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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, August 30, 2012

Russian Dressing

In my family, russian dressing was always mayonnaise plus ketchup.  This is a more sophisticated version, with more complex flavors.  It is great on salads, as a sandwich spread, or  dip for fresh vegetables.  I was surprised by the chopped pickle, but it makes perfect sense, and gives a nice sour note!

Russian Dressing
Adapted from Jeff Mauro

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2/3 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 dill pickle, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Combine the mayonnaise, chili sauce, sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, smoked paprika, dill pickles and shallots in a food processor until thoroughly mixed. Do not over-blend, you still want texture. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in a covered jar until serving time.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Cucumbers

Step away from the cucumbers.  

These will keep you coming back to the bowl.  They are a great cool snack, appetizer, salad.  Sweet, a little (very little) spicy, and crisp.

Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Slices
Adapted from Our Best Bites

1-1/2 lbs cucumber (about 3 medium), peeled, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c rice vinegar, seasoned or regular
1/2 c water
3 Tbs sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbs minced red onion

Place cucumber slices in a colander sitting over a bowl, sprinkle with salt and toss well.  Let sit for 1 hour refrigerated.  Toss the cukes a few times while they drain as well.  While cucumber slices are draining, prepare marinade.

Combine vinegar, water, sugar and red pepper in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cook until reduced to a 1/3 cup (about 10 minutes).  Remove reduction from heat and add onion.  Let mixture cool to room temp.

When cucumbers are done resting, pat them dry by tossing around in the bowl with a few paper towels and then combine with the vinegar reduction.  This can be served immediately, but are best well chilled.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sugar Cookie Playdough

I love the smell of vanilla.  Unlike store bought play dough, this stuff smells AMAZING, and is just the stuff to use when your little ones want to use cookie cutters while you bake.  It keeps a really long time- ll that salt is essential to help preserve it, so don't be shy in using it.  This make a great DIY gift in a mason jar!

Sugar Cookie Playdough
Adapted from Sweet Sugarbelle

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean

In a medium saucepan whisk together dry ingredients. Next mix in the water, oil, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla extract and stir until a thick batter is formed. Cook the mixture over low/medium heat until a thick dough forms. Turn out onto parchment paper and knead until smooth. Makes about 2 cups of dough.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I had these first when I was at my MIL's.  They were so delicious!! Her recipe did not have cream cheese or graham crackers, and I really think they are essential to the success of this recipe.  It keeps these "peanut butter balls" from being overly sweet, and makes them slightly less awful for you.


adapted from Baked Explorations

1/4 cup (2 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups (18 oz) peanut butter
1 cup (5 oz) graham cracker crumbs (about 14 graham crackers)
3 cups (13 oz) confectioners’ sugar
10 Tb (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
12 oz good quality dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped


     In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until combined. Add the graham cracker crumbs and beat on medium speed for 10-20 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar and butter. Beat at low speed for 30-60 seconds to prevent the sugar from spilling over, then gradually increase the speed until the mixture is completely combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again.

Set the peanut butter filling aside while you melt the chocolate.

In the top of a double boiler set over hot water, melt the chocolate, stirring frequently until it is completely smooth. Pour the chocolate into a small, deep bowl. Let it cool to barely warm, while you shape the peanut butter centers.

Line a sheet pan with parchment or wax paper. Scoop out slightly more than 1 tablespoon’s worth of filling and use your hands to form it into a ball. Place the ball on the prepared sheet pan and repeat the process until all the filling has been shaped.

One by one, using a fork or large skewer, dip each ball into the chocolate. Roll the ball around from side to side to cover almost the entire peanut butter center, leaving a small part uncovered.

 Refrigerate the entire sheet pan for about 30 minutes to set the chocolate before serving. Buckeyes will keep well for at least 3 days in the refrigerator, tightly covered.  Once set, they can be placed in tupperware haphazardly.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Homemade Fresh Strawberry Margaritas

It's been a margarita summer.  This summer has basically sucked, not to mince words or anything.  But so be it.

As my mom would say, "it is what it is."

These margaritas are delicious- so wonderful and fresh.  They are very easy to put together, and a great use for strawberries about to turn!

Strawberry Margaritas

Strawberry Simple Syrup
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Combine equal parts sugar and water, heat for about 2 minutes in the microwave until sugar melts.   Roughly 3/4 cup sugar plus 3/4 cup water will be close.  Then add 1 cup of the simple syrup and 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries.

adapted from foodie bride

1 cup lime juice
3/4 cup silver tequila
1/2 cup triple sec
1 cup strawberry simple syrup


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Homemade Nutter Butters

Yup.  You heard me.  Homemade nutter butters.  It just struck me that filling the oreos with this filling would be quite the treat, but these babies are perfect just as they are.

They are fresh, and soft, and utterly representative of everything you love about the commercial version.  But made by you.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies
Adapted from Annie's Eats

For the cookies:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup quick-cooking oats

For the filling:
4 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 1/2 tbsp. heavy cream

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Stir together with a fork to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, peanut butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla extract.  Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until incorporated.  Stir in the oats until evenly blended.

Use a small cookie dough scoop to portion out the dough (about 2 teaspoons), rolling each portion into a ball, and place them on the prepared cookie sheet, a couple inches apart.  Bake about 10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking.  The cookies will be light golden brown and slightly puffed.  Let cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cook completely.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

To make the filling, combine the butter, peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Cream together until well combined.  Mix in the heavy cream until smooth and fluffy.  Use a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip to pipe a blob or swirl of filling onto the flat side of half of the cookies.  Sandwich together with the remaining cookies and press down so that the filling reaches the edges.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Homemade Oreos

I am in awe that I can make these.  The black cocoa really adds to the recipe- you can find it at King Arthur flour.  I made these with oatmeal cream pies, and homemade nutter butters.  I mean, what else would they go with?
The cream "stuff" is spot on.  Spot on.  I doubled the amount for my taste.  Do not omit the shortening. It's trans fat free now, and critical to the flavor.  This was the recipe that made me realize....I love shortening.  And so do you if you love oreo stuff!

Homemade Oreos
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa or Black Cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar [see recipe note]
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
In a bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar.  On low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Green Curry Sauce for fish or chicken

I don't mean to be boastful, but my husband kicks ass.  Can you believe this was entirely his creation?  I come home, and he has made snow peas, coconut rice, and grilled chicken with this delicious sauce.

It's good he's picking up the slack since there's definitely some slack to pick up.

We both loved this meal.  The cilantro, for you haters, is not distinguishable, especially since it's blended so thoroughly.  It's not spicy, just pure savory ginger garlic yum.  I can't think of anything it wouldn't be yummy on.

Green curry Sauce
adapted from Create

2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup (24 grams) peeled chopped ginger root
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup (60ml) white wine
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons green curry paste
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
1/2 tsp fish sauce (we subbed soy sauce)
1/2 cup (8 grams) cilantro
Salt, pepper, lime juice to taste

Blend in your blender until pulverized.  Then cook down until it's 1 cup volume.  Serve over chicken, crab cakes, striped bass, what have you.

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Fauxstess" Cupcakes

I made this recipe twice.  The first time was with a different recipe for the cake.  It was good, and the cake was light and allowed me to pipe the 7 minute frosting in directly with a cake tip.  The second time, I had a hard time piping frosting in (cone method next time- adjustment made in the recipe), but the cupcakes were amazing.  Who knew chocolate mayonnaise cake???  Amazing.

Fauxstess Cupcakes...a recipe in three parts
inspired by annie's eats

Chocolate cupcakes
Cupcake Recipe Adapted from Baked authors Via Bon Appetit

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups hot coffee
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 1/3 cups mayonnaise (do not use reduced-fat or fat-free)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cooking spray a muffin tin.

Combine chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in medium metal bowl. Add 1 3/4 cups hot coffee and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder into another medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and mayonnaise in large bowl until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with chocolate mixture in 3 additions, beating until blended after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Divide batter among prepared cupcake pans
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 25 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pans on racks 20 minutes.

Cupcake Filling
Adapted from smitten kitchen

Marshmallow, or Seven Minute Frosting

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine frosting ingredients with a pinch of salt in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. Use frosting the day it is made.

Chocolate glaze

For the chocolate glaze:
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Melt chocolate, stir in warm cream still glossy.

To assemble:
Fill cupcakes by the cone method.  This cupcake recipe is too thick and delicious to fill with any other way.

Then dip the cupcake top in glaze, lifting up with a little twist to break connection with the ganache.  Place some of the 7 minutes frosting in a bag with a number 2 or 3 tip, and pipe writing or design.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cake Batter & sprinkle Bark

What's a woman to do when she prides herself on being an excellent home cook, and an even better baker, and she's going to dinner when she can barely shower on a daily basis?  OK, I definitely shower 6 days out of 7.  5, then.  

I'm grieving, cut me a break.

Make this bark.  Adorable.  Easy.  Delicious.  Girly.  I loved it, couldn't get enough.

Cake Batter and Sprinkle Bark
Adapted from Sweetapolita

6 ounces (180 grams) high quality dark or extra dark chocolate, chopped

12 ounces (360 grams) high quality white chocolate, chopped

3 teaspoons white cake mix

sprinkles of choice


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Chop chocolate.
Melt dark chocolate either in the microwave or a double boiler. If using microwave, place chopped chocolate in a glass bowl, and heat for 20 second intervals, stirring each time with a silicone spatula. Be careful not to burn the chocolate–when there are just a few small bits left unmelted, you can simply continue to stir until it is completely smooth.  You can also use a double boiler.

Pour melted dark chocolate onto your parchment/mat and spread (with a small offset spatula for ease) until desired thickness is achieved. Freeze for 20 minutes to set.

Melt your white chocolate. Whisk in cake mix slowly, stirring well until smooth. Let it sit for approximately 3 minutes (or at least until it slightly thickens).

Remove pan with set chocolate from the freezer and pour white chocolate on top, repeating the same spreading technique as you did with the dark chocolate. Toss sprinkles and disco dust on right away. Freeze for 20 more minutes.

Once set, break into pieces. Store in the refrigerator.