Tuesday, December 11, 2012

25 Days of Cookies (um... sweets): Day 9 Ho Ho Hos

Around Christmas everyone loves sweets, but I am continuously on the search for sweets that are good but not overly trite and Christmassy. Thus, I find myself in a play on words, HO... HO... HO... Everyone loves little Debbie. What is not to love, sweet treats perfectly wrapped in cellophane and always waiting on you adoringly for your snack time. So here is my easier more natural version of these little delights. Three components, cake, icing, ganache. Ganache, a fancy way to say chocolate and cream melted together to make a delish topping, more sophisticated than frosting but just as delicious.

Chocolate Cup Cake
1 stick of butter melted
3/4 cups of self rising flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa, dutch or best available I love Valrhona
7 tablespoons of sugar
2 large eggs
A splash of vanilla
A splash of milk


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave or any way you find it easiest.
3. In a food processor add all the ingredients.
4. Fill a muffin tin with liners and half full with the batter
5. Bake for 20 minutes
6. Let cool on a wire rack

Chocolate Ganache


8 ounces of best quality chocolate
1 cup of cream


1. Heat cream on low fire, until just before simmer point.
2. Pour in chopped chocolate and stir until creamy
3. Dip cooled cupcakes face first into vat of deliciousness
4. Dip head face first into vat of deliciousness (optional)

Vanilla Icing


1 cup of powdered sugar
1 stick of softened butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla


1. Cream together in standing mixer or with a very strong arm
2. Fill a pastry bag with a star tip
3. Impale the cooled cupcake in the top center and fill until the cupcake begins to bulge
4. Leave with beautiful star tip

Viola! Perfect, natural ho-ho's. Perfect for Christmas... and one jolly red-suited man known for saying Ho Ho Ho and having a notorious sweet tooth...

Monday, December 10, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 8 Speculaas

December 6th is St. Nicholas Day. We made Speculaas a classic European cookie made in St. Nick's honor. These cookies are delicious, cake like, soft, and spicy. And yes, even toddler-friendly. They look rustic and beautiful and because of the lemon they are bright and balanced. I hope you will give them a try, they are delicious. 

I love the idea of celebrating Saints days. I think it is a wonderful way to take some of the materialism out of Christmas and focus on the promises and goodness of the season. We are celebrating sharing... i.e. generosity. In honor of St. Nicholas who was so generous he gave everything he had to those less fortunate. 

What you need:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 egg
Grated rind of 1 lemon

sugar or sliced almonds 

What you do: 

1. Using your electric mixer whip together the butter and sugar so it is light and fluffy. 
2. Add the egg and lemon zest. 
3. Mix together all of the dry ingredients including the flour and the spices. 
4. Add the dry mix to the wet mix until combined. 
5. Take the dough and cover in cling wrap and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or the freezer for 10. 
6. Preheat your over to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
7. Make 1 inch balls of dough and place 2 inches apart on the parchment. Roll each ball in sugar and flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. You can if so inclined add three almond slices on to each cookie. This represents the trinity and hope, peace, and love. You can also use a cookie stamp if you have them, which is wear the name of the cookie comes from. :)  
8. Bake for in the middle rack for 10 minutes. 

As always, much love, many blessings, Happy Baking! Happy St. Nick's Day!

Friday, December 7, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 7 Sprinkle Rolls

Aren't these super cute... I found the idea on Pinterest. I think if I was going to do this again, I would not roll the dough so thin... But they taste delicious and they like all refrigerator cookies are quick to make and cut... not cookie cutters required.


5 cups of flour
5 cups of sugar
2 sticks of butter
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon of baking soda
2 Tablespoons of cream cheese
red food coloring
Christmas nonpareils


1. Mix all of the ingredients in your standing mixer, it is a lot to do by hand.
2. Once mixed together separate into two discs, and wrap in cling plastic wrap and let the dough chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day, or in the freezer up to a month.
3. When ready, roll out half the dough, use flour on a board and rolling pin to get the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.
4. Use some red food coloring to color the other half of dough and roll on top of the other non-colored dough.
5. Gently lift the dough and create pinwheels by rolling the dough up.
6. Pour nonpareils on to a plate and roll your log in the sprinkles pressing lightly so they stick.
7. Roll in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 20 minutes.
8. Preheat your oven to  350 degrees F.
9. Prepare to baking sheets with parchment paper.
10. Take out the chilled logs and unwrap. Using a sharp knife cut 1/2 cookies and place face up on a cookie sheet covered in paper.
11. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges are just slightly golden. Let cool and ice as desired.

Happy Christmas! Much love, many blessings, and happy baking!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 6 Peanut Butter Blossoms

These are an American tradition. They are much loved by my good friend Amanda and my husband. This is my version which is easier and simplified slightly.

What you need:
12 Hershey kisses unwrapped
1 cup of peanut butter (not the natural or organic stuff, we need full on Americana in all its processed glory)
1 cup of sugar
1 egg

What you do:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix the peanut butter, egg, and sugar in a bowl.
3. Dollop out teaspoon sized semi circles on to a parchment lined baking sheet
4. Bake for 10 minutes they will be soft
5. Press a Hershey kiss in the center of each cookie while they are still warm.
6. Allow to cool... and enjoy with a nice glass of milk

For other variations you can roll the cookies in colored sprinkles to add a little more holiday sparkle.

Happy Christmas! As always, much love, many blessings and happy baking.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 5 Christmas Pretzel Bites... Take 2

This is a Take 2 recipe, i.e. I did this the first time for Halloween with candy corn and while tasty it really did not turn out that well. I feel like the chocolate was slightly singed. And it is no fun to open  100 chocolate kisses by yourself. That being said, my partner in crime, Leslie is going to help open them with me. This would be a fantastic use of child labor if your kids are a little older than mine, and you are happy to pay the tax of them eating a few kisses.

We are going to change up a couple of things... 1) we are using hugs not kisses, I'm told that is easier. 2) I will not be stressed up at 4 am while making them, which will make it easier on me. Party planning lovely, but work is involved. 3) we will be using Christmas M&Ms so they will be more uniform in shape.

Here is what you need:

1 bag of the square bite sized pretzels I've heard them called waffle pattern
1 bag of Hershey's Hugs
1 bag of Christmas M&Ms

Here is what you:

1. Unwrap a bag of Hershey Hugs (preferably with a friend and wine) My mother always said a burden shared is half a burden thus the friend.
2. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees F
3. Using a rimmed baking sheet also called a jelly roll pan. I lined it with parchment paper just to be safe, although I am not sure you really need it.  Lay out as many pretzel bites as you can without them overlapping.
4. Top each pretzel with the Hershey Hug.
5. Place in the oven for 4 minutes.
6. Working quickly, press one M&M down into the chocolate.
7. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill.

Hooray for pop-able, Christmas treats!

Happy Christmas. As always, many blessings, much love, and Happy Baking!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 4 Oatmeal Raisin

Hi Everybody, I hope you are having an absolutely magical Christmas season. While this is not necessarily a traditional holiday cookie, it is a classic, and my favorite. My sister in law Melina, make these not with raisins but with a tropical dried fruit medley and they are to die for. I have a one-year old who will be eating these, but if they are only for adults by all means, please soak the raisins in rum. Enjoy! Remember the holidays are a time to be happy not stressed, you can't get to everything, so just relax and smile. No one will know what you didn't do if you don't tell them.

Here is what you need:
1 and 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter soft
1 egg
2 cups of oatmeal old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup of raisins (I like golden raisins also called sultanas)

Here is what you do:
1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl mix all of the ingredients, I just throw them all in there... please its December, I got stuff to do.
3. Using a tablespoon or a ice cream scooper, dollop out the batter on to the parchment paper.
4. Bake for 18 minutes.


Happy Christmas! As always, much love, many blessings, and Happy Baking!

Monday, December 3, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 3 Best Brownies

This is the best brownie recipe I have found. They taste delicious  and there is frosting... bonus. But really why they are good, is they are easy to make and relatively inexpensive. Some brownie recipes take 6 eggs, a pound of chocolate, and three sticks of butter... good golly ms. molly... that is like a $28 dollar for brownies. These taste excellent and have much more modest ingredients. 

I made these for Freddy's class... we will see how they liked it. Because they are toddlers I always cut treats ahead of time and place in single cupcake wrappers to make things easier on the teachers... I mean really 8 one year-olds they have enough. 

What you need:
1/2 cup of melted butter
1/2 cup of flour
1/3 cup of cocoa powder unsweetened
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
frosting recipe below
sprinkles for decoration

What I did: 
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
2. Mixed all of the ingredients in my standing mixer
3. Greased an 8 by 8 inch square baking dish. I poured the mixture in and baked for 30 minutes approximately. But please use the toothpick test at about 25 minutes. 
4. Once cool you can decorate as you please. A drizzle of melted chocolate or use the frosting recipe below. 

Frosting for brownies: 

1 cup of powdered sugar
1/3 cup of soft butter
1 Tablespoon of corn syrup 
3 Tablespoon of cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 or 2 teaspoons of milk 

Whip all the ingredients in your mixing bowl and then slather on brownies... or fingers... all are tasty. 

Happy Christmas! As always, many blessings, much love, and happy baking. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

25 Days of Cookies: Day 2 Leslie Cookies aka Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

So my best friend Leslie, loves these cookies. Her mom calls them Leslie cookies, and whatever Mama Bear calls them, so do I.

I'm blogging these not because they are my recipe, I'm sure the credit goes to a large corporation. But because they are Leslie's favorite, and I need the recipe to be Google searchable under her name :). Thus... Leslie cookies.

What you need:

1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 egg
1 stick (1/2 a cup) of softened butter
2 Tablespoons of water
powdered sugar to roll the dough balls in

What we did:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
2. Mix all the ingredients, and spoon into your hands to roll into balls
3. Rolls the balls in powdered sugar and place on to parchment paper covered baking sheets
3. Bake for 10 minutes and Voila Leslie Cookies.

You can store them in an air tight container for a couple of days. They are the only cookies that Freddy likes better than Oreos.

Do as we did, and enjoy with wine while decorating the tree listening to the White Christmas Musical.

Happy Christmas! As always, many blessings, much love, and Happy Baking!

25 Days of Cookies: Day 1 Chocolate Chip

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY! Can you tell, I love this time of year. And to celebrate, I will be posting and sharing my favorite cookie recipes. I will be using some liberties with term cookies, i.e. this will include confections, candy, and cakes, but don't be hater... it's all good in the sugar hood. 

For our first day: I thought... Chocolate Chip cookies. A classic. This is adapted from the back of the Toll House Package and it was introduced to me by Smitten Kitchen... OMG the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook is out... Christmas List. But for your viewing pleasure... Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies. 

Here is what you need: the very good stuff

½ cup of sugar bowl sugar
½ cup of brown sugar
1 stick of butter softened overnight
1 egg
1 teaspoon Tahitian Vanilla
½ teaspoon bakind soda
1 and ¼ cup of all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup of best quality chocolate chips Ghirardelli is my favorite

Here is what you do: 
1. Preheat your oven to 325 F.
2. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl (except for the chocolate chips), wooden spoon is fine. 
3.  Place teaspoon dollops on parchment lined sheet pan. 
4. Bake for 18 minutes. Enjoy

There you have it my friends, easy, classic, but delicious cookies. 

Merry Christmas! As always, much love, many blessings, happy baking!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Broccoli Cheddar Crescent Braid

This is a nice easy winter dish, that takes only about 10 minutes to prepare and 25 minutes to bake.  My one year old loved it, which made Mommy very happy. Not so much because of the broccoli  he loves veggies. But I can't seem to get him to eat meat unless it covered in cheese, which he does like. He even loved shaking the bag to mix the filling, which was super cute. I always wanted to cook with my kids, but I feel super blessed that I get to start when he is only 1.

For the adults I served this with a heady and fruity Beaujolais.

Here is what you need:
1 cup of left over chicken
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup of broccoli
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg for egg wash

Here is what I did:

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Mix together the chicken, cheese, mayo, broccoli, salt and pepper to taste, set aside. I did this in the large zip lock baggie that was holding the chicken... less dishes, and Freddy did the mixing.
3. Pop the cans of the crescent rolls (this is the hardest part for me) and roll out the dough on broken. Use a rolling pin to keep the dough together.
4. With a pair of kitchen scissors cut 3 inch long slices, 1 inch border of dough on each side of the dough. You will have a fridge effect that you will then braid over the filling.
5. Spread the filling in the middle of the dough leaving at least an inch on each side. You might want to use your hands to shape the mound, I did.
6. Fold a fringe end over the filling and alternate sided to create a braid effect. Pinch the ends together on the ends to seal in the filling.
7. Crack and whip an egg together and brush the top of the dough. Top the egg wash with a little bit of crunchy sea salt, Maldon is my favorite.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes depending on your oven... let sit for atleast 5 minutes before slicing.

Enjoy, happy wintering.

Lots of love, many blessings, and happy baking!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Meaty Lasagna

It is something of a joke in my house regarding the vast amount of vegetable lasagnas I make during the summer months to use all of our garden's veggies. But when it is cold outside, there is nothing more comforting than a delicious, cheesy, meat-filled masterpiece we call the American version of a lasagna. 

Before we begin a few rules to keep your lasagna together. 1. Make your own hearty bolgnese, thick and rich... don't let the liquid jar stuff fool you 2. Use no boil lasagna noodles, and thinner layers is better. 3. Let your lasagna rest so that it comes together before you cut, you don't want eat your lasagna with a spoon. 

What you need: 

4 cups of Bolognese Sauce (Meat Tomato Sauce) 
1 box of no boil lasagna noodles (24 6x3 inch noodle sheets) or fresh noodles if you are so inclined
1 pint of ricotta cheese
1 egg
oregano (1 teaspoon dried, sprig fresh) 
basil  (1 Tablespoon dried, 6 large leaves fresh) 
16 oz of shredded mozzarella ( the fresh stuff has too much moisture) 
1/4 cup of shaved parmigiano reggiano
salt and pepper 
casserole dish approximately 9x13 inches

What you do: 

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
2. Spread one even layer of meat sauce on the bottom of your casserole dish 
3. Layer noodles to cover your dish 
4. Chop your basil and oregano if fresh. Mix your ricotta, basil, oregano, and egg. Spread evenly on your noodle layer. 
5. Layer noodles to cover your dish
6. Spoon an even layer of meat sauce
7. Layer noodles to cover your dish
8. Spread an even layer of shredded mozzarella (about half the bag) 
9. Layer noodles to cover your dish
10. Spoon an even layer of meat sauce. Cover with an even layer of shredded mozzarella (the other half the bag.) Sprinkle the parmigiano reggiano. 
11. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 45 minutes
12. Take the foil off and cook in the oven for another 15 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. 

Enjoy with a Cesar salad, and a nice Chianti. Remember to let it cool before your cut and serve. 

Lots of love, many blessings, and happy baking!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Turkey a la Marietta

So, when I am slightly blue, my favorite thing to do is to go to the grocery store and find something I have never cooked before. This is particularly interesting at an Asian market, but since I was in Whole Foods we are going to try and cook Turkey thighs. I found this recipe for Turkey a la Marietta on NY Times online. I amended it some but I am excited to hear what you think. We found turkey thighs to be very gamy and wild tasting. It was fun but not something I would do without using a brine first again.  
What you need: 
  • 2 turkey jointed thighs, about 2 1/2 lbs, bone in
  • 6 cloves chopped garlic
  • 12 sage leaves, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sprinkle of red wine vinegar
  • Sprinkle of olive oil
  • What you need: 
  • 1. Marinate the turkey for 5-6 hours in the refrigerator by blending the sage, garlic, and pepper with a mortar and pestle until you have thick paste. Rub the spice mixture into the turkey thighs. 
  • 2. Remove the thighs from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking to come to room temperature. 
  • 3. Preheat the oven 400 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes skin side down. 
  • 4. Add the chopped parsnips and carrots, turn the thighs over, and bake for another 30 minutes. Sprinkle everything with salt, pepper, olive oil, and a splash of vinegar. 
  • 5. Let the meat rest uncovered and enjoy. 
I served this with Parmesan drop biscuits and a dry white wine. 

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy roasting. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Portuguese Hake

I don't know what makes this recipe Portuguese, but my husband loved it. It is easy and quick, and you can use canned tomatoes and frozen peppers so it is great for a fall or winter week night. The whole dish can be made in 20 minutes or less. I served it with saffron rice and peas. 

Here is what you need:

For the Sauce:

  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (28 oz) 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1  cup of mixed peppers sliced 
  • 1 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup small black olives pitted and rinsed
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 bay leaves dried
1 Heavy bottomed large sauce pan1 nonstick skillet large enough to fit the fish1 plate to dredge the fish a cooling rack with paper towels underneath to lay your fish on after done frying 

To cook the fish:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound of hake, skinned, deboned, and fillet cut into two pieces 
  • sea salt freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cornmeal for dredging 
Here is what you do: 
1. Heat a heavy bottomed skilled on medium. Add the oil and chopped onion, cook until translucent and fragrant. 2. Mince in garlic into the pan and cook for a moment. 3. Add the rest of the vegetables, the onions, and spices, simmer on low for 10 minutes or so. 4. Heat a nonstick skillet on medium high, heat the olive oil. You want the oil to be hot, so if you have a thermometer you are look for 350 degrees. If you don't sprinkle a little bit of cornmeal if it sizzles and bubbles, it is ready. If not, let it continue to heat. 5. Dredge the portions of hake in the corn meal. Press down the corn meal sticks. 6. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side depending on thickness. 7. Remove the cooked fish on to the cooling rack so that it doesn't get soggy. 8. Serve fish with sauce and rice or potatoes. 

Enjoy! Serve with a nice dry white wine. 

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy cooking! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Apple Pie

So this is my apple pie recipe as of yesterday, it changes often and without notice, but we all really enjoyed the current incarnation. I prefer a crumb crust to a double crust, because I love the crunchy texture. I like to cook my apples ahead of time because I think it makes them taste better and less runny in the pie. I add slivered almonds because that is what I had handy but you could add any nut or even oats to the top crumble.

Here is what you need: 
A pie crust any good pie crust either homemade or store-bought
8-10 apples depending on size
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice or your own spice blend
1/4 cup of brown sugar for the filling 
1/2 cup of water
1/2 a lemon squeezed for juice
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup of nuts or oats
1/4 cup of brown sugar for the topping
2 Tablespoons of melted butter

Here is what I did: 
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 
2. Peel and slice your apples. I love using my mother's apple corer slicer tool. I don't know why I just do. Dump them in a heavy bottomed skillet, add the spices, sugar, water, and lemon juice, let cook for 10 minutes or so while you roll out your dough and make the pie crumble topping.  
3. Roll out your dough and lay your pie crust in your baking dish. I like a glass pie dish so you can check the bottom of the pie to make sure it is done. 
4. In a bowl mix together the flour, nuts/oats, brown sugar, and melted butter. Mix with your fingers until you have some clumps, some dust, and some rubble. This would be an excellent job if you have a little chef in the kitchen providing they have clean hands and won't eat it all. 
5. Ladle your apples into the pie crust using a slotted spoon, so that you don't bring in extra liquid. You can save that delicious juice for something else, but you don't want it in your pie because it will make your crust soggy. 
6. Put the crumble topping over the apples and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the apples are bubbling and the crumble is toasted gold brown.
7. Let the pie cool and enjoy with coffee and ice cream or whipped cream, and good friends.

As always, lots of love, many blessings, and happy baking.

Chicken Pot Pie

This Chicken Pot Pie recipe is the best chicken pot pie I have ever had. My good friend Leslie sent me the recipe and we endeavored to make Chef Anne Burrell's recipe, you can find the original here . I have modified it some to account for size and personal taste. This recipe makes a large casserole dish worth of pot pie, and it is the bomb. 

For the crust: 
1/4 cup of butter (1/2 a stick) cold cut up into small cubes
1/2 cup of cream cheese (1/2 a package) cold cut up into small cubes
3/4 cup of flour
salt and pepper 
1 egg yolk
you may need a tablespoon of cold water, but i did not. it depends on the humidity of your house. 
1 egg for the egg wash

For the filling: 
1 large sweet potato
2 Tablespoons of oil
2 large ribs of celery
2 small carrots
1 large red onion
2 cups of cooked chicken (rotisserie or left overs) 
1 cup of green beans cut into small pieces
2 large cloves of garlic minced
6 fresh sage leaves, cut up very small
6 stems of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

For the gravy: 
1/4 cup of butter (1/2 a stick) cold
4 Tablespoons of flour
4 cups of good chicken broth 

Here is what you do: 
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. 
2. Peel and dice your sweet potato and roast for 20 minutes. 
3. While your potato is roasting make your dough. Using your food processor, dump all of the ingredients in and run until a ball of dough is formed. It may take a while. If it is still too dry add some cold water. Wrap in cling and place in the fridge to chill out.
4. Get your veg for the filling ready. Dice up all of your veg. In a large pot, add the olive oil and cook the vegetables until they are fragrant and the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Take off the heat. Add the chicken and stir.  Take your roasted sweet potatoes out of the oven and stir into your mixture.
5. Turn your oven down to 350 degrees F.
6. Make your gravy. You’re going to make a roux, which is nothing more than butter and flour used as thickener for the stock. Put your butter and flour in heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Whisk the mixture until it is a light golden color and smells nutty. Add the stock and let simmer, whisking occasionally until thick, about 8 minutes.
7. Now assembly. Using a deep dish, I used by a 9 by 13 casserole dish, spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add the vegetables and chicken. Pour the gravy over top. Roll out your dough the size of your baking dish from 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. Place over top, cutting vents for steam to escape. Fork or fold in the overhang so the crust neatly tucked in. Brush with a beaten egg to form the egg wash.
8. Bake 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Enjoy with good friends, a nice light red wine, and if you can, a fire.

As always, many blessings, much love, and happy baking. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Buttermilk Corn Bread

You can't serve chili without cornbread, you can, but it would be a sadistic twisted form of punishment. There are hundreds of recipes for corn bread from spicy to sweet. Here is mine and it is both. This time I topped my with chipotle adobo sauce and it was hot. But what you top yours with is entirely up to you. Enjoy!

Here is what you need:
1/2 cup of butter melted
1/2 cup of honey
2 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk ( i heart buttermilk)
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt 
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (for umph) 
garnish optional: chipotles in adobo, pickled jalapenos, sugar, or blueberries

Here is what you do: 
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
2. Grease a 8 by 10 baking dish with butter or spray
3. Mix together all of the ingredients 
4. Tip into the baking dish, then garnish as desired
5. Bake for 30 minutes or so, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

Serve with butter and chili :) 

Lots of love, many blessings, and happy baking. 

Crockpot Black Bean Chili

I think most working mothers would agree... I am head over heels in love with my crock-pot.  I love it so much that I have two, one big one for dinners and a baby one for side dishes, oatmeal and cheese dips for parties. This recipe is born out of necessity, but it takes advantage of the crock-pot two ways. 1. Slowly braises delicious whole chicken which I then take out and reserve half of the meat for my take two dinner later this week. 2. A set it up and forget it chili that uses all of the delicious cooking liquid as the broth for the chili.

I recently found that it is much better for the environment and better for the pocket book to buy whole chickens. But, alas, I am not the best butcher, so I have found a shortcut that gives me perfectly cooked meat that I do not have cut anything. I call it my:

Perfectly Braised Crock-pot Chicken 

What you need
Trusted crock-pot
1 chicken thawed with bits and giblets taken out
2 cups of wine, apple juice, water... anything you have in the fridge that will go well with chicken
salt and pepper

What you do
1. Set your crock-pot to low
2. Pour in your cooking liquid
3. Place your chicken in, breast side down, flavor the top of the chicken with salt and pepper.
4. Come back in 8 hours to perfectly cooked chicken.

Now you can do anything you want with it. But, for me this week it is going to be Black Bean Chili and Mock-rrocan Chicken Tagine.

Black Bean Chili 

I think the key to good chili is to buy whole dried chilies and grind them up yourself. I call it my chili slurry because I use a blender. You can buy your dried chiles online or in a Latin market. But you really cannot beat the flavor.

Here is what you need:
2 Ancho chiles
2 Chiles de Arboles
2 Passia chiles
1/2 cup of water
1 chopped onion
1 tin 16oz of black beans
1 tin 28oz of chopped tomatoes
1 cup of chicken stock or cooking liquid from the crock-pot you cooked the chicken in
1 cup of shredded chicken

Here is what you do:
1. Toast the chiles in a dry pan, do not let them get burned or blackened they will become bitter
2. Take the tops of the chiles and scrape out the seeds
3. Add the chiles and water into a blender and create a slurry
4. Add all of the ingredients into a crock-pot except the chicken, you do not want it overcooked
5. Cook on high for an hour or a more to let the flavors come together.
6. About 5 minutes before serving add the chicken so that it can heat through.
7. Serve with sour cream, hot sauce, and cheddar cheese shredded

Enjoy! Much love, many blessings and happy cooking!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Candy Corn Chocolate Pretzel Treats

This is less of a recipe and more of an idea. I found it on Pinterest for Christmas  They used Hershey's hugs and Christmas colored M&Ms but I mended this for Halloween. We served these little cookie/confections at our Halloween party, it was a huge hit. I think for next time I would do a chocolate drizzle instead of a Hershey kiss because it was a lot of chocolate. Also, I am guessing the Hugs work better than the original kisses, because I found them to be hard to squish. However, the dark chocolate kisses melted better than the milk chocolate. It is still a fantastic treat and would be a wonderful gift for a boss or a teacher for Halloween.

What you need
1 pound bag of Square Pretzels
1 pound bag of chocolate Hershey Kisses or Hugs
1 pound bag of candy corn

What you do
1. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees F
2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil
3. Unwrap a vast amount of  Hershey kisses, this would be an excellent application for child labor, as long as they have clean hands
4. Line your baking tin with pretzels, it is ok if they touch, but they should be flat.
5. Place one kiss on top of each pretzel
6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the chocolate is pliable but not completely melted
7. Work quickly and press a candy corn on to each kiss
8. Let cool, serve with great pomp and circumstance.

Happy Halloween, lots of love, many blessings, and happy baking!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes for Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone! I must admit that I never really celebrated Halloween, we would make chili, and carve a pumpkin but it was just another weeknight. Now with a little one the week has become super fun! And by super fun I mean Super Freddy

But, Super Freddy's best friend Dalmatian Isla can't have milk or eggs, and so for her we made special chocolate cupcakes for Halloween. These cupcakes are fantastic... I found the same recipe from multiple sources on the internet and I amended it some to make it more... um, me... but it is wonderful. I am not sure I will make regular chocolate cake again. 

Vegan Chocolate Cake Ingredients

1 1/4 cups organic flour

1 cup organic sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup warm water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup canola oil

2 tsp of strong coffee
1 tsp organic apple cider vinegar

Vegan Frosting 
4 cup confectioners sugar
8 tbsp margarine
1 tbsp coconut milk

2 tsp vanilla extract
Orange Dye to tint the icing for Halloween 

What you do... 

1. Preheat your over to 350 degrees F
2. Take out your trusty muffin tins, this will make about 18 cupcakes so you will need two tins, and cupcake liners 
3. I blitzed all the ingredients in my food processor, but you can use a bowl and a wooden spoon, or whatever you have handy. 
4. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean 
5. While the cupcakes are cooling make the frosting... 
6. With a standing mixer or a whisk and strong arm slowly mix together the sugar and margarine. Once you have a good whipped consistency add the other ingredients, slowly adding the orange tint until you reach your desired color. I went for a bright neon orange for the festivities. 
7. Once the cupcakes are cool you can decorate the cupcakes anyway you like. I simply used a star-tipped pastry bag and some cupcake toppers I made for the occasion. 

Happy Halloween, much love, many blessings, and happy baking! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Crock Pot Apple Butter

A few weekends back we took Freddy apple picking. It started last year with my best friends birthday and thus the tradition continues. It was much fun, we had coffee and apple cider donuts at the barn before we took the hay ride out to the orchard. Then with Freddy in back pack with my sweater around him we picked apples for a while at our CSA Farm "Great Country Farms" and it is great country. But unfortunately, the weeks have passed and I still have too many apples, and needing a way to preserve lots of apples I found a use for 10 pounds of apples and also a way to use the 8 apples we have in the fridge with a Freddy sized bite taken out of them. He is like a little apple vampire, doesn't eat just like to suck out the juice. I digress... here is the recipe for Crock Pot Apple Butter, I adapted it from a number of blogs...

Here is what you need:

10 pounds of apples or so, how ever much fits in your crock pot
2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice
2 large cinnamon sticks (to be fished out later)
1 tablespoon of salt
1/2 a cup of brown sugar (more to taste, taste after the apples are cooked down)

Here is what I did:

1. Peel, core, and quarter the apples.
2. Blitz in a food processor to make a sort of raw apple sauce.
3. Pour into the crock pot, add the rest of the ingredients
4. Cook on low over night, stir occasionally, when you remember and when and if you are awake.
5. Taste and add more salt or sugar to your liking
6. Store in sterilized containers, I used old mason jars and kept them in the fridge and gave them away as gifts.

Enjoy with pork chops, biscuits, scones, and anything else you can think of... ohhhh, apple butter cupcakes... a thought.

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy cooking!

Roasted Cauliflower

I love my CSA. I think it is a fantastic way to support family farms, buy fresh local ingredients, eat more vegetables and it is delivered to your door! Who can beat that? But sometimes, my husband just can't tolerate another vegetable lasagna. Here is a great recipe for delicious cauliflower that is the work moments to toss together and tastes great. 

What you need:
1 large cauliflower cut into relatively small florets
3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt and fresh pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated on the top after roasting

What you do:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Toss the cauliflower, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper well so all the florets are coated and seasoned. 

3. Pour into a large shallow roasting pan.

4. Roast in the oven for about 25-35 minutes

5. Top with Parmigiano Reggiano and additional salt and pepper if needed.

Truth be told, I cook very rustically, and you can use this recipe for almost any vegetable. This is my family's favorite way to eat Brussels sprouts, minus the cheese. 

As always, much love, many blessings, and happy cooking. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Butter Cream

My sister (in-law, in-law) birthday was last Sunday. Her favorite cake is red velvet and so, to celebrate her we had red velvet cupcakes and champagne before her flight. The cupcakes are delicious and easy to make, and quite tasty if I do say so myself. We had good intentions about sharing the 6 cupcakes we had left over, but we just ate them... I wish I could say it was my son, but it wasn't.

Happy Birthday Melina!

Here is what you need:
·         1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
·         3/4 cups sugar
·         ½ teaspoon baking soda
·         ½  teaspoon salt
·         ½ teaspoon cocoa powder
·         ¾ cups vegetable oil
·         ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
·         1 large egg, room temperature
·         1 tablespoon red food coloring
·         ½ teaspoon white distilled vinegar
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
·         1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
·         1 stick butter, softened
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Here is what I did:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake papers, I used red ones, get it, red velvet cake…
  2. I put all of the cake ingredients in my food processor, and blitz to combine
  3. Fill the muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full, for me a ice cream scooper does the trick
  4. Bake for 16 minutes or so.
  5. Let cool and frost. For a pretty presentation use a star tip on a pastry bag, but the frosting is so good it really doesn't matter.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
  1. Using an electric mixer, whip all of the ingredients, starting on low or you will be standing in a powdered sugar tornado. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

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