Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Barefoot Contessa's Mac and Cheese

I doubled this recipe for our family Rock Band party tonight. I still haven't been able to find cavatappi in my grocery store. Have you?

Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

THE Sugar Cookie . . .

I'm fairly confident this is the one I've settled on. Have a Merry...

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 cup softened butter
1 egg
3 T. cream
1 t. almond extract

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in butter and other ingredients. Blend thoroughly and chill for several hours. Using a rolling pin roll out dough on floured board between wax paper. Roll out to about 1/4" thickness (see post below re: rolling pin gadget). Cut out dough and place on parchment paper. Bake 5 - 8 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove the cookies from the oven as soon as you see them turning color at the base of the cookie. Let cool completely.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Christmas breakfast? I'm always looking for something to have on that cake platter for the kitchen table. I watched Ina make this one ... piece of cake!

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the streusel:

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
NOTE: Next time I make this I will double the streusel ingredients

For the glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Cookie icing . . .

Have you made Christmas cookies yet? Try this...

2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/2 t. almond extract
1/4 cup milk
food coloring

Combine to make the frosting the consistency of thin glue. Pour into shallow bowls wide enough for dipping cookies. Add food coloring.

To decorate, dip the topside of each cookie into the icing. Remove quickly and let icing drip off. Let dry if you want to further embellish.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Anna Mason's Buttercrunch - Toffee!

More Christmas candy . . . and so easy to make.

1 cup butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 T. light Karo
3 T. water
1 cup chopped almonds
6 oz. chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

Melt butter in 2 quart saucepan. Add sugar, water, Karo. Cook, stirring often, to hard crack stage - 300 degrees. Quickly stir in chopped almonds and spread in well greased 9 x 13 pan. Cool. Spread melted chocolate bits and sprinkle finely chopped nuts on top. When thoroughly cooled (4 hours) break up and package.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Anna's Caramels

Want to make candy this Christmas? My longtime friend, Anna Mason, taught me how to make these (what seems like) a hundred years ago.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 t. vanilla
3/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup light cream
1/2 cup nuts (if desired)

Combine sugar, syrup, butter 1/2 cup cream and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Add remaining 1/2 cup cream and cook slowly to hard boil stage (260 degrees). Remove from heat, add nuts and vanilla and pour into greased 8 x 8 inch square pan. Cut when cold, wrap each piece in a square of waxed paper. Keep in airtight container. Makes 36 pieces or 1.5 lbs.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and white sugar until smooth. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Mix in flour until dough comes together. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Make a small hole in the center of each ball, using your thumb and finger, and fill the hole with preserves.
3. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Let cool 1 minute on the cookie sheet.
4. In a medium bowl, mix together the confectioners' sugar, 3/4 teaspoon almond extract, and milk until smooth. Drizzle lightly over warm cookies.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Snicker Cookies

This recipe comes from a Christmas cookie contest for the Las Vegas Review Journal. They are now a family favorite.

1 cup soft butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2.5 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
20 Snickers bars

Wrap cookie dough around each snicker bar. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Martha Stewart's Almond Crescent Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter
2/3 cup confectioners sugar (plus more for rolling)
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
2 1/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1. Heat oven to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Cream together butter and 2/3 cup sugar until fluffy. Beat in extracts, then add almonds. Stir in flour and beat until well mixed.

2. Divide dough in half and roll each half into a log 1 inch in diameter. Cut each log into 3/4-inch pieces, and roll each piece into a cylinder 2 inches long. Place cylinders 1 to 2 inches apart on baking sheets, and form into crescents.

3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Let crescents cool, then roll in additional sugar.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday Pumpkin Squares

I've had 'em all. So many pumpkin squares . . . this is the one true pumpkin square. Nothing like this one. I lost this recipe and had to call on my coolest friend (Robyn) to bring me back . . . try this one. It's killer.


12 whole long graham crackers-crushed
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup sugar

Pat into bottom of 9" x 13"pan

Beat together until light and fluffy:

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

Pour over crust and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes

In heavy saucepan blend and bring to a boil

1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin (2 cups)
3 eggs yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Meanwhile, dissolve 1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water and add to mixture in saucepan. Cool.

Beat 3 egg whites until foamy, add 1/4 cup sugar. Fold into COOLED pumpkin mixture. Pour over cooled baked part in pan. Refrigerate until set.

Top with 1/2 pint heavy cream sweetened with 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Cut into squares.

Thank you Sue Gordon (Robyn's mom). These are unforgettable. Trust me.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Chicken Empanadas

8 oz. skinless boneless chicken breasts (cut into 1/2" cubes)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup water
2 T. raisins
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 T. tomato paste
1 T. chopped pimento stuffed green olives
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t. ground cumin
2 T. dry breadcrumbs

36 potsticker wrappers
1 large egg

2 cup oil

Combine and cook first 6 ingredients. Transfer to food processor and add remaining ingredients. Wrap with potstick wrappers and use egg to seal. Fry till golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with various dipping sauces

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Torte

My friend (hi Robyn) was just visiting from Boise and mentioned how much she loves this recipe. It's another great holiday dip that can be made ahead of time. Take this to your Christmas party . . . it's delicious.

1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (2 oz.)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I like more than 2 cloves)
1 T. milk
1 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup firmly packed fresh parsley sprigs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T. olive oil
2 T. pine nuts
1/2 cup oil-packed dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
french bread slices

In food processor bowl combine cream cheese, feta cheese, 2 cloves garlic and milk. Cover and process or beat with electric mixer on medium speed till almost smooth.

For pesto combine basil, parsley, parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup nuts, 2 cloves garlic and olive oil. Cover and process or blend till almost smooth.

Line 4 cup mold with plastic wrap and sprinkle the 2 T. roasted nuts over bottom of mold. Spoon 1/4 cheese mixture atop nuts, spreading evenly. Carefully spread with half the pesto. Add another one-fourth of cheese mixture.

Sprinkle tomatoes atop cheese in mold Add another 1/4 cheese mixture and remaining pesto. Spread remaining cheese mixture atop and cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. To serve, unmold onto platter and serve with French bread.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

O Henry Bars

4 cups oats
2/3 cup butter
1/2 Karo syrup
1 cup brown sugar
3 t. vanilla

6 oz. chocolate chips
2/3 cup peanut butter

Pat dough in 9 x 13 pan and bake at 35 for 15 minutes only.

Melt peanut butter and chocolate chips. Spread on dough and let set before cutting.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup...

I had a delicious butternut squash soup at my cousin's house in Pepperell and haven't stopped talking about it. For two years. This attempt proves butternut squash and carrots make a great couple. It's a sweet soup with an earthy flavor. Maybe croutons on top made out of cinnamon raisin bread?

Serves 8–10

1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
2–3 pounds butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch chunks
3 large carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (1-inch piece)
2 quarts vegetable stock or cold water
1/8 cup grated orange zest
1 bunch parsley, chopped
pinch of ground nutmeg
sea salt, to taste
ground pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil or butter over medium heat in a large sauce pot. Sauté the squash, carrots, onion, and ginger for 3 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Add the stock and orange zest, and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the parsley, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Purée the soup with a hand held immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth and creamy.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread


* 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
* 4 eggs
* 1 cup vegetable oil
* 2/3 cup water
* 3 cups white sugar
* 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
3. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Almond Butter Cake

I know, I know, enough with the almond. It's obvious I'm in pursuit of the perfect almond cake, one that's on the smaller side with the exact amount of crunch. Since I haven't been very successful I decided to attempt to modify a "go to" recipe I've relied on for years, the Desert Island Butter Cake. The resulting recipe is as follows:

2 T. almond paste
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup flour
2 sticks melted butter
1 T. almond extract
sliced almonds to garnish
confectioners sugar for sprinkling

Process almond paste and sugar in food processor until blended. Add eggs and process until fluffy. Add 1 cup of flour, 2 sticks of melted butter and 1 T. almond extract. Blend by hand. Pour into 9" pan and bake at 350 until golden brown.

To mix it up I've made the recipe in this pan and placed a sliced almond on the top of each miniature cake with a dusting of powdered sugar.

I might be satisfied now.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Brown Sugar Cookies

I'm re-posting this recipe just in case you glazed over after reading directions that included a step to brown some butter. I have never seen this in a cookie recipe before but I must tell you . . . make these. The extra step was so worth it. This recipe is spectacular.


* 14 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
* 2 cups flour
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 large egg
* 1 large egg yolk
* 1 tablespoon vanilla


1. Heat 10 Tbs butter in 10" skillet over med-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1-3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 Tbs butter into hot butter to melt; set aside for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350. Line 2 large (18x12") baking sheets with parchment paper. In shallow baking dish or pie plate, mix granulated sugar and 1/4 cup pack brown sugar, rubbing between fingers, until well combined; set aside. Whisk flour, baking soda and baking powder together in medium bowl; set aside.

3. Add remaining 1 3/4 cups brown sugar and salt to bowl with cooled butter; mix until no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

4. Divide dough in 24 portions, each about 2 Tbs, rolling between hands into balls about 1 1/2" in diameter. Working in batches, toss balls in reserved sugar mixture to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2" apart, 12 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but it will take 3 batches.)

5. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are browned and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between the cracks and seem underdone), 12-14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake. See here for done test information.

6. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

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Egg Rolls

1 lb. uncooked medium shrimp
1 lb. uncooked bonless lean pork
4 oz. fresh mushrooms
8 green onions
1 red pepper, seeded
8 oz. Chinese cabbage
1 can water chestnuts
3 T. sherry
1 1/2 T. soy sauce
2 t. grated pared fresh ginger root
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 T. cornstarch
24 spring roll or egg roll wrappers
3 cups vegetable oil

Finely chop shrimp, pork, mushrooms, onions, pepper, cabbage and water chestnuts using cleaver or food processor. Add sherry, soy sauce, ginger, sugar and salt and mix well.

Mix water and cornstarch in small bowl until blended. Place 1/4 cup filling evenly across corner of each wrapper and brush cornstarch mixture evenly over all edges of wrappers. Carefully roll wrappers around filling folding in the corners.

Heat oil in wok over high heat until it reaches 375 and fry 3 to 4 rolls at a time until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper.

P.S. I frequently use only chicken in these egg rolls. I posted the recipe the way I learned it . . . I mostly make chicken only egg rolls.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Starbucks Pumpkin Scone


2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1 large egg
6 tablespoons cold butter


1 cup plus 1 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk

Spiced Icing

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground cloves


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon ginger in a large bowl.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half-and-half, and eggs.
4. Cut butter into cubes then add it to the dry ingredients. Use a pastry knife or a fork to combine butter with dry ingredients. Continue mixing until no chunks of butter are visible. You can also use a food processor: Pulse butter into dry ingredients until it is the texture of cornmeal or coarse sand.
5. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then form the dough into a ball. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1 -inch thick rectangle that is about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide. Use a large knife or a pizza wheel to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough.
6. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes on a baking sheet that has been lightly oiled or lined with parchment paper. Scones should begin to turn light brown.
7. While scones cool, prepare plain glaze by combining ingredients in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Mix until smooth.
8.When scones are cool, use a brush to paint a coating of the glaze over the top of each scone.
9. As that white glaze firms up, prepare spiced icing by combining ingredients in another medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk. Makes 6 scones.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just Chicken Pie

A chicken pie with no peas or carrots - by Deena Stovall, as printed in America's Best Lost Recipes. I didn't trust, so I skipped the cheese in this recipe. I'm just traditional when it comes to some recipes. I will make this over and over again.


* 2 1/2 lbs chicken breasts, with skin and bone
* 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 celery rib, chopped fine
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

* 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
* 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
* 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
* 3 scallions, chopped
* 2 refrigerated pie crusts, 9-inch
* 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
* 1 large egg, beaten


1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Place on the prepared baking sheet, skin-side up, and roast 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, remove and discard the skin, and cut the meat from the bone and shred the chicken into 2-inch pieces. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook the celery until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the flour and cook until it begins to brown, about 1 minute. Stir in the milk, broth, and zest and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Strain the sauce into a large bowl, discarding the vegetables. Stir in the chicken and scallions, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let the filling cool until just warm, about 30 minutes.

4. Spoon the chicken mixture into the pie shell and sprinkle with the cheese. Top with the remaining circle of dough. Trim all but 1/2 inch of the dough overhanging the edge of the pie, using your fingers.

5. Cut four 2-inch slits in the top of the dough, brush with the beaten egg, and bake until the crust is deep golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve.

Want to make this easier? Just buy that roast chicken at Costco.

Photo courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio.

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Brown Sugar Fudge

Perfect for that holiday box of goodies you're tying up with baker's twine...

3 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, leaving overhang on all sides. Grease the foil. Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the the heat to medium-low and cook until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage on a candy thermometer, about 234 degrees, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool until just warm (about 120 degrees) and not yet firm, 35 to 45 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir vigorously until the mixture lightens and is no longer shiny, 6 to 10 minutes. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan and let sit until firm, about an hour. Using the foil overhang, remove the fudge from the pan and cut into 1 inch squares. The fudge can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Bailey's Hot Fudge

Bailey's of Boston might be long gone but their hot fudge recipe lives on. Their silver bowls just made the hot fudge sundae taste that much better.

* 1/2 cup butter
* 2 unsweetened chocolate squares
* 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
* 3/4 cup evaporated milk

Slowly melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan. Remove from heat. Alternately add the sugar and evaporated milk. Stir till smooth. Return to heat. Simmer 8-10 mins. Makes 2 cups.

Thank you, Betsy, for lighting a fire under me to get my hands on the recipe. I owe you.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Caramel Corn

1 lb. brown sugar
1 cup light Karo syrup
1 stick butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Cook brown sugar and Karo together until lightly boils. Add 1 stick butter and 1 can sweetened condensed milk and continue to cook until edges simmer. Pour over prepared popcorn.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pound Cake

Oh a good pound cake . . . especially one with a crunchy, buttery crust. This recipe is a keeper.

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 cups softened butter
1/2 cup milk
1 t. vanilla
1 t. almond extract
6 eggs

350 for 1 hour, 15 minutes. Kitchen Aid recipe.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Elegant Bars

1 lb. powdered sugar
1 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cup melted peanut butter
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 12 oz. package milk chocolate chips

Mix powdered sugar, melted butter, melted peanut butter and graham cracker crumbs together and place in 8 x 10 glass dish. Press into dish. Melt chocolate chips and spread over peanut butter mixture. Refrigerate and cut into squares.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting . . .

I've been making this cake for many years, albeit usually only once a year - it's rich. And great. "We" prefer no fruit or nuts in our version, but add what you will.

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups finely grated peeled carrots (about 1 pound)

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 lb. confectioners sugar
1 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper. Lightly grease waxed paper. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and vegetable oil in bowl until combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into sugar and oil mixture. Stir in carrots.

Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and cakes begin to pull away from sides of pans, about 45 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature.)

For frosting:

Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in medium bowl until smooth and creamy. Serve cake cold or at room temperature.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Almond Danish Puff

A pate choux on top of an almond flavored crust. I've been making this for years . . . it's yummy.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 t. almond extract
2 tablespoons water


1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup flour
3 eggs


1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 to 2 tablespoons warm milk or heavy cream
Chopped toasted almonds

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place 1 cup flour in medium bowl. Cut in 1/2 cup softened butter, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of coarse crumbs. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water and the almond extract over mixture; toss with fork.

2. Gather pastry into a ball; divide in half. Pat each half into 12x3-inch rectangle, about 3 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

3. In 2-quart saucepan, heat 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup water to rolling boil; remove from heat. Quickly stir in almond extract and 1 cup flour. Stir vigorously over low heat about 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball; remove from heat. Add eggs; beat until smooth. Spread half of the topping over each rectangle.

4. Bake about 1 hour or until topping is crisp and brown; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely.

5. In medium bowl, mix all glaze ingredients except nuts until smooth and spreadable. Spread over top of pastry; sprinkle with nuts.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

"The Best Shortbread" from Cook's Illustrated

We love a rich buttery shortbread in my house. That Walker's tin they sell at Costco . . . we can't have it in the house. Self-control issues. It's a very simple thing to create, typically with just four basic ingredients. My November/December Cook's Illustrated talked about a baking technique using a springform pan. I decided to give it a try. If you're like me and you want the demonstration, look here. I made the basic recipe as follows:

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 t. table salt
14 T. unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/8" thick slices

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Pulse oats in spice grinder or blender until reduced to fine powder, about ten 5-second pulses (you should have ¼ to 1/3 cup oat flour). In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix oat flour, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, sugar and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. Add butter to dry ingredients and continue to mix on low speed until dough just forms and pulls away from sides of bowl, 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Place upside-down (grooved edge should be at top) collar of 9- or 9 1/2-inch springform pan on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (do not use springform pan bottom). Press dough into collar in even 1/2-inch-thick layer, smoothing top of dough with back of spoon. Place 2-inch biscuit cutter in center of dough and cut out center. Place extracted round alongside springform collar on baking sheet and replace cutter in center of dough. Open springform collar, but leave it in place.

3. Bake shortbread 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees. Continue to bake until edges turn pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove baking sheet from oven; turn off oven. Remove springform pan collar; use chef’s knife to score surface of shortbread into 16 even wedges, cutting halfway through shortbread. Using wooden skewer, poke 8 to 10 holes in each wedge. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over surface of shortbread, then return it to oven and prop door open with handle of wooden spoon, leaving 1-inch gap at top. Allow shortbread to dry in turned-off oven until pale golden in center (shortbread should be firm but giving to touch), about 1 hour.

4. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool shortbread to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Cut shortbread at scored marks to separate and serve.

The technique is to allow the shortbread to expand as it bakes - otherwise it loses its shape as the edges flatten out. I've seen evidence of this, even when using a shortbread mold. The barrier the springform collar makes it the perfect solution.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Anna Mason's Apple Cake

This is a light cake (lots of oil) that forms a slight crunch on the top . . . I like it best with some fresh whipped cream on top, but vanilla ice cream will suffice.

2 cups sugar
1.5 cups oil
3 eggs
2 t. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 t. soda
1 t. salt
1/4 t. ground cloves
1 t. cinnamon
5 cups diced apples

Cream sugar and oil. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients and add creamed mixture. Add apples. Bake at 325 in 9 x 13 pan for 60 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar and serve with whipped cream.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Apple Crisp

Oh this is good. It isn't your typical oatmeal sort of apple crisp . . . it's more like a lazy apple pie. I can't have this around without wanting to eat the entire yummy dish.

8 apples
1 cup brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup water

Pare and quarter apples and cut lengthwise into four slices. Put sliced apples in bottom of buttered dish. Add water. Combine sugar, cinnamon and flour and rub in butter to make crumbs. Spread crumbs over apples evenly and bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

Previously blogged about here, but worth posting again.

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Pillows, Pumpkins and Frye Boots

There were several trips to Pottery Barn this weekend before settling on a Fall color pallet/palette of oranges,rusts,reds and yellows for the family room and kitchen, including an autumn paisley table runner and matching oblong pillow. I feel as if I've decorated for Fall, right through Thanksgiving.

The bedroom is still all white and beige . . . nothing seemed to work in there. I'm still thinking.

I thought I'd be smart and buy the pillow inserts at Ross and just buy the pillow covers at Pottery Barn. I found six feather and down pillows at Ross, dimensions perfect. Technically I saved a bundle, right? Except I checked out the shoe aisle. I walked away with these:

I didn't save a bundle, did I? In my head I did . . . they were a steal.

. . . . .

My November Issue of Bon Appetit arrived Saturday full of Thanksgiving menu options defined by strategies including everything from "Quick & Easy" to "Show Off". It's fun. As if the issue wasn't spectacular enough, the Editor in Chief, Barbara Fairchild (hero of mine), mentions Trader Joe's cranberry relish, my personal favorite and the reason why I no longer make my own cranberry sauce. Awesome. One more Trader Joe's plug . . . when their Almond SnowMan Cookies hit the shelves, do yourself a favor and splurge a little ($4.99 a box) and buy yourself a box of these cookies. They are an almond shortbread cookie and they are spectacular.

. . . . .

My pursuit of balance has me thinking it'd be simpler to achieve if I could just give up television. I did it once for a year. I added up the time I spend on those 'must see' shows. Shouldn't I be out living my life rather than sitting in front of a DVR? Just a question.

. . . . .

Weekend culinary inspiration comes from all things butternut squash. It will roast in the oven with some sweet potatoes, quartered onions, a little olive oil and lots of salt and pepper.

. . . . .

I leave you with pictures from a Saturday stop at Leopold's Bakery, where I bought my man an almond bar, a napolean and an eclair. Over and out...

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Friday, October 2, 2009

best laid plans, evidence of beige, candy ...

Yesterday someone in my office made an observation about me that was amusing. She pointed out I will drive and drive all over the city for the right bakery item. Her tendency is to stay in her neighborhood and I'm off to Water Street or Summerlin or Boulder City for the right cookie made with marzipan. It's true. Cookies call out my name.

. . . . .

Last Saturday I received a voicemail from Ticketmaster ... don't go to the M Resort tonight because that Crosby, Stills and Nash concert is canceled. I'm a planner. I drive even myself crazy. As it turns out the concert was poolside - and last Saturday happened to be a triple digit day. Not so much did I mind. See? I can be flexible.


I am not going to Salt Lake City today.

Instead I will work on the vast beige that is my house and try to add some color? Any suggestions? I can add fall colors and use them for October and November . . . then switch things up with Christmas colors. What say you?

I downloaded a book for our ride to Salt Lake. We are not car travelers. Instead we are like children when it comes to a road trip - there is whining involved and lots of 'how much longer?' kinds of questions. We were hoping our Beatles Remastered Boxed Set would arrive before we left . . . backorder. What's up with that? All that hype and everybody is backordered? So instead of singing our way to Utah we decided to just give that 'book on CD' thing a shot. Has this worked for you? I'm driving to Idaho in November . . . help me.

I have my stark white bed back and I love it . . . but I need a splash of color. It's time to introduce something, even if it's just a pillow. Help.

. . . . .

This looks like a fun basket of candy, no? Actually, it's not even a basket of candy. It's the definition of BRIBERY. And it works. Doubtful education classes extol the virtues of bribery in a classroom, but it works. I had 26 kids pass off on a three-verse scripture mastery this morning, all for a Starburst. Life is good. Part of the morning was also about this. I have leftovers in the beginning of the year - they're more reserved in October than they are in January. It amuses me. In January I will probably blog about teenage boys taking plates of O Henry Bars to school.

. . . . .

Many years ago The Mayor was explaining his approach to his baldness. "Would I rather have hair, Patti? Yes, I would. Am I losing sleep over the fact that I don't? No." This is a man who follows his bliss. Because he inspires me, today, just like always, I am in pursuit of balance. He has it. I'm not going to whine about finding that balance (insert exercise, sleep, office demands, home demands, eating healthy, lists, lists, lists) because, first, that's what MySpace is all about (whining girls) and this is a blog about meatloaf and bakeries. Mature things. Second, I have a really great life. How many people can say they don't have a temporal need in the world? And I have so much more than that.

So I'm headed to a yoga class and the beast that is known as Walmart. Yoga + Walmart = Balance. Not even. I'm still pursuing

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

It's officially Autumn. Works for me. I love the recipes (hooray butternut squash, soup, pumpkin, etc.) and love the change in the weather, even if the change is slow living in the desert.

This is a Paula Deen recipe . . . it satisfies the pumpkin craving. So does this.

* 1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
* 1 egg
* 8 tablespoons butter, melted


* 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
* 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
* 3 eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 8 tablespoons butter, melted
* 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

a whole lot of nothing...

Each time we walked by this house when we were in Laguna Beach I snapped a picture and fantasized. Sigh. Cute, yes? The walk to our bungalow went directly up the hill behind the house, so we were able to dissect a little bit of how it was put together. Don't even ask me how I stumbled upon this yesterday. Now I know for a mere $2.5 million dollars my dream can come true.

No segue...

Statcounter has been interesting . . . more people are landing on my blog after doing a search for "patron said of lost causes" than any other google search. Either there are way more believing Catholics out there than I ever realized or there are way more lost causes out there than I ever knew.

Runner up is still "Gilchrist Macaroons". Inevitably those hits are from New Englanders pining away for that delicious macaroon (no longer made), especially with the resurgence of french macaroons. Definitely qualifies as a trend because they've been around for almost a century.

No segue...

I made a triple batch of whoopie pies for my Friday Seminary Treat, which may become a weekly feature on my blog for my friend, Bridget, not to be confused with daughter, Bridget. (Love that name.) I really sort of wish they were the pumpkin whoopie pies. Love those.

No segue...

I'm 245 pages into Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed. I wanted to be crazy about it because I loved his first two novels. I'm walking away. Up next is This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. What are you reading right now?

No segue...

Today we are headed to the church to practice the annual Primary Program. We have parts. Speaking parts. We were asked, "Would you like to play parents or grandparents?" Funny. Very 'out of my comfort zone' . . . and then this is when people say, "But you're BRIDGET's mom!" Yes, yes I am. The gene pool is vast.

No segue...

Weekend culinary inspiration comes from here and here.

: See here for pictures inside the Laguna Beach dreamhouse.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tarte Tatin

This classic French apple tart is Wolfgang's recipe, one he refers to as "Easy Tarte Tatin". If you know me at all you know this is my idea of the ultimate dessert. Sadly, Mon Ami Gabi has removed it from their menu, although they promise it will be an occasional 'special.' Hope so.

If you haven't discovered Pepperidge Farm puff pastry I urge you to run to the frozen food aisle at your local grocery store and buy a box. It's a freezer staple. It means you can always make a napolean or a tarte tatin because it's just that amazing. If you're adventurous you can give it a shot, like I did here, but I promise you the store bought version is absolutely perfect. Also, as much as we loved that Danish braid, and we did, I have never made it again. Just saying. It's versatile (they make it in pastry shells) and perfect.

1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
10 Golden Delicious apples
2 T. lemon juice
1 9-inch circle pre-baked puff pastry
Vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a 9-inch ovenproof skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in 1/2 cup of the sugar and cook, stirring continuously, until it turns light golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside. Peel, core, and quarter the apples. In a nonreactive bowl, toss together the apples and lemon juice. Arrange the apple quarters, rounded sides down, in the pan in a flowerlike pattern, filling in the gaps with more apples placed curved side up. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup sugar over the apples. Cook over medium heat until the apples start to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the apples are tender, 20 to 30 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and let the apples cool to room temperature. Before serving, preheat the broiler. Return the pan to medium heat, just until the caramel softens enough for the apples to loosen. Remove the pan from the heat and top the apples with the pre-baked pastry. Invert a round heatproof serving platter over the pastry and, carefully holding the skillet and the platter together, invert them; then, lift off the skillet to unmold the tart onto the platter. If any apples stick to the skillet or become dislodged, replace them on the tart. Sprinkle the top with the remaining sugar and caramelize it briefly under the broiler. Cut the tart into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream. Serves 6 to 8.

Anyone can make this!

This week's Friday Seminary treat? Whoopie pies, per a special request. I love a special request.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Saturday date at Morels

It's Restaurant Week in Las Vegas. Too good to pass up. We decided on Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro at the Palazzo. Why is there no apostrophe? I wonder. It barely bothered me once I sat down.

The cheese and French bread selection was impressive and beautiful. Beautiful seafood bar.

Potato soup . . . the garnish on top was a collection of crispy, very thin potato-sticks. The side plate? Yes, that's a beignet.

Skirt steak with pommes frites and chef's butter. See the side plate again? Beignet gone.

The cart to make your tableside Bloody Mary. Great gimmick - they were busy.

In case you skipped the link, $20.09 per person, including homemade vanilla ice cream with fresh berries and heavy whipped cream.

Weekend culinary inspiration came from here and here.

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