Monday, November 29, 2010

Toffee Lace Cups

While reading Alton Brown's book, "Gear For Your Kitchen" the other night, I came across a recipe for Lace Cups. I was intrigued. They sounded fancy, but pretty simple, so they were moved to the topish portion of my "to try" list. I tried to locate the recipe online so I could bookmark it, but instead came across a different variation - Toffee Lace Cups - and decided I had no choice but to make them right away. Late at night. On a Saturday. Anyway, I made them and they turned out great. We've just been breaking them up and eating the toffee pieces. So good! But the real success was last night when I made Alton's homemade vanilla ice cream (which consequently is the best homemade ice cream recipe I've ever tried), spiked it with crushed candy cane pieces, and served it inside the cups. Successful indeed. Which was a relief since I've had so many unsuccesses as of late. Made that word up I think. So, uh, here's a picture (speaking of unsuccesses...):

Recipe adapted from by Alton Brown


1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 TBSP dark corn syrup (2.5 fluid ounces)
Pinch of kosher salt
A few drops of lemon juice
1/2 cup flour


Combine all ingredients except flour in a small, heavy saucepan over med-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Once mixture is at a boil, stir constantly for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and sift in flour a little at a time, stirring to combine each addition before adding the next. Cool to room temperature or refrigerate for later use. (If refrigerated, allow mixture to come up to room temperature before cooking.) Mixture will thicken a lot as it sits.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper and spoon out mixture with a metal soup spoon or a small cookie disher. Cookies will spread out like crazy, so place dollops 6 to 8 inches apart. Bake 17-18 minutes or until deep mahogany brown.

Once out of the oven, allow disks to sit for roughly 30 seconds before removing from the pan, otherwise they will be too soft to transfer. Use a metal spatula to transfer the hot candy disks to the bottoms of inverted custard cups or small drinking cups, depending on how deep you want the bowls to be. (Have a cup for each disk, or the disks will set before you can get through them all.) Work quickly and the disks will conform to the shape of the cups. Remove when cool. Store wrapped with paper towel inside resealable plastic bags. Makes approximately 14 cups.

Variation: While hot, disks can be cut into shapes with a pizza cutter or broken by hand when cool and used to garnish other desserts. Or do as the Pioneer Woman would do and give this a try, which I plan to do asap.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

White Pizza

I got this recipe from Ina Garten, but I adapted it to my own. For instance, I didn't use her pizza crust, I used my own. And instead of Arugula, I used Collard Greens because that's what I had on hand. You could also use a spring mix or whatever. The full recipe is at the bottom. Here are the steps:

First, make the garlic oil. Ina says not to burn the garlic, but I think I did. It still tasted good.

Next, get out your cheeses. I used Fontina, Goat Cheese, and Mozzarella.

I shredded the Mozzarella, grated the Fontina, and just crumbled the Goat Cheese.

After you mix the dough, shape it into individual size pizzas, like my kids and I did. Or you can just make one big pizza. My kids loved making their own. Here are theirs. After you shape the dough, brush some garlic oil on top, then sprinkle with salt.

Next, sprinkle with Fontina, Mozzarella, then Goat Cheese. Drizzle a little more oil on top.

While the pizza is baking, make the lemon vinaigrette and pour over chopped greens.

I didn't put the greens on top of the kids pizzas, because I didn't think they would like it. I was nervous if they'd like the pizzas at all!

But here is PROOF that they loved them. They gobbled them right up. (By the way, I don't usually let my kids eat in front of the TV, but Josh was working late, so we decided to have a picnic.)

Here is my pizza. I just put the greens on half, because I didn't know if I would like it, but I did and I ended up putting them on the whole thing.
This pizza is pretty rich and filling, but it was really good! I couldn't get enough!

Pizza Crust:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Half of 1/3 cup oil (I don't know how much that is)
3 1/2 cups flour
Mix dough and knead well. No need to rise. Use as soon as you mix.
Garlic Oil:
1/2 cup EVOO
4 cloves garlic
5 sprigs thyme
red pepper flakes
Place all ingredients in saucepan and on low heat, simmer for 10 minutes.
8 oz. grated Fontina
8 oz. shredded Mozzarella
11 oz. creamy Goat Cheese
8 oz. chopped salad greens
1/2 cup EVOO
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
Mix dough, and shape into pizzas. Brush with garlic oil, salt, then top with cheeses. Top with a little more oil. Bake at 475 for 10-15 minutes. Then top with salad.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Baklava Minis

Here's the thing about baklava: it's freaking amazing.

So, traditional baklava is made in a cake pan and is beastly to cut and dish out and all that jazz, and since I have an affinity for all things mini, I found this recipe that works perfectly for me. So without further ado I present to you, baklava minis:


Recipe adapted from by Giada De Laurentiis

1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
7 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
3 tablespoons honey
12 sheets phyllo dough

1/4 cup water
1/8 cup sugar
1/8 cup honey

(If you've never worked with phyllo before, click here)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the almonds, walnuts, bread crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a food processor. Run the machine until the mixture is very finely
chopped. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and the honey and stir to combine.

On a dry work surface place 1 sheet of phyllo. Using a pastry brush and the remaining melted butter, lightly cover the entire sheet of phyllo with melted butter. Cover the first sheet with a second sheet of phyllo and brush with melted butter. Continue until there is a stack of 6 sheets of phyllo. Comprende? Good then.

Using a pizza cutter, cut the stacked phyllo rectangle into 12 equal pieces (Cut lengthwise into 4 pieces and widthwise into 3 pieces.)

Gently press each cut stack of phyllo into mini-muffin tin cups. Press 1 tablespoon of the nut mixture into each of the phyllo cups.

Gather the ends of each of the phyllo squares and twist to make a sachet shape.

Repeat with remaining phyllo until you have 24 baklava minis, and then brush the tops with any remaining melted butter. Why? Because thou shalt never waste good butter. It's written somewhere...

Bake until the edges of the phyllo are golden, about 18-23 minutes.

Meanwhile, begin making the sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat add the water, sugar, and honey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until reduced and slightly thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Pour 1 teaspoon syrup into each cup and allow it to soak in.

When cool enough to handle, remove the baklava minis and transfer to a serving plate. Or, you know, just eat it all right then and there so you don't have to dirty another plate. Either way.

Well done, Greek people. Well done.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tyropitakia - Greek Cheese Pies

Phyllo (Fillo) dough is basically paper-thin sheets of raw, unleavened flour dough used for making pastries in Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines. You can find it in any grocery store in the frozen food section, next to the pie shells and puff pastry. I buy Athens brand because I like the size of the sheets. Each box comes with two packages, with each package containing about 20 sheets. Since its so thin, it dries out super fast and once you cut the top of the bag and pull it out, you basically need to use all of the dough at that time. I've tried putting it back inside the bag, taping it up, and putting it back in the fridge so I could use it another time, but when I pull it out again, it just shatters, so I'm not sure if it can be done. Anyway, it has become one of my favorite things to bake with...and eat. I was completely intimidated by it for years before I finally decided to take the plunge and give it a whirl a few months ago. And come to find out, it's not hard at all. It's a little fickle and you gotta handle with care, but it's pretty forgiving and makes for fabulous eats.

After consuming roughly half my weight in baklava over the past few months, I really wanted to try something savory, so after much research, I finally found this recipe for Tyropitakia (which I have no idea how to pronounce, so we'll just go with Greek cheese pies). I bookmarked. I tried. I loved. The filling is kinda like ravioli, but the flaky phyllo shell makes it especially unique and delicious...and who are we kidding, the abundance of butter definitely doesn't hurt.

So let's get this show on the road...


Recipe adapted from by Cat Cora

  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan or asiago cheese, grated
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • Dried or fresh parsley to taste
  • Grated nutmeg to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (I use unsalted)
  • 5-6 sheets commercial phyllo pastry


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the filling, combine all the cheeses together with the parsley, nutmeg, pepper, and egg. Mix well. Pull phyllo from the refrigerator and unroll. Be sure to keep it covered so it doesn't dry out while you prepare the pies. I use the plastic that it comes packaged in, covered by a damp towel. Don't be swayed by recipes that tell you to just go ahead and cover it up with a damp towel. If you do this, all your dough will stick together. And you will curse. I promise. Anyway, brush each piece of phyllo with melted butter before cutting. (The silicone brushes work fine, but I'm sure the bristle brushes probably work better.)

Then cut each piece lengthwise into 3 equal strips.

Place a small dollop of the cheese mix in the middle of the top of each strip.

Now you fold. Folding the phyllo is like folding a flag...fold the right corner to the left to form a right angle and then upward. Continue folding at right angles until you reach the top and have a triangle. Place the triangles on an ungreased baking sheet in absolutely no particular order.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown on each side.


Makes approximately 15-18 pies.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rootin'-Tootin' Cincinnati Chili Recipe

I've always been interested in trying 'Cincinnati chili.' What is it...chili, spaghetti...I don't get it. I came across this recipe and decided to try it. Casey can be a little picky so I was a bit nervous to get his reaction. To my surprise, he loved it! In fact he raves about it to other people all the time. I think it's pretty good too. I cut back on some of the spicy-ness since it's pretty spicy as written.

Try it out and let me know what you think.

Make sure to add cheeses and tortilla chips on top!

Here's the link.

(not sure why everything is capitalized, I promise I'm not screaming at you guys:)


Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Apple Pie Caramel Apple

Look at this beauty. So simple and delicious. 
Making them isn't hard, once you know the process, well my process.

Here are your ingredients needed to make these autumn time (or any time) treats
Granny Smith apples, some good caramel, wooden dowels (or popsicle sticks), white chocolate chips, cinnamon sugar and parchment paper.

First, let's talk about caramel.
I highly suggest using a good quality caramel, like this Peter's brand which can be purchased at kitchen stores such as Orsen Gygi or Kitchen Kneads. I buy a 5lb loaf and that will make about 20-25 apples, depending on the size of the apples.
The regular wrapped caramel are totally acceptable though and a good option for making just a couple at a time. Just have to unwrap them all :)

Start by washing your apples well and drying them. Then place the wooden dowels into the apple.
You'll want Granny Smith green apples because they're a nice tart flavor that compliments the sweet caramel and toppings. They also are good and crisp, not mushy.

Cut up your brick of caramel into smaller pieces, using a little less caramel than you think you'll need.
(you can always melt more as needed)

Simply melt your caramel in a microwave-safe bowel in 30-seconds increments until smooth. Like this:

Take a rubber scraper, preferably a curved one, and just apply the caramel to the outside of the apple, scraping downward to remove excess and smooth the caramel.

Then just smooth the caramel a bit with your hand so it's nice and smooth and pretty. If you want plain caramel apples, you're done. Just place them on parchment or wax paper until set up.

If you want to take it to the next level and go for the "Apple Pie" flavor apple,
Melt some white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowel until smooth.

Just dip your apple, swirling it a bit to get up the sides and edges

Then remove excess with a rubber scraper by scraping downward...makes it look pretty too.

Just place on parchment paper until they set up completely. 
The chocolate takes much longer to harder, so you can put the the parchment on a cookie sheet and stick them in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to make them set up quicker.

If you want to give them away, (but WHY would you?)
They look very cute and festive in a cellophane bag.

Also, you may choose to do any topping you choose. I personally enjoy the white chocolate and cinnamon sugar combo the best, but I did make some a few days later with a friend and we did white chocolate with crushed oreo, which was good too. I also drizzled plain milk chocolate over one too.
The possibilities are endless!

Friday, September 24, 2010

How Many?

Just many food blogs do you follow? I just counted and I follow 23. And I'm sure there are even more out there I need to be following too. Oh, I thought there was one mentioned at our club night that I should be following, anybody remember? Love being a foodie!

This Creme Brulee from "Pioneer Woman" looks SO good!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Crème Fraîche

Let's talk for a moment about crème fraîche. It's one of those fancy food terms you hear about and see on the Food Network, but would never even think about attempting to make, so you search high and low for a place that serves it so you can at least try it once before you die. Then you find a Belgian waffle shop that serves it atop their waffles, so you drive for like 40 minutes to get there and of course order your waffle topped with it and immediately decide that you want it on all your waffles and desserts forever and ever because you love it so much and can't live without it. So at that point you realize that you have no choice but to figure out how to make it yourself. Then you read like six different online recipes, which are all basically the same, and realize it's 100 percent easier than you, almost too easy, so obviously the internet must be lying to you. But, alas, you try it anyway and realize the internet was right all along, because it really is that easy. I think that's how the typical story goes anyway...

Okay, so basically crème fraîche is a thick soured cream with a really smooth texture.
Making it will require you to throw some of your old notions out the window and trust that the food sites are correct in their knowledge of how bacteria works, because apparently there's good bacteria and bad bacteria, and crème fraîche implements the use of good, special, something like that.

Okay, so here's what you need:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 TBSP buttermilk
  • 4-5 TBSP powdered sugar, to taste (optional)
And that's it folks.

So here's what you do:

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it reaches approximately 105 degrees. Remove it from the heat and add the buttermilk. It's this next step that might be hard to stomach, but you're just gonna have to trust me on it. You then transfer the cream/buttermilk mixture to a bowl and let it sit out at room temperature for at least 24-48 hours (mine took roughly 24 hours). And, like, the warmer the better apparently. You'll know it's done when it's roughly the consistency of sour cream and has a slightly tangy, nutty flavor (kinda like sour cream, but different...). You'll then want to cover it and place it in the refrigerator so it can continue to become more and more crème fraîche-y.

At this point you have two options. You can either eat it as know, add it to sauces, put a scoop in your bowl of soup, or top some sort of savory French crepe with it (much like you would do with sour cream). Or you can do what I did and add roughly 4 TBSP powdered sugar (more if you want it sweeter, less if you want it not so get the idea) and then beat it until it resembles thick whipping cream. The end result is something epic and can pretty much be eaten as a dessert by itself. Or you can generously top desserts, waffles, french toast, etc. with it. And I mean generously, do you understand? This will last anywhere from 7-10 days in the refrigerator, but this is really a moot point for me.

Love this bread

I had a day last week where I decided to bake bread and make strawberry freezer jam. I felt like such a 'Suzie Homemaker."
I found this recipe on '' and decided to try it out. It's super easy and it tastes really good. I add whole wheat flour and reduced the sugar the second time I made it, it wasn't nearly as good as the stated recipe!

The freezer jam turned out yummy too (just followed the pectin instructions.) I'm still aspiring to be a pro-baker baking department. I'm not there yet so I'm glad I can learn from all of you!
Amish White Bread
recipe image
Rated: rating
Submitted By: Peg
Photo By: chestnut
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Ready In: 2 Hours 30 Minutes
Servings: 24
"This recipe will give you two loaves of plain, sweet white bread that are quick and easy to make."
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45
degrees C)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups bread flour
1.In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam.
2.Mix salt and oil into the yeast. Mix in flour one cup at a time. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
3.Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until dough has risen 1 inch above pans.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes.


An empty blog is just too sad...

So, I've decided to post the recipe for that rockin' Banana Cream Pie I told you about.

I found this, after searching many websites, because I wanted to make real-deal Banana Cream Pie. You know, one that didn't include instant pudding in the recipe. Don't get me wrong. Those are good too. This just takes the whole this up another level. The filling is a custard-like filling, similar to Creme it. I found it on and it was featured in Bon Appetit Magazine.


  • 2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup mashed banana
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 ripe bananas (about 1 1/2 pounds total), peeled, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices (I didn't use them all, it was a lot)

For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Stir graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and mashed banana in large bowl to blend. Add unsalted butter and stir to moisten evenly. Press onto bottom and up sides of 10-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Bake crust until set and pale golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely. (It will smell DIVINE)

For filling:
Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in heavy medium saucepan to blend. Gradually whisk in whipping cream and whole milk, then egg yolks. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add vanilla bean. Whisk over medium-high heat until custard thickens and boils, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in unsalted butter and vanilla extract. Discard vanilla bean. Transfer custard to large bowl; cool completely, whisking occasionally, about 1 hour.
Stir custard to loosen, if necessary. Spread 1 cup custard over bottom of prepared crust. Top with half of sliced bananas, then 1 cup custard, covering bananas completely. Repeat layering with remaining bananas and remaining custard. Chill banana cream pie until filling is set and crust softens slightly, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. Cut pie into wedges and serve.

One tip: After you're done boiling your vanilla bean in your cream, don't throw it out. Do what Alton Brown would do! Dry it off, put it into a ziploc or container with a cup or two of sugar. Ta-da! Vanilla sugar.... heavenly to adorn the top of your next Creme Brulee before.

There you go! We've all got plenty of time to master this before Thanksgiving rolls around.