Oct 1, 2012

Peach Blueberry Crumble

peach blueberry crisp

Sigh, it is so sad when local peach season is over.  Luckily I stocked up this year and froze a bunch of them so I can enjoy them all winter.  I made this peach-blueberry crisp when they were at the peach of perfection and it was unreal.  My husband who does not really even enjoy fruity desserts loved this (although I think he had as much whipped cream as he had crisp).  Enjoy!

peach blueberry crisp 2


For the Filling:

  • 2 pounds fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into wedges
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup blueberries

For the Crumble:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Make the Filling: Combine the peach slices and sugar in a large bowl and let stand for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Drain the peaches in a colander set over a large bowl, reserving the drained juices.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of the drained peach juice, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt (you can discard any excess peach juice). Return the peach slices to a large bowl and toss with the juice mixture. Gently fold in the blueberries and transfer the fruit mixture to a 2-quart baking dish.

4. Make the Crumble: While the peaches are draining, you can start on the topping. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter and vanilla extract and use a pastry blender to work the butter into the flour and sugar mixture. Blend it together until a crumbly mass forms.

5. Transfer the mixture to a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread out into a single layer. Bake until the crumbles are lightly browned and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

6. Assemble & Bake: Transfer the baked crumbles to the top of the peach and blueberry filling, spreading it into an even layer. Break up any large pieces and lightly tamp down on the crumbles so they adhere to the filling.

7. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of granulated sugar evenly over the top of the crumble. Bake until the crumble is golden brown and the fruit filling is bubbling around the edges, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Source: Brown-eyed Baker

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Sep 4, 2012

Pesto Turkey (or Chicken) Burger

pesto turkey burger 1

I pretty much only cooked on our grill for the entire Summer – it was just too hot in the kitchen!   Also the main reason I haven’t been doing any baking either!   But these pesto turkey (or chicken) burgers are just too good to pass up.  I liked that the pesto was a mix of spinach and basil – so it wasn’t overpowering and provided even more nutrients.   Enjoy this for the rest of Summer while it lasts!


  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. ground turkey or chicken
  • fresh tomato slices
  • sliced fresh mozzarella
  • burger buns


1. In a food processor, combine the basil, spinach, garlic and walnuts.   Add in the oil while the machine is running.  Add in 1 Tbsp. of water and season with salt and pepper.  Scrape down sides of the bowl until pesto is all combined.

2. Heat grill over medium-high.   Combine 1 Tbsp. pesto, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and chicken or turkey and form into 4-5 patties. 

3. Grill patties, covered for about 4 –6 minutes.  Flip patties and top with cheese.  Add tomatoes to the grill and grill until lightly charred.  Toast buns.

4.  Assemble burgers with tomatoes and extra pesto.  

Source: Everyday Food July/Aug 2012

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Aug 10, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

chocolate zucchini bread 1

It’s the time of year where zucchini start winding up on your doorstep – or in my case, my desk at work.  I only grow herbs in my garden – but I know that people who grow zucchini wind up with more of it than they know what to do with.  I am always happy to take any extra – just one less thing to buy at the market!   I always make my favorite summer meal – summer pasta bolognese – whenever I get a fresh summer zucchini.  But I decided that its been too long since I made any sort of quick bread so this chocolate zucchini version was in order.   Especially since I was already grating the zucchini in my food processor for dinner – it made sense to grate some for this recipe as well. 

chocolate zucchini bread 2


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. espresso powder, optional
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease an 8 1/2” by 4 1/2” loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl combine the eggs, honey, oil, brown sugar and vanilla.  Beat until smooth. 

3. Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder, cocoa and flour, stirring just until combined.

4. Fold in the chocolate chips and the shredded zucchini.  Pour into the loaf pan.

5. Bake for 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick(tester) comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

Source: King Arthur Flour

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Aug 8, 2012

Key lime Bars

key lime bars 1

When its hot – and this summer has been HOT – I crave citrusy desserts.  I’ve been meaning to make key lime bars forever.  And I don’t know what has taken me so long to finally make them.  They are so refreshing and the perfect summer dessert.  The crunchy toasted coconut on top – gives these the perfect tropical crunch.  Get yourself a margarita or pina colada and you will be all set for a perfect summer evening.  

key lime bars 3

yep – you really need to make these now!  Enjoy!

key lime bars 2


For the crust:

  • 5 oz. animal crackers
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • pinch table salt
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the filling:

  • 2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lime zest
  • pinch table salt
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (key or regular limes)


  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a 8 inch square baking dish with a foil sling and spray foil with baking spray.

2. In a food processor, pulse animal crackers until broken down – about 10 1-second pulses.  Add brown sugar and salt and continue to process – about 12 1-second pulses.  Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse to combine.   Press crumbs firmly into bottom of prepared pan.  Bake until golden brown – 18 to 20 minutes.  Cool on wire rack while making filling.  Do not turn off oven.

3. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, zest, and salt with a rubber spatula until softened and combined.   Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain.  Whisk in egg yolk and lime juice until incorporated.

4. Pour filling into crust and bake until set and edges begin to pull away from sides of the pan – about 15 to 20 minutes.   Cool on wire rack fro 1 hour then refrigerate until chilled – at least 2 hours.

5. Remove bars from pan and cut into 16 squares.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut and serve.

Source: Cooks Illustrated

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Aug 6, 2012

Brownie bites

brownie bites 1

Whenever I make a dessert for work or a large gathering I always try to make something that is all ready to grab-n-go – no cutting or scooping involved.   That is what I loved about these brownie bites – there were the perfect size and very people pleasing.  Who doesn’t love a bite of brownie – topped with chocolate ganache and toffee bits or sprinkles (or walnuts or coconut, etc. etc.)

brownie bites 2


For the brownies:
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
5 1/3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

For the ganache:
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

For topping:
Toffee bits, sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut, etc..


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan.  Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the unsweetened chocolate and butter.  Cook and stir over medium-low heat just until melted and smooth.  Remove the pan from the heat. 

3. Add the sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt, and whisk until combined.  Stir in the flour until just incorporated.  Spoon a heaping tablespoon of batter into each mini muffin cup. 

4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until completely set.  Allow to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes.  Remove brownies from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. To make the ganache: heat the whipping cream in a small saucepan over medium heat just until it simmers; remove from the heat.  Add the bittersweet chocolate to the heated cream, let stand for 30 seconds, then whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is well blended.

6. Gently dip the top of each brownie in the ganache and then sprinkle with toppings.  Allow the glaze to set completely before serving.

Source: Annie’s Eats

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Jun 28, 2012

Funfetti Cupcakes

funfetti cupcakes 2funfetti cupcakes 1

Umm – you really do not need a good reason to make these cupcakes – you just need to make them!  They are so much fun to make and to eat – who doesn’t get a smile on their face when they see colorful sprinkles?  You wouldn’t be human if these didn’t make you happy. 

The cupcake was light and airy and the frosting was perfectly buttery and sweet.  There are lots of sprinkles – both inside and out of these beauties. 

I know that the people who I made them for thoroughly enjoyed it  based on the sweet thank you note that I got.  And I hope you enjoy them too! 

funfetti cupcake 3funfetti cupcake 4


makes approximately 24-28 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 and 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 12 Tbsp. (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1/3  cup colored sprinkles

For the vanilla buttercream:

  • 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 4 cups (1 pound) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • Sprinkles, for garnish


1. For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Line your 24 cupcake trays with liners of your choice.

3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the milk, egg whites, and vanilla extracts, whisking until well-combined.

4. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and on low speed, combine the  flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.

5. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

6. Add all but 1/2-cup of the milk mixture to the batter and beat at medium-high speed for about 2 minutes.

7. Add the remaining milk mixture and mix at medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

8. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the sprinkles until thoroughly combined.

9. Divide the mixture evenly among your cupcake liners and bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-22 minutes. Let cool completely.

10. For the frosting: In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt on low speed until combined.

11. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 90 seconds or so.

12. Pipe as desired onto the completely cooled cupcakes. Decorate with additional sprinkles.

Source: The Curvy Carrot

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Jun 25, 2012

Mediterranean Chicken and Rice

mediterranean chicken and rice 1

We had a very unusual winter this year for Buffalo, NY.  You know – the place that people think is buried in feet of snow every day in the winter.   Well, we barely had any this year – and if we did it melted right away.   I think we did snowblow the driveway one time the entire winter – which is unheard of.   So this Summer when I was inspecting my herb garden – I was shocked to see that so many things that usually don’t survive the winter were growing – parsley, sage, rosemary. 

So I was excited to have my summer stash of fresh herbs for cooking ready and available without a trip to the market for plants.  

This was a really flavorful, easy one dish meal. We love Mediterranean flavors so this was definitely a keeper.  The only caveat was that it was not that great as leftovers – something about olives being re-heated in the microwave just threw this off for me when I was eating it the next day.  Otherwise – enjoy!  

mediterranean chicken and rice 2


  • 1/3 cup of pitted kalamata olives, chopped plus 1/4 cup of olive brine reserved
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley


1. Combine olive brine, 3 Tbsp. oil, 1 Tbsp. oregano, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 tsp. lemon zest, 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a ziploc bag.  Pat chicken dry and place in bag – shake to coat.  Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, turning occasionally.

2. Remove chicken from bag and pat dry.  Heat 1 1/2 tsp. oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook chicken until browned – about 3-5 minutes per side.  Transfer to plate and set aside.

3. Microwave 1 1/4 cups broth and rice in a covered large bowl until liquid is absorbed – 6 to 8 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.

4. Add remaining 1 1/2 tsp. oil and onion to now-empty skillet and cook over medium heat until softened – about 5 minutes.  Stir in 2 tsp. oregano and remaining garlic.  Add in remaining 3/4 cup of broth and rice and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits.

5. Return chicken to skillet and cook, covered over medium-low until the meat registers 160 degrees F and the rice is tender – about 8 to 12 minutes.   Transfer chicken to cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

6. Off heat, stir in olives, tomatoes, and 2 Tbsp. parsley into rice.  Slice chicken into 1/2 inch slices and sprinkle with a mixture of remaining 2 Tbsp. parsley, 1 tsp. oregano and 1 tsp. lemon zest.  Season with salt and pepper and serve. 

Source: Cooks Country Feb/Mar 2012

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Jun 11, 2012

Layered Mediterranean Dip

mediterranean dip 2

We had a birthday party for my Mom a few weeks back – it was a nice, casual picnic with our family.   I knew that my family would love this dip – it has everything you could ever want in it.  Hummus, cilantro pesto, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, onion feta cheese……yum!   It was a fun twist on the usual layered taco dip you get at parties.

It was a huge hit and definitely something I will be making again – especially considering I only had a few bites of it before it was gone Smile  Enjoy!

mediterranean dip 1


For the cilantro pesto:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 Tbsp. pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To assemble the dip:

  • Hummus
  • Cilantro pesto (above)
  • Cucumber, seeded and diced
  • Red onion, diced
  • Sliced Kalamata olives
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • diced Sun-dried tomatoes


1. To make the cilantro pesto: combine the cilantro, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse repeatedly until a coarse paste forms.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the processor running, add the remaining olive oil in a steady stream and process until smooth.  Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan.

2. To assemble the dip: spread a layer of hummus on a serving platter or dish.  Spread the cilantro pesto over the top of the hummus.  Layer evenly with cucumber, red onion, olives, feta, and sun-dried tomatoes as desired.  Garnish with an additional few tablespoons of minced fresh cilantro.  Serve with pita chips.

Source: Annie’s Eats

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Jun 6, 2012

Weeknight Spaghetti and Meatballs

weeknight spaghetti and meatballs 1

Whenever I make meatballs – the first night we always have meatball subs or ‘bombers’ as we like to call them.   Partly because it’s enough work to mix the meatballs and cook them and I often don’t want to also boil water and cook pasta.   And then we rarely have leftover meatballs to use with pasta since my husband will eat a meatball bomber everyday of the week until they are gone. 

So that is why I liked the idea of this ‘weeknight’ spaghetti and meatballs – one dish and get both your pasta and your meatball! 

weeknight spaghetti and meatballs 2


  • 1 lb. meatloaf mix
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 8 –12 oz. spaghetti, broken in half
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • salt and pepper


1. Combine meat, bread crumbs, egg, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper in bowl and knead until combined. 

2. Form into 1-inch meatballs and preheat oil in a 12-inch skillet until smoking.   Cook meatballs until browned all over; transfer to a plate and set aside.

3. Add remaining 2 minced garlic cloves to the skillet and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add tomatoes, water and pasta and bring to a boil.  Cover, and reduce heat until medium-low, stirring often until pasta begins to soften, about 7 minutes.  

4. Return meatballs to pan and simmer, covered, until meatballs are cooked through and pasta is al dente, about 5 minutes longer.   Off heat, stir in basil and season with salt and pepper.

Source: Cook’s Country Feb/Mar 2012

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Jun 4, 2012

Chocolate Toffee Shortbread bars

chocolate toffe shortbread 1

One of the ‘difficult’ things about having a food blog is when you bake something to give away you need to make sure you have time to photograph and taste each item that you bake before its gone.   I made these chocolate toffee shortbread bars and the chocolate needed to harden before I could cut/photograph them.   So I had to wait until the next morning to do that. 

Nothing like being a little late for work just to get a photo of these delicious beauties.   Completely worth the extra step in my morning routine to get some photos of these. 

chocolate toffee shortbread 3

The best part was sneaking one (or two) of these in my lunch for the day Winking smile  Enjoy!

chocolate toffee shortbread 2


For the shortbread base:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips

For the topping:

  • 6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups toffee bits or chopped toffee bars


1. Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line a 9 x 13" baking dish with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. 

2. To make the shortbread: combine the flour, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl; stir to blend and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugars and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, beat in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips until evenly distributed. 

3. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and press into an even layer covering the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the shortbread is bubbling.  Remove the pan from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.

4. Sprinkle the 6 ounces of chocolate chips evenly over the top of the cookie base.  Cover the pan with foil and let sit for 5 minutes.  Remove the foil and use an offset spatula to spread the melted chocolate evenly over the crust in a thin layer.  Immediately sprinkle the toffee bits over the melted chocolate and press down gently to adhere. 

5. Let the bars cool to room temperature.  When the topping is set, remove from the pan, transfer to a cutting board and slice into bars.

Source: Annie’s Eats

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May 23, 2012

Oatmeal Fudge Crumble Bars

oatmeal fudge crumble bars

I *love* having an excuse to bake – I really do not need much convincing.  So when my husband requests treats to bring to a group he is working with – I am more than happy to oblige.  The hard part for me is picking out what to make.  These beauties have been on my pinterest dessert board for a while now – so they seemed like the perfect treat to make for a group.   The crunch oatmeal crust and topping and the gooey, chocolaty centers were a perfect dessert treat.   Enjoy! 

oatmeal fudge crumble bars 2


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups oats

fudge layer:

  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 can (15 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan.

2. In a large bowl sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. In large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until combined. Add vanilla and mix well.

4. Add the sifted flour mixture and mix until combined. Stir in oatmeal.

5. Gently spread 2/3 crust into bottom of prepared pan. Reserve the rest for topping.

6. To make the fudge layer: Over medium-Low heat, melt together chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and salt. Stir until smooth. Remove mixture from heat and stir in vanilla.

7. Evenly pour filling mixture onto crust but keeping filling about a 1/4 inch away from side of pan so it does not stick to side while baking.  Evenly dollup top of filling with remaining oat mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until topping is light brown and fudge layer set but not solid.

8. Cool in pan on rack until set before cutting.  Keep stored in airtight container.

Source: Erin’s Food Files

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May 16, 2012

Greek Pizza

greek pizza 1

This was one of those meals that I kept moving around on my menu plan for one reason or another.   And then when I finally made it I regretted every second that I didn’t make it sooner. 

greek pizza 2

Even though it looks complex – this pizza was actually a really easy dinner.  I had a ball of pizza dough already in the freezer to use – or you could use store bought.  The base is a simple olive oil and some spices.  The toppings included some diced artichoke hearts, katamala olives, sliced red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, cooked chicken (plan ahead and have this already cooked!), feta and mozzarella cheeses.  Just a bit of rough chopping and the prep was complete and this pizza was ready to be baked. 

greek pizza 3

The combination was as close to perfection as you can get.   I don’t know if they even eat pizza like this in Greece – but it doesn’t even matter – it is delicious just the way it is. 


greek pizza 5


  • 1 batch pizza dough, homemade or store-bought
  • ~2 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • ~1/2 tsp. Garlic powder
  • ~1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 6 oz. grilled chicken breast strips, chopped
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup canned quartered artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ~1 tsp. dried parsley


1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Roll dough out to form a large round. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic and oregano.

3. Spread half of the mozzarella evenly over the top, then add the rest of the toppings, ending with the other half of the mozzarella, then the feta cheese and parsley.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes, or until the crust is baked through and golden brown.

Source: adapted from Pennies on a Platter

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May 14, 2012

Rocky Road Ice Cream

rocky road ice cream 3

I hope everyone had a great week – I had an amazing vacation in Seattle – with lots of great food and dessert.  I had a few amazing ice creams as well – a honey flavored from an ice cream truck (not at all like the ones that drive around my neighborhood!) and an amazing vanilla with shaved chocolate from a local shop.   I am now completely spoiled when it comes to artisanal, small-batch ice creams – good thing I know how to make my own too! 

I made this rocky road a few weeks before we went on vacation – I had some marshmallow left from when I made marshmallow eggs.  So I thought this would be a fun way to use it up.   I’m not sure you can do better than this ice cream – the chocolate is so rich and smoothly and the marshmallow and peanuts give this a perfect texture.

Have a happy, happy start to summer-time: Enjoy!!!   

rocky road ice cream 1


  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped


1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder.  Warm over medium-high heat, whisking to dissolve the cocoa.   Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. 

2. Remove the pan from the heat, mix in the chocolate chips and whisk until melted and smooth.  Stir in the remaining 1 cup of cream.  Transfer this mixture to a medium-large mixing bowl.  Set a fine mesh sieve over the top.

3. In the same saucepan, combine the milk, sugar and salt and warm the mixture over medium heat.  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  When the milk mixture is warm, gradually whisk into the egg yolks, beating constantly.  Return the egg-milk mixture to the saucepan and continue heating over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula, until the mixture is slightly thickened and reads 170-175° F on an instant-read thermometer. 

4. Remove from the heat and pour through the mesh sieve into the chocolate-cream mixture and stir to blend.  Stir in the vanilla extract.

5. Cover and chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator or using an ice bath.  Once the mixture is completely chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Fold in the marshmallows and peanuts when the ice cream is completely churned.  Store in an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

Source: Annie’s Eats from David Lebovitz

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May 2, 2012

Chicken Parmesan Baked Pasta

chicken parm bake pasta 1

I tend to gravitate towards any meal that is called “chicken parmesan”. Something about the combination of breaded chicken, pasta, tomato sauce and lots of cheese gets me every time.   The combination is usually a multi-step process involving at least two or three pots or pans and lots of time.  But this dish is one pot (as long as your skillet if oven-proof) and way easier than it looks. 

chicken parm bake pasta 3

The end result tastes so good you would hardly know how easy this really was to make! 


p.s. I’ll be on vacation to the great foodie city of Seattle all next week – so have a great week! 

chicken parm bake pasta 2


  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano 
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 12 oz. pasta shapes (ziti, penne, fusilli etc.)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 lb. cooked chicken tenders, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil


1. Cook the oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a 12-inch oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. 

2. Stir in the tomatoes, water, 1 cup of the broth, and the pasta.  Bring to a vigorous simmer, cover, and cook until pasta is tender, 15 to 18 minutes, stirring often.

3. Stir in 3/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and the chopped chicken. If the pasta seems dry, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of broth.  Sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining Parmesan.

4. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  Bake 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Sprinkle with basil and serve.

Source: Pink Parsley, originally from America's Test Kitchen, Pasta Revolution

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Apr 30, 2012

Crockpot Honey Sesame Chicken

crockpot sesame chicken 1

I’ve said this time and time again – but there is nothing better than coming home from work and having dinner practically ready for you.   Unfortunately there are not tons of crockpot meals that I love.  I find that the texture of whatever you make is usually the same – mushy.  But this dish was great because all you had to do was shred the chicken and cook some rice and some green beans (if you desire).  The texture of the chicken was what you would expect from the crockpot – but the sauce and the rice made this dish complete. 


crockpot sesame chicken 2

Ingredients (I made half of this recipe for the two of us)

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, pressed or grated
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • sesame seeds
  • sliced green onions


1. Season both sides of chicken with lightly with salt and pepper, put into crock pot.

2. In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic and pepper flakes. Pour over chicken.

3. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours, or just until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from crock pot, leave sauce.
Dissolve cornstarch in 6 tablespoons of water and pour into crock pot. Stir to combine with sauce. Replace lid and cook sauce on high for ten more minutes or until slightly thickened.

4. Shred chicken or cut into bite size pieces, then return to pot and toss with sauce. Serve chicken over rice, garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.

Source: The Balanced Baker

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Apr 26, 2012

Chicken and Spinach Flautas

chicken and spinach flautas 1

My husband is a fan of ordering flautas when we go out for Mexican food (although it is rare that we do – excluding Chipolte, of course!).  So I was happy when I found this recipe – my husband was sad because he wanted me to fry them. But they are baked for a reason – its healthier and easier this way.  I’m not going to say it tastes better – because I’m not going to lie a fried tortilla is pretty darn good.   But the ooey gooey cheese and spinach and chicken tasted great!

I also wouldn’t say this is a great weeknight meal – since you have to cook the chicken, spinach and then roll and bake the flautas – which all in all takes a while.  It didn’t help that I also made my own guacamole and mexican rice – so I was definitely beat when I finished cooking these.  Thank goodness for margaritas!  Enjoy!

chicken and spinach flautas 2


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, minced
  • 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 12 flour tortillas (8 inch)
  • 6 ounces shredded Colby jack cheese
  • cooking spray


1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

2. In a large saucepan, combine the chicken broth, water, salt, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder and half of the jalapeno. Add the chicken to the pan and bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove the chicken and shred with two forks once cooled a bit.

3. Pour out all but 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the remaining jalapeno and spinach; cook over low heat for a couple minutes, until the spinach is wilted.

4. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the chicken mixture near the edge of the tortilla. Add a spoonful of spinach and cheese over top of the chicken. Roll the tortilla up tightly. Place seam-side down on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

5. Spray the prepared flautas with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes, flip over and back for 5 to 10 minutes more until the tortillas are golden brown.

Source: So Tasty, So Yummy

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Apr 24, 2012

Carrot Cake

carrot cake 1

There are so many carrot cake recipes out there – with all sorts of mix-ins – raisins, pineapple, nuts, currants, etc. – but I wanted to find a recipe that really showcased the carrot in carrot cake.  I found it – this is the one and I promise you will not look back.   There are lots of shredded carrots in here (thank goodness for the food processor!). 

And lets not forget the other shining star for a perfect carrot cake – the cream cheese frosting.  This one is to.die.for and I think its because Cooks Illustrated found a ‘secret’ ingredient with buttermilk powder in the frosting.  I think it gave the perfect tang without having to use sour cream (which I am not a very big fan of either).  

The cake was simply decorated with just some toasted walnuts (feel free to use pecans if you wish!) and those added a nice crunch.


carrot cake 2


For the cake:

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 lb. medium carrots (6 to 7 large carrots), peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil

For the frosting:

  • 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups (12 oz.) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk powder
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 12 oz. cream cheese, chilled and cut into 12 equal pieces
  • 2 cups pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse


1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.

3. In a food processor fitted with large or fine shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat granulated and brown sugars and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds. Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil). Increase speed to medium-high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer.

5. Turn off mixer and stir in carrots and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pans and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 32 to 38 minutes.

6. Let cakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pan and then invert them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

7. To make the Frosting: Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, buttermilk powder, vanilla and salt on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.   Increase speed to medium-low and add the cream cheese 1 piece at a time; and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. 

8. Frost the cakes and then coat the edges with the chopped nuts.  Chill before serving.

Source: cake: Mel’s Kitchen CafĂ© (originally from Cook’s Illustrated); frosting: Cook’s Illustrated May/June 2012

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Apr 20, 2012

Maple Pudding w/spiced pecans

maple pudding 2

We are big maple fans in this house – we even go to the yearly maple festival to visit local maple farms.  You’ll never find a bottle of that ‘fake’ syrup in this house – I can promise that! 

So for my husbands birthday this year I wanted to make something that I knew we would both enjoy – but I didn’t want 3/4 of a cake left-over in the fridge.  So pudding is the perfect solution!  Since his birthday was on a weeknight – I made these the night before so they could set-up in the fridge and whipped up the pecans just before serving. 

maple pudding 1

W.O.W is all I can say – this is an awesome dessert.  I really liked the crunch that the pecans lent to the pudding.  And homemade pudding is so easy to make – really – its not that much harder than the cook-and-serve brand in the box.  Enjoy!

maple pudding 3


For the pudding:

  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • Salt

For the spiced pecans:

  • 2 tsp. sugar (I used maple sugar!)
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter


1.  For the pudding: In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of milk together until smooth.

2.  Place the remaining milk into a medium saucepan and add the cornstarch/milk mixture, whisking until smooth.  Whisk in the maple syrup and a pinch of salt.

3. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.

4. As soon as the mixture begins to thicken (a couple of minutes), remove it from the heat and pour into a medium bowl or four ramekins.

5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and set. (1-2 hours or so.)

6. For the spiced pecans: In a small skillet over medium heat, cook the sugar and pecans, stirring frequently, until the sugar is melted and the pecans are browned, about 5 minutes.

7. Stir in the cinnamon, a few gratings of nutmeg, a pinch of salt, and the butter.

8. As soon as the butter is melted and has coated the nuts, remove from the heat and pour the nuts onto a plate to cool.

9.  Place about 2 tablespoons of the nuts on each portion of maple pudding and serve.

Source: Herbivoracious as seen on The Curvy Carrot

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Apr 18, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

blueberry muffins 1

It’s that time of year when I start getting anxious to get some fresh, local fruits and vegetables.  Unfortunately living up north, we still have a wait before we’ll see any of those.  Luckily, I still am working though my stash of frozen blueberries from last season.  Hopefully I can time it so I run out of them just as I am able to get some more. 

You almost can’t get any better than a fresh blueberry muffin.  These are topped with a simple mixture of lemon zest/sugar.  So fresh and delicious and full of blueberry flavor – you would never know they were frozen blueberries.   Enjoy!

blueberry muffins 2


Lemon-Sugar Topping

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • finely grated zest from 1 lemon


  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 1 1/8 cups sugar plus 1 tsp.
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


1. Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.

2. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

3. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Rinse remaining cup berries under cold water and dry well.

5. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Toss dried blueberries in flour mixture. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture into blueberries and flour mixture until just moistened.

6. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.

7. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Cooks Illustrated

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Apr 16, 2012

Marshmallow eggs

marshmallow eggs 1

When I realized that this year for our Easter gathering I had a gift for everyone that was there (mostly because of birthdays) except for my Mom – so I wanted to buy her some chocolate covered marshmallow eggs (her favorite).  Except I could not find any at the local chocolate shop I went to.  So instead of driving all over looking of them I wanted to see if I could make them myself. 

My first thought was that I had an Easter egg cookie cutter and I would make a sheet of marshmallow and just cut out egg shapes.  But during my search for a recipe – I came across this ingenious idea where you use a real egg and make a mold in flour.  Then you pour the marshmallow into the molds to get your egg shape.   So much fun!  I loved how these turned out!

marshmallow eggs 2

Even better that they were unbelievably good – so light and fluffy with that crisp chocolate coating.  Marshmallow is not at all difficult to make either – I don’t know why I haven’t made it sooner since it has been on my to-make list forever. 

marshmallow eggs 3

I think the Easter bunny will be making more of these again next year!  Enjoy!

marshmallow eggs 4


  • 5 lbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup, divided
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 pound dark chocolate, melted


1. Spread flour in each of three 13-in. x 9-in. pans.  Carefully wash the egg with soap and water and pat dry.  Press washed egg halfway into the flour to form an impression. Repeat about 35 times; set aside.

2. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over cold water; set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup and hot water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer reads 238°F (soft-ball stage).  Remove from the heat; stir in remaining corn syrup.

4. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add reserved gelatin, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed with the whisk attachment until candy is thick and has cooled to lukewarm, about 10 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

5. Spoon lukewarm gelatin mixture into egg depressions; dust with flour. Let stand for 3-4 hours or until set.

6. Brush excess flour off marshmallow eggs. Dip each in melted chocolate. Place flat side down on waxed paper.  Let stand until set.

Source: Taste of Home

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