Monday, October 31, 2011

Homemade Potpourri...Just in time for the upcoming Holidays!


You will need:

1 Orange-sliced into rings

1 large piece Fresh Ginger (about ½ a cup when chopped up)

Freshly dried Tarragon sprigs

Freshly dried Lavender sprigs

3 lemons-sliced into rings

Small pinecones

Whole Cinnamon sticks

2 Medium Red Apples-cored and sliced into rings

½ cup Whole Cloves

Begin by slicing your fruit into rings. Put onto paper towels to allow any juice to drip. Cut your fresh ginger into very small cubes. If you have a food dehydrator, you can process the fruit according to the directions on your processor. You want all of the moisture removed so that it prevents molding, but not to where your fruit rings are unrecognizable. You still want them to look pretty.

Place the fruit onto parchment paper. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can also set your oven or toaster oven on low (about 275 degrees), and get them to the same dried state.

Once you have processed all your fruit, dry your herbs. I used the herbs from my garden from this summer that were left over when I had to pull up the garden in the fall. Nothing goes to waste!

Now, combine all of the fruit, dried herbs, and remaining ingredients together. It smells wonderful! I put mine into small cheesecloth satchels, so that we can use them to put inside our drawers. They also make a nice cute gift for the holidays. I tied cute ribbon around the tops.

**Variation-remove the herbs & boil the potpourri on low over a stovetop and your kitchen will smell amazing!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Going to the grocery store hungry is always a bad idea, but the hubby and I went together which is not usual. We not only bought the needed items, but decided to make queso, and spinach-artichoke dip to eat while watching movies. I got home from a 3 week trip yesterday, so today was all about relaxing and catching up. I hated to leave our families in Dallas, but it is good to get home and sleep in ypur own bed again (not to mention get back to blogging) Enjoy!

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

1 can Artichoke Hearts-Drained

2 cups frozen sliced Spinach-heated & drained

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

½ cup Mayo (real not Miracle whip –no offense)

1 cup Cream cheese

Salt & pepper

2 Green Onions-sliced

1 Garlic clove (small)-minced


Heat oven to 375. Ensure that all of the spinach has been heated so that you can squeeze the excess water out. Drain artichokes and discard water.

Add the remaining ingredients. Mix well and season. Bake in a greased glass baking dish, covered with lid. Bake for approximately 35 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or baked pita chips.

My Little Junior Food Blogger....

This morning my daughter made lemon-poppy seed scones (from a mix I bought her in her Halloween basket), but still- (12 and very proficient). She also made some new herbal tea, in her Teavana mug. Then she staged it all so professionally and took a picture. I'm so proud of my little blogger, following in Mommy's footsteps! Way to go D!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

14 Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache

I made this the other day for my son and daughters birthdays. It actually came out. I did 12 layers rather than 14, but you can certainly stretch it to make 14 layer pans.

14-Layer cake

You will also need: 14 aluminum 8x5 disposable pans, parchment paper, & cake cardboard round, and a rack (to place cake on while icing).

Cake Ingredients

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 1/2 cups sugar

6 large eggs, at room temperature

3 cups milk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Ganache:

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder , preferably Dutch process

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut up

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 375°. Lightly butter four 8 1/2- to 9-inch cake pans (you will bake the cakes in three batches) and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Flour the pans and tap out the excess.

To make the layers, sift together the sifted flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the mixture one more time, and set aside.

Beware: there is a TON of batter. I ended up mixing the batter in a large punch bowl. I am away from home for 3 weeks, and taking photos with my iPhone, but doing my best to show you what it looks like.  Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle blade on high speed until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and be sure the mixture is well-blended. On low speed, add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the milk, beginning and ending with the flour, and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla. Using a scant cup for each layer, spread the batter evenly in the pans. It will make a thin layer.

I greased, lined with parchment paper, and floured, which I am happy I did, since the cake can easily stick. I put about ¾ of a cup of batter in each pan, then spread it evenly out with a spatula. I did all the pans at once so I could make sure I filled them evenly.

Staggering the pans on the racks so they are at least 2 inches from each other and the sides of the oven and not directly over each other, bake the layers until they feel firm when pressed in the centers and are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans, about 12 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Invert the layers onto cake racks, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely. Wash and prepare the pans. Repeat the procedure until all 12 layers have been baked and cooled.

To make the ganache icing, bring the sugar, cocoa, butter and evaporated milk to a full boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the icing has thickened slightly (it will resemble chocolate syrup but will thicken as it cools), about 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Let the icing cool until thick enough to spread, but still pourable.

Place a layer of cake on a wire rack set over a jelly-roll pan. Spread with a few tablespoons of the icing, letting the excess run down the sides. Stack the remaining cakes, icing each layer. Pour the remaining icing over the top of the cake. If you wish, smooth the icing on the edges to cover the sides. Let stand until the glaze sets. (The cake is best served the day it is made. To store, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.)

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting to go on top:
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
1 box (1 lb) confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-3 Tbsp milk

  • Cream the butter and cream cheese with a mixer.
  • Add the cocoa and vanilla.
  • Add the confectioner’s sugar in small batches and blend on low until combined. Scrape down sides with each addition.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until you get the consistency you desire.

Almond-Spice Cake Doughnuts

Almond-Spice Cake Doughnuts


2 & ¼ cups All-Purpose Flour

½ cup Sugar

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

½ teaspoon Salt

½ teaspoon ground Ginger

½ teaspoon ground Nutmeg

¼ cup Milk

¼ cup Sour Cream

½ teaspoon Almond extract

1 Egg

1/8 cup butter-melted


Sift flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg & salt together in a bowl-set aside. In a larger bowl, mix sour cream, milk, butter, and almond extract. In a small bowl whisk egg and sugar together, then add to your milk mixture.

Stir with a wooden spoon, or in a mixer on low speed. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Remove from fridge, and roll your dough on a floured surface into a ½ inch piece. Use a cookie or doughnut cutter to cut out your doughnuts. I used a smaller press, and then an even smaller one to make the holes.

On the stovetop heat your oil until it is about 375 degrees. I used vegetable oil. Cook the doughnuts (not crowded) for about 1-2 minutes. They will turn a pretty golden brown, and float to the top of the oil when they are finished cooking. Remove & sit on a paper towel to cool and let the oil drain. Repeat.

We topped ours with a Vanilla glaze and also made a chocolate glaze by adding a couple of teaspoons of cocoa powder to the recipe below:

2 cups powdered sugar-sifted

2 tablespoons melted butter

½ teaspoon almond extract

6 tablespoons heavy cream (give or take depending upon how thick you want it to be).

Whisk these ingredients together in a small bowl. Dip the tops of your doughnuts into the mixture on one side only, and return to a parchment paper lined tray to set.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy Birthday to my beautiful 12 year old!

My daughter turned 12 yesterday...can't believe it. Yes, I haven't posted anything in awhile, but the cake will be posted by Saturday. 14 layer chocolate cake-yes, I said it....14 LAYERS!

We also shared a yummy red velvet cupcake from "Market Street", which was by the way, delicious! The cream cheese icing was one of the best I've had.

Excited for my son and daughters birthday parties tomorrow night...yes, he has a birthday Sunday. The next few days will be busy-busy-busy! More to come.

We brought her flowers and balloons at school..., and event the dog is wishing her happy birthday.........

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pumpkin-Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Banana-Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

4 cups All-Purpose Flour- sifted
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon & 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Tsp. Salt
2 Tablespoons Vanilla

5 ripe Bananas

1 cup & ¼ cup unsalted butter- at room temperature
1 cup Brown Sugar

1 cup White Sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

**Combine all dry ingredients into a large bowl and set aside. In a large mixer cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, beat. Mix in dry ingredients, and then blend in bananas. At the end, fold in pumpkin, so that it is not totally combined.   

Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 25 minutes.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pumpkin-Potato Gnocchi with Walnut Cream Sauce

Pumpkin-Potato Gnocchi with Walnut Cream Sauce

  • 1 1/4 pounds russet (baking potatoes)
  • 1 (3/4-pound) Pumpkin (I used canned Pumpkin)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for serving
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt (about 2 pinches)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Equipment needed: a potato ricer, or a food mill or food processor fitted with fine disk

For Sauce:

2 teaspoons Butter

2 teaspoons Olive Oil

4-5 pieces fresh Sage or Basil (I used Basil this time, but Sage works well too)

½ cup Shredded Parmesan

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/8 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

¼ cup Walnuts-Toasted then pulsed in Food processor

2 cups Half & Half (this is lower in fat that whole cream, but as you reduce the sauce it will thicken.

1 cup hot Pasta water

To make gnocchi:
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.

Pierce russet potatoes and sliced pumpkin pieces in several places with a fork, then bake in a 4-sided sheet pan until just tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
**If you do decide to use plain canned pumpkin, which works just as well, make sure than you take care to drain it for at least 4 hours before hand in a cheese cloth or fine mesh strainer. Otherwise, it will add too much water to your recipe.

Cool potatoes & pumpkin slightly, then peel and force through ricer into sheet pan, spreading in an even layer. Cool completely.

Lightly flour 2 or 3 large baking sheets or line with parchment paper. Beat together egg, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.

Gather potatoes and pumpkin into a mound in sheet pan, using a pastry scraper if you have one, and form a well in center. Pour egg mixture into well, then knead into potatoes-pumpkin mixture.

Knead in cheese and 1 1/2 cups flour, then knead, adding more flour as necessary, until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Dust top lightly with some of flour.
Cut dough into 6 pieces. Form 1 piece of dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rope on a lightly floured surface. Cut rope into 1/2-inch pieces. Gently roll each piece into a ball and lightly dust with flour. Repeat with remaining 5 pieces of dough.

Turn a fork over and hold at a 45-degree angle, with tips of tines touching work surface. Working with 1 at a time, roll gnocchi down fork tines, pressing with your thumb, to make ridges on 1 side. Transfer gnocchi as formed to baking sheets.

Cook gnocchi:
Add half of gnocchi to a pasta pot of well-salted boiling water and stir. Cook until they float to surface, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to skillet with sauce. Cook the remaining gnocchi in same manner, transferring to skillet as cooked.

To make sauce:
Add butter to oil in skillet with 1/2 teaspoon salt, garlic, and green onions. Sauté over medium heat until fragrant and golden brown, add ½ and half. Season. Bring to a boil, and then add 1 cup pasta water. Mix well & turn off heat. You can begin adding your cooked gnocchi to the sauce pan as they are done, and continue to finish cooking your sauce. Remove from heat. Serve.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pumpkin-Ricotta Pancakes

Because I have been making so much custard based ice cream lately, I have been saving all my egg whites. I found a great way to use them in making pumpkin pancakes. The addition of pureed pumpkin can tend to add heaviness to the batter, so adding the egg whites lightens up the batter, and makes them just like fluffy little cakes.

Pumpkin-Ricotta Pancakes


  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • Whites of 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • ¼ cup Ricotta

You can play with the consistency a little, and always add more milk if needed.

Melt your butter and set aside to cool. Add your dry ingredients into a large bowl. Mix well. In another bowl, mix eggs, butter, buttermilk, pumpkin and ricotta. Mix well, and then fold in beaten egg whites. Mix wet and dry ingredients together, and cook on a buttered griddle or pan.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Eggnog Ice Cream

Eggnog Ice Cream

• 1 cup whole Milk
• 1/4 teaspoon Salt
• 7 large Egg yolks
• 3/4 cup Sugar
• 2 cups chilled heavy Cream
• ½ cup dark Rum
• 1 teaspoon pure Vanilla
• 2 teaspoons freshly grated Nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon Ginger
• 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground Cloves

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Add the Rum, and spices. Pour the custard mix through a strainer, and then back into your large bowl. Whisk in the cream, then the vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, and then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Panettone Peach Bread Pudding

I received two varieties of Bauducco Panettone specialty cake to try as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program. This was my first time trying it, and it was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! There were several recipes that came along with the two boxes, but I decided to do my own version of Bread Budding, which includes fresh fruit.

I used the variety that has dried fruit, and Sunmaid Raisins. Mmmmm, YUM. I also received a variety with chocolate chips in it.

Everything came out better than I had hoped, and I can certainly say this bread-which is less like bread, and more like cake, is VERY versatile. Loved it!

Panettone Peach Bread Pudding


1 box Panettone Specialty Cake (with Raisins and dried fruit) -26 ounces

3 Eggs

1 cup Half and Half

1 cup heavy Cream

1 cup 1% Milk

1 cup sugar

¼ cup Dark Rum

¼ cup Cointreau

1 teaspoon Vietnamese Cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground Nutmeg

2 cups Fresh Peaches (2-3 large ripe Peaches)

¼ cup toasted sliced almonds

Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium sized pot, bring water to a boil. Add 2-3 ripened Peaches. Let the peaches boil for about 2-3 minutes, remove and let cool. Peel skin from peaches by gently pulling on the edges, which should peel right off. Remove pit, and slice peaches into bit size pieces. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl, beat eggs, milk, cream, and half and half together. Add sugar. Mix until dissolved. Add Cointreau, Rum, nutmeg, and cinnamon together and whisk until combined.

Cut Panettone into slices about 1 inch in thickness. Then slice in the opposite direction, so that each piece resembles a cube.

Grease an 8 ½ by 11 pan and distribute the bread cubes, and peaches into the pan. Pour the egg-milk mixture over the top. Sprinkle the almonds over the top and bake for about 35 minutes.