Friday, December 25, 2009

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Merry Christmas!! Thanks this week go to Michelle of Welcome To The Club for this great appetizer. I made these for Phillip's family Christmas, and they were a big hit.


  • 16 extra-large white mushrooms
  • 5 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Marsala wine or medium sherry
  • 3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casings
  • 6 scallions, white and green parts, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2/3 cup panko crumbs
  • 5 ounces mascarpone cheese, preferably from Italy
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely. Set aside. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow bowl and toss with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and Marsala. Set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook the sausage for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until it's completely browned. Add the chopped mushroom stems and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the scallions and garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the panko crumbs, stirring to combine evenly with all the other ingredients. Finally, swirl in the mascarpone and continue cooking until the mascarpone has melted and made the sausage mixture creamy. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, and season with salt and pepper, to taste, Cool slightly.

Fill each mushroom generously with the sausage mixture. Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish large enough to hold all the mushrooms in a snug single layer. Bake until the stuffing for 50 minutes, until the stuffing is browned and crusty.

Source: Ina Garten

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Croissant Bread Pudding

Yum, what a great holiday dessert! Thanks this week go to Peggy of Pantry Revisited for choosing this festive treat. Growing up, bread pudding was my dad's favorite dessert, but I wasn't a fan. Well, I guess tastes do change as we mature, because I could have eaten the whole pan of this. The custard was luscious, and the plump raisins were the perfect treat in each bite.

I think I'm going to make this again next week when I head back home for Christmas!


3 extra-large whole eggs
8 extra-large egg yolks
5 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 croissants, preferably stale, sliced horizontally
1 cup raisins


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside. Slice the croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the sliced croissants, then add the raisins, then the tops of the croissants (brown side up), being sure the raisins are between the layers of croissants or they will burn while baking. Pour the custard over the croissants and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.

Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1-inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn't touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Creme Brulee

Thanks to Suzie from Munch & Nibble for forcing me to make my favorite restaurant dessert. Whenever I go out and get to choose dessert, I choose creme brulee. The mix of sweet and creamy finishes off a meal with just the right note. So why hadn't I made it before? I have no idea! This was a great recipe that would be perfect for entertaining, because you can make the custard ahead of time and just torch it after dinner.


1 extra-large egg
4 extra-large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for each serving
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the sugar together on low speed until just combined. Meanwhile, scald the cream in a small saucepan until it's very hot to the touch but not boiled. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cream to the eggs. Add the vanilla and orange liqueur and pour into 6 to 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.

Place the ramekins in a baking pan and carefully pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custards are set when gently shaken. Remove the custards from the water bath, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until firm.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly on the top of each ramekin and heat with a kitchen blowtorch until the sugar caramelizes evenly. Allow to sit at room temperature for a minute until the caramelized sugar hardens.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Company Pot Roast

I made a big mistake with this Barefoot Bloggers assignment. Did I drop the roast on the floor? Overcook it so bad that it was rubber? No, my mistake was bigger. I attempted this recipe on a weeknight. Beware of this delicious meal, it is wonderful, but it is definitely a weekend meal. I started preparing this when I got home at five, and it wasn't finished until eight thirty. My husband and brother were ready to die of starvation, but were very impressed with the outcome. It was the perfect meal for a chilly November evening, and I'll be making it again, but probably on a Sunday. Thanks to Lisa of Lime In The Coconut for this choice.


1 (4 to 5-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour
Good olive oil
2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 cups good red wine, such as Burgundy
2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in puree
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 chicken bouillon cube
3 branches fresh thyme
2 branches fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Dredge the whole roast in flour, including the ends. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear the other side and then turn and sear the ends. This should take 4 to 5 minutes for each side. Remove the roast to a large plate.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the wine and Cognac and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the thyme and rosemary together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Put the roast back into the pot, bring to a boil, and cover. Place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender or about 160 degrees F internally. Turn the heat down to 250 degrees F after about an hour to keep the sauce at a simmer.

Remove the roast to a cutting board. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce. Transfer half the sauce and vegetables to a blender or a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree until smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot, place on the stovetop over low heat, and return the sauce to a simmer. Place 2 tablespoons flour and the butter in a small bowl and mash them together with a fork. Stir into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for seasonings. Remove the strings from the roast, and slice the meat. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

Two soup posts in a row, I know. I made this soup this week and since I hadn't posted about it yet, I thought that I should. Another standby in our winter soup lineup, this soup is creamy and rich without being heavy. It isn't a super fast and easy soup, but the effort is worth it! I use whatever mushrooms that I can find, but Ina's recommendations are a good starting place.


5 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms
5 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms
5 ounces fresh cremini (or porcini) mushrooms
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 carrot, chopped
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley


Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don't wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home

Friday, October 30, 2009

Brussels Sprout and Sausage Soup

I love soup! If I lived by myself, I would eat soup and only soup. This is a hearty, healthy fall soup that I love to make for Phillip (he is a huge brussels sprout fan). The only problem with soup is that I can never get a very good picture of it.


1 pound brussels sprouts
1/2 pound sausage (I use a chicken sausage with apple that is great)
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 large potatoes
2 bay leaves
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth


Trim ends off brussels sprouts, remove any damaged external leaves, and cut in half lengthwise. Set aside.

Cut sausage into 1/4-in.-thick slices. Put olive oil and sausage in a medium pot over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage is well browned, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into roughly 1/2-in. pieces.

When sausage is browned, add bay leaves to the pot. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add potatoes, broth, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Add brussels sprouts. Partially cover pot and reduce heat to low or medium-low to maintain a steady simmer. Cook soup until potatoes and brussels sprouts are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves and serve soup hot.

Source: Sunset, January 2008

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fusilli a la Betsy

Guess what I got from my friend Lynn?! The Pioneer Woman Cookbook! She is one of my very favorite bloggers, and now I can cook with her even when my internet is down. This is one of our favorite recipes from her blog, I can't believe that I haven't posted it yet. I made this with Hannah, and it made the perfect weeknight dinner. The original dish is made with penne, but we had an overabundance of fusilli, so I used that.


¾ lb. penne pasta
3 tbsp. butter, divided
3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. large shrimp
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine (or chicken broth)
1 (8 oz.) can plain tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
basil leaves, to taste (use a bunch!)


Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, while water heats and pasta cooks, make the sauce. Melt 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shrimp and cook for a few minutes, until opaque. Remove to a plate to let cool. Heat 2 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. olive oil in the skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally. While the onion and garlic are cooking, chop the shrimp into small, bite-sized pieces. Add the wine (or chicken broth) to the pan and allow to reduce for a few minutes. Chiffonade the basil leaves and set aside. Stir in tomato sauce. Add the heavy cream and stir well to combine. Add shrimp back to the skillet and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the parsley and basil and mix well.

Drain pasta and return to pot. Add the sauce to the pot and stir well to combine. Serve.

Source: The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blue Cheese Souffle

Wow, this was a first! I would have never made a souffle on my own without the Barefoot Bloggers. Thanks this week go to Summer of Sexy Apartment, for making me step out of my box. This was good as a pairing with a light salad, but the guys at my house thought that it needed a little meat. The actual question was, "Can you put some bacon in this next time? Ham? Sausage?"

Everyone worries about their souffle "falling" (mainly due to cartoons that we watched as a kid!), but I didn't have any problem with that until I decided to carry the whole thing downstairs to take a picture in my little studio. As I was carrying it down, I watched it slowly sink. I took a quick picture, but it looked much taller than in the picture when I took it out of the oven!


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup scalded milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch nutmeg
4 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
3 ounces good Roquefort cheese, chopped
5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Butter the inside of an 8-cup souffle dish (7 1/2 inches in diameter and 3 1/4 inches deep) and sprinkle evenly with Parmesan.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the hot milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, the cayenne, and nutmeg. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, until smooth and thick.

Off the heat, while still hot, whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in the Roquefort and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, on medium speed for 1 minute, then finally on high speed until they form firm, glossy peaks.

Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the cheese sauce to lighten and then fold in the rest. Pour into the souffle dish, then smooth the top. Draw a large circle on top with the spatula to help the souffle rise evenly, and place in the middle of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (don't peek!) until puffed and brown. Serve immediately.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cheddar Corn Chowder

I love it when my Barefoot Blogger assignments coincide with my weekly meal plan so well. I make a new soup recipe every Monday, and this week's choice by Jill from My Next Life was perfect. This corn chowder is perfectly creamy and packed full of veggies, I will definitely be making this again.


8 ounces bacon, chopped
1/4 cup good olive oil
6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
12 cups chicken stock
6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)
10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)
2 cups half-and-half
8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated


In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cob and blanch them for 3 minutes in boiling salted water.

Drain. (If using frozen corn you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Soft Pretzels

My favorite part of baking is that it is easy to share my results with all of my friends. Most of my goodies are of my own choosing, but last week I decided to take a poll of the staff and students in my clinic to see what they were craving. I have never made anything savory for them, and they were almost unanimous that these soft pretzels from Annie's Eats sounded great. I'm taking them in to school in the morning, but I snuck a few for Phillip & I tonight and we were pleased. The whole process is a little time consuming, but the result is really impressive.


For the dough:
1½ cups warm water (110-115° F)
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
22 oz. all-purpose flour (about 4½ cups)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for greasing the bowl

For finishing:
Cooking spray
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Pretzel (or kosher) salt

Directions:To make the dough, combine the water, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to dissolve the yeast. Add in the flour and melted butter and mix just until the dough comes together. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 50-55 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bring the water and baking soda to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot. In the meantime, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll a segment out into a 24-inch long rope. Make a U-shape with the rope and holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and onto the bottom of the U-shape in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 or 2 at a time, for 30 seconds. Remove from the water with a slotted skimmer and return to the baking sheet. Once all the pretzels have been boiled, brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 12-14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Alton Brown via Annies-Eats

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bruschetta by Julia

Phillip has been bugging me about this Bruschetta for a month. He took me to see the movie Julie & Julia a few weeks ago, and has been asking me to use our fresh tomatoes to make Julia's version of one of his favorite dishes ever since. I couldn't find her recipe, but I knew from the movie that she fried her bread in olive oil, so I winged the rest.

This isn't really a recipe, but I'll just explain the steps.

Fry sliced crusty bread in shallow olive oil over medium heat until lightly browned. Top with chopped tomatoes, julienned basil, extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese. I served it in a pool of olive oil, just like we had in Italy.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Zuppa Toscana

Soup season is here! I love soup so much that I make it every week from the first hint of fall until spring is almost over. One of my favorite soup to eat out is the Zuppa Toscana from Olive Garden. It is so different than other soups and it is super healthy with the addition of freash kale. This was the first time that Phillip & AJ had tried this soup and they were pleasantly surprised that it was so hearty.

6-8 cups chicken broth
1 lb italian sausage, removed from casings
2 baking potatoes, scrubbed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1 bunch fresh kale
1/4 cup half & half

In a large dutch oven over high heat, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

While the broth is coming up to a boil, prepare the potatoes by slicing in half lengthwise and then cutting each half into 1/2 inch slices with the skin on. Set aside.

With the italian sausage removed from the casings (or you could use bulk italian sausage too), crumble the sausage into the hot broth.

Add the potatoes to the pot, season with spices and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

As the potatoes soften, prepare the kale by cutting away the tough core and stem. Slice the leafy greens into slices and place in a bowl.

Once the potatoes have softened up, remove from heat or turn the heat off. Stir in the kale and half & half. (The heat of the soup will cook the kale without turning it brown.)Serve hot.

Source: What's Cooking Chicago?, Joelen's Culinary Adventures with Friends and Food

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Beatty's Chocolate Cake

This month's Barefoot Bloggers choices were by Mary of Passionate Perseverance and Susy of Everyday Gourmet. They both chose party cakes, and while I was only able to get to one of them, they both look like great choices if you are celebrating a birthday or other special day. Check out some of the other Barefoot Bloggers to see how they took on the challenge of Ina's Birthday Sheet Cake. I made this chocolate cake the other night, and we are still enjoying it! The chocolate frosting was a little rich for me (very semi-sweet tasting), but I would definitely use this chocolate cake recipe again. It was a really easy recipe to put together, and was very moist and chocolaty.


Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.
Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home page 165-166

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I've been hearing grumblings at school recently. "Where are the cupcakes?" "We haven't had any goodies recently." They're right. I've gotten lazy about spoiling my friends. I had some extra time today, so I made them these fall treats to take to school in the morning. My future sister-in-law, Hannah, was my assistant for this recipe (and Phillip's birthday torte), and we both made sure to test these to make sure they passed our standards. They were soft and pumpkin-y, perfect for my friends!


For the pumpkin cookies:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup canola oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the maple cream cheese filling:
3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the pumpkin cookies, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk sugars and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.

Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets (about 1.5-2 tablespoons.), about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pan for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

To make the filling, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter until smooth with no visible lumps. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined. Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat the filling or it will lose structure.

To assemble, turn half of the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe filling onto the flat side of the overturned cookies. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm before serving.

Source: Annie's Eats

Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte

Happy Birthday Phillip! I let Phillip peruse my favorite blogs to choose his birthday dessert, and he chose this beauty from Annie's Eats. It made the perfect dessert for his birthday dinner tonight. It was salty and sweet, but not too dense. It was a big hit!


For the crust:
32 Oreo cookies, finely processed into crumbs
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt

For the crunch:
1 1/4 cups salted peanuts, finely chopped, divided (for the filling, crunch and topping)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. espresso powder
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of ground nutmeg

For the filling:
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (not natural)
2 tbsp. whole milk

For the topping:
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet. Combine the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Press into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides of the springform pan. Freeze the crust for 10 minutes. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before filling.

To make the crunch, in another small bowl combine 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts, mini chocolate chips, sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss with a fork to mix and set aside.

To prepare the filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in 1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a separate bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Wipe out (do not wash) the mixer bowl, replace the whisk with the paddle attachment, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, whole milk, and 1/4 cup of the chopped peanuts until well combined.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about 1/4 of the whipped cream just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream. Scrape the mousse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

To finish the torte, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan. Bring the 1/2 cup of cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and smooth.

Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, at least 20 minutes. When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the springform pan. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Source: Annie's Eats

Bacon Wrapped Jalepeno Poppers

I was blessed last weekend with a bounty of Jalapenos from Phillip's Aunt Rita. They have been sitting on my counter staring at me since then. I decided to make some snacks out of them, and turned to my favorite cowgirl The Pioneer Woman. These were so simple to make, and they hit the spot. I will for sure make them again this fall for a football snack.


Fresh Jalapenos, 2-3 inches in size
Softened Cream Cheese
Thin, Regular Bacon, sliced into thirds

Cut jalapenos in half lengthwise. With a spoon, remove the seeds and white membrane (the source of the heat; leave a little if you like things HOT). Smear softened cream cheese into each jalapeno half. Wrap each jalapeno with bacon piece. Secure by sticking toothpick through the middle. (At this point, you can freeze them, uncooked, in a Ziploc bag for later use).

Bake on a pan with a rack in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. You don't want the bacon to shrink so much so it starts to squeeze the jalapeno. If, after 20 minutes, the bacon doesn't look brown enough, just turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes to finish it off.

Serve 'em immediately if you want them hot, or they're good at room temperature.

Source: The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New Flavor of the Half-Year Chosen!

Almost two years ago, when I was planning my wedding, I was having difficulty deciding on the flavors for my wedding cupcakes. Upon tasting some samples, my brother AJ looked me straight in the face and said "you have to have raspberry, it's the flavor of the half-year." Really? The flavor of the half-year, was he on crack!? Who chooses the flavor of the half-year, I asked? "I do, of course." After the subsequent choice of lemon (fall '08), and the VERY late choice of lime (chosen one day before the end of the spring '09 half-year), it was decided that a committee should be formed to choose the flavor of the half-year.

Today, the Half-Year Flavor Selection Committee was formed and guidelines were established. The basic guidelines are that the flavors will be chosen on the day after Christmas and the 4th of July, and that each committee member (my brother, his fiance, Phillip & I) can nominate a flavor and will then rank the choices, deciding on a winner.

The flavor of this half year has been chosen, and the winner is..... APPLE!

The flavor was inspired by Phillip & my trip last weekend to Huber Orchard and Winery. We made it home with a whole bag of fresh-picked apples and a gallon of cider, along with butternut squash, whole wheat bread and local honey.

Dinner tonight utilized quite a few of our purchases from Huber.

Parmesan Pork Chops with Cider Gravy and Apple and Pecan Saute

4 Pork Loin Chops
1 Cup Italian Breadcrumbs
1/4 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan
3 Tbsp Butter
Salt & Pepper
2 Tbsp Flour
1 Cup Apple Cider
2 Apples, finely diced (I used the Jonathans that we picked)
1/4 cup chopped Pecans

Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt & pepper. Dry the pork chops and press into the crumb mixture. Add 2 Tbsp butter to medium-high pan, and saute chops for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove chops from pan and add flour to pan drippings. Cook flour for a minute until browned, and whisk in 1/2 cup cider, stirring until gravy is thick.

Add 1 Tbsp butter to another pan, and heat on medium heat. Add apples and pecans, cooking until apples are caramelized. Add 1/2 cup cider and cook until apples are soft.

I served this with roasted butternut squash puree, and it made a great fall dinner on an 80 degree day!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Trisha's Birthday Cake

Doncha' Love It?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

White Pizza with Arugula

This was my first shot at homemade pizza dough, and it was so good!! Thanks go to Angela of Nummy Kitchen for this weeks Barefoot Bloggers choice. I halved the dough and made four smaller pizza with this half, and put the other half in the freezer for later. I also added prosciutto for some extra protein. These were a big hit for my future sister-in-law Hannah's birthday dinner, and I know that I'll make them again soon.


For the dough:
1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
Good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:
3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled
For the vinaigrette:nocoupons
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces baby arugula
1 lemon, sliced


Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.

Source: Ina Garten Back to Basics, page 82

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mongolian Beef

The guys at my house are big Asian cuisine fans. Generally Asian recipes are very labor intensive and involve a lot of different ingredients that I don't keep at home. When I saw this recipe last Thursday on elly says opa!, I knew that I had to try it. The only ingredient that I had to buy was the flank steak. I made a few changes, including adding much more brown sugar (we like sweet sauces) and adding some Sriracha chili sauce for more heat.

Mongolian Beef

1 lb. flank steak, sliced across the grain
1/2 cup corn starch
3 T canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
1 T garlic, minced
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp. (heaping) red pepper flakes
2-3 large scallions, sliced
1 T Sriracha chili sauce, or to taste

Pat the steak pieces dry and toss in a bowl with corn starch. Shake off excess, but make sure every piece is coated.

Heat half the oil in a wok at medium-high heat and add the ginger and garlic. Once fragrant, add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining oil to the wok and turn on high. Cook the beef until it is brown on all sides. Add the sauce back to the wok and let it thicken, add the green onions and Sriracha in just before plating.

Adapted from Pink Bites

Mango Banana Daiquiris

What a perfect ending to a perfect Saturday! Phillip and I spent the day relaxing around Indy, and we had an amazing dinner at Cafe Patachou. It has been a favorite spot of ours for brunch, but they just started serving dinner, and I have to say that it was one of the best dinners that I have had in Indianapolis for a long time. In a city known for big chain restaurants, it is so nice to find a local establishment that is flourishing.

After we got home, I decided to mix up this Barefoot Bloggers choice. Thanks to Veronica of Supermarket Serenade for choosing this great end-of-summer drink as our recipe. It was so good that Phillip & I finished the whole batch that was supposed to serve four.

Mango Banana Daiquiris

serves 4

2 cups chopped ripe mango (1 to 2 mangos, peeled and seeded)
1 ripe banana, chopped
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
1/4 cup sugar syrup*
1 1/4 cups dark rum, such as Mount Gay
Mango slices, for serving

Place the mango, banana, lime juice, sugar syrup, and rum in a blender and process until smooth. Add 2 cups of ice and process again until smooth and thick. Serve ice-cold in highball glasses with the mango slices.

*To make simple syrup, heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Chill.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics pg 47

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

What a perfect Barefoot Blogger choice from Aggie of Aggie's Kitchen. I was given a bucketful of fresh blueberries from my future sister-in-law, Hannah, just last week. I was also able to find beautiful ripe peaches at the Broadripple Farmers' Market. The crumble was perfect, and I know that I will use the recipe with different fruit.

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

For the fruit:

2 lbs firm, ripe peaches (6-8 peaches)
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)

For the Crumble:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.

For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and back for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles in the refrigerator and bake before dinner. Serves 5 to 6.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home, Page 197-198

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes

This Barefoot Bloggers recipe was one that I kept pushing off until later, and now I can't figure out why! I used this recipe as a vehicle to add a few things that I had in my fridge and from my garden. Since my new roommate (my younger brother) refuses to eat any meal that does not include something that once mooed, oinked, clucked or barked (just kidding on that last one!), I added some large pepperoni chunks which were a perfect addition. I also added sauteed summer squash because I have a bumper crop in my little garden. Thanks to Cat of Delta Whiskey for choosing this great recipe, I'll definitely be making it again.

Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes


1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
Kosher salt
Olive oil
1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced
6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:

5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1 garlic clove, diced
1 teaspoon capers, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well.

Source: Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa Family Style, page 58

Monday, June 29, 2009


Another super summery Barefoot Bloggers post! Thanks this week to Maryl of My Bit of Earth for making me step out of my box again. This cold soup was a really great accompaniment to our fancy chili dog dinner last night. I added sliced avocado as a garnish, because it improves everything it touches. Phillip would have preferred this dish without the red pepper, but he would prefer his entire life without them so he isn't the one to ask!



1 hothouse cucumber, halved and seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
23 ounces tomato juice (3 cups)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!

After each vegetable is processed, combine them in a large bowl and add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.

Source: Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, page 79

Monday, June 15, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

Happy Birthday Ric!! These were a special request for his birthday, and they were a huge hit at school. The "jelly" filling and topping was actually the homemade strawberry jam that I made a few weeks ago with the lovely Morgan women.

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter
1 1/3 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Insert 24 liners into a medium cupcake pan.
2. In a large bowl cream together the butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time. Beat well. Mix in the vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Add the dry ingredients to creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Mix well.
5. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan.


I filled the cupcakes with the strawberry jam using the cone technique and topped with peanut butter frosting.

Peanut Butter Buttercream

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2-4 Tbsp. milk
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

In large bowl, combine butter, peanut butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and 2 Tbsp. milk. Mix well, adding more milk as needed to make a fluffy spreadable frosting.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Curried Couscous

I'll be honest. I was not excited about making this recipe this week. We're not big curry fans at our house, but I kept telling myself that this is the reason that I joined Barefoot Bloggers. I wanted to make myself try recipes that I wouldn't on my own. I succeeded this week in trying something new, but did I succeed in finding a new recipe for our file? Not exactly. Phillip & I both said "Eh (shrug)" about this recipe. I thought that it was kind of dry (more dressing would help) and since we aren't big curry fans, the flavor wasn't my favorite. It wasn't as bad as I feared, and I will definitely make my own version of a couscous salad. I've never made it myself before, and it is great for a fast weeknight meal. Thanks Ellyn for making me step outside my comfort zone! The only substitute I made was exchanging feta cheese for raisins (I was out and didn't know it).


1 1/2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup small-diced carrots
1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins (I substituted feta cheese)
1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup small-diced red onion


Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous, and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants, almonds, scallions, and red onions, mix well, and season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Outragous Brownies

Phillip has never been so excited about a Barefoot Bloggers assignment! Eva of I'm Boring chose this classic Ina Garten recipe. We were given free reign to make any additions that we wanted, so I added peanut butter chips instead of walnuts. Warning: this recipe makes a very large batch. I took half to school with me and sent the other half to work with Phillip.


1 pound unsalted butter
1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra-large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons real vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (1 cup for batter and 1/4 cup in the chips and nuts)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
12 oz peanut butter chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 13 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.

Stir together 1 cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the chocolate and peanut butter chips with 1/4 cup flour to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Do not over-bake! Cool and drizzle with melted chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Source: Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dog Cake

If you've read my other blog, you know that I threw a birthday party for my dog LuLu in January. Since then, I've had commissions for two other dog birthday cakes. This evening, Phillip & I took LuLu to celebrate Marley's first birthday. There were at least fifteen dogs there (they didn't slow down long enough for me to count all of them), and they were all so good, they even shared the cake really nicely. I multiplied my normal recipe (below) by eight to make this big version. The normal size would probably provide a treat for about six dogs, so adjust accordingly.

Dog Cake


1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup oil
1 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 6 inch round cake pan. Mix all ingredients well and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until set through.

Dog Frosting


1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar

Mix cottage cheese and sugar in food processor until smooth, frost cooled cake.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fried Calamari

I love calamari. If we're out for dinner and I have a choice of appetizers, I always choose these tiny morsels of seafood goodness. Why had I never made them at home? After making these tonight, I have no idea why. They were easy and just like we get out. I can't wait to make these for my in-laws who are calamari fans as well.

Fried Calamari

1/2 pound calamari, thawed if frozen (I like to use both the rings and tentacles)
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Canola oil for frying

Pat the calamari rings dry with a paper towel. In a bowl whisk together egg and milk to make an egg wash. In a large plastic resealable bag combine flour, salt, pepper, granulated garlic and cornstarch and shake to combine.

Dip the calamari rings into the egg and then put them in the bag with the flour. Shake bag to lightly coat calamari. In a large sauce pan add oil until you have about 2 inches. Heat over medium heat until oil is hot. Once the oil is hot, remove the calamari from the bag and shake off any excess flour. Cook calamari in batches until golden brown, about 3 minutes. It is very important not to overcook calamari or it will become rubbery. Remove from the oil, drain, and season with salt and pepper.

Source: Life's Ambrosia

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fried Goat Cheese

When I saw this recipe posted on The Novice Chef, I immediately knew that I needed to make it for Phillip. He loves goat cheese, and I thought that they would make a great addition to a weeknight salad. I will for sure make these again, they only took about five minutes and they definitely spiced up our dinner.

Fried Goat Cheese

4 oz log of Goat Cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
Olive Oil

Mix the goat cheese, seasoning, salt & pepper together. Form goat cheese into balls. Dip cheese balls in egg and then cover in bread crumbs. Fry in a shallow pan of olive oil until golden brown. Serve warm over the salad of your choice.

Adapted from: The Novice Chef

Ashleigh's Bridal Shower

My friend Ashleigh is getting married, too! I threw her this shower on Sunday (busy weekend for me, huh?), and the day turned out perfectly. I can't wait until I get to celebrate her wedding day with her. The menu for the shower was as follows:

Chicken Salad Croissants
Mini Club Sandwiches
Cucumber Cups with Ranch and Shrimp Cocktail
Mini Quiches
Broccoli Salad
Cheese Platter
Vanilla Bean Black Cherry

Note: Ashleigh's future sister-in-law Jan took some of these photos. I was too busy running around to get very good pictures of all the food. Maybe I should hire her to take pictures of all my food, I think she does a better job than I do!

Sources: Annies Eats