Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bûche de Noël - 2009

Here's what my Bûche de Noël would've looked like without the kids' decorating help, but Madeline pointed out that it needed more, so off we went with me teaching them how to make mushrooms out of mini marshmallows (there's a "Martha" Mama moment for ya!).

Anyway, last year and this year I used this recipe and it's excellent. I had chocolate peppermint candy canes this year (which Erik smashed in a Ziploc with a hammer) and I didn't have powdered sugar, so I used Baker's sugar (superfine) and it worked like a dream. Also used Scharffen Berger cocoa in the "frosting" this year (that Joel gave me for Christmas) which may account for the lighter color of this log.

The second Bûche de Noël is from last year (my first ever). And, the collage shows what the Yule Log looked like when the kids were done having decorating fun with it. Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Let Them Eat... Snow!!

Hey, if life dumps 10-inches of snow in your yard, make snow cream!

The kids kept wanting to eat the light, fluffy snow today, and who could blame them? I promised them real snow cones tonight, so we did these beauties when we were done with all our snow adventures today!

I know many folks make this with cream (but I didn't have any) and most only use vanilla (but when I think of snow, I think peppermint). These turned out great — like the lightest, creamy vanilla ice cream ever with a kiss of cool peppermint. Heavenly.

Peppermint Vanilla Snow Cream

  1. Scoop up a big bowl of clean snow from your backyard, and bring it inside.
  2. Take the last cup of whole milk left in the container (or half-and-half or cream if you have it) and add a couple Tbs. of sugar, 1 tsp (or so) of real vanilla and 1/2 tsp of real peppermint extract. Put the lid on the half-gallon and shake it up!
  3. Scoop snow into dessert bowls and pour "cream" on top!
  4. Enjoy!! Delish! (Can also top with whipped cream and sprinkles or crushed candy canes for an over-the-top snow cream sundae!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gramma Sartor Santas

Last year at Christmas, our friend Linda gave us a plate of these adorable Santa cookies. The kids (well, really all of us) loved them. So this morning, I got everything ready to make some. To do the Santa faces, frost the entire cookie with white frosting, then cover the bottom half of the cookie with flaked coconut. Sprinkle a crescent of red sugar on the top of the cookie for his hat, with a mini marshmallow for the ball at the tip of the hat. We used red M&M's cut in half for the noses (red hots are the "traditional" nose though, but M&M's was what I had), and chocolate chips for eyes. I think Madeline's turned out pretty cute too (with "rosy chocolate cheeks", and "little red feets" at the bottom of his beard.) Erik, and our friend Ben, did the boy-thing of pouring as many topping on their cookies as possible, and sampling the rest.
For the sugar cookie, I decided to use my Great Gramma Sartor's Sour Cream Sugar Cookie recipe. It's wonderful and pretty easy (and a slice and bake recipe, giving us good rounds for the faces).
I'm not even typing the recipe in — just click on it to make it bigger! I love to see her hand writing, and it's even in red... how fun for the holidays.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Lil' Monkeys in the Kitchen

Madeline and Gavino helped me make the pineapple cake for Erik's birthday cake today, and later in the afternoon, E was happy to help sample the chocolate buttercream frosting and the pineapple custard cream filling!
I think Mr. Monkey looks pretty good, and that he's got more personality than Martha's cake because of his imperfections... it looks more like he has fur, and he looks happier too (I didn't use her recipe, just the great idea for the cake shape). And, thanks to Rochelle for making sure the cake didn't burn while I ran to the store this afternoon! Happy 2nd birthday to our very own naughty little monkey!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Sweets Lineup...

We've baked up a plethora of tasty Christmas cookies, and cooked up some yummy candy too! The kids have even been in the mix on some of the rolling, cutting and decorating... They especially loved helping with the Finnish Gingerbread Snowflakes.

Grandma's Best Ginger Cookies (adapted from Entertaining The Finnish Way)
Makes about 10 dozen

1 1/4 c. butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 c. dark syrup (I used about 1/2 c. molasses and 1/2 c. dark Karo corn syrup - they don't have molasses in Finland)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cloves
1 Tbs. grated orange rind (I didn't have, so used 1/8 tsp. of Chinese Five Spice)
about 7 c. of flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat pastry flour and 1/2 all-purpose unbleached)
3 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F, bake cookies for about 10 minutes per batch. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and beat until fluffy. Mix spices into syrup in a glass Pyrex measuring cup and heat in microwave for 1 minute. Stir and pour into butter/egg mixture. Beat to combine. Slowly add the flour (and all the baking soda) about 1/2 at a time.

The original recipe says to cover the dough in plastic and leave overnight in a cool place before rolling, cutting and baking. I made mine early in the day, put it in a gallon Ziploc, and left it in a cool place until the evening when I rolled cut out and baked about 1/2 the batch. Then I stored the remaining dough in the fridge for 2 days until I did the additional 5-dozen snowflakes.

**Icing for Christmas Cut-outs**
2 Tbs. soft butter
2 tsp. extract (vanilla, lemon, almond, rum... whatever you prefer)
4 c. powdered sugar
enough milk to achieve the consistency that you want (for piping or spreading)
a couple drops of food coloring as desired
Pate de Fruit (you can change the flavor of this candy by using whatever fruit you prefer)
recipe adapted from SELF Magazine, December 2008 issue

Parchment paper
2 c. defrosted frozen strawberries (we used mango and papaya)
1 3/4 Tbs. apple pectin powder (found at health food stores) mixed into 3 Tbs. sugar
1 3/4 c. sugar
3 1/2 Tbs. light corn syrup (or Agave Syrup is even better!)
2 tsp. lemon juice (we used lime juice with our fruit choice)

Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper. Blend defrosted fruit in blender until smooth. Pour into saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle apple pectin powder/sugar mixture together over the fruit in pan and continue to cook over medium heat (reduced from medium-high) for about 2 mins. Add the additional 1 3/4 c. sugar in three batches, stirring after each and waiting about 15 seconds before adding each consecutive batch. Then add agave (or corn) syrup and cook until mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in citrus juice, then pour mixture into prepared pan and spread out in an even layer. Let set for at least 2 hours, then cut into desire shapes and toss in additional sugar to coat.
Coconut Snowball Crisps
(adapted from Everyday With Rachael Ray December 2008)

3 large egg whites
1 pinch salt
1 c. powdered sugar
2 c. sweetened shredded coconut
2 c. Rice Krispies cereal
1/4 c. cornstarch

Preheat oven to 200-degrees F (they bake for one hour). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Beat egg whites and salt on medium-high speed of mixer with whisk attachment until thick and foamy, then add sugar and once incorporated, beat on high for about 5 minutes (until firm and glossy).

In another bowl, toss together the additional three dry ingredients, then fold the coconut mixture into the egg whites when ready. Scoop with small cookie scoop into parchment-lined sheets. They can be fairly close together since these cookies do not spread at all, and are basically drying out in the 200-degree oven for 1 hour (until firm and dry to touch). A good cookie to do at the end of a baking day.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Southern Hospitality

Yuh-Mmmm... We finally tried out Casper's Everglades Supper House for lunch this afternoon, and it was amazing! I'm officially addicted to their fabulous sweet tea, and their fresh beignets are nearly good enough to make you cry. The pulled pork was great and the hot-link sandwich that Joel got was delicious. The kids devoured everything that we shared with them, and at one point Erik was eating with two spoons—one in the baked beans and one in the free homemade cranberry sauce they gave us to try. They also gave us a whole slice of Key Lime Pie on the house, and it was the best I've tasted. Including my Key Lime Pie. And, on top of it all, the service is cheerful, helpful, and they love kids. The owner even impersonates Donald Duck to make kids giggle, and Mad and Erik thought he was pretty great.It's a small place (three 2-tops, and a 6-seat bar along the window) with 12 chairs total indoors (plus outdoor seating in warm, dry weather) but they do take-out, and the great food more than makes up for the view of Bothell-Lake City Way out the window. We'll definitely be going back to sample more fine Southern hospitality and cookin' (there are stil Po' Boys, alligator, frog legs, coleslaw, deep-fried pickles, and a bevy of other things to try)!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pie Day!

No, not that Pi Day... that's in March, silly!! Today was Pie (baking) Day at our house though. Cranberry Custard Pie (another twist on Jerrie's Rhubarb Custard Pie - again - I love this pie!) A couple pumpkins, and next up is Daisy Martinez's Mexican Flan (especially for Shannon who recently had surgery and is on a soft-foods diet). I'm just waiting to make this one until the kids are in bed since I am not caramelizing sugar with little people in my kitchen.

Cranberry Custard Pie (formerly Jerrie's Rhubarb Custard Pie - delish either way!)

3/4 c. sugar
3 Tbs. flour (slightly rounded)
1/4 c. melted butter
2 eggs (beaten)
1 Tbs. vanilla
1 c. milk
pinch of salt
unbaked bottom pie shell
1 c. fresh cranberries (or slightly more, whatever fills the top of the pie up)
About 1 Tbs. cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top (sprinkle on the last 25 minutes of baking)

Stir flour into sugar, then moisten with a couple add butter, eggs, vanilla, salt & remainder of milk and blend well.

Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell, and add the cranberries on top. The recipe calls for 1 cup, but add berries until the filling is up to the bottom lip of the crust.

Bake 20 minutes at 375-degrees F.
Then continue to bake 25 minutes at 300-degrees F. It is finished when knife is pulled out clean and it should jiggle a little. You may need to bake it for a few more minutes if the custard is too far from set - you be the judge!
Daisy Martinez's Flan

Caramelize 1 cup sugar with a couple Tbs. of water and swirl in pie plate.
Blend in blender:

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 can Nestle Medela Crema
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 Tbs. vanilla

Pour into pie plate and bake in water bath (in 350-degree oven) for 35 minutes or until set. Chill for at least three hours, and invert on plate to serve.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Treats!

Today, Madeline and I did turkeys again during E's nap. I had stuff to do Pilgrim Hats (from the Family Fun web site), and modified the activity based on an idea I got from another moms' blog. So, here are our turkeys (and fashionable Pilgrim chapeau too).We trimmed the chocolate/vanilla Jet Puff marshmallows with scissors, cut one of the two Keebler cookies in half, and used melted chocolate chips to coat the "body" and glue the tail on. Madeline insisted on wings "... turkeys have wings, Mom. And feet. They need feet too Mom." And, then the Papa bird had to wear the Pilgrim hat, and there needed to be a baby turkey... It was fun. Oh, and we had some orange frosting in the fridge from another project, so Mad added some of her own touches to the turkeys too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Alphanumeric Flapjacks

The easiest way to crank out pancakes in intricate shapes... Cut the top down a little on an empty squeeze bottle (like this Agave Nectar one), to make a larger opening, fill with your fave pancake batter, and go to town! The occasional "mistake" (AKA happy accident) when shaping letters and numbers can be turned into a flower, a snowman, or a shovel with the flick of the wrist and a little imagination!

Cowboy Bunny Cookies

This used to be a Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookie recipe, that I got from a friend (and I think she got it from the Quaker Oatmeal container) but I've changed it so entirely, that it's mine now. It's like a Cowboy Cookie, and we've been reading Cowboy Bunnies by Christine Loomis this week, so that's what I've dubbed them.

Oh, and they are incredible. Light, crunchy on the outside and chewy / soft on the inside. Lovely and delicious!

Cowboy Bunny Cookies

1 c. shortening
2 c. organic sugar or raw sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla
2 1/2 c. quick oats (not rolled oats)
1 c. rice Krispies cereal
1/2 c. roasted salted cashew pieces
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut (like Bob's Red Mill)
1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
dash Kosher flake salt
1/2 bag milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375-degrees F. Cream shortening and sugar, add eggs and vanilla and mix. Mix in oatmeal, then add Krispies, cashews and coconut. Next add flour, soda, powder, salt and chips. Scoop about 2 Tbs. out and shape into balls. Place 12 on each pan and bake for approximately 10 minutes. Cool on pan 1 min, and transfer to rack to cool.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

PB Sandwich Cookies & A Puppy Cake

When I saw the recipe for these Peanut Butter Cream Sandwich Cookies in a magazine a week ago, I actually gasped, and said, "I have to make these for John for his birthday!" They are amazing, and for a fellow PB lover like John, they are heaven. Peanut Butter Cream Sandwich Cookies (recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens magazine Nov. '08)
1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. flour

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Beat PB and shortening until combined, add brown sugar, egg and vanilla and mix. Beat in the soda, salt and flour, then shape into balls using a level teaspoon of dough for each. Flatten with a fork in criss-cross pattern dipped in sugar. Bake 7-8 mins. and cool on cookie sheet slightly before moving to wire rack to cool.

Fill cookies with 1 tsp. of Peanut Butter Cream filling, and sandwich together. Store in airtight container up to 3 days, freeze unfilled cookies up to 1 month.

Makes 4 dozen if you stick to measurements, about 3 dozen if you use a standard small-sized dough scoop (which is slightly more than 2 tsp.) and halve each to make two cookies for each sandwich.

Peanut Butter Cream Filling
3/4 c. crunchy peanut butter
3/4 c. marshmallow creme
3 Tbs. milk
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground coriander, which I used
(or 1/4 tsp. ground cumin - original recipe)
3 Tbs. powdered sugar

Whip all ingredients, except powdered sugar, in Kitchenaid with whisk attachment—gradually add the sugar and combine, then fill cookies!

And, I found an excellent (really, Anne and Jamie licked their plates... in the restaurant) Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting recipe, which I've posted below (this one's a keeper).
Amazing Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (adapted from

2 sticks of butter at room temperature
1 c. Dutch processed cocoa powder
6 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. milk (plus 2 or more additional Tablespoons depending on desired frosting thickness)
3 tsp. vanilla

Blend butter and cocoa in mixer until combined, then add the milk, vanilla and sugar and mix until combined. Scrape down sides of bowl, and beat until light and fluffy. Add additional milk to achieve desired frosting consistency.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Gingersnap Latte

Yes, that's right. Gingersnap Latte. I was corrected this morning when ordering my first of the season. It's no longer Gingerbread Latte, and the difference appears to be the crystallized ginger sprinkled on the top of the drink. I'm glad that I knew it was there, because when you get to the bottom of your drink and there are chunks of something... startling even if you knew something was there.

Anyway, how is it? Pretty good. The bite of the ginger cuts the formerly too sweet drink (at least in my opinion - I always only get 2 pumps in a tall because of that). I like the change, except for the chunks at the bottom. And, this is one of the few flavored Starbucks drink that I do, so I'm happy that they didn't totally change the syrup or something more drastic.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Solomon!

Sunday is our little buddy Solomon's 2nd birthday, and so I thought a wee racing car would be fun... it's a 9x13 orange cake with almond vanilla buttercream (with Ding Dongs for tires and M&M's for lights).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's Autumn!

Homemade French bread, fresh from the oven... Navy Bean soup simmering on the stove, Pumpkin "Boston Cream Pie" (an experiment), and Iced Autumn Sugar Cookies...

Navy Bean Soup

1 (16 ounce) package dried navy beans
6 c. water
3 diced tomatoes (fresh from our garden)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 pound chopped smoked Canadian bacon (or other fave cured ham, bacon, etc.)
1 cube chicken bouillon
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. dried parsley
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
3 c. water

Combine beans, water, tomatoes, onion, garlic, ham, bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, garlic, and bay leaf in a stock pot; bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for two hours.
Add additional water. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for an additional two hours. Discard bay leaf, and serve with warm French bread!

and the cookies...

Delilah's Frosted Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
(adapted slightly from -easily the BEST sugar cookie recipe that I've used, and the tastiest!)

3/4 c. shortening
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbs. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
3 Tbs. milk
2 drops any color food coloring

In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch in thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove cookies from baking sheets to cool on wire racks. Cool completely before frosting.

In a small bowl, beat the butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Mix in the milk one tablespoon at a time until a good spreading consistency is reached. Stir in food coloring to desired shade. Decorate cooled cookies, and set on waxed paper to harden.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Free To A Good Home

Anyone want a nearly new (used twice) bamboo steamer? Great for dim sum, etc. I bought it about 4 years ago, and just don't use it enough to warrant storage space in my kitchen or pantry. Let me know it you want it (I'll deliver in person next time I see you).


Friday, October 3, 2008

Cheese, Please!

I found the fondue pot the other day (that we've not used in about, oh, 11 years...) and the kids wanted to know what it was for. So, today when we went to Ro's to play I took the pot and stuff to make fondue. All the kids loved it—"This dinner is delicious!!" said both Gavino and Madeline. E was in love... hot cheese to dip bread in?! Sharp poker to eat with?! Self-serve meal?! Woohoo! No one burned themselves either. It was the perfect lunch for such a chilly, rainy and gray day (although we played outside in the rain after lunch anyway). Now that I've got a basic (and simple) recipe, I think I'll be making a variation on this theme fairly often. I found the recipe on, but of course switched it up a little...

Super Easy Cider Cheese Fondue

3/4 c. apple cider
2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1 c. shredded Swiss cheese (or any other kind - I used a Colby Jack blend)
1 Tbs. cornstarch
Several grinds of fresh pepper

Bring the cider to a boil in a saucepan, then reduce heat to medium-low. Toss the cheeses and cornstarch together, then stir the cheese into the cider. Add the pepper (or any other seasonings you want). Cook and stir until the cheese is melted. Transfer to fondue pot and keep warm.

Serve with cubed French bread, sliced apples or pears, or anything else you'd like to dip in cheese.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies...

From David Lebovitz—the secret is to NOT soften the butter... found the recipe on 101 Cookbooks right here. Try them. They rock!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Plum Crazy

I'm doing all sorts of wonderful things with the bounty of Italian Plums off our tree in the backyard. The preserves I did last night are the most gorgeous color and they are delicious!! As the plums cook, the beautiful purple of the skins burst into the orange-ish yellow fruit pulp and mix into this pretty and vibrant red. At one point in the cooking, it looks like foamy raspberry and orange sherbet punch! I canned Plum Marmalade with Rum a couple years ago, and it's wonderful. Everyone that I shared it with loved it. It's amazing on crepes, vanilla, ice cream, waffles, or even toast.
Plum Marmalade With Rum (modified from Anne Gardon's recipe in Preserving For All Seasons)

2 pounds of Italian plums (pitted and coarsely chopped)
2 large organic oranges, sliced thin on a mandolin (use your guard!)
1 cup water
3 cups sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla
1/2 cup rum (or 3 tsp. rum extract)

Soak sliced oranges in the water overnight, then dump into pot the next day. Add sugar and plums and bring to a boil. Then, stir occasionally and cook over moderate heat until mixture thickens up. Remove from heat and add vanilla and rum. Seal in hot, sterilized canning jars and store in a cool, dark place. For best results wait at least one month before using.
"End of Summer Custard Pie" (strawberries, plums - from our yard, and blackberries - from our hike), and Plum Upside-Down Cake (3 Tbs butter, 1/4 c. brown sugar melted and poured into the bottom of a greased 9x9 cake pan; add halved plums in rows to fill bottom on pan then pour Jiffy yellow cake mix on top - with cinnamon and vanilla added. Easy. Delish).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Our plum's are ready! I only felt slightly crazy as I was picking a bag full by flashlight last night (hey, the whole family was with me, so I'm not the only crazy one right?).

Anyway, what better inaugural dish than Jerrie's Rhubarb Custard Pie recipe, as Plum Custard Pie! I used nine plums in the pie (about 2 cups chopped), so technically I could make a lot more of these pies... I'd have to give them away though because I'm seriously addicted to this recipe!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Super Z!

Zyg's cake - Super Z - I used two different cake mixes; Devil's Food and Orange Supreme. One layer of each, with chocolate mousse filling and butter cream from this recipe on Bakerella's site (also use her "recipe" for better cake mix cakes all the time now).

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gutes Brot

Delicious. Homemade pretzel bread. If you've had the pretzels from the German bakery in Tacoma, or the pretzel bread from Whole Foods... you'll know what I mean. Will post the recipe after I tweak it a bit...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lickin' Good

So, I don't have a pic of the fab Caesar salad I made last night because we ate it too fast. The recipe is from my friend Amanda's husband, and it is excellent. And even I licked my bowl clean. Happily, it was accompanied by my all time fave beer (aside from Guinness, of course)—Buffalo Bill's Brewery Pumpkin Ale. It's already at QFC, so I snapped some up pronto.

My daughter is clever and knows me so well, "Mama, can we make Gruffalo Crumble?" (If you've not read The Gruffalo, check it out at the library!) Anyway, I had to make that "recipe" up. I used fresh apricots that we had (he has orange eyes) and purple blackberries (purple spikes on his back) and one tart apple (he was supposedly surly, right?). I used the crisp recipe from the original Moosewood Cookbook as a base, and it turned out wonderfully.

And, this morning, I made the Cappuccino Hazelnut Scones recipe from The Baker's Apprentice (sequel to Bread Alone, by Judith Ryan Hendricks, both of which are great and recommended to me by Jerrie), although I altered it for the non-coffee guy in our house, and made Maple Pecan Scones. They are hands down the BEST scones I've ever had. This recipe will be a keeper. There are indeed 6 Tbs of butter in it and 3/4 c. cream, but you divide it into either 8 or 16 servings, so it's really not that big a deal. I've got another recipe for scones that uses 12 Tbs. of butter and cream and buttermilk, and they don't come close to the texture and excellence of this recipe, and they're "lighter" relatively speaking!

So, the recipes:

Godwin Garlicky Caesar Salad Dressing

4 (or more to taste) cloves of freshly pressed (or chopped) garlic
3/4 cup light mayo (olive oil mayo is great)
2 Tbs. grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Mix and serve with romaine leaves, grated parmesan, crouton and chicken if you like. Makes 6-8 servings.

Gruffalo Crumble (adapted from Moosewood's Fruit Crisp)

Five chopped fresh apricots
2 pints fresh blackberries
1 peeled and chopped tart apple
1/3 cup sugar

1 c rolled oats
1 c flour
3 Tbs. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
dash of nutmeg and allspice or cardamom
1/4 tsp. salt
5 Tbs. melted butter

Preheat oven to 375. Mix fruit and sugar in 8x8 pan. Mix topping ingredients and pat down firmly on top of fruit. Bake 35 mins or until fruit is bubbling up around the edges and topping is browned.

Maple Pecan Scones (adapted from Cappuccino Hazelnut Scones from The Baker's Apprentice)

2 c. unbleached flour
1/3 c. sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
6 Tbs. unsalted butter cut into small cubes (very cold)
3/4 c. toasted and coarsely chopped pecans (or hazelnuts if doing original recipe)
1 1/2 Tbs. Maple extract (or 2 Tbs. instant espresso powder if making CappHaze Scones)
3/4 c. cream
1 large egg, beaten
Cream and sugar for glaze

Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Toast chopped nuts (in a loaf pan) while you are chopping fridged butter, then put butter in small bowl and put in freezer while you whisk the dry ingredients together. Next, cut the butter into the dry stuff with a pastry blender, two knives or your fingers until the largest pieces are the size of peas. Then in a small bowl, beat the egg, and add the cream and maple (or espresso powder) and mix. Add the cream mixture to the butter mixture and mix with a fork until nearly combined, then gather into a moist shaggy ball and put on prepared pan and flatten into a circle that's 1- to 1 1/2-inches thick. Score the circle into eight wedges with a very sharp knife. Brush with cream and sprinkle with a little sugar, then bake for about 20 mins. (deep golden color and toothpick in center should remove clean). Remove from oven, cool for five mins, cut along score lines, then brush with a little more cream (mixed with a little sugar) - about 2 Tbs. of cream and 1 tsp. sugar only. Let cool an additional 5 minutes then serve. (Can be frozen and then baked without thawing; just allow 5-10 extra minutes of baking time.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pete's Beets

Thanks to Pete for these gorgeous beets from his garden, and to Jamie & John who delivered them. I gave them a wash, a peel, and mandolined them up (I always use the guard now... learned my lesson), and Erik HAD to "help" I also sliced his apple with the mandolin. He was a safe little apprentice too. We shook the beets in a Ziploc with olive oil and S&P, then roasted at 425-degrees F for about 20-ish minutes... or maybe less. The time it took to put the baked macaroni and cheese together and get it in the oven for about 10 mins, and sautee the shrimp in a little butter and a lot of garlic. Delish. And fitting since today felt very Autumnal.
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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tempura Squash Blossoms

Just Tempura batter mix from the grocery, and assorted pumpkin, zucchini and other squash blossoms from our garden. They were delicious. I didn't stuff them, just dipped and fried in some peanut and canola oil. They were surprisingly sweet and very tasty. Erik declared them "dee-li-sus!"

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pink. Really, really pink.

Well, she did ask for a "pink castle cake" now didn't she?

Four high tower turrets, two guard towers with turrets (that's 14 ice cream cones and a lot of white and pink chocolate), two Ding Dongs, two 9x13 funfetti cakes, strawberry filling, one 9x9 chocolate coconut cake, one Windmill cookie, two Dove chocolates, Tink talking with a dragon, a horse and three knights in armor (with flags!), one catapult, a lot of sprinkles, strawberry Whoppers and M&Ms. And a lot of very pink butter cream frosting (I forgot how little food color paste you need to tint frosting).

Oh, and three smiley-star candles!

Happy 3rd Birthday to our very fickle, clever, lovable and surly little "threenager" (yes, I made that word up, but I swear three is like the prequel to adolescence)! We love you more than your cake was pink. And boy, was it pink. Really, really pink!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mad's Birthday Madeleines

Birthday prep has begun... and, as Lora says, it's great that at our house you can quite often eat fresh-baked cookies at 1:00 am (or some other vaguely inappropriate hour when most folks are asleep)!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

At Long Last!

Ever since Madeline was born I've thought "I should get some Madeleine tins and learn to bake Madeleines." And today, I finally did. Luckily I waited long enough to discover Tartelette's blog filled with glorious desserts and many amazing French ones (she being French and all). Anyway, she has several great Madeleine recipes, and I chose to start with the Lemon recipe that was an adaptation of her grandmothers. I adapted it further by using two lemons worth of zest and more juice in the icing (not all Madeleines are iced, but these are). They are amazing. Lemony and delicious, moist and light. Yum. Luckily, I bought smaller-than-typical Madeleine pans because I ate four. Three cookies is a serving in our house, but Joel had four too (he may be eating more as I write this...) Erik inhaled two, and would've eaten more if I hadn't intervened. Mad ate one (she was engrossed in Mulan).

I'll have to try out the chocolate recipe next, and the cinnamon one too... we'll (of course) be serving Madeleines at Madeline's birthday party as well.

Lemon Madeleines (Adapted slightly from Tartelette's recipe):

Makes 16 (or 24 if you've got the smaller-sized tins)

2 eggs
80 gr all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
80 gr granulated sugar
80 gr unsalted butter, melted and cooled
pinch of salt
3 Tb lemon juice
zest of one lemon (I did two lemons worth of zest)
1/2 lemon (for squirting after they are baked)

2 cups powdered sugar
3Tb lemon juice (I added 4 Tbs.)
1 tsp lemon zest

Preheat your oven to 400F. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, pinch of salt. Separate the egg whites from the yolks, and whisk in the yolk to the flour mixture. The mixture will appear quite thick, do not feel like you have to whisk in all in thoroughly. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until foamy, and add a small amount first them to the egg yolk/flour mixture and whisk vigourously with a whisk to break the flour/yolk lumpy mass. Fold in the rest of the whites with a spatula. Add the lemon juice, zest, and butter. Whisk the batter until everything is incorporated and smooth. Drop one tablespoon or so into the madeleine molds, depending on their size. Do not fill them to the rim though.

Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown. As soon as they come out of the oven, squirt the half lemon over the madeleines and let cool completely before proceeding with the glaze.
For the glaze: mix the powdered sugar, lemon juice and zest together until you get semi thick consistency. Add more lemon juice if needed. Dip each madeleine in the glaze and set them on a wire rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pizza! Pizza!

The only sort of pizza that Madeline likes... I suspect that someday she'll be a real pizza fan though.

Cardboard Pizza

3 empty cereal boxes worth of cardboard, opened flat
1 salad plate for tracing circles
1 Sharpie for tracing with
1 pair of scissors to cut out circles
5 or more crayons and/or markers for toppings or peeled crayon wrappers for "pepperonis" as Mad decided would make the best pizza

Should amuse most toddlers for anywhere from 15-45 minutes, or until it gets really sunny outside and they need to go play in the wading pool and make mud cakes!
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Monday, July 7, 2008

Edible Scoopables...

Handy that I planned to make my own wedding cake years ago, so I have large pans for scooping fun... Flax seeds are so great for scooping, pouring and sifting. They feel neat, the kids love them, and if they happen to eat them... they're actually good for them too!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Love The Swiss Chards!

So, tonight I cooked up come of our recent farm-collected greens (rainbow chard, totsoi and some red mustard) with a little turkey kielbasa for dinner (washed, chopped and sauteed in a little olive oil and butter 1 tbs. each, crushed garlic, lemon pepper, sliced light kielbasa and a little low-sodium chicken stock to simmer). M was interested in the "salami," but eyed the greens suspiciously. When I tasted mine and deemed them delicious, she looked over at a box on the edge of the table and pointed to some words on the side, "Mama, it said right here that I should not put that stuff in my mouth." Oh, yeah, really? I replied. Well, it's delicious, you should try it. "I don't like it." says M. How do you know, huh? Sam I Am, Green Eggs and Ham - it might be your new favorite thing. Try one bite. And, so she did. "Wow! I love it! It tastes salty. Yum!" (she loves salty things and the kielbasa did indeed make it taste salty). When Joel came home she said, "Papa, I LOVE the Swiss Chards! They are salty and buttery and delicious in my rumble tummy!"
E tasted a bite, but after that was quite clever about avoiding any greens completely, including flicking them off his fingers. Ah, well. I'll just have to chop the next batch up and bake it into some quiche... Bwahahahaaha!!

And, in other news... M ate our first golden raspberry today. There are a lot more on the canes ready to ripen. Come on sun!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Better Than Birthday Cake

Cherries and Cream and Lest Zest roses from Jamie and John for my birthday in May... they're blooming beautifully now!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Waffles In A Can

So, when I saw this new product on the shelf near the eggs, I was intrigued. And, reading the ingredients, it really is just stuff that you'd put in batter yourself. So, why not give it a try? It's in a spray can like ReddiWhip whipped cream, and you just plug in your waffle iron, shake up the can, and spray on the iron. Cook as usual. Rinse off the top and put the can back in the fridge. It was three breakfasts for the four of us (we only do one waffle a piece though, the kids have 1/2 each).

Anyway, how was it you ask? Pretty decent. This isn't going to be my preferred method for waffles, but if you were going camping, or wanted something fast and easy for fresh (vs. frozen) waffles on weekday mornings, this is pretty good. I mean, add some good syrup, and your golden, right?

The down side was that they were not very "fluffy" — or rather they turned out pretty flat. Spraying the iron each time made them pretty crisp on the outside and they stayed that way for awhile, but if not, they got soft quickly as they cooled. So, the verdict: I missed the wonderful flavor of something more (vanilla, malted waffles, etc.) and the loft of really good homemade waffles, but for what this is... waffles in a can... it was good. And, the convenience factor was high just before and after our vacation. I'd buy it again, if it was on sale.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Happy (Early) Father's Day!!

We did an early Dad's Day celebration dinner this evening at our house. Among other things, my dad will be in Japan next weekend.

Madeline helped me try this recipe from my 1968 Betty Crocker Boys & Girls Cookbook. We discovered that you need to fridge the batter before scooping onto the nuts on the cookie sheet (otherwise they spread out too much while baking). They're pretty tasty. And cute.

Brownie Slowpokes

Pecan halves
Brownie batter (from your favorite recipe or box)
Chocolate frosting (your fave recipe or the kind in the tub)

Arrange three pecan halves (for each slowpoke) in a "Y" shape on a greased cookie sheet. Do the entire sheet, then scoop chilled brownie batter into the center of each poke (with about a teaspoon of batter). Bake at 350-degrees F until done (I didn't really time them... oops). Cool. Pipe frosting on or just frost with a knife. Enjoy!


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