Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Vegetables—one of my favorites foods. Try this recipe and see whether you don't agree that carrots are delightful. These are a nice addition to a Thanksgiving table.

Roasted  Carrots and Shallots
Serves 8

2 pounds carrots, peeled with stem ends removed
12 small to medium-sized shallots
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt plus more to taste
¼ ground black pepper plus more to taste

1. Cut carrots in half crosswise. Then lengthwise halve the fatter halves. Place in medium-large bowl.
2. To carrots, add shallots, thyme, butter, measured salt and pepper. Toss.
3. Line rimmed large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Place carrots in single layer on top of lining.
4. Cover baking sheet tightly with foil. Cook on middle rack of oven heated to 425°F. for 10 minutes.
5. Remove foil; continue to cook, stirring every 10 minutes, for 20 to 30 minutes or until carrots are both well-browned and tender. Toss with more salt and pepper if desired.

NOTE: Carrots are delicious hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


These are easy and delicious. They are a riff on a Marion Cunningham recipe. Would be a great dessert to have on hand for drop-in holiday visitors, since it keeps for a week at room temperature and would be delicious served with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Also a great recipe for kids to learn baking.

Almond Butter Cake or Bars
Serves 12

¾ cup butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup almond meal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ cup sliced almonds

1. Using microwave, melt butter in medium-sized mixing bowl. Let butter cool until it is no longer hot—better yet, don’t let it get hot in the first place.
2. Add the 1 ½ cups granulated sugar and stir until smooth.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition.
4. Add salt, almond extract, and vanilla extract and stir until combined.
5. Add almond meal and stir well.
6. Add all-purpose flour and stir until combined.
7. Pour batter into buttered 9-inch cake pan to make thin cake slices or into buttered 11x7-inch cake pan to make bars that are thinner than cake.
8. Sprinkle cake or bars with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar.
9. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the sugar layer.
10. Bake in 350°F. oven for 30 to 40 minutes. When done, the cake or bars should be light brown on top and a few sticky crumbs should stick to toothpick inserted into center.
11. Let cool at least 30 minutes. However, the cake or bars are better after allowed to sit 12 hours or more. Cut into thin wedges.
12. Leftovers store well if wrapped in foil or sealed in a plastic bag. Can freeze indefinitely.

NOTE: These were good when made in an 8-inch square pan, but they seemed too thick. If 11x7-inch pan doesn’t work well for bars, try a 9-inch square pan. Cake wedges can be served with fresh fruit, such as strawberries or apples. Might try cake wedges with a dollop of whipped cream.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Wild Cherry Hibiscus Soda

I've wanted to try this recipe for several months, and last week I finally assembled all the ingredients and made it!  (would you believe I had to go out of town for plain sparkling water??)

I ordered the exotic ingredients such as wild cherry bark and hibiscus flowers from a wholesale company, where I also got this recipe.  Let me know if you need help finding them and I'll see what I can do. 

I have been wondering about using frozen or even fresh cherries (thawed, then dried?) instead of the expensive dried cherries.  I was also wishing that the leftover solids could be used somehow, but not with bark in the mix...

I am not sure how many drinks this will end up making, I got almost a quart of concentrated extract, and have been using about one shot (just under 1 ounce) per drink.  They are refreshing and delicious and I'm so glad I have that extract in the fridge!

**They call it ale, I call it soda.**

Wild Cherry Hibiscus Soda
Recipe from Frontier Co-op

4 cups water
1 cup dried cherries, chopped into ¼ inch pieces (do not use vegetable oil treated cherries!)
1 tablespoon Frontier Wild Cherry Bark
1/4 cup Frontier Hibiscus Flowers
2 cups Frontier Organic Cane Sugar

Place water in pan and add dried cherries and wild cherry bark.
Bring pot to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and let simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Turn off heat, add hibiscus flowers and sugar and stir until dissolved. Cover and let steep until cool, about 1 1/2 hours.
Strain liquid through a fine mesh sieve, then through one or more coffee filters into a clean, sterile jar. Store concentrated extract in refrigerator for up to three months.

To mix: Use a 1:6 ratio of concentrate to sparkling water. Adjust the ratio for more or less sweetness 
 according to your personal dietary preferences and desired taste.

Serve over ice.  Garnish the drink with whole frozen, pitted cherries.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Wendy's Almond-Banana-Coconut Muffins

This recipe includes some of my favorite ingredients. It makes heavy muffins but ones that are delicious warm or at room temperature. I suspect the muffins would freeze well. I imagine adding chopped almonds or even another nut would make a delicious variation to this version, or one could try simply sticking a whole almond in each muffin top before baking.

Wendy’s  Almond-Banana-Coconut  Muffins
Makes 12

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup almond meal
½ cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup grated coconut
2 eggs
2 very ripe large bananas, mashed
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup almond milk, soy milk, or cow’s milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract

1. Combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, almond meal, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.
2. Stir in grated coconut.
3. In medium-sized bowl, beat eggs.
4. Stir in mashed bananas, coconut oil, maple syrup, milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract, mixing well.
5. Add wet ingredients to well made in dry ingredients.
6. Divide batter among 12 full-sized muffin pans, filling about three-fourths full.
7. Bake in 350°F. oven for about 20 minutes.

8. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Dark Chocolate Brownies With White Chocolate Chunks

If you're like me, you already have plenty of tried-and-true brownie recipes. Still, I was happy to have success with this recipe. For one thing, it allowed me to use a bar of Ghiradelli white chocolate in my pantry that was begging to be used.

Dark  Chocolate  Brownies  With

White Chocolate  Chunks

Makes 16

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 ounces good-quality white chocolate, such as Lindt or 
Ghiradelli, cut into ½-inch pieces
Fresh large strawberries, washed and dried—if desired

1.   In a medium-sized, microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt unsweetened chocolate and butter. Alternatively, melt in heavy medium-sized saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
2.   In the meantime, whisk sugar and eggs together. Continue whisking until mixture is very thick, about 3 minutes.
3.   Whisk in chocolate mixture.
4.   Stir in baking powder, salt, and vanilla.
5.   Add flour and fold in gently.
6.   Stir in white chocolate chunks.
7.   Transfer batter into buttered 8-inch square baking pan and bake in 325°F. oven for about 25 minutes or until tester inserted centers comes out with moist crumbs attached..
8.   Transfer brownies in pan to rack; cool completely.
9.   Cut brownies into 16 squares and transfer to serving tray. If desired, garnish tray with strawberries.

NOTE: Brownies can be prepared one day ahead if stored airtight.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Lemon Cream Salad Dressing

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 3 small lemons)
2 tablespoons diced shallots
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Whisk together lemon juice, shallots, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let mixture sit 5 minutes.
2. After 5 minutes, whisk in olive oil.
3. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt along with pepper and whipping cream.
4. Whisk in more salt or pepper to taste.
5. Toss with salad greens, drizzle over sliced tomatoes or cucumbers, or refrigerate until ready to use.

NOTE: If one has an up-down whisk, one can make dressing in 2-cup measuring cup, using it to measure liquids roughly, which will be sufficient.

Whipping cream helps create emulsion.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Dutch Oven Cornish Game Hens with Red Potatoes

For Easter this past spring, my husband decided he wanted to cook Cornish Game Hens in the Dutch oven.  I was totally on board, and am I ever glad!  They were sooooo beautiful and delicious!

Here's how we did it.  The amounts below aren't exact; adjust the recipe to suit the size of your Dutch oven and/or how many people you are serving.  We serve 1 whole Cornish game hen per person, the kids just LOVE having their own "little chicken." 

Dutch Oven Cornish Game Hens with Red Potatoes
Serves as many people as there are hens

Red potatoes, scrubbed and whole if small, halved or quartered if bigger, to at least cover bottom of Dutch oven
thinly sliced bacon (2 slices per hen)
2-3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh rosemary sprigs
1 Cornish game hen per person

We used a 16" round Dutch oven for 7 Cornish hens.

Layer potatoes on bottom of Dutch oven, scatter shallots and rosemary on top and season with salt & pepper.  Nestle hens on top of potatoes.  Top hens with bacon (my husband liked an "X" of bacon on each hen), more shallots and rosemary, and sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Prepare charcoal for cooking.  My husband says the general Dutch oven rule is "2 under and 2 over" the diameter of your oven, so for a 12" oven you'd start with 10 hot briquettes evenly spaced under the Dutch oven and 14 hot briquettes on top.

That being said, he cooked our hens quite a long time, and used more charcoal to speed things up.  He probably cooked for about 2 hours total, adding more hot coals as needed.  Every half hour, he rotates the pot and the lid (spin without lifting) in opposite directions to eliminate any hot spots.  He says Dutch ovens are very forgiving, so it's hard to go wrong.  More charcoal makes things cook faster, and it's kind of hard to burn them.  You want to cook your hens until they are golden and the joints move freely, and potatoes are tender.

This dish is flavorful and aromatic, and perfect for a special occasion.  The potatoes end up in the savory juices from the bacon and chickens, which makes a fine topping or you could make it into gravy on the stove top.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

A friend of mine hired me to make cupcakes for her daughter's 7th birthday party.  Her daughter requested chocolate mint cupcakes, which I'd never made before, so I turned to One Sweet Cupcake.

I pretty much followed the recipe, except I used bittersweet chocolate and didn't measure it, reduced the vanilla, and I had to guess how long to bake them.  For some reason, there aren't a lot of baking times in the recipes.

These turned out so great, I ended up making 2 batches, that's right, 48 freaking cupcakes, because I wanted some for my family too!  I frosted them with Vanilla Mint Buttercream, and garnished with half an Andes Creme de Menthe Thin (my friend's idea) and a sprig of fresh mint (my idea) and they turned out FABULOUS and DELICIOUS.  See for yourself.  And then make some for yourself!

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes
Adapted from One Sweet Cupcake
Makes 24 cupcakes

4 oz. high-quality bittersweet chocolate bar, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place chocolate in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Pour boiling water over chocolate and let sit for 1 minute.  Using the whisk attachment, mix until smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add sour cream, applesauce, oil, eggs, vanilla, and peppermint.  Mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.  Turn the stand mixer on low, add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated and smooth.

Line two standard muffin tins with paper baking cups.  Fill each cup two-thirds full with batter.  Bake about 20 minutes, until the tops spring back at the touch of your finger and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Remove from tins and cool completely on wire rack before icing.

Frost with Vanilla Mint Buttercream and garnish with halved Andes Creme de Menthe Thins and fresh peppermint leaves, as shown.

Vanilla Mint Buttercream

Inspired by One Sweet Cupcake, I halved the recipe for Vanilla Buttercream and also made it minty to top off some Chocolate Mint Cupcakes.  (I didn't like her recipes for Peppermint Buttercream OR Grasshopper Buttercream for the purposes of this party)  I colored the frosting pale kelly green for a birthday party, but white or any other color would be just as nice. 

Vanilla Mint Buttercream
Adapted from One Sweet Cupcake
Makes enough to frost more than 48 cupcakes in method shown above.  :-)

1 pound butter, softened
pinch of salt
2 pounds powdered sugar
1/8 cup milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
1/2 tablespoon peppermint extract

In a stand mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, beat butter and salt until light, completely smooth and fluffy.  Turn the mixer speed to low and add half of the powdered sugar.  Mix until smooth. 

Add vanilla and peppermint to milk. 

Alternately, add remaining powdered sugar and milk extract mixture, beating until smooth and creamy.  Add green food coloring (I use Wilton paste colors) and mix until desired shade is reached.

Frost cupcakes as desired.  I garnished each cupcake with

Andes Creme de Menthe Thins and fresh peppermint leaves/sprigs.

**I will elaborate on my technique above if anyone would like me to!

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