Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halloween Cagey Ghosts

My sister claims she is not crafty. Ironically, I posted this picture of her house-o-lantern last year:

I posted the directions she followed here.

Last week, she sent me another picture of her house, decorated all cutely for Halloween.  She made Cagey Ghosts out of tomato cages.  I hadn't even begun to decorate for fall yet and she already had made a craft for Halloween.  Yeah... not crafty my glue gun.

So, instead of posting a picture of her cute Cagey Ghosts, I'll post the ones that I made today.  After all, I threw out the picture she sent me of her house in retaliation. 

These were pretty easy to make with things most people have at home.  (okay, who am I kidding--- I had to go buy tomato cages AND white sheets.  But seriously, most people probably do have that stuff at home.)  Don't use heavy duty tomato cages-- the thinner and cheaper, the better!  They are much easier to bend!  

Here are the instructions from Family Fun magazine:

  1. To make one, set up the cage as shown. To form the head, use duct tape to secure the rounded prongs of the cage. Thread the lights through the cage, and secure them with twist ties. 
  2. For each arm, ball up two socks and duct-tape them to a stick, placed in the ground.
  3. Add marker or pinned-on craft foam facial features to a white twin sheet, then drape it over the structure.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

September Daring Bakers- Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

Sugar Cookies?  I got this challenge covered.  My mom and sisters and I devote an entire DAY to sugar cookies every year around Christmas time.  I can make and frost sugar cookies blindfolded.  With one hand behind my back.  In the dark.  (Oh wait, I'm blindfolded... the lights may be on)
So why am I finally completing September's challenge on October 2?  I guess the same reason I haven't blogged any fun food things since August 27th, ironically last month's DB challenge. 
I've been saying it for months (a year?)  I've become a blogging loser.  School has taken priority for me... and now...sadly.... I have to say that work will be taking priority.  After 12 years of being a stay-at-home mom, I'm going back to work next week.
Will I continue with the Daring Bakers?  Maybe.  I hope to.... especially after reading what the October challenge entails..... I can't leak any hints, but it will be delish.
So onto last months challenge that I've made this month.  Sugar Cookies.  I refuse to use any sugar cookie recipe other than this one, so when this challenge came up, I knew I'd have a problem.  I still used my recipe, because I have never found another sugar cookie that melts in your mouth like that one does.  Using confectioner sugar as opposed to granulated is the key to a perfect sugar cookie. 

For this challenge, we were allowed to use any theme we'd like for our cookies, so long as it related to "September".  Mine is sort of September/October (Septober?) since I just did a basic fall leaf theme.   I made enough to share with several neighbors, as well!   Oh, and I had a great helper.... everyone must get one of these! 

Here is the basic sugar cookie recipe that was provided for this challenge, as well as the Royal Icing recipe.  (I did use the Royal Icing recipe, although I omitted the lemon juice and used Almond extract)

Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies
6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean


• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
• Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
baking, losing their shape.

• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.

• Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid flour flying everywhere.

• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.

• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)

• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.

• Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an
hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.

• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.

• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.

• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.

• Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.

• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.

• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.

• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.

• Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in some cookies being baked before others are done.

• Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.

• Leave to cool on cooling racks.

• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.

Royal Icing:

 2½ - 3 cups Powdered Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Almond Extract, optional


• Beat egg whites with flavoring until combined.

• Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and
grease free.

• Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.

• Tip: I’ve listed 2 amounts of icing sugar, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.

• Beat on low until combined and smooth.

• Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.

• Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.

Decorating Your Cookies: Flooding

“Flooding” a cookie is a technique used when covering a cookie with Royal Icing.

1. You outline the area you want to flood which helps create a dam.

2. Then fill or flood inside the area you’ve outlined.

The most important thing when it comes to decorating with Royal Icing is the consistency.

There are two ways of flooding your cookies. Some like to do the outline with a thicker icing and then flood with a thinner icing. Some like to use the same icing to do both which saves time and you don’t have to have two different piping bags for each colour you’re using.

Use different colors to add polka-dots around the edge of a cookie

Drag a toothpick through the center of the polka-dots, without lifting up in between the dots.

The Same Consistency Method

• Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions

• Drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing and count to 10

• If the surface becomes smooth between 5 & 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency

• Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, do the 10 second test, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.

• Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test.

Two Different Consistencies Method

• Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions.

• Separate into 2 different bowls, one lot of icing for outlining, the other for flooding.

• For the outlining icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing.

• If the surface becomes smooth at around 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.

• Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 10 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.

• Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test.

• For the flooding/filling icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing.

• If the surface becomes smooth at around 3-4 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.

• Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 3-4 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.

• Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 3-4 second test.

Be sure to click on the Daring Bakers icon in my sidebar so you can select other Daring Bakers blogs and take a peek at their creations this month!

Friday, August 27, 2010

August Daring Bakers- Baked Alaska

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I love browned butter.  I've come to realize, you either love it or hate it.  I sang it's praises to my friend Angela as we sipped tea while I was making the browned butter for this challenge.  I really built up how fabulous browned butter was to her.... so much so, that it was a disappointment when I made her taste it straight from the spoon after I successfully browned the butter instead of burning the butter.  She hated it. 

I never thought we had much in common anyway.

I've had browned butter on pasta with Mizithra cheese (welcome to heaven), as well as browned butter atop freshly steamed broccoli florets.  I've had browned butter in the frosting for the caramel cake we made for the November 2008 DB Challenge.  Now I've had brown butter pound cake!  Tasty-- and simple to make!  I didn't think it was sweet enough, but the ice cream and sweet meringue added the sweetness I was craving after tasting the pound cake alone.

I chose to make the Baked Alaska, however, I got it in just under the wire.  We've had an egg recall here in my area and I wasn't sure I'd get the challenge done before the deadline!  I luckily found eggs at a county store that either
A.)  Did not use the supplier that was affected by the recall.
B.)  Used the eggs from the supplier that was affected and didn't care.
C.)  Was so far in the sticks that they don't have electricity and don't know about the recall.

Either way, I"m happy to have a finished product in time!  Enjoy!

**Baked Alaska Recipe**

3 components needed:

*Brown  Butter Pound Cake
*Ice cream (homemade or purchased)

Brown Butter Pound Cake

19 tablespoons  unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups  sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.

2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.

3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

8 large egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup  sugar

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar gradually in a slow stream until stiff peaks form.

Assembly Instructions

1. Line four 4” diameter tea cups with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge. Fill to the top with ice cream. Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.

2. Level the top of the brown butter pound cake with a serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Cut out four 4”  diameter circles from the cake. Discard the scraps or use for another purpose.

3. Make the meringue (see above.)

4. Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary.

5. Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed. Freeze for one hour or up to a day.

6. Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch. Or, bake the meringue-topped Baked Alaskas on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F/260°C oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Serve immediately.

Why does mine look like a bunch of penguins trying to get out of something?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Washboard Cookies

These cookies are made from staples in your pantry, making them quick and easy.  I yielded 2 dozen cookies from this recipe.   I only had light brown sugar on hand so I turned it into dark brown sugar by adding 1 tbsp of molasses per 1 cup of light brown sugar and blending.  If you only have white granulated sugar, you can make it dark brown by adding 2 tbsp of molasses to 1 cup of granulated sugar and blending. 

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour sugar

  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, brown sugar and egg. Stir together baking soda, water and vanilla; add to creamed mixture. Add flour and mix well.
  2. Shape into walnut-sized balls. Place on greased baking sheets; flatten with a fork that has been dipped in water. Sprinkle with sugar.
  3. Bake at 325 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool on waxed paper.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July Daring Bakers- Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

Let me just start by saying that I heart Taste of Home. I am a subscriber to their magazine and am on their website at least twice a week, browsing recipes. Most of their recipes are right up my alley-- easy, inexpensive and tasty.

This month's challenge was no exception.

It was easy. Sunita made it more challenging for us by requiring us to make our Swiss cake roll instead of buying Little Debbie's and she also required us to make our own ice cream (2 flavors to boot!) as well as the hot fudge.

In a pinch, you could make this show-stopping cake by using store-bought ice cream and jarred hot fudge; but please don't skip out on making the Swiss cake roll. There is no comparison to homemade and it literally takes minutes to make. Little Debbie had to make hers from scratch at some point, too, you know.

Be sure to click over on the link for the Daring Bakers in the sidebar- that will bring you to the blogroll which will allow you to browse other Daring Bakers creations!

Follow the recipes included and you'll end up with a bombe that is da'bomb! (oh yes I did just say that.)

The Swiss rolls
Preparation time- 10 minutes
Baking time- 10-12 minutes
Rolling and cooling time- at least 30 minutes
Filling-5-8 minutes
Filling and rolling- 5-10 minutes


6 medium sized eggs
1 cup caster sugar + extra for rolling (I just used granulated)
6 tbsp of all purpose flour + 5 tbsp of natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together
2 tbsp of boiling water
a little oil for brushing the pans

For the filling-
2 cups of whipping cream
1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about ½ cm  or 1 tsp vanilla extract
5 tbsp of caster sugar (again, granulated)

  1. Pre heat the oven at 400 deg F
  2. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.
  4. Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water.
  5. Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans.
  6. Place a pan in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch.
  7. Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.
  8. Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.
  9. Repeat the same for the next cake as well. Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processer till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream. 
  10. In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick. Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes. Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine). 
  11. Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

Vanilla Ice Cream-
Preparation time-5 minutes+freezing

2 and  1/2 cup whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, minced or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
  1. Grind together the sugar and vanilla in a food processor. In a mixing bowl, add the cream and vanilla –sugar mixture and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together. If you are using the vanilla extract, grind the sugar on its own and then and the sugar along with the vanilla extract to the cream.
  2. Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

Hot fudge sauce- make this just after adding the layer of vanilla ice cream to the cake
Preparation time-2 minutes
Cooking time-2 minutes

1 cup caster/granulated sugar
3 tbsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 and 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and water

Place the pan over heat, and stir constantly, till it begins to thicken and is smooth (for about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and mix in the butter and vanilla. Keep aside to cool.

Chocolate Ice Cream-

Preparation time- 5 minutes + freezing

2 cups whipping cream
1 cup caster sugar
3 tbsp of natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. Grind together the sugar and the cocoa powder in a food processor .
  2. In a saucepan, add all the ingredients and whisk lightly.
  3. Place the pan over heat and keep stirring till it begins to bubble around the edges.
  4. Remove from heat and cool completely before transferring to a freezer friendly container till firm around the edges. If you are using an ice cream maker, churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instruction, after the mixture has cooled completely.
  5. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

1. Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices ( approximately 2 cms each ).

2. Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap

3. Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).

4. Soften the vanilla ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm ( at least 1 hour)

5. Add the fudge sauce over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm. (at least an hour)

6. Soften the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set .

7. Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.

8. Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp knife, dipped in hot water.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Oh no.  I'm in trouble.  You're in trouble.  We're in trouble.  I found a quick and easy recipe to make the bread-heads in my family.  It tastes like the flat bread that you get at Noodles & Company (mmmm.... Noodles & Company...).

I used a little spray oil for the first few I made and then switched to butter for the rest of the batch.  The butter was so much tastier so don't even bother using oil when it comes to cooking them.

Here is the dangerous recipe.  You've been warned.  Don't blame me if your butt gets fat from all of the bread you'll be eating once you try out this recipe for yourself.


1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg
melted butter or oil, for frying


In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast and sugar and let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy.

Stir in the flour, salt, oil, yogurt and egg and stir, then knead until you have a soft, pliable dough. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in size; about an hour.

My helper:

Divide the dough into  8-10 pieces and on a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece into a thin circle or oval.

Cook each naan in a nice hot skillet (I used my griddle) drizzled with oil (and I mean a little-- you're not frying) until blistered and cooked, flipping as necessary. (When the surface has big blisters and is golden on the bottom, flip it over and cook until golden on the other side.

Enjoy with butter, hummus, honey or any other topping that you find!  My daughter slathered strawberry jam on top of hers.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thai Peanut Salad

My friend Shiela shared this recipe not too long ago.  I made it one night and loved it.  Not only was it tasty and fresh and the perfect summer salad, but it was easy to make.  It's versatile, too-- I add water chestnuts and sometimes pea pods to it, but you can add or leave out whatever you want!

I just knew it would be a hit with my family and could hardly wait for the next family gathering so I could bring it along.   When my sister invited us all over for a day-after-the-Fourth-of-July picnic (yes, it would have been easier to just say July 5th picnic), I knew it was time to showcase this salad.  I was so excited.  I even started it at midnight, after returning home from a 4th of July party, and got the noodles cooked so that they would be nice and cold for sure in the morning.

I awoke in the morning and promptly lit the grill for the chicken, even before I made my morning cup of tea.  That's how excited I was about bringing this rock star salad. 

I mixed up the salad, plated it and had my regular food-blog-photo-op with it (Useless Info: do you know I probably take about 35 shots of the same angle hoping for a good picture for this blog?  I used to think it was hard work getting a group photo of all 8 of the grand kids in our family-- getting them all to look and smile at the same time-- that's nothing compared to trying to get a decent shot of a plate of food!).  Anyways, after the photo-op, I neatly packed up the salad in a bowl and tucked it into the fridge so it could get nice and cold for the picnic.

Fast forward to the picnic.

My dad mentions he made a new salad for the picnic.  A spaghetti salad.  Jokingly, I say, "It's not a Thai peanut salad, is it?"

I mean really, what are the odds? 

My dad answers, "Yes, it is."

And proceeds to tell me what's in it-- basically the same things as mine!!!

We laugh (awkwardly) and move beyond it and start talking about something else, like the weather or some other fluffy subject, while I'm secretly in my head cussing about the fact that we have two of the same salads and now my salad won't be the hit!  (okay, who am I kidding-- it wasn't secretly and it wasn't actually even in my head).

Fast forward to when one of my sisters arrive....  carrying a big pasta bowl.

Again, jokingly, I say, "that isn't a Thai Peanut salad, is it?"

Wait for it...




Wait for it...




I don't even need to tell you, do I?

She brought a Thai Peanut salad.


So, while it was so much fun to finally have a family gathering to bring my salad to, three of the four family's at the gathering brought the same salad, with minor alterations.  I had to eat some of all three, of course.  Here they are together on one plate-- you can definitely see the similarities but also the differences.

Here is the recipe for the salad I brought--  which for some reason, didn't taste as rock star-ish as I wanted it to that day!  It's really a perfect potluck recipe-- but you may want to check ahead of time to make sure that nobody else is bringing it!

Thai Peanut Chicken Noodle Salad

1 cup Kraft Asian Sesame Dressing
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
2 Tbsp. crunchy peanut butter
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 pkg. (1 lb.) thin spaghetti
4 green onions, sliced
1 cup chopped cilantro

Cook spaghetti as directed on package. Toss cooked chicken chunks with 1/4 c. Asian Sesame Dressing. Mix remaining dressing mixture, peanut butter, honey and crushed red pepper.

Drain spaghetti. Add to chicken mixture with peanut butter mixture and all remaining ingredients; mix lightly. Serve warm or chill in fridge for 4 hours before serving.

Monday, July 5, 2010

BLT Bites

Every time my husband goes to a poker party at one of our friends house, I send with him an appetizer.  Usually I send Ranch Mushrooms (I swear I'll get around to taking pictures of the finished product so I can share the recipe some day!)  I knew when we were invited to their house for a Fourth of July party, that I needed to bring *the* mushrooms-- but I wanted to also bring along something else and these little gems did not fail me.  They came in a close second to the mushrooms; but I think the guys enjoyed having something else tossed into the mix!  I have a feeling I will be forever making mushrooms AND tomatoes on Poker Night!

I found this super easy recipe on the Taste of Home website.  I adjusted it a bit; less onion ( I used just two green onions) and I skipped the parsley all together.  Although it calls for cherry tomatoes, I could only find grape tomatoes on the particular day I was at the grocery store.  This created a bit of a challenge, as the grape tomatoes are much more slim and dainty for hollowing.  They also required an extra step of slicing a smidgen off the bottom so they would stand nicely!  Next time-- they had better have cherry tomatoes!


16 to 20 cherry tomatoes
1 pound sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup chopped green onions
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley


Cut a thin slice off of each tomato top. Scoop out and discard pulp. (Since I used grape tomatoes, I found this easiest by using a paring knife along with a tiny little seafood fork.)  Invert the tomatoes on a paper towel to drain.
In a small bowl, combine all remaining ingredients. Spoon into tomatoes. Refrigerate for several hours. Yield: 16-20 appetizer servings.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Strawberry Swirl Cake

We had some good friends come for dinner on Saturday and the weather was sticky hot!  I wanted to make a dessert that would be delicious but not heavy.   What goes better with hot and sticky weather other than strawberry shortcake?   This cake was a breeze to make although the finished product makes it look like you spent a lot of time on it.  My camera setting was wrong and I didn't realize it until days later-- so I apologize for the poorly colored photos.

Strawberry Swirl Cake
Adapted from Kraft Food and Family

1 white cake mix
1 pkg. (3oz) JELL-O Strawberry Flavor Gelatin
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool-Whip whipped topping, thawed
1-1/2 cups sliced strawberries


PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans; set aside.
Prepare cake batter as directed on package.
Pour half of the batter into medium bowl.
Add dry gelatin mix; stir until well blended.
Spoon half of the white batter and half of the pink batter, side-by-side, into each prepared pan.
Swirl batters together using a teaspoon.

BAKE 30 min. Cool 30 min. in pans. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

MIX sour cream and powdered sugar in medium bowl until well blended. Gently stir in whipped topping.

Place one of the cake layers on serving plate; spread top with 1 cup of the whipped topping mixture. Top with 1 cup of the strawberries and remaining cake layer. 

Spread top and side of cake with remaining whipped topping mixture. Top with remaining 1/2 cup strawberries just before serving. Store any leftover cake in refrigerator.