Saturday, November 29, 2008

DARING BAKERS: Caramel Cake & Caramels

This month's challenge was a challenge because I waited until the busiest week to make them, Thanksgiving week. I put the challenge off for so long because everyone was saying how sweet they were! I am not really into heavily sugared sweets, not usually anyway. However, I knew my kids would like them. The idea of them reminded me of my favorite childhood sweet, butterscotch, Tasty Cakes! They were never available here in NY so we always bought them when visiting our relatives in Pennsylvania. Now, they are sold here. However, I no longer like them. Too sweet.

This challenge was sweet but they were so TASTEY. They had so much flavor. The frosting was so yummy with the browned butter whipped in. I highly recommend this cake as the "tastey-WOW" factor was so there!
I sprinkled some fleur de sel on mine. Oh so good!

The leading lady for this month's Daring Baker challenge is Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater ( and her signature caramel cake. We also had the option of doing, Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels. Which I did an Espresso Caramel.

Helping her ( host this month are Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food ( And helping the Alternative bakers,Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go (

The Cake recipe comes from: author Shuna Fish Lydon’s with her recipe here at: ( … he-recipe/)

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back. One DB'er suggested covering the pot with a piece of tin foil that had a whole in it. I did that, pouring my water into that hole. It contained the splatter!

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels -
adapted from Alice Medrich, PURE DESSERT

1 cup golden syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoon instant espresso
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened

A 9-inch square baking pan
Candy thermometer


Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot.

When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm.

Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Celeriac, Celery Root, it's all the same

I have been wanting to try celeriac, aka celery root, for some time. You see I have this great cookbook called The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden. There a few recipes in there that call for celeriac. I had never heard of it before so I was curious. I never saw it at the markets but then I didn't know what it looked like. I suspect it was there but I just looked right over it thinking maybe if I saw it, "what the heck is that ugly thing?" Check it out here at Kat's blog to see a pic of it.

Anyway, this pretty little thing, ehem, not so pretty, tastes a lot like celery but milder. It acts a lot like a potatoe.

Here is the recipe I used and I must say it was SUPER tastey!

Recipe from Claudia Roden, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food

1 celeriac , weighing about 1 pound
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1/2 of a lemon, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
s and p
pinch of sugar

Peel the celeriac, and cut into 3/4 inch cubes. Saute gently in olive oil until lightly colored. Add a little water, barely to cover, and stir in lemon juice, turmeric, salt, pepper, and sugar. Simmer about 25 minutes, until the celeriac is tender and the liquid is considerably reduced. Eat hot or cold.

Add Image

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Thank you to all of you who visit my site. I love reading your comments. They mean a lot to me. It's fun to visit your sites and see what you are up to as well.

At Thanksgiving we all reflect on what we are thankful for. It's really a nice tradition but really should be practiced every day. I am grateful for many things. I try to say thank you to God, "the Universe", whatever you want to call it, as much as I can. The things I am most grateful for are my family and friends. When all is said and done, that is all that really matters.

Like we say every night with our kids, "... God bless all our family, all our friends and all the people of the world."

Kale Stuffed Phyllo Triangles and Baklava

I don't know if you ever worked with Phyllo. It is a delicate creature. Dries quickly and falls apart. If you keep a damp towel over it, it gets too moist. At least for me anyhow. I use my classic cereal bags to keep the dough covered while I work. Seems to work better for me. I don't buy phyllo ahead of time anymore because it seems to dry out too much in the freezer. I only buy it when I am ready to use it.

I decided to use kale as I had it on hand, instead of the traditional spinach. Most of the other traditional ingredients I did put in. Having the ingredients prepared ahead of time makes this super easy.

These were very good. My family loved them and preferred them over the spinach ones, stating they had more flavor this way.

Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness Original

4 cups kale, boiled, squeezed and chopped
8 oz feta
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dried dill
4 onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted (you will not use it all, unless of course you want to)

Saute onions until golden. Add minced garlic, cook one minute more. Combine feta and kale, oregano, dill, and egg. Add ojions and garlic once they are cool. Mix together. Place one phyllo sheet on the work table. Brush with butter and lightly sprinkle with bread crumbs. Fold sheet in half length wise. Brush with butter again. Place about a 1/2 of a cup of filling on phyllo corner. Fold over into a triangles and continue to fold up to the end.

Place folded trinagle and sprayed cookie sheet. Cover with a damp cloth. Bake triangles in a 375 F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, until golden.

And, of course, with the leftover phyllo I made... baklava. It was a last minute idea. I didn't really use a recipe per se, just the idea of what it would be.

I put a layer of phyllo, brushed with butter.
Sprinkle crushed (toasted) walnuts over the phyllo.
Sprinkled cinnamon over that.
Drizzled honey over that (about a 1/4 cup)

Repeated this process until the phyllo was gone.

I baked it at 350 F until golden. I wished I had cut it then when it came out. I poured vanilla infused simple syrup over the top while it was hot. I got this idea from a recipe I pulled up while the baklava was in the oven. It would have been better looking if I had followed the recipe. But you know what? It's good anyhow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Graham Turkeys turn into Hello Dollies!

Grace from a Southern Grace made these creations called Hello Jollies. Check here to see her funny post. She has lots of funny posts actually. The girl has a great sense of humor. She so inspired me to make these!

I knew when I got home from grocery shopping that I forgot something. It was the graham crackers. I wasn't about to run out to the store, although it would have been a heck of a lot faster, so I made graham crackers. I have been wanting to make them homemade for a while. So here was my opportunity. I got online and I was visiting the people who have been visiting my blog when lo and behold, Maria, from Two Peas and Their Pod had a graham cracker recipe right there. It sounded good. I gathered the ingredients and decided to let my kids do some cut outs. Of course they love that kind of thing. We used a turkey cut out to be festive and made turkey graham crackers.

Then afterward I massacred them. I didn't let the kids see of course. I saved a few for them. They sure didn't mind the end result!

They were crushed into crumbs and then swirled in butter to create this yummy crust. for the Hello Dollies, I mean Jollies.

Graham Crackers
Two Peas and Their Pod

½ cup all purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 T honey
1 T molasses
¼ cup water, plus a little more if it is too dry

Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Cut in the butter until the texture is dry and crumbly.

In a small bowl, mix the honey, molasses, and water. Mix with the dry ingredients until blended in the food processor. Pulse the dough until it forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface to 1/8 of an inch. Place them on an cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown and crisp. Store in an air tight container.

*The only thing I would change here is that I would add just a little bit more sugar, a half of a cup instead of a quarter. Other than that I wouldn't change a thing. They were very tastey and easy to handle.

And the bars.....hmmmm.

Hello Jollies
recipe from A Southern Grace

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup of shredded coconut
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs in an 8x8-inch pan. Mix well and pat down to form the crust. Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and coconut on top of the crust. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the whole mixture.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top becomes light brown.
Let cool in the pan for at least half an hour, in the fridge if necessary, and cut into reasonably-sized bars.

* I made two mistakes when I made these. First I used aluminum foil to cover the pan and man I could not peel that off. I had to cut in from the foil.

The other mistake I made is that I didnt put the coconut on last. Ooops.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Hey Blonde Duck, I loved your idea and here it is. I think I will keep doing this 'craft and a cookie' thing at least through the Holidays. Every Monday I will post them. I am so enjoying crafting this year. I am discovering lots of talented people who have amazing crafting blogs.

This cookie was a final contender in my cookie picks for Christmas. I doubled the batch. I nearly always double a batch of cookies. I feel if you are going to make cookies might as well go and make a bunch. You can always freeze the extras or share with others. I made cookies out of 1/4 of the dough and froze the rest to make closer to Christmas. These cookies taste as good as they look. I did not have any pretty sugar to put around the edges so I used regular sugar. It didn't matter because they are still very pretty with their red and green colors. The recipe comes from Epicurious.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious, to see original click here.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries (1 1/4 oz)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup decorating sugar or regular

Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter, granulated sugar, and zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until dough just comes together in clumps, then mix in pistachios and cranberries. Gather and press dough together, then divide into 4 equal pieces. Using a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper as an aid, form each piece of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Square off long sides of each log to form a bar, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, at least 2 hours.

Remove from refrigerator and cut into 1/4 inch slices. (If frozen , defrost in refrigerator). Bake in a 350 F oven for about 15 to twenty minutes. I baked them on a silpat. Let cool a couple minutes and then remove.

This particular craft is from Make and Take Blog. I thought the idea was simple enough to whip up quickly yet durable and thoughtful enough. Little quick crafts are cute but they do not stay around that long. This is something that has some staying power. Even when the kids aren't using them on their dolls anymore, it can be coverted into a dresser cover or a pillow. So I thought why not. Each one takes about two hours. Once all the little squares are cut, it goes real fast.

I did mine a little differently. I did 36- five inch squares. They are a little bigger than Make and Takes. I made a pillow to go with it for the dollies. This particular ruffle around this pillow is from my daughters dress. I loved this dress and just could not let it go. I decided to cut it up and keep it as a keepsake. Some of the dress was cut into squares and the ruffle I used here. The bodice I will be making into a little purse. I will share that later I guess. Another craft day!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thinking About Thanksgiving

I know most of you are thinking about Thanksgiving. What to make, what to take, what to wear, how to go to several Thanksgivings without getting filled up so that you can't eat for a week, on and on it goes. Well, here's what I am thinking. I have three to seven people coming, I think, I don't know because Old Man Winter has arrived here early. Wow, I can not believe there is so much snow! (Very pretty, I might add!) I so hope they will come. Holidays are so much better with people you love around.

Anyway, I thought I would share with you our menu for Thanksgiving or at least some of it, to pass along an idea or two. So many sites have so many ideas I know, but honestly you can get lost in the deluge. I would love to here what your prized dishes are as well. Especially if you are going to post them after (or before) the Holiday, then I can come to your blog and check them out.

Every year a turkey has been basking in Alton Brown's brine. We (or should I say I) have been doing this for a couple years now. It is moist, flavorful and delicious. It's kind of a pain before hand but well worth it! I also hear there is a dry brine as well. Check that our here at the Bitten Word.

Our brussel sprouts have been doing a dance with green grapes and slivered almonds for many years now. It is amazingly delicious! I literally could fill half my plate with those. (I am not a big fan of mashed potatoes and gravy). Give me turkey, cranberry sauce and my brussel sprouts and I would be perfectly happy.

My stuffing every year has been this one, at epicurious, which is absolutely amazing. This year we are breaking with that tradition to kind of mix things up a little. I will be making one from Martha Stewart with dried cherries and pecans.

And then of course usually we have the mashed sweet potatoes or butternut squash, whichever is easiest to get my hands on. We dont really do anything with that as there is too much in the oven already!

The gravy is an ongoing saga. Why? Because I suck at making gravy! I never make gravy unless it's Thanksgiving. This year I tried this recipe from Woman's Day. It is a "make-ahead" gravy. We'll see how it thaws out. Otherwise I will be making last minute gravy.

The cranberry sauce is usually ground cranberries with sugar and oranges. It's my favorite. This year however I think I would like to try Kevin's cranberry recipe from Closet Cooking. The Pinot Noir in it has me intrigued!

Whew, no wonder Thanksgiving is so anxiety producing for people!

This recipe for the crackers above is okay. I am not completely thrilled with it. It is for my Aunt who has celiac disease. Hi Aunt D! I got the recipe from here. And I know it would be 1000 times better if it was deep fried but I just can't bring myself to deep fry anything, really. So I added some parmesan to the dough and baked them at 350 F. Oh, and have you ever seena curry leaf? It is not where "curry" comes from. It has a very distinct taste. I discovered it earlier this year when I made dinner for our East Indian friend. I fell in love with it. I hate to compare it in this way but it really reminded me of marijuanna. Okay that is not really my thang but its not like I have never been exposed. Anyway, the curry, I don't know, its kind of interesting. Check it out. The pic below is the leaf but it has been frozen. That is why it is a little discolored. Still tastes good though.

Friday, November 21, 2008

NOT cardboad- but moist BRAN MUFFINS

You have never had a bran muffin until you have had these bran muffins. What they have in the stores doesn't even come close the this one. It's moist and tastey and nothing about it says cardboard, bran muffin!

The other amazing thing about these wonderful muffins is that you can keep them in battered form up to six weeks. At least that's what the recipe says. Mine never really last that long but I like the idea. I especially like the idea when we have company coming. I can mix it up and keep it in the fridge until company arrives. In the morning I just put them in the oven and by the time you get the table set, coffee on and newspaper opened, everyone is up smelling muffins baking- and they are ready! Presto primo muffins!

These are not my original, just given to me on an index card.

15 ounce box Raisin Bran or bran flakes
1 cup raisins if you use plain bran flakes
2 cups sugar
5 cups flour
5 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
4 cups buttermilk

Combine the first five ingredients, mixing together until large lumps remain. Add oil, eggs and buttermilk. Stir together well but do not over mix.

Place in a sealable plastic container in the refrigerator for at least overnite and up to six weeks.

When needed, scoop out the amount required and ladle batter into greased or sprayed muffin tins.

Bake at 350°F degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

OATMEAL COOKIES with a little extra

Oatmeal cookies are a classic that just can't be beat. The oatmeal goodness and the chewy raisins make for a great cookie that has substance. I made some recently and had these cinnamon chips that I got for practically nothing (last year, ehem). Has it really been that long? So, here the Holiday season is upon us again and I am just getting around to making them. Didn't matter they were delicious anyhow.

I also added some toasted wheat germ, about a half of a cup. It made the cookies crisp, which I do not really like in an oatmeal cookie. Those around me didn't seem to mind and actually my Dad prefers a crispy cookie. If you want a crispy cookie, add the wheat germ!

And no offense S-- M--- but lately the raisins have been kind of hard and I have found branches in my boxes. So recently I have been investing in these "flame raisins" at the local health food store. They are chunky, chewy and yummy! Makes a world of difference.

Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness

1/2 pound (2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 cup raisins
1 cup cinnamon chips
1/2 cup wheat germ

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients in a seperate bowl and then combine with wet mixture. Add raisins, oats, wheat germ and chips. Use a scoop and drop onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about ten to twelve minutes.

*If you ever have a crispy cookie that you want to soften, place a piece of apple or a piece of bread in the container with the cookies. The cookies will "steal" the moisture fromt he bread or apple piece and become soft.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


If you are a Cincinnati Style Chili purist, leave now and do not come back until a couple days have passed and I have a new post up. If you are curious about different flavors in your chili that will "WOW" your tastebuds, then listen up. This here chili is yum, the flavor is a kin to chorizo. If you like chorizo then you will like this.

A few years ago I made this for my friend and her husband. Little did I know that my friend's DH was so traditional. He just kept saying, "it's different". To this day, this happened over a decade ago, he still teases me about the day I tried to serve him this chili. Having said that, don't be frightened away. It is so good. Be forewarned that your tastebuds will be dancing with a lot of flavors.

Cincinnatti Style Chili
Recipe based on Epicurious

2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds ground beef chuck
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon dried orégano, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1 bay leaf
1 cups water
a 16-ounce jar stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons cocoa
cooked spaghetti and grated Cheddar

Cook meat until the pink is gone. Add spices and cook for one minute. Place in large pot with tomatoes. Saute onions in olive oild until golden. Add garlic, saute one minute more and add to pot. Cook for a couple hours. The longer the better. Crock pot works very nicely as well.

Spoon over spaghetti and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Many moons ago, when I met my husband, he took me home for the Holidays. That was my real inclination that he was serious about me. We had met in October and he took me home to meet his folks in December. Mind you, they lived eight hours away, so we had to stay there. My goodness, talk about nerves. I really had nothing to fear. My DH's, mother was an angel. The moment I came through the door I was kissed 100 times as if I was a long lost relative. His sister kept talking to me in English, while everyone was talking in Italian. Thank God for her helping me through that (thanks M : )). I had brought a ton of biscotti with me as an offering. A good gesture. It went over pretty well. I decided to make biscotti today and thought of that day and my lovely Mother-in-law. She passed away a couple of years ago. We miss her.

These are very low fat. The only fat comes from the walnuts and the eggs. You can omit the walnuts and use egg replacements, or whites, if you must. But if you can use them, they are good for you. It's a nice recipe with some wholesome goodness. Enjoy these biscotti with Chai tea for an ultimate spice experience!

I am sending these in for a Vegetarian Round Up at Fun and Food Cafe.

Here is one of the crafts I have been working on...

from left to right: "Toot", "Sparkle" and "Pom Pom"

Aren't they cute cupcakes. Found the idea here. Have no idea where the original link came from, sorry, but hey you have the pattern now, sew away!

Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness Original

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 - 15oz can puree pumpkin or 1 3/4 cups homemade pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine dry ingredients, salt, baking powder, flours, spice and sugar. Combine wet ingredients, pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup. Stir together. Mix in walnuts.

Spoon onto cookie sheet, down the edge of the long side of the pan, do the same on the other side. So you have two logs, horizontally extending into the pan about 4 inches or so. You may have a little left over, depending on how big your pans are. If so put in a small loaf pan.

After baking about twenty minutes, cut them using a serrated knife. Do so while hot so it does not crumble on you. Place them back in the oven laying flat for ten minutes. Remove from oven, flip and bake another ten minutes. You can stand them up for twenty instead but be careful that the bottom doesn't burn.

Store in an air tight tin or freezer. They will keep several weeks. Even until Christmas if there is limited humidity.

The one thing I would have added if I had some is maple extract.
* pumpkin pie spice can be made by combining 2 tablespoons ginger, 1 tablespoon nutmeg, 1/4 cup cinnamon and 1 tablespoon cloves.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

GO GRATITUDE with Artichoke Jerusalem and Leek Gratin

Whoa, its been a few days since I posted, sorry. I was on a roll there but then something happened. The sun went away. It wasn't here for our dinner time, no great light for shooting. Also, I have to admit to you that we had the same meal for three nights. YIKES. Boring. But it allowed me some time for crafting. Since money is tight I decided to use up some of the material and garage sale crafting stuff. I found these cute ideas on blogs (I will share pics of that tomorrow). So besides the toys from the store, only a few, my kids will be getting "made with love" toys from yours truly! Whew, it's a labor of love when you are making the same thing over and over again, (friends kids). I really don't mind. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. I have hands to sew. Something to sew. On and on it goes, right. We have so much to be thankful for.

So back to real food blogging. Here are some Jerusalem Artichokes. It's my first time trying it. I like to try new fruits and vegetables. Keeps life interesting.

I wish that I had taken a picture of the vegetable but I was too ambitious and cut it all up before I realized that I wanted to take a pic of it. Geez. If you want to see it, click here. Looks like a tuber, tastes like an artichoke heart.

This recipe idea came from here. We ate it like an appetizer on crostini. It dissappeared, kind of like the artichoke/spinach dip at the parties we go to.

Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness

2 cups chopped jerusalem artichokes
3 cups leeks, washed and sliced
1 cup sour cream
juice of one lemon
1 garlic clove minced
3/4 cup peccorino romano

Combine in a bowl chopped jerusalem artichokes, leeks, sour cream, minced garlic, 1/2 cup peccorino/romano and juice of one lemon. Place in small casserole dish. I used a 9 inch tart pan. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes (depending on how small your dice is). Take out of the oven remove foil and sprinkle bread crumbs over top. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over top. Place back in oven for about 20 more minutes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pomegranate Petit Fours

I am not new to pomegranates. Every year my Father would buy one or two of these fruits around this time of year. As a kid I was not big on them because of their seed like innard. As an adult I can tell you I am not big on them because they are a pain in the butt to clean. But you know what, as a foodie, I endure the painstaking cleaning process because they are so beautiful and neat looking. As a person who tries to eat healthy, I am super excited about them. I am sure you have all heard that they are exalted as a super food. I say eat 'em! If you haven't got the patience to clean them, buy POM juice and you can use it to make a million things. Well maybe not a million but you can use it silly.

Here are a few links to some cool recipes that I found:
This cake recipe sounds interesting. And this muffin recipe sounds good too. This appetizer one sounds pretty. And of course a drink is always a welcome treat. Cheers. Whoever makes one of these, if any of you do, write and let me know how they were.

I thought about this one the other night as I was trying to get to sleep. I know I am not the only person that does that kind of thing.

I am submitting these cuties to Sugar High Friday. Believe me these will definitely give you a sugar high. This month's SHF is being hosted by The Well Seasoned Cook. SHF was started by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess. This months theme is "All that Glitters". You can so see the sparkles and fondant shining!

Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness Original

Chiffon Cake

3 cups cake flour
2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs
3 teaspoons baking powder
6 large egg whites
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
juice of one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 - 11x 17 pans with parchment and butter it.

Combine egg whites and sugar in mixer and begin to beat. Combine dry ingredients: flour and baking powder. Combine wet ingredients: milk, oil, vanilla, two whole eggs, and lemon juice. Combine the dry and the wet. Once the egg whites form peaks, fold in the batter. Pour into cake pans and bake. Midway through baking time switch pans on racks.

*Only 1/2 of one sheet is needed for this recipe.

Vanilla Bean Butter Cream (that rolls of the tongue, now doesnt it?)
based on Dorie Greenspan's Awesome Recipe

4 oz egg whites
1 cup sugar
seed of one vanilla pod
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk egg whites and sugar in a double boiler or the bowl of a Kitchen Aid Mixer. Place bowl over a pot of boiling water. Continue to whisk until mixture is hot to the touch. Remove from stove and begin to whip the mixture at medium speed for about five minutes. When mixture is cooled, turn up the speed on the mixer and whip for a couple of minutes until it begins to thicken. Add vanilla extract and seeds.

Pomegranate Pourable Fondant

4 cups confectioners sugar (about a pound)
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine all ingredients in a double boiler. Stir over boiling water until the mixture becomes slightly warm, enough so that it is pourable. You know it is the right consistency when it forms ribbons on the fondant as you lift the spoon.

Pour over cake pieces. Let dry and put on another coat if necessary.



raspberry jam
chiffon cake
simple syrup
vanilla buttercream
pourable pomegranate fondant

Use 7 inches of one of the 11 x 17's. Slice it horizontally with a serrated knife. Spoon or brush on some simple syrup (half water and half sugar that is brought to a boil and then cooled). Spread raspberry jam or a jam of your choice onto the cake. Then gently spread buttercream over that. Lay the layer back on top. Brush some more simple syrup on top. Cut the cake in pieces, about one inch square. Place them on rack that is placed on a cookie sheet. Pour the fondant onto the squares. Once you are done you can scoop off the fondant from the baking sheet and heat it up to reuse again.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lentil Spinach Burgers

So I had some leftover lentils from the Paper Chef and being the bean burger lover that I am, I figured I had to find another recipe. Lo and behold I found this amazing recipe here at What Did You Eat? I wish I could tell her how amazing these burgers are and thanks for sharing the recipe. Sherry had passed away in July but her blog makes her somewhat immortal. Her words and her recipes live on, as long as her blog stays up and running. I love that. So here's to you Sherry.

The only thing I changed was the type of lentils. I used Urad Dal, the little white lentils with the black skin. I put the full tablespoon of cumin. I love cumin and it goes great with the lentils. The lentils become real nutty when they are fried. I used a little olive oil in the pan for frying and they were great. My friend and I enjoyed them today while we gabbed.

Sherry's Original post

8-10 ounces spinach, stemmed and sauteed (I used a package of frozen: thawed and squeezed)
1 cup urad dal lentils (white lentils), cooked
1 tablespoon cumin
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons oil


Mix the spinach, lentils, cumin, bread crumbs, together in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I added about a 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder as well. Mix in the egg. Form the patties by forming a ball in your hand, then carefully pat them into a burger type patty. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes.

Heat skillet on medium high heat until the oil gets somewhat hot. Slip each patty into the skillet and press the patty together with a spatula if they break apart. Brown on each side, then carefully remove.

Monday, November 10, 2008

PAPER CHEF NOVEMBER Turkey and Lentil Burger

I participated in Paper Chef before and its a lot of fun. The idea is that you find out what the ingredients are and then you come up with something and post it before the due date. You can check it out here.

The ingredients for this months challenge, were turkey, anahiem peppers, lentils and winter squash. Of course I was all over this one because I have a TON of butternut squash to use!

I know it was probably not the most inventive entry but it was fun nevertheless. The taste was okay. We liked it but we didn't love it. Here's my recipe if you would like to try it or perfect it. I think next time I would have made the roll with butternut squash or something.

Ilva over at Lucullian Delights always cooks up something amazing and this month is no different. Check out all the others too.

Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness Original

1 cup of cooked urad dal lentils (the black lentils with white insides)
1 lb ground turkey
1 cup cubed and roasted butternut squash
1 garlic clove minced
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 of an anaheim chili, roasted and diced

Combine all ingredients except for squash in a bowl. Add s and p to your taste. When thoroughly combined gently fold in butternut squash pieces, being careful not to mash up. Fry in olive oil and serve on a roll.

I mixed the remainder of the roasted anaheim chili with mayo and spread it on the bun.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Coconut Cake

( I couldnt resist taking some pics in the light this morning, am I addicted to blogging?)

I am back with a bang of sweet coconut yum! To celebrate my Mom's birthday I made a coconut cake for her. My Mother is a fantastic cook. She taught me how to cook and can. She has taught me a lot over the years. I am still learning. I constantly call her up and say, now how did you mkae that or what did you put in that recipe. Besides being a great cook, she is one super smart woman. So she is also my walking encyclopedia. You should hear her watching Jeopardy! She knows 99 percent of the answers. I am simply dumbfounded watching her.

So with out further ado, I bring you coconut cake, my recipe.

Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness Original

2 sticks butter, room temp
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coconut extract
6 large egg whites
3 cups cake flour
1 cup lite coconut milk
1 cup sweetened coconut for sprinkling on frosted cake.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9 inch rounds.

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat for about five minutes, mixture should be light and fluffy again. Add egg white one at a time. Make sure they are fully incorporated before adding the next one.

Blend in one cup flour, then a 1/2 cup coconut milk. Repeat. Finally add remaining cup of flour.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes. Cool for five minutes and remove onto wired rack.

adapted from Carol Walter, Great Cakes

3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
1 cup superfine sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract

Starting with a 1/4 cup of milk and 3 tablespoons of flour, whisk together ina heavy bottomed sauce pan. Add the remainder of the milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Turn on heat to medium. Continue to heat until mixture thickens. Once it thickens, remove from heat and whisk until it is very smooth. Cool until tempid.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add extract. Add milk mixture in small amounts, combine thoroughly. Continue to whisk until fluffy.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Quesadillas

Just a quick post for a quick meal! I wanted to share with you this no brainer meal. I fell in love with this combination a couple years ago. Usually its sweet potatoes and black beans but I substituted butternut squash. It was delicious. The above picture is right before I put the top on. It's almost not a recipe because I am sure you all do this kind of thing all the time. What I really wanted to share is the combination of flavors.

I promise tomorrow I will have something sweet for you.

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Quesadillas
Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness Original

1 med onion chopped
minced chilies, to your liking
2 cups butternut squash, cubed and roasted
1 cup cooked black beans
1 clove garlic minced
2 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Saute onions in olive oil till golden. Add garlic and remainder of ingredients, except cheese. Spoon over tortillas. Sprinkle cheese over the filling. Place a tortilla on top. Press. Bake at 375 F.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

WHEAT BREAD: this is light and airy

Have you ever tried something from someone's blog and have been horribly reminded that all those who have blogs dont necessarily have great baking skills (or tasting skills). I was reminded of that recently when I made something from someones site. They shall remain nameless. Its not any of you who I frequent often. It could have been me or maybe I made a mistake. Well, I just wanted to let you know that if I make something and I dont like it, I do not post it. I only post stuff that I think you will like too. In the event that you try something and dont like it, please let me know via email. Or if you have questions, please email me.

Now this recipe, who can go wrong with home made bread, really. Its a good one. It has a crispy crust with a nice crumb. It's light for a wheat bread and really has great flavor.

based on a recipe from Martha Stewarts, Christmas Cookbook

2 tablespoons honey
2 1/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup sponge, pulled into small pieces (recipe below)
4 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cups rye flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons wheat germ
4 teaspoons salt

Combine a 1/4 cup water, yeast and honey in bowl of a mixer. Let stand ten minutes.

Add sponge combine one minute with paddle attachment.

Add remaining water, flours, salt and mix on low for two minutes. Switch to dough hook and mix for 8 minutes. Dough should be tacky.

Knead by hand ten minutes. Place in a greased bowl and let rise until double in bulk. SHould take one to two hours. Punch down and knead four times.

Let rise until double, about one hour. Divide into two loaves. I used a brotform for one (the one pictured) and shaped the other into a round. Let rise again about thirty minutes. Preheat oven to 450 F. Place an oven safe bowl with water into the oven or use a mister at the beginning of the baking process. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes.


1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon yeast
3 1/2 cups bread flour

Combine in non reactive bowl. Mix two minutes. Leave for 24 hours on counter. Refrigerate remaining dough for up to one week.

Monday, November 3, 2008

CHICKEN AND COUS COUS with apricots and pistachios

How exciting last nights race was. My husband has been saying it would be Obama way back when he was up against Hillary. He believed in him the whole way.

I really didn't expect to cry when they announced who won. But I did. I cried because I was happy he won but I think I also cried because I want to have hope in him that he can turn this country around and make it strong again. I hope that he can make the world believe in us again. We, in this nation, need to pray, focus our good intentions, whatever you want to call it, on making this nation strong again. No matter what party you are in, let's all work together for the common good. Now onto some food...

This is one great recipe and has been a repeater in our house. One of my friends from Four Corners made it for all of us one time and wow was it ever good. The recipe is from Real Simple. You can jazz it up by marinating the chicken in some Moroccan spices. That will add quite a bit more flavor to the dish. You can also used dried apricots which I used here.

Cous Cous with Apricots and Pistachios
Real Simple Magazine, June 2004 recipe

1 1/2 cups instant couscous
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves, plus 6 sprigs
1 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 spicy grilled chicken breasts
3 fresh apricots (or ripe nectarines, peaches, or plums), pitted and cut into bite-size chunks
1 small shallot, thinly sliced in rings
1/2 cup unsalted pistachio nuts, shelled
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Place the couscous in a medium bowl. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil and stir in the cinnamon, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour the mixture over the couscous. Cover and let stand until the couscous is soft, about 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Stir in the parsley, mint, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Set aside. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and place in a medium bowl. Add the apricots, shallot, and pistachios. Drizzle with the vinegar and the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the couscous among 6 dinner plates. Arrange the chicken salad over the couscous. Garnish with the parsley sprigs and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Balsamic Reduction

I remember a couple years ago I heard about balsamic reduction. I made it and put some over roasted butternut squash. It was amazing. Sweet and salty and a little sour. I fell in love with it. Then, this past winter I was watching an episode of Gordon's Ramseys show, Kitchen Nightmares. In one of the episodes the chef relied too heavily on balsamic reduction. In Gordon's opinion he masked the unsavory flavor of whatever he was pouring it over. Gads, I love balsamic reduction. But I guess it could be misused.

I'll tell you, here in this recipe it doesn't mask, it compliments. Okay, maybe it masks a little of the cabbagey flavor but in some people's opinion that is probably a good thing. It's rather easy to make. In my version I add brown sugar to offset the acid of the vinegar. We love the result. I think you will too.

Lori's Lipsmacking Goodness Original

1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup of brown sugar (to your liking)

Bring vinegar to a boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer. When it reduces halfway, add brown sugar. Simmer some more until it becomes syrupy and sticks to the back of a wooden spoon. As it cools it will thicken up. Store leftovers in frig.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


No direspect about the dish, it's just my husband being the silly guy he is. That would be Randang, Beef Randang specifically. And right away I must tell you it was phenomenol. I wonder if I would have ever picked this recipe. I have to say I probably would not. It has a bunch of ingredients but one I didn't like (Thai basil). As I added each one, I was thinking, I don't know if I am going to like this. I put my faith in our hosts, Rayrena from Happy Cows and Robyn of Culinary Adventures. You know what, they didn't fail me. It was one great tasting dish. No flavor blared out at you they just simply danced together into this one fantastic dish!

Come join us at Recipes to Rival for next months recipe. Just click here to find out how to join. You can view the entire recipe plus more pics of this great dish, click here.
For a vegetarian option, click here.

Beef Rendang (Rendang Daging Sapi)
permission received from James Oseland
Excerpted from Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore by James Oseland (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2006) Copyright 2006 by James Oseland.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

If you decide to use the maximum number of chiles this recipe calls for, you may need to use a standard-sized food processor, rather than a small one. An excellent garnish for this dish is a tablespoon of very finely sliced fresh or thawed, frozen kaffir lime leaves. Be sure to remove the center stem of each leaf before slicing it.

For the Flavoring Paste:
* 1 whole nutmeg, cracked open with a nutcracker or a heavy, blunt object such as the bottom of a glass measuring cup (I used two teaspoons of ground nutmeg).
* 5 whole cloves
* 6 shallots (about 5 ounces), coarsely chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
* 5 to 20 fresh red Holland chiles or other fresh long, red chiles such as Fresno or cayenne, stemmed and coarsely chopped
* 1 piece fresh or thawed, frozen turmeric, 2 inches long, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 2 teaspoons), or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
* 1 piece fresh ginger, 2 inches long, peeled and thinly sliced against the grain (about 2 tablespoons)
* 1 piece fresh or thawed, frozen galangal, 2 inches long, peeled and thinly sliced against the grain (about 2 tablespoons; optional)
* 5 candlenuts or unsalted macadamia nuts

For the remainder of the dish
* 2 pounds well-marbled boneless beef chuck or bottom round, cut into 2- to 2 1/2-inch cubes
* 2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
* 3 thick stalks fresh lemongrass, each tied into a knot
* 1 piece cinnamon stick, 4 inches long
* 7 whole fresh or thawed, frozen kaffir lime leaves
* 5 whole daun salam leaves (optional)
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 tablespoon very finely shredded fresh or thawed, frozen kaffir lime leaves (optional)

1. To make the flavoring paste, place the nutmeg and cloves in a small food processor and pulse until ground to a dusty powder, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the shallots, garlic, chiles, turmeric, ginger, galangal (if using), and candlenuts to the ground spices. Pulse until you have a chunky-smooth paste the consistency of cooked oatmeal.

3. In a 12-inch skillet (nonstick works best), mix the beef and the flavoring paste until well combined. Add the coconut milk, lemongrass, cinnamon, whole lime leaves, daun salam leaves (if using), and salt. Stir well to combine and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered at a slow, steady bubble, stirring every 10 to 20 minutes with a spatula to prevent the meat and coconut milk from sticking and scorching. You'll probably need to adjust the heat periodically to maintain an even simmer.

4. The meat, coconut milk, and flavoring paste will now go on a fascinating journey. At first, the broth will be thin and gorgeously bright orange. As it cooks, the coconut milk will reduce, its fats (as well as the fat the meat renders) separating from the solids. It will become progressively thicker and darker, eventually turning brown. Continue to simmer gently until the liquid has reduced by about 95 percent, stirring every 15 minutes or so to prevent sticking. Only the meat, oils, and a bit of very thick sauce will remain in the pot. This will take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, depending on the skillet that you use, how hot the fire is, and the richness of the coconut milk. Test the meat; it should be tender enough to poke easily with a fork. Taste some of the liquid for salt, and add a pinch more if needed.

5. When all the liquid has evaporated, reduce the heat to low (the meat and the remaining sauce are prone to burning) and allow the beef to brown slowly in the rendered fat. (The fat may be foamy at this point, but it will settle down when the cooking stops.) Stir every 5 minutes or so to prevent sticking and scorching, being careful not to break the beef apart. Continue sautéing the beef until it's the color of roasted coffee beans, 5 to 10 minutes longer. The surface of the beef should be barely moist and have an appetizing oily sheen. (If there is too much oil in the pan for your liking, skim some of it off with a spoon and set aside for later use; it's wonderful for sautéing potatoes.)

6. Remove and discard the cinnamon, lemongrass, lime leaves, and daun salam leaves (if used), and then transfer the beef to a serving dish. (Alternatively, serve this dish with all the aromatics, for a more rustic presentation.) Garnish with the shredded lime leaves, if using. Allow the beef to rest for at least 30 minutes before serving. Slightly warm room temperature will best show off its intensely aromatic flavors. This dish will taste even better the next day.

Rayrena's notes:
1) For the nutmeg and cloves, I pounded in a small mortar. The threw the remaining paste ingredients in a food blender. I used some of the coconut milk to get it all moving, then poured it all over the meat before cooking.

2) For the lemongrass, remove the first couple outer leaves, trim away the dry tips and pound the stalk with the handle of your knife or a meat mallet, then tie into a knot.

3) The first time I used dried turmeric, didn't use the galangal or lime leaves and it was very good.

4) One time I used 8 cayenne chiles and it was fairly spicy, the next time I used 6 Fresno chiles and there wasn't much heat.

5) Both times I had a hard time getting the meat tender. Both times I ended up adding a can of chicken stock towards the last 1/2 hour and cooking until tender, then cranking up the heat until it evaporated.

6) Definitely use a nonstick pan. And be watchful towards the end, the resulting paste can brown quickly!

Following is the recipe for the accompanying pickle dish: