Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes with Cider and Maple Syrup

Here’s another incredible recipe from my new favorite pancake cookbook. Bart made these for breakfast this morning. We all loved them!

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 ½ cups milk
1 cup canned pumpkin or mashed, cooked pumpkin
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel (optional but yummy)
2 egg whites
1/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 recipe Cider and Maple Syrup (optional)

In a mixing bowl combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and ginger. In another mixing bowl combine milk, pumpkin, egg yolks, butter, and if desired, orange peel. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture. Stir just until combined but still slightly lupy.

In a medium mixing bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Gently fold beaten egg whites into batter, leaving a few puffs of white. Do not overbeat.

Heat a lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat until a few drops of water dance across the surface. For each pancake pour about ¼ cup batter onto the hot griddle. Spread batter into a circle about 4 inches in diameter.

Cook over medium heat until pancakes are golden brown, turning to cook second sides when pancake surfaces are bubbly and edges are slightly dry (about 1 to 2 minutes per side). If desired, sprinkle about 1 teaspoon chopped pecans on pancakes before turning to cook second sides. If desired, serve with Cider and Maple Syrup.

Makes 16 pancakes.

Cider and Maple Syrup

1 cup apple cider
1 cup maple-flavored syrup

In a small saucepan combine apple cider and syrup. Bring to boiling over medium heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened slightly (you should have about 1 cup of syrup). Serve warm. Cover and refrigerate remaining syrup for up to 1 week.

Makes 1 cup.

Recipe Source: Pancakes & Toppings (by Better Homes and Gardens)

Molten Chocolate Cakes with Sugar-Coated Raspberries

These are really easy to make. They are baked in paper liners in a muffin tin, so you don’t need to worry about having special ramekins to make them. They bake quickly, so you can pop them in the oven as you serve dinner and they will be perfectly done when you’re ready for them. I waited a while before I took the picture, but when you serve them shortly after they are done, you get quite a bit more chocolate pudding oozing out than my picture shows.

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups (8 ounces) chocolate chips or semisweet chocolate, cut into small chunks
5 large eggs
½ cup sugar, plus a little more for coating raspberries
Pinch of salt
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 half-pint (about 6 ounces) raspberries

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450°F. Line 8 cups of a muffin tin (with ½-cup-capacity cups) with extra-large paper liners (they should extend above cups to facilitate removal; if papers are foil-lined, remove foil layer). Coat papers with vegetable cooking spray. (Note: I used my “regular” muffin tin with normal-sized paper liners. I needed all 12 cups for the amount of batter.)

Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth; remove from heat.

With an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, and salt in another medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixture, then flour, into chocolate.

Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until batter puffs but centers are not set, 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand in tin for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, flick raspberries with a little water and roll in sugar to coat.

Carefully lift cakes from tin and transfer to dessert plates, removing paper liners. Top each cake with sugared berries and serve.

Recipe Source: Perfect Recipes for Having People Over by Pam Anderson

Meat and Cheese Stromboli

I sent this recipe out several years ago as our "Christmas" recipe. It is still a favorite, so I thought I'd post it here as well.

1 tube refrigerated pizza dough (recommended: Pillsbury brand--although I prefer to use homemade pizza dough)
All-purpose flour or corn meal (for dusting surface)
1/4 pound sliced pepperoni, about 24 slices (use thinly sliced large deli pepperoni)
6 slices provolone, deli sliced
6 slices Italian hot ham
8 slices Genoa salami
Extra-virgin olive oil (for brushing on rolls)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano or Romano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I suggest using only 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
The Big Dipper: Simple Marinara Dipping Sauce, recipe follows, optional but recommended

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Break open the tube of dough and remove it from container. Dust your hands and lightly coat the dough with flour or cornmeal the roll out onto work surface. Stretch out dough, gently spreading out the rectangle shape it has been formed into already. Cut the thin rectangular dough into 4 equal pieces, working across the dough: cut it in half and cut each half in half again. Cover each piece of dough with: 6 slices pepperoni, 1 1/2 slices cheese, 1 1/2 slices hot ham and 2 slices Genoa salami. Roll each piece on an angle from corner to corner making a long roll that is thicker in the middle and thinner on each end. Brush rolls with extra-virgin olive oil then mix sesame seeds, cheese and seasonings in a small cup, sprinkle and pat the mixture into the dough. Bake until evenly golden, 12 to 14 minutes then serve. If desired, serve with Dipping Sauce.

(Note: 1 recipe of my favorite pizza dough makes about 6 stromboli.)

The Big Dipper: Simple Marinara Dipping Sauce

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon anchovy paste, optional but recommended
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper

Heat a small pot over medium heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, pepper flakes and anchovy paste. Cook 2 minutes. Add parsley, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Stir sauce, bring to a bubble and simmer 5 minutes over low heat then place in small bowl and serve. (Sometimes I will also add chopped fresh oregano and basil to the sauce.)

Yield: 2 cups

Recipe source: Rachael Ray

Emmy’s Blue Ribbon Blueberry Muffins (aka Alyssa’s Favorite Blueberry Muffins)

The sugar sprinkled on top of each muffin makes a yummy glaze that adds a fabulous crunch as well as yumminess.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar (plus 1 ½ tablespoons for sprinkling on the muffins)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2-1/3 cups blueberries (separated)
2 extra-large eggs
½ cup milk
1 stick (8 tablespoons, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the center of the oven. Coat the holes of the muffin tin with baking spray or use paper liners.

Combine dry ingredients (flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt)—either by sifting together, pulsing in a food processor, or whisking in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Place 2/3 cup blueberries in a small bowl and mash them roughly with a fork (or pastry blender). Set aside.

Break the eggs into a medium mixing bowl and whisk them briefly to break them up. Whisk in the milk, melted butter, vanilla, and lemon zest. Stir in the mashed blueberries with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Fold this mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula and mix just to combine; there should be some flour lumps remaining. Scrape the sides of the bowl as you work. Fold in the remaining blueberries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared tin, and sprinkle the tops of the muffins with 1 ½ tablespoons sugar. Bake regular muffins for about 15 to 20 minutes and jumbo muffins for 20 – 24 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown, have risen nicely, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a muffin registers 190°F. When the muffins are done, remove them from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes in the pan before removing them to a wire rack.

Makes 12 regular muffins or 6 jumbo muffins.

Recipe Source: Basic Baking by Lora Brody

Pioneer Beef Stew

While looking for Pioneer Day celebration inspiration, I came across a bunch of suggested recipes in the cookbook “Essential Mormon Celebrations” by Julie Badger Jensen. This stew was one of the suggestions. We actually ended up making a Dutch oven dinner on pioneer day instead, but we enjoyed this stew a day or two later. The recipe makes a lot of yummy stew!

1 cup flour
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 pounds round steak
½ cup butter or vegetable oil
6 cups water
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 bay leaves
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 onions, chopped
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine flour, salt, and pepper and place on the surface of a cutting board. Place half of round steak on top. With a mallet, pound flour into both sides of meat. Repeat process with other half of meat. Cut meat into bite-sized pieces. In a Dutch oven or other large oven-proof pot, heat butter or oil over medium heat. Add stew meat and brown well. (You may need to do this in batches so the meat will brown rather than steam). Add water, vinegar, sugar bay leaves, carrots, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and garlic. Cover and bake at 325°F for 2 hours. Remove covering and cook for an additional hour or until meat is tender and stew is thickened. Season as desired with salt, pepper, and/or herb mixture of your choice. Makes about 12 cups.

Recipe Source: Essential Mormon Celebrations by Julie Badger Jensen

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New Cake Recipes

A coworker asked me to make a cake for a family gathering she was having in honor of her mother's 80th birthday. She left it entirely me up to me how to decorate it, what flavors to use, etc. The only information she gave me was that she needed to serve about 40 people and her mother really likes music. So here's what I came up with.

The roses on top are hand-shaped from dark and white chocolate.

The top tier is 3 layers of lemon-coconut cake filled with lemon-curd buttercream.

The bottom tier is 3 layers (chocolate fudge, banana, chocolate fudge), filled and frosted with ganache.

I used all new recipes for the cake--and, based on crumbs I tasted from the tops I cut off, they are all incredibly recipes! The chocolate fudge cake ties with my favorite fudge cake--although the texture is quite different. The banana cake tastes like a fabulous banana bread. The lemon coconut cake tastes light and refreshing with both the lemon and coconut flavors coming through very well.

P.S. When I carried the cake out to Jan's car for her, she had the paper plates she had purchased for serving the cake in the car. The plates were white with accents of blue and dark brown--the exact same shades of blue and brown on the cake. She couldn't have matched it better if she'd seen the cake first!

Cashew-Lime Chicken with Rice

Alyssa made this for dinner last night. She prepared all the ingredients in advance, so she really enjoyed putting it together. We loved eating it--it's delicious!

1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger (Alyssa loves ginger, so she added a little extra)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water
1 cup salted dry-roasted cashews

Cook the rice according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper and stir to coat. Add the broth, hoisin, lime juice, and zest and bring to a simmer. Stir in cornstarch slurry. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens.

Serve the chicken mixture over the rice and top with the cashews.

Recipe Source: adapted from Quick Fix Meals by Robin Miller

Buffalo Popcorn Chicken Bites

These are incredibly delicious! We all love them.

Vegetable oil, for frying
2 ½ cups complete pancake mix, any brand
1 ¼ cups water
8 teaspoons hot sauce (recommended: Frank's hot sauce)
1 ¼ pounds chicken tenders or chicken breast, cut into small bite-size pieces
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 cup store-bought good-quality refrigerated blue cheese dressing
Cut celery sticks

In a deep-sided skillet, heat 1 ½ inches of vegetable oil over medium heat, to 350°F - 375°F. (Note: I like to get the chicken bites soaking in the hot sauce now so they pick up more of the flavor—but the actual directions put this step later. Do whichever you prefer.)

While the oil is heating, make the batter. In a wide mixing bowl, combine 2 cups of the pancake mix, 1 ¼ cups water, and about 6 teaspoons hot sauce. (Use a regular teaspoon you eat with—that’s what Rachael Ray does.)

Place the remaining ½ cup pancake mix in another wide mixing bowl. Arrange the batter and the bowl of dry pancake mix near the cooktop and the heating oil. Line a plate with a few sheets of paper towels and keep within reach.

Once the oil is heated and ready, toss the chicken pieces in the remaining 2 teaspoons hot sauce, then toss them in the dry pancake mix, coating evenly and shaking off any excess. The plain dry pancake mix will help the batter stick to the chicken pieces. Add some of chicken to the batter. You are going to want to work in 3 to 4 batches coating and frying. Using a fork, toss the bites in the batter. Remove the first batch from the batter, shaking off the excess batter as you carefully add them to the hot oil. Fry for 2 minutes on the first side, or until it’s a deep golden brown all over. Remove from the oil, and drain on the paper towel-lined plate; season with salt to taste. Repeat until all the popcorn chicken bites are fried.

Stir the scallion and black pepper into the blue cheese dressing. Serve the chicken bites immediately with the dipping sauce. Garnish the platter with celery sticks.

Recipe Source: Rachael Ray (from Food Network Favorites)

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Olives, and Chicken

Remember this recipe when the spaghetti squash are ripe from the garden! We all loved it. I was afraid we wouldn't be able to eat an entire half of a spaghetti squash per person, but it was no problem.

2 medium spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise
2 teaspoons olive oil
¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch dice
One (14-oz) can diced tomatoes
½ cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, drained and chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

Arrange the spaghetti squash halves, flesh side down, in the bottom of a shallow microwave-safe dish. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until the flesh is tender, about 5 minutes (we had to cook the squash in batches, so it might be easier to plan ahead and just bake it all at once).

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, olives, basil, and oregano, bring to a simmer, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about another 5 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.

Flip the spaghetti squash over and, using a fork, pull the strands from it, creating spaghetti-like pieces. Season the flesh with salt and pepper. Make a slight “hole” in the center of each squash half to make room for the chicken filling, then spoon the filling into the squash halves. Sprinkle the top of each with the feat. Transfer the stuffed squash to a baking sheet or roasting pan and place under the broiler. Broil until the cheese is golden brown, about 2 minutes, then serve.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Citrus Olive-Pasta Salad

Alyssa found this recipe and was excited to discover we had everything needed to make it on hand. We were also excited that she made it--it is a refreshing and delicious salad.

Citrus Olive-Pasta Salad

1 pound rotelle, fusilli, penne, or bowtie pasta
1 cup pitted cured olives, drained and cut in half
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin orange segments, drained
½ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Fold in the olives and mandarin orange segments.

In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, oil, rosemary, mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, and orange zest. Pour the mixture over the pasta and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe Source: Robin to the Rescue

Sauteed Carrots and Parsnips

Alyssa chose this recipe and made this side dish the other day. It is the first time Alyssa and Joshua remember having parsnips. Alyssa chopped the vegetables a little smaller than a 1-inch dice--which worked wonderfully for the relatively quick cooking time called for. We all thought this was a delicious vegetable side dish!

Sauteed Carrots and Parsnips

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
2 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, parsnips, and scallions and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the oregano and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the broth and simmer until it is absorbed and the vegetables are fork-tender, about another 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Waldorf Salad

Alyssa made this salad for Dad's birthday lunch. It is nicely tangy, and I love the crunch of the nuts and apples in a tangy, creamy sauce.

Waldorf Salad

¾ cup golden raisins
¼ cup water
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
3 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into ½-inch pieces
3 Gala or Braeburn apples, cored and cut into ½-inch pieces
3 celery ribs, chopped fine (about 2 ¼ cups)
¾ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Salt and pepper

Combine the raisins and water in a small bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and microwave until the water begins to boil, about 1 minute. Let stand until the raisins are soft and the liquid has been absorbed about 5 minutes.

Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, and honey in a large bowl. Add the apples, celery walnuts, and plumped raisins to the bowl and toss until well-coated. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. (The salad can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)

Honey Butter

This is the recipe for Honey Butter that was submitted to the Yancey Family Reunion cookbook by Serena Yancey. It holds shape nicely and is delicious!

1 pound butter
1 pound honey
7 ounces marshmallow creme

Mix together and serve on hot bread or scones.

(Note: I didn't actually make this much. I just used equal amounts of butter and honey and added a bit of marshmallow creme. Although it was so yummy that I wished I had made more than I did.)

Asian Pork Kebabs with Apricot Mayonnaise and Toasted Coconut Rice

The Apricot Mayonnaise is salty, sweet, flavorful, and absolutely fabulous! Make extra of it and save some to use on sandwiches, too. We served the skewers on a bed of toasted coconut rice.

Asian Pork Kebabs with Apricot Mayonnaise and Toasted Coconut Rice

Apricot Mayonnaise:
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup apricot preserves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground ginger

One 1 ¼-pound tenderloin, trimmed of silverskin and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces
Metal or wooden skewers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Coat a stovetop grill pan or griddle with cooking spray and preheat over medium-high heat until hot, 3 to 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the Apricot Mayonnaise ingredients. Mix well, then remove and reserve ½ cup of the mayonnaise.

Alternate pieces of pork and bell pepper on the skewers. Season the skewers with salt and pepper. Brush the remaining mayonnaise mixture all over the pork and pepper pieces. Place the skewers in the hot grill pan and cook until the pork is just cooked through (still slightly pink in the center), 5 to 7 minutes, turning frequently. (I lined a baking sheet with aluminum foil, sprayed it with nonstick cooking spray, and cooked my kebabs under the broiler.)

Serve the kebabs with the reserved Apricot Mayonnaise on the side for dipping.

Toasted Coconut Rice

½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup long-grain or jasmine rice
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened light coconut milk
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the coconut in a dry medium saucepan and set the pan over medium heat. Cook until the coconut is golden brown and toasted, 3 to 5 minutes, shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning. Add the rice and coconut milk. Increase the heat to medium high, bring to a simmer, cover, and let simmer for 14 – 20 minutes (until liquid is absorbed). Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe source: adapted from Robin to the Rescue

Chicken Salad with Peanut-Lime Vinaigrette

We love Thai peanut sauce, and we were excited to discover yet another use for it. This salad is deliciously refreshing. It also makes a satisfying main dish perfect for hot summer days.

Chicken Salad with Peanut-Lime Vinaigrette

1 pound cooked chicken, cubed (we used rotisserie, but you could use leftover roast chicken or chicken from the deli section)
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes (I recommend seeding the tomatoes first)
½ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced red onion
½ cup Thai peanut sauce (we buy it at Fred Meyer in the produce section—but you might find it with the Asian ingredients)
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups shredded lettuce (or just chopped lettuce)
¼ cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, tomatoes, celery, and onion. Add the peanut sauce, mayonnaise, and lime juice and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the lettuce on four individual plates and top with the chicken mixture. Sprinkle the peanuts over the top just before serving.

Recipe Source: Robin Miller’s Quick Fix Meals

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sour Cream Blueberry Bread

I had some ripe bananas that needed used. I also happened to have a lot of blueberries in the fridge. So I decided to try this recipe. It turned out great! I quadrupled the recipe and baked it in mini Bundt pans, mini loaf pans, and bug muffin pans. All the shapes turned out great! (I tend to have trouble baking one large loaf of a quick bread--the crust always seems to get overdone by the time the middle is baked through.) I just adjusted the baking time appropriately for the size of pan used.

Sour Cream Blueberry Bread

2 medium-ripe bananas (6 ounces blended)
2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (6 oz) sugar
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup (2 oz) chopped pecans
2 large eggs
½ cup (4 oz) sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 heaping cup (4 oz) fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan (or desired pans) or spray with baking spray.

Mash bananas well with a fork or coarsely puree them in a food processor. (Note: I used the food processor to chop the nuts before I mashed the bananas in it.) Measure out 6 oz and set aside.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nuts. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, butter, and the 6 oz (1 cup) mashed banana pulp. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, add the banana mixture, and stir just until combined. The batter should be slightly lumpy. Gently fold in the blueberries, taking care not to break them up or mash them. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the bread until the top is firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 – 60 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Unmold the loaf onto the rack and let cool completely. Cut into thick slices to serve.

Recipe source: The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

Coconut Ice Cream

I made this ice cream for Dad's birthday celebration, but I forgot to serve it! So we enjoyed it the next day. It is very quick to make, and we all love the coconut flavor in it! I added some macadamia nuts this time, but next time we'll just leave it plain. It doesn't need anything else in it--the coconut stands on it's own.

1 cup milk
1 (14 or 15 ounce) can cream of coconut (NOT coconut milk--cream of coconut is usually sold in the store with the drink mixers--by the alcohol/soda section)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Combine the milk and cream of coconut in the container of a food processor or blender, and mix thoroughly. Stir in cream and blend until thoroughly mixed.

Pour into the container of an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Put in airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 4 hours to allow ice cream to ripen.

Makes 8 servings

Recipe Source: adapted from The Sister's Cafe


Alyssa and Joshua sent Bart and I outside to rollerblade while they prepared a party for us to celebrate Independence Day. They decorated the house and made us a delicious dinner of chocolate waffles with toppings and juice. They used my chocolate chocolate-chip pancake recipe (already posted) for the waffles. I'm amazed at how talented my children are!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

S'more Bars

I made these for dessert for Mom’s and Dad’s Fourth of July cookout. Mom and Dad made us a delicious Dutch oven dinner: a giant burger bundle, Dutch-oven potatoes, and biscuits. It was incredibly delicious! These bars are very fast to put together and really deliver the flavor of S’mores. I like them even better the second day—so these are a great make-ahead dessert.

S’more Bars

8 whole graham crackers (approximately)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut into medium chunks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ - 2 cups miniature marshmallows

Adjust an oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375°F. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with heavy-duty foil, leaving an overhang on two long sides to facilitate removal of bars.

Spray pan bottom with nonstick cooking spray, then line with graham crackers, trimming them as necessary to fit. Mix butter and sugar in a small bowl, pour over graham crackers, and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake until sugar bubbles, about 7 minutes. Let cool on a rack until sugar hardens, about 5 minutes (leave oven on).

Meanwhile, heat chocolate and condensed milk in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat (or in double boiler), stirring occasionally, until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Spread chocolate mixture over graham crackers. Sprinkle with marshmallows. Return to oven and bake until marshmallows turn golden brown, about 7 minutes longer. Let cool on a wire rack.

Use foil to lift from pan. Cut into bars with a knife coated with vegetable spray. Serve.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

I love pasta salads! This salad is refreshing and delicious. Make it ahead to allow time for the flavors to blend.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad
*Serves 6-8 as a side dish

1 pound tricolor pasta (I used Wacky-Mac, but almost any pasta would work)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes (I like the sun-dried tomatoes that are jarred and packed in oil the best)
1 (14.5 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and diced
1/4 cup fresh basil, torn into small pieces, or 1 tablespoon dried
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup diced red onion
¾ cup black or kalamata olives, sliced
2 teaspoons saute spice (equal parts black pepper, salt and garlic powder)
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Genoa salami, diced (optional--I added it to make the salad into a main dish)

Whisk the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil to make a smooth dressing. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water (about 1 tablespoon kosher salt to 4 quarts water) to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente; drain, then pour pasta into a large bowl. While the pasta is still warm, pour a couple tablespoons of the dressing over the pasta and toss so that the pasta doesn’t stick together as it cools. Let it cool to room temperature, tossing now and again to help the cooling process and to prevent sticking.

When the pasta has cooled, add the sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, basil, onion, olives, saute spice, and oregano and toss. Add the vinaigrette and toss again until the pasta ingredients are evenly coated. Add the cheeses and lightly toss. Chill until ready to serve.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cupcaking Fun

Here's a few of the close-ups from the cupcake decorating session Paige, Alyssa, Joshua and Bryn had.

Alyssa's Doughnuts

Alyssa recently made Orange Drop Doughnuts by herself. They turned out great! I already posted the recipe, but I wanted to post the picture of her doughnuts.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Birthday Cakes

I "volunteered" to make my niece's 1st birthday cake. This turned into me making cake to serve 35 as well as a special "Wow! Wow! Wubbzy" cake, just for her. I forgot to take a picture of the cake, so I'll Have Korinne e-mail it so I can post it. For serving the guests, I made three bundt cakes. One was the Poppyseed cake I previously posted. One was Valerie's Favorite Fudge Birthday Cake with ganache artfully dripped over the top. And the last one was Marcia's Banana Pound Cake. The Banana Pound Cake was a big hit and I got quite a few requests for the recipe. I'll try to update this post with the recipe, or better yet, Marcia can post it since she is the person to give me the recipe. (Hint, Hint)