Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mom's Basic Recipes pt. 4

Morning Glory Muffins

Mix together in a large bowl:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar (brown works best)
3 tea cinnamon
2 tea soda
1/2 tea salt

Stir together in another bowl
3 eggs
3/4 cup applesauce (I use 2 grated apples instead of this and 1 apple)
1/2 cups oil
1 tea vanilla
2 cups grated carrots
1 medium apple
8 oz crushed pineapple
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup raisin
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix wet ingredients into flour mixture. Makes 24 muffing

Mom's Basic Recipes pt. 3

Apple-Nut Coffee Cake

(using doubled)

1 cup flour
1/2 baking powder
1/2 soda
1/8 salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick margarine
1 egg
1/2 tea vanilla
1 large apple grated
1/2 cup sour cream

Cream butter and sugar, beat in egg and add grated apple and vanilla and sour cream. Add dry ingredients and pour into greased pan.
In a separate little bowl:
melt 1 TBL butter and add 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup chopped nuts and 1/2 tea cinnamon. It will be crumbly--crumble over batter and bake at 350 for 25 - 30 minutes

Mom's Basic Recipes pt. 2

Sweet roll recipe

You can use this for either cinnamon or orange rolls
This will make 2 dozen rolls

2 cups very warm tap water
1 TBL yeast
½ cup sugar
Let sit unti mixture is bubbly—yeast is active

Stir in:
4 cups flour
½ cup dried milk ( you can use warm milk for the 2 cups water or 1 cup water and 1 cup
1 TBL salt
3 eggs
2/3 cup oil
(for orange rolls: add 1 tsp orange zest)
Beat together until mixture is smooth and elastic

2 ½ - 3 cups flour
It is best if the dough is a little sticky. That will diminish as the dough rises.
Turn out onto the counter, let rest 5 minutes and knead until smooth.
Let rise. Punch down. Let rest 5 minutes and roll into long rectangle

Cinnamon - melt ½ cup butter and spread over dough. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3
cup brown sugar—drizzle corn syrup over the whole thing (about 1/3 cup) and sprinkle
generously with cinnamon. Roll and cut into ¾ inch pieces. Let rise and bake.

Orange - directions are the same except use 2/3 cup sugar and add orange zest—
I usually mix the orange peel in the sugar and process with the food processor. It is
probably 2 tsp. I also drizzle the dough with 1/3 cup thawed orange juice concentrate.
It will be messy.

Mom's Basic Recipes pt. 1

I can't believe I have yet to post the following recipes.
Like usual, I am in the mood to bake and cook different things that were common to our breakfast/lunch/dinner table growing up. When I first moved to Salt Lake, I requested my mom send me an email with all of these recipes now that I had to make them on my own. Now, one would think that I would save these emails in places that are a) memorable and b) accessible. However, I am not the most technologically savvy person and forget to remove them from my old email accounts (that continue to just receive SPAM throughout the year while I'm not ever checking it).

Anyway. That was a lot of exposition to some pretty basic/staple recipes.

Creamed Soup Base

This is the original recipe that I have adapted into the cheese/broccoli or potato soup

1 potato, diced
½ large onion
Saute in 2 TBL butter or olive oil until the potatoes just start to brown on the edges.
4 cups chicken broth
You can add any combination of the following:
Potato soup:
2 more potatoes, diced
1 cup sliced celery
cooked bacon—as a garnish
1 lb package of chopped borccoli
Orignial Recipe:
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup diced carrot
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms

Whatever you have chosen, let simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add 2 cups milk
¼ cup corn starch
¼ cup cream
8 oz. grated sharp chedder cheese

Let simmer 10 minutes and serve

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A couple of special links

Alas, I do not have any recipes to share at this moment. Though Nik made an impromptu dinner featuring a meatloaf that is both incredibly delicious and packed full of vegetables. I need to have him tell me what was in it, then I promise to post it up.

However, today I have some special links to share with you.
As you may or may not know, I have a deep devotion to dairy. It is hard for me to think of anything more sad than the idea of living a life of being lactose intolerant. My mom told me not long ago that I was lactose intolerant for the first few years of my life; which might explain the subconscious need to make up for lost dairy. My interest in dairy currently only extends as far as the consumption of it- though one of my life goals is to make artisan cheese. And artisan mustard. But that is another story.

You may not share my intense feelings about cheese and dairy, but I feel you will delight in some of the links that I am sharing today...
An entire blog. About cheese. I think it is sounds miraculous. She is a clever writer, so Midwestern that you can almost hear the accent through the text. There is nothing pretentious about it: just a person sharing their love for and experience in the dairy world of Wisconsin.
A festival in Wisconsin- where else?!- that features locally-made cheese. This year it is the weekend of my Dad's birthday, so I don't think I'm going to be able to make it. BUT- trust, I will find a way to be there in the years to come...

That is all for now. I needed to post these before I lost them!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My First Cake

Can you believe it? I've never made a cake before.
They scare me: entire blogs exist that mock the amateur crafting of a cake. Yes, ones like Cake Wrecks often make fun of the design and spelling aspects- but I still find myself nervous while thumbing through cake recipes. Oh, and my frosting is always a hot mess. SAD.

Add all these elements together and you will understand why I love making pies instead of cakes.

Yesterday, though, I decided that Nik's completion of the Chicago Marathon merited a little bit of celebrating: I brined and grilled a chicken from my grandfather's farm, made pumpkin biscuits, and fried sweet potatoes for dinner... all topped off with a cake! AS far as cakes go, I knew that if I attempted a multi-layer, filled cake for my first time- it risked being a mess. I had guests coming over and refused to disturb Nik's "cooling down" time after coming home from the marathon. So what kinds of cake are nearly impossible to mess up? Ones with a form other than a simple round... also known as BUNDT cakes.

A year or two ago, we got this beautiful Bundt cake pan from Williams-Sonoma, but it had since disappeared into the back of the "cake cupboard"- full of dozens of cake pans of various shapes and sizes. I pulled it out and whipped together this lovely cake (that was not originally a Bundt cake recipe)...

Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

For the cake:
4 large carrots, grated
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground mace
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups canola oil or applesauce (I used the oil this time)
Grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup raisins, plumped in hot water and drained
1 cup pecans

Over a sheet of parchment paper or a plate, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and mace. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, oil and orange zest and whisk thoroughly to combine. Stir in the carrots. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture until almost completely incorporated. Add the raisins and nuts and fold to mix thoroughly. Pour the batter into the well-greased pan.

Cook at 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes. Take a thin knife or bamboo stick to insert into cake- if it comes out dry, the cake is done. This Bundt pan didn't take very long.


1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup of white chocolate chips melted
2 TB butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3/4+ cup of powdered sugar
2 TB milk

Mix together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, milk, and melted white chocolate until smooth. Then add the powdered sugar until it is the consistancy you desire- I wanted mine thin enough to drizzle, but thick enough to not just drip everywhere.

Et voila. Delicious and Beautiful Cake!

I should totally post pictures...

More Fall-like Food

I've been considering the following biscuit recipe for quite some time- on some days, the concept seemed like a fantastical combination. Other times I felt a little bit squeamish adding elements of pumpkin pie to a kind of food that I hold a little sacred.

You see, one of the most delicious and Midwestern dishes I can think of is fluffy buttermilk biscuits douced in a ladle-full of sausage chunks and gravy. Yes, several orders of McDonalds fries are probably more healthy and less full of various starches and fats- which is why you only consume it maybe once or twice a year. But that is clearly a tanget. I love biscuits- and almost all varieties of quick breads. As their name suggests, they are much quicker and easier than negotiating yeast bread recipes.

After sampling one straight out of the oven (PLAIN, mind you), I couldn't help but grab two or three more immediately.

Pumpkin Biscuits. WHO KNEW?!

9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice***
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup fat-free buttermilk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons honey
1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a large bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Chill 10 minutes.

3. Combine buttermilk and honey, stirring with a whisk until well blended; add canned pumpkin. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moist.

4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 4 times. Roll dough into a (1/2-inch-thick) 9 x 5–inch rectangle; dust top of dough with flour. Fold dough crosswise into thirds (as if folding a piece of paper to fit into an envelope). Reroll dough into a (1/2-inch-thick) 9 x 5–inch rectangle; dust top of dough with flour. Fold dough crosswise into thirds; gently roll or pat to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut dough with a 1 3/4-inch biscuit cutter to form 14 dough rounds. Place dough rounds, 1 inch apart, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400° for 14 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan; cool 2 minutes on wire racks. Serve warm.

***I didn't have pumpkin pie spice. While at the store, I saw a small plastic jar (McCormick Brand) cost a whopping $6. Highway robbery! So I did some quick research and decided that about 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice, a dash of ground cloves and another of mace- all substituted just fine. Granted, I do have the majority of the Penzeys store in the cupboards next to my range.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Magic of Lasagna

While I'm searching around in my head and on various cooking websites trying to find something delicious for dinner, I often find myself skipping over or dismissing "classics" like various casserole and one-pan/pot dishes that I had often while going up.

Yesterday I felt found a great recipe for a lasagna that wasn't your usual variety- nor did it stray too far from the classic kind. Unfortunately, to make an excellent and authentic lasagna, you have to have a significant chunk of time set aside. Between all of my work and practice, I barely have time to squeeze in 30-60 minutes of pilates or yoga... nevermind the 5-6 hrs of cooking and preparation required for this classic.

And yes, it does occur to me that I don't have food critics or native Italians sitting at my dinner table on a regular basis- or ever. So really, I shouldn't be too concerned about the consistancy of noodles or the texture of the filling. But why spend time cooking if you can't be proud of the final result?

So here is my adapted recipe of Sausage & Kale Lasagna. Quick, easy, delicious. *Be sure to read through before starting, I was trying to lay out the recipe in a coherent way- this one does allow you to multi-task fairly easily, so there are two parts.

3/4 pound of hot Italian sausage, removed from casing and broken up into small chunks
1 small onion chopped
5 cloves of garlic chopped into medium-sized chunks
1 bunch of kale (1- 1 1/2 lbs), chopped
1 TB fennel seeds- optional
1 TB chopped or crushed rosemary
1 TB olive oil

About 9 lasagna noodles
1 TB olive oil
Ricotta Cheese
Parmesan Cheese
Sharp Cheddar Cheese

In a medium or large pot over medium heat, cook the sausage thoroughly. While cooking it, I found it helpful to break it up into fairly small chunks- almost a crumble. Once cooked, put into a large mixing bowl.

*Meanwhile, start cooking the noodles and prepare about 2 minutes less than what directions on the box say. They will get done about the same time that you are done prepping the filling.

In pot used for cooking sausage, pour in 1 TB olive oil. Allow it to heat before adding the onions. While sauteeing the onions, I covered the pot with a lid for the first minutes to soften them and then uncovered them while I turned up the heat to medium-high in order to carmelize them. In this last part of the process, add the garlic. Once carmelized, pour onions and garlic into bowl with sausage. Mix all together with oregano, fennel, rosemary or whatever Italian herbs you would like. Cayenne or chili pepper would probably be an exciting way to make it spicy; you might also consider a little nutmeg.

In same pot, pour in about 1/2 cup of water and add the chopped kale. Turn down heat to medium and cook with lid over. The kale uncooked takes up a suprising amount of space, but will shrink considerable while cooking.

At this point, the noodles were done cooking for me. I poured into my collander and then rinsed with cold water so I could touch them without getting burned. In a casserole dish, I poured a little bit of olive oil at the bottom and then placed one layer of noodles.

Once the kale was cooked, I put a layer on top of the noodles and then spooned on a layer of the sausage and onion mixture. Then I added a bit of ricotta and shredded parmesan cheese before placing another layer of noodles and repeating the layering process. After the top layer, I put a little extra ricotta and parmesan cheese and then finally added the shredded cheddar cheese.

Put in the over for about 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.
E presto- dinner is served!

I only wish I had breadsticks and some bright fruit gelato to serve with...!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Convenient Food

Welcome to my lunch break:
Triscuits dipped into some of the left-over taco meat and cheese from the other night. And some of my salsa verde to go along with. Washed down with hot chocolate from the breakroom. Not exactly 5-star quality lunch, but it will do for today...

Inspired by my humble at-my-desk lunch, I felt like writing some ideas down for convenient food- that has nothing to do with McDonalds or Corner Bakery or whatever commercial perservative-filled food chain you resort to when short on time.

Quick Risotto. Using ingredients you probably have.

1/2 cup of arbiorio rice
3 cups chicken stock
3 TB butter
1/2 an onion chopped up into small-ish bits
4 gloves garlic chopped up
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp rosemary (fresh or dried)
*other assorted additions: mushrooms, chives, artichoke hears, cubed squash, parmesean cheese, asparagus, italian sausage slices, chicken, etc
*if you are the martini drinking type, and I am, you probably have some vermouth around, but it isn't necessary :)- couple splashes of vermouth

-In a medium-sized sautee pan that has a lid, melt the butter and sautee the onions until slightly browned; throw in the garlic cloves and sautee a little more until the garlic is softened and the onion has carmelized
-Add the rice and cook in the butter/onion/garlic mixture until slightly browned (I know, it makes it kind of like a pilaf- but I never said this was ultra-authentic-Italian risotto)
-Pour in the chicken stock and vermouth and cook with the lid on for about 8-10 minutes on medium-low heat

-In a small pan, melt a little butter and add whatever other veggies or meat you happen to have on hand. I had sliced chicken breast, fennel seed, rosemary, a little more garlic and artichoke hearts in a jar. After sauteeing all these together (making sure my chicken was thoroughly cooked), I added all these to the rice. I did save adding the chives to the end, considering how dainty chives are as a plant and flavor.

Once the rice was cooked along with my "additives," I went ahead and added finely-grated parmesean cheese. Because I think it is delicious. I also grated on top some nutmeg because I was feeling fancy.

All in all, it was a pretty quick/easy dish. Made enough for two people- or in my case, one person with some left-overs for the next day.
I need to sit down and think of more things like this that are delicious for dinner as well as the next day after a quick spin in the microwave. Pasta dishes don't always do well with the reheating- especially cream-based sauces. Today's mexican left-overs are yummy... I did add some more cumin to the meat before taking off today- and some sharp cheese.

When finding yourself in the world of Corporate America, occupied with a somewhat monotonous job (even if it is enjoyable), lunch is the time of day that you need something exciting. Sandwiches, soup, and salads can only be repeated so many times before going a little nutty...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Love

Well, folks, it is officially the last holiday of the summer before we dive into about 6 months of cold weather. Naturally, all of America seems to turn to the outdoors on Labor Day; I was among the millions spending time on decks, beaches, and/or patios with a grill nearby and a beer in my hand.
Hosting a dinner party for foodies is always a good time; attending a dinner party thrown by other foodies... sometimes is even better. The lack of preparation, not having to keep an eye on your guests at all times, not as much clean-up. As much as I do love having people over, I was grateful to go over to a friend's home yesterday and participate in a Labor Day Grill-Out. The food was as eclectic as the company; both were fantastic, though. Unlike every other party that Nik and I are invited to, we were assigned to bring an appetizer and a side-dish. Well, the side dish wasn't too hard to come up with: all-American potato salad. I mean, come on! It is about as Midwestern as corn on the cob. Because I wasn't able to get a hold of my mother, whose potato salad has always been a magical experience, I was left to my own devices and ended up creating my own fantastic dish.
Beneath that recipe is going to be my explanation of how I managed to stumble across a pretty great way of making Jalapeno Poppers without any kind of frying.

All in all, it was a fantastic day.

Scott's Potato Salad

2 lbs of potatoes (either Russet or Red), cooked and cubed
1 celery stalk, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 Tablespoon celery seed
1 cup (ish) of mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon brown mustard seed
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard powder
1 Tablespoon garlic
1 Tablespoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
2 hard-boiled eggs peeled and diced
pinch of cayenne pepper

After cubing the potatoes, I cooked them until they were fairly soft but still sturdy. Because that took about 20 minutes to get the water boiling and getting them to the right consistency, I had plenty of time to dice up the onion and celery; then mix those in with all of the other ingredients (not the eggs). Speaking of eggs, Nik threw them in with the potatoes as they cooked- so we had one less pot on the stove. Genius idea.

Once the potatoes were done, all I had to do was stir them into the mayo mix. It probably would have been better to let them cool for about 20-30 minutes, though I was in a rush. Because it was so warm, it changed the consistency of the mayo (separating it a little)- but the end product was still delicious. I knew that not everybody likes their potato salad with egg in it, so I diced them and put them on top of the whole thing instead of mixing them in. I added a little bit more brown mustard seed as well as a fair amount of pepper. Delicious.

Jalapeno Poppers

15 jalapeno peppers, split length-wise and seeds removed

1 egg
2-3 Tb of milk
**mix together in a bowl

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (stale bread, saltine crackers, or whatever)
2 Tb of flour
2 tsp garlic
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
dash of cayenne pepper
**mix together in food processor or mash up in ziplock bag with a meat mallet, then shake around until mixed together

1 package cream cheese
4 oz shredded mozzarella
4 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
**cream together

1- spoon cheese mixture into peppers (or use a pastry bag with a wide tip)
2- dip filled jalapenos in milk mixture and then dredge in the bread crumbs
3- set onto cookie sheet with aluminum foil
4- sprinkle remaining bread crumbs on top of all the peppers
5- cook on 400 for 20 minutes, then switch to low broil for 3-5 minutes

Friday, September 3, 2010

Welcome to Fall 2010

The past few days, I've been lamenting how hot it has been in my fair city. Chicago, with its miles of coastline along Lake Michigan, is usually pretty nice during the summer. Within a half-mile of the coast, like where I live, this is even more true. However, it has been hot. Even a few blocks off the lake.
So this morning, when I woke up and read the temperature as being in the low 60's, I rejoiced. Fall has arrived: you can feel and smell it in the air. Personally, I find a little extra joy in the cold weather simply because of the lack of allergens after the first frost. Beyond that, fall and winter is a time of cooking and baking at home; constantly warming up the kitchen with the oven and filling the house with the smells of pumpkin muffins, apple cider, apple pie... all kinds of delicious things that you forget how much you love while constantly grilling during the summer and attempting to stay cool!

So for my first Fall baking experience, I decided to go with a classic: Cornbread. Last Christmas, my mother gave me a lovely set of cast iron loaf pans along with my new cast iron skillet. No lies: I have a very expensive set of cookware that I use throughout the year- but cast iron is still my go-to for many things. (I look forward to adding to my collection!) There are all kinds of traditional cornbread recipes that are made in a skillet; I opted for the loaf pans today simply because I don't use them often enough. Side note: the oven is set at 400 in this one instead of the usual 350.

Corn Bread (aka Johnny Cake)

1 cup Corn Meal
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

...mix all together in a medium-sized bowl; make a "well"

2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 cup sour cream
1 cup canned creamed corn

... mix together in small bowl
... combine wet and dry ingredients together in larger bowl
... pour half of batter into metal loaf pan (well greased)
-you could also pour all of the batter into a 8x8 pan
... bake in oven at 400 for 20-25 minutes; top will be golden brown and the bread is pulling away slightly from the sides of the pan. Stick a knife in the center of bread to see if done (batter on knife = not done; dry = done)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dear Hummus, you are amazing

So in my infinite wisdom, I felt like the first full-week of my time back in Chicago should be spent detoxing from the previous summer. Opera camp, while being an amazing experience, is not exactly a time that promotes the healthiest eating habits: stress eating at night after long days of rehearsals, celebratory snacks/drinks after a performance, rushed breaks scattered throughout the day where you can barely inhale food before getting back to work. Yeah. Detox was needed.
While there were certainly many options available that were scary (Master Cleanse Detox?!), I read that doing a week or two of strictly raw foods would detox you while not being quite so hard on your body. The first few days were easy- it got rough by day 4. I wasn't missing the meat and various carbohydrates as much as I was missing things like dairy... and the plethora of vegetables that you just can't eat in raw form. Anyway, on a raw food diet, your sources of protein are understandably limited. Smoked salmon is delicious in all kinds of forms but can only be tolerated for so long. Hummus, on the other hand, is magical. So are things like tapenade. I have two recipes that I LOVE right here for your enjoyment!


1 (16-oz.) can garbanzo beans, drained
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons lemon juice (maybe some lemon zest if you are feeling wild!)
3 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon onion flakes/granules
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
Little bit of salt and pepper to taste

*place all into a food processor and wait for it to become creamy and delicious.


5 anchovy fillets that have been soaked in milk about 10 minutes (rinse/drain after)
1 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 garlic cloves
rind of 1 lemon
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons capers (optional)- I prefer without

*put into food processor for a minute or two until all parts have been chopped finely and mixed well


Summer is over. Welcome to having time (for now)

So I thank my mother for contributing to the blog while I was away at opera camp in Princeton this past summer. Since getting home, I've slowly re-discovered what it is like to be a non-musician again... an unemployed non-musician, to be more specific. While audition season has yet to start, I only am involved in the CSO chorus at the moment as well as my church job; so all is NOT terrible. Its just a little tight.

And we all know what tight means: no going out to eat.
Which then, follow me down my slippery slope of logic, means that I am cooking more often and utilizing different ingredients that I find for cheap at the market.

Recent discoveries:
Steamed baby bok choy... you are delicious.
Sauteed Rapini... you are not.

Today, however, I chose to embark upon a journey that I've intended for quite some time. The wait was entirely worth it. And incredibly EASY.

Home-made English Muffins
(GASP! I know... don't inhale your neighbor)

1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast

.....dissolve sugar into milk/water and then add yeast. Let it get bubbly (5-6 min)

1/4 cup melted shortening*
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt

.....add to yeast mixture. It will be fairly sticky; I added about a 1/8 cup more flour just to make it a little more manageable. into well-greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise and double. This took about an hour for me, though it was sitting on the porch in 90 degree heat (not in direct sunlight, though)

.....on a well-floured surface, turn the dough out and knead ONLY A LITTLE. Form dough into a log- roughly the size of a medium rolling pin. Cut into 1 discs (will depend on how thick you would like your muffins to be) and place on to a cookie sheet that has been both greased and dusted with corn meal.

.....let rise again for about 30-40 minutes; they will puff up a fair amount. Again, my kitchen was fairly warm, so you might want to let them rise even longer.

.....on a lightly-greased skillet that has been warmed to medium-low heat, place the muffins gentle and allow to cook. I was checking the first batch to see how well they were cooking; it does take about 5 minutes per side, though that will fluctuate with how thick yours are.

VOILA. Easy English Muffins that taste AMAZING- I ate mine hot off the skillet with fresh rhubarb-strawberry jam from my mother.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

These are amazing! Life will seem much better as you savour these with a cup of your favorite watery infusion. I suspect that we could achieve world peace if everyone would simply stop in the afternoon for tea/coffee/milk and these muffins. They are worth the extra kickboxing workout, couple of extra miles, or whatever you do to burn off calories to stay in shape. I did substitute half of the oil with applesauce to cut some of the fat calories :) Enjoy!!!

Do not worry that the batter is very moist. The muffins will bake beautifully.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins


1-1/2 cups mashed bananas (3 large, ripe bananas)

1/3 cup canola oil

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup applesauce

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a medium bowl blend the banana, oil, eggs, applesauce and vanilla together.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.

Stir in the banana mixture until just blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling 3/4 full. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 - 22 minutes. Remove muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Peach/blueberry Cobbler

This is a wonderful cobbler--not the usual dry, tasteless cobbler. The cobbler itself is sweet but is offset by the tartness of the fruit which does not have much sugar. You may need to adjust the cooking time to a little longer. The cobbler dough should be somewhat stiff but not dry.

Enjoy with ice cream or cream. It is a marvelous summer time dessert :)

Put in an 11 X 7 pan:

2 1/2 cups fresh peaches-peeled and thinly sliced

2 cups fresh blueberries

In a small saucepan, combine:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

3 TBL corn starch

Stir until smooth: 3/4 cup water

Cook over medium heat until very thick

Pour over fruit and stir until all fruit is evenly coated.

In a bowl combine:

1 1/2 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix in until smooth:

1/3 cup melted butted (do not substitute margarine—just say NO!)

1/2 cup milk

Drop in spoonfuls over the fruit mixture and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Crushed sugar cubes work very well J

Bake at 350° for 35 minutes.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chocolate and Hazelnuts? Everybody wins!

So this weekend was one of the singer's birthdays- and like the rest of us, his time was being devoted to incredibly long work days. Yesterday, his birthday, was particularly nasty with 5 hours of rehearsal for an extra performance of Carmina Burana followed by the opening night of Don Pasquale. So, one of my friends here found this recipe and I proceeded to make the necessary modifications. The original looked like it was en route to being one of those decadence dishes that were built primarily upon butter, chocolate, and sugar- but then the addition of flour and the absence of any kind of leavening agent beyond the eggs made me realize that it would have been closer to a oddly-textured torte. Maybe a brownie at best (which- is still a good situation). However, the occasion called for cake! And a cake happened... at nearly midnight by the time everybody was done with their day. Yay for being a singer!

Hazelnut and Chocolate Cake:

* 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
* 1 cup hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup hot water
* 4 eggs
* 1 stick butter, softened/melted
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To make the Hazelnut and Chocolate Cake:

Position an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Put 1/2 of the chocolate chips, hazelnuts, and flour in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the hazelnuts are coarsely chopped. Pour the hazelnut mixture into a small bowl and set aside. Combine remaining chocolate chips and sugar in the food processor. Blend until the mixture is finely ground. With the machine running, gradually add the hot water until the chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Could also just use a double boiler and melt down the chocolate- which is what I did and preferred mixing this all together by hand rather than the whole food processor thing (though maybe if I had my fancy one from home, I would have used it)
Add the eggs, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and baking powder. Pulse until mixture is blended. Return the hazelnut mixture to the food processor and pulse to incorporate. Pour the mixture into a buttered and floured 9-inch pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Place the cake on a cooling rack and cool. (Top may crack during cooling.) Refrigerate for 2 hours. (Cake can be made 1 day in advance and stored in the refrigerator). Allow the pie to return to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberry slices. Delicious. The only thing missing was some prosecco... but we all need to be in good shape for the opening of Faust and more rehearsals today. WHOA!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summertime ice cream

Summer time would not be complete without a sinfully rich dish of homemade ice cream. I prefer the custard based recipes as I really appreciate the richness a custard imparts to the ice cream and I also appreciate cooking the eggs :)
This recipe evolved during our summer family reunion in Hayward, WI. I did not like anything I found on the internet, so I created a recipe that does not call for evaporated milk, packed pudding mix, or sweetened condensed milk. This is a real, old fashioned custard ice cream. Enjoy!

Homemade Custard Ice Cream
In a heavy sauce pan whisk together:
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 cups half and half
1 2/3 cup sugar
Stirring constantly, cook over low heat until 190°--the custard stage. Mixture will slightly thicken and thickly coat a cool metal spoon. Be patient as this will take about 15-20 minutes. DO NOT ALLOW TO COME TO A BOIL! The custard will curdle. You can whisk some of the lumps out if it becomes too hot to save the custard.
Add 1 ½ TLB of high quality vanilla—stir in completely
Let the custard cool in the refrigerator—it is best if allowed to cool for 4-8 hours.
When you are ready to make the ice cream, add:
2 cups half and half
2 cups cream (you can add all half and half for a lighter J ice cream)
Whisk together and pour into ice cream maker canister and follow freezing directions.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Finally! An UPDATE!

What better way to return from a break than with a bread recipe?
Well... that is exactly what this is all about. Because nothing makes me feel more at home than making bread while cleaning the house and rocking out to some good LOUD music.

Today's recipe is from a fantastic book that I picked up called Baking in America. It is an interesting collection of American home-cookin' recipes... hit and miss recipes... like most cookbooks ;)

Buttermilk Bread
*This recipe is somewhat of an all-day affair. Though you start it and leave it for a while, just to give a heads up!
Sponge Starter:
2 cups warm buttermilk (about 110 degrees F)
1/2 cup warm water (same temp)
2 1/2 tsp yeast (or one package)
3 cups flour- I used just all-purpose unbleached flour

-in a large bowl, mix together all of these well (best if you add them in the order the ingredients appear)
-cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave set at room temperature for 90mins or up to 2 hours. You could also start this at night and set it in the fridge over-night. Just make sure it is covered... If you choose to keep it cooled in the fridge, allow it to slowly come back to room temperature before completing the process. The mixture will most likely have doubled and will be bubbly.

In a stand mixer, add:
4 cups flour
1 egg
1/2 cup wheat germ (or 1/4 cup sugar)
4 TB melted, but not HOT butter

-mix these into the dough using the dough hook (or mix by hand- might want to only do 3 cups of flour and then add the rest in via kneading) and mix on low for a few minutes
-turn up mixer to medium and "knead" for 5 minutes-ish. or you can knead it by hand on a lightly floured surface

Place the ball of dough into a large, greased bowl and allow to rise for about 90 minutes (or more than doubled in volume)

Separate into two halfs and form into loaf-shape

Place into lightly greased bread pans (larger ones work better, because this dough rises again fairly well... I found this out the hard way) and allow to proof for another hour.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes

Pretty easy- and turned out really well for me. Despite my dough spilling over my fun cast-iron bread pans... Oh well. Now to make some grilled-cheese sandwiches with this bread for dinner! Sigh- nothing better than a clean house that smells like fresh bread.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chicken Coconut Korma

This is actually Shane's recipe

Chicken Coconut Kurma


1 lb. (or package) of Chicken cut into bite size pieces and rubbed lightly with salt

3 Tablespoons of Olive oil

1/2 to 1 Onion (whatever you prefer)

2 cloves of crushed Garlic

1 Tablespoon of Curry

1 teaspoon of Garam Marsala (added more later to taste but didn't measure. Probably 2 tea total)

1 can of Coconut milk

One tomato (I didn't use the center portion with the seeds)

1/4 cup or handful of cashews

Add oil and heat on until smoky. Add salted Chicken to the pan set at Med/High. Remove chicken from the pan.

Cook Onions. Add Garlic and Spices and simmer for 11 minutes. Add Coconut Milk. Return the Chicken to the pan. Add Tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally

Bake Cashews for 5 minutes at 350 degrees.

Transfer Kurma to a plate and add cashews on top.

Make rice to put the Kurma on top of. I used Basmati rice and flavored it with some spices.