Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Peppermint Bark

20 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
20 oz. white almond bark
1 1/2 c. crushed peppermint

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Spread on your cookie sheet and cool until hardened.

Melt almond bark in a double boiler. Gently spread on top of chocolate. Sprinkle with candy. Cool.

Break into pieces and serve.

Mushroom Casserole

You and your adult sisters will probably love this. Your kids, however, won’t touch it!

*This recipe can easily be doubled.

1 8-oz container of fresh mushrooms, gently washed and sliced
1 egg yolk
1/3 C. of sour cream
1/3 C. of parmesan
1/3 C. of grated swiss cheese

Saute your mushrooms in butter until tender. Mix with remaining ingredients and place in prepared oven-safe dish.

Top with seasoned bread crumbs or stuffing mix. (I like to brown them in butter first because one never can have too much butter in a recipe.)

Bake at 350 degrees for a half an hour or so.


Monday, December 04, 2006

My Father's Famous Sauce Bolognaise

This one will win you raves across the globe! Trust me, as I have tested it out in NYC (where my employer, on her way out to a fancy Manhattan restaurant, stopped by my simmering sauce pan for a taste. She had three helpings and cancelled her reservation!) and in France, where my friend's uncle took a spoonful and exclaimed, "C'est bon!" The fact that he was visibly surprised left me torn: am I flattered or annoyed?

It is really good, and the best thing about it is that you can (and I almost always do) start with a jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce.


  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I like Ragu and Prego. Paying more for those fancy brands hasn't been worth it, in my opinion.)
  • 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef
  • lots of chopped onion (the size of your dice depends upon your audience)
  • some minced garlic if you like
  • 1 generous tablespoonful of sugar (to taste)
  • 1 generous tablespoonful of red wine (or, if you prefer, balsamic vinegar)
  • lots of flaky green herbs like basil and oregano (again, you add as much as you like) as well as a good bit of garlic powder if you didn't go with the fresh garlic at the beginning of the recipe.
1. Start by browning your meat and onion. Toss in some italian sausage if you have it on hand.

2. Add the minced garlic at the end of the browning process. Burnt garlic is no good.

3. Add your sauce. Bring it to a boil to heat through and then turn the heat down. It can simmer while you make the rest of the meal.

4. Oh, and at some point add the rest of the ingredients. I usually add them right away but find that I need to perk up the flavor of the herbs once more before serving.

How easy is that? Let me know if this works out for you, or if you have other pointers I'd be happy to hear them!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Chocolate Truffle Cake

This is your basic flourless chocolate cake. That is, if you can say "basic" about anything as rich, delicious and chocolate-y as this dessert!


3 cups (18 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
6 large eggs, at room temperature

Serves 18 Active: 15 min/Total: 55 min plus 3 hr chilling

This flourless cake is dense, rich and deeply chocolaty.

1. Heat oven to 425°F. Coat an 8 x 3-in. cake pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom with wax paper; spray paper. Have a larger roasting pan ready.

2. Melt chips and butter together; stir until well blended.

3. Beat eggs in a large bowl with mixer on high 7 minutes, or until tripled and soft peaks form. Fold in chocolate mixture until blended. Pour into cake pan.

4. Place large pan in oven; place cake pan inside. Pour boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan. Cover cake pan loosely with foil; bake 40 minutes. (Cake looks soft but sets when cold.)

5. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours, or until firm. Invert on serving platter; shake down sharply to release cake. Peel off paper.

6. If desired, lay five 3/4-in.-wide strips of paper 3/4 in. apart on cake. Sift cocoa between strips; carefully lift paper. Repeat in opposite direction, this time sifting on confectioners’ sugar.

Recipe courtesy of 1-2-3 Desserts

Monday, November 27, 2006

Chocolate Pecan Pie

My sister brought this to a post-Thanksgiving laugh fest. Of all of the food that I sampled that day, this pie is what I remember!

Makes one 9 1/2-inch pie

  • All-purpose flour, for work surface
  • 1/2 recipe Pie Dough
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 4 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate (such as Ghirardelli 60% cacao), chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 15-inch round. With a dry pastry brush, sweep off the excess flour; fit dough into a 9 1/2-inch glass pie plate, pressing it into the edges. Trim to a 1-inch overhang all around. Fold under overhang so it extends slightly beyond the edge of the pie plate. Crimp edge as desired. Cover with plastic wrap; chill pie shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, vanilla and almond extracts to combine. Add the sugar, mix until incorporated. Add corn syrups, and mix until thoroughly combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in pecans and chocolate.

3. Pour filling into prepared pie shell, and bake until filling is set, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack at least 20 minutes before serving.

Note: Recipe courtesy of Tom Ribando and Martha Stewart Living

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Not exactly something you'd serve for tea, but one of my most-used recipes!

3 C. cold water
1 1/2 C. salt
1/4 C. oil
3 C. flour
2 T. cream of tartar
1 T. vanilla
food coloring and (if you really want it to smell yummy) a couple of packets of Kool-Aid

Place liquid ingredients in a large pan. Quickly add dry ingredients. Heat on low. Stir constantly until dough pulls away from sides of pan. Cool. Add food coloring.

You're good to go! Store in a tightly sealed container or baggie.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Santa's Surprises

Santa's Surprise Cookies

These cookies are a huge hit around here! The kids can help with unwrapping the Snickers bars and then wrapping the dough around them. Lots of little hands make for quick work!

Makes 4 dozen cookies, approximately, but you mustn't use too much dough on each cookie.


* 1 bag of SNICKERS Miniatures
* 2 sticks butter (softened)
* 1 cup creamy peanut butter
* 1 cup light brown sugar
* 1 cup sugar
* 2 eggs
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

1. Combine the butter, peanut butter and sugars using a mixer on a medium to low speed until light and fluffy.

2. Slowly add the eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Then mix in the flour, salt and baking soda.

3. Cover and chill dough for 2-3 hours.

4. Meanwhile, unwrap the Snickers.

5. Remove dough from refrigerator. Divide into 1-tablespoon pieces and flatten.

6. Place a Snickers miniature in the center of each piece of dough, and form into a ball.

7. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. (Baking time and temperature may need to be adjusted if using more than 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie.)

8. Let cookies cool on baking rack or wax paper.

9. Sprinkle cookies with with powdered sugar and then drizzle with melted chocolate.

10. Hide until Christmas!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day Cake

Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

2 C. sugar
1 3/4 flour
3/4 C. Hershey's Cocoa or Hershey's Dutch-Processed cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 C. milk
1/2 C. vegetable oil
1 C. boiling water
2 tsp. vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease & flour 2 9" round baking pans or one 9x13. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder & soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil & vanilla; beat on med. speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water. (Batter will be thin.) Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30-35 minutes for round pans or 35-40 minutes for the 9x13. Do the wooden toothpick test! Cool 10 minutes then remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely and frost. Enjoy!

One-Bowl Buttercream Frosting

6 T. butter, softened
2 2/3 C. powdered sugar
1/2 C. Hershey's unsweetened cocoa
4-6 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat butter in medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla.

This cake & frosting recipe comes courtesty of my dear, dear friend-of-the-heart, Djalaih!

Grandma's Coffee Cake (Also known as Christmas Bread)

This recipe is large enough to make two loafs of bread and a pan of rolls! I will often just make half a batch.

4 C. milk
1 C. half and half
2 sticks of butter
1 1/4 C. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Heat 'til very hot and butter is just about melted. Cool to lukewarm and then add three packages of yeast that have been dissolved in 1/2 C. warm water and 1 tsp. sugar.

Stir in 1 tsp. vanilla and about 12 C. flour by hand. Knead until the dough isn't sticky any more. Put in a large greased bowl and let rise for an hour.

You can make a large pan of rolls with the dough as well as a couple of coffee cakes. The "coffee cakes" are really round loaves of bread that will look like the picture. I like to add chopped maraschino cherries to the cake--very Christmassy!

Sprinkle the top of your cakes with sugar & cinnamon and let them and your rolls rise for 1/2 hour to an hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Frost rolls with powdered sugar frosting.

Powdered Sugar Frosting

1 1/2 C. powdered sugar
A dash of salt
1/4 C. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend together, adding milk by the teaspoonful until it's spreading consistency. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

My Favorite Pumpkin Cookies

1 C. sugar
1 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. butter
1/3 C. Crisco
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1 15-oz can pureed pumpkin
2 C. flour
2 C. oatmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
a shake or two of nutmeg
chopped nuts, if desired

Beat the first four ingredients together until light and fluffy. Blend in egg, vanilla and pumpkin.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Blend them into the wet mixture and add chopped nuts and a touch more flour if the dough seems sticky.

Drop by generous teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Caramel Frosting

Melt 1/2 C. butter, 1 C. brown sugar, 1/8 tsp. salt and 1/4 C. milk. Boil 3 minutes; cool for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1 1/2 C. powdered sugar. Beat until mixed.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Red Red Cake

Our traditional "birthday" cake on Minnesota Mom's side of the family. I have been known to substitute a boxed mix in a pinch (Duncan Hines being the preferred brand), but I always make the frosting from scratch!

1 C. butter
1 1/2 C. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 2-oz bottle red food color
2 T. unsweetened cocoa
2 1/2 C. cake flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 C. buttermilk
1 tsp. vinegar

Cream butter; slowly add sugar and eggs. Add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, make a paste out of the food coloring & cocoa. Blend into the butter mix. Add buttermilk and baking soda to the wet mix. Add vinegar; fold in flour.

Grease and flour one 9 x 13 pan or 2 8" round pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.


Whisk 1 1/2 C. milk with 1/2 C. all-purpose flour. Cook on low until thick. Cool. In bowl cream 1 C. butter with 1 1/2 C. sugar. Add 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 tsp. almond extract and a pinch of salt. Add flour until light & fluffy.

*It is very important that your butter not be too warm when you add the flour. Your frosting will curdle! I like to refrigerate the butter & sugar after blending them for a spell and have much better luck when I do so.

This frosting is well worth the extra effort--it makes the cake!

May all your family birthdays be blessed,


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Monster Cookies! A Fall Favorite

Aptly named because this recipe makes a big huge batch of big huge cookies: half a recipe is good for about 5 dozen. Perfect for sharing with the neighbors!

These are really very good.

4 C. sugar
2 C. (1 lb.) butter or margarine
2 lbs. (4 1/2 C.) brown sugar
3 lbs. crunchy peanut butter
1 dozen eggs (yes, you read that right)
1 T. vanilla
8 tsp. baking soda
18 C. oatmeal (a 2-lb. 10-oz box)
1 lb. M&M's
1 lb. chocolate chips

Combine first 7 ingredients. Mix very well. Add last 3 ingredients; mix well. Make each cookie about the size of a golf ball; flatten slightly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

*Ed. note: this dough keeps well in the refrigerator, and the cookies freeze beautifully. You may want to make half a batch on your first try.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Double Chip Pumpkin Muffins

I found this recipe in a bed & breakfast cookbook that we stayed at in Duluth. I had the best time just sitting in that lovely room copying down recipes while my husband read Butchering Deer on the bed. It was such a Mars/Venus moment.

This recipe makes two dozen.

3 C. flour
2 C. sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

4 eggs
1 can pumpkin puree
6 T. butter, melted
1/2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 C. white chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tins.
2. Combine dry ingredients. Set aside.
3. Beat eggs slightly. Stir in pumpkin puree, butter & chips. Blend well.
4. Stir in dry ingredients just until moistened.
5. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie

This recipe was the winner of the "Apple Pie of Emeril's Eye" contest on Good Morning America in 2001. This pie is such a keeper. I make it every year, including last year when it was my birthday "cake" and I forget to let it cool before adding the colorful wax candles (which of course melted all over the place). "Look!" my kids were delighted. "It's an M&M pie!"

1 pastry crust for a deep-dish pie (store-bought is fine)
1/2 C. sugar
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
salt to taste
6 C. thinly-sliced peeled apples
1 recipe crumb topping
1/2 C. chopped pecans (toasted for extra flavor)
1/4 C. caramel topping

Ingredients for Crumb Topping

1 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 C. all-purpose flower
1/2 C. quick cooking oats
1/2 C. butter

Directions for Crumb Topping

1. Stir together brown sugar, flour & and oats.

2.Cut in butter until topping is like coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Directions for pie

1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt

2. Add apple slices and gently toss until coated.

3. Transfer apple mixture to the pie shell.

4. Sprinkle crumb topping over apple mixture.

5. Place pie on a cookie sheet so that it doesn't bubble over into your oven.

6. Cover edges of pie with aluminum foil.

7. Bake in a pre-heated 375-degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and put back for another 25 to 30 minutes (until crust is golden but not too dark).

8. Remove from oven. Sprinkle pie with chopped pecans and drizzle with caramel.

9. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy warm or at room temperature, a la mode or no! (Although apple pie & vanilla bean ice cream is a must around here!)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

Caramel Popcorn

Really Good Caramel Corn
1 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. butter (1 stick)
1/4 C. corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 quarts popcorn, popped

Microwave the first five ingredients on high for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the soda. Put your popcorn in a brown paper bag and pour the caramel over everything. Microwave the popcorn (bag and all) for 1 minute, shaking after 30 seconds.


Recipe courtesy of my dear friend Tanya