Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chocolate Cake with a Kick

Heat, men love it. I of course mean “heat” in food, this is a recipe and cooking blog yah know! Mind out of the gutter please. Since it is my duty to provide calories to my man I was doing my normal patrol around the internet searching for new recipes to try and came across “Mexican Chocolate Cake” - ? So key here is a little cayenne pepper and a wee bit of balsamic, I was intrigued to say the least. The results are a fantastic little piece of chocolate cake with a kick, totally worth a try if you want to spice things up a bit and definitely a nice surprise for anyone who enjoys heat.


1 ½ cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp salt
1 cup of cold water
¼ canola oil
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 tbs balsamic vinegar


Preheat your oven to 350 and lets get rolling.

In a large bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients into this bowl and mix well. Pour the batter into your desired baking dish, I used a mini loaf pan to make 8 little loafs.

These little guys baked at 350 for about 30 minutes.
I dusted these cakes with powdered sugar.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Corn Muffins and have a great weekend!

Man, vacation was so nice. I had a super great time with family and so did my hubby and Indigo. There will for sure be many pictures to follow here in the next few weeks of our trip…however since I had such a long trip I decided to leave you with a food recipe over the weekend versus a family centric one…so without missing a beat – here are some great corn muffins from Ina Garten with just a few small changes.

PS – I would kill to be invited to Ina’s house for dinner.


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup medium cornmeal
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
½ cup of sweet baby corn


You will need to pre-heat your oven to 350 and then grease and line your muffin pan.

In a bowl mix your flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, melted butter, eggs & corn. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until they are just blended. Spoon the batter into your muffin pan, I made 8 large muffins. Bake for 30 minutes or more, the edges will nicely brown for you!

Have a great weekend! I plan on lots of baking, hanging out with friends, and catching up on Nurse Jackie - US of Tara - and The L Word...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Piece Montée - Daring Bakers May 2010

Challenge one CHECK! I joined the Daring Baker Challenge and this was my very first task; it is called a “Piece Montée”. The person who chose this challenge is Cat from .

This challenge has 3 parts to it, the pate a choux, the crème patissiere, and the glaze used to mount & decorate it. A few days before the actual baking of this dessert I started to practice the pate a choux. My first try was less then stellar; the dough was runny and produced flat little disks that could be used to knock people out…not what I was looking for. The 2nd time was much better since I definitely put a little more *love* into the dough. I made sure to stir stir stir and bake off a lot of the water before adding in the eggs and VOILA! I made perfect little hollow puffs.


¾ cup water
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
+ 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice (my addition, can be left out)


Over a medium bring your butter, sugar, salt and water to a simmer, add in your flour & pumpkin pie spice and stir until a ball of dough forms. From this point you will want to stir off excess water for approximately 4 minutes. Just keep moving that dough all around. Next remove from heat and let it cool down for about 5 minutes.

Next is when you will need your muscle, add into your dough each egg one at a time. At first it will be super slippery and well “weird” but then it will all come together again – this is when you add in you next egg etc.etc. Once all the eggs are combined with your dough you can pipe 1 x 1 inch dots on to a parchment lined baking sheet. They will puff out and up so be sure to space them out at least 1 inch apart.

Bake this little dudes and dudettes at 425 for 10 minutes, then lower the temp to 350 and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Once nicely puffed and browned turn off the heat but let the puffs sit in the oven. This will help the insides dry out nicely.

And now, might I introduce you to “The PUFF”.

The next part is to make a pastry cream, I went with a plain vanilla cream.


2 cups milk
1/4 cup white sugar
2 egg yolks
1 egg
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a heavy saucepan, stir together the milk and 1/4 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and egg. Stir together the remaining sugar and cornstarch; then stir them into the egg until smooth. When the milk comes to a boil, drizzle it into the bowl in a thin stream while mixing so that you do not cook the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the eggs don' t curdle or scorch on the bottom.

When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from the heat. Stir in the butter and vanilla, mixing until the butter is completely blended in. Pour into a heat-proof container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming ( I used a plastic grocery bag). Refrigerate until chilled before using


I used a pastry bag and large tip in order to pipe the pastries with cream. Fill your pastry bag, insert into pastry and sqquuuueeeze till that little puff has a heart beat. Once all my puffs where filled I put them back in the refrigerator.


Now we have to make the glue that holds this ship together, the hard caramel glaze. This is when you need to be calm and have a general idea of the shape you want and how large your Piece Montée is going to be. Once this stuff is ready it is assembly time and once you make a decision to where a piece should go you have only seconds to change it!


1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice


Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately!

Dip the top of each choux in your glaze, and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up.

It was tough & very challenging…it will not be on my list of things to make again unless forced by cute children or bunny rabbits..oh yah or kittens, add kittens to the list!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Salted Steak with Fresh Rosemary Butter

Let me start of with, I am leaving on vacation this weekend. I will be gone for 10 days and miss you all terribly! *giggle* I am leaving you with a fantastic little recipe…

So as I was preparing another pasta dish one evening my poor husband came to me with a look of desperation in his eyes, I sat him down and asked him “Honey, what’s wrong?” He replied “Darling, I love all your new cooking but could you please make something with MEAT!!!” Ah, see – I was depriving my husband of his caveman food! So I got right on it, and cooked him up a very tasty steak!

INGREDIENTS for the steak

(2) Filets or your favorite type, I suggest at steak with a thickness of 1 inch or more
4 tsp’s of sea salt, 1 tsp for each side of your 2 steaks
¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
Cooking spray for the pan

INGREDIENTS for the rosemary butter

4 tbs of softened butter
1 tsp of fresh finely chopped rosemary

Let’s start with the butter making, prepare ahead of time earlier in the day.

DIRECTIONS for rosemary butter

Combine your rosemary with your softened butter, roll into a ball and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

DIRECTIONS for the steak

Lay your steak out on a plate and put 1 tsp of sea salt on each side, make sure to rub it in just slightly. Let your steak sit for 1 hour with the sea salt. Once the hour is up wash the salt off of the steak with cold water; pat dry your steaks with a clean towel and then sprinkle with the cayenne pepper.

Now let’s cook! Over a medium high heat sear your steaks for 2 minutes on each side in a pan that has been lightly oiled. Once your steaks are seared you will want to transfer them into a baking dish and bake at 400 for 13 minutes. Now we all have different preferences for how we like the center so for my 1 ½ inch filets this time in the oven produced a slightly pink center, no red – which is how I like it.

Once you have taken your steaks out of the oven; be sure to let them rest for at least 10 minutes. If you cut too soon you will loose a lot of that juice thanks to the steam leaving your piece of meat.

Have a great Weekend & I will see ya’ll in 10 days!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ann Brettingen’s Swedish Apple Cake

So I texted my husband early this morning to make sure he had made it to work since I didn't hear him get up or getting ready, his reply “On my way – little late – I took some of your apple cake”. I am very glad he made it to work ok, but now I am sitting up in bed slowly waking up wondering how much is left of this cake…tip toe downstairs and there are 2 pieces left, that man is lucky he leaves for work before I do! I think we might start dessert wars with who gets to bring the leftovers to work.


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1 yolk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled (you should have about ½ cup of melted butter)
1 golden delicious apple, or whatever you have on hand


In a small bowl whisk together your flour, baking powder & salt.

In a medium bowl whisk together your whole egg, yolk, sugar & vanilla; melt your butter in a separate dish and once cooled whisk into this bowl.

Pour your dry ingredients into the wet and combine thoroughly. Once combined spoon batter into a small greased cake pan; lay your apple pieces on top in a pretty pattern.

Bake at 350 for 30 – 35 minutes, cake at the edges will be brown but as you move to the center will be more *gooey* but this is the way it should be. Once baked let your cake rest for 1 hour prior to cutting.

Next comes the part where you DO NOT tell your husband you made a cake…trust me!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Couscous with Ham & Tomatoes

Man, ham tastes great! Can I get an AMEN? I had all intentions of having some sort of ham pasta dish and like an idiot forgot about my little canned ham when the time came. Fast forward to a few days later and I discovered it early one morning…I decided to toss it into a couscous dinner I had planned for that evening – and in all honesty it was the star, I also made it the star of 2 breakfasts after that because that’s how I roll.


2 cups of couscous cooked in vegetable broth according to box directions
2 cups of Cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cups of chopped ham, sautéed till brown
2 cups of diced red bell pepper
4-5 stalks chopped green onion
3 tbs of Vegetable oil
1 cup of Parmesan Cheese, although I think Swiss would be fantastic!


Bring your vegetable broth to a boil, pour in your couscous and cover while we do the rest.

In a large pan sauté your ham until it is nicely browned. Remove from pan and set aside. In that same pan sauté in vegetable oil the bell pepper & green onion for about 6 minutes or until nicely cooked. Now toss in the couscous and cherry tomatoes, mix thoroughly and then transfer this mixture to a baking dish – bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.

Top with cheese of choice & enjoy

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Indigo with a side of Creamy Basil Pesto Sauce

Indigo in pictures. .

“What is in this measuring cup mom????”

“Yikes mom, this water is to cold!, how about hookin a girl up!”

Next “logical” step, insert self into pot

And what can Indigo do to make up for the fact that I now how have to clean up over 87 pots and pans for the 3rd time that day...she just has to give me one of these :

So after that was all done, I asked Indigo to go and prepare our meal since I had to clean up that little darlings mess…this is what she came up with!

Creamy Pesto Sauce over Gnocchi


(1) 8oz block of cream cheese
3 tbs of basil pesto
2 cups whole milk
2 tbs of flour (for thickening)
½ cup of Pecorino Romano
Gnocchi or other pasta of your choice


Melt the cream cheese into your milk at a medium heat, then add in your pesto. Mix until well blended then add in the flour to thicken slightly. Right before serving mix in the Pecorino Romano.

Another picture of Indy? Don’t mind if I do.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Dip, It’s what’s for dinner if you want to try something out before you bring it to a party. Me and my husband sat down with some of this for dinner Friday night. I had volunteered to bring something savory to a friends party and knew I wanted to try my hand at a spinach and artichoke dip. I doubled the recipe below and it easily fed 10 people…who came back several times to load their tortilla chips.


1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat your oven to 350 and grease a small baking dish. Mix together is a large bowl your cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parm, Romano, garlic, basil, onion powder, salt & pepper. Once these are blended well, fold in your artichokes and spinach. Pour mixture into the baking dish then top with your mozzarella.

And it goes a little something like this. . . .

And a little cheese action. .. . ..

After baking for 25 minutes at 350…and about 3 minutes after removal from the oven….

It was great!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Lemon Lime Mousse, and I Love You Mom!

Happy mothers day to all moms; and a very special mother’s day to my own. My mother has many great attributes; here are a few of them:

1. When I was a little kid she would always get me a bowl of chocolate ice cream, but the kicker is she would put it in the microwave for a few seconds so the sides were all melty. I LOVE it that way. I always enjoyed this while we watched those super bad Lifetime movies.

2. My mom has tons of style, we do not live near anymore but she always sends me better attire than I could pick out for myself.

3. My mom let’s me talk endlessly about Indigo, I am sure my friends are thankful for her ears.

And now on to the show, Lemon Lime Mousse. Please take note, this is a 2 step process and there is some refrigeration involved. I suggest making this a day ahead – or at least making the curd one day ahead.


6 tbs of unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups of sugar
2 whole large eggs & 2 egg yolks
½ cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tbs fresh lime juice, but heck I used the pre-squeezed
1 tbs lemon zest
1 ½ cups of heavy cream



In a medium saucepan, whisk together butter, 1 cup sugar, eggs, yolks, and lemon and lime juices (mixture may appear curdled). Place over low heat; cook, stirring, until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes. Raise heat to medium; cook, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat back of spoon, 4 to 8 minutes; BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO BOIL!

Remove pan from heat; stir in lemon zest. Transfer mixture to a bowl; cover with plastic wrap, and chill at least 1 hour.


In a mixing bowl, beat cream and remaining 1/3 cup sugar to soft peaks. Whisk lemon curd to loosen, then gently fold in whipped cream.

“This is they way we stir the mousse, stir the mousse, stir the mousse”

“This is the way we stir the mousse, so early in the morning.”

Spoon into your serving bowls or glasses – Cover and chill at least 2 hours. This mousse can last for at least one week. Also consider freezing it for a creamy frozen treat.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

White Chocolate, Banana, and muffins

My husband works a lot of shift work and the mens’ ladies provide the fixings from time to time. I like to give a steady supply of sugar and fruit to the guys, it is my perfect excuse to bake ALL the time. These particular muffins went over like all get out, they are easy peasy too.


1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
1 egg, whisked
1 cup of mashed bananas
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups of flour
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup of shredded coconut, or more if you like (this is the topping)
½ cup of white chocolate chips, or more if you desire


Preheat the oven to 350. Cream together the butter and sugar, add in the egg and continue to beat until combined. In another bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let this mixture sit for a couple of minutes.

Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Next mix together the flour, salt, cinnamon & pumpkin pie spice and sift into the butter and banana mixture. When that is combined fold in the white chocolate chips; then top with a bit of the shredded coconut.

Pour the batter evenly into a cupcake pan with liners, or just plain old liners sitting on a baking so

Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes; just keep an eye on them.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Pacific Rim Gewürztraminer 2008 - 3 STARS

World Market, I was drawn in by a hope of finding a tart pan and by signs that read “White wine sale”. What can I say I am their target audience with a sign like that! Well, I found that gorgeous white tart pan for 5 dollars and also managed to get two bottles of Pacific Rim for 6.99 a bottle.

I am going to give this wine….drum roll please

3 stars - Yum, perfectly acceptable!

This is what is written from the experts :

“A burst of lychee and pear, aromatic, perfumed with rose petals, lush and forward. The alcohol is 12%, the residual sugar is 1.7%; with plenty of acid under it. The mix of flower and fruit is perfect, substantial, and beautifully balanced."
91 Points
Wine Enthusiast

And how about some flowers from my backyard, they are just gorgeous these days!

I would have never thought I could keep these roses alive for more than 10 seconds, but they are just thriving.

I enjoyed my white wine with my husband, my Indigo, and my roses....oh yah and my 2 cats who were reaking havok on yard intruders (aka the birds)

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. – Song of Solomon 1:2

Monday, May 3, 2010

Olive & Feta Pasta

Let me tell you what my old recipe for pasta was, pasta + jarred sauce = dinner. That’s it; that was my recipe. Pretty simple huh? Well now my idea of good has changed, and so has my idea of simple. The pasta below has many more ingredients than my standby two ingredient recipe above, but o’ how you will love it all the more and it is also “simple” in my new definition.

INGREDIENTS, serves 4-6 and you will be full

1/2 lb of pasta, bowtie - if you like more pasta vs. toppings just cook the whole box
2 tbs of Olive Oil
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup of black olives
1 cup of chopped basil
1 cup of feta cheese, or more if you like
Dash of nutmeg, about ¼ tsp
Pat of butter


Cook Pasta according to box directions, drain then toss with a pat of butter and your dash of nutmeg.

Sauté your garlic in the olive oil over a medium heat until browned then remove garlic from the pan. Toss your cherry tomatoes into the garlic infused olive oil and pan fry for about 4 minutes. Pour this mixture over your pasta then toss in the olives, basil & feta cheese.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Blackberry Jam Tart

Sometimes it takes nothing more then a photograph for me to be drawn to a recipe. This Jam Tart is well…gorgeous! I can not take the credit for the idea as it is borrowed from another blogger who I will link to. I think it is just beautiful and modern, and I wanted to make it the minute we locked eyes.

Now things of beauty do not always delight the senses once you take a bite, but this sure will. It is just simple and wonderful…just like my weekend. Nice segway huh. I am relaxing right now on my couch watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey with no sound as I type this post out. Indy is down for a nap, although the neighbors are trying their hardest to wake her early. I have a nice little picnic planned for this afternoon that will include roasted chicken and a lemon lime mousse for dessert. Hope everybody has enjoyed their weekend.

This recipe and idea for modern tart top is delightfully borrowed from :


9 tbs of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 of cups flour
1/2 cup of cornmeal
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cups black berry jam
3-4 tbs of turbinado raw cane sugar, for dusting top


In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together, mix in the egg and extra yolk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder. Now you can add your dry ingredients into the wet, combine until dough forms. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour. I left mine overnight.
When you are ready; take 2/3 of your now room temperature dough (because you took it out of the fridge about 15 minutes ago) and press it into your pan like so..

Little more muscle to get to here…

Take your jam and whisk it in a bowl, just to loosen it up. Now place it into your tart..

Now you need to roll out your remaining dough and press out little cirlces with shot glasses and medicine bottles. Make enough to almost cover the top and sprinkle it with the raw cane sugar, the result…

Bake this tart at 350 for about 25 minutes. Once baked remove from the oven and let the jam set up for at least 2 hours.

And what beautiful little dessert doesn’t enjoy a little photo shoot before it meets it’s end?

A little more please

Blackberry on FoodistaBlackberry