Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Favorites, A List. . .

I've put together a simple list of great holiday treats to fill your gift baskets or take on over to a holiday get together. They've all worked well for me and I'd make them again and again, and I will. Most are pretty simple to pull off but won't disappoint. To try any of them out, just click the link and it'll take ya on over to the recipe.
Merry Christmas!

Festive and simple. . .Ribbon Cookies

No baking required for these Toffee Sticks

Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies, nutty, buttery and tart.

English Toffee, butter, sugar and almonds, enough said!

Chocolate Cherry Cookies, one of my favorite combos.

Chocolate Cherry Shortbread a simplified version of above which I actually prefer.

Nutty Nougats, if you miss the Archway version, these come close.

Rugelach, Jewish yes, but why not for Christmas too?

Peppermint Marshmallows, impress your friends with these.

Crispy Date Bars, these are a crowd pleaser.

Chocolate Pecan Florentine Cookies, delicate and crispy.

Happy Holiday Baking!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gingerbread House Cookies

Last Christmas I spotted these cookie cutters in the holiday section of my local grocery store. I had to have one. I couldn't wait to make mini houses and I love the simple genius and efficiency of this cutter. Even though it was only $5, I'm a cheapskate and I was on a tight budget last holiday season (who isn't) and was trying to be really good about impulse purchases. So I passed on them. Then a week or two past Christmas, I was browsing through the clearance bin of that same store and discovered there were 3 of these cutters left, priced 75% OFF. OK, that was it, I couldn't resist. I snatched them up. Then sat a waited, a whole year, to try the recipe, post it for all of you AND. . . give the two extra cutters away. Yep, two lucky readers can have one of these all for themselves. Wahoo. But first, check out how cute these little houses turned out. . .

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Marshmallow Cheesecake

You know during the holidays when a good friend calls and invites your whole family over for diner and since you've been crazy busy this is totally what you need, a no-brainer dinner for the fam? So you accept. And because she a good friend you say "What can I bring?" And you're friend says "Just bring a dessert. Something fabulous." And she says this because you write a food blog and kinda have a reputation for fabulous desserts. But fabulous desserts take fabulous amounts of time to become fabulous. And you've been working extra hours at work because they're shorthanded and because you could use the extra cash at the holidays. Your house is a wreck, the kids have no clean clothes and the last thing you have is time to make a fabulous dessert. Been there? Stuck between Ho Ho Ho and Oh No! That's where this recipe swoops in and saves the day. Seriously it takes 15 minutes to throw together (it does need to chill out in the fridge for a couple of hours). Tastes divine and can be topped with just about anything you can imagine. (I went with a quick tangy raspberry sauce.) Everyone will love this recipe, be totally impressed and beg you for the recipe. Even those who may scoff at cheesecake will like this lighter version. Give it a try. . .

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holiday Ribbon Cookies

And so, it has begun. The holiday baking season. So let's start out with something totally easy that looks pretty impressive: Ribbon Cookies. If you've been reading my blog you may have read my post for Candy Corn Cookies. They were great and I told you I'd be fiddling around with the recipe. And so I have. I basically took that same recipe and changed the colors from yellow and orange to red and green. I also simplified the layering of the dough. Just smoosh it into a pan rather than rolling and shaping and bla bla bla. Easy peasy. An added bonus is that you can make the dough a week or two ahead, layer it in the pan and then freeze it until you are ready to bake the cookies. Kind of spreads the holiday baking frenzy out over a couple of weeks. So what are you waiting for, get your Holiday Bake on. . .

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mini Waffle Breakfast Sliders

I have a foodie confession: I like McDonald's Sausage Egg and Cheese McGriddle sandwiches. I know, they're gross. But, they'er not. Or at least not to me. I can take or leave most fast food breakfasts, but there's something about that warm thick fluffy maple flecked griddle cake that calls to me. And I can't resist the sweet savory combo when you add the sausage. Yummy! Or gross, or whatever. They are what they are. Like 'em or not.

Now that the weather has turned chilly here in my neck of the woods, I've been trying to come up with a quick, hot, breakfast on the go, for my kids. I've done breakfast sandwiches before. They're pretty good. I've done breakfast burritos, bunches of them to reheat in the AM. They're good too. I'll probably eventually make those before the winter's out. But I wanted to come up with something else. That's when my thoughts turned to my beloved McGriddle. You can see that these Mini Waffle Breakfast Sliders are a slightly healthier homage to the McGriddle. Give 'em a go.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Monte Cristo Sandwich

Last time we went to Disneyland we were robbed. Not literally, but robbed of our favorite sandwich, The Monte Cristo. We always get them at the Blue Bayou Restaurant. You know, the restaurant where it looks like you're sitting outside at night, even though you're inside in the middle of the day. The one that over looks the boats as they head off for Pirates of the Caribbean. We must, I say MUST, eat there every time we visit the Magic Kingdom. It's just tradition. It's just how it is. On our last trip I thought I'd be super duper clever and make reservations way ahead. So we wouldn't have to wait, so we could get a seat right on the water. On our last day in the park, we arrived 15 minutes before our 6:00pm reservation, requested a seat on the water and were seated at a lovely waterside table 20 minutes later. I was pretty pleased with myself. Then we opened our menus to discover, in horror, that the Monte Cristo isn't served at dinner. WHAT!!! Say it ain't so. I begged, pleaded and all but got on my hands and knees trying to convince the waiter to order the coveted sandwich for us but it just wasn't to be. We would leave the park without our beloved Monte Cristo. (We actually had a very nice dinner once we got over the absence of the sandwich.)

Still feeling robbed weeks later, I decided to try and make them at home. Traditionally, Monte Cristo sandwiches are deep fried. If you've read my post on Funnel Cakes, then you know how I feel about deep frying at home. YUCK, too messy. It's best left to professional chefs in professional kitchens. There must be another way. So I Googled, and Pinterested and found several grilled Monte Cristo sandwich recipes. I read through them, got the general idea, tweaked the proportions, meats and cheeses for our tastes and came up with the following recipe. I'm using our George Foreman grill which makes the whole process super easy but you can use a grill pan or skillet if you prefer. Check it out. . .

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fudgey Chocolate Almond Torte

Don't let the simple look of this torte deceive you. It is a textural delight. Dense, fudgey* and moist. The perfect end to a meal. Simple yet satisfying. I hadn't made this in a long long time. And now I'm kicking myself. It's so good. And so simple to make. But don't let on. It has all the qualities of a gourmet dessert, just none of the hassle. You could totes whip this up next time you have company for dinner and everyone will be impressed. Let them. No one has to know how easy it was to make. Except you, because you're headed to the kitchen right now to make it. . .

(*OK, so. . .is it "fudgy" or "fudgey"?? Actually neither word is a word. A least not according to Merriam-Webster. Google it and they both seem to pop up equally. So I say, who cares! Toe-may-toe,? Ta-maw-toe?)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Maple Pecan Fudge

I'm not feeling a long winded wind up to this recipe so I'll just get right to it. I love fudge. I love heading up to Apple Hill in the fall and getting a lovely sampler box of fudge. I love all the variety and flavors, Cappuccino, Cheesecake and Cherry Chocolate being among my favorites. But really, with fudge, what wouldn't be a good flavor? I like 'em all and for some time now I've been looking for a good, creamy, homemade fudge recipe that does NOT use marshmallow cream. Don't get me wrong, I like the "Fantasy Fudge" recipe from the back of the marshmallow cream jar but somehow, using the marshmallow cream feels a bit like cheating. Don't know why. No judgement here, I've used that recipe several times and welcome with open arms any gifts of Fantasy Fudge. I just kind of wanted to go deeper into fudge making. Making it the old fashioned way. So I came across the collection of fudge recipes at Thibeault's Table and as I just so happened to come in to a large jar of real maple syrup, I thought I'd try the Maple Cream Fudge recipe. Check it out. . .

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Butterscotch Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

This picture doesn't do these cookies justice. They look kind of boring, just brown lumps sitting there on a boring white plate. I probably should take my food styling up a notch. This picture is testament to that. What this picture doesn't tell you is that these cookies are. . .de-lish-us! Prob my favorite version of oatmeal cookies. Because, really, that's all they are, just regular old oatmeal cookies, recipe right off the canister. But. . .I like to ditch the raisins, my kids hate 'em, and add pecans (you know that's my fave nut.) and butterscotch chips (I love, love, LOVE, butterscotch chips.). My husband usually groans when I use butterscotch chips in chocolate chip cookies, says they're too rich. No complaints when I add them to oatmeal cookies. Thumbs up all around. I also ditched the cinnamon from the regular recipe, it just doesn't work with the creamy mellow flavor of the butterscotch so, it's outta there! Lastly, the key to a soft chewy oatmeal cookie is to let the dough ripen. And when I say "ripen" I mean "chill out", and when I say "chill out" I mean, let the the dough sit in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Trust me, it's essential. Let's get this party going. . .

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Strawberries and Cream Cake

Note: I had this post all written and ready to publish a couple of days ago. Sometime during my writing, our internet went out, unbeknownst to me. So I just kept typing away, hitting save here and there and thinking everything was A-OK. Then, like I always do, I hit save one more time, shut down my browser and walked away. I like to let my posts kind of marinate in my mind, then come back a couple of minutes, hours, days later and re-read them one more time before publishing, just to make sure it still reads like I want it to. So when I came back, none, I mean NONE of my work had been saved. It was just the pictures and a couple of rough sentences. AGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! I was dejected, crushed, the wind had been taken out of my sails. It then took me a day or two to get my thoughts back together and rewrite the post. And the point in telling you all this is: "I'm sorry this post is so over due. I hope you haven't abandoned my blog. Please stick with me." Ok, so, here's the post:

Even though it's past Labor Day, and even though it rained the other day, and even though the kids are all back at school, I'm still not quite ready to let summer go. Fall is just around the corner and all kinds of fall dishes are waiting to be made in my kitchen. I'm totes looking forward to stews and chowders and a whole slew of spicy pumpkiny desserts. I'm just not quite ready for them just yet.

This cake captures summer for me. It's light, fresh and clean. And a cinch to make. I mean super duper easy. It was the perfect dessert with which to wrap up summer. And so, on Labor Day, we did. Prolong summer just a bit longer with this cake. . .

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Coffee Cake

Long since before I started this blog I've been on the hunt for a good old fashioned crumb topped coffee cake. I've tried several over the years. Either the cake is too dry or the crumbs are too hard or too sandy. Or too much crumb, or not enough crumb. Some include fruit, and although I'm sure they're delicious, I didn't want fruit. Just plain cinnamony coffee cake. And yes, I've posted Crumb Cake on this blog. But that's Crumb Cake and it's all about the crumb. This is coffee cake, and it's all about the cake. I'm sure you see the distinction. Don't ya? Please tell me you do. 
Anywho, I found this recipe and it looked promising. I was wary of the cream cheese layer, I didn't want a strong cream cheese tang to my cake. I was wary of the sour cream in the batter. Again the "tang" thing. Not that I don't like sour cream or cream cheese, I do, really, I just didn't want that for coffee cake. But the cake in the picture looked moist, and the crumbs looked just right and it had pecans. So, I gave it a try. . .

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

Hello, long time, no blog. Sorry, lots of summer activities and vacation and no time to cook. No cooking = no blogging = unhappy me. But, I'm back and firing up the oven and stove again and ready to try a bunch of new recipes that I've collected over the summer. So get ready, here we go. . .

I realized that it had been quite a while since I made homemade cookies and that it was time to fill the cookie jar. So, I headed to my fist internet stop for recipes, Pinterest, clicked through a dozen or so cookie recipes and decided to make Chocolate Cherry Shortbread. Partly because they looked different and mostly because I love cherries and chocolate. As I was gathering the ingredients the recipe seemed oddly familiar. And why? Probably because I've made a similar cookie on this blog. HA! You may have seen it here. I decided to go ahead and share this recipe because it is somewhat different. No almond flavor and no two flavors of dough. This cookie is basically a similar flavor combination but the texture is more dense and shortbread like. It's is also a LOT easier to make, fewer steps. The only tweaks I made to the original recipe was to skip the chocolate drizzle and add sprinkles to the outside of the cookie. It was mostly and aesthetic choice, because I liked the look of these cookies. Sprinkles or not, give these cookies a try. . .

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Spicy Corn Casserole

Seems like the last couple of years that corn has gotten a bad rap. Ya know, the whole GMO thing. A couple of damning documentaries. The fact that it's in pretty much everything one way or another. Yeah, I'd say corn has seen it's share of bad publicity lately. So if you've cut corn out of your diet for one reason or another then read no further. But, if like me, you take an "all things in moderation" approach to diet and corn isn't on your naughty list, you're gunna love this recipe.

I found the original recipe where I'm finding most new recipes lately, Pinterest. Corn is such a great compliment when grilling but I was just getting tired of the same ole corn on the cob and this recipe looked promising. So I tried it. It was pretty good. Only I didn't like that it used Velveeta - processed cheese, yuck. And yes, you've seen recipes on this blog with Velveeta. But only a few and only because, for these few recipes, there's not alternative. But, for this recipe I didn't think it was necessary. I also thought the original needed some pep. Some oomph! It was just a bit blah. My family agreed that it was good but needed something to make it great. So I tweaked, and fiddled and came up with a pretty tasty corn casserole. . .

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Funnel Cakes

Summer means time for the State Fair, the County Fair, Minor League Baseball, and fun on the Boardwalk. Summer means time for Funnel Cakes. You can find the Funnel Cake stand by smell. That sweet, fried smell, wafting along begging you to come get one. And for me, summer isn't complete until I've had one. We went to the Boardwalk last week (that's why the lapse in posts) but the opportunity for a funnel cake escaped me. No worries, I'd have a chance at the baseball game. The game that I bought tickets for back in April. The game that almost got rained out by unforeseen, unseasonable thundershowers last Monday. The game that had very low attendance. The game where they closed up most of the food carts. And when I say most, I mean the funnel cake cart. Agh, I had been foiled again. Now the craving was set and I'd not be satisfied until I got a funnel cake. So, I just decided to make some. . .

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Neapolitan Pound Cake

A couple of months ago I copied this recipe for Sour Cream Pound Cake off the internet. I adore southern cooking and southern tradition and this recipe and accompanying story seemed rife with it. I stashed the hand written copy I'd made into my "to make" binder and waited for the opportune moment. Then months later, I stumbled across a picture on Pinterest and followed the link to Neapolitan Pound Cake. Hmmm. . .the gears started cranking. And soon enough, my mind was filled with visions of strawberry pink, vanilla and chocolate brown pound cake. 

I linked on over to the recipe from Pinterest but it had all kinds of ingredients that I'd have to go and buy (cake flour, mascarpone cheese, etc., etc.). Blech, too complicated. But the sour cream pound cake was simple. With just a few tweaks here and there, I could draw inspiration from both recipes and create one all my own. Or kinda. . .sorta. . .seriously, I'm not quite sure when I stops being "their" recipe and becomes "mine". So I'm linking over to all the recipes, trying, in good faith, to give credit where credit is due and keep my fingers crossed that no one sues me. Anywho. . .see how it turned out:

Thursday, June 6, 2013


I love Macarons. Seriously, what's not to love. I fell in love first with the look. Just Google it and you'll find tons of beautiful pictures of gorgeous pastel macarons. Lined up in rows in shop windows, boxed up with tissue and ribbons. I guess it's the graphic designer in me but I'm a sucker for presentation. Then I tasted them and oh la la. The crispy crunch of the outer shell that gives way to a chewy, almondy center. Pair that with a light smear of buttercream, ganache or jam and it's sheer bliss.

What adds to their mystique is the complicated preparation. Not that the ingredients are so rare, they're pretty simple. It's more the precise steps it takes to combine them in just the right way. Fail at any one step and they won't turn out. So, needless to say, I've been intimidated. Heck, down right scared to try and make them. I've been working up the courage for over a year, reading hundreds of recipes and techniques, tips and tricks to try and de-mystify this culinary conundrum. Then, through the miracle of Pinterest, I stumbled upon this blog: Not So Humble Pie. Here the author totally breaks down the process with pictures and in depth explanations. The trouble shooting guide at the end is priceless. After reading through the entire post I finally found the courage to give Macarons a try, and I did. . .

Monday, May 27, 2013

Crispy Date Bars

If you want to be the hero at the next pot luck, then bring these bars. Seriously, you'll have instant celebrity and people will offer their first born child for the recipe. They're that good. I mean really, they are THAT good. Crispy, nutty, sticky, sweet, cream cheesy, shortbready treats. Oh, you say you don't like dates? Hmmmm, have you tried them? Have you tried them in these bars? I think not. I know, dates lean a bit to the exotic side of the dried fruit world. Kind of sticky and weird with a peely papery skin that looks pretty gross. Take a leap of faith and try one. Just close your eyes and pop one into your mouth. Chewy, creamy, snappy and sweet. Delish!

I'm not entirely sure where this recipe came from. I've been making them since before I had children, since before I got married, since before I moved out of my parent's house. I probably started off making them for my Dad since two of his favorite things are rice crispy treats and dates. For the longest time, I had a handwritten copy of the recipe and then somewhere along the way I typed it up and that's the copy I have now. I suspected that the recipe came from a book at some point so I Googled it and my search landed me squarely on the Rice Crispy Cereal recipe site. So as not to make angry, a corporate giant like Kellogg's, I'm going to link to their recipe and just show you how they're made. One note though on their recipe, I totes recommend you use pecans instead of walnuts. I also don't add the optional milk into the icing. But that's just me, do what you like. . .

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Strawberries & Cream Scones

They say, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade." But in my world, when life hands you an almost out of code carton of cream and some strawberries on their last days, you make Strawberries and Cream Scones. I really, really can't bare to throw out food. So when I ended up with a handful of strawberries that were a bit too old to just eat but really not bad, something had to be done. So I whipped up a batch of scones. I'm using my scone shortcut (a box of biscuit mix) because, well because it's easy, and I had it on hand. I also love a recipe that comes together out of necessity and I loved the fact that I made this work with what I had on hand. No extra trips to the store, believe me when I tell you, that doesn't happen often. This recipe is easy and straight forward so let's cut with the chit chat and get started. . .

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Apple Sharlotka

I saw this recipe on the Smitten Kitchen blog and new that I wanted to try it. It was quite a while ago and I've waited. Waited because my husband doesn't like cooked apples. That's right. No apple pie, no apple turnovers, nada, nichts, nothing. I've waited because there were birthday cakes to make and little league treats to bake. Waited because there's been house work to do, because I changed jobs, because time has a way of slipping by unnoticed while you're busy doing stuff. Finally, last week, I'd waited long enough. It was time to try this recipe or unbookmark it and let it go. So I tried it.

The rustic simplicity of the recipe and ingredients piqued my interest. Could such simple, dare I say "plain", ingredients deliver. Would the whole be greater than the sum of it's parts? Could you make a cake without butter? Could you make a pie without a crust? What would this be? Breakfast? Dessert? I had to find out. . .

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Gluten Free Brownies

If you read my post for Cauliflower Pizza Crust then you read my rant about gluten free recipes. How they never deliver on their promises. How the finished product tastes awful and usually has a weird texture. How they use a bunch of totally obscure, expensive ingredients. How I don't generally like them. Well this recipe fails beautifully to fit that norm. It may be gluten free but that's all it's free of. The taste and texture are great. The ingredients are pretty simple. Except for the coconut flour, which is pretty affordable, you probably already have most of the ingredients. The best part is that you'll never be able to tell they're gluten free. I'm totes serious. I originally tried this recipe as a treat for my dear friend that needs a gluten free diet but I'll be making them again for sure.

I kind of cobbled this recipe together from a few I found on the web and then added the step to separate the eggs and beat the whites to lighten things up. (Gluten free baked goods always tend to be a bit heavy and I assumed this step would help.) Then I flipped over the bag of coconut flour which had a brownie recipe on the back and found my recipe to be pretty darn close to that one. Hmmmm? Funny coincidence. You can find that recipe here. I changed up the technique and temperature which I totally recommend you do. If you make then just like I have below, you'll love them.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Texas Roadhouse Rolls

Here is another popular Pinterest recipe. It's all over the place, pinned and re-pinned a bunch of times. If you're on Pinterest, I know you've seen it. Obviously so did I and since I'm trying to improve my hand at yeast risen doughs, this looked like a good recipe to work with. So I decided to give it a try.
At first I didn't realize it was a "copycat" recipe from a popular restaurant chain, Texas Roadhouse. I just thought that it was the name of a type of roll, like Parkerhouse Rolls or Crescent Rolls. Just a bit of poking around on the internet and I realized I was wrong. There isn't a Texas Roadhouse anywhere near where I live so I wasn't aware of them. But boy, do people seem to love their rolls. Kind of a cult following. And all the chatter seems to indicate that this recipe is a pretty close match.  I wouldn't know, I haven't tasted the rolls. But I did like this recipe. I'll be making it again soon and both my kids have already put it on the Thanksgiving request list. Thumbs up from the whole fam. For my first try I think I did ok. There's room for  improvement for sure but all in all, this recipe was a success.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Florentine Cookies

This recipe has been floating around in my "To Try" recipe binder, well actually its a pile, shoved into a folder that falls out of my binder every time I pick it up. None the less, I've  hung on to this recipe, a photocopy of what looks to be torn out of a magazine, for about 15 years. Seriously 15 years. It's always looked interesting but I've never had the guts to try it. You know, make it for a friend or bring it to a pot luck untested. I've always passed it over for something more "safe". But with the most recent purge of the "To Try" binder/folder/pile I decided I needed to either try it or toss it. So, I tried it. . .

Monday, March 25, 2013

Magic Cake

This recipe is another Pinterest find. I spied it about a month ago but in the last couple of weeks it seems to be popping up more and more. There's kind of an exponential thing that happens on Pinterest. It's crazy. Funny though, all the different pins and pictures almost always ultimately lead back to this original post. From the looks of things, everyone on the blog-o-sphere loves this cake. And, so do I.

It's magic because, with one batter, made in just one bowl, you get a "cake" with three layers. Another plus is that it takes just 6 simple ingredients that I'll bet are in your kitchen right now. What I've noticed with all the different posts on Pinterest is that each person seems to get a slightly different ratio of layers. I haven't quite figured out what the variable is but I do know that how ever your layers turn out, they'll taste great. Don't wait another minute, make this cake, and make magic. . .

Sunday, March 17, 2013

7Up Biscuits

Up until recently, and when I say recently, I mean last week, I've kind of looked down on Bisquick. I've kind of been a snob about it. I had a tude. The roots of my disdain lie in my childhood. As I've mentioned before, my mom didn't like to cook. She was a good cook, when she wanted to be, but she just didn't enjoy it. So, any way that she could find a shortcut, she did. And so Bisquick was a big player in her kitchen. Not just for pancakes or biscuits, but for everything. Pie crust, cinnamon rolls, and a whole slew of "Impossible Pies". Lots of dishes had that buttermilk tang that you only get with Bisquick. So when I started exploring my love of cooking I vowed not to shortcut with Bisquick. Not this gal. No siree bob! I was a "real" cook, who used "real" ingredients. No short-cutted, Bisquick-tanged dishes for me. And a snob was born.

Then I saw these biscuits on Pinterest. There looked so fluffy, so tender, so moist. I just had to give the recipe a try. So, I linked on over to this blog:  http://janellescookbook.blogspot.com/2010/10/7-up-biscuits.html and imagine my shock when I saw the recipe used Bisquick. So, I overcame my snobbery, bought some Bisquick and decided to give it a go. . .

Monday, March 11, 2013


I haven't had too much luck with this blog in baking/cooking ahead for holidays. Meaning, cooking a holiday dish a week or two ahead of the actual holiday. I'm always cooking holiday dishes on the holiday in question. Then by the time I post the recipe its too late. The holiday has passed us by.
But not this year. . .
Not with St. Patrick's Day just a week away. . .
This time I planned ahead. . .
It's the dawn of a new era at Becky Bakes and Cooks. . .
Er, too dramatic? Ok, I'll dial it back a bit. Point is, here is an Irish dish that you can make for St. Patrick's Day. I'm giving you a whole week to check it out, get your ingredients together and get cookin'. 

You might have expected a post for Corned Beef and Cabbage. But, truth be told, I don't really like corned beef. Too salty. And cabbage, too bland. I've tried a couple of times to make Corned Beef and Cabbage, and while it sounds fun and festive, it just never seems to be that exciting, or tasty, when it hits the table. An Irish dish I do like is Colcannon. Never heard of it? Come on! It's probably more authentically Irish than Corned Beef. It don't really know for sure 'cause I ain't Irish. What I do know is, we all like it and that's good enough for me on St. Pat's Day. See for yourself. . .

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cabbage Rolls

One of my favorite winter dishes is Cabbage Rolls. I never get to have them. On the rare occasion that I stumble into an old style deli and they have them, I always get some. The very few times I've found them on a restaurant menu, I've ordered them. No matter what time of day, no matter what time of year, no matter what occasion. I love 'em. I'm not sure where I first tasted them but it was love at first bite. (Anyone remember that hokey George Hamilton movie from the 80's?) The sweet savory combo is one of my favorites. Cabbage Rolls have all the elements of old fashioned comfort food. Hot, hearty, one-dish prep, awesome reheated for leftovers and an entire meal (veggie, meat, starch) all wrapped up in one. Yummy, yum, yum!

I finally decided to take the plunge and try and make them on my own. Unfortunately I don't have a Polish Nana to show me how. No long passed down secret family recipe. I'm totally on my own with this one. So, I researched, and read many, many, many cabbage roll recipes. Wowza, there are about a million different ways to make them. Oven or stovetop? Brown or white rice? Chunky or smooth sauce? Onion? Garlic? Pork? Beef? Sausage? So many variations. What I finally decided to try was the recipe below which I came up with by cobbling together what I liked from 4-5 different recipes. See what you think. . .

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pecan Coconut Cake

I recently had a birthday. But, I'm at that age where you don't really get worked up about your birthday. That age where you stop wanting to admit that you are a year older because those years seem to be coming sooner and sooner.  That age that seemed about 100 years away when you're in your twenties. Not that I'm afraid to age. As I look at things, life keeps getting better and better. I'm enjoying the wisdom that comes with age. That feeling of accepting yourself for who you are and celebrating that person. I've found that as I age I'm more able to let go of the things that just don't really matter. It's so relieving. Life is easier. Or maybe I'm just better at managing it. I would embrace the aging process except for those darn wrinkles. And age spots, and grey hair. I could do without that! Fo show!

“Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin’ across your face” 

One thing that I do love about my birthday is making my own birthday cake. I really do enjoy it. Believe it or not, it's how I want to spend my birthday. And, as I've aged, I'm leaning away from chocolate desserts. Now, don't get me wrong. I still like chocolate, I haven't gone completely off the deep end. It's just that I'm starting to like a variety of desserts. Lately I'm particularly fond of things with nuts. So, this year I picked a Pinterest find. It had vanilla, yes! Coconut, Yes!! And pecans, YES!!! All my faves. I had to give it a try. . .  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Toffee Sticks

I was going to title this post "Valentine's Day Quickie." Then I re-thought that. Hmmmm, no double entendres for this family friendly blog. So, I went with Toffee Sticks. Which, by the by, are super duper easy. And, quick. If for you, like me, Valentine's Day has crept up on you and you're totally unprepared, you can whip up a batch of these in no time. If you followed the Oreo Cookie Pops post and/or the Chocolate Caramel Pretzel post, then you totally know what you are doing here. Just dippin' stuff in Chocolate. . .

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Semi-Success

In a perfect world I'd cook and blog full time. I'd have a team of assistants and an awesome professional kitchen. We'd come up with out of this world ideas for fantastic foods then test and retest and tweak until it was the most wonderful thing ever made. It would be paradise and everything on this blog would be a culinary home run. I'd have a book deal and my own Food Network show. In a perfect world.
But. . .
It isn't a perfect world. . .
And I don't have a team of assistants. . .
Or a professional kitchen. . .
Or a book deal. . .
Or my own show on the Food Network. . .
Or the time or resources to test and retest and tweak. . .
Or blog full time. . .
What I am is a full time wife and mother, a part time bank teller, sometime helper for the Little League, owner of two cute mini dachshunds and hobby blogger. So, unfortunately I don't have the time and resources to make a recipe 5 or 6 times until it's just right. I barely have time to make them once. For the most part, the recipes I post here, I've made before. Or it's someone else's recipe that I'm reasonably sure will turn out. And they do. But every now and again, I have a flop, or a semi-flop, like this week. Remember Mandelhoernchen Melancholy?  I call this week's recipe a semi-flop because I tried two new recipes, one worked and the other didn't.

I had this cockamamie idea for my husbands birthday cake. Every year, when I ask him what kind of birthday cake he wants he always says: "I don't need a cake, why don't you make me some chocolate chip cookies." Seriously dude, no cake on your birthday? Not on my watch. So I decided to make a Chocolate Roll Cake (or Swiss Roll) with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Swiss Meringue Buttercream filling. My friend Dina and I had made a Pumpkin Roll Cake back in November with great success and I was reasonably sure I could pull it off again. I chose to go with the cake part of this recipe from Martha Stewart. As for the filling, I've seen TONS of recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Buttercream all over the web lately but they ALL are powdered sugar based buttercreams. I am a steadfast believer in Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It's my totes favorite. So I took a leap and replaced some of the sugar in my favorite buttercream recipe with brown sugar. Added vanilla flavor and then stirred mini chocolate chips in at the end. Wanna know how it all turned out?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

When it comes to gluten free, dairy free, paleo, vegan, and vegetarian copycat/substitute recipes, to say I'm skeptical is putting it mildly. By and large they never deliver on their promises. The recipes will have descriptions like "taste just like a regular brownie", or "they'll never know it's vegan", bla, bla, bla. I can always tell. To add insult to injury, these recipes always use a bunch of obscure and expensive ingredients that I end up throwing in the trash because the recipe was terrible. I was so hopeful for the Gluten Free Brownies from the Whole Foods blog. All the reviews swore no one would be able to tell there were black beans instead of flour in them. NOT! They just tasted like chocolate black beans. YUCK! 

     Don't get me wrong here. I have so much sympathy for those of you out there
     with food allergies. That is such a burden to bear. If you have to cut certain things 
     out due to your health please do. Your health comes first. I just think it's better to 
     give something up than try to re-make it. It never quite works. 

When I came upon this recipe for a pizza crust, gluten free, made from "riced" cauliflower, I didn't have high hopes. But, my very dear friend Shelley is so so allergic to gluten, that for her, I decided to give it a try. Plus, the ingredients were simple and inexpensive so the risk was minimal. Boy, howdy, I couldn't believe it. This one worked. Did it taste just like a regular pizza crust? No. But it is a darn good substitute. The texture holds up and the cauliflower is neutral enough that it just takes on the flavor of the pizza sauce and toppings. If you are cutting back or cutting out gluten or trying to cut down on carbs, I would totally recommend giving it a try. Just one thing to keep in mind is that it is way more filling that regular pizza. I was stuffed after just two small pieces. Must be the cauliflower. . .

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lemon Cool Whip Cookies

OK, so, it's official: I am addicted to Pinterest. There, I said it, it's out and we're all going to have to deal with it. And when I say, "deal with it", I mean, in the next couple of weeks, you are probably going to see a lot of Pinterest inspired, Pinterest derived, and straight up Pinterest recipes on this here blog. I can't help it. I collect recipes and Pinterest is like my street pusher dealer of recipes. I'm hooked.

To start things off I wanted to try the "Cool Whip Cookies" that are all over Pinterest and the internet these days. Even though, I'm kind of "luke warm" on the whole "semi-home made" type recipes. The ones that use prepackaged mixes, doctored up freezer and canned foods, etcetera. And, yes, you've seen some of those kinds of recipes here on the blog. I didn't say I didn't like them, I just try to be cautious that they don't become a crutch. That being said, you also know, if you've been reading this blog, that I do like cake mixes. So cookies, ones that profess to be "low fat", made with cake mix, piqued my interest. Here's how it went. . .

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Best of 2012 & A Gift

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I've missed you. It was a crazy holiday season and I'm just now getting back to "regular life". Whatever that is. My apologies for neglecting the blog. It's been crazy. 
First, Thanksgiving. . .
then the break in. . .
then my husband was gone for two weeks. . .
then it was Christmas. . .
then my dad visited. . .
then it was New Year's. . .
then I got sick. . .
then I got a sinus infection. . .
then I pulled jury duty. 
Whew, so glad that it's all over. I have just about two weeks to relax (ha ha ha ha) until it's birthday season around here. So, until then, I'm just going to try and take it easy. Not dive into too many projects and just slow it all down for a while. What that means is that I haven't done a lot of cooking this last week and I've decided, for my first post of the New Year, to post a "Best Of". I've also got a surprise for you. See those super cute holiday measuring spoons at the top of the post. To my delight, someone slipped those into my stocking this year. Impractical? Yep, you betcha. Adorably cute, Rightey-O! I thought they were so cute in fact that I'm going to give some away to two lucky blog readers. Check the bottom of the post for more info. In the meantime, check out the most popular posts of 2012: