I saw Ina Garten make these crackers on Food TV and they looked so good that I just had to try them. I decided to make them for our next movie night. They were sort of a cross between a cracker and a savory shortbread. Delicious with a chilled glass of crisp, white wine. I think they’ll also make a great accompaniment to the cocktails at our next cocktail party. Yummm….. Definitely a keeper!
JALAPEÑO CHEDDAR CRACKERS
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
⅛ tsp. baking powder
1¾ sticks cold unsalted butter, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
5 ozs. extra sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated
1 Tbsp. minced and seeded jalapeño pepper
¼ tsp. chipotle chili powder
3 Tbsp. ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk, for egg wash
Fleur de sel or sea salt
Place the flour, kosher salt, and baking powder in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse to mix.
Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add the cheese, jalapeño, and chipotle chili powder and pulse again.
Add the ice water all at once and continue pulsing until the mixture begins to form a ball.
Dump the dough onto a floured board, gather and press it into a ball, then roll it into a 14-inch log.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Cut the dough in 3/8-inch thick slices.
Place the crackers on the prepared sheet pan, brush tops with egg wash, and sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel.
I had a bunch of blueberries that I needed to use up. Today didn’t feel like a blueberry pie kind of day so I decided to make cake instead. Blueberries and lemon form the perfect sweet and sour flavor combination. Specially if you get blueberries when they’re in season and are at their peak, practically bursting with juicy sweetness. This recipe makes a super moist cake that’s great for breakfast or for an afternoon snack with a nice cup of hot tea.
Speaking of which, I saw a picture somewhere (probably on Pinterest) of a blueberry cake that was cut in small little rounds so I decided to try doing that. I baked one loaf cake with half my batter, but poured the other half of the batter into an 8-inch round pan to make a thinner cake which I cut into little circles with a mini-biscuit cutter. Don’t those look adorable? How perfect for a dessert table or for my annual Mother’s Day tea party!
BLUEBERRY LEMON BREAD
2 cups fresh blueberries
3 cups flour + 2 tbsp. for tossing with blueberries
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 cup plain yogurt (can substitute sour cream)
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
1 tsp. vanilla or lemon extract
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. butter, melted
¼ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom and sides of two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.
Toss blueberries in 2 tbsp. flour. This helps keep them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf. Set aside.
Combine 3 cups flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
In another bowl, whisk eggs together; then whisk in melted butter, milk, yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla.
Pour into dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Gently fold blueberries into batter.
Divide batter into prepared pans and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pans.
Make topping by mixing lemon juice and melted butter together.
Brush lemon-butter mixture on top of loaves.
Sprinkle with a heavy layer of sugar while tops are still wet.
NOTE: My kids love the crunchy sugar topping made by sprinkling granulated sugar over the loaves, but if you prefer to have a glaze for the topping, just omit the butter, replace the granulated sugar with 1 cup of powdered sugar, and stir in 2-3 tbsp. of lemon juice till it reaches a good consistency for drizzling.
A nice trick to help you remove a cake from a loaf pan is to line the bottom of the loaf pan with a strip of parchment paper long enough to go up the short sides and stick out at least a couple of inches past the edge of the pan on either side. After your cake has cooled for 10 minutes, grasp the ends of the parchment paper that stick out past the loaf pan and use them like handles to lift the cake up and out. You can then tip the cake on its side to peel the parchment strip off.
I read about Coconut Toast on this blog called Laugh With Us Blog. It reminded me of this Filipino coconut dessert we ate all the time growing up. It was called “bukayo.” Bukayo is a native coconut “candy” made by cooking fresh grated coconut and sugar together. One of these days, I’ll have to post a recipe for you guys so you can see what it’s like. Our cusinera (cook) — yes, we had a cook when I was growing up — used to make it for us for an afternoon snack all the time. It’s usually shaped into little balls or little flat patties, but Manang Francisca used to just pile it all into a bowl and we each got to have a tablespoon or two of it. Saved her the work of rolling it into balls, I guess.
Anyway, the coconut in this recipe is prepared a bit differently as it has egg in it, but it reminded me a lot of bukayo. Of course, piling it onto bread takes it up a notch. How clever is that? Then you actually get to eat it with your fingers! No spoon needed. And eat it you will! Esther from Laugh With Us Blog wasn’t kidding when she said this was a must try. OMG! You’ll not only eat it with your fingers, but you’ll lick every little crumb off said fingers, too! It’s that good!
½ cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flaked coconut
9-12 slices of bread
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In a medium bowl, mix the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla and coconut together.
Spread the mixture onto each slice of bread.
Arrange bread on an ungreased cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until toast is lightly browned.
NOTE: The original recipe is supposed to make enough mixture to cover 12 slices of bread. Apparently, we slather it on a lot thicker than that because we only get 9 slices of bread per recipe. LOL! Just spread the mixture on as thickly as you like. You’ll get anywhere from 9 to 12 pieces of toast.
Also, for those of you looking to cut down on your sugar intake, I’ve made this recipe with only 3/4 cup of sugar. It’s just as delicious as it is with the full amount.
To add to the treats I was making for the kids this Halloween, I decided to make some fondant ghosts. You can make your own homemade fondant like I did, or buy ready-made fondant. Obviously, homemade marshmallow fondant tastes a hundred times better than the store bought kind, but it can be a pain to make so it’s entirely up to you. The ghost bodies underneath the fondant are made by stacking chocolate candies that you “glue” together with melted chocolate chips. Whether you choose to make your own fondant or buy the ready-made kind, assembling these ghosts is definitely easy and fun to do! They look adorable on your Halloween table, too.
HALLOWEEN FONDANT GHOSTS
1 recipe marshmallow fondant (or you can buy ready-made white fondant)
1 bag Reese’s miniature peanut butter cups
1 box Whoppers malted milk balls
2-3 tbsp. chocolate chips, to use as “glue”
powdered sugar or cornstarch, for dusting
1 tube of black ready-to-use decorating icing
Heat chocolate chips in microwave in 30-second increments until completely melted.
Smear a little melted chocolate on top of a Reese’s peanut butter cup and press a second cup on top of it. This is your ghost’s body.
Next, smear a little dollop of melted chocolate on a Whopper and press it onto your peanut butter cup stack. This is your ghost’s head.
Knead the fondant till it’s soft and pliable.
Dust work surface with powdered sugar or cornstarch.
Pull off a piece of fondant and cover the rest with a damp towel. I like to work with fondant in small batches to keep the big piece of fondant from drying out.
Roll out the piece of fondant you pulled to a little less than a quarter inch thick.
Cut out 4½-inch circles from the fondant.
Break off another piece of fondant, roll, and cut out more circles.
Repeat till you have the number of circles you need for however many ghosts you’re making.
Drape a fondant circle over a chocolate stack, arranging it so it drapes in nice folds.
Pipe two eyes with black decorating icing. If desired, you could add an “O” shaped mouth as well.
These ghosts can be served as is, or use them as cupcake toppers or to decorate a cake.
I decided to make some marshmallow pops for the kids this Halloween. I’d seen a picture somewhere of cupcakes decorated with a Frankenstein head which gave me the inspiration for these Frankenstein Marshmallow Pops. They were fun to make. Just plan on giving yourself a little time to let the corn syrup dry after you roll the sugar onto the marshmallows and to let the icing dry after you pipe on the hair and faces. If you can start making these a day or two before you want to hand them out, all the better.
Also, having the right piping tips makes easy work of piping Frank’s hair and face. I used a “grass” tip to do the hair and a fine round tip to pipe his eyes and mouth. I also found this bottle of Wilton bug sprinkles at my local grocery store which I thought would be perfect to use for Frank’s bolts. If you can’t find the same bug sprinkles, you can use candy coated licorice which will be just as cute.
FRANKENSTEIN MARSHMALLOW POPS
1 bag marshmallows
¼ cup light corn syrup
green decorating sugar
store bought green, black, and red icing
Wilton bug sprinkles, for bolts (or could subsitute black candy coated licorice)
Lightly brush bottom and sides of a marshmallow with corn syrup. No need to brush the top of the marshmallow because it will be covered with icing “hair.”
Press the bottom and roll the sides in green sugar until well coated.
Set aside to dry for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Once dry, stab a lollipop stick into the sugar-coated bottom of each marshmallow.
Cut some green Rips candy into small strips to use for Frankenstein’s brow.
Glue the brow to the top of each marshmallow with green icing.
Using a grass piping tip, pipe hair onto the top of each marshmallow by squeezing a little icing out, then stopping and pulling straight up.
I make these bars a lot during zucchini season. The zucchini is like a “surprise ingredient” that fools everybody. They all think it’s apple and don’t believe me when I tell them it’s zucchini. These bars are delicious, and best of all, are so easy to make. My family loves to eat them warm with a scoop of ice cream. Give them a try and see if they don’t surprise you, too.
ZUCCHINI CRUMBLE BARS
For the Filling:
8-10 cups zucchini, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 4-5 lbs.)
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 2-3 tbsp. cold water (this is called a slurry)
In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook zucchini, lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stirring occasionally until zucchini is crisp-tender, about 15-20 minutes.
While stirring constantly, pour in slurry (cornstarch water mixture). It is important to keep stirring as the slurry will thicken the mixture very quickly.
Continue to cook and stir, 1-2 minutes more, until mixture is thick and glossy.
Remove from heat and set aside.
For the Crust:
4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
2 cups cold butter, cut in cubes
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
Cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Set aside about 3 cups of the crust mixture for topping.
Press remaining crust mixture into bottom of prepared baking pan.
Pour zucchini mixture over crust, spreading evenly to edges.
Crumble remaining crust mixture over zucchini mixture.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until top crust is golden brown.
I haven’t made these muffins in a long time. I don’t really know why. Maybe because my kids are grown up now? But when they were younger, I made these muffins a lot. The kids really loved them. They’re great for breakfast, brunch, or an after school snack. They’re also great packed for dessert in a school lunchbox. I love them warm with an ice cold glass of milk. Mmmmm………
1½ cups self-rising flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
¾ cup sugar
½ cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
extra melted butter for topping
Mix flour, oats, and ¾ cup sugar together.
In another bowl, mix egg, butter, vanilla, and milk together.
Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir until just combined.
Fill 12 muffin cups 2/3 full.
Bake at 400ºF for 12 minutes or until light golden brown.
While muffins are baking, mix ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon together for topping.
When muffins are done, brush tops with a little melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar topping mixture.
I love dulce de leche. It’s so delicious, I can eat it by the spoonful! I thought it would be fun to make some kind of bars with dulce de leche in them. So I made up this recipe with a blondie base and ready-made dulce de leche. It turned out great! The kids loved them. I’ll definitely be making these again!
I’ve been making this cake for years. It’s so good and easy to prepare. It always turns out moist and flavorful. I also love its versatility. If you don’t have margarine or butter, you could substitute butter-flavored Crisco shortening, or even use cooking oil if you’re really desperate. You could bake it in a loaf pan instead of a bundt pan if you want a more traditional “butter cake” look. I like to make small loaves of this cake (as pictured below) to give to my neighbors during the holidays. You could also exchange the flavorings and use lemon extract and lemon yogurt to make a delicious lemon cake that goes great with a nice cup of hot tea. Hmmm……. I wonder….. what if we tried orange extract and orange yogurt, or strawberry extract and strawberry yogurt, or almond extract and plain yogurt?….. The possibilities are endless, don’t you think?
1 cup margarine or butter
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2¼ cups all purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 8-oz. container vanilla yogurt
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla extract.
Alternately beat in flour mixture and yogurt until just incorporated. Do not over mix. It’s okay if batter is still lumpy.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Allow to cool 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Summer is State Fair time in California. The State Fair makes me think of corn dogs. I love corn dogs. Corn dogs bring back warm, fuzzy memories of state fairs and carnivals past. There’s nothing like wandering around the fair taking in all the sights and smells with a corndog-on-a-stick smothered in mustard clutched in your hand.
I saw a recipe for mini corn dog muffins on the Kraft website and thought they looked like fun so I decided to try it. They turned out so good! The Kraft recipe has you poke a little cube of cheese into the muffin next to the hotdog. That actually sounds yummy to me too! I’m going to have to try that next time! I remember eating cheese dogs when I was a kid. A cheese dog was basically a hotdog-on-a-stick but with a log of gooey, melty cheese in place of the hotdog. They were oh-so-good!
If you can’t make it to the State Fair, give these tasty little muffins a try. They’re baked so they’re a healthier alternative to a deep-fried corn dog, but they’re every bit as nostalgic and addictive!
MINI CORN DOG MUFFINS
1 pkg. (15 oz.) cornbread muffin mix (I used Krusteaz)
6 beef hotdogs, each cut into 4 pieces (about 1-inch)
Preheat oven to 400ºF and grease 24 mini muffin cups.
Prepare cornbread muffin mix according to package directions.
Fill muffin cups half full with cornbread batter.
Push a piece of hotdog down center of batter in each cup.
Bake 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from muffin pan.