Monday, November 28, 2011

Bite Sized French Silk Pie

I posted the recipe for French Silk Pie earlier (see sidebar for the link).  In order to make them bite sized I use a biscut cutter to cut out the pie crust, then place the crust in a mini cupcake pan.  I cut out squares of parchment paper and fill them with pie beans after docking the crust.  Two crusts will make 24 bite sized pies.  I bake the crust the for 10 minutes with the beans, then 5 minutes without the beans before removing them from the pan and allowing them to cool on a wire rack.  You will only need to make one batch of filling and whipped cream.  I use a small offset spatula to fill the crusts with chocolate, then I place a small layer of whipped cream on top to seal it (otherwise you get pudding skin on the chocolate).  After all this is done I use a pastry bag with a #18 star tip to pipe the whipped cream on top.  One recipe uses 1 1/2 bars of chocolate, so I use a cheese slicer on the remaining half to make chocolate shavings that I sprinkle on top.  There is a small picture of the bite sized pies in the bake sale post. Enjoy!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pumpkin Ribbon Bread

I made this without the filling and it was the most moist pumpkin bread I've tried in a long time.

Oven Temp: 325°F

1 c cooked pumpkin
½ c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 ½ c sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp cinnamon
1 2/3 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 c pecans, chopped (optional)

2 (3 oz each) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1/3 c sugar
1 TBS flour
1 egg
2 tsp grated orange peel

For bread: Preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.  Combine pumpkin, oil, and eggs in a large bowl.  Add sugar, salt, cloves, flour, cinnamon, baking soda and pecans; mix to blend.  Pour ¼ of batter into each of the prepared pans and set aside. 

For filling:  In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, flour, egg and orange peel; mix well. 

Carefully spread half the filling over batter in each pan.  Spread remaining batter, evenly divided, over filling, in each pan.  Bake for 60-90 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean. 

Cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and finish cooling on wire racks.  Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

I can't remember where I got this recipe, it's been in my stack of "to try" recipes for awhile and I think that it will be included next time I update my cookbook.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bake Sale

Last weekend I took a day off of work to bake for 12 hours.  The Middle River Friends Church was having a Craft and Bake Sale that my Mother-in-law, Cathie, was working at.  After talking to her I wanted to help, so I started by putting together my menu.  This is usually the easiest part for most bakers; decide what you want to make.  I pulled out my giant cookbook (400+ pages) and I flipped to my favorite recipe, French Silk Pie.  Cathie also asked me to make a Cherry Pie so I pulled that recipe out too.  Then I just started turning pages and pulling out anything that looked good.  In the end I decided on Gingersnap Cookies, Buttermilk Cupcakes, Chocolate Cupcakes, French Silk Pie, Cherry Pie, Buttermilk Pie, Coffee Cake Muffins, Banana Bread and Pumpkin Bread.

The next step of baking this much food is to put together a list of all the ingredients.  I start with the first recipe and a blank sheet of notebook paper, then basically rewrite the ingredient list.  The second recipe ingredients get added to the first and so on until you've gone through all your recipes, in the end you will have a list similar to this:

Shortening: 3/4 c
Brown Sugar: 1c, 1c, 1/3c
Eggs: 1, 3, 3, 3, 2
Egg yolks: 4,  4
Flour; 1c, 2c, 2c, 1 3/4c, 3T, 1/3c, 1 3/4c, 2c
Ginger: 1t

Next is simplifying the food list by adding together everything you listed:

Shortening: 3/4c
Brown Sugar: 2 1/3c
Eggs and yolks: 20
Flour: 10 1/2 c, 1/3c, 3T
Ginger: 1t

Then I pull everything on my list out of my cabinets.  If I don't have to buy more it goes on one side and if I need to add it to my grocery list it goes on the other.   I typically try to have this much done 2 days before I'm going to bake so that I don't forget anything.

While I'm making all these lists I also write down the name of the recipe, how long it needs to be in the oven, and what temperature the oven needs to be at:

Gingersnaps: 8-10, 375°F
Buttermilk Pie: 55, 450 reduce 350°F
Buttermilk Cupcakes: 22, 350°F
Chocolate Cupcakes: 27, 350°F
Banana Bread: 60, 325°F
Pumpkin Bread: 70, 325°F
French Silk Pie: 25, 450°F
Cherry Pie: 40, 425°F
Coffee Cake Muffins: 25, 375°F

Then decide what order to cook things in to manage the time I will be in the kitchen.  In the end this is the order I went with:

Turn on oven to 350°F
Gingersnaps: make the dough and place in fridge to chill
Buttermilk Cupcakes: make batter, place in oven to bake.
Chocolate Cupcakes: while yellow cupcakes are in the oven, make batter and have it ready to go in the oven when the other cupcakes come out.
Turn the oven up to 450°F
French Silk Pie: While the oven is rising in temp, roll out dough for crust, dock it, and fill it with pie beans (or pie weights).  (I ended up making 2 of these pies because the one I promised to start with was sold before the bake sale began.)
Cherry Pie: While the French Silk Pie crust is in the oven I rolled out the dough for this pie, heated the filling, and got the second crust cut for the lattice top. 
Buttermilk Pie: This pie is one crust, and a very simple filling it was ready to go in as soon as the Cherry Pie came out.  This is also a pie that reduces temperature so I was able to get my oven back down to the temp to bake everything else.
Coffee Cake Muffins: make batter and streusel, place in the oven when the pie comes out.
Gingersnap Cookies: I make all my rounds for these while the Coffee Cake Muffins are in the oven, then I work on other things while they are baking.
Banana Bread: The recipe I have only makes one loaf, I made 2 batches of batter and made 1 normal loaf, and 6 mini loaves.
French Silk Pie: While the Banana Bread is in the oven I worked on the chocolate mousse for both pies.
Pumpkin Bread: When the Banana Bread is close to being done I make the batter then put it in the oven.
French Silk Pie: Now that the last thing is in the oven I can work on the whipped cream to finish this pie.

The last thing to do is frosting and packaging.  Some of them I finished while other things were in the oven, once the Cherry Pie was cool I was able to put it in the box then into the frige, same with the Buttermilk Pie.  The cupcakes all were placed in cake pans for storage, then set on the dining room table until I was ready to frost, and the Gingersnaps were bagged up when they were cool.

To add to my work, and to see the smile on Cathie's face when I dopped everything off I also made bite sized versions of everything to go in small boxes for all the ladies working at the sale:

Starting from the upper left hand corner: Bite sized Cherry Pies, Mini Coffee Cake Muffins, Mini Buttermilk Cupcakes, Mini Chocolate Cupcakes, Bite sized French Silk Pie, Mini loaf Banana Bread, slices of Pumpkin Bread.

By the time I was done my feet hurt and my hands were slightly wrinkly from washing so many dishes, but I was very happy to see all my hard work.

I will be posting all the recipes later this weekend, along with how to make a mini versions.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apple Cider Cole Slaw

10 oz. bag of shredded cabbage
2-3 apples
1/2 mayonnaise
1 T. apple cider vinegar

Shred apples, add to cabbage. Mix mayo with apple cider vinegar. Add to cabbage. Eat.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Potato Soup

It's starting to get cooler now and soup is one of my favorite things to eat in the fall.  This soup doesn't take all day to prepare and makes the house smell like bacon and onions.  Also, like most soups, it is better the second day.

Potato Soup
Yield: 3 Quarts

3 lbs red potatoes
6 cloves garlic
1 bundle green onions
1 lb bacon
1 (32 oz) container chicken broth
2 c chicken stock
2 c milk
¾ c butter
¾ c AP flour
½ c heavy cream

Peel and quarter potatoes so that they are about the same size.  Place in a 3-quart pot and cover with cold water.  Place pot over high heat and bring to a boil.  Check the potatoes after 10 minutes.  When the potatoes are almost cooked through strain them to remove the water and set them aside to cool.  While the potatoes are cooking, dice the bacon, trimming some of the fat and saving some to cook for topping.  Cut 1” off the top of the onions, then chop the onions, and mince garlic.

While the potatoes are cooling, add bacon, onion, and garlic to pot.  Cook, stirring occasionally over medium heat until bacon is cooked.  If bacon is too greasy remove some of the grease.  Once bacon has finished cooking add chicken broth, stock and milk.  Take 1 small potato and mash it in a bowl with some of the broth.  Add to the soup.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.  In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the flour and whisk constantly.  Bring the butter to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Stir into soup mixture.  Continue heating until thickened.  Add the potatoes and heavy cream to the soup.  When the potatoes have been heated through serve with cheese and crispy bacon.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gooey Butter Cake

In honor of Kate's birthday I made Gooey Butter Cake.  It's her favorite dessert at the Sailaway Cafe in Afton, MN (and mine too). It's not quite the same, but still great.  I thought it was going to be difficult to make given how delicious it is, but it's surprisingly simple, and the base of the crust uses a cake mix. 

Yield: 1 (9x13) cake pan (It's up to you to decide piece size)
Oven Temp: 350°F

1 (18 1/4 oz) pkg yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 TBS unsalted butter, melted

1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
8 TBS unsalted butter, melted
1 (16 oz box) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Combine cake mix, egg, and butter in a large mixing bowl.  Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter and mix together.  slowly add the powdered sugar and mix well.  Spread over cake batter and bake for 40-50 minutes.  Make sure not to over bake as the center should be a little gooey. 

Store in the refrigerator and when ready to eat microwave a piece for 10-15 seconds.

Source: Paula Deen

Monday, September 19, 2011

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 can water
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cups shredded cheddar
1 T. cornstarch

Steam the broccoli. Combine soups and 1 can of water over medium heat, once heated add shredded cheddar. Once melted, add broccoli. Puree in blender. If it's not thick enough, mix the cornstarch with a little water and add it to the soup, bring to boil, simmer while stirring.

Notes: I've always followed the recipes I've had by using chicken broth and the soups were good but not very thick. Yesterday I only had one can of cheddar cheese soup so I thought I'd use the cream of chicken to get volume and thickness. It totally worked. It was delicious.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pumpkin Dessert Bars

As the weather is getting cooler I wanted to make a pumpkin based treat.  I've never tried this recipe before but I think they turned out pretty good.  Matt thinks they are a little too sweet, but with only 3/4 c of sugar total I don't think so.  These are very easy to make, don't take too much time in the oven, and I had all the ingredients on hand (so no running to the grocery store for a specialty item).  I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

Yield: 1, 9"x13" pan
Oven Temp: 350°F

1 pkg yellow cake mix (1c reserved)
1/2 c butter, melted
1 egg

1 c (16oz) pack pumpkin (I use Libby's)
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 c brown sugar, firmly packed

1 c reserved cake mix
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c butter, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9"x13" pan.  In a medium bowl (bowl 1) place 1 c of cake mix.  In a second medium bowl (bowl 2) place the rest of the cake mix.  Add 1/2 c melted butter and 1 egg to bowl 2.  Stir to combine, and spread evenly in the bottom of the pan.  In a third medium bowl combine the pumpkin, nutmeg, cloves, and brown sugar.  Stir to combine, then spread evenly over crust.  Add the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and 1/4 c butter to bowl 1.  Cut butter in with a pastry blender or forks.  Sprinkle over filling (This covers the entire pan.)  Bake for 40-50 minutes.

If you use a toothpick to test doneness (like I do) the toothpick will go all the way through to the bottom of the pan, and will not have any wet cake on it when it comes out. (Though it may have some pumpkin on it.)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe offers a way to use up all that zucchini from the garden or frozen shredded zucchini. These are great cookies and your children will not even realize they are eating a vegetable in this little treat.

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup honey
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups zucchini, grated
1 cup raisins
2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup walnut pieces

Cream shortening and honey, add eggs and beat well. Mix in flours, spices, and zucchini and continue mixing. Fold in oats, raisins and nuts. Drop by tablespoons on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 3 to 4 dozen depending on size you make cookies. Enjoy!

Notes: My husband bought a 12-oz. squeeze-bear of honey and it barely poured into an 8 oz measuring cup. However, the cookies didn't suffer in terms of taste or moisture. I was nervous about the fact that all the sweetness would come from an all-natural source like honey (especially since I am not a fan of honey). I shouldn't have been. The sweetness was just right and the extra spices evened out the honey flavor. I omitted raisins (because I don't like those either), I used pecans instead of walnuts, and I used old-fashioned oats instead of quick cooking.

All of these changes made no difference at all. The cookies are delicious. The one kind of weird thing about them is that they have very little body. You pick one up and take a bite and the rest of it sort of crumbles in your hand. So I've solved this by storing them in Tupperware in the fridge and/or freezer.

Courtesy: The Southern Lady Cooks

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Peanut Butter Cups

Yield: 4 dozen

1 ½ c confectioners’ sugar
1 c creamy peanut butter (NOT reduced fat or generic brand)
½ c packed brown sugar
2 TBS butter (no substitutes), softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
¼ c shortening

In a bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, brown sugar, butter and vanilla; cover and set aside.  In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening.  Pour teaspoonfuls into paper-lined mini muffin cups.  Roll balls of peanut butter mixture, then flatten so they are about 1 inch diameter and 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Top with another teaspoonful of chocolate mixture.  Chill until set.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vacay/Fair Food

In no particular order:

Some of the winning cakes in the Creative Arts Building at the MN State Fair:

Cool, huh?

Pronto Pups! A State Fair Staple.

Frozen, chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick.
One of my all-time favorites.

Cream Puffs.
So good I kept at it even though I was full.

Cheese curds. Until you've had them,
you don't know what you're talking about.
So shut up.

Mini Donuts. Heaven.

We didn't spend all our time at the Fair, though.

Tacos at a little place in Stillwater, MN called Nacho Mama's.
They were amazingly awesome.

Ice cream, I forget the name of the place we got them from.

Hot German Potato Salad. Like nothing else on earth. From Brines, Stillwater, MN

I bet you wish you'd gone on vacay with me, huh? Well I've got news for you. I didn't even think to take pics of the pizza, chow mein, pad thai and steak I had. Now you're really jealous. And that's okay. Because MN is still there, just waiting for you.

And me.

Miss you guys already. xoxo

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Maple Bacon Cupcakes

Maple Bacon Cupcakes
Yield: 12
Oven Temp: 350°F

4 ½ TBS butter, room temperature
½ TBS bacon drippings, cold
1 egg
5 TBS brown sugar
4 TBS maple syrup
1 ¼ c self rising flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
pinch kosher salt
¼ c milk
¼ c minced bacon, cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Fry 7 half slices of bacon in a pan.  Reserve ½ TBS of drippings and place in the refrigerator to solidify.  Chop all the bacon placing ¼ c in a small bowl for the cupcakes and the rest in a separate bowl for the icing. 

Beat the butter and bacon fat until light and creamy.  Add the brown sugar and maple syrup, beating until combined.  Add the egg and beat until incorporated.

In a small bowl sift the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder together.  Alternate adding the flour and milk to the batter beginning and ending with the flour.  Mix just until combined.  Fold in the bacon. 

Place cupcake papers in a muffin pan.  Scoop a scant ¼ c of batter into each muffin paper.  Bake for 18-22 minutes, rotating after 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a center muffin comes out clean.

Maple Syrup Frosting:

4 TBS butter
2 TBS maple syrup
1 c powdered sugar
turbinado sugar (raw sugar)
coarse grain sea salt
bacon bits

Using a whisk attachment, combine the syrup and butter.  Add the sugar, a bit at a time, and whip at high speed until combined.  Pipe or spread onto cupcakes.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar, sea salt, and bacon bits.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

French Onion Soup

Serves: 6
Oven Temp: 400°F

3 TBS unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
6 lrg yellow onions (about 4 lbs), halved and cut pole to pole into ¼-inch thick slices
2 c water, plus extra for deglazing
½ c dry sherry
4 c low-sodium chicken broth
2 c beef broth
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf

1 sm baguette, cut on the bias into ½-inch thick slices
8 oz Gruyere, shredded (about 2 ½ c)

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400°F.  Generously spray the inside of a heavy bottomed large (at least 7 qt) Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray.  Place the butter in the pot and add the onions and 1 tsp salt.  Cook, covered, 1 hour.  Remove the pot from the oven and stir the onions, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. 

Return the pot to the oven with the lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until the onions are significantly reduced in volume and are very soft and golden brown, 1 ½ - 1 ¾ hours longer, stirring the onions and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot after 1 hour. 

Carefully remove the pot from the oven and place over medium-high heat.  Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot, until the liquid evaporates and the onions brown, 15-20 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if the onions are browning too quickly. 

Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pot bottom is coated with a dark crust, 6-8 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary.  Stir in ¼ c water, scraping the pot bottom to loosen the crust, and cook until the water evaporates and another dark crust has formed on the pot bottom, 6-8 minutes.  Repeat the process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until the onions are very dark brown.  Stir in the sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until the sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.  Stir in both broths, 2 c water, thyme, bay leaf, and ½ tsp salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on the bottom and sides of pot.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.  Remove and discard the herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

Croutons: Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 400°F oven until the bread is dry, crisp, and golden at the edges, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.

To Serve: Adjust an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler.  Set individual broiler-safe crocks on a baking sheet and fill each with about 1 ¾ c of soup.  Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices and sprinkle evenly with Gruyere.  Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly around the edges, 3-5 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Cook's Country Magazine

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Have you ever been to Swirl in Afton, MN? No? Shocking.

It's the cutest little wine bar that also sells, yep, you guessed it, truffles!!

Yum! Here are two-thirds of the batch we took home. I say two-thirds because Colleen and I almost forgot to take the picture we were so eager to start eating. And yes, they were just as good as they looked, with just a hint of espresso...heaven.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

French Silk Pie

1 (9-inch) prebaked pie shell

Chocolate Mousse

6 oz 60% dark chocolate, chopped

1/4 c + 2 TBS unsalted butter, cubed

4 egg yolks

3 TBS sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 c + 3/4 c heavy whipping cream, divided

Sweetened Whipped Cream

1 c heavy whipping cream

1/2 c powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Chocolate Curls for garnish

Chocolate Mousse: Combine the chocoalte and butter in a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and stir with a wooden spoon whisk until melted and smooth. Take the bowl off the heat, leaving the saucepan of simmering water on the stove over the heat.

While the chocolate is melting, separate the eggs placing the yolks in another heatproof bowl and add the sugar. Set it over the saucepan and whisk for 5-10 minutes until pale yellow and slightly stiff. Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of the chocolate into the egg yolks, then whisk all the egg mixture into the bowl of chocolate until well mixed. Add 3/4 c of the cream and whisk until combined. Set aside in the refrigerator to cool.

Whip 1 c of cream and vanilla to soft peaks. Stir about 1/4 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Pour into pie crust and smooth the top to the edges.

Sweetened Whipped Cream: Place a large mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes. In this bowl place the cream, vanilla. After turning on the mixer add the powdered sugar. Beat to stiff peaks being careful not to beat the cream into butter.

Place the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pie onto the pie. Sprinkle with chocolate curls. Refrigerate pie and any leftovers.

Chocolate curls: I use 4 oz bars of chocolate for this recipe, which leaves 1/2 a bar left over. Set the bar on the edge and use a vegetable peeler to make curls.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken

1 supermarket bought packet of chicken (usually 1-ish pound or so)
1 cup goat cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 t. thyme or poultry seasoning (either works)
olive oil

Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with Pam or similar.

Mix everything but the chicken together. Depending on how fancy you wanna get, you can either butterfly the chicken and really stuff it, or you can pound each piece flat and roll it up, or you can do it as an "open face" and just layer the cheese mixture onto the chicken.

Once the chicken is in the pan, drizzle a little olive oil over each piece and then sprinkle with a little additional thyme or poultry seasoning.

If you're using thin pieces bake at 350 for 20 minutes; if you're using thick pieces (like thighs) bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

2 Cans cheddar cheese soup
2 cups broccoli florets and stems
1 Can Chicken Broth
1 Cup water

1 T Olive Oil

Saute broccoli in oil in soup pot. When softened, add soups and water. Stir gently to combine while bringing to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Puree in a blender, then return the soup to the pot and continue to simmer until ready to eat.