It's Happy New Years Eve. . .Yes!

Sizzle Sprinkled with Flavor
Don't you just love to hear sizzling in the morning when you know that breakfast is close behind? Don't you just hate it when you have a mental block on what you want to make for breakfast? I am in my crocheting phase (picture below). . .and I want to get somemore of my aphgan done this morning but I also am hungry and nothing is really calling to me. . .and then it hits me. . .fast, easy and comfort food from my childhood. . .yeppers. . .an egg sandwich. I know, I am not inspiring this morning and I hardly see anyone dashing to their kitchen to whip this up but if you like messy, simple and tastey along with *fast*. . .this is the breakfast of champions:

Average - 2 eggs, 2 slices bread (whole wheat/Sourdough/etc.) , 2 slices cheese per person
For 4 people =
8 eggs
8 slices sourdough or whatever bread you personally love
8 slices of medium cheddar cheese, Havarti, PepperJack or whatever suits your fancy =)
Squirt of Horseradish
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Put a little Pam no-stick spray on your skillet while cold and set it on stove. Put burner on medium and get ready to cook your eggs over easy. This means that your eggs will be a little runny on the inside. Want less mess when eating? Cook eggs a little longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.

While eggs are cooking on the stove, toast two slices of bread at a time. Put about 2 T. mayonnaise on each slice of toast. Best to make one egg sandwich at a time. Don't worry, it goes fast.

When eggs are almost done, set 2 slices of cheddar cheese over the two eggs and allow to melt slightly.

Put your eggs and cheese on one slice of toast and top with the other. Taaadaaah! Egg Sandwich. Messy but Delish!

**I have made sausage links and split them in half and added them to the top of the egg and cheese BUT it does make the egg ooze out a little bit more when eating.

Here is my new crocheting endeavor. . .or at least the border of the aphgan =D

The body of the aphgan will be crocheted to look like minature fans. I am mad crocheting to get this done in the next couple of weeks but I also am dying to get some baking done so we will see what wins out. Happy New Years everyone! and HUGS!

Daring Baker Challenge. . .A New Christmas Tradition!!!

HO. . .HO. . .HO. . .
New Christmas Tradition. . .The Yule LOG =D

Well, I have to say that Ivonne and Lisa are wonderful and both deserve a *huge* hug for picking this wonderful recipe as our daring baker challenge! I have been working 10 hour days, seven days a week for the last month and I needed a pick-me-up for being totally bummed because I have had no time for blogging. . .baking my favorite cookies OR deciding what I wanted for dinners! I am all done with the work schedule and the baking is ON! baby. This was the perfect start to my families holiday celebrating so here is a big THANK YOU!!!

We put the water on the stove and I had two teenage helpers. . .my daughter and step-son. . .Ashley and Dustin. We took our time and I had everyone (including me =D) read the recipe twice to make sure we understood it and we had all the ingredients. I was worried because we had just the one day (Sunday the 23rd) to make this delicious dessert so we jumped in and had a blast. Dustin put on the hot water to boil and simmer and Ashley whisked the Genoise to get the mixture to luke warm. The batter whipped up fluffy and we were high-fiving each other when we got to the point of spreading the batter into the jellyroll pan! =D

We had to reread the recipe twice to make sure we understood that the baking time was only 10 minutes because that seemed pretty fast but sure enough. . .after 10 minutes the Genoise looked perfect. . .Now, the frosting and filling. . .we stuck to the recipe because none of us had a problem with the coffee flavor and we all decided that we would make the recipe per letter the first time and if we wanted to change it when we made it the second time. . .then we would decide then. So, here we are with the espresso and rum flavoring and whipping up the creamy frosting =0D

The kids took turns stirring the egg whites and the sugar over simmering water to get the egg whites hot before whipping them up. There was some complaints of arm aches but if this was a video game. . .well, they would have been all over it for several hours (making sure there were refreshments of course =) ) So far, looking great. . .but we didn't want to get ahead of ourselves because there was still time for us to have some catastrophe happen.
We fill the cake with frosting and I rolled it tightly and set it into the refrigerator while we whipped up the meringue for the mushrooms. We took turns piping mushroom stems and caps and then I sprinkled Cocoa powder on the caps before setting them into the oven. Now frosting the log and making bark markings was in order.

The merigue turned out really well, and I think that our advanced preparation along with three sets of eyes really helped this recipe run smoothly!

We took turns piping mushroom stems and caps and I sprinkled the caps with cocoa powder be setting them into the oven. Now frosting the log and making the bark markings was in order! I had to admit that this was allot of fun for me and the kids let me do this part since I must have seemed like I was really enjoying myself. . .by the way. . .I was! =D

I must say this was a proud moment for all of us! We made a log that looked like a log. . .YES!

Now for assembling the mushrooms and setting them onto the log. . .well, we seemed to have more mushrooms then log space so we snuck a few. . .you know. . .the cooks reaaallllyyyy need to taste test along the way.

Pictures were taken and we actually made it to dinner. . .since we were have steamed dungeness crab and ribeye steaks. . .before we cut the Yule log. It was a beautiful thing and almost to pretty to eat. . .ALMOST! =D

HUGS to Ivonne and Lisa again. . .you have started something that brought great joy and a happy memory to those closest to me. . .Thank you.

Plain Genoise:
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch

one (1) 10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again

1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch).

4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.

5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.

6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.

9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Coffee Buttercream:

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy

1.Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.

Meringue Mushrooms:

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g.) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

1.Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip. In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the icing sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.

2.Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.

3.Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up. With the tip of a knife, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.

Marzipan Mushrooms:

8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Cocoa powder

1.To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed.

2.Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

3.Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.

4.Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.

5.Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.

6.Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.

7.Smudge with cocoa powder

Assembling the Yule Log:

1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.

2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.

3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.

4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).

5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.

6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.

7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.

8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.

9.Cover the log with the reserved buttercream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.

10.Streak the buttercream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.

11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.

Red Velvet Cake

I have always loved the idea of baking a red velvet cake. The cake is cheerful looking and decadent all at the same time. Not only that but it does not require that much work to put together and bake. What is absolutely shocking is the amount of red food coloring that goes into making this cake red! I couldn't believe it and actually cut the amount in half the second time I made this cake. Yes, I am guilty of baking it twice within 2 weeks. I loved the moistedness, flavor, holiday color and the beautiful white frosting. This is the princess of red velvet cakes and I received the recipe from my friend Shirleyoma.

Red Velvet Cake
* 2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
* 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
* 2 large eggs
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 4 ounces red food coloring
* 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
* 1 pound box confectioners’ sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) cake pans. In a medium bowl or on a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in eggs one at a time. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk. Beat in food coloring and vinegar, then add vanilla. Spread the batter evenly in the pans.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack to cool.
In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter. Beat in confectioners' sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Stir in pecans. Use frosting to fill and ice cake.
Slice and serve on individual plates.

Smoked Salmon Salad With Raspberry Vinaigrette

Living in the state of Washington, along the coast, I have an abundance of choices for seafood and, unforetunately, I do not always cook fresh seafood as often as I would like. Keeping things simple as possible and enjoying the individual flavors of a dish is important. The problem with this last statement is that I also *love* trying new recipes that can be quite complicated at times and I am fine with this because I love a new adventure. Desserts fit into this category along with gumbos, homemade chilis, etc.

I think that mixing fresh fruit with seafood for taste and color is an outstanding color palette for any lunch or dinner table. I thought the combination of raspberries, mandarin oranges and smoked salmon over a bed of tender salad greens with a little raspberry viniagrette drizzled over the top sounded tempting so I gave it a try and now I am making a little more to take with me tomorrow to share with a friend over lunch. =D


Mixed Salad Greens - your choice
1/3 fresh sliced mushrooms
1 avocado cubed
1/4 c. smoked salmon cut into small chunks
1/2 c. raspberries
1/2 c. drained mandarin oranges

1/4 c. olive oil
2 T. raspberry vinegar
1 T. honey
1 T. water
1/2 t. dried basil leaves
1/8 t. garlic salt
Dash of coarsely ground pepper


Mix salad greens with the mushrooms, avocado and smoked salmon chunks. Arrange raspberries and mandarin oranges on salad greens.

Vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients in jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake well. Serve over fresh greens.

Awesome flavor! =D

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

I am so dusting off my treadmill tomorrow. I have been baking for several days again and now I am on the pasta kick. I love homemade pasta sauce but I don't always have the time to simmer a really good sauce for hours. On top of that, we have had horrible wind and snow and rain storms today with periodic power outages. I didn't want to chance ruining a good thing so here is what I came up with and may I say that I loved it? The sauce turned out delicious but I also add a jar of my own canned Italian tomatoes with herbs and diced onions already mixed together. You can get the same effect from a can of Italian tomatoes from the grocery store but I would suggest adding more oregano and other herbs that you really enjoy in your sauce. I *always* add diced, fresh garlic. . .a must have in my kitchen =).
Spaghetti and Homemade Meat Sauce
1 pound of ground beef (I like to have at least 15% fat for flavor)
1 pound bulk spicy Italian sausage
8 ounces chopped fresh mushrooms, I used chantrelles - they are in season here and Yum.
1 large onion, chopped
1 t. Italian seasoning
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. seasoned salt
1 (28 ounce can) Italian tomatoes
1 cup of tomato sauce
1/2 t. granulated sugar. . .to cut the taste of acidity in the tomatoes
1 (6 ounce can) tomatoe paste
1 Bay leaf
1 pound of spaghetti

In dutch oven or heavy saucepan, cook beef, sausage, onion and garlic. Drain most of grease. Cut tomatoes up and add to pot along with the liquid. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the spaghetti. . .=D. Simmer for 1 hour or until your sauce is thick enough to your liking.

Prepare your spaghetti and serve with sauce, fresh parmesan cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, a sprinkling of granulated garlic and seasoning according to taste. =D

Chocolate Pecan Pie with Caramel Sauce and Powdered Sugar

I absolutely love pecan pie and I know that it is a generalization that women naturally love chocolate. . .but this is not always true. . .I know, a scary thought. =D I happen to fit into the generalization and Love milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, white chocolate (I am still trying to perfect a white chocolate cheesecake that tastes like biting into a bar of creamy, white chocolate) and bittersweet chocolate. Has anyone ever opened a Chocolatier Magazine and found that ad where you can order 10 or 11 pound slabs of different chocolate such as Callebaut Chocolate or Nestle Chocolate? I have done this several times and I have never been disappointed. . .as of yet. It is funny though. I only bake with it and I end up sharing most of what I bake with friends and people I work with so it sounds like a lot of chocolate but it doesn't hang around for long. =D
Well, I made this pie for Thanksgiving and it was so good that I made it again. Since I love it so much. . .I just have to share so here it is:
Rich Chocolate Pecan Pie with Caramel Sauce and Powdered Sugar

1 1/2 Cups Pecans
1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell (I used my shell recipe for my deep dish pecan pie. . .you will find the recipe there)
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup light brown sugar
1/2 Cup corn syrup
1/2 t. vanilla extract
Pinch of Salt
Caramel Sauce, for garnish, recipe follows
Confectioners sugar, for garnish
Caramel Sauce:
3/4 Cup sugar
2 T. water
1/2 t. fresh lemon juice
1/2 Cup heavy Cream
2 T. to 1/4 Cup Whole Milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Spread the pecan pieces and the chocolate chip pieces evenly on the bottom of the pie shell.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients together. Pour the filling over the pecans. Bake until the filling sets, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes before slicing. Cut into individual servings and serve with a drizzle of caramel sauce and sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
Caramel Sauce:
Combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a medium heavy saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Let boil without stirring until the mixture becomes a deep amber color, 2 to 3 minutes, watching closely so it doesn't burn. Add the cream (be careful; it will bubble up), whisk to combine, and remove from the heat.
Add 2 Tablespoons of the milk, then add up to 2 more tablespoons, until the desired consistency is reached. Let cool until just warm before serving. (The sauce will thicken as it cools.)

I am Back and Here to Stay. . .with Recipes =D

I work in construction as a commercial electrician and I hurt my right elbow so typing, writing, cooking, yepper. . .Thanksgiving was a challenge. . .everything is painful. . .but I am back and sooo happy. I am hoping that everyone has been able to enjoy great food, family, fun stories, new fun stories to talk about now and LOTS of leftovers to worry about getting eaten! I decided that I wanted to blog about my timeline for Thanksgiving. I always go all out. I do. . . and I am exhausted for several days after.
I have decided that I am going to post all my pictures and recipes as I go but they will have to be done over several days since I am back in college too and do not have the time to do this whole project at once. My Thanksgiving Day started like this:

Ham and Cheese Quiche
Crepes with whipped cream
Homemade Hot Chocolate
Cold Beer
Iced Tea
White Lightening Sangria
Chilled White Wine
Chilled Champagne

Deviled Eggs
Shrimp with Homemade Cocktail Sauce
Chilled Crab Dip
Garlic Feta Cheese Spread
Frito Munch Candy
Veggie Platter
Cheese Platter
Cracker Assortment

1st Course: Strawberry Salad in Puff Pastry Shells

Brown Sugar Brined Turkey with Apricot Glaze
and Roasted Onion and Shallot Gravy
Mashed Potatoes with Cream Cheese, Chives, Butter and Cream (Seasonings)
Whipped Sweet Potatoes and Bananas with Honey
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus clusters
Garlic and Butter Pull-a-Part Rolls
Pineapple and Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
Cranberry Sauce with Raspberry Vinegar
Steamed Corn

Dessert Tray:

Pumpkin Fudge with White Chocolate
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Two Different Pumpkin Pie Recipes
Rich Chocolate Pecan Pie with Caramel Sauce
Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake
Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Filling
Apricot-glazed Turkey With Roasted Onion And Shallot Gravy Recipe
Apricot Glaze:
1 c. apricot nectar
1 c. apricot preserves
2 T. minced, peeled, fresh ginger
1 T. honey
Herb Butter:
3/4 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
3 T. chopped fresh Thyme or 1 T. dried
3 T. fresh chopped Sage or 1 T. dried
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
Onion Mixture:
2 T. unsalted butter
3 Large onions, thinly sliced, about 2 pounds
6 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 21- to 22-pound Turkey
1 14 1/2 ounce can (or more) low-salt chicken broth. . .I use organic chicken broth
1 t. chopped fresh Thyme or 1/2 t. dried
1/2 t. chopped fresh sage or 1/4 t. dried
1 14 1/2 ounce can (about) low-salt chicken broth. . .again, I use organic chicken broth

For Glaze:
Combine all ingredients in heavy small saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened and reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 15 minutes.
For Herb Butter:
Blend all ingredients in small bowl. Set aside.
For Onion Mixture:
Melt butter in heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and shallots and saute until very soft and light brown, about 20 minutes. ***(Glaze, herb butter and onion mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill. Bring herb butter to room temperature before continuing.)***
Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Pat turkey dry with paper towls. Season turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Slide hand under skin of turkey breast to loosen skin. Spread half of herb butter over breast under skin. If stuffing turkey, spoon stuffing into main cavity. Place remaining herb butter over outside of turkey. Tie legs together loosely to hold shape of turkey.
Roast turkey 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Roast turkey 1 hour 30 minutes, basting occasionally with pan drippings. . .***I now add some organic chicken stock to bottom of pan***
Tent turkey with heavy-duty foil; roast 45 minutes longer. Add onion mixture, 1 can chicken broth, thyme and sage to pan. Roast 15 minutes.
***Note: I add about 3 cups of organic chicken stock at this time and I have been baking turkey for 3 HOURS.***
Bring glaze to simmer. Brush 1/2 cup of glaze over turkey. Continue to roast turkey uncovered until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180 degrees F or until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with skewer, brushing occasionally with glaze and adding more broth to pan if liquid evaporates, about 40 MINUTES longer for unstuffed turkey (and about 1 hour and 10 minutes longer for stuffed turkey). Place turkey on platter; tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes. Reserve mixture in pan for gravy.

For Gravy:
Pour contents of roasting pan into strainer set over large bowl. Spoon fat from pan juices or use a grease seperater cup. Transfer onion mixture in strainer to blender. Add 1 cup pan juices to blender and puree until smooth, adding more pan juices and chicken stock if necessary to thin sauce to desired consistency. Transfer sauce to heavy, large saucepan and bring to boil. Cook until color deepens, skimming off any foam, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve turkey with gravy. =D

Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake Recipe

1 3/4 Cups (about 14 to 16) shortbread cookies, crushed
1 T. butter or margarine, melted
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 Cups packed brown sugar
1 can (15 ounces) 100% Pure Pumpkin. . .(Libby's =D)
2/3 Cup (5 fluid ounces) Evaporated Milk
2 large eggs
2 T. cornstarch
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 Cup (about 25 to 30) crushed toffee candies or use a bag of toffee bits
1 container (8 ounces) sour cream, at room temperature
2 T. granulated sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
Caramel Ice Cream Topping (optional but Delicious)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For Crust:
Combine cookie crumbs and butter in small bowl. Press onto bottom and 1-inch up side of a 9-inch springform pan.
Bake for 6 to 8 minutes (do not allow to brown). Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.
For Cheesecake:
Beat cream cheese and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, cornstarch and cinnamon; beat well. Pour into crust.
Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until edge is set but center still moves slightly. Remove from oven; top with toffee candy pieces.
For Topping:
Combine sour cream, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in small bowl; mix well. Spread over warm cheesecake.
Bake for 8 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Remove side of springform pan. Drizzle with caramel topping before serving.
Very good. . .and a note to myself. . .since my refrigerator will be packed along with an ice chest full of ice and groceries, put foil over top of cheesecake and a rubber band around this and set inside a box on front deck along with other chilled dishes like your cranberry sauce. . .It worked great this year. Of course the weather was at 32 degrees. . .deciding factor. =D

Pumpkin Ice Cream With Caramel Sauce

Ice Cream:
2 Cups whole milk
1 Cup half-and-half
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. ground ginger
6 egg yolks
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
1/3 Cup packed brown sugar (Light)
16 ounces (I use a 15 ounce can instead) pumpkin puree (Libby's)
1/2 Cup whipping cream
1 t. vanilla extract
Caramel Sauce:
I Cheated and Bought 3/4 Cup caramel Sauce
1/3 Cup whipping cream. . .you still need this =D


To prepare the ice cream:
Place the milk, half-and-half, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, brown sugar and pumpkin. Strain the warm milk into the sugar mixture, whisking well. Pour back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Remove from the heat and stir in the whipping cream and vanilla. Pour into a bowl, cool slightly and refrigerate about 3 hours, until completely chilled.

Pour into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to package directions. Then transfer to a chilled bowl, cover and freeze. Place in refrigerator about 1/2 to 1 hour before serving because this becomes rock hard. . .experience has lead me to add this last step.

To prepare the caramel sauce: Yes, we have cheated but we also have come to be able to happily accept this now open secret. We are going to heat the caramel sauce and cream together gently on top of the stove or in a microwave just to warm. Stir well until smooth and blended. Serve warm over the ice cream. . .I don't know why I am adding this because it seems to be a no-brainer =D

Cornish Hens

Cornish Hens With Pecan Stuffing And Port Wine Sauce
I always have thought that cornish hens are a wonderful backdrop for trying so many different flavor combinations along with being a pretty presentation opportunity, especially when the challenge arises for last minute entertaining. This recipe is one of my favorites for just such occurances! Starving friends that I haven't seen in a decade just showed up out of the blue and I had 3 hours to come up with something. Now, if they could have waited just a couple more days. . .like let's say, for Thanksgiving, there would have been enough food to feed half the country side and I would have completely been ready to impress! Instead, I am left thinking that I should have meals already assembled in the freezer like I used to, including pies that I would put together, freeze, then pop the pie out of the pie pan (since it was now frozen) and put into freezer ziploc bags. I would have a dozen different kinds of pies in the freezer . . .but this was when I was organized. I think I forgot how to be that person. I'm lucky I can get one fruit pie made when it crosses my mind! Okay, I am focused again and here is my last minute something:

Cornish Hen:
4 Cornish Hens
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
Pecan Stuffing:
4 T. butter
1/4 c. onion, chopped
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. cooked white rice
1/2 c. pecan halves
Port Wine Sauce:
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. minced onion
3 T. flour
1 T. chicken bouillon granules or 3 chicken bouillon cubes
3 T. currant jelly
1 c. dark sweet cherries, drained and pitted
3/4 c. port wine
1 c. water

Cornish Hens:
Brush the hens with butter and dredge with flour. Stuff the cavities with Pecan Stuffing (see below) but do not pack. Place uncovered in a 450 degree oven for 45 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a heated serving platter. Serve with Port Wine Sauce (see below).
Pecan Stuffing:
Saute the onion in butter. Add the other ingredients. Toss lightly.
Port Wine Sauce:
Cook the onion in butter, stirring until tender; remove from the heat. Stir in the flour, chicken bouillon, currant jelly and water. Cook, stirring over medium heat until thickened. Add the wine and cherries and heat just to boiling, stirring gently so as not to hurt the cherries.

Holiday Shrimp Salad

I feel absolutely terrible! I look forward to being able to continue learning how to blog! I have only just started and I have met some amazingly talented people along the way! I have just finished my finals for another hard class in my on-going online college and with getting up at 4 a.m. to do an hour commute to work, well, I guess it has all caught up with me and I feel exhausted! What is worse? My Thanksgiving dinner is only 3/4 of the way planned out. I have the absolutes that I am ready to get underway each year but I have just fallen in love with brining turkeys and chosing glazes that go with the brines. . .and I absolutely must do two turkeys this year! One deep fried (because it is soooo fast, good and moist) and my old faithful that is made with an herb butter put under the skin and an apricot glaze after soaking 24 hours in an icy brown sugar and citrus brine. Soooo good! This shrimp salad is another must! Every year I add at least two new dishes to my dinner! I just finished watching the food network do a dish with sweet potatoes where they were baked then scooped out of their skin and 2 full bananas were added along with honey and butter. This was spread into a baking dish and struesels was added to the top. I absolutely must look this up for the recipe! This dish is going to be one of my new dishes with the meal. I soooo love doing Thanksgiving because I have at least 5 appetizers, a soup or salad for my first entree (this year it will be a wonton soup) and then a *huge* dinner and THEN a huge dessert cart! I will post every recipe that I absolutely love and have honed to where I like it so that I have a reference this year. I just learned how to do snowflakes on pull apart dinner rolls so this is a must for this year too! Here's to the Holidays =D
Party Shrimp Salad

1 extra-large lemon
Celery leaves
1 T. pickling spices
1 t. salt
1/8 t. ground white pepper
3 pounds medium-size shrimp in their shells uncooked(5 c. cooked)
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 c. celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 to 2 t. snipped fresh dill or 1 t. dried dill herb **NOT dill seed**
2/3 c. Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise (not the light variety)
1/2 c. sour cream
1 T. Dijon mustard
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground white pepper
1/4 t. garlic powder


TO COOK THE SHRIMP: Half-fill a large saucepan with water. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into the water and toss in the rind. Add a few celery leaves, the pickling spices, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Drop in the shrimp in their shells and boil them just until they turn pinkish-white and opaque, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a colander and rinse immediately with cold water to stop the cooking. Peel and devein the shrimp, discarding all of the pickling spices. Cut the shrimp into bite-sized pieces. (You need 5 cup of shrimp).
Place the cooked shrimp in a medium-size bowl, sprinkle with the lemon juice, and toss well. Add the celery and dill and toss again.
MIX ALL of the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Spoon the dressing over the shrimp mixture and stir until all of the shrimp and celery are well coated. Great for putting on an open sandwich using white or Challah bread, or simply as a salad on curly lettuce leaves. Refrigerate any leftovers and use within 2 days.


Christmas and Rum Cake

What are the holidays without a little rumcake? I started thinking that I have always made rum balls and bourbon balls, mixed drink beverages for the holidays, pies with layers of alcohol, such as Grand Marnier between two layers of orange sherbet in a coconut and butter toasted pie crust but I have never attempted a rum cake! Well, I attempted and may I say WoW?! While I am drizzling this rum glaze over my cake, I am seeing that there is glaze being wasted because not all of it is seeping in. Puddles of rum glaze on the plate is NOT acceptable! Rectifying this is easy. . .grab pastry brush and reapply! First, please poke holes in your rum cake. This is a must. You want seepage deep into the cake itself! I want to say that the cake gets moister as it sits but it only lasted 2 1/2 days. Yeppers, I shared and people came back for thirds and fourths. Granted, they were saying things like oh, just a little sliver. . . that's a sliver???!! I can't even see it and then they would be taking a *huge* portion, which is a compliment to this recipe! I really enjoyed making this cake *but* I will warn you ahead of time that is recipe will take a WHOLE cup of rum! I believe that if you wanted to substitute bourbon for rum or experiment with a flavor of rum. . . well, I want to hear about it! Really. . .you need to spill and tell me what flavor and how it turned out! I want to try pineapple rum next time! I was wondering if they have a cherry rum? I see a trip to the liquor store in my near future =D
Also, I want to try this as a French toast for breakfast. . .can you just imagine?

Holiday Rum Cake
1 c. chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts, whichever you prefer
1 18 1/2-ounce yellow cake mix
1 1 3/4-ounce (4-serving) instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. cold milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. Bacardi dark rum. . .I believe I used Appleyard (sp?) Jamaican Rum this last time
1/2 c. butter (1 cube)
1/4 c. water
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. dark rum


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts on bottom of pan. Combine all cake ingredients. Beat for 2 minutes on high with electric mixer. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool in pan. Invert on serving plate. Prick top with fork. Drizzle glaze over the top of the cake. Use pastry brush or spoon to put extra dripping back on cake.

Glaze: Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum.
**Note: The rum will cause steam. Be careful not to burn yourself

Breakfast is Served


Breakfast Trifle
Knife-and-Fork Breakfast Burritos
Overnight Coffee Cake
Chocolate Chai Tea

I wanted to make a great breakfast and one that was easy so I did a menu, with the help of the Holiday's issue of Better Homes and Gardens of 07. I just love when the holidays come around because the fun ideas really come out. Sometimes it feels like people aren't getting inspired until Thanksgiving and Christmas are here since that is when most of the entertaining is suppose to be happening. . .according to the magazine world, anyways! Well, I also stayed up till 1 a.m. baking because I really got into a cookie thing too. I can't post everything in one blog because I don't want to be responsible for blogger overload! =D

Breakfast Burritos
These burritos can be made the night before and assembled the next morning. The egg burritos take about 30 minutes for prep and 5 minutes to cook per batch.
6 eggs, slightly beaten
3 T. milk
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
Nonstick cooking spray or cooking oil
1 15-ounce can pinto beans or black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. bottled or homemade chunky salsa
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
3/4 c. crumbled Monterey Jack cheese- or however much you prefer
1/3 c. sour cream
2 T. snipped fresh mint for garnish
Extra chunky salsa to serve with the burritos if you like =D
  • In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Coat a 10-inch nonstick omelet pan (or skillet with flared sides) with nonstick cooking spray or brush lightly with a little cooking oil. Preheat pan over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles.
  • For each of the egg "tortillas", pour about 1/4 cup of the egg mixture into the pan. Lift and tilt pan to spread egg mixture over bottom. Return to hear. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom (do not turn). Loosen edges of the egg tortilla with a spatula. Carefully slide out onto a plate. Place a piece of waxed paper over egg tortilla. Continue as above with the remaining egg mixture to make a total of six egg tortillas, stacking egg tortillas separated by waxed paper on the plate. Cover and chill egg tortillas for 4 to 24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with nonstick spray; set aside. In a medium saucepan, mash the beans slightly. Stir in 1/2 c. salsa. Heat over low heat until heated through. Cover and keep warm while heating egg tortillas.
  • Place three egg tortillas on prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 5 minutes or until heated through. Carefully slide each egg tortilla onto a serving plate. On half of each egg tortilla, spread 1/4 cup of the bean-salsa mixture. Top with some of the tomatoes and cheese. Folds egg tortilla in half and then in half again to form burrito. Keep warm while preparing remaining burritos. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream; sprinkle with mint. If you like, serve with additional salsa. Makes 6 servings.
Breakfast Trifle
1 1/2 c. of 1-inch chunks fresh pineapple or one 20-ounce can pineapple chunks (juice pack)
1 c. halved fresh strawberries
1 c. fresh blueberries
1 c. seedless green grapes
1 4-serving-size instant banana cream pudding and pie filling mix
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. sour cream
2 T. slided almonds, toasted
  • Drain canned pineapple well (if using) and pat dry with paper towels. In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart trifle bowl or individual clear glasses, layer pineapple chunks, strawberries, blueberries and grapes; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, combine dry pudding mix, milk and sour cream. Whisk for 2 minutes or until thickened; let stand 5 minutes. Pour over fruit. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours. Sprinkle with almonds before serving. Makes 6 servings.
Overnight Coffee Cake
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 15-ounce carton ricotta cheese
3/4 c. chopped nuts (I use pecans)
1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
2 T. toasted wheat germ
1 T. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground nutmeg
  • Grease bottom and 1/2-inch up the sides of a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar; beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in ricotta cheese. Beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can. Stir in any remaining flour mixture with a wooden spoon. Spread batter into the prepared pan.
  • In a bowl, combine nuts, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle evenly over batter in pan. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover coffee cake and bake for 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool slightly in pan on a wire rack. Serve warm.

Chocolate Chai
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c. water
8 chai-flavor tea bags
4 c. milk
Kahlua (optional)
  • In a large saucepan, combine sugar and cocoa powder. Stir in 1/2 cup of the water until smooth. Add remaining water, whisking until combined. Heat to boiling; remove from heat. Add tea bags. Cover and steep for 20 minutes. Remove and discard tea bags, squeezing liquid from tea bags.
  • Stir milk and Kahlua, if using, into chocolate mixture and heat just to simmering. Whisk to make frothy. Pour into cups. Makes about 8 servings =D

Bread Season

Deborah from Taste and Tell has definitely inspired me! She has a challenge of her own started that reviews a cookbook of her choice every month. From what I understand, Deborah has decided to try three recipes out of the cookbook of choice to deliver a fair try and then at the end of the month, she gives a review. I think trying several recipes out of a chosen cookbook is an awesome idea because there is always a chance that the first recipe just may not be up my alley, even though the ingredient's list and the title of a recipe may sound wonderful. The second and third recipe could end up being creations that I will no longer be able to live without. . .you know, it could happen. Well, My Cookbook of choice for this month is Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery
This bread book is all about starters from sour dough starters to rye starters. I have been wanting to try my own sour dough bread and have a tradition to keep for years to come! My Mom used to make all of our family bread every week. Never store bought bread, never ever! I completely miss the aroma emitting from the kitchen of fresh baked bread. Now I will just start making my own. =D