Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Brownie Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

Bake a brownie mix (as directed) in a 9 inch spring form pan. Let cool completely.Soften a half gallon of this ice cream and spread over the brownie layer (I use about 1/2 to 3/4 of the container).
Top with fresh whipped cream and chopped up Peppermint Bark (candy canes would work too!) Freeze for several hours-preferably overnight.
Thanks sissy for this great (and really easy) dessert idea! It was a hit at the Karlson's for Christmas eve! Have you noticed every Christmas dessert I've made involves Chocolate and Peppermint? There is a pattern here...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chocolate Graham Toffee Bark

These delicious toffee candies start with plain graham crackers and are topped with chocolate and macadamia nuts. They make a fabulous fast and easy gift from the kitchen for any occasion.

1/2 pound (two sticks) butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 box (about) graham crackers (not crumbs)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts (optional) I like almonds- but pecans would be good too

Preheat oven to 350˚

Arrange whole graham cracker
to fit the bottom of the pan in a single layer, breaking up the last few (if needed) to fit the space.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Add brown sugar and white sugar. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let the mixture gently bubble for 4 minutes. (Set a timer and watch this step closely). Remove from heat. Carefully pour sugar/butter mixture evenly over the graham cracker
layer. Spread to cover. Bake for 10 minutes. When done, remove from oven and let rest until bubbling subsides. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Wait about 2 minutes for chocolate to melt, then use a spatula to gently spread chocolate chips into an even layer on top of the toffee graham cracker.

Optional: Sprinkle with the chopped
nuts, pressing down gently into the chocolate. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 2 hours. Break into 2-inch irregular pieces. Refrigerate any leftovers. Yield: about 1 pound candy bark pieces

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Peppermint Cheesecake

This recipe is from Sunset (a few years back). I love Sunset- have you seen the article this month on Frenso's Christmas Tree Lane? Check it out if you haven't.

Here is the recipe-

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 1 1/2 hours, plus at least 4 hours to cool and chill
MAKES: 12 to 16 servings

12 ounces Oreos, broken into pieces
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
4 eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup coarsely crushed peppermint candy

1. Place cookies in a heavy zip-lock plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Pour into a buttered 9-inch round springform pan and pour melted butter over crumbs; mix to coat, then press evenly over bottom and about 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Bake in a 300° oven until crust is slightly darker and looks a bit dry, about 10 minutes (leave oven on).

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Beat in sour cream. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Beat in flour, vanilla, peppermint extract, and salt until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture into pan over baked crust.

3. Bake until edges are just golden and center jiggles slightly when pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour. Run a knife around edge of pan rim. Place pan on a wire rack and cool cheesecake completely in pan. Cover and chill until cold, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. Run a knife around rim again, then release rim. If any liquid has pooled on surface of cheesecake, blot dry gently with a paper towel.

4. Decorate top of cake with crushed peppermint candy, pressing it in gently with your hands.

Per serving: 356 cal., 61% (216 cal.) from fat; 6.3 g protein; 24 g fat (13 g sat.); 31 g carbo (0.6 g fiber); 373 mg sodium; 108 mg chol.

Notes- be sure to add candy just before serving- or else the top will turn pink the candy won't look as good.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Cookie Shortcut...

I love baking- but this is the craziest, busiest Christmas season I've ever experienced. So I'm looking for some short cuts. I'm not above pre-made cookie dough (okay, I used to be- but now I'm seeing the light!).

Try this-

Two ingredient Christmas cookies!

Roll the mini brownie bites into little balls (each package makes 40!) and dip the top into the peppermint crunch. Bake as directed on the Toll House package- and your friends will call you Martha! (Michelle P. did when I made these- I just smiled and nodded!).

I have to bring 4 dozen cookies to church on Sunday and Vons has the brownies bites buy one get one free- so this is my plan!

Easy Entertaining Breakfast

We had some friends over for breakfast on Sunday morning and I made this Omelet for two (I increased it to four) and it was so good! And great because it was EASY! I highly recommend it for breakfast, it was so fun to have people over for breakfast and then you have the rest of the day to do whatever you want.....we should have breakfast with friends more often. I also made my favorite (and famous) Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake (the recipe came from Jill's mom actually). I'll post that recipe later.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Little Italy

This is really what my kitchen looked like about 2 hours before the party. But... here is the after... (The kitchen was clean too!)

We had a fun itunes mix going with Frank, Tony, Dean Martin and Bobby Darin that set the mood. I didn't take a lot of pictures at our house because I was busy hosting- but you can see the recipes here and here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Around the World Progressive Party

So the concept for this party was to have hors d'oeuvres at each house ending with dessert. Each home had a different country as their theme.
The first stop-
How cute is their sign?
This was not take-out for the record! These amazing asian hors d'oeuvres were made from scratch! Egg rolls, dumplings, chicken satay and lettuce wraps to DIE for! Very impressive- the other hosts including myself were feeling a little nervous after the Holck's went all out!
Great job Brad and Kel! Next post... our house aka "little italy".

Marinated Mozzarella and Grape Tomato Tree

I took this Friday about 3 hours before the party. Ben is my little "helper". I'm using that term loosely. Very loosely.

This was one of my crazy ideas that actually turned out! I have lots more pictures of the party I'll be posting later today.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Merry Christmas Boys!

This darling little blue kitchen is safely tucked away for Christmas morning for our two little boys! I love that it will encourage imaginary play- and who knows, maybe some day we'll have our own Emeril!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ina's Cheese Straws

I will not hide my undying love for all things Ina. These cheese straws are also on the menu for tomorrow night. I've got to pull my puff pastry out of the freezer right now before I forget. After this quick post-

2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
1 extra-large egg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup finely grated Gruyère cheese
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board until it's 10 - 12 inches. Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the surface of the pastry. Sprinkle each sheet evenly with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the Gruyre, 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and some pepper. With the rolling pin, lightly press the flavorings into the puff pastry. Cut each sheet crosswise with a floured knife or pizza wheel into 11 or 12 strips. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each straw and bake for another 2 minutes. Don't overbake or the cheese will burn. Cool and serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Pizzettes with Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Prosciutto

How fun does a pizzette sound? Perfect finger food for the itailan themed Christmas party on Friday! I've been looking for a great new appetizer to try out- and this is the one! This will be the first Giada recipe I've made. When I used to get a weekly produce box I made a fig, goat cheese and prosciutto pizza and it was delicious! (What else do you do with figs?).

I'm also making Ina's Cheese Straws (thanks sissy for the recommendation!). The anti-pasta platter with tons of goodies I picked up from Sam's Italian market will be the centerpiece.

I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Deluxe Butter Flaky Pastry Dough (Pate Brisee)

My friend Suriya has asked me to post the pastry crust recipe I always use-

Deluxe Butter Flaky Pastry Dough (Pate Brisee)

From: Joy of Cooking: All About Pies and Tarts by Irma S. Rombauer, et. al

This dough is richer in fat than ordinary flaky pastry and is thus softer and more difficult to handle, but it yields a marvelously tender; flaky crust with a superb butter flavor. While it is possible to make this dough with butter only a small amount of shortening makes it flakier without interfering with the buttery taste. Since this dough tends to puff out of shape during baking, you should not use it to make a crust with a tightly fluted or braided edge. If you want to make this in a food processor; see link below. If you need only a single pie or tart crust decrease all ingredients by half or freeze half the dough for future use.

Makes two 9-inch pie crusts, or two 9 1/2- or 10 inch tart crusts, or one covered pie crust

Using a rubber spatula, thoroughly mix in a large bowl:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar or 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Working quickly to prevent softening, cut into 1/4-inch pieces:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter

Add the butter to the dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, chop the butter into pea-sized pieces. Add:

1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening

With a few quick swipes of the pastry blender [or two butter knives], cut the shortening into large chunks and distribute throughout the bowl. Continue to chop until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Do not let the mixture soften and begin to clump; it must remain dry and powdery. Drizzle over the flour and fat mixture:

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water

Cut with the blade side of the rubber spatula until the mixture looks evenly moistened and begins to form small balls. Press down on the dough with the flat side of the spatula. If the balls of dough stick together, you have added enough water; if they do not, drizzle over the top:

1 to 2 tablespoons ice water

Cut in the water, then press with your hands until the dough coheres. The dough should look rough, not smooth. Divide the dough in half, press each half into a thick, flat disk, and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, preferably for several hours, or for up to 2 days before rolling. [Don't skip this step] The dough can also be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 6 months; thaw completely before rolling.

Link for recipe and for directions to use your food processor: http://www.recipelink.com/ch/2002/october/jocpiesandtarts1.html

Perfect Thanksgiving Hostess Gift

In our family- if you aren't hosting Thanksgiving, you are helping with dishes. Wouldn't this be a great hostess gift to bring on Thanksgiving? There is nothing better than fresh, new flour sack towels for drying dishes- and I'm in love with Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Lemon Verbena dish soap. I picked it up at Home Goods- but her products are wonderful and you can find them online.

{Note- this is not a hint for my family members- I picked up some new dish towels since mine were looking rather sad- so I'm all set. Just passing along the info for others. really.}

Friday, November 16, 2007

Finally: Quiche Recipe

The long awaited quiche recipe is here! The problem is I didn’t really follow a recipe…I usually take recipes and then just tweak them a little bit so here is an example. I followed this basic Quiche Lorraine recipe (a very traditional quiche) and added some vegetables to make it a bit more full of flavor. I sautéed some red pepper, mushrooms and green onions in olive oil and added some frozen chopped spinach. I didn’t add any cayenne pepper and I’m not sure I used a whole cup of cheese, probably more like ½ – ¾ of a cup of gruyere (I love this cheese). I just added the bacon and veggies to the bottom of the tart crust before pouring the egg mixture over the top, I also just sprinkled the cheese on top. It probably doesn’t matter too much about the cheese. So I hope you all enjoy this quiche. Another thing I like to do is make this same recipe without the crust, that way you don’t feel quite as guilty when you eat the croissant (which were amazing) or scone with your crustless-quiche.

Bon Appetite!

Quiche Lorraine

The northeastern French province of Lorraine gave us this traditional savory tart of eggs, bacon and cheese that seemed to be on every weekend brunch table and ladies' luncheon menu by the mid-1960s. The classic filling ingredients are included here. Some versions add chopped onion or leek that has been sautéed in butter, a nod to the cooking traditions of neighboring Alsace. (Did I mention that I've been to the Alsace region of France...just thought you should know)

Pumpkin Scones

I have been in the mood to make scones for a couple of weeks now. I was going to make some for Monica's shower, but ran out of time because I was feeling a little under the weather. What better type of scone to make than Pumpkin this time of year. We are almost to Thanksgiving and it will be time to think about peppermint and pumpkins will be just a memory for about 9 months. So I searched online to find a pumpkin scone recipe. Here is the one I made, I like it although it is not very 'pumpkinie' I added mini-chocolate chips instead of raisins because I really like a touch of chocolate with my pumpkin.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


So one of my big things is "Have Good Knives" and I do have some great knives, but they were DULL! So I took my own advice "Take Care of your Good Knives" and got mine sharpened a couple of weeks ago. There is a guy that is at the 'Vineyard' Farmers Market at Blackstone/Shaw every Saturday morning between 8am-12pm. His name is Budd (Julio) Solaegui. Yes I'm serious that's his name. He did a fantastic job! It's like my knives are brand new! I should have gone to see him sooner! Here is his info if anyone else is in need of some good sharpening of their good knives.

Perfect Edge Sharpening Systems of Fresno

Phone/Fax: 658-7381

Cell: 908-2191


Monday, November 12, 2007

Pig Sandwich

I really hate calling it that... but let me tell you this recipe from my friend Rachel is amazing. If you have ever been to Dog House Grill and ordered their pig sandwich- you will swear she used to work there. She didn't- she just experimented until she got this recipe just right. And let me tell you...it is so, so right.

Rachel's Pulled Pork

1 Pork Roast (use an inexpensive cut)
1 bottle of Hickory & Brown Sugar flavored BBQ sauce, divided
1 & 1/2 cups of brown sugar, divided
1/2 cup of honey, divided
1 bottle or can of beer

sandwich rolls & butter

Place the pork roast in a crock pot. Pour a bottle/can of beer over it. Then, mix together 1/2 of a bottle of BBQ sauce, 1/4 cup of honey, and 3/4 cup of brown sugar and pour over the roast.

(Cook on high or low depending on when you're wanting it finished). It is done when you can stick a fork into it and it starts to easily shred. Then, when it's cooked, drain the "beer juice".
Mix the BBQ sauce, honey, and brown sugar together again and add it to the pork.

Butter sandwich rolls and broil til lightly toasted. (Don't even think about skipping this step)Enjoy!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mom's Pecan Pie

This is really our family's favorite Thanksgiving dessert. I made it for a dinner with friends from church tonight. {This is our friend "girl Sam" helping me make some fresh whipped cream to go on top}.

The filling turned out great- the crust however needed some help. I'm not sure what I did wrong- but I was running short on time and didn't let it chill as long as it should have. If you need a short cut Trader Joe's makes a great pastry dough. It is made with butter and tastes like home made.

Pecan Pie

3 eggs, beaten
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. light Karo Syrup
1 t. vanilla
2 T. butter, melted
1 c. pecans

Beat eggs and salt. Add next four ingredients. Fold in Pecans. Pour into and unbaked pie shell.
Bake for 15 minutes at 375, then lower oven to 325 and bake 35 minutes more.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Polka Dots

Polka dots make me happy. I'm pretty much in love with this holiday runner. I love table runners- not much to iron or get dirty for that matter. I saw this one shopping with my friend Debbie on Friday. We loved it- but not the price. It is nice and wide and made of a gorgeous fabric with individually embroidered polka dots. But it's not going to happen. Too bad my husband doesn't read this blog and get the crazy idea to surprise me with this. Too bad my sister doesn't get her employee discount anymore. Too bad...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Say Yes to Tacos

Mondays are not my favorite day- and this last Monday was pretty crazy. So I said yes to tacos. Everybody makes their tacos differently. In our family growing up-- they were ground beef, taco seasoning and re-fried beans mixed together and served with all the toppings in a flour tortilla.

But Monday I really switched things up a bit. I used ground turkey, an onion, a red bell pepper, a large green pasilla chili, taco seasoning and some corn and black beans. I wanted these to be full of flavor and veggies as well.

Here was the amazing trick- I lightly fried the corn tortillas and sprinked the shells with kosher salt (I think this is the ticket friends!)

Then while the tortillas were hot, I put a little cheese in the center and then folded them in half.

Next spoon in some meat and add sour cream and lettuce- and sheer brilance has been acheived.

Say no to drugs and say yes to theses tacos.

Monday, November 5, 2007

WANTED: Quiche recipe

You're slacking sissy. Please post. asap. really. I mean it. (I'm not always this bossy- right?) LSS [little sister syndrom] is a big fat lie. It doesn't exsist.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

white stuff

Okay- between the croissants, sugar cookies and the creme brulee- it's getting out of control! I'm going to try to go off the white stuff (sugar and flour) for a while before the holidays arrive. I made our family menu plan for November today and I left off pasta and bread- and I'm going to stay away from baking this month as much as I can. (Of course there is a certain birthday this week that is a pretty big deal...so we might have to break that rule for a day).

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Monica's Brown and Lavendar Baby Shower...

Sissy flew out her good friend Jill (from Maine okay Maryland) for a brunch baby shower for Monica. It was so fun- and the food was amazing. I love quiche and I thought I made a pretty good one- but April's blew me out of the water. Please post the recipe sissy!
The darling sugar cookies are from my friend Nina that has started her own business "Baked with Love by Nina". These lavendar baby carriages were perfect!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Croissants? Check!

I picked up the croissants at Le Parisien today. The boys and I split a turkey and swiss on a warm croissant! Yum! It was the last croissant of the day- the Dr. ordering his behind me was told I got the last one-my lucky day!

So at Williams Sonoma frozen croissants are about 2.60 each (plus shipping!) And today I paid about 1.25 each (and they are twice as big). I cannot wait til Saturday for Monica's shower!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Birthday Cake

How cute is this train cake? The pan is a silicone mold and they "pull apart" to about the size of a cupcake. I think this is a little too much for my skill level (and the time I have) but it sure is cute!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Cookies

Since it is better to give than to receive- we started a tradition of delivering cookies the night before halloween to all of the boy's little friends. Halloween is always so busy- so the night before is perfect! My plan was for the boys to have a "dress rehersal" in their costumes- but since they were delivered to the wrong address, they weren't quite ready. (They needed some alterations to say the least!). This idea started because I wanted to support my friend's new bussiness selling the most darling sugar cookies.
I bought a dozen from her (the candy corn in the center below). However, I realized I should have ordered more! So the boys helped (mainly with the sprinkles) and Tuesday we baked cookies! They turned out pretty cute! This was the first time I have made royal icing- it holds up great, dries hard for packaging, but it is not the tastiest. So I'd like to experiment with different recipes. The sugar cookies are Martha's recipe. A little hard for my taste- but again they held up great and we didn't break one! I think I'll go back to my recipe- but use her techniques (frequently chilling the dough etc.). Sugar cookies are TIME CONSUMING! But- pretty!

My kind of Pumpkin!

Happy first Halloween Peter, Peter, Pumpkin eater! I'm sorry I didn't get to hug and love on you more tonight! You only get to be an ity bity pumpkin once in your life- but I was so distracted by a couple of wild Indians! You are the cutest pumpkin ever!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Baby Shower

Menu for Monica's shower

Vegetable Quiche
Plain/Chocolate Croissants
Orange Cranberry Scones
Fresh Fruit

Monday, October 29, 2007


gives you complimentary creme brulee if you are celebrating a birthday! I'm sorry you missed out on this sissy! It was a great meal- thank you dad!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

60 looks good!

Sissy- we have nothing to worry about with mom's genes (not to be confused with mom jeans!). She looks so young...we have it made! Happy birthday mom! You are an amazing mom who has taught us many important lessons- especially about love and family- and how they go hand in hand. We love being your daughters. Thank you for laughing with us. And singing at the dinner table (well, just when the guys are gone, right?). And hurray to dad for taking us all out to eat tomorrow night to celebrate as a family- I can't wait!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Lemon Cheesecake to die for...


For lemon curd

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice1/2 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For crust1 1/3 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (5 oz)

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For filling3 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

3/4 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Special equipment: a 9- to 91/2-inch (24-cm) springform pan

Accompaniment: blueberries

Make lemon curd: Whisk together zest, juice, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Add butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubbles appear on surface, about 6 minutes. Force lemon curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a wide shallow dish, scraping bottom of sieve, then cover surface with wax paper. Cool completely, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Make and bake crust: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Invert bottom of springform pan (to make it easier to slide cake off bottom), then lock on side. 3Stir together crust ingredients in a bowl, then press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of springform pan. Place springform pan in a shallow baking pan and bake 10 minutes, then cool crust completely in springform pan on a rack.Make filling and bake cheesecake: Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.Beat together cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add eggs 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Beat in sour cream and vanilla until combined.

Pour two thirds of cream cheese filling into crust, then spoon half of lemon curd over filling and swirl curd into filling with a small knife. (Avoid touching crust with knife to prevent crumbs getting into filling.) Repeat with remaining filling and curd.

Bake cheesecake until set 1 1/2 inches from edge but center trembles when pan is gently shaken, about 45 minutes. (Center of cake will appear very loose but will continue to set as it cools.) Transfer springform pan to a rack and immediately run a knife around top edge of cake to loosen. Cool completely, about 2 hours, then chill, uncovered, at least 4 hours. Remove side of springform pan before serving.

Cooks' Notes:

Lemon curd can be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered.

Crust (without filling) can be made 1 day ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature. Cheesecake can be chilled, loosely covered, up to 2 days. Cheesecake must be completely chilled before covering to prevent condensation on its surface.

Pour two thirds of cream cheese filling into crust, then spoon half of lemon curd over filling and swirl curd into filling with a small knife. (Avoid touching crust with knife to prevent crumbs getting into filling.) Repeat with remaining filling and curd.Bake cheesecake until set 1 1/2 inches from edge but center trembles when pan is gently shaken, about 45 minutes. (Center of cake will appear very loose but will continue to set as it cools.) Transfer springform pan to a rack and immediately run a knife around top edge of cake to loosen. Cool completely, about 2 hours, then chill, uncovered, at least 4 hours. Remove side of springform pan before serving.

Cooks' Notes: Lemon curd can be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered. Crust (without filling) can be made 1 day ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature. Cheesecake can be chilled, loosely covered, up to 2 days. Cheesecake must be completely chilled before covering to prevent condensation on its surface.

Apple Peacan Salad

October's Better Homes and Gardens had a great section on Apple Recipes. This salad was amazing! The only thing we did different, was add some blue cheese. The dressing is really good too. I highly recommend this for thanksgiving if you are looking for a special green salad for the big day.