Friday, December 31, 2010

Egg Drop Ramen Soup

I made this soup with my mom. It is super-duper yummy! I liked having a hyped-up version of Smack Ramen.


1 carrot
4 fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 (3 oz.) pkg. ramen noodles with seasoning packet, any flavor
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk


In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add carrot and boil for 7 minutes. Add mushrooms. Break up noodles and add to saucepan with seasoning from packet; stir to blend. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 minutes or until noodles and mushrooms are tender. Slowly pour in the egg and stir for 30 seconds until egg has cooked. Stir in the milk and serve hot.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Magic in the Middles

I made these cookies for a holiday cookie exchange this past month. I'm so glad that I finally tried this recipe that I've had bookmarked for years. The cookies look and taste amazing!


1 1/2 cups (6 3/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 ½ ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (3 ½ ounces) granulated sugar (plus extra for dredging)
1/2 cup (3 ¾ ounces) brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick—4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup (2 3/8 ounces) smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg


3/4 cup peanut butter (7 1/8 ounces), crunchy or smooth, your choice
3/4 cup (3 ounces) confectioners' sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
2. To make the dough: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.
3. In another medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the sugars, butter, and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the egg, beating to combine, then
4. stir in the dry ingredients, blending well.
5. To make the filling: In a small bowl, stir together the peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar until smooth.
6. With floured hands or a teaspoon scoop, roll the filling into 26 one-inch balls.
7. To shape the cookies: Scoop 1 tablespoon of the dough (a lump about the size of a walnut), make an indentation in the center with your finger and place one of the peanut butter balls into the indentation.
8. Bring the cookie dough up and over the filling, pressing the edges together cover the center;
9. roll the cookie in the palms of your hand to smooth it out. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
10. Roll each rounded cookie in granulated sugar, and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.
11. Grease the bottom of a drinking glass, and use it to flatten each cookie to about 1/2-inch thick.
12. Bake the cookies for 7 to 9 minutes, or until they're set and you can smell chocolate. Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack.

• If you're doubling this recipe, add an extra egg to the chocolate dough.

• If you're making this dough ahead of time, add 2 tablespoons of milk to the chocolate dough. It tends to dry out as it sits, and the extra moisture will keep the outside dough from cracking as you form the cookies.

Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour's Cookie Companion (you can also get the recipe on their site--including a step-by-step blog posting)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peach Streusel Coffee Cake

If you're wondering what to make for Christmas morning breakfast, this Williams-Sonoma coffee cake would be a big hit!  We actually had it for dinner one night (with ice cream!).  I used part of a quart of peaches, and I wished I had used the whole quart.

Click HERE for the recipe.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Peanut Butter Fudge

Sorry, Morgan, for posting all these peanut butter recipes.  I just love peanut butter.  And a creamy concoction that meets my required daily intake of peanut butter is perfect to add to a tray of Christmas goodies!

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/3 cups peanut butter (I used creamy)
1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow creme

In a saucepan, bring sugar and milk to a boil; boil for 3 minutes.  Add peanut butter and marshmallow creme; mix well.  Quickly pour into a buttered 8" square pan (I used a foil-lined and Pam-sprayed pan); chill until set.  Cut into squares.  Makes 3-4 dozen (according to Taste of Home), but I think this is really rich, so I cut mine into 64 pieces (8x8).

Candied Cinnamon & Sugar Almonds

Have you ever walked by a nut vendor and NOT wanted to buy some nuts?  The smell is so intoxicating and so inviting.  But the price is ridiculous.  So I made my own, and they turned about fabulous!  Click HERE for the recipe.

PS - mine were done at 45 minutes.

Peanut Butter Blossom or Cup Cookies

We used the same recipe to make 2 different treats!  Brilliant!  This is a good recipe to have kids help with.  Kids are great at unwrapping all the PB cups and kisses while you mix the dough, helping roll all the balls, and then they can easily press the candy into the baked cookies!

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 T. milk
20 miniature peanut butter cups, unwrapped
20 hershey's kisses, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.  Set aside.  Cream together the butter, sugars, and peanut butter until fluffy.  Beat in the egg, vanilla, and milk.  Add the flour mixture; mix well.  Shape into 40 balls.

Place 20 balls into an ungreased mini muffin pan.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately press a mini peanut butter cup into each ball.  Cool and carefully remove from pan.

Roll remaining 20 balls in granulated sugar and place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately press a hershey's chocolate kiss into each ball.  Cool and carefully remove from pan.

A version for Morgan:  Use sugar cookie dough and rolo candies for the mini muffins; and use sugar cookie dough with hershey's kisses for the blossoms.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bryn's 12th Birthday Dinner

Today we celebrated Bryn turning the ripe, old age of 12 years old. She played basketball this morning, had a team party this afternoon to celebrate the end of the season, and got her requested meal for dinner. She requested wontons and cheesecake for dinner. Here is the recipe we followed (you can see the photo at

Korean Wontons
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup canned bean sprouts
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1-1/2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1/3 pound ground beef (I used Jimmy Dean Reduced Fat Sausage this time)
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1-1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh gingerroot
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons sesame oil (I left this out)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I left this out)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (I only used 1/4 teaspoon)
1 package (12 ounces) wonton wrappers
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons water


* In a wok or large skillet, stir-fry cabbage, bean sprouts and carrots in 1-1/2 teaspoons oil until tender; set aside.
* In a small skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add to the vegetable mixture. Stir in the onions, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, salt and pepper.
* Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each wonton wrapper. Combine egg and water. (I didn't use the egg mixture. I just moistened the edges with water.) Moisten wonton edges with egg mixture; fold opposite corners over filling and press to seal.
* Heat remaining vegetable oil in a large skillet. Cook wontons in batches for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown, adding additional oil if needed. (I saw online that you could place the wontons on a sprayed cookie sheet, spray the top of the wontons and then bake them. So I did this. I baked them at 425 for about 10 minutes.) Yield: 5 dozen.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (3 each) equals 90 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 16 mg cholesterol, 171 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein.

For Dessert we made the jello no-bake cheesecake. At the last minute we decided to make them into milk shakes. This is a fabulous recipe. The original recipe is also at I don't think I have ever used the cheesecake recipe that is in the original recipe, so I won't post it. This time I didn't use vanilla ice cream, but had wild berry frozen yogurt on hand. So we made it with that and left out the vanilla extract. Yummy!!!!

Piece-of-cheesecake Shakes

1 9-inch cheesecake cut into 8 pieces

Additional ingredients for each shake:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup vanilla ice cream

For each shake, place one piece of cheesecake in a blender; add the additional ingredients. Cover and process until smooth. Pour into a chilled glass. Yield: 8 servings.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cashew Clusters

Here is the recipe that Mom mentioned is delicious in our gray-hair e-mails.  She used mixed nuts (without peanuts).  I plan to be a purist and use only cashews.  Either way, it is a Christmas treat you won't want to go without!

1 lb. white candy coating, coarsely chopped
1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1 pkg. (4 oz.) German sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
1 can (9 3/4 oz.) salted whole cashews
1 can (9 1/4 oz.) salted cashew halves and pieces

In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the first four ingredients.  Cover and microwave at 50% power until melted, stirring every 30 seconds.  Stir in nuts.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper-lined pans.  Let stand until set.  Store in an airtight container.  makes 6 dozen.  From Country Woman Christmas 2009.

Household Tip: Less Wrinkled Sheets

I know this isn't a recipe, soI hope you don't mind me sharing a laundry tip. I don't know why I'm bothered by wrinkled sheets.  I think there's just something about getting into bed into crisp, clean sheets.  And wrinkled sheets just don't give me that same feeling.  I've ironed plenty of sheets, but I don't enjoy it.  Well, today I learned that if you dry your sheets on medium rather than high, they come out fresh and clean and dry... but NOT wrinkled!  Hallelujah for advanced dryer settings!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Peppermint Fudge Cupcake Jars

I was looking around the internet world looking for great gift ideas, and I came across this yummy idea. I made these yummy cakes to take around to the girls I visit teach. It was so fun to make and they were really cute. Instead of retyping I decided just to send you to their site...check it out:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Grandma Esther's Sea Foam Salad

We're having a Wilson family get-together this afternoon, and I was asked to bring a salad.  I'm surprising everyone with a salad their grandmother used to make when they were children.

Sea Foam Salad
2 cups boiling water
3 oz. lemon jello
3 oz. lime jello
1 small carton small curd cottage cheese (I think 12 oz.)
1 large container (16 oz.) cool whip
1 can drained crushed pineapple (20 oz.)
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Pour boiling water over both the lime and lemon jello mixed together in a bowl.  Refrigerate until barely thickened.  Don't let this set up or you will have chunks of jello.

Add the remaining ingredients to slightly thickened jello.  Mix well.  Pour into a 9x13 pan and chill.

Monday, November 29, 2010

German Chocolate Cream Pie

Here's the recipe Mom used for one of the pies she made for Thanksgiving this year. She made it sound so delicious, I begged her to post it here so I will remember to make it in the future! Here are Mom's suggestions:

"Next time I would use the lite cool whip, I would make my own coconut pecan icing so it would be fresh and just taste better, and I would use the light cream cheese.

This pie is absolutely rich, delicious, and so creamy smooth!!!!"

German Chocolate Cream Pie

This very tall pie delivers subtle German chocolate flavor rich and deliciously.


12 pecan shortbread cookies, broken into pieces
4 Nature Valley® pecan crunch crunchy granola bars (2 pouches from 8.9-oz box), crushed (3/4 cup)
1/3 cup butter, melted

Chocolate Filling
2 oz cream cheese (from 8-oz package), softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted, cooled
1 container (8 oz) frozen (thawed) whipped topping

Coconut-Pecan Filling
1 container (15 oz) Pillsbury® Creamy Supreme® coconut pecan frosting
2 oz cream cheese (from 8-oz package), softened
1 tablespoon milk
1 container (8 oz) frozen (thawed) whipped topping

Reserved 1/2 cup whipped topping
1/2 milk chocolate candy bar (1.55-oz size) or 1/2 dark chocolate candy bar (1.44-oz size), chopped


1 In food processor or blender, process cookies and granola bars with on-and-off motions until fine crumbs form; pour into medium bowl. Stir in melted butter with fork until well mixed. Press mixture in bottom and up side of ungreased 9- or 8-inch glass or metal pie plate. Place in freezer just until firm, about 10 minutes.

2 Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat 2 oz cream cheese, the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon milk with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. On low speed, beat in melted chocolate chips. In small bowl, reserve 1/4 cup whipped topping from 8-oz container for garnish. On medium speed, beat remaining topping from container into chocolate mixture until well blended.

3 Spread 1/3 cup of the frosting evenly in bottom of crust. Spoon chocolate filling into crust; carefully spread. Place pie in freezer while making next layer.

4 In large bowl, beat 2 oz cream cheese, 1 tablespoon milk and remaining frosting with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Reserve another 1/4 cup whipped topping from 8-oz container in same small bowl of topping. Beat remaining topping from container into coconut-pecan mixture until well blended. Carefully spoon over chocolate filling; spread evenly. Carefully spread reserved 1/2 cup whipped topping over top; sprinkle with chopped candy bar. Refrigerate 1 hour 30 minutes before serving.

*To easily crush granola bars, do not unwrap; use rolling pin to crush bars.

Recipe source:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Orange-Cinnamon Rice Pudding

One of Bart's favorite treats is rice pudding. He loves to try different recipes for it. This one smells absolutely divine while it is cooking--and it tastes just as good as it smells.

Orange-Cinnamon Rice Pudding
Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine

1 strip orange peel, plus 1/2 teaspoon grated zest
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt
1 cup arborio rice
4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
Ground cinnamon, for sprinkling

Combine the orange peel, 2 cups water, the butter and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the rice and return to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Bring the milk, granulated sugar, cinnamon sticks and vanilla to a low boil in another saucepan. Add the rice and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in the grated orange zest and 1/4 cup mascarpone.

Transfer the rice pudding to a large bowl and let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold and set, about 2 hours. (Bart actually prefers his rice pudding warm, so we serve it shortly after he finishes making it.)

Beat the remaining 1/4 cup mascarpone and the confectioners' sugar in a bowl. Remove the cinnamon sticks and orange peel from the pudding. Serve topped with the mascarpone and cinnamon.

Spaghetti Squash With Sausage

Spaghetti squash makes a great base for dinner. Here's a simple and fun way to serve it!

Spaghetti Squash With Sausage
Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine

1 small spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 links hot Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey; 1 1/2 pounds)
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for topping

Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Put the squash, cut-side up, in a large microwave-safe bowl and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave until tender, about 20 minutes. Scoop out the flesh into a colander (use a towel to hold the squash) and shred with 2 forks.

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium heat. Grill the sausages, turning, until cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the vegetables begin to brown, about 4 more minutes. Toss in the squash and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the sausages and sprinkle with parmesan.

Creamy Portobello Soup

Bart made this soup for us the other day. It is so incredibly delicious! I loved the ham with it as it made the soup quite filling. The leeks add a subtle flavor that complements the mushrooms perfectly!

Creamy Portobello Soup
Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 8-ounce ham steak, diced
4 leeks (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 5-inch portobello mushroom caps, stemmed and chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons dry sherry or madeira wine (optional--Bart used a little fresh lemon juice instead)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
Crusty bread, for serving (optional)

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a pot over medium-high heat and cook until lightly browned. Add the ham and cook until slightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove the ham with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter, 1 cup leeks, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook 4 minutes, then add to the plate; set aside.

Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, leeks, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste to the pot; cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons sherry, if using, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until evaporated. Add the broth and 2 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the mushrooms are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth, cracking the lid to let steam escape. Return to the pot, whisk in the half-and-half and bring just to a boil. Stir in three-quarters of the ham-leek mixture, the remaining 1 tablespoon sherry, if using, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with the remaining ham and leeks.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

La Isla's Stuffed French Toast

We have been enjoying watching Food Network "Throwdown" episodes on Bart's i-touch (via a free app we downloaded). This French toast recipe was featured on one episode, and it looked so delicious that we had to try it. We actually ended up making quite a few substitutions in the filling due to our lack of guava. We used berry jam and thawed raspberry puree instead of the guava marmalade, guava shells, and fresh strawberries. The crunchy coating really sets this French toast apart.

La Isla's Stuffed French Toast
Recipe courtesy Omar Giner (posted on

2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, plus additional for sauteing
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons guava marmalade, plus additional for drizzling (recommended: LaFe)
5 ounces diced strawberries
3 ounces guava shells (recommended: LaFe)
4 thick slices Pullman-style bread, refrigerated
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Egg Batter:
6 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces whole milk
4 ounces evaporated milk

10 ounces corn cereal (recommended: Cornflakes)
6 ounces sliced almonds


In a medium bowl, using a hand beater, beat the 2 tablespoons of butter, and the cream cheese until combined. Add the marmalade and mix until incorporated, then fold in the strawberries and guava shells, using a rubber scraper. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a large tip.

Make an incision (pocket) on the crust side of the 4 pieces of bread about 3/4 of the way through. The incision will allow you to stuff the pocket. Leave the slices with the incision, covered, at room temperature before stuffing. Gently stuff the room temperature slices with the filling. Refrigerate the stuffed slices with the pocket opening facing up for 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Egg batter:

Add all the ingredients to a medium shallow bowl and mix well.

French Toast:

Add the corn cereal and almonds to a sheet pan and crush together. Dip the bread slices in the egg batter and then into the cereal mixture.

Put a large skillet on medium-high heat and add 3 to 4 tablespoons butter. When the butter has melted add the stuffed bread slices and brown on 1 side, then flip and put the skillet in oven for 8 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the toast to a serving platter. Drizzle with guava marmalade and a dusting of powdered sugar before serving.

Pumpkin Granola Bars

These are a cross between a bar cookie and a granola bar. They are a little more "oaty" than "granola-y" and soft rather than crunchy. We all love these! Joshua, Alyssa, and Bart all told me I should just make these rather than buy granola bars. They got all excited about the idea of me varying the recipe to make different flavors, too.

Pumpkin Granola Bars


3 1/4 cups (11 1/2 ounces) rolled oats
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (5 5/8 ounces) brown sugar
1/2 cup (4 3/4 ounces) pumpkin puree
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) vegetable oil
1/4 cup (3 ounces) honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan (or spray with Baker's Joy) and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together oats, spices, and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, pumpkin, vegetable oil, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Add oat mixture and beat until oats are completely coated. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Press oat mixture into the prepared pan, using a spatula to spread evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before cutting into bars and cooling completely. (Note: I cut mine down the middle, then I cut each side into 5 bars to yield a total of 10 bars that were shaped like a granola bar.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Roast Chicken Pita Panini with Cucumber-Olive Salad

The night I made the lemon-pepper chicken with pasta, I used a family-pack size of chicken breasts and cooked the extra chicken in the slow cooker. That way, I had cooked chicken ready to use for this recipe. The cucumber-olive salad and feta cheese really give this meal a Greek flavor. We all absolutely loved it!

Roast Chicken Pita Panini with Cucumber-Olive Salad
Serves 4

3/4 cup pitted kalmata olives, halved lengthwise, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons olive brine
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
Salt and pepper
1 rotisserie chicken, skin discarded, meat shredded into bite-size pieces (about 3 cups)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Juice from one lemon (optional)
4 (8-inch) pita breads (I used the Soft Wrap Bread from King Arthur Flour--recipe posted below)

1. Whisk olive brine, 1½ teaspoons oregano, and mustard in medium bowl. Slowly whisk in 4 tablespoons oil until emulsified. Add cucumbers, olives, and half of onion and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Combine chicken, feta, remaining onion, 1 tablespoon oil, and remaining oregano in large bowl. I also added some fresh lemon juice just because I felt like it. Cover half of each pita round with one-quarter of chicken mixture and fold over. Brush both sides of pita with remaining oil.

3. Heat grill pan or large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 1 minute (I used a panini press). Place 2 sandwiches in pan and weight with Dutch oven. Cook sandwiches until golden brown and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining sandwiches. Serve with cucumber-olive salad.

Recipe Source: Cook's Country

Soft Wrap Bread (from King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion)
3 to 3 ¼ cups (12 ¾ to 13 ¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups (12 ounces) boiling water
¼ cup (1 ½ ounces) potato flour OR ½ cup (5/8 ounce) potato flakes
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon instant yeast

Place 2 cups of the flour in a bowl. Pour the boiling water over the flour and stir until smooth. Cover the bowl and set aside to cool the mixture for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the potato flour and 1 cup of the remaining flour with the salt, oil, and yeast. Add this to the cooled flour-water mixture, stir, then knead for several minutes (by hand or mixer) to form a soft dough. The dough should form a ball, but will remain somewhat sticky. Add additional flour only if necessary; if kneading by hand, keep your hands and work surface lightly oiled. Place the dough in a greased bowl and let it rise, covered, for 1 hour.

Divide the dough into eight pieces (each about the size of a handball, about 3 ounces), cover, and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes. Roll each piece into a 7- to 8-inch circle and dry-fry them (fry without oil) over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until they’re puffed and flecked with brown spots. Adjust the heat if they seem to be cooking either too quickly or too slowly; cooking too quickly means they may be raw in the center, while too slowly will dry them out. Transfer the cooked breads to a wire rack, stacking them to keep them soft. Serve immediately, or cool slightly before storing in a plastic bag.

Creamy Pasta with Lemon-Pepper Chicken

I wasn't sure if I should post this or not (I didn't think it looked very pretty), but everyone in my family said I should definitely post it because it tastes so delicious!

Creamy Pasta with Lemon-Pepper Chicken

3 or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 ½ pounds)—you might want to flatten them to speed cooking time
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated zest and 3 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
1 pound spaghetti
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large pot. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper (I used Montreal Steak seasoning mix). Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook chicken until well browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest 5 minutes, then slice crosswise.

Heat remaining oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Cook garlic and ¾ teaspoon pepper until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice and simmer until reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 1 minute. Off heat, add chicken and any accumulated juices.

Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water and cook until al dente. Combine ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest, and ¼ teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and return to pot. Stir in ricotta mixture, chicken, parsley, and ½ cup reserved pasta water, adding more pasta water as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Recipe source: Cook's Country

New Mexican Pork Stew (Posole)

I made dinner for a friend tonight, but I didn't make enough for us to have the same thing as what I gave away. So I made this for us. At first, everyone was disappointed that we didn't get the food we were giving away. After tasting this, however, we were all very happy with our dinner offering. I absolutely love the flavor of using dried chiles. A friend from work (who is from Mexico) told me about this tip several years ago. The dried chiles can be found in the Mexican aisle of the grocery store (Winco especially has a great selection).

New Mexican Pork Stew (Posole)
Serves 6 to 8

Don't use store-bought chile powder. Dried ancho chiles make all the difference. Serve posole with sliced radishes and green cabbage, chopped avocado, hot sauce, and lime wedges.

3/4 ounce dried ancho chiles, (about 3 chiles)
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 pounds boneless, country-style pork ribs
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 (15-ounce) cans white hominy, rinsed and drained well
2 onions, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
1 tablespoon lime juice

1. PREPARE CHILES Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Place chiles on baking sheet and bake until puffed and -fragrant, about 6 minutes. When chiles are cool enough to handle, remove stems and seeds. Combine chiles and 1 cup broth in medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave until bubbling, about 2 minutes. Let stand until softened, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. BROWN PORK Pat pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook pork until well browned all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer pork to plate. Add hominy to now-empty pot and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and hominy begins to darken, 2 to 3 -minutes. Transfer hominy to medium bowl.

3. SIMMER BROTH Heat remaining oil in now-empty pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Puree onion mixture with softened chile mixture in blender. Combine remaining broth, pureed onion-chile mixture, pork, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in now-empty pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until meat is tender, 1 to 1½ hours.

4. FINISH STEW Transfer pork to clean plate. Add hominy to pot and simmer, covered, until tender, about 30 minutes. Skim fat from broth. When meat is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-size pieces, discarding fat. Return pork to pot and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Off heat, add lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. (Posole can be refrigerated in airtight container for 3 days.)

Recipe source: Cook's Country

Congo Bars

I made these bars as dessert for a dinner I was delivering to a friend. After the bars finished baking, I thought they needed to be kicked up a notch for presentation. So I made a ganache topping and sprinkled on toasted coconut. I can’t imagine the bars without this topping now—the chocolate really goes well with the coconut-pecan filling. These bars feature a filling that is a lot like the filling of a German chocolate cake—coconutty and gooey—on a crisp crust.

Congo Bars

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
¼ cup plus 2 ½ tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Generous 1/8 teaspoon salt
2 ½ tablespoons all-purpose white flour
1 ½ cups (6 ounces) chopped pecans
1 cup (about 3 ounces) shredded or flaked sweetened coconut
2/3 cup (4 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels

Topping (optional—Valerie’s version):
6 ounces heavy whipping cream
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup coconut, toasted in a skillet over medium heat

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan or coat with Baker’s Joy. Line the pan with aluminum foil, letting the foil overhang the two narrow ends of the pan by about 2 inches. Grease the foil or coat with Baker’s Joy.

In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Using forks, a pastry cutter, or your fingertips, cut in the butter until the mixture is the consistency of coarse crumbs. Firmly press the mixture into an even layer in the baking pan; it is normal for flecks of brown sugar to show in the dough.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 – 22 minutes, or until barely browned at the edges. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool slightly.

For the filling, in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed beat together the condensed milk, eggs and egg yolk, brown sugar, vanilla, baking soda, and salt until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is well blended. Beat in the flour. Beat or stir in the pecans, coconut, and chocolate morsels. Spread the filling evenly over the crust.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 22 to 30 minutes, or until golden all over and barely baked through in the center. Transfer to a wire rack and let stand until completely cooled.

For topping (if desired—the original version doesn’t call for this), heat whipping cream in small saucepan just until wisps of steam start to rise. Pour over chopped bittersweet chocolate in a large glass bowl. Stir to melt chocolate. If chocolate doesn’t melt entirely, microwave for a few seconds on high until chocolate is melted. Stir in vanilla extract. Let stand to thicken slightly. Spread over bars and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Refrigerate until topping has set.

Using the overhanging foil as handles, transfer the slab to a cutting board. Carefully peel off and discard the foil. Using a large, sharp knife (or bench knife), cut the slab into 20 bars (or smaller--the bars are rich); wipe the knife clean between cuts.

Recipe source: adapted from The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett

Monday, November 15, 2010

Swedish Pancakes

If you buy instant flour for the brownie recipe I posted, you can use some of it in this recipe for pancakes. I haven’t had Swedish pancakes in years—and I don’t think my kids have ever had them. We loved these! I filled them a variety of jam flavors. Some I served with maple-whipped cream as well. Instead of using a spatula or my hands to turn over the tender pancakes, I flipped them in the skillet. It was fun to practice that skill—although I still definitely need more practice with the flipping action. This recipe is a perfect one to use for practice with flipping. I’m excited to try to flip an omelet next!

Swedish Pancakes

Makes 15 pancakes, serving 4 to 6

Recipe source: Cook's Country

This recipe needs instant flour, such as Wondra or Pillsbury Shake & Blend. Keep the pancakes warm, covered, in a 200-degree oven. Serve with lingonberry jam, as the Swedes do, or your favorite jam.

2 cups (9 3/4 oz) instant flour (see note)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups club soda (see note)
9 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled
2 large eggs plus 2 yolks, lightly beaten

1. MAKE BATTER Combine flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Slowly whisk half-and-half, club soda, 4 tablespoons butter, eggs, and yolks into flour mixture until smooth.

2. COOK PANCAKES Brush surface and sides of 10-inch nonstick skillet with 1 teaspoon butter and heat over medium heat. When butter stops sizzling, pour 1/3 cup batter into skillet, tilting pan to evenly coat bottom with batter. Cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Repeat with remaining butter and remaining batter. Serve.

MAKE AHEAD Swedish pancakes can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Layer cooled pancakes between parchment paper, wrap in plastic, and transfer to zipper-lock bag. To serve, microwave stack of 3 pancakes on 50 percent power until heated through, 10 to 20 seconds.

The Classic Fudgy Brownie

The brownie recipe I use most often is the "On-the-Fence Brownies" from King Arthur Flour. They are the perfect balance between fudgy and cakey. However, I recently watched a Bobbie Flay brownie throwdown which featured fudgy brownies. I realized I haven't had a truly fudgy brownie before, and I wanted to try them. I had this recipe in a book I recently got and it looked the perfect option for a basic fudgy brownie. These are fabulous! I know they look undercooked, but when you eat them you can actually see the crumb and tell they are fully baked--they are just extremely fudgy. There actually is a big difference between an underbaked "regular" brownie and a truly fudgy brownie. Joshua has discovered that he is definitely a fudgy type of brownie lover.

The Classic Fudgy Brownie

Recipe source: The Brownie Lover's Bible by Lisa Slater

1 cup (227 g) butter
1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (220 g) brown sugar
12 oz (340 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz (56 g) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 eggs
1 tbsp (15 mL0 vanilla extract
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (130 g) instant flour—such as Wondra--or all-purpose flour (I used instant flour)

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a 9x13-inch pan with overhanging parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat with the sugars. Use a heat-resistant spatula or a wire whisk to mix. At first, the liquefied butter will settle over the sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar and butter have completely combined. The sugar will still be somewhat granular, but it will have incorporated the butter into a single, smooth mass.

Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes. Add both chocolates. Whisk until smooth.

Add the eggs and whisk until the mixture is thick and shiny.

Add the vanilla and salt. Mix to blend.

Add the flour and whisk only until smooth.

Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes only. The center will puff and the edges will appear glossy and firm. The center may appear soft underneath the surface, which is fine.

Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.

Refrigerate until firm.

Place a cutting board over the pan and turn upside down. Remove the parchment paper.

If you are glazing the brownies, do so bottom side up for an entirely smooth surface.

If you are eating them as is, invert them onto another board and slice into cubes, rectangles or triangles.

Store in the fridge wrapped in plastic for up to 2-3 weeks. Freeze wrapped in plastic and foil for up to 6 months.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Slow Cooker Roast

I couldn't find the recipe on the website I got it from (, but here it is from memory. Paige even ate this one and asked for seconds. Bryn told me that I need to make it again sometime. It was very tender and yummy. Logan kept asking for more chicken. (Every meat is chicken to that boy.) I used a pork roast because that is what I had in the freezer.

3 to 5 pound roast (beef or pork)
1 can chili sauce
1 package onion soup mix
1 can coke (Yes, I used the caffeine free coke I had such a hard time purchasing a while back)

Place the roast in the slow cooker. Mix the other three ingredients together and pour over the roast. I started this in the morning and cooked it on low all day. We ate it for supper with Heavenly Hashbrowns and salad.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sausage-Cauliflower Spaghetti

We all enjoyed this pasta dish. The cauliflower is a unique ingredient in the pasta that works great with the sausage.

Sausage-Cauliflower Spaghetti

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Magazine


Kosher salt
12 ounces spaghetti
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
12 ounces sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small head cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 cup grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook as the label directs. Reserve 2 cups cooking water, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble the sausage into the skillet and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until lightly browned and no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Clear a space in the pan, add the garlic and cook until just golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook until the edges are browned, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the reserved cooking water, cover and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 8 more minutes. Uncover and boil over high heat until the liquid is almost evaporated, about 2 more minutes.

Add the spaghetti to the skillet along with the scallions. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Toss for a minute or two to wilt the scallions and coat the pasta with the sauce, adding up to 1 cup cooking water, if needed, to loosen. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with the cheese and toss. Divide among shallow bowls and drizzle with more olive oil, if desired.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cheddar-Scallion Rolls

I made these rolls to go with Bart's slow-cooker squash stew (posted previously). Even though I messed up while making these (I took them out of the oven too early and had to put them back in to finish baking), the rolls tasted incredible! They have a light texture and they were the perfect accompaniment to the stew.

P.S. My kids have discovered that if they take the food pictures for me, we can sometimes get to eat the food earlier. Thus, the last few posts have been pictures taken by Alyssa. Joshua has also taken several pictures in the past that I have posted. It's great having a supportive family!

Cheddar-Scallion Rolls

2 cups (8 ounces) traditional whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 cup (4 ¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
¼ cup (1 ounce) nonfat dry milk powder
1 ½ teaspoons dill weed
2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
¾ cup (6 ounces) lukewarm water*
¼ cup (2 ounces) orange juice*
2 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) honey
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Cheddar cheese
1 cup (2 ¼ ounces) minced scallions

Combine whole wheat flour, salt, dry milk, dill weed, and yeast in large mixing bowl. Mix to blend. Add water, orange juice, and honey and beat at medium speed until well-mixed. Stir in cheese and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Reduce speed and (using a kneading hook) add remaining all-purpose flour—a little at a time, until a soft dough forms. Knead for about 4 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise until puffy, 1 to 2 hours.

Lightly grease a 9x13-inch pan.

Gently deflate the dough and knead in the scallions. Divide dough into 15 pieces and roll each piece into a round ball. Place the balls in the prepared pan. Let rolls rise, covered, in a warm place, until they’re puffy but not doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours. Near the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Uncover and bake the rolls in the oven, tenting them with foil after 15 minutes, until they’re a deep golden brown on top, 25 to 28 minutes. Remove them from the oven. If desired, brush the rolls with melted butter to keep their crust soft.

*I didn't have any oranges on hand, so I just increased the water to 1 cup (8 oz) total. I did add a couple tablespoons of dough enhancer with the flour as well.

Adapted from: King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking (p. 216-217)

Slow-Cooker Squash Stew

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but during the week I work and Bart has off, Bart usually chooses a variety of recipes to make for dinner. I love that he does this--not only because he cooks the meals himself, but because he chooses recipes that I'm quite sure I would not have chosen. This recipe is such a case. I thought the recipe looked like it would taste okay--but nothing special. How wrong I was! This stew has an amazing texture and flavor! We all absolutely loved it. I just had some leftovers for lunch today, and, wow! It is fabulous. This is the first time we have cooked dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas). We found them at Winco in the bulk food section. Definitely use dried beans as the recipe indicates--the consistency of the stew is perfect this way. Also, we had a huge parmesan rind (we buy our parmesan wedges from Costco), and the parmesan flavor was so incredible that we didn't even have to add extra parmesan on top when we served it. The squash is meltingly tender when done.

Slow-Cooker Squash Stew

Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, rinsed
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into large pieces (Bart cut it into bite-size pieces--he used one whole squash--we didn't weigh how much it was)
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves and stems separated and roughly chopped
1 piece parmesan cheese rind, plus grated parmesan for topping (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Crusty bread and/or lemon wedges, for serving


Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute. Stir in 1/2 cup water, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a 6-quart slow cooker.

Add the chickpeas, squash, chard stems (not the leaves), the parmesan rind, if using, 2 teaspoons salt and 7 cups water to the slow cooker. Stir, then cover and cook on low, 8 hours.

Just before serving, lift the lid and stir in the chard leaves; cover and continue cooking 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to slightly break up the squash. Discard the Parmesan rind, if used. Ladle the stew into bowls; top with the grated parmesan, if desired, and serve with bread and/or lemon wedges.

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

I had leftover pumpkin from the donuts yesterday, so I decided to make another pumpkin-based recipe for breakfast today. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we absolutely love baked oatmeal for breakfast. It is warm and satisfying. This version is perfect for fall!

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

3 cups (10 ½ oz) old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 cup peeled, diced apple (I used 1 granny-smith apple)
1 ½ cups (12 oz) milk
1 cup (9 ½ oz) pumpkin puree
1 cup (11 oz) maple syrup
4 tbsp melted butter
2 large eggs
½ cup (2 oz) coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a round casserole dish or 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (including cranberries and apple). In a separate bowl, mix milk, pumpkin, syrup, butter, and eggs. Whisk until smooth and add to dry ingredients, stirring to combine.

Pour mixture into greased dish/pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve immediately, with warmed milk and brown sugar for topping. (We served ours with vanilla ice cream.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Donuts

I made these donuts for breakfast this morning. Since they are cake donuts, they come together very quickly. If you start heating the oil before you start the donuts, you can have the donuts ready in about the same time it would take to make muffins. We all really enjoyed these. I dipped the whole donuts in the maple glaze and tossed the donut holes in cinnamon sugar. Both ways are good.

Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Donuts

Vegetable oil, for frying
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons melted salted butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Cinnamon sugar
Maple Syrup Glaze, recipe follows


Preheat oil in a large Dutch oven to 375 degrees F.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Whisk eggs, yolk, buttermilk, pumpkin puree, melted butter and almond extract together in another large bowl until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and thoroughly mix together using a wooden spoon. The dough will be very sticky.

Dust your countertop and hands with flour. Using your hands pat out dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Dip a 3-inch round cutter in flour and cut out donuts. Cut out center of donuts with 3/4-inch cutter. Gather scraps and re-roll. Continue cutting out donuts.

Fry donuts, in hot oil, until golden brown and crisp, approximately 1 minute per side. Drain on wire rack over sheet tray to cool.

Once cool, dust with cinnamon sugar, if desired, or dip tops of the donuts into the Maple Syrup Glaze. Also, a butter knife can be used to spread on the glaze.

Maple Syrup Glaze

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 cup milk

In a small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, maple extract and milk; stir well. Add additional milk, if needed, to reach desired consistency. Drizzle over donuts.

Recipe Source: "Neelys Maple Glazed Donuts" courtesy The Neelys of Food Network

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ravioli with Sage-Walnut Butter

Toasted, crunchy walnuts with tender buttery ravioli--accented with a sweet and slightly tangy sauce and a sprinkle of fresh herbs--this pasta has the perfect balance of flavors and textures.

Ravioli with Sage-Walnut Butter

Kosher salt
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 bay leaf
2 (9-ounces each) packages refrigerated cheese ravioli
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Combine the vinegar, honey and bay leaf in a small saucepan and boil over medium-high heat until syrupy, 4 to 5 minutes. Cover to keep warm.

Add the ravioli to the boiling water and cook as the label directs. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the sage and walnuts and cook until the nuts are toasted, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to high, ladle in about 1 cup cooking water and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by about half, 1 to 2 minutes.

Drain the ravioli, reserving another ½ cup cooking water. Add the ravioli to the skillet and toss to coat, adding the reserved water as needed. Remove from the heat, toss with the parmesan and season with salt. Divide the ravioli among plates and drizzle with the balsamic syrup.

Recipe source: Food Network Magazine

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bart’s Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

In a recent e-mail I received a recipe for “Bart’s Black Bean Soup” from Taste of Home. Because of the name, I printed out the recipe. When we made it, we added some canned pumpkin puree (leftover from the muffins I previously posted) to thicken the soup. The pumpkin adds nice body to the soup and the flavor blends in perfectly. Bart says that when he was on his mission in Chile, people there often added squash to thicken soups. This is a soup that you can put together easily—you probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry.

Bart’s Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups chunky salsa
1 cup canned whole kernel corn, drained
Dash hot pepper sauce
1 ½ cups canned pumpkin puree (use as much or as little as you’d like)
4 teaspoons lime juice
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons chopped green onions


In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes or until heated through. (Alternatively, add first six ingredients to stock pot. Heat over medium to medium-high heat until hot.) Pour into four serving bowls; drizzle each with lime juice. Sprinkle with cheese and green onions.

Spicy Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

Bart made these for us--we loved them!

2/3 cup water
1 (1.25 to 1.62-ounce) pkg dry enchilada seasoning mix
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed, drained
1 cup sour cream
1 (10-ounce) can enchilada sauce
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
4 ounces (1 cup) shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
Chopped tomato, if desired
Shredded lettuce, if desired

Heat oven to 375°F. Grease 13x9-inch baking pan; set aside. Stir together water and seasoning mix in 10-inch skillet; stir in beans. Cook over medium-high heat untilmixture just comes to a boil (2 to 3 minutes). Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened (3 to 4 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in ½ cup sour cream.

To assemble enchiladas, spread 1 tablespoon enchilada sauce over each tortilla. Place 1/3 cup bean mixture in center of tortillas; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cheese. Roll up tortillas; place into prepared pan, seam-side down. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over filled tortillas. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Continue baking, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

To serve, top each enchilada with dollop of remaining sour cream; sprinkle with green onions. Serve with chopped tomato and shredded lettuce, if desired.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

This time of year I tend to search for pumpkin recipes. These muffins are a bit heartier than the pumpkin muffins I usually make. Although not a super tender muffin, the muffins are great! They are more like a muffin than a cupcake.

2 ½ cups (10 ¾ oz) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or use ¾ tsp cinnamon, 3/8 tsp ginger, ¼ tsp allspice, and ¼ tsp nutmeg)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (9 ½ oz) solid-pack pumpkin
1 cup (7 ½ oz) packed light brown sugar
¾ cup (6 oz) milk
2 eggs
6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup (2 oz) chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line18 standard muffin cups with paper baking cups or spray with Baker’s Joy. (I actually just made 12 large muffins instead of 18 standard muffins.)

Combine flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt in bowl of electric stand mixer. Beat pumpkin, brown sugar, milk, eggs, and butter in medium bowl until well-blended. Add pumpkin mixture, chocolate chips and walnuts to flour mixture; mix at low speed 30 seconds or just until moistened. Spoon evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling two-thirds full.

Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Recipe source: Kitchen Aid Baking Companion

Chocolate Coffee Cake

Here’s another delicious coffee cake to add to your repertoire.

2/3 cup (4 oz) all-purpose flour
½ cup (3 ½ oz) firmly packed light brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¾ cup (4 ½ oz) chocolate chips

1 ½ cups (7 ½ oz) all-purpose flour
½ cup (2 oz) cake flour
2/3 cup (2 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup (4 oz) unsalted butter
1 cup (8 oz) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 ¼ cups (10 oz) sour cream
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour (or spray with Baker’s Joy) a 9x13-inch baking pan. (If using a glass pan, set oven temp to 325°F.)

To make the streusel, in a small bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub in the butter until coarse crumbs form. Stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

To make the cake, in a bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the flour mixture in 2 or 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Using the mixer on low speed, beat the batter until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the streusel mixture evenly over the batter.

Bake until the topping is golden brown, 40 – 45 minutes (check early—mine was done by 30 minutes). A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into squares to serve.

Recipe source: The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

Spicy Black Bean Soup with Limed-Up Shrimp

This soup is so yummy! If you don’t feel like soup, just marinate and cook the shrimp as directed and serve with flavored rice.

Spicy Black Bean Soup with Limed-Up Shrimp

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Zest and juice of 2 limes
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, a generous handful, chopped
16 jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied
2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
5 cups chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream (optional)
Hot sauce, to taste

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil, twice around the pan. Add the onions, three-fourths of the garlic, the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions are tender, stirring frequently.

While the onions are cooking, in a shallow dish combine the remaining garlic, the remaining 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, the red pepper flakes, lime zest, parsley, and a little salt. Add the shrimp and coat them thoroughly in the mixture. Let the shrimp sit while you move forward with the spicy black bean soup.

Add the black beans to the skillet with the onions. With a potato masher or the back of a rubber spatula, smash the equivalent of half of the beans—the mashed-up beans will thicken the soup. Add the fire-roasted tomatoes, chicken stock, and heavy cream to the pot, stir, and turn the heat up a bit to bring the soup up to a bubble. Once at a bubble, turn the heat back down to a simmer and let it cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Give the pot a stir every now and then to ensure that it is not sticking.

While the soup is simmering, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once it is hot add the shrimp and cook them for 2 to 3 minutes on the firs side. Flip the shrimp, add the lime juice, and continue to cook them for 2 to 3 more minutes or until the shrimp are opaque.

Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. To serve it, place a few ladles full of the spicy black bean soup in shallow bowls, and arrange 4 shrimp standing up in the center of each bowl.

Recipe source: Rachael Ray Express Lane Meals
Yield: 4 servings

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Vegan Bean Burger

Here's a meatless main dish recipe for you to try.  It actually was pretty good.  To make it totally vegan, use Mom's French Bread recipe for the buns.  And the grilled veggie kabobs have a little BBQ sauce on them.  Yummy!

2 cans black beans (rinsed and drained)
2 carrots, grated
1/2 cup dry rolled oats
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or any other seed (I used sunflower seeds)
1 Tb. olive oil
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Next, add the oats and seeds to your food processor and grind until coarsely chopped (they will still be a little chunky).  Let it run for roughly 10 seconds.

Grate the carrots and then add to your mixture in the food processor.  Add 3/4 of the beans, all spices, and the olive oil.  Give the mixture a whir and mix it all together.

Spoon the mixture into a mixing bowl and then fold in the rest of the whole, reserved beans.  Wet your hands and then form into 6 medium sized patties.  Place patties on a non-stick baking sheet or into a baking pan, and bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes, turning once in the middle.  If you want to grill these, bake them for 30 minutes at 300 and then throw them on the grill to reheat and get a little extra browning.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Decadent Peanut Butter Pie

Decadent Peanut Butter Pie Recipe
It really is DECADENT!
Decadent Peanut Butter Pie
1 cup creamy peanut butter, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 (12 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed and divided
1 prepared chocolate pie crust
1 (11.75 oz.) jar Hot Fudge Spoonable Ice Cream Topping, divided

Beat together 1 cup peanut butter, cream cheese, and sugar in large bowl with an electric mixer on medium until well combined. Gently mix in 3 cups whipped topping until thoroughly combined. Spoon mixture into pie crust. Use a spatula, smooth mixture to edges of pie.

Reserve 2 T. hot fudge topping in the corner of a resealable food storage bag; set aside. Microwave remaining topping on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir. Spread topping over pie, covering entire peanut butter layer. Refrigerate until set (I skipped this step and ended up with melted cool whip all over my fridge shelf!). Spread remaining whipped topping (1 1/2 cups) over completely cooled hot fudge layer, being careful not to mix the two layers.

Cut a small corner from bag containing topping. Squeeze bag to drizzle topping over pie. Place remaining 2 T. peanut butter in a resealable food storage bag; cut bag corner and squeeze to drizzle in opposite direction from topping. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Curry Chicken Cranberry Salad

This is a recipe my friend told me was awesome. I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds like a possible use of leftover turkey (since Thanksgiving is close and most of us will probably have leftovers). And since I now have curry in my pantry and I'm getting braver about trying new things, I'm thinking of giving this one a try.

3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp lime juice
3/4 tsp curry powder
1 medium apple, diced
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup sliced celery
3/4 cup dried cranberries (I'm thinking Craisins)
2 Tbsp sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine the first 3 ingredients well. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring to mix. Chill. If making ahead, add the pecans and onions just before serving. Serves 4-6.

Thanksgiving is coming up!!

Thinking about Thanksgiving and all the possibilities of yummy food this holiday season had me looking through my recipes for some of my favorite pies that still have the "traditional" apple or pumpkin flavor, but not necessarily the traditional presentation. Here are a few recipes that I like and maybe you might want to try them for your holiday meal this year.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

1 can (21 oz) Apple Fruit Filling, divided
1 10" graham cracker crust (I tried a 9" the first time and it was very full)
2 pkg (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup caramel topping
12 pecan halves plus 2 Tbsp chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Reserve 3/4 cup apple filling. Spoon remaining filling into crust.

Beat together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs and mix well. Pour over apple filling. Bake 35 minutes or until center is set. Cool to room temperature.

Mix reserved apple filling and caramel topping in a small saucepan. Heat, about 1 minutes. Arrange apple slices around outside of edge of cheesecake. Spoon caramel sauce onto the cheesecake and spread evenly. Decorate with pecan halves around the edge. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 8-12 servings.

Double-Layer Pumpkin Pie

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp milk or half-and-half
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups thawed cool whip
1 graham cracker pie crust
1 cup cold milk or half-and-half
2 pkgs (4 serving size) vanilla flavor instant pudding and pie filling
1 can (16 oz) pumpkin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Mix cream cheese, 1 Tbsp milk and sugar in large bowl with wire whisk until smooth. Gently stir in whipped topping. Spread on bottom of crust.

Pour 1 cup milk into bowl. Add pudding mix. Beat with wire whist until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes. (Mixture will be thick.)

Stir in pumpkin and spices with wire whisk; mix well. Spread over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Garnish with additional whipped topping and nuts if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Dinner for a Friend, Part 4

Yesterday was my last meal to finish out the baby gift for my friend. I decided to be brave and experiment with a new recipe that got Bryce's and Valerie's vote as something to try. It was not "spicy hot", though I was worried it might be. I'll just say it was interesting. As Bryn said: "It doesn't look too appetizing. . . it has a weird texture. . . but it tastes pretty good." I served this soup with a green salad, butter dips, and Teresa's Weight Watchers Key Lime Pie.

Satisfying Lentil Soup

* 4 medium carrots, chopped
* 2 celery ribs, chopped
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot
* 2 teaspoons curry powder
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
* 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
* 5 cups water
* 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) Progresso ® Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth or vegetable broth
* 1 package (16 ounces) dried lentils, rinsed
* 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* Dash pepper

In a Dutch oven, saute the carrots, celery and onion in oil until tender. Add the ginger, curry, garlic, cumin and coriander; cook and stir 1 minute longer.

Add the water, broth and lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 50-55 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir in the cilantro, salt and pepper. Yield: 10 servings (2-1/2 quarts).

Nutrition Facts: 1 cup equals 203 calories, 3 g fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 415 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrate, 15 g fiber, 14 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 fat.

Key Lime Pie

1 graham cracker pie crust
1 (4 serving size) package sugar-free lime jello
1/4 cup boiling water
2 containers (6 oz each) key lime pie light yogurt
1 (8 oz) container fat-free whipped topping

Dissolve the jello in the boiling water. Whisk in yogurt. Fold in the whipped topping and then fill the pie crust. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Meal for a friend, Part 3

This time I decided to take my friend a breakfast, rather than a dinner. I was planning on making three flavors of scones, but accidentally purchased the wrong ingredient and didn't want to make another run to the grocery store at 9pm. So she got two flavors: Hazelnut Chip Scones and Valerie's Double Chocolate Scones (both recipes are in the Yancey Reunion Cookbook). Should I post the scone recipes, or do you all have the cookbook? I made the scones as mini scones by making twice as many as the recipe said it would make. (e.g. divide the batter into four portions instead of 2 and then pat out and cut into 8 or 6 pieces, depending on the recipe). I also made a baked omelet and fruit salad to go with it. I was initially planning on just taking these breakfast foods for dinner, but ended up delivering it for breakfast on Saturday. Maybe her hubby even served it to her as a breakfast in bed -- wouldn't that have been sweet?

Baked Omelet Roll
Bryn requested ham in the omelet, so I also chopped up some ham to sprinkle on when I put the cheese on.

* 6 eggs
* 1 cup milk
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper
* 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

Place eggs and milk in a blender. Add the flour, salt and pepper; cover and process until smooth. Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until eggs are set.

Sprinkle with cheese. Roll up omelet in pan, starting with a short side. Place with seam side down on a serving platter. Cut into 3/4-in. slices. Yield: 6 servings.

Breakfast Fruit Salad

* 2 cups cubed cantaloupe
* 2 large red apples, chopped
* 1 cup red or green grapes
* 1 medium firm banana, sliced
* 1/2 cup lemon yogurt
* 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate

In a serving bowl, combine the fruit. Combine the yogurt and orange juice concentrate; drizzle over fruit. (I included some honeydew and both red and green grapes since my bananas were pretty green and not ready to use.) Yield: 6 servings.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spritz Cookies

Joshua was so excited when he recently found my cookie press. He couldn’t remember seeing me use it before, but the idea of shooting out cookies from a press was definitely intriguing. Last night he decided to make cookies with it. I found this recipe for him, and he made the dough himself. I helped him learn how to assemble the press, but he basically made these cookies himself. I can’t believe it’s been so long since we’ve had spritz cookies. These are so delicious!

Spritz Cookies

1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup (6 oz) granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp pure almond extract
2 ¼ cups (11 oz) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten (optional—we skipped this step)
Granulated or colored sugar, sprinkles, chocolate chips, etc. (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Have ready 2 ungreased baking sheets.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, cream the butter until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your finger and thumb. Beat in the egg yolks, vanilla, and almond extract on low speed just until blended.

Sift the flour and salt together onto a sheet of waxed paper. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon until blended.

Fill a cookie press with dough following the manufacturer’s instructions. Press the cookies out directly onto the pans. (Any dough that doesn’t come out of the press neatly may be scraped off the baking sheet and put through the pres again.) If the dough becomes too warm and sticky, refrigerate it for a few minutes to firm it up.

Lightly brush each cookie with egg white (if desired), and sprinkle with sugar or sprinkles or press a chocolate chip or candied cherry in the center of each. Bake just until the edges are golden, 8 – 10 minutes. (If the shapes don’t hold their definition after baking, refrigerate the dough for the next batch for 20 minutes to firm it up before pressing.) Let the cookies cool on the pans on wire racks for 1 – 2 minutes before transferring them to the racks to cool completely.

Recipe Source: The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Asian Shrimp with Pea Pods & Bell Peppers

This was super fast to whip up for dinner after church today. Make sure you have all the ingredients ready to go before you start because it cooks so quickly. And remember to start the rice before anything else—cooking the rice takes longer than making the stir fry.

Asian Shrimp with Pea Pods & Bell Peppers

1 pound fresh (or frozen & thawed) medium (31-35 count) shrimp, peeled, deveined (OR you can substitute 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast pieces cut into 1-inch pieces)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
5 tablespoons butter, divided
¾ pound fresh snow peas, strings removed
½ up matchstick cut carrots
4 green onions, cut diagonally into ½-inch pieces
1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½- to 1-inch pieces
2/3 cup chicken broth
½ cup orange marmalade
1/3 cup soy sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Chopped peanuts, if desired
2 cups hot cooked rice

Dry shrimp on paper towels. Combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch, five-spice powder and garlic powder in large resealable plastic food bag; add shrimp. Seal bag; shake to coat.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add coated shrimp; cook, stirring often, until shrimp turn pink (2 to 3 minutes). Remove shrimp to medium bowl; keep warm.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to same skillet. Cook over medium heat until sizzling; add snow peas, carrots, onions and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisply tender (3 to 4 minutes).

Meanwhile, combine all remaining ingredients except peanuts & rice in small bowl; mix well. Pour into skillet with vegetables; cook until mixture comes to a boil and thickens (1 to 2 minutes). Stir in shrimp. Continue cooking until heated through; add peanuts, if desired. Serve over rice.

Recipe Source: Land O’ Lakes Comfort Classics

Peanut Butter Bars

Super easy.  Wonderfully delicious.  Seriously addicting!  This recipe is from my niece, Jamee McMurdie.

Cream together:
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt (I think 1/2 tsp. would be enough, maybe even 1/4 tsp.)
2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal

Mix well.  Spread on big cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees until light brown for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool completely.  Spread with Chocolate Frosting.

Chocolate Frosting:
2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup cocoa
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3-5 T. milk

Mix until smooth.  Frost cooled peanut butter bars.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Plain (but Perfect) Cheesecake

Alyssa requested a PLAIN cheesecake for her birthday. She didn't want any fancy crusts, fillings, toppings, swirled flavors, etc. She just wanted a graham cracker crust, regular cheesecake, and served with fresh raspberries (no sauce). I was initially a tad bit disappointed with her choice, but after eating it, we all agreed that she made a great decision! The cheesecake was perfectly creamy, and fresh raspberries were a great compliment. This is the same basic cheesecake recipe I use for mini cheesecakes, but I'm posting it here again to include the baking instructions for the 9-inch version. By the way, I absolutely LOVE my new cheesecake pan (a Magic Line 9x3-inch round cheesecake pan with a removable bottom but no spring on the side).

Rich and Creamy Cheesecake

2 cups (10 oz—or about 2 packages) crushed graham crackers
8 tablespoons (4 oz) butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons (1 ½ oz) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons (3/4 oz) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 pounds regular cream cheese
1 ¼ cups (8 ¾ oz) sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon zest from 1 small lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup (2 oz) heavy cream
¼ cup (2 oz) sour cream

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Wrap two layers of heavy duty foil around outside of 9-inch springform pan.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the butter, brown sugar, flour and salt and mix well. Press about half (or up to 2/3) of the crumbs onto bottom of springform pan. Press remaining crumbs around side of pan, about 1 inch high. Bake the crust until beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from oven and cool on wire rack.

Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat on medium speed until it is fully incorporated, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl after each addition. (If you don’t scrape down bowl after each egg, any cream cheese sticking to sides will make batter lumpy.) Add zest and vanilla and beat until just incorporated. Stir in cream and sour cream by hand. (Note: do not over mix or cake will puff up from too much air and then collapse.)

Pour batter into springform pan. Set roasting pan on oven rack, set springform pan in it, and pour in enough boiling water to come about halfway up the side of springform pan. Bake until perimeter of cake is set but center jiggles when pan is tapped, 55 to 60 minutes. (Note: this time frame will vary considerably depending on what pan you use--check early just to make sure you don't overbake it.) Turn off heat and leave oven door ajar, using a long-handled kitchen fork or spoon if necessary to hold it open for 1 hour. Remove springform pan from water bath and set on a wire rack; cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours. Cheesecake can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Recipe Source: The Perfect Recipe by Pam Anderson

P.S. Here's a picture of my cheesecake pan (from