Thursday, December 15, 2011


Growing up in southern, rural Minnesota, I was surrounded by Scandinavian traditions. One of my favorites was fresh rosettes throughout the Christmas season. These were always a special treat at home, as they were one of the goodies that my family didn't make. (We had the tools to make them in our Christmas baking box, but for some reason, we never made any).

One day I was shopping at GoodWill, looking for unique dishes, and I ran across an old Nordicware Rosette tool kit, unused, in its original box. It wasn't priced, and the sales lady offered it at fifty cents - I couldn't pass it up!

In the years that I've been baking and cooking, I've never deep fried anything. (To be honest, the hot oil scares me!) I decided to give them a try. My husband has never had them, but he loves funnel cakes from the state fair, so I knew he would like these to.

Aside from overcoming the fear of frying, they really aren't difficult to make. While they may not make it on my annual baking list, I definitely plan on keeping the iron & recipe.

ROSETTES (From AllRecipes)
Makes approximately 4 doz rosettes

2 eggs
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine eggs, sugar and salt; beat well. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.

Heat a rosette iron in deep, hot oil (375 degrees) for 2 minutes. Drain excess oil from iron. Dip in batter to 1/4 inch from the top of the iron, then dip iron immediately into hot oil (375 degrees).

Fry rosette until golden, about 30 seconds. Lift out; tip upside down to drain. With fork, push rosette off iron onto a rack placed over paper towels.

Reheat iron 1 minute; make next rosette. Sprinkle rosettes with confectioners' sugar prior to serving.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Popcorn Balls

Every Christmas, I look forward to holiday baking. There were certain treats we were allowed to help make when we were young, and others where we were encouraged to stay out of the kitchen. This was one of the latter - with the hot caramel sauce, and the rapid pace you must work, my parents preferred we watch from afar. When I got to my teen years, I finally worked up the courage to help my mom (I was worried about burning my hands!)

These are the best popcorn balls! (Although, I may be biased, but many people have converted to this recipe after trying them). Because of the caramel coloring, they cannot be dyed different colors (which is the appeal of marshmallow based recipes). As my husband says, you can make these as "healthy" or "unhealthy" as you want based on the proportion of popcorn to caramel. I prefer the "unhealthy" ones with lots of caramel goo!


1 cup whipping cream
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup

Cook ingredients to soft ball stage. Pour over popcorn. Mix into popcorn, using wooden spoon or firm silicone spatula.

Wet hands & form balls. Cool popcorn balls on cookie sheets.

Store either in tins (the big tins that popcorn comes in during the holidays) or put a trash bag (with a drawstring) over the cookie sheet the popcorn balls are on. (Of course, you could individually package them in bags if giving as gifts)

***How much popcorn to use?***

I don't have an exact measurement. We double the above recipe, and fill a large turkey roaster (base & the lid) heaped with popcorn. We've found that a 4 pound bag of popcorn makes about 3 double batches, so each batch (as listed above), is about about 2/3 of a pound of unpopped popcorn.

(And yes, we know that a 4 pound bag makes 3 double batches because that is often how much we'd make!)


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Lattes

One of my many favorite things about fall are Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I rarely visit Starbucks (aside from the occasional treat after a bad call, or going into a long shift), but in the fall, I have a hard time staying out. And of course, the Pumpkin Spice Latte is even more expensive than their regular flavored lattes - I think I spent almost $5 on a medium when it was released earlier this fall - OUCH!

I've tried various DIY versions over the past few years, and I've always been disappointed. They've always been gritty from the spices, or the pureed pumpkin, added directly to the latte, adds a funky taste or texture. This year, I found the recipe for a pumpkin spice syrup on Tastespotting, and I knew it would make the difference!

I had some difficulty finding pureed pumpkin - I ended up getting the last can of organic pumpkin at a local coop. Even though it was about twice the price of a can of Libby's, all of the ingredients for a batch of this syrup still cost less than the price of one latte. (And, I have enough pumpkin for a few more batches.)

I'm not going to give the directions on making a latte - everyone has different machines & preferences for espresso to milk ratio. I will be giving the recipe for the syrup - use as you would use any other flavor syrup.

PUMPKIN SPICE SYRUP (Adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride)
Makes approx 2 cups of syrup

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

Cook sugar and water in a small pot over medium heat until the mixture is completely clear.

Whisk in the remaining ingredients and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not allow mixture to come to a boil.

Allow mixture to cool for 10-15 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into a large jar or bottle of your choice. (Straining will be slow due to the pumpkin)

Keep syrup in the fridge.

Use 1-2 tablespoons in your favorite latte recipe.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Caramel Apple Crisp

I LOVE the fall in New England (even though it's sadly over now that I'm finally posting this). Apple orchards, and all of the tastiness that goes with them, are plentiful and only a short drive from the city. Last year, we decided to try a different orchard so that we could bring our pup with us - he LOVES to get outdoors & run! It was great to have him along, and while it was a more "grown up" orchard with an associated vineyard & wine tasting, it just wasn't the same.

This year we decided to go back to the orchard we had went to the 2 prior years. First of all, it's an absolutely beautiful drive up the north shore. As soon as you arrive, you smell the aroma of apple cider donuts drifting through the air. We can't even make it out to the orchard without first stopping by the barn to pick up not 2, not 4, but 6 fresh donuts for the two of us!! (Hey, it's a one-time-a-year treat...I just keep telling myself that!)

To make us feel better about the donuts this year, we decided to walk out to the orchard instead of taking the hayride. It was a beautiful walk, with the crisp smell of fresh apples surrounding you. We always buy a peck of apples (plus eat a few along the way), and it always seems like so many apples, until we get home & dig into them. In fact, I had to go buy additional apples to make this!

I love caramel apples, so I thought I'd try something different this year. I'm posting the original caramel sauce, which I used in my dish. However, I felt like it tasted like a sugary sauce, and wasn't a very true caramel flavor. Maybe I've been spoiled by years of homemade caramels growing up, or maybe I messed up and didn't let it darken enough. Personally, when I make this again, I'd either buy a jar of caramel ice cream topping, or find a different caramel sauce recipe.

CARAMEL APPLE CRISP (Adapted from Show & Tell)

5 large apples of your choice - peeled, cored & thinly sliced
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon instant vanilla pudding mix
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl & allow to marinate while preparing the following parts.

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into pats
1 cup whipping cream

Over medium high heat...put sugar in heavy bottom saucepan. As it begins to melt whisk in butter. As the mixture caramelizes, remove from heat & SLOWLY add in whipping cream. Continue to whisk til smooth. Set aside & allow to thicken.

1 small box of instant vanilla pudding mix (I used the remainder from the filling)
1/2 cup flour
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup quick cook/instant oats
1 cup of butter softened and cut up into pats

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the butter - it will be fairly dry.

ASSEMBLE in baking dish:
1) Marinated apple filling
2) Pour approximately 1/2 of the caramel sauce over the apples
3) Crumble the topping over the caramel & apples

Bake at 350F for approximately 45 minutes. Allow to cool some prior to serving.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Banana Caramel Muffins

This year is my third and final year of residency (well, technically, I'm sticking around to be Chief Resident next year, but I'll be attending at times by that point). I had very ambitious thoughts about bringing in breakfast on the Monday mornings that we didn't have conference. Sadly, the 12-15 hours shifts tired me out and I only brought in breakfast twice (and one time I cheated with a boxed coffee cake mix!)

I brought these in to share with my wonderful interns & medical students. They were AWESOME! It was like having dessert for breakfast with the caramel glaze, but was a great way to kick off the week. You'll have more glaze than needed - I have to admit I ate a spoonful before throwing it away. If you're having guests, you could probably double the muffin portion of the recipe and have plenty of the glaze with a single batch of it.


One Bowl Banana Muffins (Adapted from Herbavoracious)

2 large ripe bananas, peeled
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 375. Line 10-12 spots in a muffins tin with muffin/cupcake liners, or grease the pan with non-stick spray.

Mash the bananas in a microwave safe bowl. Add the butter and microwave 20 seconds at a time until the butter is softened but not melted. (It is fine if a little bit of it melts).

Using a potato masher or whatever you have to hand, mash the bananas and butter together until there isn't a lot of lumpiness left.

Thoroughly stir in the sugar, beaten egg, milk, vanilla extract, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Fold in the flour until just moistened. (Do not over beat)

Distribute the batter into the tins. Bake until quite dark brown, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry, rotating once about halfway through baking. Total baking time was about 25-30 minutes. Remove from pan & allow to cool completely.

Caramel Glaze (Adapted from Taste & Tell)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar

In a saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Whisk in the cream and powdered sugar until no lumps remain. Immediately spoon over the muffins, or dip the top of the muffins into the glaze.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Strawberries & lemons are a common flavor combination. In fact, one of my favorite summertime refreshing beverages are strawberry lemonades. When my husband asked me to make some cupcakes for a party for his boss (who achieved tenure at Harvard!), and the weather forecast was in the 80-90's, I knew this would be a perfect, refreshing treat to share.

Everyone enjoyed the cupcakes, and the wonderful party - where his boss was not only surprised by the party, but the way he was greeted was by all of his employees throwing water balloons at him! (It was his wife's idea!) Thankfully, he's a great sport, and started catching the balloons & throwing them back at people!

STRAWBERRY LEMONADE CUPAKES (Adapted from Tips for a Typical Mom)

Lemonade Cupcakes
1 box white cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Yellow Food Coloring (optional)

Follow instructions on box and bake into cupcakes

Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
4 large strawberries
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4-6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon strawberry extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Chop strawberries finely and place on paper towel to soak up some of the moisture. Add butter to bowl and beat with a mixer until fluffy, add vanilla & strawberry extract, and about 2 cups of the sugar. Blend well, incorporate cream. Add in small amounts of powdered sugar, beating well after each addition, to reach the desired consistency.

Frost & decorate as desired. (I topped with lemonhead candies)


Monday, September 12, 2011

Cheesy Smashed Potatoes

Growing up, adding cheese was a guaranteed way to get me to eat something healthy. (Or not so healthy, I remember eating a lot of "cheese bread" consisting of a slice of Velveta on a piece of white bread, microwaved until melty - Yuk!)

One of my aunts used to make some cheesey mashed potatoes - so cheesey, that I think there was more cheese than potato in them. I wanted to make something similar, but keep them *slightly* healthy, and retain some of their texture. These were a great combination between baked potatoes & creamy mashed potatoes. The cream cheese & sour cream blended into the mashed potatoes well, but the skin (and nutrients) remained.

(Sorry for the awful picture!)

Cheesey Smashed Potatoes

5 lb bag of potatoes
8 oz sour cream
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 cups cheddar cheese

Clean potatoes, cut up (keeping skin on), and boil until tender.

Place approximately half of the potatoes into a bowl with the sour cream, cream cheese & garlic. Mix until well blended. Add in 1.5-2 cups of the cheddar cheese, milk as needed for creaminess and remainder of potatoes. Mix *just* until blended (it will still be chunky).

Place in a 9x13 inch pan. (You can place these in the fridge at this point if you are preparing a day or two early.) Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, then add additional 1/2-1 cup of cheddar to the top. Place back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

One Pan Magic Cookie Bars

I have VERY fond memories of this recipe. It has always been one of my favorite treats throughout childhood. In fact, I loved it so much, that in my 6th grade speech class, when we had to give "How To" speeches, I taught the class how to make these delicious bars. They are easy enough to let your kids join in (or even make them on their own), and they are easily adaptable to your personal tastes.


1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup flaked coconut
2-3 cups "toppings" (see below)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Place stick of butter in the pan, then put the pan in the oven so that the butter will melt.

Pour the graham cracker crumbs over the butter evenly, and press into the pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with your toppings of choice and the coconut.

Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars or diamonds. Store covered at room temperature.

Toppings: One of the BEST parts of this recipe is how adaptable it is. For the bars pictured, I used about 1 cup white chocolate whips, 1 cup semi-sweet chips and 1 cup of M&Ms. Other wonderful toppings I've used include butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, reeces pieces, etc. Mix & match to suite your tastes.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

Who remembers eating Orange Creamsicles growing up? The wonderful ice cream center with the orange popsicle outside was a summertime treat growing up that my husband & I both enjoyed. My husband had been suggesting this flavor for awhile before I finally made them. The cupcakes didn't rise as much as I would have liked, but I LOVED the frosting combination - the vanilla portion is the frosting I've been using since I started making cakes about 12 years ago. When I initially made cakes, everyone LOVED my frosting & wanted the recipe. I NEVER shared. Now that I've found lots of recipes I enjoy, I'm more than happy to share it. (I know, it uses Crisco, but in moderation, a little won't hurt us!)


Orange Cupcakes (Adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride)
1 1/8 cup (9 oz) frozen Orange Juice Concentrate, thawed
White cake mix
3 egg whites

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Non-stick spray

Food Color (orange, or red+yellow)

In a stand mixer, add the cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, dye and the OJ concentrate. Mix on low for about 30 seconds and then increase to medium speed for 90 seconds (the batter will still be a bit lumpy; take care not to overmix so you don’t end up with dry cupcakes).

Spray each cupcake liner with the non-stick spray and spoon the batter into a prepared muffin pan (fill the cups between 2/3 and 3/4 full).

Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and cool 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and cool completely on a baking rack.

Orange Frosting (Adapted from Dulcedo)
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
5-6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/4 cup orange juice

Beat the butter at medium-high speed until creamy. Add half of the powdered sugar, the vanilla, the orange extract, and the orange juice. Beat until combined. Gradually add the remaining sugar until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.

Vanilla Frosting
3/4 cup shortening
4-6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons vanilla creamer

Beat shortening, extract & creamer. Gradually add powdered sugar until the frosting reaches your desired consistency, trying to get the consistency similar to that of the orange frosting.

To get the swirled frosting, place the vanilla frosting carefully in one side of your pastry bag, and the orange on the other. Frost as desired.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pasta Salad with Feta, Basil & Olives

Pasta salads are a common side at summer BBQs and potlucks. I've grown up eating some delicious creamy pasta salads, but wanted to make something that I was hoping was a bit different from the traditional salad. (Surprisingly, someone brought an almost identical pasta salad to the BBQ we brought this to! Oh well, I enjoyed the leftovers!)

This is easy to make, and can be made the day of the event if you don't have a lot of fridge room to keep in in. We used the Campenelle pasta because it would help hold onto the sauce, and it was a festive looking pasta for the BBQ. Feel free to use whatever you have on hand!

PASTA SALAD WITH FETA, BASIL & OLIVES (Adapted from The Parsley Thief)

6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound Campenelle pasta (or pasta of choice)
1 large red-ripe tomato, diced
8 ounces feta
1 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup black olives, pitted & halved

Add the olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes & garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Blend until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain & transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the dressing & toss to coat. Cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally.

Add the tomatoes, feta, basil, Parmesan, & olives. Toss to combine.

Serve chilled.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Lemon Cheesecake

Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts. Cheesecake throughout most of my childhood were the boxed, no bake mixes. At the time, I thought they were to die for. Then, as I got older, I was exposed to REAL cheesecake. One of my mom's co-workers made delicious cakes, and I'll never forget the Valentine's Day when my mom brought one home for my sister & I!

Since then, I've enjoyed making one when I know people will appreciate them. (My husband enjoys them, but due to lactose intolerance, I'm the one eating most of my cheesecake!) This one takes a bit of work with the 3 layers, but I would definitely make it again. It was so light & refreshing!

LEMON CHEESECAKE (Adapted from Chowhound and

2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (Approximately 2 packages of graham crackers)
6 tablespoons butter; melted
1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine crust ingredients thoroughly. Press crust evenly onto bottom and sides of buttered 10 inch springform pan. Bake crust 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Cover pan with aluminum foil.

3 8 ounce packages cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Beat cream cheese until soft. Add sugar, and beat until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in lemon juice, rind, vanilla and lemon extract. Pour into pan with crust, and place pan in a water bath. Bake 50-60 minutes.

2 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together sour cream and remaining sugar and vanilla. Gently spread sour cream mixture over top of cake. Return to oven and bake 10 more minutes. Turn oven off and cool cheesecake in oven with door propped open for 1 hour. Remove cheesecake from oven and cool completely on wire rack.

1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Yellow gel food coloring (optional)

Combine all glaze ingredients and blend until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened (3 minutes). Chill until cool, but not set. Spread on top of cheesecake.

Chill overnight.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Strawberry spinach salads are a common spring & summer salad. I love the combination. However, I've never had them with a strawberry dressing, let alone make one to eat with the salad. I served this with our Easter dinner (I'm only 4 months late in posting this!), and it was a wonderful, light start to the meal! We added feta cheese to the salad, and I think some nuts would add some wonderful texture (we were out, or I would have added some.) I can't wait to enjoy this more often!

STRAWBERRY DRESSING (Adapted from Annie's Eats)
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. champagne
1 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of salt

In a blender or food processor, combine the strawberries, vinegar, champagne, sugar and salt. Process until the mixture is well combined and completely smooth. Transfer to an airtight bottle or container and refrigerate until ready to use.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Although summer is quickly coming to an end, and school has already started in parts of the country, it is never too late to enjoy a tasty Pina Colada when the weather is warm & balmy. These cupcakes are an edible version on a favorite summertime drink. They have a very moist pineapple cake base, with a wonderful coconut cream cheese frosting. They were enjoyed by all (especially the kids, who loved the umbrellas).

Makes 18-24 cupcakes

1/3 C coconut rum (or any rum you have on hand)
3/4 C coconut milk
1/4 C pineapple juice (I used the juice from the crushed pineapple)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C + 3 tbsp sugar
3 large eggs
1 C shredded baker's coconut
1 C drained, crushed pineapple

In a small bowl, combine rum, coconut milk, pineapple juice, and vanilla. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs to the sugar mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Alternately add the flour mixture and the rum mixture, beating well after each addition. Fold in the coconut and pineapple. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.

Bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when lightly touched.


8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 C unsalted butter, room temperature
4 C powdered sugar
1/3 C coconut cream

Mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Mix in powdered sugar a little bit at a time. Mix in coconut cream.

Frost as desired. ENJOY!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Samoa Girl Scout Cookies

Growing up, I was a Girl Scout for many years. I was always a shy girl, making cookie season difficult for me - I hated going door-to-door to sell cookies! Needless to say, I never won any top seller awards!

Since I moved out after graduating high school, I rarely get girl scout cookies any more. I don't have any friends with kids (or at least, kids old enough to be in Girl Scouts!), and while there are occasionally lists at work to buy off of, I'm in a different unit or hospital every month, making it difficult to pick them up if I were to order.

Because I've missed my favorite cookies sooooo much, I decided to make my own this year! Growing up in the Midwest, they were always called Samoas. (Here in the New England, everyone calls them Caramel deLites). These were a very close substitution for the boxed version, and were quickly devoured at work. (I particularly enjoyed cleaning out the bowl that I made the topping in - yum!)

Samoa Girl Scout Cookies Clone (From Once Upon a Plate)
Makes about 3 1/2 to 4 dozen

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
up to 2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, next, the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk only as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (you may not need any at all). The dough should come together into a soft, pliable ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough seems sticky.

Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness (or a little thinner), using a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to make rounds. Place on a parchment lined (or on silicone mat) baking sheet. Repeat until the dough is used up (it's okay to re-roll, this dough is shortbread-like and very forgiving.)

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are very lightly golden brown around the edges.

Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, to allow them to firm up slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-ounces chewy caramels
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
8 ounces chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (F)

Spread coconut evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Watch carefully, especially near the end of toasting time; the coconut toasts very quickly once it begins to become golden.

Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.

Using the spatula or a small offset spatula, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 teaspoons per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it begins to firm up, to make it soft and spreadable once again.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate into a piping bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle finished cookies with chocolate.

Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Soft Sugar Cookies

In my hiatus from my blog, I started getting the itch to bake again. However, with working nights, I didn't want to go to the grocery store in my limited time home (Due to working 14+ hour night shifts, and with my commute, I'm maybe home 8-9 hours, during which time I have to get my sleep, walk my dog & shower).

So, I was limited to what was in my cupboards for ingredients. And I always have what I need for basic sugar or chocolate chip cookies. I've been looking for a *good* drop sugar cookie recipe to make my go-to recipe, and I think this will be it! (For now!) The nurses at work quickly devoured them, and commented that they were perfect - slightly golden, soft & chewy.

Soft Sugar Cookies (Adapted from Delish)
Originally from America's Test Kitchen
Yield approx 4 doz cookies

2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
14 Tbsp (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Set oven rack in middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread 1/2 cup of the sugar in a shallow dish for coating and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

Beat softened butter, vanilla and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar together in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl & beaters as needed.

Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined. Give the dough a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure dough is combined.

Line large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 1 1/4 inch cookie scoop, scoop dough into balls, then roll in sugar to coat. Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart. Flatten cookies slightly.

Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until the edges are set and just beginning to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy, 10-12 minutes. Cool on pan for 10 minutes. Serve warm or transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. (They are softer if cooled on the pan! Trust me - they still taste good, but are definitely better if cooled on the pan!)


Monday, April 18, 2011

Spiced Popcorn

And on to the last of my popcorn buffet, another savory option. This had the perfect kick to it, especially the day after it was made. I would usually recommend serving popcorn soon after making it to keep it fresh, but because the flavors developed so much after sitting a day, I think I would probably suggest making it about 24 hours prior to serving - just be sure to keep it in an airtight container so that it doesn't get too soggy.

SPICED POPCORN (From Rachel Ray)

2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
15 cups hot unsalted popcorn

In a small bowl, mix the chili powder, paprika, cayenne and salt.

In an extra-large bowl, drizzle some olive oil over the popcorn and sprinkle with some of the spices. Mix with your hands; repeat until the popcorn is evenly coated.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn

After an almost 1 month (oh my!) hiatus, I'm finally on to the third popcorn in my buffet. This was another sweet popcorn - very sweet, and used one of my favorite flavor combinations - peanut butter with chocolate! Yum! Personally, I think it's better than a peanut butter cup!

I recently had a wonderful, relaxing vacation (where I learned how to make some amazing, refreshing drinks - I'll try to share them this summer when it warms up here!) As I'm now refreshed & rejuvenated, I'm hoping to get back to more consistent blogging. I miss all of my baking! (And the nurses are asking what I plan on baking next - I think it's a hint!)


10-12 cups popped popcorn
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup white sugar
1 cup peanut butter (I used creamy)
2 pinches of salt

chocolate chips for drizzling

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Stir corn syrup and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Be careful - this is hot! Pour mixture over popcorn and stir to coat. Pour popcorn onto baking sheet and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes. Spoon popcorn onto wire rack covered with waxed paper or parchment paper. Allow to cool completely. Melt chocolate chips in microwave, being careful not to scorch. Drizzle over popcorn and allow to set. Break popcorn into pieces. Store in airtight container.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Ranch Popcorn

The second popcorn in my Popcorn Buffet was a savory popcorn which was VERY easy to make, and would be a quick snack to whip up for movie night. The packets of ranch dressing mix are MUCH more affordable than the flavored popcorn topping shakers they sell, and it's just as easy. Just sprinkle as much onto your individual serving as you desire!


1 package of ranch dressing powder
Olive oil (or canola oil), in a mister
12-15 cups popcorn, plain

Place freshly popped popcorn in a large bowl. Spritz the surface with oil, and sprinkle some ranch powder on top. Stir. Repeat spritzing & sprinkling until popcorn has the desired amount of flavor (I used the entire package of ranch dressing powder).


Monday, March 14, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Popcorn

I would like to thank my mom for kindly reminding me tonight that I have been neglecting my blog. I could make excuses - I have plenty of them... (I've been traveling 1 hour each way to a hospital out of town, I've been flying all over the country for fellowship interviews, I had 3 presentations to give in less than one week, I've been taking my dog for extra walks to enjoy the nice weather). However, in reality, it sadly just hasn't been my #1 priority the past few weeks. I have plenty of pictures ready to go, and even some of the posts started.

So, as my mom is the one who reminded me to get my blogging butt into gear, I am posting a recipe in honor of her. We LOVE popcorn in our family - butter, caramel, air-popped, kettle - you name it, we love it. On my last trip home, my mom shared some delicious flavored popcorn from a local popcorn store. This inspired me to make a "popcorn buffet" for a party I recently hosted. I made 2 sweet popcorn flavors, and 2 savory flavors. I'll post the other recipes over the next week or so.

This popcorn was heaven! Everyone loved it, and I've been tempted often lately to make it again. I will say that I probably won't add the pecans next time, they all fell to the bottom, and then eventually into the trash. If I were going to add them again, I would keep them as halves.


12 cups popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup kernels)
1 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 stick real butter (1/2 C)
1t vanilla
1/2 t baking soda

White almond bark or white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

Place popcorn and chopped pecans in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a large microwave safe bowl. Mix well. Chop butter into chunks and place on top of sugar mixture. Pour corn syrup over the top of everything. Microwave on high for 30 seconds and then stir to combine. Return to microwave and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and stir and then microwave for 2 minutes more.

Remove from microwave and add in vanilla and baking soda. Stir to combine. Mixture will foam and rise. Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and pecans and stir very well so everything is well coated.

Spread popcorn mixture onto a foil-lined jelly roll pan. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and spread out on a large piece of parchment, waxed paper, or foil.

Melt almond bark according to package instructions. Drizzle over popcorn mixture. When almond bark is hardened and popcorn is cool, break into chunks and enjoy!

Keeps well for multiple days in an air-tight container.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Iced Sugar Cookies

When I was about 8, my family moved to a small rural town in Southwestern Minnesota that has the BEST family-run bakery ever! (And to show how tasty they are, after my family moved out of town, and I went off to college, I would time my trips home so that I could swing through town and by the bakery, sometimes even calling my order in ahead of time to be sure they didn't sell out!)

They have two of my favorite sweets. The first, was a cream cheese filled bear claw. And, I know I wasn't the only one around who liked them. If we were too late getting to the bakery on a Saturday morning, I'd have to settle for a glazed doughnut, or something else equally tasty, but not what I preferred. If I got my hand on this recipe, I'd be in big trouble.

My other favorite was their iced cookies. A simple sugar cookie with a delicious icing. Pumpkins for Halloween, hearts for Valentines day, shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day..... These, too, were a favorite among many in town, and the large window display of trays would often sell out. I've tried multiple cookie & icing combinations, and haven't found anything even similar to theirs until now. The cookie is slightly different (I think it's the lemon), but the icing is almost a perfect match. These recipes will most likely become my new "go-to" for sugar cookies.

(These were made for my Superbowl Party)

ROLL OUT SUGAR COOKIES (From The Way The Cookie Crumbles)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4teaspoon lemon zest

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and baking powder. In a one-cup measuring cup, lightly beat the egg with the extracts.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and salt on medium speed until smooth. With the mixer running, gradually pour in the sugar; add the lemon zest. Beat on medium until fluffy, about 1 minute. With the mixer running, pour in the egg mixture and continue beating until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour and mix just until evenly blended.

Lightly knead the dough to form a ball, press it into a disk 1-inch thick, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Adjust a rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375F. If you’ve chilled the dough overnight, it’ll need to sit at room temperature for half an hour or so to soften slightly. On a very lightly floured sheet of wax paper with a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough, roll the dough out to ¼-inch thick. Cut cookies using a floured cookie cutter. Re-roll scraps, always using as little flour as necessary.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 5-9 minutes, until they no longer look wet on top. The baking time will depend on the size of the cookies you’ve cut. You don’t want the bottoms to be browned, except for maybe just a bit on the edges. Let the cookies rest for a couple minutes on the sheets before transferring them to cooling racks to finish cooling.

SUGAR COOKIE ICING (Adapted from All Recipes)

1 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons non-dairy creamer
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
assorted food coloring (I use the gel colorings)

In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and creamer until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.

While working at a grocery store bakery, I learned the trick to quickly icing cookies was to dip them face down, then to scrape off the excess with your finger. (I recommend wearing gloves!)


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fluffy Waffles with Banana Foster Sauce

I LOVE breakfast foods... at breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner! This made a wonderful breakfast for dinner meal. The waffles were extremely light, with just the right amount of sweetness. And the sauce was delicious! I've made it a couple times in the past, and each time it reminds me of this quaint B&B my husband & I stayed at 4 or 5 Christmases ago. A similar sauce was served with granola & nuts, and while my husband didn't like it, I eagerly ate both of our servings!

Both components are easy to make, making it a great weeknight meal, or a special treat on the weekend mornings (without having to do any preparation the night before or wonder if you have buttermilk in the fridge).

FLUFFY WAFFLES (Adapted from All Recipes)
Feeds 2-4 people

2 eggs
2 tablespoons white sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 3/4 cups milk (I used soy milk)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

Preheat a waffle iron.

Beat together eggs and sugar. Pour in butter, milk, salt, and vanilla; mix until well blended. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Mix the flour into the liquid.

Spoon 2/3 cup of batter onto the preheated waffle iron at a time. Close the iron and cook until steam no is no longer coming out and waffle is browned.

Makes enough for topping 1 large waffle

1 banana, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbling. Serve warm over fresh waffles.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Cake Truffles

"Cake Balls" are definitely not something new in the blog world. I've seen various adorable varieties for a few years. However, I haven't tried making them until now. I wanted something quick & easy to make to share with my new interns & medical students. These definitely fit the criteria!

I can't remember the last time that I made a boxed cake mix! Back when I used to decorate cakes for family & friends (10+ years ago) all I would make were boxed cakes, as every cake recipe I tried failed. I'm so glad that I've graduated from boxed cake mixes! While they aren't awful, they are always soooo domed compared to most homemade ones.

Anyways, even though these were incredibly simple to make, they were thoroughly enjoyed by all! (And one of my attendings probably had at least 5 of them during the afternoon). There are numerous flavor options - I used a chocolate fudge cake mix & fudge frosting for a chocolatey treat.

Cake Truffles

1 cake mix, baked as instructed on the box
1 can of prepared frosting
Chocolate Bark / Candy Coating

Crumble up cake in bowl of mixer. Add canned frosting & mix until well combined. Place bowl in the fridge & cool for a few hours.

Using a small cookie scoop, scoop up approximately 1 inch balls, and place on a cookie sheet covered in waxed paper. Place in the freezer for 2+ hours.

Melt coating per manufacturer instructions. Coat balls with chocolate coating & place on waxed paper to cool. Decorate as desired with sprinkles or additional colors of coating.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I'm not one for "cakey" brownies/blondies/bars. If I want cake, I'll make cake. When I saw this recipe, I could tell by the photos that this would be a bar I like - dense & chewy! These were fantastic! They were very quick to whip up (which is great, when I get the urge to quick make a treat to bring the work the next day... after I've finished my presentation at 11PM that night!) Not only are they easy to make, they store well in a tupperware - it's now 4 days after I made them, and they still are soft & chewy.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BARS (Adapted from Eat at Allie's)
Makes 9x13 pan

2 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9X13-inch baking pan with foil, letting the excess hang over the edges of the pan. Spray the foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Mix the melted butter and sugars in a large bowl until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Add the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and stir just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Press the batter out into the prepared pan.

Bake until the top of the bars is light golden brown, slightly firm to the touch, and edges start pulling away from sides of pan, about 22-24 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the foil overhang and transfer them to a cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chocolate Turtle Cupcakes

Carmel Pecan Candies (AKA "Turtles") had always been a special treat in my household while growing up. They were my mom's favorite candy, and if we were lucky, we'd get a bite of her cherished treat (she often got large boxes of them for holiday presents). I love the chocolate/pecan/chewy caramel combination & knew it would make a fantastic cupcake flavor. Plus, it gave me another opportunity to find a chocolate cake recipe that I really liked. (I liked this better than the Hershey's recipe that so many love). And, it gave me another opportunity to use the tasty dulce de leche that I've made a few times this year. I used the same frosting for this as I did for my Vanilla Bean Dulce de Leche Cupcakes.

Chocolate Cupcakes (From Cook's Illustrated, May/June 2010)
Makes 12-15 cupcakes

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup hot, strong-brewed coffee
3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl, and pour hot coffee over the mixture. Whisk until smooth, and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, 20-30 minutes.

Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until batter is smooth.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups, filling each 3/4 full.

Bake until cupcakes are set and firm to the touch, 17-19 minutes. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

DULCE DE LECHE BUTTERCREAM (Adapted from Joy the Baker)

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 Tablespoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cup prepared dulce de leche

Cream together butter and dulce de leche on low using an electric mixer. Add cream and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat to incorporate.

Frost cupcakes as desired. Garnish with drizzles of chocolate syrup & dulce de leche (slightly melted), and top with a half of a pecan.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

When I was young, we would often make long trips to see my grandparents on the weekends (depending on where we lived at the time, it may have been up to 10 hours!) In late elementary, we lived about 4 hours away from my grandparents. Half way there, we would pass through a town with a Perkins, where we would always have dinner. Before I learned how much I loved their Omelets with a Raspberry & Cream muffin on the side, I was dedicated to my chocolate chip bear pancakes.

I rarely make chocolate chip pancakes, as they seem a little bit too much like dessert for my husband (although I LOVE having chocolate for breakfast). These brought back fond memories of my trips to Grandpa & Grandma's house, even though I didn't shape them into a bear.

CHOCOLATE CHIP PANCAKES (Adapted from All Recipes)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Combine eggs, milk, vanilla and oil; add to dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour the batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a lightly greased hot griddle. Turn when bubbles form on top; cook until second side is golden brown. Keep warm.


This recipe participated in Sweets for a Saturday

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mini Corn Puddings

I made these mini corn puddings to accompany my Spicy Chili. While they were named "puddings" due to how moist they are, they are definitely still muffins. I enjoyed the texture & flavor of the muffins themselves, but to me, they have a bit too much whole corn kernels for them to become a staple in my recipe box. (And when I make them again, I'm sure I'll cut the corn down by about half). If you like lots of corn in your corn muffins, I think you'll love these!

MINI CORN PUDDINGS (Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes approx 12 mini muffins

Butter, room temperature, for pan
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg white
3/4 cup sour cream
Approx 5 oz frozen corn kernels, thawed and patted dry

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in upper third. Butter 12 mini muffin cups; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Mix in egg, sour cream, and corn. Mix just until incorporated (do not overmix).

Dividing evenly, spoon batter into prepared muffin pan. Bake until tops have browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 10 to 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes in pan; turn out onto a cooling rack. Serve, or cool completely and store at room temperature in an airtight container, up to 2 days.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Spicy Chili

I LOVE a big pot of chili during cold winter months. Chili itself is always easy to make, even when you make it in bulk. One of my favorite things is that it not only tastes great reheated (I usually like it better on the second heating when the flavors have melded), but that it also freezes well, which is useful when you make gallons of chili for only 2 people!

I haven't followed the same recipe more than once lately, and this recipe was basically made to use what we had in our freezer/pantry, without having to buy much more. The thai peppers in this really give it a kick. (I love spicy foods, and this is some HOT chili!) You could easily substitute dried pepper flakes for a less spicy version. Even though I didn't drain any of the canned items, this is still a very thick, hearty chili after simmering for an hour.


8 cloves garlic, minced.
1/2 cup diced jalapeno peppers
2 (15 ounce) cans red kidney beans
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans
5 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1/8 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon thai red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
3 pounds ground beef

In a large pot over medium heat, combine garlic, peppers, kidney beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, chili powder, pepper flakes, cumin and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer.

While soup is heating, cook beef in a large skillet over medium heat until brown. Drain excess fat and rinse, then stir beef into soup pot. Simmer, covered, until flavors are well blended, about 1 hour.

(I personally like a little shredded cheddar & a dollop of sour cream mixed into my chili, but serve however you prefer)


Friday, January 28, 2011

Bacon Pierogi Casserole

It's been bitter cold in Boston for the past few days, and all I've craved is comfort foods. (As a Minnesotan at heart, I realize it's not *that* cold here, but unlike my time in Minnesota, I walk almost everywhere here, instead of hopping in my car. And, I now have a dog that needs to be walked, no matter what the temperature or weather is!)

A colleague of my husband gave us some homemade mushroom pierogies, and we were looking for another way to cook them. (I usually boil pierogies, and then pan fry them in a little butter) We loved this recipe! It's easy to whip up after work, and had just the right amount of sauce.

BACON PIEROGI CASSEROLE (Adapted from Cooking Light)

1 (16-ounce) package frozen potato and onion pierogies (we used some homemade mushroom ones from a friend)
3 bacon slices, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup thinly diagonally sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped roma tomato

Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange the pierogies in an 8x8-inch glass baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Cook bacon in a saucepan over medium heat until crisp; remove from pan. Set aside.

Add garlic to drippings in pan, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add cream cheese to pan, and cook for 1 minute or until cream cheese begins to melt, stirring frequently. Gradually add chicken broth to pan, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mixture evenly over pierogies. Top evenly with cheddar cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with bacon, green onions & tomato.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Raspberry Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Sadly, I've been slacking on blogging this month. There isn't any good reason for it, I think it's a combination of coming off service from a busy month (and trying to finally catch up on sleep), stressing over fellowship applications & interviews (or maybe I should consider Chief year instead??) and finally starting to look at my research and quality improvement projects. I really don't have an excuse, considering I have about 5 blog posts *almost* ready to go!

As a way to apologize, I thought I would post these delicious cupcakes! I made them for a dinner with friends, but sadly, my husband forgot to grab them on his way out the door. (Sad for our friends... but good for us!!) I was going for a raspberry cheesecake cupcake, without it being actual cheesecake. These are moist cupcakes, and with the combination of the cream cheese icing, it definitely makes you think of cheesecake. These kept fairly well in a tupperware for a week, so don't be afraid to make them a few days prior to serving them.


Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes (Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 small box vanilla pudding
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 stick butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Raspberry preserves/jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the cups of a standard muffin tin with paper or foil liners. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and pudding; set aside. In a liquid-measuring cup, mix milk and vanilla; set aside.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed, add half of dry ingredients, followed by milk-vanilla mixture, then remaining dry ingredients. Do not overmix.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Add approximately 1/2 - 1 tsp of raspberry preserves & swirl into batter with a toothpick.

Place tin on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cupcakes 5 minutes in tin, then remove and cool completely on a rack before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 - 8oz package cream cheese (I used the full fat version to remind me of cheesecake)
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar.

Beat cream cheese, butter & vanilla until smooth & well blended. Slowly beat in powdered sugar. (Adjust amount until you reach desired consistency).

Frost cupcakes as desired. Garnish with fresh raspberries.


(This post has been posted as a participant in Sweets for Saturday)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Egg Drop Soup

Wow, I've been slacking on my updates this month! I need to get into gear! (I've been making Green Monster Smoothies almost daily, but they aren't the most appetizing to look at. While I enjoy the taste, and the satisfying breakfast, I haven't tried photographing it yet.)

Lately my husband & I have been craving Chinese food. We hate to order take-out too often, so we often eat the Trader Joe's meals (we love the Orange Chicken!) To supplement the main meal, we've been making egg drop soup. It's so easy to make! It reminds me of my early years of eating Chinese as a child - all I'd eat is crab rangoons & egg drop soup! (or sweet & sour chicken - with the sauce on the side - I was a picky eater!)

The soup pictured below is courtesy of my husband, who cooked for me tonight!


2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 egg
1 egg white
ginger powder
green onions

Heat 1 1/2 - 2 cups of broth to boiling on the stove. Add a dash of ginger.

Heat up the remaining broth in the microwave, and mix in the corn starch. Set aside.

Beat the egg and egg white in a bowl, with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Add the eggs to the boiling broth while stirring the broth on the stove. (After making a couple times, you'll be able to determine how fast you should stir to get the egg consistency you like). Add in the corn starch mixture.

Add green onions & serve.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Champagne Cupcakes

Happy New Year! (And one year anniversary of my blog!)

I was on call at the hospital on New Year's Eve this year, but still wanted to be able to celebrate the New Year with some bubbly. I knew cupcakes would be a great way to incorporate champagne since we couldn't actually enjoy the real thing at the hospital (Although Trader Joe's sparkling cranberry juice was a tasty substitute!) Plus, there was a generous pour left in the bottle for my husband & I to enjoy when I was finished baking the cupcakes.

CHAMPAGNE CUPCAKES (From Sprinkle Bakes)
Makes approximately 18 cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup champagne, prosecco or your choice of sparkling wine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together champagne and sour cream (mixture will fizz and bubble a little).

Add flour and champagne mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Batter will be thick.

Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter. Bake for 17-22 minutes.


1 cup plus 1 tbsp. champagne or prosecco
1 cup butter, at room temperature
3-4 cups confectioners' sugar

Place 1 cup of champagne in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons. Transfer to a small bowl and allow to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream softened butter and powdered sugar together. Once the frosting is thick and fluffy, pour in the reduced 2 tbsp. champagne plus 1 tbsp. champagne from the bottle and mix well.

Frost & decorate cupcakes as desired. (I thought the sugar pearls were reminiscent of the bubbles in champagne).