Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Altoid Chocolate Mint Brownies

I know based on the name, you are thinking of a mint brownie that is chalky and dry.  I thought the same thing. However, since this addition of crushed Altoids is a recipe idea by David Lebovitz, I gave it a try and it came out quite delicious.  The Altoids really give punch up the mint flavor in these brownies. Since I love peppermint patties, chocolate mint is at the top of my list of favorite flavor combinations.

Altoid Brownies
adapted from David Lebovitz (altoid idea) and Baked New Frontiers Cookbook
1-1 1/2 tins of Altoid Peppermints
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 eggs (room temp)
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
11 oz bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate
2 tbs dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
8 oz unsalted butter

There are several things that need prepped for this recipe.  First, if you do not have chocolate chips, your chocolate has to be to be chopped.  Then cut your butter into cubes.The Altoid mints will need to be ground to a fine powder.  You can use a blender or spice grinder.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Take a 9X13 pan and line it with foil and butter the top and sides of the foil in the pan.

In a large bowl sift together the salt, flour,cocoa powder and crushed mints. Then set aside.  Then in a double boiler, fill bottom part with water and top part with butter and chocolate.  Place over medium heat and melt butter and chocolate together, stirring periodically.  Once melted, stir in granulated as well as brown sugar.  Take pan off of water pan and away from heat.  In a separate bowl, beat one egg.  The beaten egg is whisked into the chocolate mixture until combined. Continue that process with each egg.  Lastly, whisk in the vanilla extract.

Add 1/2 cup of flour mixture into chocolate, folding with a spatula or wooden spoon.  Continue folding in each 1/2 cup of dry mixture until very little flour remains unmixed.  Be careful, over mixing will change the texture of these.

Put batter into prepared pan and smooth the top, making sure it is even.  Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until toothpick test indicates a few moist crumbs.  Let cool in pan and pull out foil sides before cutting into squares.  These brownies are best served the next day, the wait time allows for all the flavor to develop.  Also, you can freeze these up to 2 months.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fried Peach Pies

This is the last chance for peaches this year, they are still at the grocery stores so I decided to make these fried pies.  The shape comes from a pocket pie mold that I ordered from Williams-Sonoma.  However, you can fold yours over instead of using the mold.  The important part here is the taste.  Individual desserts are now more popular than ever and serving these are much more convenient than cutting a whole pie.  This recipe makes 10 pies.

Fried Peach Pies
adapted from the book Screen Doors and Sweet Tea
Ingredients for Pastry
3/4 cup of milk
6 tbs vegetable shortening
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water (set aside for sealing edges of pie)

Sift all dry ingredients together.  With a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening until mixture is a coarse meal with the largest clump being pea sized.  Using a fork, add the milk until all liquid is combined.  Take out of bowl and lightly knead for 1 minute and return to bowl.  Cover bowl and refrigerate.

Ingredients for filling
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 tbs cider vinegar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 cups chopped, peeled peaches

Add the peaches, brown sugar and allspice to a saucepan.  Set pan on stove at medium heat and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved and peaches are juicy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Then pull out a small bowl and mix together cornstarch and vinegar.  Once the cornstarch is dissolved, add to peach mixture and put saucepan back on medium heat and stir constantly until thickened.  This should take about 10 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice and transfer mixture to a bowl to cool.

Ingredients for topping:
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbs granulated sugar

Combine cinnamon and sugar in a medium plate or pasta bowl.  Set aside.

Take your pastry dough out of the fridge and roll out very thin, 1/8 inch.  Then cut in 10 circles, using a 6 inch plate as a guide.  Place 2 tbs peach filling at the center of the circles.  On the edges of each pastry circle, brush 1/2 inch line of egg mixture.

Fold dough in half over the filling, pressing out any air pockets.  Then seal your pie by making indentations on the edges of the cut dough with the ends of a fork.  Then make one punch on top of the dough with the fork for air to escape while the pie is frying.

Heat 1 inch of canola oil in a skillet (I used an electric skillet) to 375 degrees.  Put paper towels on a baking sheet to absorb the oil of the pies.

To fry the pies, place only two pies in the skillet with pierced side up.  Fry two minutes and then turn, frying an additional two minutes on the other side.  Remove and place on paper towels for a quick absorption of oil. Then then roll in cinnamon mixture.  Put on plate to cool. Continue this process until all 10 pies are completed.  If serving immediately, pies will need to cool at least 5 minutes first.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Well of all the home bakers who publish, Dorie Greenspan has to be a favorite. Among the bloggers, you will find the Tuesdays with Dorie group who are baking through her book called "Baking from my home to yours".

Every Tuesday the group bakes from a picked recipe from this book (some putting a twist on the recipe) and blogs about the results.  I am not sure if Dorie's was the first but now there are several baking blogger groups.

Regarding these particular cookies, they pack a lot of flavor in a shortbread texture.  Most people think of shortbread as a plain butter cookie, but with mini chocolate chips and espresso these are far from plain.  Once tasted, you will understand why Dorie has such a following.

Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
adapted from Baking from My Home to Yours 

2 sticks of butter (room temp)
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs of boiling water
1 tbs espresso powder
2 cups of flour
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Confectioners' sugar (optional for dusting)

Preheating your oven and preparing your pans will come later.  This cookie dough will need to be refrigerated, so there is no need for those preparations in the beginning.  This recipe yields about 32 cookies.

First, the espresso will need to be mixed in with the boiling water until it is all dissolved.  Then set aside to cool to room temperature.

In another large bowl, the sugar and butter will need to be mixed together at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  This should take about 3 minutes.  Then add the vanilla and espresso mixture, beating after each addition.

After that, take a wooden spoon and mix the flour into the butter mixture, just until incorporated, being careful not to over mix. Once combined, fold in the chocolate chips.

Now, here comes a super technique.  Take all of the dough and put it into a gallon zipper bag.  Do not seal the bag.  Take a rolling pin and roll over the plastic bag until the dough is a 9X10 1/2 inch  rectangle.  You may have to lift the bag from the dough a few times when you roll to eliminate any creases that occur on the top and bottom side of the bag.  When you have finished rolling, press all the air out of the bag and seal.  Then put in fridge for at least 2 hours.  Should you want fresh cookies without all the mixing time, you can keep the dough in the fridge for up to 2 days prior to baking.

During the dough cooling process, preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

When the dough is ready, you take it out of the fridge and slit down each side of plastic bag and fold it back.  This will uncover all your dough for cutting.  You can take all the dough out for cutting also.Using a ruler to guide you, cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch squares.

Transfer each piece to a cookie sheet.  These will not spread hardly at all so they do not have to be spaced very far apart.  Take a fork and prick each of the cookie dough pieces twice, pressing all the way to the bottom.  This will insure that the cookies will not bubble up when baking.

Bake in oven 18-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets at the halfway point.  These cookies should remain the same color as the dough, very little browning is required. When baking has completed, take out sheet and transfer cookies to a rack to cool.  Should you want to dust with confectioners' sugar-do so while cookies are still hot.  However, if you intend to freeze the baked cookies, it is best not to dust with sugar.

Place these cookies beside a just brewed pot of coffee and watch them disappear as fast as free tickets to the super bowl!  

Friday, September 24, 2010

Shortbread Caramel Cupcakes

If any of you have bought girl scout cookies or you were in girl scouts, you know what Samosas are.  They are a shortbread cookie covered in caramel with toasted coconut and covered with chocolate stripes.  If you enjoy those cookies, then this cupcake recipe is for you.  It does not make a "big batch" of cupcakes, only a little over 1 dozen.  If you have several in your family, you will want to at least double the recipe.

Shortbread Caramel Cupcakes
adapted from

1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
3 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 box of shortbread cookies (I used Walker's brand)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Then prepare muffin/cupcake tin with liners. 

In a large bowl, cream your butter with an electric mixer until there are no lumps.  The key to getting these light is the time spent with the mixer, prior to adding the flour mixture.  Add both sugars to creamed butter and
beat at medium speed for 3 minutes until fluffy.  Then add eggs one by one and beat 30 seconds after each addition. Then set aside.

Take some of the shortbread cookies and place in food processor.  Grind to a fine powder.  Continue until you have 1 1/2 cups of crumbs.  The 7oz box of Walker's shortbread cookies had 9 and it took 8 to get to the 1 1/2 cups.  This number will vary, depending on your cookie size/brand.

In another bowl, sift the baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour.  Once evenly distributed, mix in the cookie crumbs.  You will add 1/3 of this dry mix to the butter/sugar and stir with a wooden spoon until blended, being careful not to over mix.  Then fold in 1/2 cup of milk. Continue with this process ending with flour mixture. 

Take batter and fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes or until done, turning pan in oven at the halfway point.  You can test doneness by using a toothpick or cake tester.  Remove pan from oven and take out cupcakes, placing on a cooling rack.

Caramel Filling

7 oz unwrapped caramels (this is 1/2 bag or 22-24 caramels)
1/4 cup milk

Place caramels in small saucepan and start to melt on low heat.  Stir constantly.  After 2 minutes (caramels should start to melt) add some (not all) of the milk. Continue to stir and melt caramel.  You want your caramel to be the consistency of honey, so continue to slowly add milk and mix until you arrive at that stage.  Once you reach the right consistency and all caramels are melted, set aside to cool.

While that cools, you will need to go back to your cooled cupcakes.  Use a paring knife and cut out a cone shape in the top of your cupcake and remove (see above picture). You will take and cut off a small piece of the cone to make a lid for your cupcake hole.  Continue this method for all cupcakes, reserving each lid.

Then take your cooled caramel filling and spoon into cupcake hole until full.  Then place reserved lid on top. Once that is completed, you are ready for the topping.

1 cup chocolate chips (either milk or dark, your preference)
1/2 cup sweetened coconut

Note that this topping produces a coating on your cupcakes.  This is because the Samosas cookies are coated with chocolate.  It is hard right out of the fridge, but room temperature is not so hard (especially here in Texas). Should you want something a little softer, you can use a chocolate ganache. 

First the coconut has to be toasted. You will need to microwave in three 15 second intervals (for a total of 45 seconds), stirring after each.  You will need to watch closely. Coconut can burn in only a few seconds. Your coconut may take more or less time, depending on your microwave. Once toasted, set aside to cool.

In a double boiler, melt your chocolate chips.  When melted, mix in toasted coconut.  While this mixture is still hot, spread onto your cupcakes. Once cooled they are ready to serve.

Who says you have to wait for a Girl Scout cookie sale to get the same flavor?  These are so good, Paige deserves a girl scout badge just for creating these!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chicken Avocado Parmigiana

 Don't let the title fool you, this recipe does not have any Parmesan cheese in it.  This is a recipe from Australia, who apparently is very addicted to chicken parmigiana.  Also, it is perfect for those that do not have the time nor the interest in spending very much time on dinner.  It is simple, yet satisfying. There are six servings to the recipe below.

Chicken Avocado Parmigiana
adapted from 
3 chicken breasts, halved lengthwise, pounded to 1/2 to 1/4 inch thickness
2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
3 eggs
3 tbs milk
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup marinara
Olive oil cooking spray
2 sliced avocados
3/4 cup grated mozzarella

Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 395 degrees.

Line up three bowls for dredging. The first will be with flour, second with eggs and milk and third with breadcrumbs.

Take each piece of chicken and coat with flour.  Then dredge in egg mixture and coat in breadcrumbs, pressing to make sure all areas are covered.  Place all pieces on lined baking sheet and lightly spray with cooking oil.

Place baking sheet(s) in oven.  This bakes in two phases.  The first baking time should be between 5-10 minutes,depending on how thick your pieces are.  Mine took about 8 minutes.  Once this phase is completed, take out of oven and cover each chicken piece with 3 tbs (or more) of marinara sauce.  Place avocado slices over sauce.  Sprinkle with cheese and return to oven.  Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Take out of oven and serve.

Also, presenting the meal with a big sigh is not required to convince your husband it took hours to prepare, but it always helps! This chicken is best served on top of cooked angel hair pasta with a Caesar salad. Enjoy. 


Monday, September 20, 2010

Tahiti Blondies

When you are asked to be involved in a bake sale, you will quickly find out it is a mistake to bring chocolate brownies.  Everyone else decided to bring the same thing.  If anyone says you can never have too many chocolate brownies-a bake sale is one instance that you can. These blondies are a delicious alternative to the standard, filled with macadamia nuts, pineapple, coconut and white chocolate chips.  The recipe was adapted from Anna's website cookie madness.

Tahiti Blondies
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar (pushed through mesh or sieve to eliminate hard sugar clumps)
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
2/3 cup fresh or canned pineapple chunks (each piece cut into fours and drained)
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut
1 cup of toasted & coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature

You will first need to line a 9X13 inch cake pan with parchment paper covering the bottom and overlapping the 13 inch side.  The overlap is so you can lift the baked bars out of the pan prior to cutting into squares.  As you know leaving it in the pan makes cutting more difficult, especially the first piece. Also, your oven will need to be preheated to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, sift together baking powder, salt and flour until dispersed evenly and set aside.  In a larger bowl you will cream the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer.  Once butter mixture is smooth, you will add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla, beating well after each addition.
Then use a wooden spoon to mix in the dry flour ingredients to the butter/sugar in the larger bowl.  Then fold in the coconut, white chips, nuts and pineapple until evenly distributed.  Note that over mixing will change the texture of the bars.
Spread batter into pan and bake about 25 min or until done.  A toothpick test indicating with moist crumb will insure it is done baking. Be careful not to over bake.  Place cake pan on cooling rack.  Once cooled, lift out of pan by pulling up on parchment paper sides.  Then you can cut into squares and serve.

With a twist: You can change this up by changing the fruit and nut types.  Sweetened, dried cranberries are always good with white chocolate.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hazelnut Cookies

This recipe produces a delicate buttery sugar cookie with a hint of cinnamon. The original recipe calls for icing the cookies, but the icing proved to be a little too sweet for my taste.  This recipe comes from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook and you can find the original posting on the web here, should you want to ice these cookies.  For those who love to cozy up to warm tea or coffee, these plain cookies make a great addition.

Hazelnut Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup plus 3 tbs sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tbs almond flour
1/4 cup plus 3 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp hazelnut flour
1 cup plus 3 tbs all purpose flour
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs plus 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Sift together the three kinds of flour, cinnamon and baking powder and set aside.   In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Then mix in vanilla extract. Your egg will need to be beaten first and added to the butter mixture until combined.  Take the flour mixture and using a wooden spoon, mix in with wet ingredients in the other bowl.
You will find that the dough is very wet and sticky, so it will need to be covered and go into the fridge for about an hour.  During this time, you can set your oven to 300 degrees to preheat and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Once that is completed, take 2 sheets of wax paper (the size that will line your cookie sheet) and roll out a section of your dough between the sheets.  Place on a 3rd cookie sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.  Then take out and pull wax paper off of dough and cut out desired shapes with cookie cutter. Due to the fact they spread, you probably do not want to use a real distinctive cutter such as an alligator.  The alligator will probably not be recognizable after baking.  Anyhow, place your frozen cut outs on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 8-15 minutes or until light golden brown.
I found that this recipe produced a little under 3 dz cookies for me.  This will vary, depending how large your cutter and how thick you make them.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

18 hour Guinness Burgers

I'll bet your wondering why so long for a few burgers. To be honest, it actually came as a surprise.  Our burger dinner was actually put off once due to the fact I never read the recipe all the way through. I did not see the additional hours required in the fridge after you make the patties.  The good thing about the recipe is that you can make in advance, so all you will need to do when your friends are over is just cook/grill.  This recipe delivers a lot of flavor.  We opted for hamburgers but the original recipe shows the beef patty served by itself with a butter garlic topping. 

Guinness Burgers
adapted from oui chef network

1 red onion
4 bacon slices
1 lb of ground beef
2/3 cup Guinness Stout
1 tsp creamed horseradish
1 egg
1/2 tsp paprika
2 heaping tbs flour
salt and pepper to taste

Night before:
Place your ground beef in a bowl and mix in Guinness.  Cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge for at least 12 hours.  Take your bacon slices and dice.  Then do the same with the onion.  Saute bacon and onion together until the onion is carmelized and the bacon is crisp.  Then drain off any excess fat.  Set aside in a bowl to cool.  Once cool cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge also.

Next day-6 hours prior to dinner
Take the beef out of the fridge and pour out any excess Guinness from the bowl, squeezing the meat and set aside.  Your egg will need to be beaten in another bowl.  In the beef bowl, you will mix in egg, paprika, onion bacon mixture and horseradish.  Once thoroughly combined, add salt and pepper along with the flour.  All seasoning should be evenly distributed.  Divide meat into four equal portions and form into patties.  Then place on baking sheet with parchment paper.  Put in fridge for 1-6 hours to firm up.

When you are ready to cook, you can use an oiled skillet and cook each side for 5 minutes or until done to your liking.  I elected to use a grill (heavily oiled) and it took about eight minutes on each side.  Since the Guinness stains the meat, you will need to check for doneness by seeing if they resist slightly in the center and are not mushy.

We actually marinated the meat for 24 hrs and left the patties in the fridge for 6 hours.  My husband really enjoyed these and we still have plenty of Guinness for more, so I am sure I will be making these again in a few weeks.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cranberry Walnut Scones

  I made Cranberry Walnut Scones for the Redskins win in Sunday's game against the Cowboys.  I was planning to do blueberry, but was disappointed with the Cowboys. The game ended a holding penalty against them.  Blueberry will have to wait for a Cowboys win. According to one of the Redskins, the holding technique was being used all throughout the game by a defensive player for the Cowboys.  The referee finally called the action a penalty at the worst time. The player underestimated the referee.  I do not imagine that he had as nice of a breakfast as me, in the aftermath of the loss.  So for those of you that did not misbehave and cause problems on Sunday night, the recipe is below.

Please note that taste and texture of scones vary.  These scones are closer to being a cookie rather than bread, so they do not require any added butter or jam.

Cranberry Walnut Scones
adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine/Nov 2005

3 cups flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tbs grated lemon peel
1 tbs salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cold butter
1 tbs lemon juice
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chilled half and half  (depending on dryness of dough you may need more)

4 tbs sugar (for glaze)
2 tbs lemon juice (for glaze)

First, prepare your cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper and preheating your oven to 375 degrees.

Since the glaze is put on the scones prior to baking, it needs to be made first.  Whisk the 4 tbs of sugar with the 2 tbs of lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl until combined.  The lemon zest and 1 cup of sugar goes in next. Then add the chilled butter to your flour mixture by using a pastry cutter or your hands.  Continue to mix until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Put the cranberries and walnuts in the crumb mixture, using a wooden spoon to make sure all is evenly distributed.  Lastly, pour in the half and half as well as 1 tbs lemon juice.  Continue to stir until dough comes together in moist clumps. The texture should be like a stiff cookie dough.  If you still have extra flour that will not blend in, add half and half by tablespoons (mixing after each addition).

Once you reach the right consistency, divide dough into two balls.  Use a rolling pin to roll out each ball into a flat circle, 6 inches in diameter.  Cut each circle into 6 wedges and place each wedge on a cookie sheet.  Then take your glaze and brush over the top of each scone. This glaze is not like icing and will not be seen on your scones. However, if it spills over the edge of your scone in the process of brushing it on, the overage will turn into a dark syrup that you will have to cut away from your baked scone.  The cut away is just an extra step, so be careful with the glaze if you do not want to do that step.

Then bake until golden and tester comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

With a twist: You probably can use any dried fruit of your liking along with different types of nuts.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Zesty Carminized Chicken Scarpariello

 I was craving something Italian that was on the lighter side.  That meant that there would be no cheese or pasta.  I flipped through a cookbook book called Carmine's and found the recipe for this chicken.  The two step cooking process keeps the chicken from being dry and it has a slightly sticky, garlicky coating.  I know "garlicky" does not sound like a real word, but trust me, it is. You will understand this word more once you have tasted the chicken-it calls for 4 tablespoons of minced garlic.

The recipe states that it is for 2-3 people, but the two eating here had leftovers for another dinner.  Also, it starts with a marinade, so you will need to begin 24 hours prior to cooking.

Chicken Scarpariello
adapted from Carmine's Family Style Cookbook

One cut up chicken, weighing about 3 1/2 lbs
1 tbs kosher salt
2 tsp each of chopped herbs as follows: sage, rosemary, oregano.
black pepper
3 lemons
1 cup of vegetable oil
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 tbs finely chopped shallots
4 tbs minced garlic
1/4 cup white wine
lemon wedges for garnish

Day before:
In a large zip lock bag, mix salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon each of sage, rosemary and oregano.  The remaining tablespoons of the 3  herbs may be mixed together and set aside for later use. Squeeze the juice of 2 lemons and pour in bag with herbs.  Then add your chicken pieces and seal the bag while keeping out excess air.  Once sealed, your bag should be flat except for where the chicken is. Then flip the bag over several times and move chicken pieces around in bag so all is coated.  Fold over bag and place in fridge to marinate for 24 hours.  During the 24 hr period flip the bag every so often so chicken can fully soak in marinade.  I turned about once every 4 hours, outside of my sleep time of course.

Next Day:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and prepare a roasting pan for your chicken.  I prepare my pan by lining it with foil and spraying the foil with olive oil.  This will keep your pan from being difficult to clean after the meal.

Now you will need to saute your chicken in a pan.  To control the heat, I used an electric skillet on 350 degrees but you can saute on the stove top using medium temperature.  Put the vegetable oil in your pan and wait for it to get hot or start to smoke.  Then remove your chicken from the marinade, patting off excess liquids with a paper towel.  Add your chicken to the pan, placing carefully.  You will leave the chicken to cook 5-8 minutes without moving it, giving it time to get golden brown.  Then turn the pieces over, again cooking without moving another 5-8 minutes.  Most of my chicken did not stick after 8 minutes, so it was able to be turned without losing the golden crust.  You do not want it to burn, but you want to give it enough time so it will not stick either.  Continue to cook the chicken another 5-10 minutes so all sides are browned.

Then transfer chicken to your roasting pan and put it in the oven for another 15-20 minutes until it is cooked through.

While the chicken is baking, you need to prepare the glaze.  You can either clean the original saute pan or pull out another one.  If you use another pan, just make sure it can hold all of the chicken.  On medium heat, melt one tablespoon of butter in pan.  Add the remaining herbs (rosemary oregano and sage) along with the garlic and shallots.  Cook the mixture for about 3 minutes until the garlic and shallots start to brown.

Add the wine and increase the heat.  Take a wooden spoon to mix and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze it.  Cook the mixture until most of the wine evaporates, which should take about 2 minutes.  Then stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter.  After that, you will season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Lastly, you will finalize the mixture by squeezing in the juice of the remaining lemon.  The book called the recipe a sauce, but mine had more the consistency of a pesto. That difference did not seem to affect the end result.

Anyhow, toss your chicken back into the saute pan, making sure the herb mixture is evenly distributed.  Serve on platter garnished with lemon wedges. 
This can be served with Cesear salad and crusty Italian bread.  Also, if you are looking for an appetizer,you might try this with just using chicken wings.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Walnut Pillow Cookies

Today, I came across this recipe that I had made once around Christmas time. When it comes to the holidays, I am always trying to find something different than the same old cookies that everybody makes. These cookies are much like pecan tassies but walnuts are used and the crust is folded over, so I would consider them more of a pastry than a cookie.  This recipe makes about 28 cookies and takes about 1/2 hr to 45 minutes prep time.  They go fast, so you might want to double the recipe.

Walnut Pillow Cookies
adapted from all recipes website

3 oz cold cream cheese
1/2 cup cold butter (cannot use any substitute)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup ground walnuts ( I used my blender for this)
1 1/4 cup flour
2 tbs milk
1/2 tsp flavoring extract (vanilla or almond)
1 beaten egg
confectioner's sugar for dusting

In a large bowl, use a pastry cutter to blend together flour, butter and cream cheese.  Once it resembles coarse crumbs, mix with a wooden spoon or your hands until you have a dough.  This should take about 3 minutes.   After that, you will form dough into a rectangle and wrap with plastic wrap, making sure all is covered.  Place place dough in fridge for about a hour until firm.

While waiting, you can make the cookie filling. In a separate bowl, mix together the walnuts, milk, granulated sugar and extract.

Once the dough has firmed up, you are ready to assemble your cookies, but first you will need to preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Take the dough out and roll between two sheets of parchment paper or wax paper, making a rectangle measuring 17 1/2 X 10 inches.  Then you cut into squares measuring 2 1/2 X 2 1/2 inches.

In the center of each square, place one level tsp of filling. Then moisten edges of squares, fold dough over and seal edges with a fork. Brush tops with beaten egg.  Place each cookie one inch apart on an ungreased baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  Place cookies on wire rack to cool and dust with confectioners sugar. Continue this process until all cookies are made and baked.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cupcake Trials- Godiva Liqueur Cupcakes

Let's all post blogs today with recipes that we never try.  That way someone else can go to the expense to see if it is a good recipe.  Today that someone else just happens to be me.  Finally here I am, 15 eggs later with one decent batch of cupcakes.  I had to go back to the whipped cream frosting I used on the Hawaiian Paradise Cake in August, so I not only had recipes for bad cupcakes, but bad icing.  The icing recommended for these cupcakes was made with marscapone which gave it a good taste, but the icing would not hold its shape outside of the fridge.  The cupcake recipe below ended up to be the keeper out of all.

Godiva Liqueur Cupcakes
adapted from the cupcakery blog
Yield- 2 & 1/2 dz
3 oz dark chocolate ( I used Valrhona)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Godiva Liqueur

Line cupcake tins with paper liners and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt chocolate in double boiler until smooth and set aside.

In a small bowl, sift baking soda, salt and flour together. Set aside.  Then, in a larger bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy.  Add sugar to butter and beat until combined.  Once creamed together, beat in each egg, one at a time.  Then beat in the melted chocolate.

Then, with a wooden spoon, mix in flour until smooth.  Then add the buttermilk, mixing until combined and lastly add in the liqueur.  Once combined, you are ready to load the cupcake liners.

I used 1/4 cup to scoop the batter and put it into the liners.  Some people use a ice cream scoop.  Either way, fill cups 3/4 full.  Then put in oven for about 17 to 22 minutes or when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. It is a good idea to turn the pan around in your oven at the halfway point in baking. I had a pan that baked 2 dz at once and it took a total of about 20 minutes.

Once out of the oven, you can brush some more liqueur onto the cupcake to soak in prior to frosting if you want the liqueur to stand out more.  I am donating these, so I excluded that step.

As stated originally, I used the same frosting recipe I had posted for the Hawaiian Paradise Cake, but you can use any frosting with this cupcake.  For an "extra" touch, you can put a strawberry  or chocolate shavings on top of the frosting.

Well, with all this baking, I am ready to go to a place where someone else cooks- a food festival.  If you feel the same, check out and just plug in your state.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Farewell to Summer with Jerked Pork Chops

Well, this will be the last weekend to cook out for awhile, so I decided to post grilled pork chops.  The overnight marinade method of preparation is not as easy as buying the seasoning but not as hard as the real Jamaican standard which involves wrapping meat in allspice leaves.  I think it tastes better than the purchased seasoning and a close second to the standard.  this marinade you will find gives your meat a light distinctive flavor as opposed to the heavier marinades that sometimes can be too strong. 

Jerked Pork Chops
adapted from

1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp chili powder
juice from 3 oranges
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground cumin
4 pork loin chops ( I used butterflied and cut each in two)

Night before:
Combine first five ingredients in zip lock bag.  Then place each chop in bag so it lays flat and then eliminate as much air as possible and seal bag.  Fold excess of bag over and lay in fridge overnight.  The next day you can flip the bag over for the other side of the meat to marinade, just to make sure all the pork is well seasoned.

Next evening:
Once your meat has been marinated, you can start to prepare your grill by using olive oil spray on the rack.  Then heat up the grill to medium high. Let the grilling begin!  Take out the chops and pat with a paper towel to remove the excess marinade.  Place chops on grill and cook each side until done, mine took about
8 minutes each side.  Time will vary, depending on the thickness of your chops.

These are good served with potato salad and steamed broccoli.

In thinking about my honeymoon in Jamaica, I remember the wonderful landscape, delicious food and very friendly people.  Our taxi driver was delightfully outspoken. He advised that he was a very good driver, always slowing down for "sleeping" policemen.  I later found out that a "sleeping policeman" is a speed bump! 

Until next time-enjoy the long weekend!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cafe Beaujolais Coffeecake

First, let me say that with all the recipes out there on the net and in cookbooks, most of the best recipes are from home cooks that are food writers.  The so called "restaurant recipes" that come from chefs that are floating around the internet may have issues.  I understand that a guest appearance on Martha Stewart probably would not prompt any chef or baker to give up their special recipe so it can be published on the net, especially if that item is what actually made them famous.  Chefs and bakers are in the business to make and sell food but a food writer is in the business to create recipes to publish so you will buy their book. 

The recipe listed below was found on the LA times website in the food section, supported by the staffers as one of the best recipes. I surfed the net and found many people that had good luck with the recipe, so I decided to move forward with baking and posting this coffeecake recipe. It was a good decision, the cake turned out very rich and delicious-perfect with tea or coffee.

The restaurant where the recipe originated is located in Mendocino, California.  Even though this item is not on their menu today, they do have a list of breads that you can order on line.

Now on to the specifics of the recipe...One of the things you might notice from the picture above, is that the cake is not thick and airy.  The height is about like a bar cookie.  The buttermilk and oil make the cake very moist.

Cafe Beaujolais Buttermilk Cinnamon Coffee Cake
adapted from the LA Times


2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon (separated)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup corn oil
1 cup nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts or a combination)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg  (beaten)
1 cup buttermilk
First, butter a 9X13 inch pan and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine flour, brown and granulated sugar, salt, ginger and 1 tsp of the cinnamon.  Blend in the oil with a wooden spoon, it should end up crumbly- like streusel. Then put 3/4 cup of this mixture into another bowl and add the nuts and remaining teaspoon of cinnamon to the 3/4 cup and set aside.

Back to the large bowl of the remaining flour you will add the last 4 ingredients listed above ( baking powder, baking soda, egg and buttermilk.  Blend with wooden spoon until smooth and the consistency of pancake batter.  Pour batter into pan and then sprinkle nut mixture evenly on top of batter.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  For my oven, 38 minutes was fine.  Once baked, pull pan out and put on wire rack to cool.  Once cooled cut into squares to serve.

This is an easy recipe with readily available ingredients for the average home baker.  However, should you be looking for a lower fat variation of this recipe and do not mind scouting for specialty ingredients, you can go here.