Molasses Cookies from the Cookie Bake-Off

In the spirit of holiday generosity, Jacqui brought three different offerings to the cookie party. Here is her molasses cookie recipe. I baked up a batch today. They are simple to make and taste delicious.

Molasses Cookies
makes two dozen

¾ c. shortening, melted
¼ c. molasses
1 c. sugar
1 egg
2 c. flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp salt

Melt shortening in a saucepan over low heat. Let cool. Add sugar, molasses and egg. Mix well. Sift together flour, soda, cloves, ginger, cinnamon and salt. Add this to first mixture. Mix well. Chill. Form into 1 inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar and place on un-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Thanks Jacqui! This recipe will definitely be added to my holiday baking list.

"Best Classic with a Twist" winner: Meringues

These won the "Best Classic with a Twist" category.
Do you like meringues? These are delicious. They are crisp and chewy at the same time. The chocolate chips add the perfect touch. And how about that secret ingredient!


2 egg whites
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
2/3 c. sugar
3 T. crushed salted soda crackers (about 4 crackers)
2/3 c. semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300F. Beat egg whites til frothy. Add vanilla and cream of tartar. Continue beating while gradually adding sugar. When quite stiff, gently fold in cracker crumbs and chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls on greased cookie sheets. Bake 20 min. Remove immediately from pan. Cool. Store in dry place. Keep batter in fridge while waiting for next batch. Makes 2 1/2 dozen.

Meringue will not stiffen if grease is present. Use glass or metal bowls, do not use plastic.

Anna Marie said: This recipe was from a friend who said it came from "The Children's Friend" a long time ago.

Cranberry Cheese Puffs

I found this recipe in my sister-in-law's neighborhood cookbook. They were a perfect little appetizer for Thanksgiving. Delicious anytime during the holidays.

1 package Pepperidge Farms puff pastry sheets, thawed
16 oz cream cheese, softened and whipped
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce

Roll out puff pastry. Cut into 3" x 3" squares. Press squares into well greased muffin tins. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and fill each pastry cup with a spoonful of cream cheese and top with a dollop of cranberry sauce. Place the pan back in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese melts. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Heather's Chocolate Mint Cookies, or People's Choice Winner at the First Annual Cookie Party

When I want to get the cyclist home from work early, all I have to do is email him a picture. No, not of me in something risque...but a picture of homemade cookies. You think I am kidding?

This year, we decided to throw a cookie exchange party/contest. We had a great time with family and friends, celebrating the season. We all gathered with delicious cookies. Ballots were cast in the following categories: Prettiest, Tastiest, Best classic, Best classic with a twist, Most unique, and Best bar or brownie (which consequently was won by a Clif Bar).

People really stepped up to the plate. There were some beautiful and mouth watering cookies! The stakes were high and the competition intense. I think I even saw some campaigning.

In all, there were around 25 different homemade treats to try, and every one of them was a culinary delight.

This cookie was made by my sister-in-law. She won for "Tastiest Cookie", and also took the overall grand prize by earning the most votes.

They are really good. Chewy, chocolaty, minty good.


Chocolate Mint Cookies
by Heather

3/4 C. Butter
1 1/2 C. Brown sugar
2 T. Water
12 oz. Bag chocolate chips
2 Eggs
2 3/4 c. Flour
1/2 t. Salt
1 1/4 t. Soda
1 lb. Andes Mints

Melt together butter, brown sugar and water. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Let stand 10 minutes to cool. Add remaining ingredients (except mints).
Chill dough at least 1 hour. It gets very sticky, so I put it back in the fridge after I roll each batch.
Roll into balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and place 1 Andes mint on top of each cookie. Let sit for a couple of minutes. Swirl melted mint on top of cookie with a spoon or knife. (I used a knife)

This recipe makes a lot, about 5 dozen

Stay tuned for more recipes from the party.

Orange Peanut Stir-Fry

My family loves this dish. My first born is anti-vegetable (and quite vocal about the issue), but she gobbles this right down...even the mushrooms. My second LOVES veggies and usually sneaks bites of this off her sister's plates.
The flavor combination in the sauce is fabulous, and it's quite healthy.
I don't know that it is technically a stir-fry, but that's what we've always called it.
You can add any protein you'd like. We usually add Yoshida's Salmon.

Peanut Sauce:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter* (can use low fat)
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce (can substitute regular)
1/4 cup honey
2 t bottled minced garlic
2 t bottled fresh ginger
1-2 t crushed red pepper flakes (Dustin, remember t=TEAspoon)
zest of one orange (if you don't have a zester or microplane, use the smallest grater you have)
chopped peanuts

about 2 lbs of your favorite vegetables, chopped, sliced, or julienned (think matchsticks)
red onion
red, yellow, orange, or green peppers
snow peas

Cooked noodles (I usually use spaghetti)

Combine sauce ingredients in large saute pan. Cook over low heat until peanut butter melts. Dump veggies in sauce. Stir and cover. Cook until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in cooked noodles. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

*Speaking of peanut butter, I'd like to thank Lindsey for the "spoonful of pb dipped in plain m&m's" tip. My hips, however, don't thank you.

Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes with Cranberries and Cream

We're still in a Thanksgiving mood around here.

Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes
adapted from The Pancake Handbook

1 1/4 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground allspice
1/4 t ground ginger
3/4 c canned pumpkin puree
1 cup milk
2 eggs, separated
3 T dark brown sugar (yes, I used dark brown, but I'm sure light brown would be tasty)
2 T butter, melted
1/4 t salt

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger. In a separate bowl, combine the pumpkin, milk, egg yolks, brown sugar, butter and salt. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once, stirring just to blend. The batter should be slightly lumpy. Place the egg whites in a separate bowl. With an electric mixer, beat until the whites are stiff but not dry. Gently fold the whites into the batter, just until combined. Heat griddle to 300. Spray with cooking spray. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, flipping just once. Serve hot with Cranberries and Cream.

Cranberries and Cream

1 (16 oz) can whole-berry cranberry sauce, or 2 cups homemade cranberry sauce (I used canned)
1 cup sour cream

Combine and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

We also served these with Lindsey's Cinnamon Syrup. It is delicious on anything. Seriously, what wouldn't be improved by adding a stick of butter and some cinnamon?

Apple Crisp

10 granny smith apples, peeled & thinly sliced
1/2 c sugar
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1 c cold butter
1 c brown sugar
1 c flour
1 c oatmeal
1/4 t baking powder

Place apples in 9 by 13 inch baking pan, lightly coated with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine sugar, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle over apples. Place butter, brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut together with a pastry cutter. Sprinkle over apples. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes until topping is golden brown.
Serve with vanilla ice cream.We use a tool that looks like a medieval torture device that peels and slices and cores the apples in a snap.

Ginger Glazed Salmon

I won't get into all the terminology, but the cyclist is a vegetarian who eats milk, eggs, and fish. This has long been one of our favorite fish dishes.

Ginger-Glazed Salmon
4 (6 oz) salmon fillets (about 1-inch thick)
3/4 cup apricot-pineapple preserves
2 T fresh lime juice
1 1/2 T Dijon mustard
2 1/2 t bottled fresh ginger
1 1/2 t minced garlic
1 1/2 t soy sauce
1/4 t each salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Place salmon in 13 by 9 inch pan, coated with cooking spray. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over fish. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with fork. Serve extra sauce over rice or couscous.

Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake

My sabbatical is over. Sunday brunch returns.

Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake

adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups frozen sour cherries, thawed and drained well
Streusel (recipe follows)
Milk glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9-inch tube pan (I used an angel food cake pan), set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk together with wire whisk. Set aside.
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the sour cream and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat until just combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
Spread about half of the batter evenly over the bottom of the pan. Arrange the cherries in a single layer on top of the batter. Avoid placing any cherries against the pan's edge as they may stick or burn if not fully encased in batter. Top with remaining batter, making sure it is evenly distributed. Smooth with offset spatula. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of the batter.
Bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back when touched, 40-45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool 15 minutes. Invert eh cake onto the rack, then reinvert so streusel side is up and let it cool completely (if you can wait that long...smells GOOD!) Spoon the glaze over the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Let cake sit until the glaze is set (restraint people!), about 5 minutes, before serving.
Cake can be kept at room temperature, wrapped well in plastic, for up to 4 days. (Do you really think you'll have leftovers?)

1/2 c plus 1 T flour
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch salt
3 T unsalted butter, room temperature

Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Cut in butter using pastry blender or two knives.

Milk Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 T milk

Whisk together and immediately pour over cake.

We're anxious to try this with a variety of different berries.

Pizza Joint Breadsticks

This past weekend, we traveled to Southern Utah for a little getaway. Friday night, we went to a great pizza place. They served these breadsticks, swirled and baked on wooden sticks. Much more impressive than regular breadsticks that just lay there in a lame wicker basket. These sticks had personality.

The cyclist and I discussed how we could make these at home. I have a breadstick recipe that tastes great. It just needed a cosmetic make-over.

The cyclist had to engineer a device that would allow us to bake them on wooden dowels in our standard size oven without leaving a flat spot from sitting on a cooking sheet. They couldn't stand upright like they would in a commercial brick oven. He plotted and planned and 30 seconds later came up with a solution.

We have a three car garage. One side is full of bikes. Fortunately for this project, the other side is full of woodworking tools. No, my car is not parked in the middle, but we are making progress. He has recently moved his porcelain doll collection into the basement. Jenn and Kevin, come over some time, he's getting the curio cabinet all set up.

On his way home from work tonight, he made a quick stop by the home improvement store, spent under $3.00, and picked up some 5/16" dowels (he claims size doesn't matter), and found some scrap 2 by 4's in the garage. He used a hand drill and drilled the holes one drill bit size larger than the dowels (so they were 21/64ths).
If you don't have a handy husband or neighbor that can make this contraption for you, you can still make these breadsticks. Just bake them on the stick directly on a pan. If you don't have $3.oo and a ride to the hardware store to get the dowel, you could still make them without the stick. But if they are just going to lay there like boring breadsticks, the least you could do is line the lame wicker basket with a loud holiday print napkin.

1 T. Yeast
1½ cups warm water
3 cups flour
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
Seasonings (we like "Chef Tom's", or garlic powder and Parmesan)

Preheat oven to 350*.
In bowl of electric mixer, fitted with dough hook, combine yeast, water, and 1 T sugar. Let sit for 3 minutes. Add remaining sugar, salt and flour. Mix on high for 3 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough into 5 equal pieces. Roll out like snakes. Spray dowels with cooking spray. Wrap dough around middle of stick. Place dowels in 2 by 4's over a baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and season as desired. Rest 10 minutes. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and mouth-watering.
If you are a mother I don't need to explain why this child is wearing a Halloween costume in the middle of November.

Serve with marinara sauce, ranch dressing or just eat it like corn on the cob.

Apple Fritters, or "From Scratch Challenge: The Third"

I'm excited to present another classic fall sweet. And I'm proud to say that it doesn't contain pumpkin!

When the cyclist put in his request for a homemade apple fritter months ago, I'll admit I was nervous. I'm not a great fryer. But the cyclist is charming. So here they are.

These take a bit of work, but I'm confident anyone who can follow directions can make them. Read the entire recipe before you start (I read it a couple of times).

You will use a vanilla bean-this was my first time. I found it in the spice aisle. It smelled divine.

Also, there is hot oil involved, so have a deep fry thermometer handy. And as with any recipe that's prone to spatter, it is not advised that you try them on a "naked cooking day".

The fritters are delicious while they are hot, but save a few to cool to room temperature. We couldn't decide which we loved best.

Apple Fritters

adapted from

Start to finish time: about 3 hours
Inactive prep (rising) time: 2 1/2 hours


2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup whole milk
3 1/4 cups plus 2 T unbleached flour
4 extra large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup sparkling apple cider
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean
7 granny smith apples, peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sparkling apple cider


1 cup plus 4 T powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt


To prepare the dough; place the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, heat the milk until warm to the touch. Pour the milk over the yeast. Let soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the flour to the milk mix, without stirring. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place, about 30 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the egg yolks and sugar. Add the cider, melted butter, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and 1 1/4 cups of the flour and mix until combined. Add this mix to the yeast. Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, mix on low for thirty seconds, then turn up to medium for about 1 minute. Add the remaining 2 Tablespoons of flour and mix on low for thirty seconds, then on medium for another thirty seconds. The dough will be very sticky.

Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface; scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the work surface Clean the mixing bowl and lightly coat it with vegetable oil. Gather the dough and return it to the oiled bowl. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

To prepare the apples, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Using a small paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise. With the back of the knife, scrape out the pulp and the seeds of the vanilla bean and add the scrapings and the pod to the butter. Heat the butter until bubbly. Add the chopped apples, tossing to coat them with butter. Add the cinnamon and sugar, and saute 3 to 5 minutes until slightly softened. Add the vinegar and cider, and cook over medium high heat about 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod and place the apples on a baking sheet to cool.

Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and stretch into a rectangle about 1/2" thick. Spread half of the apples over the dough and fold into thirds like a business letter, by bringing the bottom up and the top down, patting with your hands to flatten slightly. Roll dough again to stretch it out slightly. Scatter the remaining apples on top and fold into thirds again. Gather the dough together by tucking under the edges and return it to the oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Heat the oil to 375.

Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and gently roll or pat it into a rectangle about 1" thick, flouring the surface of the dough as necessary. Cut the dough with a pizza cutter into rough triangles. Stretch dough slightly. Let sit 10 minutes while you make the glaze.

To prepare the glaze, in a small stainless steel bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, combine the powdered sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Heat until just warm, stirring frequently. The glaze should be thin and translucent; if necessary, thin it down with more cream.

Drop fritters directly into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Flip and fry second side.

Drain on paper towels and brush the fritters with glaze while they are warm.

Pumpkin Squares

Just so you know, I'm over feeling self conscious about my pumpkin obsession.


1 yellow cake mix (set aside one cup for the topping)--I like Duncan Hines
1 stick butter, melted
1 egg


1 (29 oz) can pumpkin
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t salt


1 cup of cake mix
2 T sugar
1 t cinnamon
4 T (half a stick) butter

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Combine crust ingredients and press into bottom of prepared pan.

Mix filling ingredients until smooth. Pour over crust.

Prepare topping by combining cake mix, sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle over filling.

Bake 50 minutes, rotating pan halfway through if your oven needs it (mine gets a bit hotter in back, so I make a habit of rotating my baked goods). You'll know it's done when a cake tester comes out clean

Butternut Bisque

My favorite cooking magazine came in the mail yesterday. Without fail, I always find something wonderful to make. This bisque recipe caught my eye immediately.
It's a fairly simple soup to make. Peeling and chopping the butternut squash was a bit time consuming, but it was my first time working with it. After some trial and error, I found that the easiest way to prep the squash was to cut it in half lengthwise using a sharp, heavy duty knife, and scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff. Then slice the squash the short way into 1 inch slices. Set the slices on their sides and slice off the peel with the knife (using a vegetable peeler on the whole squash was messy, awkward, and left a little too much rind). Chop the slices into 1 inch cubes. If anyone has an easier method, please let me know. I am open to suggestions.
Awkward squash aside, this soup was delicious and well worth it. Perfect autumnal flavor. I'm still enjoying a little time in my rut.

Butternut Bisque
From Everyday Food
serves 12

3 T butter
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 t dried thyme
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t cayenne pepper, plus more for garnish
coarse salt
1 large butternut squash (about 4 lbs), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth (I use vegetable broth. You know, for the cyclist.)
1 cup half-and-half
3 cups water
1 T fresh lemon juice
Sour cream, for serving

In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium. Add onion, garlic, thyme, cinnamon, and cayenne. Season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened 5-7 minutes.
Add squash, broth, half-and-half, and water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until squash is tender, about 20 minutes.
Working in batches, puree in a blender until smooth. Stir in lemon juice; season with salt.
Serve bisque with sour cream, garnished with cayenne if desired.
Martha says this soup freezes well. Ladle cooled bisque (without sour cream) into airtight containers, leaving 1 inch of space. Freeze up to 3 months. To reheat, run container under hot water to release bisque. Heat with a bit of water, stirring occasionally.

We ate this for #4's soup party.

Halloween Dinner

We had our creepy Halloween dinner last night. The girls didn't really appreciate the creepiness, but they ate it right up.

I told them the farfalle pasta was bats. And look at that stringy mozzarella...doesn't it look like spider webs?

I've seen these breadstick fingers made before. Mine rose a bit too much in the oven. The girls didn't think they really looked like fingers. I told them they were the fingers of a nine-month pregnant woman who had been walking around a lot in the heat.

If that doesn't scare them, I don't know what will.

Bats and Spiderwebs

1 lb bowtie pasta
2 tsp olive oil
2 garlic clove, minced
2 (28 oz.) can diced or crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp sugar
coarse salt
1 lb mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain; set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic; saute about one minute. Add tomatoes, oregano and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer; cook, stirring and breaking up tomatoes until slightly thickened, 10-15 minutes. Season with salt.

Add pasta and half the mozzarella; toss to combine. Transfer to a baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake until bubbly and top is lightly brown, 10 to 15 minutes.


1 T. Yeast
1½ cups warm water
3 cups flour
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
Whole almonds (fingernails)
Dried Rosemary and Coarse Salt (for knuckle hair)

Preheat oven to 350*.
In bowl of electric mixer, combine yeast, water and 1 T sugar. Let sit five minutes. Add remaining sugar, salt and flour. Mix on high for 3 minutes. Rest 10 minutes. Roll out into thin breadsticks. Brush with butter. Cut shallow slices for knuckles. Press almonds on tips. Sprinkle with salt and rosemary. Rest 10 more minutes. Bake 15-20 minutes.

Slow Simmering 3-Bean Soup with Corn Bread

I would call this a cross between chili and soup. I kind of want to make up a cute little hybrid name for it, but Lindsey frowns on that.

The cornbread is moist and just a bit sweet. Perfect with honey.

3 Bean Soup

1 T olive oil
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 can enchilada sauce
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes in puree (I only had a can of whole tomatoes, so I roughly chopped them up and used them...worked fine)
1-1/2 T oregano
crushed red pepper

In large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add peppers. Continue to cook until peppers are tender, 5-7 more minutes.

Add enchilada sauce and tomatoes. Simmer 10 minutes. Add beans. Season with oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper to taste. Keep soup at a low simmer for about an hour.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and cheddar cheese.

Corn Bread

1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Combine flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bow. Combine milk, eggs, vegetable oil and butter in a small bowl; mix well. Add to flour mixture; stir just until blended. Pour into prepared baking pan.

Bake for 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm with a drizzle of honey.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies, or "The one where the Bake-aholic finds herself (quite happily) in a rut"

Yes, yes, I know. I remember yesterday's post. And yes, I've heard the saying. Variety IS the spice of life. My problem is the only spices I'm thinking about right now are cinnamon, nutmeg, and maybe a little cayenne. You know, the spices that go with pumpkin.

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
adapted from

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter lining.

Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (double boiler), stirring occasionally until smooth.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.

Divide batter between two medium bowls (about 2 cups per bowl). Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl. In other bowl, stir in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don't set.

With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect.

Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

Pumpkin Roll

We eat really well on vacation. It takes a good week to feel hungry again. Well, we're back. And so are our appetites.
We came home to autumn. The mountains are colorful. There is a nip in the air. It makes me want to bake with pumpkin.

Autumn Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin
1 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Prepare your jelly roll (rimmed cookie) pan: Spray with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper with cooking spray as well.

Prepare your towel: Generously sift powdered sugar over a clean dish towel.

Beat eggs on high for 5 minutes. Gradually add sugar. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, Combine dry ingredients and fold into mixture. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Turn out onto prepared dish towel. To prevent the cake from cracking, roll towel and cake together while still hot; cool. Unroll and spread with filling. Roll again without dish towel and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

1 cup powdered sugar
6 oz cream cheese, softened
4 T butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat together until well combined.

We also came home to these, resting in our garden at 1:00 in the morning. Apparently the snow storm last weekend washed away the cyclist's "deer repellent". Next time we go out of town we're going to enlist the neighborhood boys (or any of my male viewers who live nearby) to mark their territory around the garden perimeter.

Fried Green Tomatoes

My regular readers (both of you) have probably noticed that I have a small case of "tomato envy" this summer. The deer ate almost every tomato in our garden.

This afternoon, I was wandering aimlessly around my kitchen trying to come up with a dinner idea. My wandering took me out to the garden. I was hoping to find a couple of zucchini's to saute and serve over pasta. I walked through the garden, looking forlornly at the tomato bushes. I noticed several green tomatoes that the deer had not yet nibbled on. (Ask the cyclist about his most recent method of "natural" deer repellent--apparently it's working.) But I knew they wouldn't ripen before the first frost set in.

That's when I thought of my good friend Lisa and her fried green tomatoes.

I try not to eat fried foods. Until tonight, I had never successfully deep fried at home. We don't own a fry daddy, not even a fry baby. We try to eat healthily so that we can splurge on the baked goods.

These are well worth the effort (and grease). If you think about it, how many times are you going to have green tomatoes you need to use up...just once a year.

But I can promise you that next year, even if the deer stay away, I will still nab some tomatoes before they ripen. These little guys are juicy, a little bit tart, with the perfect crispy crust.

Fried Green Tomatoes

3 large green tomatoes
pinch of coarse salt
Enough flour to coat tomatoes (about 1/2 cup)
2 eggs
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 T grated Parmesan (this is one instance when the cheese from the can is perfect)
large pinch cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
hot oil for frying

Slice tomatoes 1/4" to 1/3" thick. Lay on a paper towel to absorb moisture. Sprinkle with pinch of salt.

Get out three shallow bowls (I used pie plates).

Put the flour in #1.
Lightly beat the eggs in #2.
Combine the cornmeal, Parmesan, cayenne, salt and black pepper in #3.

Heat oil to 200 celsius (use a candy/deep fry thermometer).

Dip the tomatoes (both sides) in dish #1, then #2, and then #3. Fry in oil about 3-4 minutes per side (until golden brown and crispy).  Drain on paper towels.

Serve with Ranch dip.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup for the Fall Harvest Smackdown

The doctor-in-law invited us to participate in an iron-chef inspired recipe showdown at his place. The cyclist and I were a team. The D-I-L distributed a bag of fresh produce from his garden (think mostly hot peppers and juicy tomatoes). He then revealed the secret ingredient. Fresh pumpkin. I love to bake and I love pumpkin, however, I had never cooked with it. I always use the trusty canned stuff. My eyes have been opened. Have you ever roasted a fresh pumpkin? (Pie or Sugar Pumpkin, not the Jack-o-Lantern variety). Boy does it smell good!

This was the cyclist's entry in "the soup category".*

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

pinch cayenne pepper
6 cups of chopped roasted or pumpkin (To make pumpkin purée, cut a sugar pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, lie face down on a tin-foil lined baking pan. Bake at 350°F until soft, about 45 min to an hour. Cool, scoop out the flesh. Freeze whatever you don't use for future use.) 
or 3 (15 oz) cans 100 percent pumpkin
5 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup milk
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Melt butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spices and stir for a minute more.

Add pumpkin and 5 cups of broth; blend well. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer soup, in batches, to a blender or food processor. Cover tightly and blend until smooth. Return soup to saucepan. Or use an immersion blender in the soup pot.

With the soup on low heat, slowly add milk while stirring to incorporate. Adjust seasonings to taste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*Did I mention he won?

Stay Tuned for more delicious recipes from the Party.

Conference Muffins

This past weekend, we gathered together with my family to listen to General Conference and partake of the feast that is our semi-annual omelet brunch. My sister, sister's-in-law, and I are always in charge of the muffins. This fall I found an especially tasty recipe to try. As Uncle Scott described them, these are "blueberry muffins with attitude".

Orange Almond Blueberry Muffins
From Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

Grated zest of one orange (about 1T)
1/2 c fresh orange juice
1/2 c whole milk
2 large egg whites
4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sliced, blanched almonds, finely ground (use food processor, don't over-pulse or they will turn into a paste)
2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c sliced almonds, toasted (350 for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally)
2 t baking powder (Hey Dustin, the little "t" means teaspoon)
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3/4 c blueberries

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray (or use muffin cups).

In a medium bowl, combine the zest, orange juice, milk, egg whites and butter. Whisk until combined.

In another medium bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour, sugar, toasted sliced almonds, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well, and stir until just combined. Fold in the blueberries.

Fill each muffin cup about three-quarters full. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes, or until the edges are brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Move the muffin pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Remore the muffins from the pan and let them finish cooling on the rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

"You can make those from scratch? Part II", or Homemade English Muffins

After the success of the homemade bagels, English muffins just seemed like the natural next step. These were absolutely delicious. Reminiscent of the ones you buy at the store...only better.

English Muffins
adapted from the Food Network
makes 12-14 muffins

1 cup non-fat powdered milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 tablespoons shortening
2 cups hot water
2 envelopes (4 1/2 tsp) dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2/3 cup warm water
4 cups flour, sifted
Non-stick cooking spray
equipment: electric griddle, 3-inch metal rings (There are English muffin rings, but I used 8 oz pineapple cans. Make sure you remove the top and bottom.)

In a bowl, combine the powdered milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, shortening, and hot water, stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. In a separate bowl combine the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon of sugar in 2/3 cup of warm water and set aside until yeast has dissolved. Add this to the dry milk mixture. Add the sifted flour and beat thoroughly with wooden spoon. Cover the bowl with a dish cloth and let it rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Preheat the griddle to 250 degrees F.

Add the remaining teaspoon of salt to mixture and beat thoroughly. Place metal rings onto the griddle and coat lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle griddle inside each ring with a pinch of cornmeal.

Using #20 (it should hold about 4 tablespoons) ice cream scoop, place 2 scoops into each ring and cover with a cookie sheet and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and flip rings using tongs.

Cover with the lid and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a cooling rack, remove rings and cool.

Split with fork. Serve hot with butter and honey.

Before we cooked them all, we did a test run with just one muffin to make sure the griddle wasn't too hot.

P.S. Stay the cyclist's request, part three in the series is already in the works. It has the potential to ROCK. It could also fail miserably. Don't worry, my sweet husband will happily eat it either way.

Weekday Tomato Soup

This is a really easy "weekday" soup. Delicious with grilled cheese sandwiches.

1 (32 fluid ounce) container vegetable or chicken broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
1 cup half-and-half
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
basil pesto (if using store bought, I suggest Buitoni)

Pour broth into a large saucepan, and bring to a boil. Boil until reduced by about 1/3.
Pour in both cans of the tomatoes, and return to a simmer. Pour in the half-and-half, and turn heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Puree in batches in a blender, or use an immersion blender in the pan. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls, swirl in a spoonful of pesto and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.


These are a family favorite. They are very rich, so roll them into bite size little cookies (maybe two bites).

Melt-Away Cookies


½ lb butter, softened (no substitutions)
1 cup flour
¾ cup cornstarch
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Mix well until all flour is absorbed. Roll in small balls and bake at 350* for 12 minutes.


3 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix and spread on warm cookies.

Makes two dozen.

Lindsey's Cinnamon Syrup, or "An Alphabetical Tour of Nevada: Imlay to Incline Village"

We spent last weekend in Incline Village with The Merry Parry's. If you know John and Lindsey and haven't visited, do it before it's too late. It is beautiful up there! If you don't know them, introduce yourself.

John and his crew at the Hyatt will treat you right. We're talking cabanas....and cabana boys.

And if you're lucky, Lindsey may whip up some of her delicious homemade syrup.

Lindsey's Cinnamon Syrup

1 1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter
1/3 c corn syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c water

In small saucepan, combine sugar & cinnamon. Add butter, water and corn syrup and stir over med low heat until sugar dissolves & mixture thickens. Serve hot.

If you're coming from Salt Lake, prepare for a long, not always scenic, drive. And make sure you pull over in Imlay to see "The Place Rolling Mountain Thunder built".

Roasted Zucchini and Tomato Pasta

This is a great pasta dish to make in the late summer, when your garden is full.

2 1/2 pounds zucchini, chopped
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound linquine
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the zucchini, tomatoes, garlic, 5 tablespoons oil, salt, and pepper, spread into a single layer, and roast until the vegetables are cooked through and the zucchini is beginning to brown, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente according to package directions, about 12 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl.
Remove vegetables from oven and add to pasta. Toss to combine. Add basil and cheese. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Dr. B's Superaddicting Spicy Chocolate Z-Bread (a favorite of the Superamiga support crew)

I like spicy food. The Doctor-in-Law like likes it. He's a great cook, so I must sample everything he makes...only sometimes my reaction is not so favorable.
This year at LOTOJA, the D-I-L packed his superamiga support crew some of his homemade spicy chocolate zucchini bread. (Sure beat the half eaten Clif bars the cyclist was leaving me in his musette bags.) I knew I must try it. I also knew there was a chance I might regret it. I didn't. This bread was moist, fudgy, absolutely delicious... And as I was eating it, I felt my mouth just start to tingle.

Chocolate and Cayenne pepper? Don't knock it until you try it.
Dr. B's Superaddicting Spicy Chocolate Z-Bread (a favorite of the Superamiga support crew)--his title, not mine

1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 C veggie oil
2 C grated Zucchini
1 t vanilla extract
2 C flour
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Hershey's Special Dark)
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
3/4 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans and dust with cocoa powder. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate until melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, grated zucchini, vanilla and chocolate; beat well. Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Fold in the chocolate chips.

1/4 C water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp chopped pecans
1 Tbsp Cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt

In a small skillet combine the water and sugar and stir over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the pecans and stir well with a wooden scraper as the water evaporates. After 3-4 minutes add the cayenne and salt and toss well to coat the pecans evenly. Continue stirring for a few minutes more until all the water is evaporated, the pecans are coated, and the pan is dry. Stir the pecans into the bread batter.*

Pour batter into prepared loaf pans and bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean.

*As a rule, I generally omit nuts from baked goods. I love them in trail mixes and salads, but not breads, cakes or cookies. So when I made this, I just added the cayenne and extra 2 T of sugar (no water or 1/4 t salt) when I added the dry ingredients.
Also, Dr. B's original recipe doesn't call for the cocoa powder, but I like mine with a little deeper chocolate flavor.

French Peasant Bread

Adapted from Favorites: a Collection of Favorite Ivory Family Recipes

This is the perfect bread recipe for a beginner bread baker. There is no kneading. I make this bread frequently, and the result is always the same: a soft, rustic loaf with a delicious, chewy crust.

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 T sugar
2 tsp salt
4 cups flour
corn meal
melted butter
desired toppings, optional (sprinkle with garlic salt, a combination of rosemary and coarse salt, or garlic powder and Parmesan cheese. Experiment.)

Fill a large mixing bowl with hot water and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Pour out water and dry bowl. Place yeast, water, sugar, and salt in the warmed bowl. Stir until dissolved. Add flour and stir until blended. Do not knead. Cover and let rise one hour or until doubled in size. Flour hands, remove dough from the bowl and shape into two rounds. Place rounds on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkled with cornmeal. Let rise an additional hour. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with desired topping. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and cook an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush again with melted butter. Serve warm.

Fresh Vegetable Risotto

Make sure you have all of your vegetables chopped and ready before you begin. Once you start, you (or your husband) will be stirring constantly for about 25-30 minutes; this is what makes the risotto so creamy.

1 T Olive Oil
2 C sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 C Arborio rice
3 cups vegetable broth or stock
2 C bite size fresh asparagus, broccoli, or a combination
3/4 C chopped tomato
1/4 C shredded carrot (about 1 small carrot)
3/4 C grated mozzarella cheese
3 T fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
3 T snipped fresh basil, plus more for serving

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic; cook until onion is tender. Stir in the rice. Cook and stir for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the broth to boiling. Reduce heat. Slowly and carefully add 1 cup of the broth to the rice mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup more broth and the asparagus or broccoli to the rice mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir until liquid is absorbed. Add 1 cup more broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed. (This should take about 12-15 minutes.)

Stir in remaining broth, the tomato and carrot. Cook and stir until rice is slightly creamy and just tender. Stir in mozzarella, Parmesan, and basil. Serve immediately.

4 Servings

His Chocolate Chip Cookies

I told you I would post The Cyclist's chocolate chip cookie recipe. He made them for me when we were dating. Try them and you will see why I married him (plus the fact that he is H-O-T.)

I thought it was only fitting to post these now since we are in Jackson Hole this weekend while he rides his bike. Hopefully someone will be making Brunch for us this Sunday morning.

2 C sugar
2 C brown sugar
2 C shortening
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. salt
5 C flour
24 oz. chocolate chips

Cream sugars and shortening. Add eggs, vanilla and almond. Sift together soda, salt and flour. Add dry ingredients to sugar and shortening. Fold in chocolate chips. Bake on greased cookie sheets for 8-10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

This makes a ton (6 dozen) of cookies. If you don't need one ton, you can easily half or quarter the recipe. We like to make the whole batch and freeze some dough for later. Just roll it into cookie shape balls, place on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer until they are very firm (about an hour). Once they are frozen, drop them all into freezer bags. When you are craving cookies, take out some dough balls, let them sit on your counter for 20 minutes or so, and bake.

Make sure you have plenty of cold milk on hand.

Zucchini Tomato Bites

The cyclist has a brother. We'll call him "the doctor". He grows a mean vegetable garden. He introduced me to this delicious recipe. I'd feel bad about stealing it, but it is from a cookbook of mine that he borrowed and didn't return for 5 years.

When he makes these little bites, the vegetables and herbs are all from his garden. Well, we grew the zucchini and the basil was from a dear friend. But out of the fourteen tomato plants we planted this year, the deer have eaten all but one tiny cherry tomato (I ceremoniously ate it with a little sprinkling of kosher salt).

Do you have a garden? Do you grow zucchini? Or tomatoes? Or basil? If not, run to the farmers market. These are delicious. P.S. If you DO grow tomatoes, bring some to my house and we'll have tomato sandwiches.

Zucchini Tomato Bites

5 small zucchini, cut into 1/2" slices (not too big around or the zucchini to cheese ratio is off)
4 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled and chilled
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Fresh small basil leaves, or larger ones, torn
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 oz fresh Parmigiano cheese, finely grated

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. Scoop out the center of each zucchini slice carefully with a melon baller, creating a shell that resembles a bowl. Fill each shell with about 1/2 teaspoon of the Gorgonzola cheese. Top each bite with 1 tomato half and 1 basil leaf. Sprinkle with pepper and Parmigiano.

Arrange the bites on the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese melts. Do not allow them to brown.

You can prepare these ahead of time and store them covered in the refrigerator. Bake just before serving.