Saturday, January 29, 2011


These are actually trifles! What I mean by that is that they are trifles, as in the dessert, but they are also trifles, as in a small quantity of something. I kind of deconstructed my daring bakers challenge when the spongecake didn't work out to my satisfaction and decided instead to bring all the components to our dinner at our friends' house. I whipped up a quick batch of yellow cake as well as some made-from-scratch chocolate pudding. You can see I got my chocolate fix! Woohoo!

I used our friends' stemless wine glasses (which I then came home and promptly bought a set of) to create a layering of yellow cake, raspberry mousse, crushed almond cookies, more yellow cake, lemon mousse, more crushed almond cookies, and topped it off with a few slivered almonds. (My picture doesn't show the double layer of cake because my husband scarfed down the remaining cake before I could tell him I was trying to get a picture of the trifle. Oh well, that's technically what it's there for, right?)

For the chocolate version, I still used the yellow cake, then topped it with chocolate pudding, crushed chocolate cookies, more yellow cake, more chocolate pudding, and more crushed chocolate cookies. Magnificent! It was the chocolate fix I was looking for the other day. I found finally found it!

The yellow cake was just out of a box. I thought after spending so much time on the spongecake the day before and not having it be to my liking I would just go with something I was confident would give the taste and texture I was looking for. The raspberry and lemon mousse recipes can be found on my last post, click here. The almond cookie recipe is still coming so hold on just a little bit longer. That leaves the best for last, chocolate pudding! Enjoy!

Chocolate Cream Pudding
Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt in a heavy saucepan; add milk and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils; boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; blend in butter and vanilla. Pour into bowl or individual dessert dishes; press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Cool; chill until set.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Daring Bakers - Entremets with Biscuit Joconde Imprime

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog Accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

I have to admit that when I first read the title of this challenge I was a bit intimidated. I had no idea what "joconde", "imprime", and "entremets" meant and I really didn't like digging deep and doing research to figure it out. After a few days passed and I read further, I began to get a more clear idea of what this challenge was about. Basically we were to make a spongecake that served as the decorative wrapper for fillings like a mousse or pudding. We could make whatever pattern we wanted for the spongecake wrapper and we could make whatever fillings we wanted for the inside dessert. Very open ended, but almost too much so in my case.

Since this dessert was going to be the first dessert since I began my sugar fast I had a very hard time deciding on the flavors to use. I really, really wanted something chocolate, but since I have made a lot of chocolate desserts I thought maybe I should let my husband pick the flavors. Chocolate with caramel cream or lemon and raspberry? Being that he is not a big fan of chocolate you can probably imagine what he chose. I decided to use the spongecake as the base of the dessert, layer it with raspberry mousse, crushed almond cookies, lemon mousse, wrap it up with the spongecake collar and have it sit in a pool of raspberry coulis.

I first made the almond cookies. Cookies are kind of my thing so I thought I'd start out with a project that I knew I could handle. Break it down into smaller pieces and the project doesn't seem so insurmountable. (I will post the almond cookie recipe at a later date.)

Once the cookies were done and cooled (and frozen because I decided to wait a few days to make the dessert), I then made the lemon mousse. It was fairly straight forward and even though I thought for sure it was never going to set up it turned out to be just fine. The raspberry mousse came next and what a chore it was! Every other time I've made raspberry cheesecake I haven't taken the time to use a sieve to catch the seeds. Now I know why. It takes forever! I also decided to make the raspberry coulis ahead of time and have all the cool components resting in the fridge for the final stages. All of these steps went fairly well . . . up until this point.

Fast forward to it now being about 8:00pm which is getting dangerously close to my bedtime, having waited until my son went to bed so I could have some quiet time in the kitchen while my husband worked on schoolwork. My thoughts were to make a spongecake that mirrored the rare snowy weather we have experienced this winter. My muse was actually the pajamas on my son's Abominable Snowmonster stuffed animal that he got for Christmas, light blue with darker blue and white snowflakes. So cute! However, what I envisioned is not what I saw when it came out of the oven!

First off, I made the amount of paste and batter that the recipe stated, and while I had plenty of paste I didn't have near enough batter. I practiced the snowflake designs I wanted to execute, realized that they were too detailed, scaled them back, and then just squirted the paste on in a snowflake-"ish" pattern when I realized that I wasn't getting what I wanted. I also ended up just doing the snowflakes in "white" because I knew to try them in white and dark blue would probably be a disaster.

So, back to the batter. I made the amount stated in the recipe and knew that it was not going to be enough to cover the pan. In my genius, I decided to color the batter blue to be like the cute little pajamas on Abominable. I guess that even though I teach elementary school the elementary concept of the color wheel escaped my attention. Class, what happens when you add blue food coloring to an off-white/beige batter? Yes, that is correct, you get a greenish color not the periwinkle blue you were going for. Well, drat, now I'm zero for two. At this point I seriously felt like just scraping everything in to the garbage and calling it good, but I managed to persevere and get it into the oven. Yes, you see that right, the blue food coloring failed to completely blend into the batter leaving these beautiful streaks. Oh, I mean that was intentional. I meant to have a cool, modern art piece.

It baked up fairly quickly, I sprinkled a towel with powdered sugar, and when the cake was slightly cooled I flipped it onto the towel. At this point I was still hoping that I had something I could work with. I mean, just a few minutes before I was ready to scrape the swirly pattern batter it in the garbage so now that it baked up it should be all better, right?

Um, no. Now I had big blotches of food coloring (yikes, where did those come from), wrinkles from the parchment paper, and some of my beautiful white snowflakes were browned. It was all I could do to not curl my fingers into the spongecake and rip it into little pieces. Did I mention that I was baking this really close to my bedtime? I think the only thing that stopped me from tearing this into little pieces was the fact that I used 13 eggs in this batter. Yes, 13 eggs, people! Never again will I make something that uses that much of our fridge contents when I'm kind of ho-hum on the idea of baking it.

I managed to trim off the bottom browned edge and cut right above the bottom strip of snowflakes so that I missed any food coloring blotches. Amazingly the spongecake collar fit in the pan, and by this point I was so defeated that I just decided to slap the raspberry mousse, almond cookies, and lemon mousse in before sticking in the freezer so it could harden up for me to get a picture. Imagine my surprise the next morning when it came out looking relatively close to what the finished product should look like. Albeit, the execution of the spongecake was not what I had envisioned, but it miraculously made it through to the other side of the challenge in the form it was supposed to be in.

Sadly, this dessert is still sitting in my freezer. I may take it out someday soon but I also feel an apathy toward it. Is it because it wasn't chocolate? Is it because it turned out a greenish hue? Who knows. I did end up taking the raspberry and lemon mousses and the almond cookies and made a trifle with them for a dessert at our friend's house so I can verify that they are delicious. (I'll be posting the trifle recipe in a few days.)

In the meantime, I hope if you try this challenge that the vision you have in your head is the one that ends up on your plate. Enjoy!

Lemon Mousse recipe - click here
Raspberry Mousse recipe - click here
Raspberry Coulis recipe - click here
Spongecake recipe - email me

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Home-style Scalloped Potatoes

Although I wasn't making many dishes for our Christmas dinner, for those I did make I wanted them to be made from scratch. I've grown up eating and making scalloped potatoes from a box, so imagine my surprise when I ran across a scalloped potato recipe from scratch. I know, that probably sounds funny to some of you, but it really is the truth.

Although it takes a bit more work, peeling and thinly slicing so many potatoes, it really is so much better than those that come out of a box. And it also took about the same amount of time to cook as the prime rib (that is if the prime rib had acted as the label from the butcher said it would) so the main dishes were in the oven on the same temperature for the last 60 to 70 minutes of cooking. These were delicious and each of us had more than one serving before the night was over. Enjoy!  

Home-style Scalloped Potatoes
Makes 8 servings

1/3 cup chopped onion
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
5 cups milk
6 cups thinly sliced potatoes

In a large saucepan, saute onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until blended. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until sauce is thickened.

Place half of potatoes in a greased 3-qt baking dish. Pour half of sauce over potatoes. Repeat layers. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until potatoes are tender and top is lightly browned. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Orange Honey Bread


You may have noticed a lack of sweet treat recipes posted lately, except for those super yummy cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas day. I can't remember if in an earlier post I mentioned that I am fasting from sugar for a period of time. It was during this time of fasting that I went searching for a quick bread recipe where I could use a substitute for sugar. When I am fasting I typically just stay away from anything that even uses substitutes for sugar since it is kind of the principal of the thing that I am fasting for, but this time I gave in to my desires to bake a loaf of bread while my boys were out playing in the snow one afternoon.

This particular recipe makes a very tasty quick bread. It has a great combination of flavors with both the honey and the orange competing for the dominant flavor. I also like the walnuts spread throughout to give each slice a bit of crunch and texture. The only thing I didn't really like about this bread was that it dried out within a few days, even though it was wrapped in plastic. Enjoy!

Orange Honey Bread
Source: Diana's Kitchen

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup honey
1 egg, well beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange peel
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Cream butter and honey together until smooth and creamy. Add beaten egg and grated orange peel. Sift flour with baking powder, soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with orange juice. Add the chopped nuts. 

Bake in a greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pan at 325° for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Serve with butter or a mixture of cream cheese and orange marmalade, if desired.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Prime Rib Roast with Herb Rub accompanied by Au Jus

Christmas dinner for us is usually either ham or prime rib and this is the second year in a row that I have decided it would be prime rib. Some of that decision comes from the fact that we purchase a quarter of a cow in November and we usually can't get through all of the roasts and steaks in a one year time frame unless we purposefully plan when to eat them. And since it is already in our freezer it would be an unnecessary expense to go out and buy a ham. It's also nice to eat something a bit more formal since we've just eaten turkey about a month prior for our Thanksgiving dinner.

For this prime rib I used the same herb rub that I posted earlier for a cross rib roast and it got rave reviews from my family. With the herb rub you didn't even need au jus and horseradish because it was delicious all on its own merit. However, I did make an accompaniment of au jus since sometimes it is nice to have something to dip your meat into for extra flavor and because I didn't realize just how tasty it would be with the herb rub. I would have to say that I liked the prime rib best on its own for Christmas dinner, but I liked the au jus sauce for the leftovers. The au jus recipe is posted below.

For the herb rub recipe, click here. You can cook it the same as the cross rib roast, or at 325 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes per pound. Check temperature to your liking using a meat thermometer.

Au Jus (click here for original recipe)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon beef bouillon granules
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

In a large saucepan, combine the water, bouillon, pepper, garlic salt, and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 15 - 20 minutes.

Side Note: You may need to play around with the pepper a bit to get it to your family's tastes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Apple and Banana Salad

A simple, but delicious fruit and yogurt salad. My son always thinks we are eating an ice cream type dessert because I like to serve this in our parfait glasses with breakfast! Enjoy!

Side Note: This recipe serves 10 to 12 people, so I usually halve it for 4 people with a bit left over. The leftovers keep okay for about a day but after that they become pretty mushy and browned. Also, plan to make it right before you plan to serve it since it doesn't refrigerate well.

Apple-Banana Salad
Makes 10 to 12 servings

5 crisp apples (I like Braeburn)
5 bananas
1-8oz. vanilla yogurt
sprinkle of cinnamon
sprinkle of nutmeg

1/4 cup (2 oz. pure maple syrup)

Chop apples and slice bananas. Mix all ingredients (also maple syrup, if you are including). Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Serve immediately.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Orange Cashew Chicken

Orange cashew chicken, mmmmmm! As I've mentioned before, it is hard to get a decent picture of hot foods so even though this photo might not be the greatest this really is a yummy dish. This is one of the meals on our menu that my husband requests over and over again. We typically end up wanting more than one serving, and even if you can hold yourself back from taking seconds I guarantee that you will eat a spoonful here or there out of the pan before it gets put in the fridge as leftovers. It really is delicious and filling. Enjoy!

Orange Cashew Chicken
Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium carrots, sliced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce (or Bragg Liquid Aminos)
1/4 to 1/2 cup cashews
Hot cooked rice

**You will most likely need to get your rice going before you start on the cashew chicken. The cashew chicken takes about 15-20 minutes to make.**

In a large skillet or wok, stir fry carrots and celery in oil for about 4 minutes. Add chicken, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until juices run clear. Reduce heat.

In a bowl, combine the cornstarch, ginger, orange juice, honey and soy sauce until blended. Stir into chicken mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cashews. Serve over rice.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cheesy Potato Casserole

Cheesy Potato Casserole (aka Hashbrown Casserole) is an easy, hearty side dish. I often take this to a MOPS meeting when I am signed up to bring a breakfast dish, but I also have made it to accompany a lunch or dinner as well. Very versatile in that you can make it at any time of the day, but also versatile in what you can add to the actual casserole. There's not much to say about this dish that I haven't already said so I'll just jump right into the recipe. Enjoy!

Cheesy Potato Casserole
Makes a 9x13 pan

1 large bag of frozen hashbrowns (cubed style)
1 can cream of chicken soup
8 oz. sour cream
4 cups cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons butter
4 cups cornflakes

Optional Mix-ins:
diced green chilies, spinach, green bell peppers, ham, bacon . . . (I add the diced green chilies)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Stir together the hashbrowns, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, and cheddar cheese in a large bowl. Add any mix-ins. Pat into baking dish.

Melt butter in a large skillet, then add cornflakes and saute until slightly crispy/light brown. Put the cornflakes on top of the potato mixture.

Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Let sit 15 minutes before serving, it will stay together better.