September 30, 2012

James & Violet

Just a peek at the more beautiful half of our family lately.

April 12, 2011

Phyllo Cups with Cream & Berries

I recently hosted a baby shower for a close friend, and it was very rewarding. Thankfully I had a lot of friends willing to help out with the food, but I still made quite a bit of it: mini chocolate cupcakes with ganache, rosemary skewers, and phyllo cups filled with delicious tangy cream and topped with a variety of fresh berries. I was so busy the morning of the shower, that I completely forgot to take photos of all the tasty edibles, so this is the best I could find. The phyllo cups are on the left, and I've been making them for baby showers since 2007. (Ok, so this is only the second shower I've made them for, but "since 2007" just sounds so cool, doesn't it?) Also, I multiplied the recipe by 4 so it made about 48 cups.

Phyllo Cups with Cream Filling

makes 12

4 TB butter, melted
4 sheets phyllo dough
1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup sour cream
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Place oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350. Butter insides and rims of muffin tin. Place 1 sheet of phyllo on a clean surface. Brush with butter. Sprinkle with 1 Tb of sugar. Cover with a second sheet of phyllo. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat with 2 more sheets of phyllo, ending the layer with butter and sugar.

Cut the stack of phyllo sheets into twelve squares. Place one square stack into each muffin cup. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and gently loosen. Cool completely. (Cups may be stored airtight at room temperature up to 2 days.)

Beat filling ingredients until almost stiff. Spoon into cooled phyllo cups, and top with anything you want! I used a mixture of sliced strawberries, blueberries & raspberries.

*I'm sure you could also fill these cups with ice cream, sorbet, mousse, custard, or just fruit.

April 8, 2011

Kale Chips

(photo from smitten kitchen)

Green Veggies. Eat more green vegetables, is what I hear the little nutritionist say in my head on a regular basis. But besides the usual spinach in salad, omelettes & green smoothies, as well as a smattering of others (asparagus, broccoli, green beans, yummy lettuces) I feel like I'm pretty boring in the choice of greens that I eat. What about collard greens, or even kale? I think, as I peruse the leafy greens at the grocery store. But usually I take the familiar road, and resist the siren call of the swiss chard.

I encountered a recipe on smitten kitchen, my most-read food blog, for baked kale chips, and I was intrigued, but didn't think much of it (probably because it was posted a couple weeks after I delivered a baby!) until yesterday, when I bought some kale, intending to puree it up for said baby. Then I remembered the kale chip recipe, and whipped up a batch before I knew it. They were light. And oh so crispy. And surprisingly...tasty (despite how kale tastes raw, which isn't so delicious).
So go make some of these lovelies!


1/2 bunch kale
drizzle of olive oil
sprinkling of salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wash kale & pat dry, then remove stems and center ribs. Cut or break into chip-sized pieces, then toss with olive oil on the pan. Be sure to place the pieces in a single layer to ensure crisping. Sprinkle lightly with salt, but don't overdo it! Bake until crisp, about 20 minutes. Eat as soon as possible.

March 10, 2011

Carrot, Apple, Zucchini & Walnut Bread

Ok, so this recipe was originally titled "Garden Harvest Bread" in a Cooking Light magazine called quick baking, but I decided I liked my version better, with all those healthy ingredients listed out. Not because I'm a health nut, but beacuse I'm a mom now, and I'm supposed to be feeding my little one-year-old the good stuff. No seriously; since James stopped eating purees, I have been stumped as to how I can quickly and easily feed him 4-5 times per day without boring him with the same old fruits, vegetables and grains. Once I found this recipe, though, I knew it was perfect. He loved it!

Carrot, Apple, Zucchini & Walnut Bread

1 cup flour (I used all-purpose, but you could definitely substiute some whole wheat here)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated peeled apple (I used Granny Smith)
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (toasted optional)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup buttermilk or whole milk
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, soda & salt in large bowl. Stir in apple, carrot, zucchini & walnuts; make a well in center of mixture. Combine canola oil, buttermilk & eggs in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add egg mixture to four mixture, stirring just until combined. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove bread from pan. Cool completely on wire rack before slicing.

February 7, 2011

Orange Sweet Rolls

This recipe is actually one that I tweaked from Our Best Bites, a lovely food blog. You could say that it would have to take a recipe this tasty to bring me back from the blogging dead. Not that I haven't made anything worth posting about in the past seven months, but this is different. It's a yeast bread, and really, what could be more warm, soft and comforting? Pasta? A close second.
So here's the recipe:

2 cups whole milk
½ c. + 1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1/3 c. butter
2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 pkgs. active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.)
2/3 c. warm (105-115-degree) water
8-9 c. all-purpose flour (I only used 7.5 cups)
3 beaten eggs

orange roll filling:
8 T butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
zest of an orange

orange roll glaze:
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
4 T melted butter
1/2 cup orange juice

Combine milk, 1/2 c. sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts. Remove from heat. Allow to cool to lukewarm. While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast and 1 Tbsp. sugar in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 c. flour and milk mixture. Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Add yeast mixture and beat on high for 3 minutes. Add beaten eggs.

Stir in as much remaining flour as needed to make a soft dough. This dough should be very soft--it will be coming away from the sides of the bowl, but it will still stick to your finger when you touch it. Place the bowl in a warm place and cover with a clean towel; allow to rise 1 hour (I actually didn't think the dough had risen enough at this point, so I let it go another 30 minutes).

Punch down dough. Lightly flour your work surface and turn dough out onto surface. Divide in half. Roll out one part of the dough into a rectangle about 1/3" thick. Spread half (4 T) of the softened butter evenly over the dough, and then sprinkle half of the sugar-zest mixture over the dough. Roll up, jelly-roll style, and cut (I used floss for this) into 12-16 rolls. Place in a greased 9 x 13 pan; cover with a cloth and let rise in a ward place for 30 minutes. (Repeat with second half of dough).

Here are the little cuties, rising before being baked.

Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. When rolls are slightly cooled, drizzle glaze mixture on top.

And if your name is Miguel or Bready, you were the lucky ones who enjoyed a fresh plate of these guys the night I baked them. And I enjoyed six of them the following day.

July 8, 2010

Carrot Cake

Last June, my dad had a birthday, so I decided to make him a cake. I chose a carrot cake, in memory of a carrot cake he made once, over twenty years ago when I was in kindergarten. He made it with cream cheese frosting that was almost as thick as the cake, and brought it to my kindergarten class for the snack that day. Imagine what parents today would say if he tried to bring something so "unhealthy" to feed little 5-year-olds! Ha!

Once again, this recipe is from "Baking" by Dorie Greenspan. Already I've made these cookies and numerous other tasty items from its pages (you don't know about them becuase I haven't blogged about them!) and I've enjoyed most of what I've tried. But if you ask my husband, he'd tell you that this cake is the best so far.

Carrot Cake

for the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups grated carrot
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

for the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (8 Tb) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound (3 3/4 cups) confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 Tb fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded coconut (optional)
finely chopped toasted nuts and toasted shredded coconut, for topping (optional)

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter & flour three 9"x2" round cake pans. Place two pans on one baking sheet, and one on another.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut & raisins.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar and oil together on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix in the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer cakes to cooling racks and cool for 10 minutes, then unmold them, and cool to room temperature.

Make the frosting: Working with a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in lemon juice.

Assemble the cake: Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax paper. Cover the layer generously with frosting, using an offset spatula to smooth it all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake top side down, and frost with more frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top (and the sides, if you want) of the cake. Sprinkle with nuts or coconut, if desired. Refrigerate 30 minutes to set the frosting, before serving.

June 27, 2010

Cookies and Cream (mini!) Cheesecakes

For the past twenty years or so, my mother has made a divine chocolate-chip cheesecake which most of my siblings and I requested on a regular basis for our birthday celebrations throughout our childhood/teenage years. I thought that someday I would make tasty cheesecakes, and have the skills of my mom in the cheesecake-baking department. Fast-forward to today. Five years after moving out of my parents' house to live on my own, I still enjoy a good piece of cheesecake every now and then (mostly at the exorbitantly priced Cheesecake Factory), but I've never attempted to make one at home, mostly because I don't own a springform pan.

Finally, a couple weeks ago I found a cheesecake recipe I wanted to try--and could try, since all it required was a muffin tin and some paper liners. Well, it turned out even better than I imagined it would. I loved these little guys. And that is saying something, since usually I have at least a few critical remarks about new recipes I try.

If that's not enough reason for you to go home and make these right away, here are a few more reasons that these are incredible:

1. There is no need for cutting these babies. No complicated fancy slicing techniques you need to master. Just pop 'em out of their muffin papers, and voila! Dessert.

2. You don't have to eat this with a fork. You can, of course, if you'd like to be a little more civilized. But, if you want to pack these for a picnic or a sack lunch, you're good to go without any fork at all. How awesome is that? When was the last time you pulled out a cheesecake for dessert after your turkey sandwich at work?

Mini Cookies & Cream Cheesecakes
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
Makes 12

18 Oreos, 12 left whole and 6 coarsely chopped
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 275. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place one whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.

2. With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.

3. Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.

4. Divide batter evenly among cookie-filled cups, filling each (pretty much) to the top. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 24 minutes. Transfer tin to a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.