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 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.
Vickie, one of my officemates, brought in some little olive sandwiches and I got to try one. Delicious! I thought they would be perfect to serve at my Mother’s Day Tea Party. She told me what all she put in hers (cream cheese, garlic powder, a little ranch dressing….) but I can’t remember what all the ingredients were that she used and I didn’t write anything down so I decided to try and make my own version when I got home. My sandwiches are simpler with less ingredients in the filling, but I think they came out just as good.
OLIVE TEA SANDWICHES
1 pkg. (8 ozs.) cream cheese, softened
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ cup chopped pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives
½ cup chopped pecans
1 tbsp. olive juice
1 loaf soft white or wheat bread
Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, olives, pecans, and olive juice.
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!
This strange sounding recipe is one of Trisha Yearwood’s. I watched her make it on TV and immediately rushed to the kitchen to try making it myself. O-M-G!!! It was sooo good! The family loved it! Such an unusual recipe and surprisingly yummy! And the best part…. it was super easy to make. You’ve just got to try this one.
SWEET AND SALTINES
35 to 40 saltine crackers
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 cup light brown sugar
8 ozs. semisweet chocolate chips (about 1⅓ cups)
Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Line 1 large or 2 small jellyroll pans with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Arrange the saltines salt side down in a single layer.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together and boil for a few minutes until it turns a caramel color.
Remove from heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly.
Put the jellyroll pan into the oven and bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until just bubbly, watching carefully so as not to burn.
Remove from oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crackers.
Wait a minute or so and when the heat melts the chips a bit, spread the chocolate over the crackers with a knife or an offset spatula.
Place the pan in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely cold. They will form one solid sheet.
Break up into pieces.
Store in an airtight container. That is…… assuming you have any left to store!
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.
I’ve had this recipe a long time. I don’t remember where I got it. It’s probably from one of my old cookbooks, though I don’t remember which one. I made it once years ago and then never made it again. For the life of me, I don’t know why. They were a hit when I made them all those years go. These tartlets are not only yummy, but they’re super-duper easy to make. The recipe makes a lot, too, which is perfect for a party or get-together.
2 ozs. bittersweet chocolate, chopped or bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Place phyllo dough shells on a cookie sheet.
In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; then reduce heat to medium-low.
Continue to cook, without stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes or until butter becomes brown and fragrant.
Remove from heat and cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla and salt. Whisk vigorously to combine.
Whisk browned butter into egg mixture.
Stir in toffee pieces.
Spoon filling into tartlet shells.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until tops are light brown.
Transfer carefully to wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Melt chocolate in microwave in 30-second increments, stirring until smooth.
Drizzle melted chocolate on top of cooled tartlets in any design you want.
Let stand until set.
You should get at least 40 tartlets (if not more) from this recipe, depending on how full you fill the shells.
If you can’t get toffee pieces, you can substitute chocolate-covered toffee candybars, like Skor, Heath or Daim, and chop them up.
To store, layer tartets between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. If frozen, thaw tartlets at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.
I decided to try making petit fours for my Mother’s Day Tea Party this year. I found this Betty Crocker recipe, so armed with all the ingredients and my daughter, Bashful, by my side, we set to work. While I baked up the petit fours and got them glazed, Bashful set about rolling the gummy candies and cutting out adorable little flower and leaf shapes to place on top of each one. Don’t they look cute? I think she did an excellent job!
Petit Fours (pronounced peti fur) are a confectionery typically made of tiny little pound cakes or sponge cakes that are glazed and decorated. The name petit fours is French in origin and literally means “small oven.” They can be covered with fondant or coated with any flavor of frosting or glaze. Sometimes they’re filled with jam, chocolate, buttercream frosting, or whipped cream. Decorated with piped rosettes, hearts or ribbons, chocolate swirls, fondant flowers, dragees, nonpareils, or any tiny edible ornamentation, they make a sweet and elegant addition to a baby or bridal shower, afternoon tea, or dessert table.