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.