Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors rolling pin

Pie day is when you and a friend get together and make an obscene amount of pie dough. My freezer is full of wonderful pie shells just screaming to be set free.

I did fall in love with my friend's rolling pin. It is a monster. Did I mention I LOVE it. She got it when the local high school stopped offering Home EC classes and no one wanted it!! Can you believe that? I told her about the muffin pan I got from a friend who went to a school cafeteria sale and bought me a 24 count muffin pan that is so very awesome.

We made dutch apple pies and used my new gadget that I found at a second hand store. It makes really cool shapes on the apples. We had a great day and are going to get together to make egg rolls and tamales next!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sticky Toffee Pudding to Kick off the Season

My very hip sister took me to McMullan's Irish Pub when I was in Vegas last month. We had the best dessert: Sticky pudding. I had never had it. Sung about it but never eaten it. It was amazing! While I was scouring my cookbooks for Thanksgiving dinner, I found a recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding with Brandy Butterscotch Sauce.

I made it tonight and wow what a fun dessert. The recipe is in one of my favorite cookbooks that sadly I do not use a lot-shame on me!! The Pastry Queen Christmas is great. In it I have discovered and made some sensational food:
What Joel said about this sticky toffee pudding is, " I didn't like it, I loved it, I worship it, I revell in it!" It was good..enjoy.

You can find three of her recipes on the epicurious web site or this specific recipe can be found at The Daily Meal.

 Sticky Toffee Pudding with Brandy Butterscotch Sauce

From Rebecca Rather’s “The Pastry Queen Christmas: Big-Hearted Holiday Entertaining, Texas Style.” 


For the pudding:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon smooth apricot jam
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
For the sauce:
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • Vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream, for serving


For the pudding:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 9-inch glass pie plate with butter or cooking spray.
Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, egg, and jam on high speed for 15 minutes. (Yes, 15 minutes. Do not try to cheat to save time. I tried it, and the recipe didn’t work).
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt to blend. Add the milk and flour mixture, alternating with the egg mixture, in 3 increments. After each addition, beat on low speed until combined.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir in the vinegar. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pie plate. Cover with aluminum foil that has been greased with butter or cooking spray and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the pudding is a rich, brown color. If it is still pale in the center, cook a little longer. Just before the pudding is done, make the sauce.

For the sauce:
Melt the butter with the cream, sugar, hot water, and brandy in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until blended and hot.
Pour half the sauce over the pudding immediately after you remove it from the oven. As soon as the sauce is absorbed, pour the remaining sauce over the pudding. Cut into wedges and serve hot, with vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Blessings of My Marathon Meal

I think we should laugh more. I have been thinking about that a lot lately: How busy we are and how we enjoy life less than we should. I was also thinking about aspirations and what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be happy. It seems simple but at times it is the most challenging of goals. As is the Thanksgiving have all those menu items end at the same moment-hot! I liken it to the Boston Marathon of Meals. It is my Boston Marathon.

I start by getting all my favorite recipe books out and sorting recipes

Things that can be made ahead: Pie crusts. I made 4, just in case, and put them in the freezer. Just so you know, I only made 1 pie! And a eggnog chocolate crusted cheesecake.
Jello Salad-I call it Groot Salad now. I shared it with my good friend, one of the nicest people on the planet and now I think of her whenever I make it.

Groot Jello Salad (I have had this recipe for years and have no idea where it came from.)

  • 2 3 oz size cherry jello
  • 1 16oz whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 20oz crushed pineapple (keep 1/4 cup juice)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 8oz cream cheese
  • 1 Tb mayo

Dissolve jello in 2 cups water. Stir in berries and pineapple. Pour 1/2 in the fridge and set 1 hour. Set rest aside.
Mix cream cheese, nuts, 1/4 cup pineapple juice, and mayo together. Layer over chilled jello. Place in fridge for 10 minutes. Pour remaining jello over top. Frig until set.

I love stuffing but I am very picky. I grew up on my mom's stove top stuffing. My grandmother puts extra celery and onion to jazz it up. I love it because it is TRADITION. Now that I am creating traditions of my own, I like a really jazzed up kind of dressing!!

Awesome Sausage, Apple, and Dried Cranberry Stuffing ( The following recipe is close with some few tweaks of my own.


  • 1 1/2 cups cubed whole wheat bread
  • 3 3/4 cups cubed white bread
  • 1 pound sausage with sage
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 granny smith apple, cored and chopped
  • 3/4 cup dried craisens
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup stock
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Toast cubes in 350 degree oven. Toss in huge bowl.
Cook sausage and onions until browned. Add celery and spices-cook 2 minutes.
Add to bread with all remaining ingredients. Pour into a 13 x 9 pan and bake 30 min.

I vacillate between my grandmothers apple and yam casserole which is out of this world and a recipe that is in the most fantastic of cookbooks, The Pastry Queen Christmas. It has ginger in it which I love. My friend Amber doesn't care for ginger so I am adding both recipes!

Sweet Potatoes and Apples from Grandma McQuivey

  • 2 apples, sliced and peeled
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 17 oz can yams
  • 1/4 cup margarine


Toss together apples, pecans, sugar, cinnamon. Alternate layers of yams and apple mixture. Melt margarine and pour over top. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until apples are tender. (sorry grandma, I had to loss the mini mellows on top-yuck.)

Pastry Queen's Sweet Potato

  • 4-6 sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 heaping granulated sugar
  • 4 Tb melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 tea vanilla extract
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Roast sweet potatoes in a 425 degree oven after poking with fork-1 hour. Rest for 15 minutes before removing skin.
While cooking potatoes, mix sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Add potatoes and combine. Add to 13 x 9 buttered pan.
Combine topping ingredients and add to top. Bake for 30 minutes.

My pumpkin pie cracked but thanks to my eldest having a great decorating idea from family fun can't tell. Don't Cry over a Cracked Pie! That is my new motto.

Ideas for desserts:
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Easy Pie Crust
Nut Crusted Pumpkin Pie

Or this year I tried a recipe from the Lion House Pies Cookbook

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie

  • 1 9 inch pie shell
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tea salt
  • 1 tea cinnamon
  • 1/2 tea nutmeg
  • 1/2 tea ground cloves
  • 1/2 tea ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 oz canned pumpkin
  • 1 tea vanilla

With mixer mix, cream cheese, sugar and all spices until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Pour into shell. Bake 350 degrees for 55 minutes-use knife test. Cool then chill in fridg for 3-4 hours.

I tried something new this year after receiving many suggestions on facebook to do so. Brining my turkey. The recipe below is from the Good Eats Food Network Recipe Collection.



  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil


2 to 3 days before roasting:
Thaw turkey in the refrigerator.
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature.
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.
My favorite roll recipe is a potato roll. I tried a new recipe but could not just make one recipe. We compared the two and found that my old stand by is great. It was a request of my eldest that we have rolls. Being a very picky eater she loves bread at every meal.

Potatoe Rolls- source unknown
  • 1 pkg yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup hot mashed potatoes
  • 1/4 cup melted shortening
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup warmed milk
  • 1 1/2 tea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 4-4 1/2 cup flour

Mix all adding only 2 cups of flour at first. Add all flour until tacky dough.
Place in greased bowl. Cover, rise 1 hour.
Punch down. Rest 10 minutes
Shape into rolls. Place on greased sheets. Rise 1 hour.
400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.
Makes 2 dozen

We had a quick lesson about utensils. The girls had never seen the butter knife and wondered why we had 2 forks. We need to eat on china more often!

Relishing the relish!! I have not found a favorite recipe yet! Any ideas would be great. After dinner Joel said I was done and had crossed the finish line. I reminded him that I was just sprinting towards the end now-deboning the turkey and cleaning the kitchen!

My least favorite part but a final stretch of the meal.

This, dessert, is the final finishing line moment. Where your kitchen is clean and you get to savor the pie. The final moments of pure joy and peace.

And as I was eating, I see on our "Thankful Board" that someone else is thankful for pie too!! Other items that we are thankful for:
  • Family
  • Utensils
  • Scriptures
  • Happiness
  • Talents
  • Friends
  • Giving Love
  • Bushes
  • Pottery
  • Each other
  • Christmas Dinner (I didn't say that!!)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baked Explorations Grasshopper Bars

This cookbook is very fun..listen to this section:

"The impulse to make it came from a cookbook my mom has stashed away, and ancient tome with an emphasis on Midwestern cuisine. Unfortunately, the only thing it seemed to have going for it was page after page of hideous gelatin-infused recipes, each more gruesome than the one before. Still, something about the grasshopper pie was intriguing."

The recipe was fun and beautiful!!!

Tasty too! The recipe can be found on line at Serious Eats.


  • For the brownie base:
  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Valrhona)
  • 5 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the buttercream:
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened but still cool, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons creme de menthe
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • For the chocolate glaze:
  • 6 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes  


  1. 1
    To make the brownie base: Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. 2
    Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9-by-13-inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, the salt, and cocoa powder.
  3. 3
    Configure a large size double boiler. Place the chocolate and the butter in the bowl of the double boiler and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler and add both sugars. Whisk the sugars until completely combined. Remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.
  4. 4
    Add three eggs to the chocolate/butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
  5. 5
    Sprinkle the flour/cocoa/salt mix over the chocolate. Using a spatula (do not use a whisk) fold the dry ingredients into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour/cocoa mix visible.
  6. 6
    Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top with an offset spatula, and bake for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. The brownies should be just a tad underdone (not too gooey, but ideally, just 1 minute from being cooked through completely). A toothpick inserted into the brownies at an angle should contain a few loose crumbs. Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool completely while you make the creme de menthe filling.
  7. 7
    To make the buttercream: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally until mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. 8
    Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until filling is light and fluffy.
  9. 9
    Add the creme de menthe and peppermint extract and mix until combined. If the filling is too soft, chill slightly in the refrigerator and then mix again until it is the proper consistency.
  10. 10
    If the filling is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and re-mix to proper consistency. Spread the filling evenly across the top of the brownie layer and place the pan in the refrigerator, for a minimum of 45 minutes, while you make the chocolate glaze.
  11. 11
    To make the chocolate glaze: In a large non-reactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir vigorously for 1 minute to release excess heat.
  12. 12
    Pour the mixture over the chilled creme de menthe layer and use an offset spatula to spread it into an even layer. Place the pan back in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the glaze hardens.
  13. 13
    Remove the pan from the refrigerator, wait about 15 minutes for the glaze to soften slightly, and cut the bars with a warm knife. Cut into squares and serve immediately.
    Note: The bars can be stored in the refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 4 days.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

ABC Frangipane Ripple Chocolate Pound Cake

The mystery of the Frangipane. How is it that I could put something near the bottom and have it sink to the top??

I put most of the batter on the bottom (soon to be top).

I then added my almond mixture.

I spread it nicely out and made it flat.

I covered with almost the remaining batter thus creating a large layer of batter between the two white almond layers.

I added the last thin layer of almonds with my fingers because it was easier than using the spatula.

I covered it with a small amount of batter. So that my last layer or bottom layer would be small.

I got this amazing smelling and wonderful looking cake outside!

Inside...couldn't even distinguish the two layers and the layers were not near the bottom but had sunk to the top.

Why is that????

Very Perplexing.


Where's the ripple?

I can't wait to see how the other bakers fair.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Must Purchase The Fearless Baker

I got a cookbook at the Mohave County Library. I had read reviews and it talked about how it was a very beginner cookbook and not for those who know how to bake. I passed by it after reading that on-line. At the library I thought it looked fun. The layout is great and clever. The recipes are doable and fun. I have made the chocolate pudding and the key lime pie. Both were excellent.
How clever to make a crust with these yummy cookies! Really fun ideas. Some day soon I will buy this cookbook, The Fearless Baker.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Biscuit Success!!!

Finally!!! Something turns out in biscuit form. I have shed many tears over my flat and tough biscuits. Or worse my flour pocketed biscuits that I made because I didn't want to over mix them!
I recently purchased Southern Biscuits and made the easy no fail biscuit...which failed! It is so frustrating because I love biscuits. That failure made me cry extra hard.

I returned to a cookbook that I have not used in a while, River Run Cookbook and made the Really Big Buttermilk Biscuits. They were fantastic.

Really Big Buttermilk Biscuits River Run cookbook
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tea baking powder
1/2 tea soda
1/2 tea salt
6 Tb cold butter
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Oven 450 on greased sheet.
Use food processor
Add buttermilk and mix briefly
Knead briefly...gently fold
Pat into 1 1/2 or 2 inches..cut
Sides touching
Bake 15-20 min. Allow to cool

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tupelo Honey Cafe Chicken Review

From this cookbook, I have made: Coconut Sweet Potato Bisque, Cremini sweet onion gravy, smashed sweet potatoes, Appalachian ChowChow, Reubens, Grateful Dead Black Bean Burgers, Cilanto lime dressing, and Southern Fried Chicken.
Everything has been AMAZING.

I made a Demi-Glace that I keep in the freezer. When I need it I have it. I have used it in gravy and on pasta.

This is a photo of the fried chicken which was fantastic. We had a new couple over for dinner and they loved it too.

These are the fresh wonderful ingredients for the Grateful Dead Burgers.

They were good..not my favorite but I am a meat lover. The Cilanto Lime Mayo was delish.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tupelo Honey Cafe Reuben Review

Imagine the seen: I am ecstatic to get my new cookbooks. I take this new one with me to the girls gymnastic lesson so that I can skim through it. I am sitting on the hard concrete floor because there are no seats for parents who like to stay and support their children. I occasionally look up to watch the girls and read while the other class mates take their turns. It is perfect!!
And I am really enjoying my book! The stories, the recipes, the ingredients!! I am telling you this book is GOOD! Then, I feel like someone is staring at eyes boring into my skin. Sure enough I look up and see this lady staring from the one seat in the gym at me. I just smiled and went back to my book.
"Are you reading" she asks with a disgusted tone.
"Yes!" I said excitedly
She glared, rolled eyes, and shook her head.
Lucky, for me that was the end of the conversation because I didn't want to have to chit chat and miss out on my chance to read!!!
I don't know if I can rave enough about how great my new cookbook is!!!

I purchased this after reading great reviews and after feeling very homesick for Virginia. This restaurant is in one of my favorite cities, Ashville. Joel and I went to Ashville and visited the Biltmore. We went on a spur of the moment family adventure with the whole fam...that included Ashville, Pigeon Forge, the Smoky Mountains, and lots of fun family memories (like touring the 25o room chateau while 9 months pregnant!!)
I want to make almost every recipe in the book. I started with a peach butter spread that was excellent, yesterday for lunch I made the Reuben, and tomorrow I am going to make the coconut sweet potatoe bisque!!!

The Reuben has homemade thousand island dressing and a "Traditional Appalachian Chow Chow". The Chow Chow goes in between the slices of corned beef to be heated.

Layered on rye bread: dressing, corned beef, chow chow, and I used Havarti because I am not a fan of Swiss.

Grilled to perfection!!
Joel and I just sat and stared at each other when we bit into these. Mouthwatering doesn't begin to explain how wonderful they were. Joel said it was even better than his favorite sandwich at Macado's.
This cookbook is a must have for your kitchen!!
Tupelo Honey Cafe - check it out

Monday, September 5, 2011

ABC Cheese Blintzes

Another recipe out of our Baking for All Occasions. The crepes recipe is a go to recipe. Quick, easy and tasty. I made in the blender and put in the fridge..and poured from there. I love saving dishing and time.
Creating the crepes..they make up easily and beautifully.

Brown nicely and slide right off the pan.

Adding the cheese mixture. I saw on food geek that you can use ricotta or cream cheese in place of Farmer's cheese.

I was thinking of egg rolls when I was rolling these blintzes...same rolling technique.

I didn't have 1 crepe break.

The recipe made 18 crepes for me.

We tried them with powdered sugar but our favorite was with....

Lemon Curd!!! Fresh lemon curd made them so wonderful. Would have been great with fresh berries. The filling recipe makes a ton. I think too much...but I couldn't see how to half the recipe.