Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gingerbread 2010

Every year my family decorates gingerbread 2 nights before Christmas. It's become quite a fierce competition. We trash talk and keep secrets, none of us have much real artistic talent... except my father. He's a total show-off (note my jealousy). Notice his Abominable Snow Monster from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Awesome! There is no recipe here... just a few silly shots from our cookie night and a wish to whoever stops by to read this for a Merry and blessed Christmas!

The top photo of our cookies goes like this:
Reindeer by my sister
Yankees guy by my husband
Soldier-ish guy by my sisters boyfriend
tree by me
white snowlady by my mom
gift by my oldest daughter
Alice (from Wonderland) by my youngest daughter
and... drum roll please...
Abominable Snow Monster by my dad

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Party Cakes

My husband and I had a little Christmas party a few weeks ago. We had a lovely night with old friends, new friends, music, drinks and food. One item I served was this chocolate cake. Simple and delicious... it begs to be shared. The recipe suggests serving it warm so it is gooey. When served warm you get just that a warm, gooey chocolate cake. When the cake rests and is served cooled, it is even more delicious as it develops a fudge like texture and is really tasty! I purchased the darling stencils at Macy's, they're from the Martha Stewart Christmas collection and I love them! They make the cakes so cute! There is a third stencil included but not shown (a triple set of snowmen). They make them in smaller sizes for cookies/cupcakes as well. I am dreaming up new ways to use them because I think they are just so adorable! I served a pear butter alongside the cakes but they are wonderful standing alone too.

3/4 Cup butter + 1 teaspoon for greasing pan
1 Cup + 2 Tablespoons AP flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Cups sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Using the 1 teaspoon butter grease an 8" round cake pan. In a small bowl combine the flour and salt. In your stand mixer beat the remaining butter until it is very creamy. Add in the sugar, then the eggs and beat until fluffy (about 3 minutes). In a small bowl combine the cocoa and oil until smooth. Add the vanilla and the cocoa mixture to the butter mixture and just blend. Add the flour mixture in 2 increments and mix until well combined then pour into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan then turn cake out onto a serving platter and garnish as desired.

Merry Christmas! 2010 was a beautiful and blessed year for me and my family and I pray yours was too. I look forward to more fun food adventures in 2011 and wish you all a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Crock pot Stroganoff

I have this silly little group of friends, whom I COMPLETELY adore and love (Becky from Vintagemixer, Aimee from Flitryss and Heather from SLClunches). We get along really well and we have really silly parties. We had a vintage cocktail party... which wasn't too silly, we had an 80's party... which was ridiculous and last night, we had a crock pot and ugly Christmas sweater party. We had a great night of eating and chatting and wore the ugliest shirts ever. I love these ladies and am thankful this holiday season for them. They are true friends and that's a rare find. I am lucky. While we were talking last night, the conversation lead to talk of blogging. I haven't done a post in over a month and have felt really "down" about being a blogger, where I fit, why I do it and where to go. These dear friends reminded me that I do this because it's fun. I have met many amazing people (my most joyous reason for blogging), I get to share my love of cooking and have fun. I am no photographer and really have never had any interest... this is something I am sure you have noticed as you look over my photos (ha!), I am not looking to write a book or make a career or loads of money from this blog... the reason I started it was to say goodbye to my gourmet food and kitchen shop that my husband and I closed yet still keep sharing food and being involved with events around this great city I live in. I can cook. It is what I know how to do, what I love to do and I really enjoy sharing my food adventures as well as these wonderful times I share with my friends.

The recipe that follows is fantastic but possibly one of the worst foods ever for photographing. Trust me enough to make it without a picture, okay? I will, however, include some photos from our evening and hope you get a good laugh out of them!

Merry Christmas!

Crock Pot Stroganoff

1 pound beef short ribs
1 Cup flour
garlic salt
oil for browning
4 Cups beef broth
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms
1 small can cream of mushroom soup
1 Cup milk
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Cup sour cream
1 package wide egg noodles

Dredge the short ribs in flour and brown in a hot cast iron skillet with oil on both sides, seasoning generously with garlic salt. Be careful not to over
crowd the meat. Once all of the ribs are browned, place in a hot crock pot and cover with 2 cups of the beef broth. Cook for 1/2 hour and add the sliced mushrooms and the remaining broth. Cook 1 hour. Add the can of soup, the milk and the Worcestershire sauce. Cook another hour and whisk in the sour cream. Continue cooking for 1/2-1 hour then serve over warm egg noodles.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Stuffed Trout

My Dad is a really good cook. He and I have different cooking styles but he is a very focused cook and everything he attempts is delicious. He dares to try new things and I love that about him. We were invited to dinner Sunday to taste a new recipe he was trying out involving a 5 pound Utah Trout he'd recently caught. Upon removing his creation from the oven he exclaimed "Blog it!" ... which I thought was really sweet and funny... then I looked at it, sent my daughter upstairs to get my sister and her "fancy" camera and had her shoot some shots. It was lovely but what's even better is it was delicious! He told me he'd searched the web and found this recipe on Taste Book. You could use a salmon or even a white fish (lean toward a more dense and less flaky fish) and it would be incredible! It's mild yet full of flavor...

Stuffed Trout

1 5-8lb. Trout
1/2lb. cooked shrimp-chopped
1/2lb. shredded crab meat (my Dad used canned)
6T butter
3T onion-finely chopped
3T parsley-chopped
3T celery-chopped
1 1/2C breadcrumbs
2 eggs-beaten
salt and pepper
extra butter

Split and clean trout (fillet if desired). Prepare shrimp and crab. Melt butter and saute onion, parsley and celery until softened. Remove from heat and add breadcrumbs, crab meat, shrimp and eggs. Mix well, season with salt and pepper and stuff trout. Brush exterior with butter and bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes. Baste with butter once while baking.

Serve with fresh lemon

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mediterranean Pasta

Mediterranean Pasta

1 package pasta (your choice)
4T olive oil
1 clove garlic
20 Kalamata olives
2 t capers
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 jar artichoke hearts (drained)
1/2C pepperoni (diced)
1C feta cheese
1 pound roasted tomatoes (see below)

Boil pasta, drain, toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and set aside.
To make the tapenade combine the olives, garlic, capers and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse for about 20 seconds then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a pan then add remaining olive oil and heat before adding the tapenade. Reduce heat to very low and saute the tapenade. Add the artichoke hearts, toss and remove from heat. Toss the sauce and pasta together, then add pepperoni and tomatoes. Sprinkle with feta and serve.

Roasted Tomatoes

1 pound plum tomatoes (halved)
3 whole cloves garlic (peeled)
2T olive oil
1t salt

Preheat oven to 250. Line 2 baking sheets with foil and place the tomatoes, skin side down, on the foil. Scatter garlic cloves throughout the tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Bake for 2 hours (the tomatoes should turn a light brown around the edges and be extremely sweetly fragrant). Cool completely and discard garlic. Toss into pasta or place in a bowl and serve them on an antipasti platter (or as a snack!).

I also like to pack them in oil, in canning jars. They freeze and keep for 2 months.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mactweets #12 "Pinkarons"


This month our Mactweets challenge was to make a pink macaron in support of breast cancer awareness... October is National Breast Cancer Awarene
ss Month. I made a simple pink macaron (basic shell) and filled the feminine little shells with Nutella. I want to dedicate these macs and this post to my friend Lynette and her dear, sweet mother, Vickey. Lynette lost her mother to breast cancer about a year and a half ago after a long and difficult battle. Vickey had survived a fight with breast cancer before in her life but this last time was too much on her body. She was such a sweet lady, Mother and Grandmother... her family misses her very much. I remember looking at Lynette and her siblings during the funeral and thinking how young they all were. All of them, in their 30's were now without a mother. Lynette had one daughter, at the time and was pregnant with her 2nd child. It was heartbreaking to think the baby would never know Grandma, Lynette would not have her mom for the pregnancy and to see how much her oldest daughter loved and missed her Grandma. This disease truly is so unfair. I have never had a personal experience with breast cancer and I pray I never do but to all of you fighting and to all of you out there, dealing with the loss of a loved one... you are in my prayers.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Ice cream

Happy Halloween!
Fall has got to be my most favorite season and time of year. I love the crisp air (except it snowed all night here in Utah)and the changing leaves, I lo
ve sweaters and boots, I love blankets and Fall decorations... it's such a gorgeous season! I also love Halloween. Not the scary and dark side... the pumpkin/jack-o-lantern, cute kid costume side. For a fun Halloween treat, make this ice cream and cuddle up under some warm fluffy blankets to enjoy it. It is especially delicious with crumbled graham crackers sprinkled all over the top of each individual serving.

1 1/2 C pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
1/2 maple syrup
1 C cream
1 C half and half
1 t cinnamon
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t ginger

Combine all ingredients and whisk together until completely mixed and frothy. Freeze according to your ice cream maker manufacturer instructions. Keep up to 2 weeks in the freezer.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Polenta and Glazed Chicken

Once Autumn rolls in I just feel like making comfort food. Warm, cozy meals at home are one of life's greatest joys. I have made polenta several times, in the past and I love it almost any way it's prepared but this recipe really simplifies it and makes it such an easy base for this dish. The chicken is slowly cooked, all day, which makes it so moist and fall apart then we top it all off with mushrooms. How can it get any better?

What are some of your favorite fall d

Glazed Chicken (slow cooked)

10 chicken pieces (legs, wings, thighs, etc.)
4T olive oil
1/4 C chicken stock
1/2 C flour
2 T honey
3/4 C bbq sauce
1 t saltfreshly ground black pepper
1 t oregano

Remove skin from chicken and place in a lightly oiled crock pot, drizzle with oil and add chicken stock. Sprinkle flour all over the top of the chicken, drizzle with honey, barbecue sauce (I used Blenders original) and seasonings. Set the crock pot to finish between 4-6 hours, depending on your day (I have it cook 5 hours).

Go enjoy your day but 1/2 hour prior to the chicken being done, make the polenta and the mushrooms.

Creamy Polenta

4 C water
1/2 t salt
1 1/4 C cornmeal4 T butter
1/2 C cream
2 T Parmesan cheese

Bring water and salt to a boil. Add cornmeal and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Add butter and combine completely then stir in the cream.

Brown 1 pound of sliced mushrooms (your choice... I love crimin
i and oyster) in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter. Add one clove of minced garlic at the last minute of cooking.

To plate: spoon approx. 1/2 cup of polenta onto a dish and top with a piece of the chicken then dress with mushrooms and garnish with the Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Double Coconut Cream Cake

We were invited to dinner and asked to bring a dessert this past weekend. I like to take something new to dinner parties and I had recently played with a coconut cake idea/recipe that I was ready to fully put together. This cake is it friends! If you are a coconut lover (and I am) you will just very much enjoy this cake. I always check to make sure everyone likes coconut before I cook with it because my best friend hates the stuff! She gags at the slightest whiff of coconut. It cracks me up to see someone hate something so naturally sweet and delicious. I found this fantastic card, years back, that read "I am glad we can still be best friends despite our difference of opinion about coconut." and immediately bought it for her! The friends we dined with last night loved this cake and I hope you will too.

Double Coconut Cream Cake

1 C coconut milk (plus 1/2 C for soaking cakes)
1/2 C milk
2 sticks plus 2T butter
3C flour
4t baking powder
1t sea salt
6 eggs
3C sugar
2t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350, grease and flour 2 9" cake rounds. Heat milks and butter, in a saucepan until butter melts, remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temp. In a large bowl sift together dry ingredients and set aside. In a mixer, cream eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow. With a spatula, stir dry ingredients in by hand and then add the cooled milk mixture. Combine completely and add vanilla. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pans and completely on wire racks. Once cooled brush cakes with remaining coconut milk (I pierced tiny holes throughout the cakes and brushed them with the milk).

Frosting and Filling

2 1/2 sticks butter
4 C powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
2 T coconut milk
3/4 C sweetened coconut

Whip butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy then add vanilla and milk (if needed, add more sugar to keep consistency). Add coconut and frost one layer of cake (adding a bit extra to the center to fill it and make it stack nicely). Place the top layer on the bottom layer and frost completely.

*While frosting the cake, toast 1 cup of sweetened coconut at 325 for 8 minutes to toast it and then sprinkle it on the freshly frosted cake.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Long Ago and Far Away

"A Childhood Summer"

The challenge for this month was to create a macaron capturing a favorite childhood/summertime memory. That is difficult. I had a happy childhood and summers full of slip-n-slides, ice cream trucks, slumber parties, movies with content far older than my little mind, digging for worms in the yard with my father, school clothes shopping with my mother, babysitting my sister, "laying out" with my friends (on the driveway.. ha!), calling the radio d.j.'s 50 times a day to request my favorite song and then turning it up so loud on my "boom box" so we could be cool while we tanned, swinging so high on swings I truly thought I might fly (... and if I didn't fly, I knew I was some sort of unrecognized world champion of swing sets), roller skating (again... champion!) and birthday parties. My birthday falls in June and my parents threw me some shin-digs! How do you capture this many "favorite" memories in a little bite? Not easily and I have not done my childhood summers justice but I did combine two things that so make me happy: purple and chocolate. I thought to myself, "What can capture THAT much happiness?" The answer: purple. It is my favorite color, the color of 4 childhood bedrooms I had, the color of my wedding, the best color ever. How fortunate I feel tonight, as I type this, to have had such a peaceful AND thrilling childhood that I can not nail down a favorite memory.

Happy end of summer friend
These summer macarons are a simple shell, dyed purple with whipped chocolate ganache center.

* These macs didn't really rise tall but they did get lovely feet. They are flat with feet this time and I am not super pleased with them but we have to post the successes as well as the failures, right? Right? :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Layla Grill and Mezze

Last week I had the pleasure of dining at a new restaurant here in Salt Lake city with a group of local food loving friends. The restaurant is Layla (which used to be Confetti) and is a Mediterranean delight. We were treated to a round of small plates (mezze) from the owner; Tony Tadros. He is quite the kitchen expert in his field and served us up a table of small plates that made our mouths water including: Layla's Traditional Hummus, Muhammara Walnut Spread, Falafel, Halloum Cheese and Layla's Signature Fries. My personal favorite was the Muhammara Walnut Spread. This small plate consists of fire roasted red peppers, toasted walnuts and pomegranate molasses and is completely sweet and spicy with the delicious crunch of walnut and served with Zaatar Flatbread and Pita Chips. The menu warns it is "highly addictive." It does not lie. For a complete menu description, please visit Layla's menu here. From there, we each ordered the entree of our choice and I chose the Mediterranean Chicken which was a pan roasted chicken breast served with garlic, capers and lemon. Very fresh, very authentic. We had the opportunity to sample the ice creams made exclusively for Layla by Tropical Dreams. They were a palate cleansing joy to nicely round out our full flavored meals. We were able to taste the rose water, orange blossom, lychee and pistachio ice creams. The rose water is just as you would expect and even got the comment of "tasting like a bath" (lavender gets a similar rating whenever I cook with it), the orange blossom was so light and wonderful and the lychee tasted exactly like a lychee. The hit was the pistachio! It was perfectly creamy and flavorful. You can visit Tropical Dreams storefront to try their other signature flavors.

Layla gets a star rating from me for good, authentic Mediterranean food in a clean and appealing, well decorated atmosphere with such excellent prices but what makes it even better is the passion behind the food with an owner who puts his heart into the dishes he prepares for you. Give them a visit and see for yourself what a treat this little hidden up and coming restaurant is.
Layla Grill and Mezze on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Twist On The Green Goddess

With all of this fall talk I got to thinking I should bid summer a proper farewell and pay tribute to the lovely things it brings with this salad recipe. This is my sweet husbands favorite salad and he requested it this week so it's only right to share it with you. It's bursting with flavor and really can be made anytime but just screams summer. It was a nice way to say goodbye to my least favorite season of the year (don't get me wrong... I like summer... just "least" of the 4 options I have). As much as I enjoy vacations and swimming pools and outdoor festivals all over the awesome city I reside in, I loathe heat and sweat and heat and blazing bright sun that makes my sensitive eyes water and HEAT! That being said, please enjoy this summer farewell salad as I tap my fingers (impatiently) watching the thermometer drop.

Bye Bye Summer Salad

1 head romaine lettuce
3 tomatoes (seeded and chopped)
1/4 jalapeno (finely diced)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 boneless chicken breasts

Wash and tear the lettuce and toss into a salad bowl. In another bowl combine the beans, tomatoes jalapeno and salt and set aside. Season chicken breasts to your liking (I drizzle with olive oil and season lightly with salt, pepper and oregano) then grill and shred. Set aside.

A Twist on The Green Goddess ~Dressing~

2 avocados
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 Cup sour cream
juice from 2 limes (about 4 Tablespoons)
salt and pepper

In a blender combine all above ingredients and mix well (the dressing will be a pale green color and thick... almost like a paste). Pour the dressing over the lettuce and toss well (*note* I reserve about 1/2 cup of the dressing and chill it over night to eat the next day on tortillas).

Once the lettuce is thoroughly coated and dripping with this tasty dressing, spoon the black bean "salsa" over the top of the salad and top with shredded chicken breast.

To finish the salad off, I purchased fresh tortillas from the grocery store, sliced them into strips, drizzled them with canola oil, sprinkled them with sea salt and baked them at 350 for 20 minutes. You could also make your own homemade tortillas or just use chips. The strips do make for a nice salty crunch!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pumpkin Buttermilk Cake and Peach Butter

I love fall. I welcome it with open, awaiting arms far earlier than I probably should and I try my best to stretch it as far as it will go. Sweaters, boots, blankets, coffee, shorter days, playing in leaves, long drives to see the colors changing in the canyon and pumpkin. Pumpkin everything. I have the standards: pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin candles, sure but I am always on the lookout for something newly pumpkin every fall. This year I have discovered a pumpkin cake more richly moist and lovely then any I have ever tasted before. I love you all so much and love sharing food SO much that I am passing it along so that we all might enjoy this fall together. The reason I include this precious peach butter in the same post is that we cracked it open to serve alongside the cake and magic happened! They compliment each other so beautifully that they are now married forever and shall never part. What could be more seasonally perfect than pumpkin AND peaches? Welcome, welcome fall. I love you.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Cake

1 Cup unsalted butter ~room temp.
2 1/4 Cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 Cup pumpkin puree
3/4 Cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 Cup sugar
3 eggs ~room temp.
Preheat oven to 350 and generously grease and flour a bundt pan.
In a stand mixer, whip butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In a large bowl combine: flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt. In a separate bowl combine: pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla. Once sugar and butter are whipped fluffy add eggs one at a time. Alternate adding the dry and wet mixtures and combine completely. Pour into prepared pan and bake 40-45 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes and then turn out onto a cake stand.

*I sprinkled a thick layer of cinnamon chips all over the bottom of the batter before I baked the cake this time and it wa
s delectable!
Peach Butter

4 pounds peaches ~pitted and chopped
3/4 Cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
light sprinkle of nutmeg (as much/little as you wish)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons dark agave nectar
1/8 Cup dark rum (or bourbon... you choose)

Heat the peaches in a large saucepan and allow them to release their juices for about 5 minutes and add sugar. Simmer another 5 minutes and add cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice and agave. Reduce for about 20 minutes (the mixture will turn darker and will reduce by about 1/2 of the liquid). Turn heat off and add rum (or bourbon). Mix well and cool, stove top, for 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse to a puree. Pour into sterilized jars, seal and turn upside down until cool.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mushroom Ravioli (from scratch)

Every year I make my daughters a "back-to-school" night dinner. This dinner can be anything they wish and is served the night before school begins. My oldest daughter entered 8Th grade this year and her tastes are maturing. She requested homemade mushroom ravioli. Last year it was sushi but, for the most part, all previous years have either been buttered pasta or pizza. I was excited to make this meal and wanted to make it extra special for her. I made the pasta and rolled it out on my own versus a machine, cut the ravioli by hand and filled it with a mushroom mixture that brought us all to our knees. It ended her summer perfectly and filled us all for a good nights rest to prepare for the next morning.

Ravioli Dough
2 Cups flour
2 eggs
1/4 Cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 Tablespoons water

On a large work surface place your flour in a mound. Make a w
ell in the center and crack your eggs into it, then add the olive oil, sea salt and water. Mix slowly with your hands until all ingredients are incorporated. Form into a ball, cover with a damp towel and leave on the counter for 45 minutes. Roll dough out to a thin disc (as thin as you can get it with a rolling pin and muscle) or use a pasta machine and thin the dough out that way. Cut the disc into 30 individual circles and discard remaining dough. Place a tablespoon of the mushroom filling in the center of one circle, wet the outer edge with water and your fingertip and place another circle on top of that. Pinch/crimp edges to seal completely and set aside. Repeat this process until you have 15 lovely little raviolis. Boil a large pot of salted water and cook ravioli (5 at a time... in 3 batches) for 4 minutes or until they float to the top of the water and add a minute to that.
Mushroom Filling

12 ounces mushrooms (I used button, oyster and shiitake)
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup fresh Italian Leaf parsley
4 Tablespoons heavy cream
salt and pepper

Wipe clean and slice all mushrooms. Heat a skillet and add oil till it's near smoking and add garlic then mushrooms (only a little at a time so as not to overcrowd... otherwise your mushrooms will not properly brown). Remove to a plate
and toss with parsley, cream, salt and pepper. Process this mixture in a food processor to a puree and fill your ravioli. Reserve 1/2 cup for cream sauce.
Cream Sauce

2 Cups heavy cream
1/2 Cup mushroom filling
1 Tablespoon butter
Fresh Parmesan to top
Heat cream in a saucepan and add mushroom filling. Whisk in butter and pour over fresh, warm ravioli then sprinkle with fresh cheese.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Organic Almond Shortbread

Sometimes it's difficult to find that perfect, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. The kind with a light crisp but still has a deep butter flavor that is sweet with a little salt. Agree? I think this recipe really hits the spot. It might be the tastiest shortbread I have had. If not, it comes close. Check out my Christmas shortbread... it's wonderful too! My Coraline Shortbread is great as well (cutest cookie ever!). This little cookie begs to be dunked in a cup of coffee but is also great standing alone. I chose to use all organic ingredients for this recipe to see how much of a difference I noticed and... I did notice a more unique and full flavor. More than that, the texture was terrific and I know that is due to the flour. Organic flour goes through much less processing and makes for softer, more consistent baking.

Organic Almond Shortbread

1 C organic unsalted butter (room temp)
1/2 C organic brown sugar
1/2 t almond extract
1/2 t salt
2 C organic flour

Cream butter, brown sugar and extract for five minutes (it should be pale and fluffy). Add salt and flour and mix until it comes together. Form the remaining crumbles into the dough with your hands and preheat your oven to 350. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough out to a 8x12" rectangle and slice into squares/rectangles. Place on baking sheets and pierce with a fork. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool completely.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cheese Filled Filo Puffs

Last week my friend Becky of VintageMixer arranged an evening for several of us local SLC foodies to gather at her home to discuss her husband, Josh Rosenthal's, new book 'An Oak Tree Late In Winter'. We were each asked to bring a small plate/light appetizer to nibble on while we shared our feelings on the book and discussed life and the memories that fill it, together, as friends. I chose this small plate and I was delighted with it. It's delicate and full of flavor. I'd serve it again... and will. It was an evening I enjoyed very much and I encourage you to get yourself a copy of Josh's book. It is an honest and open expression of Josh and will hit the heart of every reader in a very personal way, I am sure. It is a great joy for me to have the chance to give the book a little plug here on my little blog. For more information go here.
Cheese Filled Filo Puffs

1/2 C ricotta cheese
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
6 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 C chopped Italian parsley
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
9 sheets frozen filo dough, thawed
1/3 C butter, melted

In a large bowl combine the cheeses, garlic, parsley, egg, salt and pepper. After thoroughly washing your hands, combine all ingredients completely. Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly oil 2 baking sheets. Roll Filo out into one flat stack and cut lengthwise into thirds. Brush dough lightly with butter and work with one strip at a time. Place one tablespoon of the filling about one inch up from the bottom of the strip and bring the corner up over it. Continue in the same motion (folding corner over corner) until you reach the top of the strip, tuck under and place on a baking sheet. Continue until all filling/dough is used up and brush all of the tops with butter. Bake until edges are golden brown (about 20 minutes) and allow to cool slightly before serving.

*When working with Filo, keep the dough you are not working directly with covered with a damp towel to prevent drying.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mactweets Challenge #10 A Summer Flick

This months Mactweets challenge was to design a macaron around a favorite film. Being a total pop culture fiend, I was yet again... excited!!! Although I am late posting (I have good reason... my daughter turned 13 this past weekend, we decided to completely redo her room for her birthday and have torn our home apart in doing so, my baby started kindergarten... these sorts of things have put me behind), I did put a lot of thought into this. I really tried to think of a clever way to design a macaron showing my love for the late John Hughes who created the majority of my favorite movies: Pretty In Pink (my all time favorite movie ever), The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, She's Having a Baby, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Some Kind Of Wonderful, Weird Science plus about... oh... 100 more but I could not come up with one that summed up his genius and someone already did Pretty In Pink macs for the song challenge. What other movies do I love? I love The Family Stone but could not think of a mac to fit it. I love Chocolat but that's too simple. I love Dan In Real Life but again... a mac? Then it hit me. My childhood favorite movie was (well, is) Grease. Grease IS the word.

My macarons are "The T Birds" meet "The Pink Ladies"...


1 C powdered sugar 3 T plus 1t sugar
1/2 C almond meal 1 T black Wilton gel color
2 aged egg whites

Lingonberry Cream~

1/2 C butter 3 C powdered sugar
1/4 C lingonberry syrup
2 t pink Wilton gel color

Combine powdered sugar and almond meal in a bowl. Set aside. Beat egg whites until they are glossy and firm then add sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks for
m then add the food color and beat until combined. Fold egg whites into the almond meal mixture with a rubber spatula quickly but gently until completely combined. Put the mixture into a pastry bag and pipe out onto a template. Allow the shells to rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes then place in a preheated 280 degree oven (I bake mine convection) for 12-15 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on the sheet and then on a rack. For the lingonberry cream; whip butter for 5 minutes and gradually add powdered sugar then syrup (it will tint pink) and then the food color. Pipe into shell centers and sandwich together.

Monday, August 16, 2010


If you think homemade doughnuts are difficult, you are wrong. I thought the same thing till I tried them on my own. Read through this post and nothing is stopping you from serving delicious doughnuts for brunch this weekend. They just take a little planning... like any bread. Start them the night before or early the morning you plan to enjoy them. I like my doughnuts simple but I know a lot of people enjoy them glazed and sprinkled and frosted to the gills. Doll them up however you wish, stack them on a platter placed in the center of your dining table and spend some time eating with the people you love.

Homemade Donuts

2 1/4 t active dry yeast
2 T warm water
3 1/4 C flour (plus a little extra)
1 C room temp. milk
1/2 stick butter, softened
3 egg yolks
2 T sugar
1 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 nutmeg

6-8 C oil for frying

Combine yeast and warm water in a bowl, stir to combine and allow yeast to foam 5 minutes. Combine flour, milk, butter, egg yolks, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in your mixer and add yeast mixture. Mix for 5 minutes. Scrape the dough down and sprinkle lightly with flour (this prevents a crust from forming on your dough). Cover with a warm, damp towel and allow to rise for 2 hours or place in the refrigerator overnight.

Roll dough out onto a floured surface until it is about 12" in diameter. Cut out one dozen donuts with a doughnut cutter and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and allow to rise 45 minutes. Fill a deep pot 1/2 way with oil and heat to 350. Place 2-3 doughnuts at a time in the pan and fry 2 minutes on each side (until lightly browned) and drain on a plate lined with a paper towel. From this point, I like to place them in a paper sack with sugar and shake them till they are covered in a nice sugar coating to make sugar doughnuts but my family also enjoys the following 2 glazes:

Espresso Glaze

1/4 C water
1/2 C maple syrup
3 T sugar
3T espresso powder
3 T powdered sugar

Bring all ingredients to a boil until completely dissolved and spoon over warm doughnuts. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and serve.

Lemon Glaze

1/4 C water
2 T butter
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
1/2 C powdered sugar

Bring all ingredients to a boil until completely dissolved and spoon over warm doughnuts. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and serve.

*Make sure to fry up the doughnut holes too! Sprinkled with cinnamon sugar... such a childhood memory!

Monday, August 9, 2010

2 recipes in 1 post

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

2 1/4 t active dry yeast
1/4 C sugar1 1/4 C warm milk
1/2 stick butter-room temp.1 t salt
1 egg
3/4 t nutmeg
4 C flour

2 T sugar
3 t cinnamon
2 t unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine yeast, a pinch of sugar and 1/4 cup of the warm milk in a bowl and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes. The yeast will be soft.
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1 cup of the warm milk, the butter and 1/4 cup sugar. Mix for 3 minutes. Add the salt, egg, vanilla and nutmeg (freshly grated or organic are best). Mix for another minute. Your mixture will look lumpy... expect this and add the yeast mixture, mixing for another two minutes. Add
2 1/2 cups of the flour, combine and remove the paddle. Add your dough hook attachment now. Add another 1 cup of flour and mix. The dough will be sticky now... add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour and knead on low for about 5 minutes. The dough will be soft and shiny.
Butter a large bowl and turn the dough once, into it. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in volume (1-2 hours). Place the dough ball onto a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes (I placed
mine in the refrigerator overnight).
Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa. Lightly flour a large work surface and roll the dough out to 12x18. Butter the surface and sprinkle with the dry mixture. Roll, starting with the short side of the dough. Place roll into a buttered bread pan and tuck the ends under the bottom. Let dough rise 1 hour and place pan on a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 375. Melt the remaining butter and brush over the top of the loaf. Bake for 20 minutes and then tent with foil for an additional 20 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, invert onto a rack and cool completely.

This bread is delicious served warm with butter and ja
m and also makes an INCREDIBLE french toast. This bread takes some time but good things come to those who wait and patience is a virtue, right? It's amazing and makes everyone enjoying it feel loved. There is something special and cozy about warm bread and butter... especially when they come with homemade jam!

Easy as it gets Fresh Plum Jam

2 1/2 pounds fresh plums
1 C sugar
1/4 t almond extract

Wash plums thoroughly and slice them, removing pits but keeping the skin on. Place all of the sliced plums into a large pot and cook for 5 minut
es, stirring frequently so as not to burn the tender fruit. Add all of the sugar and mix well. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat and add the almond extract. Cool for 15 minutes, in the pot, then transfer to a food processor or blender and blend really well. Transfer to the jars of your choice (I used Kerr 1/2 pint jars), seal and lid, turn upside down while hot and allow to cool, countertop, upside down. Once cooled these will keep for 2 months unopened and 1 month opened and refrigerated.
I love fresh, simple jam. No pectin, not many additions, just a few basic ingredients. The plums have a natural spice to them so this almost pulls a cinnamon/spice flavor. It's delectable.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


How cool is this?!!? August 10th is Duran Duran Appreciation Day! Yeah... they have their very own appreciation day! I love the boys of Duran times 2... sigh... swoon... Simon... how I loved you... love you. Who doesn't like Duran Duran? Really? They are all things that made the 80's grand: beautiful group of musically minded guys with the fashion sense (ok I admit... "fashion sense" might be pushing it for the 80's) to boot! They could sing and make music videos like nobody's business. They had us girls eating it up (with a spoon... like gag me!). Come on... tell me you didn't want to paint your face like a tiger and sing 'Rio' at top volume! And the colored leather vests with no shirt under?!? Please!

Sooo... my like minded pal Chris of Melecotte thought a
dedicatory blog post was in order and I was all about being a part of it! Ode to Duran Duran; Hungry Like the Wolf Blog Event. Make a dish of your choosing, tie it to the band and post. Done deal!

From the hit that is 'Rio' I give you "Cherry Ice Cream smile... I suppose it's very nice..."


2 Cups fresh, pitted cherries
1 Cup sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 1/2 Cups vanilla flavored yogurt

Remove the pits from your cherries and toss into a bowl along with the sugar and almond extract. Allow to chill for on
e hour to "marinate". Stir in lemon juice and yogurt and pour into your prepared ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers directions. Freeze completely for at least one hour and up to one week in the freezer.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Zucchini Brownies

People from Utah know zucchini. If you don't grow it yourself, your neighbor does and is willing to unload an abundance of it on you for the duration of the summer. I am always shocked to hear how many non-Utah friends have never heard of zucchini brownies. It shocks them to hear I make them. Zucchini is versatile. You can fry it, bake it, eat it raw, julienne it into a delicious summer pasta, add it to a fresh salad, saute' it and even sneak it into brownies! Not only does it give brownies at least some nutritional value, it makes them heavenly. The zucchini gives the brownie added moisture and volume and really makes them quite irresistible. I top mine off with a dark cocoa butter cream and they don't last two days before they are eaten up.

This is a recipe that started in my father's kitchen, got better with my mother's touch and has been perfected (wink) in my kitchen. Enjoy
my fellow foodie friends!


1 1/2C sugar
1/2C vegetable oil
2C all purpose flour
1/4C cocoa
2C peeled and shredded zu
2t vanilla
1t salt
1 1/2t baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8x11 baking pan.
In a stand mixer combine the sugar, oil and flour. While mixing, on low, add cocoa, zucchini, vanilla, salt and baking soda until completely combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until edges are darker then center and center is set. Cool completely and frost with the following:

1C unsalted butter
4C powdered sugar
1/4C cocoa1t vanilla

Whip butter until very light and fluffy (about 5 minutes) and add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until combined. Add cocoa and vanilla and whip an additional 3 minutes. Frost the brownies generously.