Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monkeying Around

My Thanksgiving weekend was spent in wonderful company.  As I said in an earlier post, my family spends the entire weekend together.  On Saturday we gather for our annual brunch/all day party.  This year I decided to make my super easy Monkey Bread.  The bread is assembled the night before and simply baked in the morning.  Easy - Peasy! 

Easy Monkey Bread

18 frozen dinner roll dough balls (I usually use Rhodes)
1 (3.4 oz) pkg. butterscotch cook & serve pudding mix (I accidentally used instant once and it was fine-no worries)
3/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c melted butter

Butter a bundt pan.  Place the dough balls in the pan.  In this order sprinkle pudding mix, brown sugar, white sugar, then butter.  Cover pan with parchment paper and a tea towel.  Let sit on counter over night.  In the morning, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place bundt pan on a cookie sheet.  Bake bread uncovered for 35-45 minutes.  The top should be golden brown and the smell should be heavenly!  Let the bread sit for 10 minutes after removing it from the oven.  Invert onto a plate and slowly help the bread release from the pan. 
At this point you can eat it steaming hot or wait until it cools a bit so you and your guests can polish it off with out the risk of burning your fingers.  Enjoy!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Let the Festivities Begin

My schedule has been crazy lately.  Run her, run there.  Today I finally said - enough!  I need to bake.  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year.  My family has a beautiful tradition of spending the entire weekend together.  We laugh, eat and most importantly thank God for his bounty in all of our lives.  So, as my contribution, I make pies.  This year I could not decide which one to make so I made a bunch.

 I made Pumpkin Pie.

I made Pumpkin Pecan Pie.

I made Pecan Tart.

And... I made Sour Cherry Almond Cream Tart.

There you have it.

All these pies have one thing in common.  They all have the same full proof crust.  I use one of my favorite kitchen tools to make it.

How did people cook without food processors.  They make my life so easy.  I am thankful ;)

Fool Proof Pie Crust  (thanks Tartelette)
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 c. VERY COLD butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces.
2 T. ice cold water
1 t vanilla extract

In a small bowl, mix the water and vanilla and add a few ice cubes.  Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt.  Pulse a few times.  Add butter.  Pulse until the butter is completely combined.  The mixture will look like a course meal.  While food processor is running, slowly pour in 2 tablespoons of the water/vanilla mixture.  Pulse a few times.
On a floured surface, dump the dough out and knead until the dough becomes a smooth dough.  Flour lightly and roll out to fit your pie plate.  Viola!  You have a crust ready to please any palate.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sweet Potato Yumminess

Some of you may know that I have a very particular palate.  I am picky, picky, picky.  I am always critical of colors, textures and I certainly don't like trying new flavors.  If a food is strange or funky looking I usually pass right by it.  The crazy thing is that I know that I am missing out on a multitude of flavors and I don't really care.  Isn't that terrible?!?!?  Pour example, my Dad is always buying new fruits (persimmons, cheramoya, cactus pears) for us to try and I usually pass it right up.  They just look to weird (mature huh?).  Anyway, when a friend of mine posted a Roasted Sweet Potato Salad on her blog, I passed it right up.  Cilantro, black beans, peppers and sweet potatoes - no way!   My sister on the other hand decided to try it and after I was guaranteed that I would like it, I tried it.  Surprise, surprise, the salad is incredible.  It has a mix of flavors that make your mouth sing.  So, if you are looking for a new Thanksgiving recipe, try this one and wow your guests.  You will not regret it!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sour Cherry Scones

I was flipping through my cookbooks and I came across a sour cherry scone recipe.  Yum!  I froze a few pounds of sour cherries and I was willing to sacrifice a few to try this recipe.  That may sound funny but I always feel that the food that I preserve myself tastes better then store bought stuff.  My hope was to make a scone that didn't feel like a brick and had the yummy tang that sour cherries bring to the table.   I don't often make scones because they are not always sweet enough for me.  I like things sweet.  When I saw that this recipe only uses 1/4 cup of sugar I decided to make a glaze to drizzle on top.  I also wanted to add a crunch so in the end I changed the recipe by adding sliced almonds on the top and then drizzling with a vanilla bean glaze. 

Sour Cherry Scones  (The Craft of Baking - Karen DeMasco)

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 T plus 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t salt
6 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 c pitted sour cherries, frozen or fresh
1 c plus 2 T heavy cream
sliced almonds
1 c powdered sugar
3 T milk
1 t vanilla paste

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Stir.  Add butter and mix until the butter is broken up in tiny pieces throughout the flour.  Add the cherries and mix just to stir them in.  Pour in cream and mix just until combined.  Using your hand, knead the dough just until it comes together.  Turn the dough onto a flour surface and shape the dough into a disk that is 7 inches round and 3/4 inch thick.  Cut the dough into twelve equal wedges.  Place the wedges on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the scones from the freezer.  Brush lightly with heavy cream and sprinkle sliced almonds on them pressing them in lightly.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Scones should be firm and golden on bottom. 
While scones cool, prepare glaze.  Stir together powdered sugar, milk and vanilla paste.  Drizzle over warm scones and dig in!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pear Almond Cream Coffee Cake

For the past two weeks my parents have been traveling through Spain and Portugal.  As a welcome home, I wanted to have this cake ready and waiting for them.  This cake paired with chicken soup was sure to hit the spot for my weary travelers.

My hope was that the almond cream (aka: frangipane) would make the center of this cake creamy and flavorful.  I happen to love baking with almond cream so I had some in my freezer leftover from another baking project.  I used this instead of Rose's recipe.  I am hoping it had the same effect on the cake.  So.. I started with mixing the dry ingredients, mixing the wet ingredients minus the butter and 1/2 the sour cream.  I then put the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and did a double take when the recipe said to put the butter and sour cream straight in the flour mix.  Mix well. Then add the wet ingredients.  Strange, eh?  I usually do this in reverse order or in partial additions.  Surprisingly it worked out just fine.  I finished the cake by placing the batter in my Baker's Secret Fluted Tube Pan (it really is the best even though it is the cheapest), spooning the almond cream on it and topping with the sliced pears.  In the oven it went and viola!

Welcome Home Dad and Mom!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Viva Mexico!!

I love Mexican food.  I think it is one of the best cuisines in the world.  I love the colorful flavors and the varying heat.  I love that beans and cheese find their way onto my plate almost every time I eat Mexican food.  This recipe may not be the most authentic (I don't know if they have casseroles in Mexico) but it is fabulous.  Serve it with Mexican Crema (mexican sour cream) and you have a plate of food fit for a king!

 Enjoy it.  I sure did.

Tortilla Casserole (thank you CI!!!)

1tablespoon vegetable oil
1onion , minced
3cloves garlic , minced
1cup low-sodium chicken broth
1(15.5-ounce) can pinto beans , rinsed
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
1tablespoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
2cups shredded cooked chicken (I used leftover rotisserie chicken)
1/4cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
5cups tortilla chips (3 ounces)
2cups shredded Mexican-style cheese (see note)


  1. 1. Heat oven, sauté aromatics, and make sauce: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and bring to simmer.
  2. 2. Add vegetables, chicken, and herbs: Stir beans, tomatoes, and chipotle into sauce and simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in chicken, 3 tablespoons cilantro, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  3. 3. Assemble Casserole: Spread 1 cup tortilla chips over bottom of 8-inch baking dish and top with 1 cup chicken mixture. Spread 2 more cups tortilla chips into dish and sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Spread remaining chicken mixture into dish and top with remaining tortilla chips. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese over top.
  4. 4. Bake: Bake until cheese is golden brown and casserole is bubbling, abut 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro before serving.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jimmy Who??

I was flipping through a cookbook that I bought on clearance some time ago when I stumbled upon a recipe for Chocolate Jimmy Cake.  My first reaction was Jimmy who???  Well apparently, chocolate sprinkles are also called chocolate jimmies.  I was immediately intrigued!  Fudge-y chocolate sprinkles in cake batter?  Bring It!!  It took me about two years to get around to making this beauty but I finally did it.  I suppose my interest was first peaked because a friend of mine introduced me to the best sprinkles in the world.  The brand is De Ruijter and they are made in Holland.  The good news is that I can find them at my local Meijer (international food isle) so look around for them.  Hopefully you can find them too.  They come in a white box with a piece of toast covered in sprinkles.  Oh, and as a bonus, they come in Milk and Dark chocolate!!

Back to the cake.  This cake turned out to be super fudge-y and chocolate-y.  I made the mistake of using non-Dutch processed cocoa so the color was not what I wanted but the taste was still great.  This is a must for your "one day i will bake..." list.

Chocolate Jimmy Cake

2 c sifted ap flour
1/4 c cornstarch
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 c strained cocoa - Dutch Processed
3/ 4 c chocolate jimmies, divided
2/3 c unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 c superfine or strianed sugar
3 large eggs
1 t vanilla
3/4 c mil
1/4 c water
1 recipe Choclate glaze (below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 10-in. bundt pan (I used two small steamed pudding pans) and dust with flour. 
Sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa.  Stir in 1/2 cup of the chocolate jimmies.  Set aside.
Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat for 2 minutes until pale and fluffy.  Add sugar gradually, 1 T. at a time, taking aobut 6-8 minutes to blend in well.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time at 1-minute intervals.  Scrape sides as needed.  Beat for 1 minute longer.  Blend in vanilla.
Reduce mixer speed to medium-low.  In a small bowl combine milk with the water.  Add the dry ingredients alternately with the liquid, dividing the flour mixture into three parts and mild mixute into two parts, starting and ending with the flour.  Mix only until incorporated after each addition. 
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with the back of a tablespoon.  Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until the cake begins to pull away from the sides and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry.
Cool cake for 15 minutes on rack.  Invert the cake onto a rack and remove pan.  Glaze cake when cool.  Sprinkle immediately with remaining 1/4 cup chocolate jimmies and allow to set.

Quick Chocolate Glaze

1 1/2 oz. unsweeted chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 T unsalted butter
1 c powdered sugar, sifted
3 T boiling water
1 T light corn syrup
3/4 t vanilla

Place the chocolate and butter in a small glass bowl.  Microwave for 1 minutes at 15 second intervals until melted and smooth.  Stir in sugar, and water alternately, beating well.  Stir in corn syrup, then vanilla. 

P.S. This recipe comes from the great Carole Walter.  Her recipes are straight forward and absolutely delicious!!

Happy Birthday C.

Monday, November 1, 2010


The words "Boston Cream Pie" makes most people that I know respond with one simple word: where?!!  It's form does not matter.  It can be a donut, a cake, a trifle or a cupcake.  This week I made the famous Bostini.

This little delight has popped up on many food blogs.  It's popularity is almost unprecedented.  So... when the Heavenly Bakers decided to make this little gem, I was game.  I started with the cake.  Rose suggests making the cake orange flavor and nothing about that sounded appetizing to me.  I am not one to mix fruit and chocolate.  Actually, I don't like to mix chocolate with anything except Irish Cream, vanilla, nuts or coconut.  Oh, and caramel.  I made the cake with vanilla.  I liked the cake's texture as well as its flavor when it came out of the oven.  So far so good.  I then moved on to the vanilla bean pastry cream.  It was good.  A little too good.  Last but not least the chocolate sauce.  I kind of wish I would have made a ganache instead of the butter/chocolate mixture.  The velvetiness of ganache trumps just about any other chocolate sauce in my humble opinion. 
In the end, these little beauties were good.  I have a bad habit of comparing all Boston Cream Pies with the original from the Omni Hotel in Boston.  I had the privilege of tasting the original a few years back and let me tell you all, IT WAS AWESOME!!!!!! While these were not as delicious as the original, they were definitely tasty and worth making again.