Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pave Normandy

My friend Kim gave me this recipe and I LOVE it! Not only is it delicious, it's easy. Can't beat that!

Puffed Pastry Sheet
Sliced ham
Sliced Swiss Cheese
Sour Cream

Thaw the puffed pastry sheet a little bit. Just enough that you can break it into the three sections that are already cut. Take one of the sections and spread sour cream on it. Layer ham and cheese on top of the sour cream. Place another section of the pastry on top. Repeat sour cream, ham, and cheese once more. Place the final section of puffed pastry on top. Spread sour cream. Bake according to package directions or until the pastry is puffy and golden.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Strada (Breakfast Casserole)

This is a dish we used to have every Christmas morning growing up. You prepare it the night before and put it in the oven the next morning. By the time all the presents are unwrapped, it's ready!

8 cubed bread slices (or 1 box croutons)
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 lbs. browned sausage, cut in quarters
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
3/4 tsp. dry mustard

1/2 cup milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Toss together bread cubes, cheese, and sausage. Place in a greased 9x13 baking dish. Mix together eggs, milk, and mustard. Pour over the first mixture. Let stand in refrigerator overnight. Before cooking, mix milk and soup and pour over the fondue. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

- Jensa

Loraine's Spaghetti

This is a family favorite and we all beg grandma to send us home with the leftovers. I think what makes this special is the green pepper. A very sneaky way to get some veggies in.

1 lb. lean hamburger
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cans (16 oz. each) tomato sauce
1/2 cup V-8 vegetable drink
2 peeled baby carrots
1/2 green pepper
1 tsp. beef bouillon granules
1/8 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 can tomato paste
1 TB water

In a large stock pot, brown the ground beef with chopped onion. Get rid of lumps by crumbling with clean hands or use a pastry cutter. In a blender, puree 8 oz. of the tomato sauce, carrots, and green pepper. Pour this mixture into the pot with the ground beef. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a quick boil; lower heat and simmer a minimum of 1 hour. The longer the better. Serve over angel hair spaghetti.

- Jensa

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pumpkin Crunch

Just tried this tonight - pretty good! It tastes just like pumpkin pie, but with a twist...

1 can pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp sugar
1 box spice cake mix
½ cup chopped nuts*
1 cup melted butter
whipped cream (for topping)

In a large bowl mix the pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, and cinnamon. Pour into a greased 9x9 cake pan. Sprinkle cake mix over the top of the pumpkin mixture and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Pour the melted butter over all. Bake at 350º for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool and top with whipped cream. Serves 9.

*Anything crunchy will do. I used a granola/almond mixture, but pecans, coconut, or walnuts will work also.

- Jensa

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fruit Pizza

I got this recipe from my friend Dawn who is a fellow fruit lover. It's quick and easy...and a teeny bit healthy. I half this recipe if it's just for my family.

2 rolls sugar cookie dough

16 oz. strawberry cream cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

anything else you like!

Spread cookie dough evenly onto a baking sheet or pizza pan. Bake according to package directions and cool. In a bowl mix cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until blended. Spread over cooled crust. Sprinkle liberally with fruit. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serves 12.

- Jensa

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Zephyr Pancakes

Here's another of my favorite recipes from My Kitchen Cafe. These are THE BEST pancakes on the planet. Hands down. Just look at the ingredients and you'll know why. :-)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2½ tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1¼ cups heavy cream
1¼ cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cream, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry, just until combined (may be lumpy).

Scoop the batter onto a lightly greased griddle with a ¼ cup. Keep heat slightly less than medium. The pancakes will puff up very high. When the first side is golden brown and the edges start to look dry, turn the pancakes over to finish cooking the second side.

- Jensa

Macaroni Soup

I just tried out this yummy recipe and it's perfect for a cold day. Plus it's easy...even better!

1 cup macaroni
1 lb hamburger
1 can french onion soup
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can beef broth
garlic, Italian seasonings (optional)

Cook macaroni as per package directions. Brown hamburger. Toss together in a pot. Add onion soup, tomatoes, and beef broth. Warm and eat! Serves 6.

And I served mine with these yummy (and also easy) bread sticks.

- Jensa

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cupcakes

My friend gave me this recipe and it is extremely moist and delish! Not to mention (a little) healthy.

1½ cups sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup oil
2 cups grated zucchini (packed)
4 TB cocoa (heaping)
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup buttermilk
2½ cups flour
chocolate chips

Mix sugar, eggs, oil, zucchini, and cocoa. Add soda and salt. Then add flour alternating with buttermilk. Pour into lined muffin tins (about half full) then sprinkle desired amount of chocolate chips on top of each cupcake. Bake at 325º for 12 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Carrie's Cheesecake

Ryan's cousin is a pastry chef and fed us this delectable dessert last weekend. I consider myself a cheesecake connoisseur, and this is the BEST New York cheesecake I've ever put in my mouth.

5 tablespoons butter, melted
⅓ cup sugar
1½ cups crushed graham crackers

2¼ packages cream cheese, room temperature
1¼ cup sugar
2¾ teaspoons lemon juice
2¾ teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs

Mix crust ingredients and press into springform pan. Add filling ingredients to the mixing bowl in order, scraping down the bowl after each addition, making sure it is smooth. If you mix for too long after the eggs it will become aerated. You don't want that. Pour the filling on top of the crust. Bake in a preheated 300 deg oven for 1½ to 2¼ Hours! Patience is a virtue here. I like to put them on a sheet pan and rotate them in the oven once or twice through. I pull mine out when a thermostat reads 150-155 deg F.

- Jensa

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kettle Corn

So easy- so good!

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup popcorn kernels

1. Heat oil in a pot. I put in 3 kernels and when they pop you know the oil is hot and ready.
2. Pour in the sugar and give it a little stir. Then dump in the popcorn and cover with a lid.
3. Alternate shaking every 3 seconds and letting it sit on the stove 3 seconds.
4. When popping has stopped, lift the lid, shake a little salt on and then recover and shake again.
5. Pour in a bowl and enjoy!

It's like being at the county fair but without all the mullets.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Indoor S'Mores

3/4 C light corn syrup
3 tbsp butter
1 pkg milk chocolate morsels
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg Golden Grahams Cereal
3 C miniature marshmallows

Grease 9x13 inch pan. Heat syrup, butter and morsels in microwave safe dish until melted (about 2 mins). Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla. Pour over cereal in bowl, toss until coated. Fold in marshmallows one cup at a time. Press into greased pan. Let stand 1 hour. Store at room temp.

Friday, July 17, 2009

To Die For Blueberry Muffins

Just picked some fresh blueberries and made these from Your search for the perfect blueberry muffin recipe is over!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

- Jensa

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ice Cream in a Bag

We made this last time we went camping. It's fun with a little reward at the end!

1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup milk or half & half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons rock salt
1 pint-size plastic food storage bag (e.g., Ziploc)
1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
Ice cubes
duct tape

Fill the large bag half full of ice, and add the rock salt. Seal the bag. Put milk, vanilla, and sugar into the small bag, and seal it. Place the small bag inside the large one, and seal it again carefully. Wrap the bag in newspaper then duct tape. Shake and toss until the mixture is ice cream, which takes about 5 minutes. Open duct tape/newspaper, wipe off the top of the small bag, then open it carefully. Enjoy! (Sidenote: 1/2 cup milk will make about 1 scoop of ice cream, so double the recipe if you want more. But don't increase the proportions more that that -- a large amount might be too big for kids to pick-up because the ice itself is heavy.)

- Jensa

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Girl Scout Cookie Recipes!!!

Oh man- I just found this website... and I'm trying to decide which one to try making first... I'll let you know how it turns out!

Click Here

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Strawberry Ice Cream

When the temperature goes up, the ice cream maker comes out. My sister-in-law gave me this recipe and it's, hands down, the best ice cream recipe I have ever tried. (Just look at the can you go wrong?)

1 small box instant vanilla pudding (made with box directions, milk added)
2 cups mashed berries
2 cups sugar
1 pint whipping cream
1 can evaporated milk

Mix above ingredients and pour into ice cream maker canister.

rock salt

Following your ice cream maker directions, layer ice and rock salt around the canister and turn on. Keep ice filled to the top of the canister throughout the process. It should take about 20 minutes to solidify. Eat outside on a lawn chair or hammock. :-)

- Jensa

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Key Lime Jello

Easy peasy! And a flavorful side dish.

1 box lemon cook-and-serve Jello
1 small box lime gelatin Jello

Cook lemon Jello according to package directions (with sugar, egg yolks, etc.). Cook lime gelatin according to package directions minus 1/4 cup of cold water. Mix together both warm Jello's until combined and pour into a 9X9 pan. Let set in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
- Jensa

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

No Peek Chocolate Cake

I just tried out this recipe over the weekend and MAN is it good. It's the richest moist chocolate cake I've had in a long time. And it even stayed moist for several days afterward.

1 chocolate cake mix
2c sour cream
2 small boxes instant chocolate pudding
1 bag chocolate chips
¾ c. oil
4 eggs
1c water

Mix above ingredients together in a bowl. Spray a crockpot with cooking spray. Pour the mixture into the crockpot. Cook on low for 4 hours. Don't lift the lid until it's done! Can be served with French Vanilla ice cream

- Jensa

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Black Bottom Cupcakes

It's my personal philosophy that anything with cream cheese in it has to be delicious. By default.

This recipe is adapted from (And no worries, you can't taste the vinegar after the batter is baked.)


For the filling:
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces whipped cream cheese, at room

2 1/4 cups cold water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Position the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.

Make the filling
In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the egg, sugar and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the filling mixture into the pastry bag using a glass to prop it open. Set the filled pastry bag aside.

Mix the liquids
In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the water, oil, vanilla and balsamic vinegar. (There's no need to stir these. Just put them together in the cup.) Set aside.

Make the batter
In a large bowl, using a whisk, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar and salt until evenly blended. Slowly pour the water mixture into the flour mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth.

Pour in the batter
The cupcake batter will be quite runny. If your bowl has a spout, you can pour the batter directly into the muffin cups. Otherwise, it will be easiest to pour the batter into the liquid measuring cup and use it to fill the cups. Fill each lined muffin cup three-fourths full. Do not fill them any fuller than that or there will not be anywhere for the filling to go when the batter rises.

Add the filling
Pick up the pastry bag. Plugging the tip with one hand, twist the top of the bag to close it. Using one hand to guide the tip and the other to squeeze the top of the bag, insert the tip into the center of one of the cupcakes. Gently squeeze a small amount of the cream cheese filling into the batter. You will see the chocolate batter rise as the filling fills the middle. Keeping in mind that you need to fill 24 cupcakes, squeeze a small amount into each one.

Bake the cupcakes
Sprinkle the top of each cupcake with the chocolate chips. Put the muffin pans in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 26 to 28 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and put them on the cooling racks. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then lift out the cupcakes and put them directly on the racks. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ryan's Wheat Bread

2 1/2 cups wheat flour
3 cups white flour
1/4 cup melted butter
1 TB yeast
1/2 TB salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 cup milk

Mix water and yeast and let sit for 5 minutes. Mix remaining ingredients then knead in kitchen aid for 2-3 minutes. Let rise in the bowl until double in size. Punch down then separate into two loaves (dough will be sticky). Put dough into 2 greased bread pans. Let rise again until double in size. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.
- Jensa

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Frosted Banana Bars

I will never make regular banana bread again! These were so dang good (tweaked from

¼ cup butter, softened
¾ cups granulated sugar
1 egg
½ cup sour cream
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking soda
dash of salt
2 mashed ripe bananas

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9x13 pan. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
dash of salt
½ tsp vanilla
¾ cups heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Set aside. In another medium bowl, beat whipped cream until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture and frost banana bars. Yum!

- Jensa

Sunday, March 1, 2009


3 cups flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
2 1/2 cups water
2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. dark brown sugar
oil for deep frying
sugar and cinnamon to roll in

Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside. Bring measured water to a boil then add salt ans brown sugar, stirring constantly until dissolved. Remove from heat and add flour and baking powder. Beat until smooth with either beaters or a fork.

Beat in eggs one at a time until smooth and glossy. Set batter aside to cool. Put into a piping bag with a star nozzle. (when I did this with my roommates we didnt have one so we just rolled it with our hands. It didn't turn out as pretty but then we could make it into different shapes- donuts, balls, hearts, etc.)

Have a pan or deep fryer with at least 2- inches deep of oil. Heat to 375 degrees F. Place batter in oil and let cook until golden brown (or longer if your churro is really thick). Then roll immediately into cinnamon and sugar mixture. Let cool a few minutes before eating.

These were seriously some of the best churros I've ever had!!!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches

Since we have late church this year, we're ALL about the crock pot dishes. This one came from My Kitchen Cafe.

1½ cups beef broth
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian salad dressing mix (such as Good Seasons brand)
1 (5 pound) chuck roast
24 slices provolone cheese
12 sandwich rolls

Combine water and beef broth with salt, ground black pepper, oregano, basil, onion salt, parsley, garlic powder, bay leaf, and salad dressing mix. Whisk to combine.Place roast in slow cooker, and pour salad dressing mixture over the meat. Cover, and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours, or on High for 4 to 5 hours. When done, remove bay leaf, and shred meat with a fork (I did this step about 45 minutes before eating so the shredded meat had time to absorb more of the juices in the crock pot). Serve on crusty rolls with cheese.

- Jensa

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Baked Rigatoni

One of my favorite meatless dishes....

1 TB olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1 cup heavy cream
½ + ¼ cup grated Parmesan
16 oz rigatoni

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden but not browned, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices, red pepper, oregano, salt, and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 20 minutes. Stir in cream and ½ cup Parmesan cheese. Cook rigatoni according to the package directions. Add the drained rigatoni to the tomato sauce and toss to coat. Transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish and top with ¼ cup grated Parmesan. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.


Pepperoni Pizza Hot Pockets

To cook a Hot Pocket, put it inside its little crisping sleeve and shove it into your microwave. Nuke according to your directions (for the extremely lazy, just put two in the microwave and press the number 3 thrice to get 3:33), and wait a few minutes once they're cooked for the heat to disseminate throughout the filling. The odd part about Hot Pockets is that if you eat them right away, the outside will be blistering hot... and the inside will still be frozen. I suspect this has something to do with the crisping sleeve, but just letting itsettle for a few minutes seems to solve the problem.
This is obviously just a joke. But I thought Jensa and Elise would get a kick out of it! ;)
Jim Gaffigan gives more thorough instructions...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Grandma's Snickerdoodles

This is an old family favorite!

1 cup butter (room temperature)
1½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2⅔ cup flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Mix butter, sugar, and eggs thoroughly. Sift dry ingredients and add to cream mixture. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll into balls (walnut size) then roll into mixture of 2 TB sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until golden brown but still soft.

- Jensa

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Spinach Strawberry Pecan Salad

I've had this several times at weddings, and finally took the time to search for and try it! I love it! A little like some of the other spinach salads out there- but still one of my favorites!


1 bag baby spinach
1 pint (or really about 1/2 a pint) strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup pecans (I like the ones that are already broken up)
* Lane likes to add crumbled feta or blue cheese also... hey, he's a cheese guy!


  • 1/3 cup vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup sugar or splenda
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard (the seasoning kind)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Place spinach, sliced strawberries and pecans in bowl. Toss with dressing. Sprinkle a few more strawberries and pecans and wah-la! Delicious salad!

South Beach Favorites- Mashed "Potatoes"

So we NEVER have real mashed potatoes now, unless it's Thanksgiving. This is such an easy way to get some vegetables in, and the kids never even know the difference!! (Jensa- have you tried this one yet with Chase and Ava? and Ryan...)



  1. Steam or microwave cauliflower until soft. (I just use a head of cauliflower, cut off the big stem and then put it in a bowl with some water, covering it with some saran wrap.

  2. Puree cauliflower in food processor (or blender) and add butter spray and half and half to taste.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Swiss Mushroom Chicken

This is one of Ryan's favorite chicken recipes:

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 egg
1 cup crushed butter-flavored crackers (about 25 crackers)
¾ tsp. salt
½ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 TB butter or margarine, divided
4 slices ham or salami
4 slices Swiss cheese

Flatten chicken to ¼-inch thickness. In a shallow bowl, lightly beat the egg. Combine cracker crumbs and salt in another shallow bowl. Dip chicken in egg, then in crumbs; set aside. In a large ovenproof skillet, saute mushrooms in 1 TB butter until tender; remove and set aside. In the same skillet, melt remaining butter. Add chicken; cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until juices run clear. Top each chicken breast half with a ham slice, mushrooms, and a cheese slice. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Yield: 4 servings.

- Jensa

Sesame Chicken Dip

I just tried this out the other day and really like it! It fills that asian snacky craving.

2 TB soy sauce
4 tsp. sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
3 pkgs (8 oz. each) cream cheese
8 green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped salted peanuts
2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
1 jar (10 oz.) sweet-and- sour sauce
sesame crackers

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic; add the chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Spread cream cheese onto a large serving platter; top with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with onions, peanuts, and spinach. Drizzle with sweet-and-sour sauce. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with crackers (makes 36 servings, ¼ cup each.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chockablock Chocolate Cakes with Warm Macadamia Nut Goo

My friend made these for me for Christmas. She divided out the recipe and baked the cakes in canning jars - what a cute idea! And this cake is super moist.
For the cake:
3 cups sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/8 cups cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups very hot water

For the caramel:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted

A large sheet pan with sides, about 13 by 17 inches
Parchment or waxed paper
A 2-inch (approximately) round biscuit or cookie cutter

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a sheet pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment or waxed paper.

Sift together the 3 cups sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Transfer to a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or use a hand mixer) and blend briefly.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for 5 minutes. Gradually add the hot water, mixing at low speed just until combined. The batter will be quite thin.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (a few crumbs are okay) and the center feels firm to the touch, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan. Chill, covered, until ready to cut the cake.

Meanwhile, make the caramel: Pour the 1 1/4 cups sugar into the center of a deep saucepan. Carefully pour the water around the walls of the pan, trying not to splash any sugar onto the walls. Do not stir; gently draw your finger twice through the center of the sugar, making a cross, to moisten it. Over high heat, bring to a full boil and cook without stirring, swirling the pan occasionally to even out the color, until medium caramel in color, 5 to 10 minutes. Immediately turn off the heat and use a wooden spoon to slowly and carefully stir in the cream (it will bubble up and may splatter). Stir in the macadamia and coconut. Set aside.

When ready to serve, cut rounds of the chilled cake with a biscuit or cookie cutter, 2 to 3 inches in diameter. If the cake seems to be sticking, dip your cutter in cocoa powder between cuts.

If the sauce has cooled, rewarm it over low heat (or in a microwave) until softened. Place a cake on each plate, and drizzle with caramel sauce. Place another round of cake on top and drizzle lightly with more caramel sauce.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie Recipe

When I came across a recipe from the Betty Crocker website for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies there was only one thing to do. Race to the grocery store and pick up a couple of things. One Betty Crocker Brownie Mix and one Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie mix. I'm sure these would work with scratch recipes too, but Betty has made it so easy. She's so nice.
Follow the directions on the box for making the brownies and pour into a greased 13 X 9 pan. Make the cookie mix as directed on the pouch and drop by rounded tablespoons into the brownie batter. You'll want to press the dough down lightly.Bake for 35-40 minutes in a 350 degree preheated oven. When they're done, take them out and let them cool completely. For about an hour.Then, you can frost them with chocolate frosting or for a yummier version, do what I did.Whip up some chocolate ganache:

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
6 Tbsp butter
  • In a small saucepan, heat cream and butter until just before the boiling stage.
  • Pour over the chocolate morsels.
  • Let stand about 20 seconds and stir until smooth.
  • Pour over brownies, spread evenly, and let set before cutting.

Now, this is the hardest step. Leave it alone. That's right, you'll want to let the ganache set up. It will be tough, but you can do it.Once the ganache has set, then cut the brownies and enjoy

- Jensa

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Years Traditions

These are our "new" New Year's Traditions! We started to have crab legs for New Years Eve back in PA with some friends of ours the past couple of years, and decided to keep it going!

On New Years Day we decided to start doing fondue (how can you not when you husband has access to so many wonderful cheeses). We just got one of these babies, and what better way to start off the new year (and good eating) than with melted cheese, and chocolate dipped sweets!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Potato Cheese Soup

Perfect winter comfort food...

2-4 cups cut potatoes
4 chicken bullion cubes
½ cup flour
½ cup butter
1 qt. half & half
½ tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. chopped parsley
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Boil together potatoes and bullion until potatoes are soft. In separate pot, heat together flour, butter, and half & half until it thickens. Add potatoes (including water), paprika, salt, and pepper to the half & half mixture. Stir in parsley and cheese. Serve in a hollowed out bread bowl.
- Jensa