil. Add chicken to dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary. Peek in on the chicken to make sure that the onions don't burn up.

2. In a small saucepan, bring the balsamic vinegar and garlic to a boil. Keep sauce boiling until it reduces into a nice thick, syrupy consistency. Turn off heat and set aside.

3. When chicken is cooked, about 45 minutes later, scrape up all the onion bits from the bottom of the dish to loosen all the yummy bits and then pour over balasamic vinegar sauce over the chicken. Set dish to broil for 2-3 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with sauce heaped over chicken.


The weekend is FINALLY here...couldn't come fast enough. I begin my weekend of doing nothing (hopefully) with a batch of good-ol' brownies. I got this recipe off the internet several years back. I remember because I got recipe googling something completely different---I think it was even work-related and this recipe came up in one of the search results. Anyways, these brownies are freakin good. No frills, just a good ol' chocolate brownie. Have access to a safety deposit box to guard them until the next day. Experienced brownie lovers learn early how to acquire the brownies before an hour has passed by!


2 cup brown sugar
¾ cup butter
3 eggs, beaten
4 squares Baker’s Chocolate--unsweetened, melted
1 c flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

Mix in order given. Pour into 8x8 greased baking pan. Cook for 1 hour (at least) at 250ºF. Cool for 1 hour. Cut into bars.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sour Cream Muffins with Poppy Seed Streusel

So when works sucks and you need to vent your frustrations...what do you do? Make muffins! I'm just about at the end of the oranges from my orange tree in the back yard, but yet another good use for them!!! These muffins are really good. I cut out the recipe years ago from the Cooking Light magazine and have been making them ever since. They are super moist, with that ooh so nice orange taste in the background and oooh yeah quick to whip up!

Sour Cream Muffins with Poppy Seed Streusel
Adapted from Cooking Light

3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fat-free buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 (8-ounce) container reduced-fat sour cream
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375*F.

To prepare streusel, combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

To prepare muffins, lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk and remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a small bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 15 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter. Bake at 375° for 18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove muffins from pans immediately; place on a wire rack.

Yield 15 servings (serving size: 1 muffin)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Coconut Bread

So for dessert tonight I had no time and also no idea what to make. So I looked through my pile of 'will make soon' and was looking for something quick. Ahh quick bread, yep, sounds about right. I had been eyeing this recipe for awhile but just didn't know if it would be ok or not. So I threw it together and wa-la! SCORE! I got this recipe off some dental wives blog but can't seem to find the blog so unfortunately can't link. All in all, its a keeper but of course I have no proof. The guests took them all home and all I have to show for it is them wrapped and ready to go out the door! Sorry! But I'm sure I'll make them again. They really were good! I served it as a thick slice with some vanilla icecream on the side. Yum-O!

Updated: made them again and look at the evidence of wonder...yummmmm!!!

Coconut Bread
Adapted from Dental Wives Blog

1 cup oil
2 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp coconut extract
3 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup buttermilk (or add 1Tbsp vinegar to 1 cup milk as substitute)
1 cup nuts (optional)

Mix oil with sugar, add eggs one at a time. Add coconut exract and mix well. Mix dry ingredients together...flour, baking powder, baking sode, and salt and add to wet ingredients. Mix well and add coconut flakes, buttermilk and nuts.

Grease loaf pan and fill to just over 1/2 full (makes 2 large loafs or about 5 small)

Bake at 350*F for 20-25 minutes.

Boil for 5 minutes...1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 2 Tbsp butter. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tsp coconut extract. Pour glaze over bread while still hot. Remove from pans when completely cooled.

African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup

Made this for dinner tonight and its tastes really good. For a more substantial soup, add an additional spoonful of cooked rice to the bowl with the scallions and peanuts. I served it with some delicious sun-dried tomatoe, parmesan & basil whirls...yummmm!

African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup
Adapted from CL MB hAndyman

1 Tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp minced fresh ginger root
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1-1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cloves
3 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped
2 large sweet potatoes (about 1-1/2 pounds) peeled and coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
4-1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cayenne
1/4 cup chopped, dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts
2 tablespoons peanut butter
chopped fresh cilantro

In a large saucepan or small stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the onion browns around the edges. Add the garlic, ginger, and spices, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring often.Add the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and carrot, and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the water and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the peanut butter; whisk until the peanut butter is fully incorporated. With a food processor or blender, blend the soup (in batches) almost to a puree. Taste, and add the cayenne, if you like. Reheat the soup and ladle into bowls. Top with chopped cilantro and the peanuts.

Serves six.

I have to admit that these are more a party food than a side for soup but they were still very tasty!
Sun-Dried Tomato, Parmesan & Basil Whirls
Adapted from Cherrapeno

1 packet puff pastry
1-2 cups of grated fresh Parmesan cheese (*NOT* from the bottle...pls!!)
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained from olive oil and chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn up
1 tsp chilli flakes, to taste
1 egg, beaten, for glazing

Preheat oven to 400*F. Roll out the pastry quite thin into a large rectangle.

Spread the chopped sun-dried tomatoes evenly over the pastry, leaving a little gap at the edges. Then scatter the Parmesan over, followed by the fresh basil leaves and the chilli flakes. Season with salt and pepper if wanted.

Brush one of the long ends with a little beaten egg, and (from the opposite side) roll the pastry up like a long sausage, and place on a baking tray. Put it in the fridge for about half an hour - it makes it easier to cut. You can cut it in half if it's too long to fit on the tray.

Brush the roll with beaten egg and with a sharp knife or thread, cut it into slices that are no more than 1/2in wide. Put them on baking trays, spaced apart and brush the pastry with a little more beaten egg.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes or so, until they are beginning to brown and the pastry is cooked.

Serve hot or cold.

Armenian Lentil Soup

This is a delicious and different lentil soup. It is from the Cooking Light message board (Alicerh) who got it from an old Moosewood from the late 80's - New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant. The combination of the sweet apricots, cayenne and cinnamon really make it tasty.

Armenian Lentil Soup

1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup sliced celery
3 cup eggplant, cut in 1/2 inch dice ( unpeeled)
1 cup diced green pepper
3-6 cloves garlic, minced

Saute in olive oil until lightly browned

6 cup stock (I use chicken)
1 1/2 cup lentils
1 14 oz can diced tomato
4 oz. dried apricots, sliced (yes!)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tblsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp salt

Simmer until lentils are tender

Finish with:
3 tblsp parsley, chopped
1 tblsp mint, chopped

Adjust seasonings to your taste.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Apricot Tartlets

This past summer my neighbor knocked on my door and gave me a bag FULL of apricots that she said was from her backyard tree. I thanked her, closed my door and thought, "what the hell am I going to do with all these apricots?" And especially, since I don't even like apricots. But true to form, I started surfing online and came across this recipe. Made it and was a successful hit! BF loved it, and I even made another batch for my folks. I even tasted one and have to admit they were good. ENJOY!

Apricot Tartlets
Adapted from Make Life Sweeter!

2 cups flour3
Tbsp sugar
5 oz cold butter, chopped
2-3 Ttbsp iced water

Process the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. While the motor is running, add enough iced water to form a smooth dough and process until just combined. Knead the dough lightly, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

1 ¼ cup whole blanched almonds
½ cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 medium eggs
6 large fresh apricots, halved, stoned, then cut into 10 wedges
4 Tbsp apricot jam
2 tbs water

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Place twelve 2 ½ in-diameter rings onto 2 baking sheets. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Thinly roll out each piece (between no-stick baking paper) to line the metal rings. Trim the top, prick the bases and chill for 10 minutes. Line each pastry with non-stick baking paper or aluminium foil and fill with baking beans or dried beans. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper with the beans. Bake the pastries for a further 5 minutes or until the bases are pale brown and dry.

Lightly toast the almonds in a heavy-based pan for 1-2 minutes until they begin to release their aroma. Cool the nuts slightly, then process them in a food processor until finely ground. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the almonds. Gradually beat in the eggs.

Reduce the oven to 325*F. Spread 3-4 tbs filling into the base of each tartlet. Press apricot wedges into the mixture. Bake the tartlets for 25-30 minutes until the filling is just set and the fruit is starting to caramelize at the tips.

Heat the jam with the water and pass it through a sieve. Allow the tarlets to cool for 1-2 minutes before brushing the glaze on the fruit, filling and pastry edge. Allow to cool before serving.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Chutney Dressing

I made this recipe a couple thanksgivings back after seeing it on the FoodNetwork, took it to a family thanksgiving dinner and got such rave reviews its been on the menu ever since.

Courtesy of FoodNetwork

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Warm Chutney Dressing
Adapted from FoodNetwork

4 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp salt, plus more as needed
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup raw green pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped scallions (green and white)
1 cup julienned roasted red pepper

6 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup mango chutney
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil

Make the Salad:
Preheat oven to 425*F degrees.

In a roasting pan, combine the potatoes, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, rosemary, salt, pepper, cumin and ginger. Stir to combine and bake until the potatoes are fork-tender and golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring, until toasted. Transfer the seeds to a plate and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine the cranberries, scallions, and red pepper and set aside.

Make the Dressing:
Prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients (except for the olive oil) in a small saucepan and heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the olive oil. Assemble salad by gently tossing the roasted potatoes with the red pepper mixture. Add enough of the dressing to coat and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve with extra dressing on the side.

Minestrone Soup

I've been making this recipe I found off some message board (sorry forgot which one) for years now. Its a total hit every time!!! I think it was originally called Ding Dong Ditch Soup because the person that posted the recipe had just moved into the neighborhood and heard the doorbell ring. Opens the door to find a basket with this soup and some instructions and I believe some bread. Anyways, she went to thank the neighbor and good the recipe! SCORE for us!!!

Minestrone Soup

1 lb Italian sausage
1 cup onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cup beef broth
½ cup water
½ cup red wine
28 oz diced tomatoes (or 2 cup fresh)
1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
½ tsp basil
½ tsp oregano
8 oz tomato sauce
1 ½ c zucchini, sliced
8 oz frozen tortellini (or 2 cup macaroni or 8 oz frozen ravioli)
1 bell pepper, chopped
fresh parsley

Brown sausage, onion and garlic. Drain. Add broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered 30 minutes. Skim fat and add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 35-40 minutes. Serve with grated Romano cheese and fresh bread.

Salmon & Asparagus in Alfredo Sauce with Bow Tie Pasta

Here's a quick & super easy recipe for a can of salmon! Got the recipe while visiting my aunt in Hawaii. ENJOY!

Salmon & Asparagus in Alfredo Sauce with Bow Tie Pasta

1 bunch of asparagus, chopped into 1inch pieces
1 small onion, julienned
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lrg can salmon (or 2 small cans), drained
1 Jar Alfredo Sauce (either roasted garlic or 4-cheese flavor)
1/2 - 1 cup water
½ cup sun dried tomatoes
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 box bow tie pasta

Cook pasta as indicated on box and set aside. In a large fry pan, drizzle with olive oil and butter and sauté asparagus. Mix in sundried tomatoes, onions and garlic. Cook till tender (about 7 minutes). Add sauce, cheese and can of salmon and add water as needed if sauce gets too thick. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add the pasta, stir and then serve in large bowl and sprinkle cheese on top. optional saute ½ cup pine nuts on top, so good.

Rolled Flank Steak

I've made this recipe for my BF and it got rave reviews. I don't like the taste of beef so I'll just have to trust him on that one! Course he's asked for it a couple times so it must be good! I served it with Baked Polenta Fries and Spinach Souffle.

Courtesy of Everyday Food

Rolled Flank Steak
Adapted from Everyday Food
Serves 4 Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

1-½ pounds flank steak
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2oz shredded mozzarella cheese (½ cup)
4 scallions, sliced (1/3 cup)
2 ounces (¼ cup) roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450° with rack in center. Between two sheets of plastic wrap, pound steak to 1/2-inch thickness with a meat mallet or heavy skillet. Using a sharp knife, score the steak on one side in a cross-hatched pattern. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and garlic. Marinate at least 20 minutes or up to overnight.

Remove steak from marinade. Lay steak on cutting board, scored side down, with a short end facing edge of work surface. Cover steak with cheese, scallions, and peppers, leaving 1/2-inch border on the long sides and 2-inch border at the far short end. Season with salt and pepper. Starting from closest side, roll up tightly. Using kitchen twine, tie steak crosswise. Season with salt and pepper.

Place, seam side down in a baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast until juices run clear, 35 to 40 minutes for medium rare. Let rest 10 minutes, and remove string before slicing.

Per serving: 394 calories; 25.5 grams fat; 36.1 grams protein; 2.4 grams carbohydrates; 0.5 grams fiber

Orange Muffins

As you can tell, I was a baking queen during this past holiday season and now that its over, I barely have anything to show for it except a few extra pounds!!! I have a orange tree in the backyard that is overflowing with oranges and I literally went out, picked a couple oranges came back into the kitchen and made these bad boys!!! And I mean Baaaaaad!!! You'll be hooked like me! ENJOY!

Orange Mini-Muffins with Brown Sugar Glaze
Adapted from Pioneer Woman

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or just add 1 TBSP white vinegar to just under 1 cup milk)
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour, sifted
Grated rind of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 oranges
1 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375*F degrees. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and mix well. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk; pour in mixing bowl. Add 2 cups flour and orange rind and mix together well. Fill mini muffin pans 2/3 full and bake for 12-17 minutes or until light golden. Remove from oven.

Combine 1 cup brown sugar with the juice from the two oranges. Stir together, and drizzle over warm muffins. Remove from pans immediately and eat warm!

Eggnog Cookies

What a delectable treat for eggnog lovers everywhere! These cookies have a wonderful spicy aroma and are great tasting. The fragrance of nutmeg and cinnamon will infuse your home with holiday spirit as you bake these cookies. They make delicious gifts and are a welcome addition to cookie exchanges. The inspiration came from Cookie Madness but again no camera was available except the blackberry and we all the know that story...

I decreased the nutmeg in the recipe and also used used the icing recipe below. I had several requests for these at work and my brother even took them for his office holiday potluck!

Courtesy of CJ at AllRecipes

Mrs. Field's Eggnog Cookies

1 1/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup eggnog
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300*F. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cream sugar and butter until light. Add eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks; beat at medium speed with mixer until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined. Do not overmix.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg or skip this step and sprinkle on the nutmeg after you ice the cookies. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until bottoms turn light brown.

Transfer to cool, flat surface immediately with spatula.

Eggnog Icing
1-1/2 C. confectioners’ sugar
3 Tbsp eggnog (use as much as you need)
In small mixer bowl, beat confectioners’ sugar and eggnog until icing is smooth. Pour in ziplock bag and cut the tip off a corner and drizzle over cookies.

Hot Chocolate Cookies

I wish I had my camera when I made these. they are super good and I highly recommend making these!! I first saw them made when poking around Culinary in the Desert's food blog and put the recipe on the 'will make list' but didn't have any hot chocolate mix (go figure). Well the holidays rolled around and of course among the many vendor gifts that I receive from work, I got some hot chocolate mix, so I pulled out the recipe from my huge pile of 'will make soon' and went to town! Of course that's the time when my camera charger was missing so I could only take a crappy picture from my blackberry. So for now you can see the cookies compliments of Culinary in the Desert until I make them again sometime and repost.
Courtesy of Culinary in the Desert

Hot Chocolate Cookies (Adapted from Land O Lakes)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup instant hot chocolate cocoa mix - milk chocolate flavor works good
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
24 large marshmallows, cut in half crosswise
For the glaze:
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350*F. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa mix, baking soda and salt.In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined after each. Mix in milk and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
Using a teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the dough onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until the cookie are set, about 8 minutes. Remove and carefully place a marshmallow, cut side down, in the center of each cookie. Place back in the oven and continue baking until the marshmallow begins to look puffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and let cookies sit on the baking sheet for 1 minute before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the glaze
Place confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, add butter, milk and cocoa. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil - let cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Pour mixture into the bowl of confectioners' sugar and beat until creamy. Immediately spoon a little of the glaze over each of the cooled cookies.
Makes about 48 cookies.

White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I tried these cookies sometime right after thanksgiving after finding them off Cookie Madness. All I can say is WOW...these are sooo!!! Man don't skip out on the Bailey's...that's what makes these cookies!!! This recipe is a definite keeper!!

White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2 sticks butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp Bailey’s
3 cups cake flour (see substitution below*)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (3/4 tsp if using unsalted butter)
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts, lightly toasted before chopping
9oz chopped white chocolate

Preheat oven to 375*F degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and both sugars. Beat in eggs, vanilla and Baileys. Stir or sift together cake flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in nuts and white chocolate. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto a parchment lined pan. Bake for 11-13 minutes.

Makes 4 dozen

*Cake Flour Substitute: If you don’t have any cake flour on hand, use this substitution. For every 2 cups flour, the substitute is 1 3/4 flour plus 1/4 cup cornstarch. This recipe calls for 3 cups of flour, so you’d want to use 2 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp flour and 6 Tbsp cornstarch.

Persimmon Bars

My cousin in-law(?) made these bars a couple of thanksgiving dinners ago and I had been meaning to ask her for the recipe. When I finally did, I've been making them ever since--with RAVE reviews!! Thanks Naomi!

Persimmon Bars
Makes 32 bars

1 cup persimmon puree (*see below)
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 large egg
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup loosely packed dried pitted dates (5 oz), finely chopped
1 cup walnuts or pecans (3 1/2 oz), finely chopped

For glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp finely grated fresh lemon zest (optional)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Butter and flour a 15x10-inch shallow baking pan (1 inch deep), knocking out excess flour.

Sift together flour, salt, and spices in another small bowl.

To 1 cup persimmon puree adding baking soda; set aside. (Mixture will become foamy, then jell slightly.) Whisk together egg, sugar, oil, and dates in a large bowl until just combined.

Add flour mixture and persimmon mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and stirring until just combined. Stir in nuts.

Spread batter evenly in baking pan and bake until golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack.

Glaze & cut bars:
Stir together all glaze ingredients until smooth, then spread over top of cooled cake. Cut crosswise into 8 strips, then lengthwise into fourths, for a total of 32 bars.

Bars keep in an airtight container 3 days.

*For persimmon puree: cut persimmons in half and scoop out pulp. Discard skin, seeds and stem. In a blender or food processor, blend pulp until smooth (you'll probably need 3-4 medium size persimmons for 1 cup puree. For each cup of puree, thoroughly stir in 1-1/2 tsp lemon juice. To store, freeze in 1-cup batches in freezer-proof containers.

Coffee Hazelnut Cookies

Here's another recipe I made during the holiday season. I found it off Fresh From the Oven's food blog and surfed over to Cafe Fernando where I found out that the original recipe came from Alice Medrich’s new book Pure Dessert. Whew!!! Even found out that the original recipe was made with walnuts (not hazelnuts) but all in all...verdict? EXCELLENT cookie! Especially to go with coffee! I took them to the office the first day back from the holiday break and they were gone by the time I had gone back into the kitchen for another one mid-morning!!!

I didn't have any whole beans on hand but had some dark chocolate covered espresso beans from Trader Joes in the closet which I placed on the cookie as soon as it came out of the oven and wow--what a hit!!! SCORE!!!!

Coffee Hazelnut Cookies
Makes 45 2-inch cookies

2 cups flour
1 cup hazelnuts (whole)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh finely ground medium-roast coffee beans, plus 45 whole beans
14 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the flour, hazelnuts, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the hazelnuts are finely ground. Add the ground coffee and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Drizzle in pure vanilla extract and pulse until the dough begins to clump up around the blade. Remove the dough and press it into a ball. Knead a few times to complete the mixing.

At this point, either roll the dough into a 12×2 inch log or divide the dough in half and form into 2 flat patties. Wrap it and refrigerate at least two hours (or overnight).

Preheat your oven to 350*F.
If you rolled the dough into a log, cut into 1/4 inch slices and place on ungreased sheets 1 inch apart. Press a coffee bean into the center of each cookie. If you formed the flat patties, roll the dough between two pieces of wax paper to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Using cookie cutters, cut out cookies and place on ungreased sheets 1 inch apart. Press a coffee bean into the center of each cookie.

Bake until golden at the edges, 14-16 minutes. Let cookies cool to room temperature before transferring to a rack. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for at least a month.


The Alfajor, also known as a Caramel Sandwich Cookie, is a traditional South American cookie that's usually served during Christmas. Two round biscuits are spread with dulce de leche and sprinkled with powdered sugar. The premise changes a bit depending on the country, and some varieties are rolled in coconut, chopped peanuts, or dipped in chocolate.

Dulce de leche, mmmmm, that divine Latin American caramel, isn’t hard to make; it just takes a bit of attention. Most recipes begin with a can of sweetened condensed milk. Rest assured, this is entirely authentic. There are five ways to make it: in the can, in a pressure cooker, in a saucepan, in the oven, or in a microwave. I chose 'in the can' method.

Nook & Pantry food blog inspired me to make this recipe during the christmas holiday and boy was I not disappointed! I will admit that I had to finish up the thickening process in the microwave for about 5 minutes at the end, but BOY O BOY O BOY---the results were spectacular!!! Awesome!!


1 1/4 C AP flour
1/2 C corn starch
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 C sugar
1 stick of butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Dulce de leche*
Powdered sugar
Cinnamon (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350*F degrees.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In another bowl whisk together the flour (starting with 1 cup), cornstarch, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Add the egg and vanilla to the butter and beat until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and beat until the dough comes together. Add some of the remaining 1/4 C of flour if the dough is too wet.

Roll out the dough to about 1/4 in thickness and cut into whatever shape you desire. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges are light golden brown.

Cool on a rack and fill with a heaping teaspoon or more of dulce de leche.

Dust the tops with some powdered sugar (add a tiny bit of cinnamon if preferred).

*HOMEMADE Dulce de leche
The classic in-the-can method is simple: Place an unopened can (or do a few at once) of sweetened condensed milk in a pot, well covered with water, and bring the water to a boil. Keep at a low boil for two to three hours, making sure the water level always stays above the top of the can (if the can isn’t submerged, it may explode). The longer it cooks, the thicker the dulce de leche will be; after two hours, you’ll be able to drizzle it, and after three hours, it will be thick enough to sandwich cookies. Make sure the can is thoroughly cool before you open it.
In the microwave: Pour the condensed milk in a bowl that can hold at least twice the volume of the milk. Microwave in five-minute intervals, stirring each time, and watch carefully, as it will foam up as it cooks. Cook to desired consistency.

Monster Cookies

These are the best cookies in the world! My best friend's mom used to make these for us 20 years ago. They are just as good as I remembered!

Monster Cookies

1/2 c butter or margarined, softened
1 c sugar
1 c Plus 2 Tbsp brown sugar, firmly packed
3 eggs
2 c crunchy peanut butter
1/4 ts vanilla extract
3/4 tsp light corn syrup
4 1/2 c regular oats, uncooked
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c M&M's
1 c chocolate chips

Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, peanut butter, vanilla, and corn syrup; beat well. Add oats, soda, and salt, stirring well. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, four inches apart, onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350*F degrees for 12-15 minutes (centers of cookies will be slightly soft). Cool slightly on cookie sheets; remove to wire racks and cool completely.

The Last of the Pumpkin

So I had some left-over pumpkin puree and instead of making it into gourmet dog food (literally, Macy LOVES pumpkin mixed with her dry food!) I trolled around food blogs and found this recipe off The Savory Notebook. I'm not a huge Rachael Ray fan, but the dish was surprisingly delicious, unlike some of her other recipes I've tried in the past. I actually turned this recipe into a vegetarian meal and made it with tofu italian sausage & used vegetable stock but changed nothing else.

Pumpkin Pasta with Sausage and Wild Mushrooms
Source: Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats

2 Tbsp EVOO
1 lb bulk sweet Italian sausage
1/4-1/2 lb shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
2 portobello mushrooms, sliced (or use about 5oz white button)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock or broth
1 14-ounce can pumpkin puree (or 2 cups of butternut squash puree)
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
1 pound penne rigate, cooked to al dente
Romano or Parmigiano, for grating
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (optional)

Heat a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and brown the sausage in it. Transfer sausage to paper towel lined plate. Drain fat from skillet and return pan to the stove. Add the remaining tablespoon oil, and then the garlic, onions and mushrooms. Saute 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are tender and mushrooms are browned. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Add chicken stock and heat for one minute. Stir in pumpkin and incorporate - it will be thick. Return sausage to pan, reduce heat, and stir in cream. Season the sauce with the cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer mixture 5 to 10 minutes to thicken sauce. Return drained pasta to the pot you cooked it in. Combine sauce and pasta and toss over low heat for 1 minute. Top with cheese and chives.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Whew! I'm back! I can't believe I was telling my friends how much one uses the internet...even for the simpliest things, like looking up hours for a department store, or finding the substitution for saffron, or...or...or...trying to figure out how to switch internet providers!!!!!

Let's just make a long story short and tell you that I'm glad to be back!!! I'm still with freakin' AT&T DSL but I have a new modem box. Let's just leave it at don't want me to get started...

I haven't been baking much since the 'incident' but I did make this wonderful banana bread. I got it off the copykat message board. The key that makes this banana bread stand out is the mini chocolate chips!!! AWESOME!!

Coll's Banana Bread

2 1/2 C flour
1 t salt
2 t baking soda
1 C Margarine or butter (*I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)
2 C sugar
2 C mashed ripe bananas (4-6)
4 egss, slightly beaten
Added options: walnuts, dried cranberries* *1/2 C mini chocolate chips, **personal FAV!

1. Preheat oven to 350*F
2. Grease and flour baking pan (*muffin tins or bread pan)
3. Combine flour, salt, baking soda - set aside
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine margarine, sugar and eggs, belnd well. Add bananas and blend well.
5. Add flour mixture to the banana mixture until thoroughly blended. Batter may be lumpy from bananas.
6. Pour into prepared pan or muffin tins.Bake until center is done when checked with a wooden skewer.
7. Baking times for full recipe:
4 mini loaf pans : 45 minutes
24 mini muffins : 15-17 minutes
18 large muffins : 25 minutes
2 loaf pans: 65-70 minutes

Muffins and bread will turn a very dark brown. Check center for doneness. Remove from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes before inverting.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Carmel Apple Cheesecake

Happy New Year!
A new year that brings new adventures/opportunites/life lessons, etc. I'm up for the challenge, are you? My biggest challenge recently is DSL...yes, I've been an loyal customer since AT&T merged with yahoo (is that dating me or what?...) but I finally think I'm going to have to give it up!! I've been having MAJOR connection problems and its been especially at its worse since I've been off on vacation since Dec 21...grrrrrrr! I called them to come out and take a look but of course they claim that my 'signal' is strong from the outside but it might be a issue inside and I'd have to pay the extra cost for a technican to troubleshoot inside...well when I found out that it was going to cost me $75/hr for him to just LOOK AROUND whether he finds something or not...I told him to stay outside!! :) I mean really...I'm no computer geek but I'm not stupid either. So it looks like I need to do some research on cable internet but now the issue is...I have the 'Dish'!!!

Can you see where my new year is going thus far??? So I just said, screw it all, went into the kitchen and whipped up a Paula-Dean-feel-good recipe -- Carmel Apple Cheesecake. I've made this recipe several times and its delicious every time, not to mention super duper easy, kinda like a cheater's version of making 'original' cheesecake. Soo creamy and yummy!!! I didn't change a thing to this recipe so I've just provided the link...ENJOY


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