Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chicken Riggies

This caught my attention on the all recipes site. Apparently there is an annual Riggifest in upstate New York where the recipe originated. This is my interpretation, since a lot of other recipes call for olives, mushrooms and cayenne which wouldn't be too popular in my house. Most puree the tomatoes or use a tomato sauce, which would be good, but I like it kind of 'topping' like. My picture isn't too good, but it does have a lot of great flavor and is quick and easy.


1/4 C butter
4 T olive oil
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
salt and pepper
1 jar (370 ml) of roasted red peppers, drained and julienned
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp sugar and black pepper
*red pepper flakes or 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
3/4 C heavy cream

1 pound of Rigatoni noodles, cooked to your preference.(I hate al dente--too chewy. Just my opinion.)

In a good sized skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion. Saute until soft. Add the chicken and cook until chicken is no longer pink inside. Then add the peppers, tomatoes, spices. Simmer on low for 10 minutes then add the cream. Keep simmering and stir occasionally for a few minutes longer. Add salt and pepper if needed. Serve over hot rigatoni noodles. Serve with parmesan cheese if desired. -- I always desire ( :
Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Too Much Chocolate Cake

This is my sister Darcie's favorite cake-- for taste and ease of preparation. With twin babies, quick and easy is a good thing! She says it tastes best right out of the fridge. I found this recipe many years ago on all recipes. It can be dusted with a bit of confectioners sugar or as I prefer, with a quick chocolate glaze.

1 box of Devil's Food cake mix
1 large pkg instant chocolate pudding mix
1 C sour cream
1 C vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs
1/2 C warm water
2 C semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix all the above ingredients together except the chocolate chips. When well mixed, fold in the chocolate chips. The mini chips are nice because they don't sink to the bottom of the batter, but regular size ones are fine. Pour batter into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until top springs back and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for a few hours before inverting onto a plate.


Use equal amount of whipping cream and chopped semi-sweet chocolate.
Carefully bring 8oz of whipping cream to a boil. Remove from the stove and pour over 8oz of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate pieces. Stir until melted and smooth. Pour and drizzle over the cooled cake.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Nana's Butter Tarts

In memory of the best Nana ever
I am sharing her recipe for Butter Tarts.
Over the years I've collected quite a few of her recipes
and this gem was tucked away in a 4 page letter that she
wrote me a long time ago.
Nana's Butter Tarts:
3 c. brown sugar
5 eggs
1 c. butter, softened
2 t. vanilla
4 T. heavy whipping cream
2 c. raisins (optional)
1 c. pecans or walnuts (also optional)
Any good pastry pie crust recipe (I used the Krusteaz's brand that comes in the box)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Cream the butter, sugar and eggs well. Add whipping cream and vanilla, mix thoroughly. Pour into tart shells being careful not to fill more than 1/2 way full. I haven't had any luck finding premade tart shells and began by using premade, pre-rolled out pie crust. This time around I used a Krusteaz brand box pie crust mix where you simply add water and stir. It was great! The second batch of butter tarts was even more incredible because they had a nice thick crust, just like I remember.
Bake for 20-25 mins, watching carefully so they don't burn. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Left over filling can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gram's Best Brown Sugar Cake

This unassuming little bundt cake has just been added

to my top 5 favorite desserts!

It'll fit perfectly into the time when strawberries are

out of season and you just don't want chocolate.

I've been looking for an excuse to make Browned Butter Frosting

and this was the occasion - Boy, was it ever.

Gram's Best Brown Sugar Cake:

1 boxed yellow cake mix

1 pkg. (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding

4 eggs

2/3 c. sour cream

2/3 c. water

1/2 c. oil

1 c. packed brown sugar

1 c. chopped pecans - I used walnuts since I have a walnut hook-up

1 recipe Browned Butter Frosting (to follow)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a bundt pan with baking spray, set aside.

In a large bowl combine, cake mix, pudding, eggs, sour cream, water and oil. Mix for 3 minutes. Add brown sugar and chopped nuts. Mix until well combined.

Spoon into the bundt pan and cook for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto serving platter. Cool completely.

When cool, frost with Browned Butter Frosting. If you want, sprinkle a few chopped nuts on the cake after it's frosted.

Browned Butter Frosting:

1/2 c. butter, must be butter!

2 1/2 c. powdered sugar

1/4 c. whipping cream

1 t. vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, over low heat melt butter and wait for it to turn a light brown, caramelized color. This will take about 15 minutes. Watch it closely so it does not burn.

After it has browned, pour into a large bowl. Immediately add sugar, whipping cream and vanilla. Beat ingredients together for a minute or so, until they come together and look like heaven. Resist the urge to get a spoon and eat it all...Frost the cooled cake and eat the rest.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

I generally dislike store bought cookies and ironically, Oreos are pretty far from homemade in look and in taste--but I love them. I found this recipe on a blog called Fake Ginger and had to make them because it calls for a whole lot of Oreo goodness.

For the cupcakes:

24 Oreo halves, with cream filling attached
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C butter at room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup milk
20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
6 T butter, at room temperature
1 T vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 T whipping cream

For garnish:
Oreo cookie halves

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two cupcake pans with 24 paper liners. Place an Oreo halve in the bottom of each liner, cream side up.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir together with a fork to blend and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend in the egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Add the milk and beat just until combined, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla extract. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add the heavy cream to the bowl and beat on medium-low speed just until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired. Garnish with Oreo halves.

Because the frosting has cream cheese, I store them in the fridge.

Bon Appetit!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

As a kid my Mom made homemade pudding regularly.
My favorite was butterscotch pudding.
I didn't even know about
Jell-O pudding or Snack Packs.
Pudding was something you made, not bought.
So, here for your consideration is an easy, homey confection.
It reminds me of being a kid.
Homemade Chocolate Pudding:
(Makes about 4 cups)

1/4 c. packed brown sugar
3 T. cocoa powder
3 T. corn starch
1/4 t. salt
2 3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 c. milk chocolate chips
1 t. vanilla extract

In a large saucepan combine the dry ingredients. Whisk lightly. Add the milk and cream, whisking until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and simmer, stirring often. Once the chocolate chips are melted and pudding is simmering, lower the heat and stir constantly until thickened. Don't try to speed this process as it will result in burning the pudding. Stir until large bubbles pop at the surface about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Let pudding cool or speed up the process (because you can't wait to try it) by using an ice-water bath and stirring to cool. Make sure you cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding to avoid a skin starting to form.

Refrigerate for up to 3 if it will last that long!

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sheet Cake Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies have to be one of my favorite treats.
Chilling, rolling and cutting out Sugar Cookies...not so much.
This recipe takes all of the time consuming aspects of the
Sugar Cookie out of the equation.

Sheet Cake Sugar Cookies:
1 c. butter, softened (no substitutions!)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 t. vanilla
1 t. almond extract
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
2 3/4 c. flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid, cream together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla & almond extracts. Cream until light and fluffy. Add sugar and egg. Once they are incorporated, add baking soda, baking powder and flour. Do not overmix.
Spray a 10x15 inch sheet cake pan. Spread cookie mixture into the pan and bake for 18 minutes.
Frost with your favorite frosting! I used a simple buttercream flavored with almond extract & colored pink!
Bon Appetit!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Frosted Banana Cookies

Here for your consideration is yet another way
to use up those bananas that are sitting on your counter!
The cookies, while they are tasty - are elevated to another level
with the browned butter frosting.
I'd never made browned butter frosting before,
but I LOVE BUTTER. So how could I go wrong?
It is fantastic.

Frosted Banana Cookies:
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 c. mashed banana's
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. distilled white vinegar
3 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 c. walnuts (optional)
Mix together the first 8 ingredients until light and creamy. Add dry ingredients and mix until it comes together.
Chill for 1 hour.
Drop by teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.
Let cool then frost.
Browned Butter Frosting:
1/2 c. butter
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1 t. vanilla extract
Place stick of butter in a small saucepan and set it over low heat. It is best to not use non-stick or a dark coated pan in this step because it will be difficult to tell when the butter has turned brown. Let the butter melt over low heat and turn a caramel color, about 15 minutes. Watch carefully so the butter doesn't burn. Once it has turned a nice medium brown color, remove from the heat. Pour the butter into a medium bowl. Immediately add the powdered sugar, whipping cream and vanilla. Mix well with electric mixer until the frosting is smooth and thick.
Bon Appetit!

P.S. I did try some with a whipped chocolate frosting, but I fell so deeply in love with the Browned Butter Frosting that the chocolate didn't even appeal to me. You may enjoy chocolate though.

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

I love the salty and sweet combination in this classic cookie. I like to use chunks of chocolate, like chopped Hersey Kisses. Any kind of pretzels will do--just give them a good smash with a rolling pin and throw in!

3/4 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 C crushed pretzels
1 1/2 chocolate chips /or chunks

Line a cookies sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla; beat well. Mix the flour and baking soda together and then beat in.
Stir in the pretzels and chocolate. Scoop out onto the cookie sheet and bake 10-13 minutes. Let the cookies rest for 5 minutes before taking off of the cookie sheet. Place on a wire rack to finish cooling. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Penne with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

I love any kind of pasta-- especially anything from Giada. Start to finish, this really tasty, flavorful pasta dish comes together in 20 minutes--( but tastes like it took a whole lot longer!)

Cook 1 lb of pasta in boiling, salted water, for approximately 12 minutes, or until tender.

While the pasta is cooking, make the pesto. You will need:

1 270ml jar (9 oz) of sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil--do not drain
2 garlic cloves
1 C packed, fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper

Put the above ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Scrape the pesto into a bowl and stir in:
1/2 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Set aside.

When the pasta has finished cooking, drain, reserving 1 C of the cooking water.

Add the pasta to the pesto, tossing to coat, adding enough of the cooking water to moisten. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


This is a pretty quick dinner that my kids call backwards pizza. The dough requires no rising which can be good thing if you are like me, and don't always plan too long ahead of time.


Dissolve 2 tsp of sugar in 1 C of warm water.
Sprinkle one envelope (or 1 T) of yeast on top. Let stand in a warm place for about 10 minutes. Mix lightly.

Add 4 T of oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 1/2 C flour and mix together. Knead on a floured surface for several minutes or until smooth and a bit stretchy.

Roll dough and cut into rounds (I usually use a cereal bowl). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or some greased foil. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spread sauce on the dough. Put grated cheese and whatever pizza toppings you like on half of the dough. Fold the other half of the dough over the cheese and pinch well with a fork or fingers to ensure a good seal. Cut some slits on the top and brush with olive oil. If desired, sprinkle some parmesan on top.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until cooked and lightly browned. Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tiramisu Layer Cake - AKA Kaluha Cake

Here is a fantastic-ly easy cake with W-O-W results!
It starts with a white cake mix (shh, don't tell)
and ends with lots of Oooo's and Ahhhh's!

Kahlua Cake:
1 pkg white cake mix (I like Betty Crocker the best)
1/4 c. instant coffee
1/4 c. coffee
2 T. Kahlua
1 - 8 oz block cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. sour cream
1/2 c. powdered sugar
4-5 T. Kahlua
3 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. powdered sugar
4 T. Kahlua
2 T. cocoa powder
Chocolate curls
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3 (9in) round pans.
Prepare cake mix according to directions. Divide batter into thirds. Place 1/3 of plain cake mix into a pan. To the other 2/3's add the instant coffee, stir to combine - then pour into the remaining 2 pans. Bake for about 20 minutes. Use a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake to check for done-ness. Cool for 10 mins in pan, then turn out onto a wire rack.
In a measuring cup, combine 1/4 c. coffee and 2 T. Kahlua. When cakes are cooled, brush the coffee/Kahlua mixture over the 1 white layer. Set aside.
To make the filling: In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid, combine cream cheese, sour cream, powdered sugar and Kahlua. Beat until creamy and fluffy. Set aside.
To make the frosting: In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid, combine whipping cream, powdered sugar and Kahlua. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Add about 1/2 of the frosting to the filling and stir until incorporated. Set aside.
To assemble the cake: Place one coffee cake layer on a serving plate. Then spread 1/2 of the filling over the cake. Top with white cake layer. Spread with remaining filling. Top with last coffee cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with frosting. Place cocoa in a sieve and lightly dust top of cake. Garnish with chocolate curls. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Bon Appetit!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Better than Crunchie Bar

One of my favorite chocolate bars is a Canadian one called Crunchie. I have fond memories of buying small bricks of it from the Bulk Barn with my Nana, who still loves the stuff. This recipe is so quick and easy, either plain or dipped in chocolate.

2 1/2 C white sugar
2/3 C corn syrup
6 T water
2 tsp vanilla
2 T baking soda

Line the bottom of a 9X13" pan with parchment paper, making sure the parchment sides are at least 2 inches above the sides of the pan. Grease with a little bit of oil, or some cooking spray. Set aside.

Add the sugar, corn syrup and water to a deep, heavy bottomed pan. Stir ingredients together then bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, without stirring. Cook until the hard crack stage-- 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer. It should take about 10 minutes. During the cooking process, if there are any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan, brush the sides with a clean pastry brush dipped in water.

Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the vanilla and then the baking soda. The mixture will bubble up quite a bit after adding the baking soda. Immediately pour into the pan. Let cool and set completely. Peel off the parchment and break into pieces. Dip in melted chocolate if desired or eat plain. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Bon Appetit!

Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip

I love spicy anything.
The hotter the better!
I found this recipe in one of those
"2 free recipes" brochures that come in the mail,
from Taste of Home.
I didn't order what they were selling,
but this recipe is a keeper!

Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip:

1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 c. Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 c. ranch dressing
3 cans (4.5 oz. each) of chunk white chicken, drained and shredded
1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 bunch of green onions, chopped, divided
Corn or tortilla chips

In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, hot sauce and ranch dressing. Stir well. Add chicken, 1 c. cheddar cheese and 2/3's of the green onion. Combine - then spread into a 11x7 inch baking dish. I used a round stoneware pan, which worked well also.

Bake, uncovered for 20-22 minutes or until heated through. At about the 1/2 way mark, I sprinkled the remaining cheddar cheese over the dip. Once removed from the oven, sprinkle the remaining onions on top.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Bon Appetit!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Waldorf Salad

I make this salad all the time. I love the tartness of the apples with the creamy mayonnaise and crunch of the walnuts. The salad was invented in the late 1800's at the Waldorf Hotel in NYC. You can always add chicken if you want to have it for more of a main course.

1/2 C mayonnaise
1 T sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
3/4 C thinly sliced celery
1/2 C chopped walnuts (or pecans work fine)

Whisk the mayonnaise, sugar and salt together. Cut up the apples and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Add the celery and nuts and then combine with the mayonnaise mixture. Chill until you are ready to serve. Bon Appetit!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hot Chocolate Truffle Balls

I was intrigued by this recipe.
I mean, what could be better than good quality chocolate and whipping cream?
The whole idea behind it just seemed like a fun twist on an old classic.

Hot Chocolate Truffle Balls:

*Makes about 25 hot chocolate balls

4 cups (24 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips (or really, any combination of chocolate you enjoy)
2 c. heavy cream
3-4 T. sugar (optional, I used it since I used both dark & bittersweet chocolate)

Place chocolate chips & sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a heavy saucepan, bring cream to a light boil. Pour cream over chocolate chips and let sit for a minute or two. Stir to combine - keep stirring. You may wonder if it will ever come together...keep stirring until it is silky and smooth.

Let the mixture cool for about 10 mins at room temperature. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator until the ganache is firm but scoopable, about 3 hours. Using a large cookie scoop (mine holds about 3 T.) scoop chocolate and place on parchment paper. Place balls back in refrigerator until firm.

Place each ball onto a piece of plastic wrap, bringing the sides up and tying off with a ribbon. Place balls in the freezer until ready to use.

To make hot chocolate: Pour 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups (depending on how rich you like it) milk into a microwave safe mug. When milk is hot, carefully drop one unwrapped truffle ball in the milk. Stir well until the chocolate is combined with the milk.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

These are one of my favorite-- cannot be quicker-- "chocolate fix" snacks to make. Also good to make when you don't want to bother with the oven. When we were younger, my sister used to eat right out of the pot and never make them into cookies.

1/3 C cocoa
1/2 C butter or margarine
1/2 C milk
1 1/2 C sugar

Stir over medium heat until mixture reaches a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add:

1/2 tsp vanilla
3 C quick oats
1 C sweetened flake coconut

Scoop small amounts of mix, shape into balls and place on waxed paper to let firm up and cool. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

I'll admit it.
I've always been a little apprehensive
when it comes to biscuits.
I've made my fair share of "rocks" that were
suppose to be biscuits.
Yesterday I made Chicken Noodle Soup that was
screaming for
a nice, light and flaky biscuit.
I ran to my favorite website, Allrecipes and tried this one.
They turned out fantastic!

Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 c. butter, cold
1/2 c. shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
3/4 c. buttermilk

In a bowl (I used my food processor) combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cayenne. Pulse to combine. Add the cold butter 1 T. at a time, pulsing the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. (Since I used a food processor, my crumbs were finer.)

I poured the crumbs into a bowl and added the cheddar cheese to toss. Stir in the buttermilk until just moistened.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 8-10 times. (Mine was a little too dry, so I added another 1-2 T. buttermilk so it would come together.)

This is where I deviated from the recipe. The original recipe says to: Pat or roll to 1 inch thickness; cut with a floured 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter.

Instead, I just took chunks of the dough, gently formed them into discs that were approximately 1 inch thick. That way there were no left over pieces to roll out later. They baked up beautifully!

Sorry, here's the rest of the recipe:

Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.

Chef's Note: Buttermilk is not something I have always had on hand, UNTIL I was told it could be frozen and used at a later date. Not rocket science I know, but I'd never thought about it. Buttermilk is insanely cheap. When I bought it yesterday it was .37 cents for 1 cup! I bought 5 and threw 4 in the freezer:)

Bon Appetit!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Death By Chocolate Cake

I MAY have gotten a little carried away with the chocolate ganache.
It's still up for debate.
This is a really easy, really really rich and really really really decadent
dessert that will leave you begging for milk!

Death By Chocolate Cake:
1 chocolate cake mix - I prefer Pillsbury since it has pudding in the mix
1 (3 oz) box of instant chocolate pudding
1/2 c. oil
1/4 c. water
4 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1 (12 oz) pkg of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a bundt pan. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine the ingredients in the order listed. Combine well.
Spread the batter, which will be very thick into the bundt pan.
Bake for 55 mins. Remove from oven, turn the cake out onto a cake plate and let it cool.
Make the chocolate ganache.
Chocolate Ganache: (You may 1/2 this recipe if you would like less chocolate...crazy suggestion, I know.)
1 c. heavy whipping cream
10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 T. strong coffee OR 1 t. vanilla extract
Place chocolate chips in a medium sized bowl. On the stove, bring the whipping cream to a boil. Pour over the chocolate chips. Let them sit for a minute or so - add the coffee or vanilla - then stir until smooth. Let the ganache sit at room temperature while the cake cools.
Once everything is cooled and the ganache has thickened, pour it over the cake making sure you get every nook and cranny!
Bon Appetit!

Crispy Mashed Potato Cakes

Yet again, apologies for the bad photo...
I found this recipe in one of my old Cooking Light magazines. It is a really great--and tasty way to use up extra mashed potatoes. As an added bonus, they are even baked in the oven instead of fried like a lot of potato cakes are. I swapped turkey bacon and one diced shallot because I didn't have any green onions and I don't eat regular bacon but I will post the original recipe as it was written. Furthermore, I know I added more cheese than it called for because as my husband says, "you can never have too much cheese!" Look for the panko Japanese breadcrumbs for this recipe to get that really crispy crunch in contrast with the soft potato filling.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

1/2 C chopped green onions
2 C mashed potatoes, chilled
2 T shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 center-cut bacon slice, cooked and crumbled
3/4 C panko bread crumbs

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Coat with cooking spray or a little oil. Add green onions to pan and cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Place mashed potatoes in a medium bowl. Stir in onions, cheese, salt and pepper, and bacon. Divide potato mixture in to 6 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2" thick patty. Dredge patties in panko. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray (or I just used Parchment paper). Bake for 12 minutes. Carefully turn patties over; bake an additional 12 minutes or until golden.
Bon appetit!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

If you are craving chocolate...this cheesecake will not disappoint.
You can make this dessert up to 3 days in advance!

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake:

20 Oreo cookies, crushed
6 T. butter, melted

11.5 oz semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate chips - use the best quality you can afford
4, 8oz packages cream cheese, room temp
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
4 large eggs

3/4 c. whipping cream
6 oz. semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate chips
1 T. sugar

Chocolate curls for garnish

For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan with 3 inch sides. Process the Oreo cookies until they are finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl and add melted butter. Mix until well combined. Press crumbs into the bottom only of the spring form pan. Bake just until set 5-8 mins. Cool while preparing filling.

For the filling: Melt the chocolate in the microwave using short bursts of power for 15-30 second intervals until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside. In the large bowl of a Kitchen Aid blend the cream cheese, sugar and cocoa. Mix until smooth. Blend in eggs 1 at a time. When smooth add melted chocolate and mix until combined. Pour the filling over the crust, smooth the top and bake until center is just set and top appears dry - about 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 mins. Run knife around sides of cake to loosen. Let the cheesecake cool to room temp. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

For the topping: One hour before serving (or up to 3 days ahead), stir cream and 6 oz chocolate and sugar in a heavy saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Pour over the center of the cheesecake, spreading to within 1/2 inch of edge and filling any cracks. Chill until the topping is set, about 1 hour.

It is preferable to let the cheesecake stand at room temp for 1-2 hours before serving.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gingerbread Cake

Apologies for the beyond bad photo. My sister is using the camera I usually use to photograph her new babies-- a lot more important than food pictures!

It has been a year since my Dad passed. I miss him so much and it helps to have so many amazing and fun memories that I can think and remember. One of those is going to a restaurant at Peggy's Cove called the Sou'Wester. They have this really good Gingerbread cake that they serve with lemon sauce or soft-serve vanilla ice cream. We'd see the lighthouse and the ocean, skip the gift shop and head straight for the cake. Good times. I think of him when I make and enjoy this cake. It rises really high and is moist and really yummy.

1/2 C butter or margarine
1/2 C brown sugar
1 egg
1 C molasses
1/3 C applesauce
2 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 C hot water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix butter and sugar until smooth; beat in the egg. Add the molasses and the applesauce.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Whisk together and add to the molasses mixture. Mix well. Add the hot water and stir until combined. Scrape the batter into a greased and floured 9 X 9" pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool and serve with whipped cream, ice cream or lemon sauce. Bon Appetit!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mummified Hot Dogs

I am a tad late to post a Hallowe'en recipe, but even though I make these year-round, they way the dough is wrapped really looks like little mummies. We had these for dinner the other night and my extremely picky son who has never eaten a hot dog actually consented to try and then eat and actually like a hot dog. (I know they aren't the best thing for you or anything, but it was quite an accomplishment for and 8 year-old who eats 1/2 a dozen things!) The dough is my friend Tami's quick and easy breadstick recipe that requires no kneading or no rising time when you use the dough this way. I usually stuff a bit of cheese inside before wrapping the dough.

1 T yeast
1 1/2 C warm water
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 C+ flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Add more flour if dough is too sticky. Let rest 10 minutes.(There is quite a bit of dough so I usually cut it in half and put the other half in the freezer for later use.) Roll dough out on a floured surface and cut into strips. Wrap dough starting from one end all around the hot dog. Bake at 350 degrees on parchment paper or a greased cookie sheet. Bake until dough is golden and the hot dog begins to "sweat", about 12 to 15 minutes. Dot on some mustard eyes if you are so inclined ( :

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Roll

Did I mention, Mmmmm?

Pumpkin Roll:

3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
2 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 c. pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1 t. lemon juice

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 inch jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Cut out a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan, press into sprayed pan and then spray again. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine. Add lemon juice, followed by dry ingredients - pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and flour. Beat until combined.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Once you remove it from the oven turn the cake out onto another piece of parchment paper. Carefully roll up the cake in the parchment paper, lengthwise. Let it cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack.

While the cake is cooling make the frosting.

Place cream cheese and butter in bowl. Beat until smooth. Add vanilla and powdered sugar, beat until well blended.

Once cake has cooled, gently unroll it and spread with frosting. Immediately re-roll the cake, without the parchment and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. You may also freeze it at this point for up to 2 weeks.

Cut the cake into slices right before serving.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Harvest Apple Cake

Big Chunks of Apples.
I wasn't sure how so many apples and so little batter would turn out,
but this might be my new favorite snack cake.
It Doesn't Need Frosting...
One more perk to this cake.
You can substitute applesauce for 1/2 of the oil.
The quantity of apples keep it beyond moist.
I found I was "trimming up the edges" as we say in our family TOO much.
It's THAT good.

Harvest Apple Cake:

2 eggs
1 c. oil - you can sub applesauce with great results
2 c. sugar
3 t. apple pie spice - which is just cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
1/2 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
4 c. apples, peeled, cored and seeded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, oil and sugar. Beat until light in color, about 2 minutes. Add spices, salt, vanilla and soda. Add apples and stir until incorporated. Add flour, stirring until just blended.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour. Mine took a bit longer - bake until a toothpick comes out clean.

You may garnish with whipping cream or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Bon Appetit!

***Chef's Note - I used canned apples, which come in a light juice. Somewhat hard to find, but I am sure fresh apples would work well also.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Cake

I've already made this cake several times in the last few weeks. It is really moist, yummy and flavorful -- a great fall-time treat.

3/4 C vegetable oil
1/2 C applesauce
2 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 C pumpkin
4 eggs
2 C flour
2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon (or more)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
dash of cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine sugar and the oil. Blend in the vanilla, applesauce and the pumpkin. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Mix the dry ingredients together and beat into the pumpkin mixture until smooth.
Bake in a greased 9X13 pan or the batter makes great muffins or smaller size cakes too. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.
Cool then ice with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

Beat 8 oz softened cream cheese with 1/4 C butter and 1/2 tsp vanilla until smooth. Add 3 to 4 cups of powdered confectioners sugar ( I like it sweeter and add 4 cups) -- beat for a few minutes until creamy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ginger Spice Cookies

I pretty much love everything about Fall.
The leaves changing, the temperatures falling,
picking out pumpkins, brisk walks, warm sweaters
Ginger Spice Cookies!
Your house will smell divinely "fall" when you bake them.

Ginger Spice Cookies by Paula Deen:

1 1/2 c. butter flavored Crisco (don't try to substitute butter, they will be too flat)
2 c. sugar, plus more for rolling
2 large eggs
1/2 c. molasses
4 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
2 t. ginger
1 t. cloves
1 t. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl combine Crisco and sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add eggs and molasses, beat until incorporated.
Next, add the spices, salt and baking soda. Lastly, add the flour one cup at a time to avoid a mess. Stir until combined.

Roll the dough into 1-2 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes or until just set around the edges and you see "crackling" on top.

Remove from cookie sheets and allow to cool.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I started a bit early this year to insure I could make ALL of my
favorite pumpkin recipes before I move on to "holiday" treats.
My family always asks for these cookies - this year
I frosted some with cream cheese frosting
(my husband says it's overkill, but no one really asked:)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies:

1 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil (you can easily sub applesauce for 1/2 the oil)
1 egg
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. milk
1 T. vanilla extract
2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
3-4 drops orange food coloring (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg. Once combined add spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves), then add vanilla, milk and salt. Add flour, baking soda and baking powder - then lastly add the chocolate chips. Mix thoroughly.

Drop by spoonful on a greased cookie sheet and bake for approx. 10 mins.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. butter, softened
1 t. vanilla
4 c. powdered sugar

Combine cream cheese and butter until creamy - add vanilla and powdered sugar, mix well.

Once cookies are cooled, frost at will.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

These are one of my favorite cookies, hands down. Who doesn't love peanut butter and chocolate anyway?

1 3/4 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 butter, softened
1/2 C white sugar
1/2 C peanut butter
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 T milk
40 mini-chocolate covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

Cream together the butter, both sugars, peanut butter until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture and mix well.

Roll into 40 balls and place into ungreased mini muffin pans.

Bake for about 8 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, press a peanut butter cup into each cookie. Cool and carefully remove from pan.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pumpkin Torte

My favorite season is almost here.
I love baking with apples and pumpkin,
which leads me to my first "FALL" offering.
Pumpkin flavor is infused in both
the cake and frosting,
making this dessert super rich.

Pumpkin Torte:

1 pkg yellow cake mix
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin, divided
1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. oil
4 eggs
2 t. pumpkin pie spice, divided
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat with success)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 (16 oz) container Cool Whip (I used light and it worked fine)
1/4 c. caramel ice cream topping
1/3 c. toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of your Kitchen Aid, combine - cake mix, 1 c. pumpkin, milk, oil and eggs. Mix well then add 1 t. pumpkin pie spice. Beat on low for 30 seconds, then medium for 2 minutes. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pans before removing to wire racks. Cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat cream cheese, sugar, remaining pumpkin and 1 t. pumpkin pie spice until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.
Split cake horizontally. Place a layer on a plate; spread with a fourth of filling. Repeat layers three times. Chill in fridge for 3 hours or until ready to serve.
Just before serving drizzle the torte with caramel topping and pecans.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bowtie Pasta Salad

I can't believe how long it's been since I posted anything! I think the whole back to school thing stresses me out too much to do anything fun like cooking and blogging.
This is a pasta salad Tamara gave me the recipe for last year when I was looking for food to make for my sister's baby shower. This was a popular one with everyone who was there and I have since made it a ton of times.
It is really easy and versatile-- you could add some chopped, cooked chicken to make it more of a main course meal or vary what vegetables you add to it.
It tastes better if made the day (or at least a few hours) before. I reserve some of the coleslaw dressing and fold it in before serving to make sure the salad is moist. Also the cashews shouldn't be added until just before serving so they don't go soft.

1 454 g (1 lb) box of Farfalle (bowtie) pasta
1 lg bottle (2 cups) of Coleslaw salad dressing
1/2 C mayonnaise
4 stalks of celery, diced
2-3 cans of mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 C chopped green onions
1/2 C of red grapes, cut in half
1/2 C unsalted cashews (optional)
1/4 C Craisins (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lemonade Cake

This is a glorified "cake mix" cake.
If that offends you, move on.
After reading the reviews about this cake I knew I would be trying it soon.
People were so critical that this cake uses a
cake mix as the base of the recipe,
they actually lowered their ratings!
I guess I'm not as easily offended:)
I thought it was really good.
I did exactly as the recipe stated and I loved
the punch of flavor that the lemonade glaze gave.

Lemonade Cake:

1 - 3 oz. package lemon flavored jello
3/4 c. boiling water
1 lemon cake mix
3/4 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
3/4 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt cake pan, set aside.
Dissolve lemon jello in boiling water and set aside.
Combine cake mix, oil and eggs in a large bowl. Mix until combined. Add the jello, then beat for 5 minutes. Pour prepared batter into the pan.
Make the lemonade glaze by combining the lemonade concentrate and sugar in a small pan, cook long enough to dissolve the sugar.
Bake for 1 hour. While the cake is still warm (and still in the pan) - puncture the cake with a long knife to give the glaze somewhere to go, then pour the lemonade glaze over the cake.
Let the cake cool completely before removing to a decorative plate.

Bon Appetit!

Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes - take horrible pictures.
Thankfully they taste SO MUCH BETTER than they photograph.
Here is a recipe I found on Allrecipes (a favorite website for recipe searches.)
I was looking for something simple, lower in fat than funeral potatoes or Au Gratin potatoes, and this is what I came up with.
Everyone loved them!
Scalloped Potatoes:

5 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

3/4 c. chopped onion

3 T. butter

1/4 c. flour

1 3/4 c. chicken broth

2 T. mayo

3/4 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper


1/2 c. cheddar cheese (optional)

In a greased 2 1/2 qt. baking dish, layer potatoes and onion. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour until smooth. Gradually add broth, mayo, s&p. Cook and stir for 2 mins or until thick and bubbly. Pour over potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours or until tender.

Cook's Note: This recipe is quite forgiving. I used more than 5 I made slightly more sauce...but it wasn't enough to cover all the potatoes I'd peeled - so I opened a can of evaporated milk and poured the entire can over the potatoes. I then baked for 3 HOURS!!! I added cheddar cheese to the top of half of the pan at the last minute. There was plenty of sauce, and they were fantastic!

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chicken Salad with Tarragon

This is one of my favorite sandwiches courtesy of Ina Garten. It has a lot of memories for me: one of my Dad's favorite spices was tarragon. It reminded him of his years in France, since that is a french favorite. We found Ina's recipe and made it for a church luncheon where people loved it and we have both enjoyed it many times after that. Tarragon really adds a wonderful flavor that is second to none in this recipe.

It makes for moister, tastier chicken to cook bone-in, skin-on breasts in the oven and then cool and chop the chicken, however, I usually use what I have on hand which is of the boneless, skinless variety.

3 to 4 cooked and cooled chicken breasts
1/2 C mayonnaise
1 1/2 T chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 C small-diced celery (2 stalks)
1/2 C to 1 C of green grapes, sliced in half
salt and pepper to taste

Cut chicken into a 3/4-inch dice. Place in a bowl; add the mayonnaise, tarragon leaves, celery, grapes, salt and pepper and toss well. Serve as a salad, or fill up your favorite rolls.