Archive for the ‘TWD’ Category

TWD: Sugar Topped Molasses Spice Cookies

November 3, 2009

Thanks to Pamela of Cookies with Boys for picking this cookie recipe.  I loved it!

Alas, my daughter’s friend did not!Halloween 2009 010

Halloween 2009 012

Halloween 2009 011

After the friend’s strong reaction, I got out my camera, grabbed my completely unaware husband and said “Try this cookie!”  He looked at me, looked at the cookie, looked at the camera.  And took a bite.    Halloween 2009 016 Good man.   Either he likes my baking, or its the Magnificent Power of the Ta-Ta’s all over again.  (BTW, if you say “Mysterious Power of the Ta-Ta’s” in front of your teen daughter’s friends, she will be embarrassed and not speak to you for most of the night.)

These cookies are delicious  and quite easy to make.  They’re great alone, but would also make a fabulous ice cream sandwich (maybe filled with cinnamon ice cream?

With the holidays coming up, it’s an excellent time to buy “Baking From My Home to Yours” and bake along with us!

TWD: Cherry Fudge Brownie Torte

October 27, 2009

Biscuits and Brownie Tort 003

Pretty, no? 

 Okay, literally,no!”  as my dessert got a bit smooshed, which somehow made the lovely cherry sauce look rather like smeary ketchup.  (Or catsup, if you prefer.)

I made this torte with low expectations.  I do not like chocolate covered cherries.   Despite my huge sweet tooth, I just can’t stand them.   Blech.  I was willing to try this recipe, but I really did not think I would enjoy a brownie with dried cherries AND cherry preserves; I was wrong.  This was delicious!  The bottom brownie layer was moist and flavorful and the marscapone cheese mousse was to die for.   Soooo good.   Plus the added pureed cherry preserves on top were a nice contrast to the whiteness of a mousse.  A pretty dessert (non-smooshed) that I plan on making again for the upcoming holidays.   (Along with the sweet potato biscuits, the tartest lemon tart and a lot of hashbrown casserole!  I’m going to start counting down the days until Thanksgiving!)

Counting DOWN the days.  Counting UP the pounds, apparently.  Maybe I should add a salad to that list? 

The recipe is available at April’s site, Short + Rose.   And, yes, it does dirty a lot of bowls and have several steps, but none are difficult.  (Note:  I did sub in red wine for the kirsh so I couldn’t flambé it;  I just let the mixture boil for a bit longer to cook out most of the alcohol.)  Plus, you can make the brownie and the mousse a day ahead of time and only have to assemble the dessert the day it is served.  I highly recommend this, even to fellow cherry + chocolate haters.

TWD: Allspice Crumb Muffins

October 16, 2009

Before this recipe, I’d never baked anything that highlighted allspice and was pleasantly surprised by how delicious these muffins were.    I made these a couple of weeks ago, which, while it was nice to be “ahead” didn’t work out so well, since I didn’t get a photo AND I can’t really remember much about baking them-other than that the recipe was easy and the muffins had a great top (Top ‘O the muffin to you!)   For a more substantive post about the muffins (and the recipe) please visit Kayte at Grandma’s Kitchen Table

In other news, I started tutoring at the grade school Wednesday afternoon.  The teacher in charge of the volunteers looked at the list and said “Oh, you have HH.  Hmm….he’s a bit…. stubborn.   But I’m sure you’ll be okay.” 

Unfortunately (maybe?) HH was absent yesterday, so I was assigned another child, “Houston,” a short, slightly chunky, tad bit smelly, be-earringed boy in the 7th grade.   The kind of kid that breaks your heart because you can tell immediately that he’s treated as a “have-not” by the other children and probably many adults.

We sat down; Houston went to get his snack of chocolate milk and graham crackers, then sat down and said “Want to see something?”   Wishing to establish a rapport, I eagerly responded “Oh, yes,” expecting to see a trinket from his backpack or a photo of his dog.  

He punched the table.

Not out of anger, just to show me how hard he could punch.

Hmm… is there a polite way to respond “negatron” to “Want to see something?”

We started his social studies homework; “What countries import oil to Russia?”

Houston: “I’ve changed my fingerprints. (shows me his fingertips)  See, I used a pin and poked it and now I have little scars and my fingerprints are different.  Now I can never get caught.”


“Can you find the are arrows on the map showing what countries import oil to Russia?”

Houston: “It doesn’t hurt to put a pin through your skin.  I did it on my arm and here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and then put a string through all the holes.”


“See, this arrow, what country is that?”

Houston:  “I’ve been fishing before.  I caught a fish and put it in the blender and the lid wasn’t on it and fish blood and guts went all over the ceiling of our trailer.”

“Let’s list ten Middle Eastern countries and their capitals.”

Houston:  “And then we had to move out of the trailer and my uncle was sad because he liked the smell of the fish blood.  And my mom was mad that we had to move and she and my uncle wrote bad words on the walls in paint. Like ‘FU.'” 

“Look at how many of the countries end in ‘stan.’  I wonder why.  Has your teacher mentioned that?”

Houston:  “I know how to shoot a gun.  My grandpa has guns and we shoot them.   I shot a turkey before.”

“Let’s read about the Nile River and answer these questions.”

Houston:  “I shot it in the foot.  And it ran away like this.” (demonstrates a hobbled strut)

“Is the Aswan High Dam a good thing or a bad thing for Egypt?  List two advantages and two disadvantages of the dam.”

Houston responded:

The damn controls the water.  I can speak Spanish.  It keeps the Nile river from flooding the crops.  My mom had a boyfriend that was Mexican and he had two Mexican kids.   The damn makes it easier for people to cross the river so they can bury their dead.  And they taught me un poco Espanol. If people can’t cross the river then they won’t have life after death.   Mainly swear words though.  The damn can sometimes make the floods worse, though, which kills the crops.  I think the damn is a bad thing and they should remove the damn.

I had been instructed to have him dictate his answers and to write them down for him (due to a disability, he has a hard time holding a pen.)   It wasn’t until AFTER I had written his response that I realized I had misspelled DAM each and every time in the essay.  

I think I may be fired from (volunteer) tutoring!  Which is worse, that I can’t spell, can’t keep the kid focused, or that the word I can’t spell made an unintentional swear word?  (Yes, I did go through and cross out all the “n’s” at the end of the dams.)  (But it won’t be that difficult for the teacher to realize my mistake, and, alas, that I am a dumbass.)  

After tutoring I ran and picked up Reagan and told her how it went.  She said “Did you know he’s Mongolian?”     Confused, (“Like the beef?”)  it seemed unlikely to me that a boy from our little town would be from Eastern Asia.   Then it dawned on me, someone (and sadly, probably an adult, given the obscurity of the term) likely referred to him as a “mongol”  and this dated, derogatory term was misinterpreted by children, including my daugher, that  misunderstood and didn’t know better.

I’d say tutoring went “so-so” and left me feeling a bit sad.   (I definitely root for the underdog and this kid is like the underdog of the underdogs)   But the muffins, the muffins were fab.

TWD: Split Level Pudding

October 6, 2009

Jennifer and pudding sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!

This pudding was definitely worthy of mi amor.   And it was easy to make, used ingredients that I had (and usually have) around the house, milk (I used 2% rather than whole), egg yolks, chocolate, vanilla, cornstarch, heavy cream (yes, I usually have a carton for ice cream making), and sugar.

I served the pudding in small punch bowl cups and only made four servings;  one for each member of my family.  October 2009 020

My camera shy one didn’t eat his, though.  

October 2009 003October 2009 005 October 2009 006October 2009 007

And he wouldn’t smile nice for his “” profile pic, either.

(Just joking.)

Attack of the giant pudding cup:  October 2009 017


The chocolate ganache at the bottom was rich, thick and chocolate-y.  I used Dove dark chocolate instead of bittersweet, thinking my kids would find that more appealing.   The vanilla part was smooth and had a really nice texture.  Not too thick or too thin.   I served each one with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and, in my husband’s words “this is the best thing ever!”

This is a great, easy, comforting recipe.  I encourage everyone to visit Garret’s blog, “The Flavor of Vanilla,” for the recipe and his review.

TWD #33: Applesauce Spice Bars

August 18, 2009

I made some variations to this recipe, chosen by Something Sweet by Karen, partly due to necessity, mostly due to an urge to experiment.  

I like to try new things and figured this was an ideal recipe to play around with, since the ingredients aren’t expensive and I wasn’t making it for an event.   Plus, I’m always telling my kids, “don’t knock it, til you try it,” whether “trying it” means eating sushi, or joining the golf team.  (Rea is one of two girls!)   I did start to second guess this wisdom the other day when Rea told me the following:

R:  “Oh, I know why L. and J. broke up.”  (L and J are 15 years old) 

J:  “Why?”       

R:  “I can’t say, you’ll give me a look.”  

J:  “Oh, you have to tell me now.  I won’t give you a look!”

R:  “Well, L. gave D. head, so J. broke up with her.”  (D. is another 15 year old) 

J:   (mouth a-gape)

R:  “You are giving me a look!   I told you so!”

J:  (still gaping)

R:   “I know what you are thinking!   No, I haven’t  And NO, I WON’T!   GROSSSSSSSSSSS!”

(Funny enough, that wasn’t what I was thinking, I was still in shock about the sexual activities of two kids slightly older than Rea,  I hadn’t even gotten to the point of worrying about her.)       

So am I a hyprocrite to be thankful that my fourteen-year-old daughter isn’t so willing to try new things, afterall?    I’m also thankful that she feels close enough to me to discuss something so potentially embarrassing.  (Warning to any parents of younger ones,  the “birds and bees” discussion is a piece of, uhh, cake compared to discussing fellatio, pornography, etc…)

Enough of the anecdotes and back to the real reason we are all here.  Cake.   I made this cake last night, subbing in a cup of granulated sugar with two tablespoons of molasses due to a lack of brown sugar in my cupboard.

I also decided to follow Holly’s excellent suggestion on the Dorie P&Q forum.   She browned the butter.  I love the nutty, rich taste of browned butter and thought it would be great in this recipe.  It definitely was.   (Of course, now I want to make the recipe as written to compare the two.)  

Furthermore, I had a partial bag of Hershey’s cinnamon chips wallowing in my cupboard, so I decided to add about a 1/2 cup of those to the batter and to top the glaze with more pecans (there were already toasted pecans in the batter)  that I toasted in a little browned butter and sprinkled with sea salt.

While I loved my variations, I’m also sure that the recipe as written is wonderful, perfect for the upcoming apple season.   If you are interested in this quick and easy recipe, please buy the book, or visit Karen’s site.

Applesauce Spice Cake

Okay, it doesn’t look so appealing. I slightly under-baked mine AND covered it before it was completely cool (I was tired after an evening of back-to-school clothes shopping) so it got a little mushy from the condensation.   Next time I would bake it the longer time (28 minutes, rather than 23) and let it cool completely before covering.

TWD #30: Vanilla Ice Cream

July 28, 2009

My fifteen year old boy is simultaneously dreading the return to school while counting down the days until he can get his driver’s license. (In November.)

My fourteen year old girl bemoans her boredom and doesn’t appreciate my suggestions.  “If you don’t have anything to do, you can scrub the kitchen floor” is my helpful version of “If you’re going to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about.”

My thirteen year old nephew, a newcomer to the household, will say, on the phone, “Hold on,”  <rustle, rustle,> “Did you hear that? I just farted in the phone!”  He also “caught” one in an empty jar.  (BTW, never say “yes” to “smell this,” even especially if it’s an innocuous looking empty pickle jar.)  Yesterday he taught the dog to sit (with microwave popcorn as the bribe.)   And made “bombs” out of flour and Kleenexes.  Which I must say smelled worse (when lit) than the “fart in a jar.”

He also ate the rest of my tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream.  Before I managed to get a photo!

Nevertheless, I’m thankful for his non-picky-eating ways.  Neither Tay nor Rea would even taste the mint chocolate chip ice cream.    To them, mint is for toothpaste, and toothpaste only.  They don’t delight in York Peppermint Patties, or my favorite, Andes Mints. 

Either of which would have been a great addition to this ice cream.   I followed the “playing around” directions for this variation of Dorie’s Vanilla Ice Cream.   The next day I made the actual vanilla ice cream recipe as written, but, at the last moment, decided to make it butter pecan.   I lined a cookie sheet with foil, dropped on 2-3 tablespoons of butter and put it in the oven to melt.  I added 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans to the melted butter, stirring to coat, sprinkled them with sea salt and popped them back in the oven for about 10-12 minutes.   Once cool I added the nuts to the churned ice cream.  

Only, apparently the nuts weren’t as cool as I had thought, because the ice cream started to melt.   I put it in the freezer, and, while I anxiously waited for the butter pecan milk shake to turn into scoop-able ice cream, I decided to make a pecan topping.   I looked in my favorite ice cream cookbook, “The Perfect Scoop,” for inspiration and made a variation of one of the sauces.  (Only I can’t for the life of me remember what it’s called!).    I toasted pecans in the toaster oven while melting butter mixed with sugar and corn syrup on the stove top.   Once the butter mixture turned a nutty brown color I removed it from the heat, added water, put it back on the heat, whisking to make the mixture smooth, then I added heavy cream, 1 tbs of cognac and 2 tsp of vanilla.    When the pecans were done toasting I dumped them in.   

It turned into a delicious buttery-caramel-y-super-pecan-y type sauce which was great on the butter pecan ice cream.

Which, again, I did not get a picture of, as I ATE IT ALL.   YES, one small bowl at a time over the course of a couple of days.  I ATE IT ALL.  It was that good.   If you like ice cream, *you really should make this;  the recipe is at Lynn’s blog,  CafeLynnlu,  or buy the book.  (And if you are an ice cream lover, you really must check out “The Perfect Scoop,” too.)

*And, yes, to some making ice cream might sound a bit crazy.  But it’s really not difficult and sooooo, soooo good.

TWD #28: Brioche Plum Tart

July 14, 2009


This delectable recipe was chosen by Denise.  You can find her write-up and the recipe at  Chez Us.  

I ran into a few problems implementing this week’s recipe:

1.   The plums at Cub Foods were pretty darn expensive.  And I’m cheap.  (I went with nectarines.) 

2.   Plum jam must not be popular in my area.  I once spied it at Big Lots, so I stopped there, no luck.  (But they did have peach jam, which seemed to go well with nectarines.  They also had several different jars of jam labeled “Fruits of the Forest;”  the ingredients were in German and made me picture German men and women, dressed Bavarian-style, singing folk songs while picking fruit off of prickly bushes.   Despite the bucolic setting, I’m somehow certain they’ll come to a classic Grimm’s ending, possibly involving a prick of a poisonous thorn, a buxom maiden disguised as an old lady, a wolf, several bags of gold, and a lecherous frog.)       

3.   I didn’t realize that I was out of aluminum foil until I needed to put it on the tart to prevent overbrowning.   (Luckily we live down the street from a small grocery store.  I grabbed my credit card and literally ran there, arriving sweaty and out of breath, I grabbed a roll of foil and headed to the check out lane.  No one in line.  Hurray!   The cashier rang up the foil, I babbled on about my brioche-getting-too-brown!   And the credit card machine was down.  

My purse was at home.   No cash in my running shorts.


The owner told the clerk, “Write out an ROA.”  

I had no idea that any stores still did that, even small town grocery stores.   It was literally a receipt with my name and $3.18 written on it, stowed in the bottom of the register.)

I ran back home.  The tart had ten minutes left and was pretty brown already.   I covered it with a piece of foil, let it finish baking, took a shower, threw on some clothes, took a photo and headed to work with the tart on a cooling rack.

Now I’m eating it for breakfast and it’s good.   The bottom part is a little, um, bready?   It came out slightly thick and I think it’s a tad overdone.   Not for lack of aluminum foil retrieval efforts, though!

Next time I would use a larger pan (I used a 9″ tart pan) and more fruit (I only used one nectarine, despite purchasing four.  I really should have made the slices bigger).   Despite the obvious danger from trolls,  wicked witches, and stepmothers, I might actually attempt to make this using “Fruits of the Forest.” 

If, that is, I am able to figure out what they are!

TWD #27: Katharine Hepburn Brownies *Updated with Photo

July 7, 2009

Lisa of Surviving Oz  picked our TWD recipe of the week, an easy breezy brownie, perfect for packing in picnic lunch.  

Or for munching on all daywhile you are frantically cleaning your house in preparation for an energy audit done by a man you’ll never see again but who you are still terrified will judge your toothpaste-laden sink and un-mopped floor.

The night before my cleaning frenzy I baked the brownies. I couldn’t find my eight inch square pan, so I did some math:

8 in x 8 in = 64 inches squared

a 9 in circle pan:

4.5 squared x pi = 63.59 inches squared

Winner winner chicken dinner! 

(Which reminds me, my nephew was over for the weekend and my husband and daughter taught him to play poker AND to *bet on horse racing.  I live in a den of iniquity.)

But with a few improvements, at least it’ll be energy efficient.

I buttered the pan, put a circle of parchment paper in the bottom, buttered that, then floured the whole shebang while a stick of butter melted in a sauce pan.  I added my not-finely- ground instant coffee;  luckiIy it dissolved just fine.    (I wasn’t as lucky with my race picks.   Or in Poker.  Maybe because I’m always “all in.”  Even when I have a pair of twos.) 

Once the butter was melted, I add the cocoa powder, let the mixture cool briefly and added the eggs and vanilla.  I carefully mixed in the chocolate and dry ingredients (including a scant 1/4 cup of flour) and spread the thick walnut-laden batter into the pan.

They baked for thirty minutes, then I let them cool overnight before attempting to cut them.  

One flaw to my pan substitution plan, these brownies are very rich.  A serving size is very small and it’s pretty darn hard to thin enough slices.   Thus I was forced to eat a slice (or three) that was way over the actual serving size.

Of course, I did burn off a lot of calories rooting for my horses and cleaning house!

*Honestly, we DON’T actually bet, my husband just has the kids pick an amount and then figure out what they would have won/lost.   Emphasis is definitely on how much EVERYONE loses.


I finally got out the camera to take a picture of my brownies, only to find the pan empty!   So, yes, I guess you could say my family enjoyed these!

Random Tuesday Thoughts with Dorie #26: Perfect Party Cake

June 30, 2009


Is it possible that bananas now taste less banana-y?   The last three times I’ve made banana bread (with three different recipes) I’ve used overly ripe bananas, yet my banana bread has lacked a strong banana flavor.  

Is it weird that I don’t really like bananas but I like bananas in baked goods?   I think it’s a textural thing.  Raw bananas make me gag.

I have been watching “True Blood” on DVD.   I think my favorite part is the song at the beginning.   Same with the “Sopranos.”  I love the opening as much as the show.

Did you know “rhubarb” is not just a disgusting stalk that pollutes one’s strawberry pie?  It also means “a heated dispute; brawl.”   I’m dying to use it in a sentence.

Because I’m a big dork. 

Congrats to my friends C. and J.   They announced their engagement at a party Saturday night.   I’m so excited for both of them and wish them a joyful union.  (Hmm.. that sounds kind of dirty.)  RR is thrilled because after their first date she called “guest book!” for their wedding.  I wish I had called dibs on some cool nuptial duty.  (Hmmm… nuptial duty also sounds dirty.) 

And, finally, this week’s TWD recipe,  the Perfect Party Cake was chosen by Carol of mix, mix… stir, stir.   I made the cake last night.   It went well, other than a fundamental error in which the baker (me) did not fully read the recipe, got to the part where it said “add the extract,” glanced to see the amount, and realized, OOOOPPPS, lemon extract, NOT vanilla.   Unfortunately, I didn’t have any lemon extract on hand.    So my cake will be less lemon-y than desired.  I wish I would have been a little less flustered by this and thought to quickly zest another lemon.  

Oh, well, I’m sure it’ll still be delicious.  But I won’t know until next weekend.   I made the executive decision to freeze the cake layers after they cooled and I will defrost them on Friday to decorate for our Fourth of July dessert.  My plan is to coat the layers in some type of red preserves (strawberry or raspberry, most likely), then fill with sweetened whipped cream and frost the outside with the recipe’s buttercream frosting and cover the top with red and blue berries for a patriotic theme.  Sort of an upscale version of the Kraft recipe that’s featured in magazines this time of year:



 The additional benefit of waiting to assemble and frost this cake is that I can read all the other TWD posts and get great tips/ideas to make my Perfect Party Cake even more perfect!  (Yes, I know, “perfect” is an absolute, much like “unique” that really shouldn’t have a qualifier, but I couldn’t help it.)


TWD #24: Honey-Peach Ice Cream

June 19, 2009

Yes, I’m a very bad blogger!  I actually made this recipe last week and started the blog post, only to be derailed by work travel, inadequate hotel WiFi and exhaustion.   

Back to business:  

This flavorful ice cream recipe was chosen by Tommi of Brown Interior.  I love ice cream and had a goal last summer to make all the recipes in “The Perfect Scoop” by Dave Lebovitz.  It has tons of great recipes and is a wonderful resource for ice cream making tips.   One if which is to add alcohol to the mix to keep it from freezing into a hard block.   I decided to add a tablespoon of vodka into the blender with the peach mixture.   

Why vodka?   Well, it was the only alcohol I had on hand.   I think peach schnapps or amaretto would be good too.

The only other change I made was in blending all of the peach mixture, rather than leaving part of it as chunks and then I added the custard to the blender, too.    After a quick whirl,  I stuck the whole blender pitcher in the refrigerator to cool.  At this point I should have made sure my ice cream mixing bowl was in the freezer, instead of assuming it was.

You know what they say about assuming? 

You end up eating your ice cream a day late!

Luckily the ice cream mix was fine, despite its longer storage period.  

I thought this was superb.   The honey went well with the peaches and it wasn’t too sweet.    Not to gild the lily, but I did make a topping out of diced peaches, diced strawberries and a bit of honey.  

And it was wayyyy better than the zucchini ice cream my great uncle made for a family reunion one summer day in the 70’s.