Sunday, December 27, 2009

Home sweet Sweet home...

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

So...i can't believe the last time I have posted was a month ago! I don't think I have ever gone this long!! I am so sorry and feel like a total slacker. My excuse??? Mmmmm....I really don't have a good one, however, a couple weeks ago my computer crashed and we had to get a new hard drive, so that made it difficult to post, but before good excuse, just got caught up in the busy time of year. However, I have made some yummy things that I will be posting soon! But for now I am excited to post about this months Daring Bakers Challenge. I was so excited to find out that we were doing Gingerbread houses. I love making Gingerbread houses, I feel it enables my creative juices to get flowing and I can create whatever I want. I was semi-pleased with this years gingerbread house. I feel I got a little bit sloppy at the end when I melted a bunch of starbursts together and stuck it to the sides of the house. I thought it would give it a cool tye dye effect, but it ended up looking just messy. If you are still in the mood to make a gingerbread house the recipe it bellow. I can't wait to talk about the fun cook books I got! Many posts coming soon....I promise!! And be sure to see how the other Daring Bakers did here

P.S. Just realized I was supposed to take a pic of the template I used and post it, I used a template my mom had so I as soon as I am over at her house I will take a pic of it and post!

Should have decorated the outside...just got lazy and didn't:)

Equipment Needed:
Stand or handheld electric mixer (not required but it will make mixing the dough a lot easier and faster)
Plastic wrap
Rolling pin
Parchment paper
Baking sheets
Cardboard cake board or sheet of thick cardboard
Foil, if desired
Small saucepan
Small pastry brush (optional)
Piping bag with small round tip, or paper cornets if you're comfortable with them

Anna's Recipe:
Spicy Gingerbread Dough (from Good Housekeeping)

2 1/2 cups (500g) packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (360mL) heavy cream or whipping cream
1 1/4 cups (425g) molasses
9 1/2 cups (1663g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon(s) baking soda
1 tablespoon(s) ground ginger


1. In very large bowl, with wire whisk (or with an electric mixer), beat brown sugar, cream, and molasses until sugar lumps dissolve and mixture is smooth. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and ginger. With spoon, stir flour mixture into cream mixture in 3 additions until dough is too stiff to stir, then knead with hands until flour is incorporated and dough is smooth.

2. Divide dough into 4 equal portions; flatten each into a disk to speed chilling. Wrap each disk well with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until dough is firm enough to roll.

3. Grease and flour large cookie sheets (17-inch by 14-inch/43x36cm)

4. Roll out dough, 1 disk at a time on each cookie sheet to about 3/16-inch thickness. (Placing 3/16-inch dowels or rulers on either side of dough to use as a guide will help roll dough to uniform thickness.)

5. Trim excess dough from cookie sheet; wrap and reserve in refrigerator. Chill rolled dough on cookie sheet in refrigerator or freezer at least 10 minutes or until firm enough to cut easily.

6. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (149C)

7. Use chilled rolled dough, floured poster board patterns, and sharp paring knife to cut all house pieces on cookie sheet, making sure to leave at least 1 1/4 inches between pieces because dough will expand slightly during baking. Wrap and reserve trimmings in refrigerator. Combine and use trimmings as necessary to complete house and other decorative pieces. Cut and bake large pieces and small pieces separately.

8. Chill for 10 minutes before baking if the dough seems really soft after you cut it. This will discourage too much spreading/warping of the shapes you cut.

9. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until pieces are firm to the touch. Do not overbake; pieces will be too crisp to trim to proper size.

10. Remove cookie sheet from oven. While house pieces are still warm, place poster-board patterns on top and use them as guides to trim shapes to match if necessary. Cool pieces completely before attempting to assemble the house.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Holy Cannoli!

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous for this challenge, and it turns out I should have been! I have only had one cannoli before and wasn't a huge fan, and it's always hard to get excited for a challenge when I think I may not like the end result. Also it has been such a crazy month that I can't believe I even found time to make these! They were fairly simple to make, but I think I did something wrong. Well-I know I did something wrong! I didn't use marsala wine because I don't drink, so I thought maybe cooking wine would work, and maybe that made the dough not turn out as good. They didn't fry up nicely and weren't that crisp. And the filling....well I am just not a huge fan. I wish I would have filled them with some type of custard, because I am not a fan of the ricotta filling. So I feel like the past two challenges have been a bust for me, mostly because I have messed them up! It's been a while since I have been eager to share my pictures from my challenges, for these past two I have been embarrassed to even put some up! So please, pleeease December challenge be good to me! :) Check out how some of the other lovely Daring Bakers did here

2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners' sugar

Note - If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).

2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

Note - If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.

1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

Pasta Machine method:
1. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Starting at the middle setting, run one of the pieces of dough through the rollers of a pasta machine. Lightly dust the dough with flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Pass the dough through the machine repeatedly, until you reach the highest or second highest setting. The dough should be about 4 inches wide and thin enough to see your hand through

2. Continue rolling out the remaining dough. If you do not have enough cannoli tubes for all of the dough, lay the pieces of dough on sheets of plastic wrap and keep them covered until you are ready to use them.

3, Roll, cut out and fry the cannoli shells as according to the directions above.

For stacked cannoli:
1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 - 190 °C).

2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.

1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Brazil Cupcake Pops

A week and a half ago my family dropped my little brother Sam off at the Provo MTC because he has decided to serve a 2 year LDS mission. He got his call to Brazil! I am so excited for him and very proud of his decision to serve a mission. He had his farewell talk at church a couple weeks ago, and after church we had friends and family over for food and mingling. I decided to make some Brazil themed cupcake pops. I thought they would be such a cute center piece to the tables, and then after they served their purpose as a cute center piece people could enjoy their yumminess. idea of having them as a center piece was very short lived:) I got them all ready and set them on the tables and before I could blink they were gone! Devoured in seconds, everyone loved them! It is more important to me that people enjoy them rather than they serve as a cute center piece:) So here is the very simple recipe I used for the center of the pops. I used an oreo truffle recipe which is absolutely delicious! If you would like to know how to form them into cupcakes pops go to Bakerella's blog. She has great pictures and wonderful instructions.

Oreo Truffles


  • 1 (16 ounce) package OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
  • 1 (8 ounce) package PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
  • any type of chocolate or candy melts you wish to dip them into:) I use candy melts when making them into cupcake pops


  1. Crush cookies in food processor. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.
  2. Dip balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.)
  3. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

It's a...

So Monday was a very exciting day! I found out what I am having:) I had this fun idea that I wouldn't have my husband come with me to the ultrasound and after I found out what it is, I would bake a cake, dye it pink or blue, depending on what it was, and have him cut into it to find out. My mom came with me to the ultrasound, and the Dr wouldn't give me a 100% sure on what it was, he said to not have my cake cutting party till they knew a little better:( Well that wasn't going to happen, I was determined to have my cake cutting party! So my mom and I, being the two impulsive people that we are hopped in the car and drove 20 min away to the nearest fetal photo studio in the mall. I got a 100% sure as to what it was. My husband had a group meeting at 7, so we had to cut the cake before then, so my mom and I had an hour and 15 min to get home, make a cake, bake it, and frost it! I just used a cake mix and store bought frosting to speed things up. I have never made anything so fast in my life! We were in such a rush for him to be able to cut it that night that we only had time to invite a few family members. So watch the video to see what I am having:)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The most AMAZING German Chocolate Cake Ever!!!!!!

I hope by the title you guys know how enthusiastic I am about this cake! I made it for my husbands Grandma for her birthday. Her favorite cake was German Chocolate, which is one of my favorites as well but I had never made a German Chocolate Cake so this would be new to me. I googled and what the consensus seemed to be among the foodies out there is that David Lebovitz had the best German Chocolate Cake recipe. And I have to agree.

Ok I do have a little confession....I used a box cake mix for the actual cake! (Gasp!) I know you are probably wondering why I just talked this cake up when in fact I actually didn't make the actual cake part. Well I talk it up because the coconut filling is the absolute most amazing thing I have ever tasted! I honestly could just eat a whole bowl of it! And the chocolate icing-to die for!!! When I have more time in the future I can't wait to try out his recipe for the cake and make it from scratch, but to be honest, with all of that wonderful coconut filling and chocolate icing smothered all over the cake no one could even spot that it wasn't homemade. I think you could serve cardboard with the coconut filling on it and people would go crazy! For the delicious recipe go here!

Me with Micah's Nana Loise, she is the most wonderful woman
and I love her to pieces!

Ina's Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing

For a long time I have wanted to make Ina Garten's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes . The recipe looked so amazing, so finally a few weeks ago I did. And they were delicious! Probably my favorite chocolate cupcake I have made so far. Definitely the best texture of ANY cupcake I have EVER made! It was perfect-moist, not too dense not too fluffy, just perfect. And they rose beautifully. It's been a struggle I have found to find a cupcake recipe completely from scratch that will rise perfectly. I hate when they just rise to the rim of the cupcake liner. These formed the most perfect domed top. Can't wait to make them again. I am going to see if I can try to make these into vanilla cupcakes. One thing I didn't do to the cupcakes was add the coffee, and they were still delicious.

Chocolate Cupcakes


  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup good cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows
  • Chopped salted peanuts, to decorate, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it's completely blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount). Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frost each cupcake with Peanut Butter Icing and sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if desired.

Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Daring Bakers try Macarons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Ok- first of all, I will never go into a challenge ever again feeling a little cocky. This challenge definitely humbled me! I was so excited when I heard this challenge was going to be French Macarons, I had made them before, and each time I make them I feel I get better and better at master the technique. So this was going to be easy!!! Easy peasy I thought, such a simple challenge. you can tell from my pictures, I failed miserably! I wish I had some excuse for how horrible they turned out but I don't, it was just a flop, and to be honest I have no idea why! Did I over stir the batter? Was my oven too hot?? Who knows! I have never made macarons that have turned out so horrible, they didn't even have their cute little feet. Anyways, enough of my negativity, although they looked ridiculous they tasted fabulous. I tried out a new French Buttercream which I will definitely make again. It took all I had from not liking the whole bowl! You can get the recipe for the buttercream here This is definitely not the end of my macaron making. This just makes me want to make some more right now to prove I really can do this!! Check out how all of the other wonderful Daring Bakers did here, if you want to see some respectable macarons:)

My sad little macarons...but they tasted so good:)

My French Buttercream, I added in some vanilla extract and
vanilla paste, soooo good!

French Macarons

Actual baking time: 12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.

Equipment required:
• Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment
• Rubber spatula
• Baking sheets
• Parchment paper or nonstick liners
• Pastry bag (can be disposable)
• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip
• Sifter or sieve
• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off
• Oven
• Cooling rack
• Thin-bladed spatula for removing the macaroons from the baking sheets
• Food processor or nut grinder, if grinding your own nuts (ouch!)

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)


1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!!!....a little bit ago:)

Ok, so my birthday was a while ago, September 22 to be exact, and I have all these yummy pictures from my birthday that I just have to post, even though it's ridicioulsy late. I had such a wonderful birthday filled with great food and yummy goodies. The Sunday before my birthday we went to my moms for a birthday dinner. She prepared Ina Garten's pot roast which was so delicious! And she made me the yummiest, homemade white cake. I got to be with my little niece who I love to pieces! She tried on her Halloween costume for us and was grinning ear to ear while she was wearing it. I think she knows how cute she looks in that precious costume.

The most delicious white cake, so moist and perfect.
Me and the little chicky- seriously, have you ever
seen anything so cute?!

Ok...this may be even cuter, my husband holding the little chick,
am I the only one who gets all tingly when they see their man holding a baby?
I can hardly wait for him to be a daddy, he looks too
good with a baby:)

I woke up on my birthday to this display of all of my favorite
goodies. Have any of you ever tried rips?? They are sooo good!!!

On my birthday I went to lunch with my mom and sis inlaw at blue lemon bistro,
then went to my moms where she got me some goodies from Dippidee.
This pumpkin cupcake was delicious!

Now this little cookie doesn't look like much, but
it's called a Heavenly Pieces, and it's from Dippidee...and
the name says it all. The first bite will take you straight to Heaven:)

For dinner Micah took me to Chefs Table, one of my favorite restaurants.
I always tell him I would rather you take me to a wonderful dinner
than get me presents. Chef's Table has the most amazing Tuscan
Tomato Soup, I always get that along with the herb roasted chicken. So delish!
It was such a lovely and yummy birthday, and here are the recipes for the pot roast and cake so you can experience the yumminess that I did:)

Ina's Pot Roast


  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 cups good red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in puree
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 3 branches fresh thyme
  • 2 branches fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Dredge the whole roast in flour, including the ends. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear the other side and then turn and sear the ends. This should take 4 to 5 minutes for each side. Remove the roast to a large plate.

Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the wine and Cognac and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the thyme and rosemary together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Put the roast back into the pot, bring to a boil, and cover. Place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender or about 160 degrees F internally. Turn the heat down to 250 degrees F after about an hour to keep the sauce at a simmer.

Remove the roast to a cutting board. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce. Transfer half the sauce and vegetables to a blender or a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree until smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot, place on the stovetop over low heat, and return the sauce to a simmer. Place 2 tablespoons flour and the butter in a small bowl and mash them together with a fork. Stir into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for seasonings. Remove the strings from the roast, and slice the meat. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over it.

White Cake

from the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book


  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or shortening, softened
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/3 cups buttermilk or sour milk


1. Allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease and lightly flour two 9x1-1/2-inch or 8x1-1/2-inch round cake pans or grease one 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set the pan(s) aside. In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add egg whites 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Spread batter into the prepared pan(s).

3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for 9-inch pans, 30 to 35 minutes for 8-inch pans or 13x9-inch pan, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans. Cool thoroughly on racks. Or, place 13x9x2-inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with desired frosting.


For my birthday about a month ago my sister in law gave me a candy making book. I haven't been able to put it down since. I must have looked and read through it 50 times! My husband doesn't get how I can sit down and read cook books for fun:) I was very excited about this book because I haven't ever been into candy making, and I really want to try to make homemade chocolates and goodies for friends this Christmas, so I decided to start practicing with divinity. I loooove divinity! I mean what's not to love?? And it was fairly simple to make, the key is to make sure you whip it enough after you add the sugar mixture into the egg whites. I didn't whip it enough at first and it made softer divinity. After spooning out a few I put the beaters back on and whipped it for a few more minutes and it made firmer divinity that was much better. Can't wait to make these again, however I end up eating way too much!!

This is when I didn't beat it quit enough, it should be
a little thicker than that.

Daphne's Divinity
from Candymaking by Ruth A. Kendrick & Pauline H. Atkinson-a wonderful book!

2 egg whites, at room temp
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. water
2 c. sugar
a few grains of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts, if desired

Line a 15x10 jellyroll pan with waxed paper or butter an 8 inch square pan; set aside. Place egg whites in large bowl of electric mixer; set aside. IN a heavy 3 quart saucepan, combine corn syrup, water, sugar and salt. Place over low heat and stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved. Remove spoon. Increase heat to medium-high and cook without stirring until mixture reaches a rolling boil.

Clip on candy thermometer. Reduce heat to maintain full (but not rolling) boil. If sugar crystals are present, wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush. Cook syrup to 252 F. or hard ball stage. Just before syrup is ready, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Remove syrup from heat and allow boiling to subside.

With mixer on high speed, gradually add hot syrup to egg whites, once you begin to pour, don't stop and do not scrape pan. Continue beating until mixture begins to lose its gloss and holds its shape. Add vanilla, and nuts if desired. Drop quickly by spoonfuls onto waxed paper or pour into prepared pan, spreading evenly. Makes about 40 pieces.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Toasted Marshmallow Milk Shake

A little while ago I was watching "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the food network. This particular episode was called "Sugar Rush", and top chef's shared their favorite sweet. Chef Michale Simon's was a toasted marshmallow shake from Stand in NY. It looked so delicious I wish I could have jumped on a plane to NY right then to get one! Well, I finally decided to see if I could make my own:) I found this recipe, tried it out, and it was amazing! I actually just put down my empty glass and wish there was more in it. My husband raved about it and said that it was the best thing he ever ate:) It was so simple, and you probably have all of the ingredients on hand. I used mini marshmallows instead of the large because that's what I had in my pantry. Sorry about the not so good pics, whenever I take pics at night they look awful because the lighting is so bad.

On a personal note, I have some excited things coming up! Well....exciting to me anyways:) This Sunday is my last progesterone shot!!!!!! After tonight, I will only have 3 more to do!!! I can hardly believe it. I know in a post a little while ago I said I could stop the shots on Oct. 4th, but my Dr wanted me to continue till my 12th week. Also, this Sunday marks my 12th week of pregnancy, and my Dr said that miscarriage rates go way down after 12 weeks. I have felt like this week has been a hurtle I just need to get over, and then a huge weight of stress will be lifted off of me! I know things aren't guaranteed to be perfect from here on out, but I am really excited to start having a normal pregnancy with no shots involved. I have had a shot every night since July 12th, sometimes 3 shots a night-so I am so excited to be done! Plus my bum is getting a little sore from all of the poking and I can't wait for it to feel better!

Toasted Marshmallow Shake
recipe by
chef Spike Mendelsohn's
Serves 4

  • 1 bag jumbo marshmallows
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 2 cups creamy vanilla ice cream
On a medium-size cookie sheet, place 1/2 bag of marshmallows in a row.
Place under your burner in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until completely charred.
Take out of oven and let cool.
Repeat this step but only let the marshmallows toast, so they are slightly burnt.
Take out of oven and let cool.
In a blender, pour milk, sour cream, ice cream and charred marshmallows.
Mix for 5 minutes.
Pour in a large glass and top with 2 to 3 toasted marshmallows.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Delish Homemade Mac n' Cheese

On Sunday I went to my moms for dinner and was so excited to find out that she had made Ina Garten's macaroni and cheese. I had just recently watched an episode with Ina making this dish and was completely salivating while I watched! I couldn't wait to make it, but luckily for me I got to have someone else make it:) It was absolutely delicious, so yummy and comforting. Just what me and the baby were craving:)

Ina Garten's Macaroni and Cheese


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


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

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

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

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

Friday, October 9, 2009

Is 11 weeks to early to be planning a nursery???

On Sunday I will be 11 weeks pregnant, and already I am obsessed with wanting to decorate the nursery! I wish I knew what I was having it would make things alot easier. If it's a girl I don't want to do a pink nursery, and if it's a boy I don't want to do a blue nursery. I just want it to be full of lots of color...but if it is a girl look at this adorable bunny print from Anna Griffin in her Riley collection. I am absolutely obsessed with it! Do you think it could be used for boy or girl? Some people say yes some say no. If it was a boy and I did use it it would be in smaller amounts and I would pair it with a really cute brown fabric with lots of colored polka dots. My husband said there is no way if we have a boy that he will have a pink bunny blanket:) But it's so dang cute!!!!

And look at this cute stripe that I could pair with it!! If it was
a girl of course:)

Now if it's a boy I think I could definitely use this daring circus print
also from Anna Griffin. Don't you think? My husband might
have to deal with a little pink:)

So I have nothing to say about food right now, just had to get off my chest how obsessed I am with thinking about my little nursery and how badly I want to start a quilt for it! Guess I'll have to be patient:)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

More blogging, heartbeats, and granola bars

So admittedly, I have been a horrible blogger! So so horrible that I haven't even blogged about my birthday...which happened September 22nd! I definitely need to get on the ball. So here is my plan. I am committing to blogging every other day for a week. I know I know, to many of you blogger's that may sound pretty weak, but the way I have been at it lately it will be a huge improvement. So the goal, every other day, till next Thursday:)

Some personal stuff, Micah and I heard our babies heart beat for the first time a couple days ago. It was really cool. We even got to see the little guy (or gal) wiggle around a bit. It is just the size of a kumquat so still very small. I go back in 3 weeks to possibly check if it's a boy or girl. Did you know they may be able to tell sex at 13 weeks? We want to find out soon because if it's a boy I will still have to have an amnio to make sure the baby doesn't have the disease. I'm not too excited about that.

Ok, now on to cooking news. I have actually been cooking alot even though I haven't posted about it. A couple weeks ago I decided to be a really cute wife and make my husband some home made granola bars to take to school with him. I used an Ina Garten recipe and absolutely loved it. However I did leave alot of things out. Like...the dates, apricots, and cranberries. I am not a big dried fruit fan. But I did replace them with something even better, chocolate chips and butterscotch chocolate chips! Really yummy! My husband loved them. If you have a chance try them out and let me know what you think!

Ina wrapped hers up all cutesy in parchment paper, I tried that with
a couple of them but it was the biggest pain! Tape wouldn't stick
to the parchment so they just kept flopping open, so for the rest
I used saran wrap.

Ina Garten Granola Bars


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Green Smoothies!

I know this may come as a shock to some people, but despite all the sweets I enjoy, I actually enjoying being healthy and eating things that are good for me:) Now that I am pregnant I am especially trying to eat healthy, however, I haven't been doing so hot for the past couple weeks. For some reason healthy food doesn't sound good to me, it's all the junk that I can eat without feeling sick. So I decided I needed to make a very conscious effort and get more nutrients into my diet. That's where these green smoothies come in. I used to make green smoothies all the time before I started invitro. It's the best way to get a bunch of kale and spinach into your diet without having to sit down and chomp it forever. Yes, they do taste different than your regular jamba, but some of them aren't that bad.

This one was actually a bit refreshing and I felt like my body was craving it. So, if you are feeling daring try this smoothie with some kale or spinach, if not, just try it without adding any greens. I made it this morning without any kale and it truly taste like a pina colada. I have a blendtec blender, in my opinion the best blender in the world. My mom has a vita mix and mine is a lot more powerful than hers and with a blendtec there is no need to use a plunger. So it blends it up nice and smooth so you would have no idea that by the texture there was kale in the smoothie. Now as for the was pretty...earthy. The kale taste was definitely prominent but the fruit helped sweeten it up. Even though it tasted very green, it was still yummy.

I thought the color of this was gorgeous, it made it a lot
easier drinking it when it was this amazing green color
as opposed to a murky green.

I was very nervous to dive right in and start drinking it. My husband is
a lot more mature than me, he can just drink it no problem,
sometimes I need him to count to three for me to be able
to drink it!

Pina Colada Smoothie
1/2 c. ice
1/2 c. frozen pineapple
1 c. frozen mango
1 1/2 c. light coconut milk
couple tablespoons of agave/honey to sweeten it up a bit
a cup or two of greens (kale, spinach ect.) if you feel like it,

Put all in your blender. I put the ice last-enjoy!
*you may need to thin it out a little with some water if it's too thick