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I am working mom who loves to cook and bake. I hope to keep track of recipes and share some of my better ones. In the process, hopefully my photography and cooking will get better and better!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fruit-Almond Chicken Salad

I love this chicken salad.  I have made it with apples and grapes, respectively, and served it with homemade croissants as well as on ciabatta.  I've also just eaten plain it next to cilantro-jalapeno slaw.  It tastes very fresh.  I think fresh Tarragon would also be a nice substitute for the parsley.  (yes, I skipped the parsley this time!)  It goes very fast in this house, and is also a nice summer pre-make meal.  Not that it's anywhere near summer....

Adapted from the Pastry Queen via Foodie Bride

For the mayo
2 large eggs*
1 large egg yolk*
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white (or black) pepper
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup vegetable oil

For the chicken salad
1 cup slivered blanched almonds
2 whole boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled, and diced OR 1 Cup red grapes
2 stalks celery, diced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped, if desired.
1/2 – 3/4 cup homemade mayo
1 cup grapes, apples, or raisins
Black pepper

*Use pasteurized eggs if you’ll be serving children, pregnant women, transplant recipients, or anyone who might be immuno-compromised.

Make the mayo: Blend eggs, yolk, salt, pepper, mustard, and lemon juice in a blender or immersion blender. Stream in the oils and blend on high until thickened. Extra mayo can be stored in a jar in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

Toast the almonds: Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast 7-9 minutes. Let cool.

Make the chicken salad: In a large bowl, stir together the chicken, apple, grapes, OR raisins, celery, scallion and just enough mayo to bind the chicken salad. Salt and pepper to taste. If serving, add the almonds. If making ahead of time, wait to add the almonds until just before assembling the sandwiches.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Egg in a Hole

Ok, this is more technique than recipe.  We had a similar dish at John Folse's Bittersweet, where we spent our first anniversary night.  Or rather, Brian did.  I spent the night having thrown up, so the morning left me unable to eat what was undoubtedly a delicious breakfast.  This was served by Bittersweet, and when I saw it, I knew we had to do it at home.  I usually make this with a football cookie cutter, but I'm going to have to break out the mickey mouse cutter!

Egg in a Hole
Adapted from Pioneer Woman

1 slice Of Your Favorite Kind Of Bread
1 Tablespoon Butter, or butter spray.
1 whole Egg
Salt To Taste
Pepper To Taste

With a biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass, press a hole in the center of the slice of bread.
Next, heat a skillet over medium-low heat and melt a Tablespoon of butter in it. When the butter is all spread out, place the piece of bread in the skillet and crack the egg straight into the center of hole.
Cook for at least 30 seconds or so before attempting to move the bread. Sprinkle the egg with salt and pepper to taste. After about a minute, flip it over with a spatula and salt and pepper the other side.

Let it cook until the yolk feels, to the touch, still soft without feeling over-jiggly. You are aiming for golden brown toast, white  whites, and a soft unbroken yolk.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rosemary Gingersnaps

Don't be a skeptic.  I positively crave these cookies.  The aroma of the rosemary and ginger is really something else.  Plus, with the addition of candied ginger, these cookies have zing.  Zing.  So if you're faint of heart, stay away from that.  I also added ground white pepper, which adds to the zip.

You can also use ground black pepper, but I like the white pepper.  I got this recipe from a cookie swap, and that alone made the night worth it!

Rosemary Gingersnaps

1 cup granulated sugar (110 gm)
1/2 cup firmly pack light brown sugar (100 gm)
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 tsp ground ginger
2 Tablespoons candied ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 1/2 cups flour (280 gm)

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Combine sugars and butter in a stand mixer and cream for 2 minutes.  Add and beat in the egg, then molasses.  Add in the gingers, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, pepper, and flour.  Beat on slow til combined, then add rosemary and combine.  Roll into one inch balls and bake on parchment lined sheets for 10 minutes.  Cool on sheet for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a plate.  Do not overbake!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sun dried Tomato Dip

We really try to keep healthy snacks in the fridge.  We often have hummus, sun dried tomato dip, tzatziki, or onion dip with cut fresh vegetables waiting for the post work hungries.  Right now it's all for me and B, because the kids don't do dips yet!  One day....

B hates sun dried tomatoes, but loves this dip.  It's almost reminiscent of a french dressing meets a big old block of cream cheese!  It's not at all spicy, don't be scared.

Sun Dried Tomato Dip
adapted from ina garten

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped (8 tomatoes)
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
10 dashes, hot red pepper sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

Puree the tomatoes, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, red pepper sauce, salt and pepper in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the scallions and pulse twice. Serve at room temperature.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Funfetti Cake Pops

This was my first cake pop attempt.  I have to say, I was completely pleased.  They keep very well in the fridge since they are encased in chocolate and combined with frosting, so feel free to make these on saturday for a late the next week party.  Everything's more fun to eat on a stick!  They are a great thing for parties since there's no slicing, they are totally fun, and single serve size.  I would make them again any day!


for 23 cakes pops, fill 2/3 full 12 paper lined cupcake wells from one recipe Funfetti Cake.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until top springs back.  Peel off layers and crumble cupcakes.  Mix with 1/2 the recipe from the "buttercream", or until a playdough like consistency is formed.  Scoop in a small to medium cookie scoop, and set aside.  Meanwhile, melt 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips.  Dip the tip of your lolly stick in the chocolate, then set inside your cake ball to make a cake pop.  Place in the fridge to set the chocolate for 15 minutes.  Repeat until all cake is used.

Dip pops in melted chocolate, then roll in topping (crushed nuts?  sprinkles?  coconut?  cocoa powder?).  Chill.  Store in plastic bags until ready to use.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Funfetti Cake

So when I made this cake, I made the full recipe but baked half the batter as cupcakes for cake pops, and the other half for a 2 layer 6 " cake.  This cake was a nice whimsical cake, with really good flavor. The not butter buttercream is really good- reminiscent of oreo stuff!  Although rainbow cake is always the favorite, I think we are going to have to do sprinkle cake for birthdays too!

Funfetti Cake
Adapted from Sweetapolita

1 cup whole milk (237 mL/8 liquid ounces)

6 large egg whites (6 ounces/175 grams)

2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) almond extract

2 3/4 cups (11 oz/315 g) cake flour

1 1/2 cups sugar (10.5 ounces/300 grams)

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder (19.5 grams)

3/4 teaspoon salt (5 grams)

12 tablespoons (6 ounces/170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes

~1/2 cup Rainbow Sprinkles

 Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment, and spray with baker's joy two round 8-inch pans.  In a medium bowl or measuring cup, stir the egg whites, 1/4 cup of milk, vanilla and the almond extract.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed for under a minute. 

Add the butter and blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 cup of milk, and mix on low speed until just wet. Turn to medium  and mix for about 2 minutes.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Gently stir in the rainbow sprinkles to distribute evenly.

Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. 

Bake 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center/ top springs back. An overbaked cake is a dry cake.  Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.

Frost as desired. For a 6 inch cake, use 1 cup in between layers, for a 9 inch cake, use 1 1/2 cups.  Top with sprinkles, disco dust, and confetti quins.  Frosting tip: cut pieces of wax paper and put them under cake to keep the plate clean!

Not butter crusting Buttercream
Adapted from I am Baker

2 lbs powder sugar (two pounds or about eight cups)
1 cup shortening 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1/2 cup milk

Cream shortening and vanilla in mixer for a few minutes. Add in powder sugar, and milk and beat slowly with paddle attachment.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Italian Cream Cake

This cake has been a long time coming!  So my husband and I have been together since I was in my young 20's.  So long ago that he first Christmas we spent with his family, I cried because I was homesick!  That first Christmas in Arkansas was a sweet one- lots of desserts and savory dishes, including his parents' neighbor's creations.  Mrs. P's italian cream cake was one of the sweeter parts!! She seems to keep them in the freezer for any occasion.  Chock full of pecans and coconut, the cake is M----.  (for you, L.)  So for his birthday this year, my husband requested this cake.  

For some reason I hallucinated asking for this recipe multiple times, but I must not have ever really done it!  In desperation I made Emeril's version, thinking I was never going to get Mrs. P's.  However, later that morning, my mother-in-law sent me Mrs. P's!  I barely wanted to open it, worried it was going to be very different.  It was identical, except Emeril called for 2 cups of coconut, which I probably prefer anyway!  I had to use my favorite cream cheese icing recipe, but otherwise this is Mrs. P's cake.  Perfect!!  I brought leftovers to work and it was a big, big hit.

Italian Cream Cake
Adapted from Emeril and Mrs. P.

For the cake:
1/2 cup shortening, room temperature (115gm)
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar (450 gm)
5 eggs, separated and at room temperature
2 cups flour (220 gm)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 cups shredded coconut (185 gm)
1 cup finely ground pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:
Adapted from Ina Garten
2 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 1/2 lbs powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and grease and line with parchment 3 (9-inch) cake pans, and wrap with cake strips.

In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the shortening, butter and all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda) until light and fluffy. This is the reverse creaming method of Rose Levy Berenbaum that distributes dry ingredients well and makes a nice crumb.  It also tolerates mixing without getting tough.  Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, and gently fold into the prepared batter. Add the coconut, pecans and vanilla and fold into the batter. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared cake pans  (about 543 gm each) and bake for about 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown and top springs back.

Make frosting by beating together all the ingredients.

Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before popping into freezer to finish cooling for about 20 minutes covered in plastic. When the cakes are completely cool, add 1 1/2 cups frosting between each layer (1 cup if you don't love frosting), and frost tops and sides.  This will be just enough to get the job done- I had to make a small batch of another type of frosting for the decorations.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Simple Crusty Bread

Homemade bread is always a mystery to me.  It's all yeast, flour, and water, but it never ceases to amaze me how altering the ratios can change the bread so much.  This crust is crusty, but it yields to the tooth, and is easily torn.  It may be my new favorite go to bread!

This makes 4 loaves.
Simple Crusty Bread
from the New York Times from the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day folks

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough (17.5 ounces)

 In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water -slightly above body temperature. Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom, although this can be tough given how loose the dough if- you might want to olive oil your hands. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife two to three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap the ensuing steam. Bake until well browned, about 25-30 minutes. Cool completely.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

World Peace Cookies

Can you ever have too many chocolate cookie recipes?  Probably not.  These cookies have no egg in them, so if it weren't for the butter, they'd be almost vegan.  They are sables, so they have that almost sandy texture.  They are called WPC because supposedly eating them would prevent war.  Pretty bold claim for a cookie.  I can't say it's not possible...

World Peace Cookies
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 85% cacao), chopped (no pieces bigger than 1/3 inch) or mini chips, extra dark


175 grams all-purpose flour
30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
150 grams unsalted butter
180 grams light brown sugar
50 grams sugar
1/2 teaspoon  fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
150 grams bittersweet chocolate, mini chips

Whisk flour, cocoa, and baking soda into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth but not fluffy. Add both sugars, vanilla, and sea salt; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended (mixture may be crumbly). Add chopped chocolate; mix just to distribute (if dough doesn't come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball). Divide dough in half. Place each half on sheet of plastic wrap. Form each into 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Wrap each in plastic; chill until firm, about 3 hours.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using thin sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), 11 to 12 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Baked Oatmeal

This oatmeal is so beyond the normal oatmeal, largely due to the sweet bananas and touch of maple syrup.  It is very quick to prepare, and is somewhat wholesome.  It reheats really well, too.  It's definitely a favorite!

Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from Annie's Eats

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup chopped walnuts, alomnds, or pecans, lightly toasted, divided
½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
¼ cup maple syrup
1 cup milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced ½-inch thick
1/2 cup peanut butter

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.  In a medium bowl, combine the rolled oats, half of the nuts, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Stir with a fork to combine.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine the maple syrup, milk, egg, butter, peanut butter, and vanilla.  Spread the sliced bananas in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish.  Sprinkle the dry oat mixture over the bananas in an even layer.  Pour the liquid ingredients evenly over the oats.  Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the oats have set.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Variation: omit the peanut butter, add 1/2 cup blueberries!